Below are aggregated posts from various wildlife blogs created by people within Lancashire (lancashirewildlife.org.uk accept no responsibility for any content not created directly by lancashirewildlife.org.uk).
SD36 time Post Origin "Pete Marsh Blog" added here on May 30th, 2016
Heysham Obs A visit to the south harbour wall to see what moths and other beasties were there and also check on the territorial Ringed Plover for work. A ringing session at Middleton NR was very valuable as it enabled the final summer visitor adults (Reed Warbler) to be caught and the 7 included four from previous years. One or two baby Robin and Dunnock also materialised and there were a couple of retrap Cetti's Warblers, neither of which was a female with brood patch
South wall/outfalls Common Gull - 46 2CY Med Gull - blackish-headed 2CY Ringed Plover - heard alarm calling from within PS as a group walked along the seawall to the south
SD36 insects Mother Shipton - this mirrors Lou Cross's record from the north harbour wall last year - unfortunately it seemed to be just passing through and was lost near the seawall to the south. Its still a dot on the 'white hole'! Clepsis spectrana - 1 Common Blue - 17ish Large White - 1 Small White - 1 Lots of solitary bees/wasps - worth a specialist having a look as they are probably all new for 10k square
Office moth trap Another Eyed Hawk-moth with a late fairly fresh Hebrew Character, a couple of Herald and I think Turnip Moth is new for year
Small victories in the war against ecocide Post Origin "Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris Blog" added here on May 29th, 2016
The Safari was able to sit outside in the sunshine on Saturday but for much of the time all we could hear was strimmers, lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and other power tools ripping into the local gardens without a second thought for what might be being destroyed either directly or indirectly like opening up the dense cover around a nest so that predation by eg cats/Magpies becomes inevitable - there's a Robin's nest nearby we've seen an adult skulking unobtrusively to and fro through the undergrowth at the bottom of the garden.
Cat owners please note that putting a bell on your moggie has no effect on reducing their slinkiness what-so-ever. This afternoon we were at peace with the world on the patio when we noticed a movement to our right. A be-belled cat had crossed the yard and climbed the half dozen steps to the patio in absolute silence. It's only when we spotted it and moved that it ran back down the steps that we heard the bell jingling.
All this feline activity didn't wake the sleeping Woodpigeon high and safe on the pergola. He waits up there for smaller birds to visit the feeders and spill crumbs down on the ground as he's not agile enough to reach them himself.
The other day we were thrilled to have a Jackdaw come down and visit the feeders, today we doubled our record count!
And were very pleased with more visits from the now regular but totally unpredictable male House Sparrow. His routine seems to be a quick snack on the feeder before a minute or two's search of the Silver Birch tree before heading off north to north east-ish - wonder where he's going too.
One particular juvenile Starling is another unpredictable visitor, coming in unexpectedly at any time for a quick suet top up or a bathe in the ornamental waterfall. Most of the birds seem to prefer this to the birdbath a yard away which we would think offered a bit more safety being raised up on a pedestal, only the Blue Tits seem to use it. The Starling never brings his parents or siblings.
Meanwhile down in the yard the orchid story in (literally) unfolding in front of our very eyes.
Here's the first fully open flower.
Apparently there are about 120 in flower at the nature reserve this week and no doubt more on the duneland nature reserve we also visit so we're thinking a spore or two may have hitched a ride with us and found the tub to their liking. We've certainly got down close and personal with them for pics at the nature reserve although that would invariably be when they were in full flower and not once they'd gone over and had ripe seed capsules. Maybe it is a one in a billion fluke. It must be almost 100 years since the garden was last farmland and there may have been/probably was orchids in the pastures and/or hay meadows at that time. Definitely one to ponder and enjoy and a very welcome addition to the garden flora wherever it came from. The tub was originally planted with ornamental Alpine plants into recycled peat-free compost, the Thrift is the only surviving original plant, the Cowslips have were seeded in deliberately from others in the garden. The blue Campanula was in the pot bust has 'escaped'.
Warm sunshine meant insects were on the wing and we had brief visits from the first Holly Blue butterfly of the year and a mature Blue Tailed Damselfly which we assume came from someone else's pond as we've not seen any tenerals around our pond at that point. And then a little later there was one right in front of us struggling in a spider's web.
Being soft hearted we did the wrong thing and deprived the spider of an enormous meal.
It soon fluttered off none the worse for wear from its very close shave.
Tree Bees and Early Bumble Bees visited the flowers on offer while a huge queen Bombus terrestris got trapped underthe pond net for a while being too big to fit through the mesh that keeps the Herons out.
Here's the view from our perch on the patio, somewhere to the right behind the garage there was a Blackcap singing very quietly a couple of gardens away. We tried to see where it might be from the back bedroom window. We've not looked out from there for a while and were shocked to see how much shrubbery has been lost from the surrounding gardens - they're mostly bare now almost habitat-free zones.We are very much an island of structural diversity in a sea of monotonous lawns and 'tidy' flower-beds.
But we bet even those tidy gardens have Greenfly and no doubt a futile ecocidal war will be waged against them. They're welcome on our notebook anytime.
All these little things, while barely significant in their own right, give us immense pleasure at a time we're invalided and unable to get further afield but are all little victories against the masses that seem to want rid of wildness for the sake of 'tidy' and in doing so make our world that little bit poorer. They don't seem to realise all species are interconnected including ourselves, we are a part of nature not apart from it and there is no Planet B! Wifey came back from the shops late afternoon and suggested we have a drive out to the countryside for a bit of fresh air and to help us going stir crazy at Base camp. We felt up to it so in the car we got. We ended up at a favourite riverside walk where we heard a Garden Warbler (161) as soon as we opened the car door and Wifey spotted a Nuthatch on the feeders at the end of the car park. The woods rang loudy with the songs of Song Thrushes, Blackcaps and Wrens but the river was devoid of birds apart from a family of well grown Mallards. At the car park another visitor (probably spotting our bins) had told us too look for the pair of Mute Swans on the lake, "there's a bird-hide you know". Yes we knew, we've only been going there since the early 80s and never seen anything out of the ordinary from it! The best sighting we had was a shoal of large Chub when we looked directly down out of the window once many many years ago and we've seen a Roe Deer on the far bank once. We had a look from the hide anyway not expecting much but as expected the pair of Mute Swans were feeding out in the middle of the lake. On a dead snag at the side of the hide was a Grey Wagtail with a beak stuffed with flies. It was agitated and calling like mad so we thought it might have a nest in or near the hide so we fired off a few shots and left it in peace. As soon as we'd gone the other came and landed on the branch next too it also with a beakful of food - time to leave them well alone.
The woods are undergoing some bizarre coppicing work, not sure by whom, but we did some Alder coppicing in the top corner all those years ago and this looks like an attempt to revisit that work although the trees seems to be chosen at random and some of the stumps have been left very long - all very strange...shoulda taken some pics. We should also have taken some pics of the dense wildwood a little further along the path away from the river. The trees are all shapes as they've competed for light and their boughs are gorgeously festooned with mosses, lichens and ferns. In places trees grow in the path and their roots have become exposed by the passage of countless feet - looks like a giant bonsai display.
Arty canopy shot through a not-so-invasive-here Norway Maple
The last time we were here the Rangers were cutting developing Alder scrub from the extensive meadow areas. We had hoped there would be an awesome display of Marsh Orchids and Cowslips but it wasn't to be, even the Buttercups weren't putting on as good a show as the un-managed area on the other side of the car park. Maybe we're a week to early still, but we did find a Common Twayblade just at the side of the path through the meadow - very vulnerable to being trodden on by the hordes of rampaging dogs that are brought for a 'walk'.
It was great to get out and the day was finished with a huge plate of fish and chips, the perfect end to a perfect day. Wifey added three birds to her year list, Garden Warbler, Nuthatch and Blackcap taking her total to 102, sadly we couldn't find her Kingfisher, Dipper or Little Ringed Plover (on the brand new pool that has been excavated over the road from the car park - looks mint for them).
Where to next? Back on our perch on the patio at Base Camp lapping up the sunshine and the wildlife sights in the garden. A Honey Buzzard will fly over - - plleeeeeeeaaasssse!
In the meantime let us know who's put in a surprise appearance in your outback.
Signal crayfish threat Post Origin "Pete Marsh Blog" added here on May 29th, 2016
Heysham Obs Great - presumably someone using Middleton model boat pond as a "save the tadpoles" dumping ground or a misguided idea of biodiversity has almost certainly introduced signal crayfish. Bring back the terrapins! Lots of tiny immatures found today does not augur well for the future of this pond and its dragonfly population for this highly invasive and difficult to control species
Middleton NR Cetti's Warbler - two singing, other contact calls Tufted Duck - two males and a female make a (re?)appearance Mute Swan plus 4 x cygnets Little Ringed Plover - 1
Blog Post: In with a Chance – satellite-tagged hen harrier returns home Post Origin "Blánaid Denman Blog" added here on May 27th, 2016
Our last Skydancer blog focused on the sad fate of the young satellite-tagged hen harrier, Lad, who barely a month after fledging, was found dead in the Cairngorms National Park, brought down by injuries “consistent with the damage caused by shooting” (see here ). Today however, I’m delighted to have a much happier story to share – our remaining satellite-tagged hen harrier, Chance, has returned home! Chance is a female hen harrier who was satellite-tagged by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group and fledged from a nest in Southwest Scotland in June 2014. Although this was just before the Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project began, the project has been following her movements since it launched and the story that has unfolded is a remarkable example of just how wide-ranging and unpredictable hen harriers can be. Chance displaying her satellite tag at RSPB Wallasea reserve, October 2014. Image (c) Tony Orwell Having spread her wings in the late summer around the Scottish borders, she slowly made her way south, exploring the uplands of Northern England before being spotted at RSPB’s Wallasea reserve in Essex in October 2014. There we thought she’d stay but the south of England clearly wasn’t far south enough for this adventurous bird and by the end of that month, she had crossed the Channel and set up home in the Pay de Loire region of Northern France! Come April 2015, Chance was showing every sign of staying put but in late May, she surprised us all by crossing the Channel once more and heading north, briefly to Scotland and ultimately settling down to spend her summer exploring the hills of Northeast England. Chance's route south from Northumberland to France took only three days, in October 2015. Her rapid return journey north from France to Scotland took just four days, in May 2016. When autumn came this time, there was no hanging about. In October 2015 Chance flew from Northumberland, via South Wales, back to Northern France in the space of just three days! Now, after another winter of watching and waiting, Chance has returned to the UK once more, this time taking just four days to travel up the east coast of England and back to where she started in Southwest Scotland. From Scotland to England, Wales, and France, the remarkable journey of this young female is an important reminder that if we want to truly secure a future for hen harriers in any one part of the UK, they need to be protected throughout the whole of it. Increased satellite tagging through the Hen Harrier LIFE Project is playing a vital role in this by helping us to better understand where hen harriers go and to highlight where they're most at risk. It’s incredible to think that without satellite tagging, we would never have had the faintest idea of the incredible journey our Chance was undertaking every winter. So now she’s back, what next? As a second year bird, there’s every possibility Chance will attempt to breed this year but with her late arrival on the scene, will she find a mate in time? Follow her fortunes on the Hen Harrier LIFE Project website as we map her movements every two weeks and follow us on twitter @RSPB_Skydancer .
Blog Post: meadow in the making Post Origin "Sophie K Blog" added here on May 26th, 2016
If you come down to Leighton Moss over the next couple of weeks then you will notice our new, large and rather conspicuous residents… a small herd of redpoll cattle. You will see these chestnut coloured cows munching on the grass in the field on your walk to the causeway. Our new employees first day - Sophie King As lovely as they are these cows are not just here to look pretty, they have a very important job to do. The redpoll cattle are our new employees - our conservation grazers. We are hoping that after a couple of weeks of chewing the cud that this little field will transform into a little meadow. Having been ungrazed for a very long time the field is dominated by common grasses. Underneath the layer of grass is a shallow, alkaline, limestone soil. This may not sound very exciting, but limestone soils can contain a ‘seedbank’ of all sorts of unusual flowers. By eating up the grass our conservation grazers will provide an opportunity for wildflowers to flourish. We’re likely to see flowers such as birds foot trefoil , knapweed , rock-rose and red and white clovers spring into life. By increasing the number of wildflowers we will be providing a welcome buffet of pollen and nectar for butterflies and bees. Creating a wildflower meadow in your garden is one way you can can give nature a home, to find out how click here . making a meadow in your garden can help give nature a home - Sophie King As well as coming to see our new conservation grazers keep your eyes peeled for the solitary ruff which has been seen from the Grisedale hide and for the magnificent displays of the marsh harriers which have been seen hunting, fighting and food passing in the past few weeks - quite the spectacle. You might also see the small flock of 150 black-tailed godwits which have not yet made their migration north. It’s a great time of year to see nesting birds so look out for lapwings and oystercatchers . Our assistant warden Nick had quite a treat this week when he came across a marsh tit chick that was not in the least bit camera shy... Marsh tit chick by Nicholas Robert Godden There have also been regular sightings of the bearded tits along the causeway where we think they might be nesting and the path is alive with the song of reed warblers and Cetti's warblers. From dawn until mid-morning we have still been hearing the spotted crake , ever elusive I am yet to see this secretive bird myself. Down at the Allen and Eric Morecambe hides there has been not one, not two but three spoonbills ! These great white birds look a little bit out of place in Morecambe Bay, but nevertheless they seem perfectly content. Three spoonbills by Mike Malpass Along the coast from the Allen and Eric Morecambe hides is a very special place called Jenny Browns Point where there have been sightings of eiders , shelducks , curlews , over 40 bar-tailed godwits and 1,500 oystercatchers ! Oystercatchers by Andy Hay (rspb-images.com) If you fancy getting a little bit closer to nature then this weekend our experts will be offering their free and impartial advice in our binoculars and telescopes open weekend .
It’s raining it’s pouring Post Origin "Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris Blog" added here on May 26th, 2016
The Safari's Base Camp twilight bat bonanza came to nought last night, no self respecting bat was going to come out and fly round in heavy rain like that and we didn't fancy standing out on the patio for the best part of an hour waiting for it not to show. Still, there's always tonight.
This morning there was unexpected excitement when a Jackdaw came down to feed on the fat block. This is the first time in 13 years at Base camp we've seen one actually within the confines of the garden rather than flying over or occasionally hopping round on the garage roof.
Taken from across the length of the sitting room through a double glazed window in the gloom at ISO stupid
It was flushed by an lone adult Starling dropping in for a beakful which in turn was flushed by a Magpie which didn't visit the feeder in the end.
Minutes later the male House Sparrow was on the other feeder. WOW it's all go here!
Before long the Magpie was back.
And so was the House Sparrow but this time it didn't drop on to the feeder just linger briefly on the top of the pergola from which the feeders hang and then flew off over the garage roof.
A well grown fledgling Blackbird disappeared into our log store by the back kitchen door for several minutes, perhaps sheltering from the rain and/or hunting for spiders/
Later in the afternoon after a very quiet spell there was a little flurry of activity with a very brief return of the Jackdaw, a Blue Tit with a wing fluttering fledgling on the suet block and this rather unexpected Long Tailed Tit. Just shows you what could be about that you miss by being at work or out on safari elsewhere.
Apologies for the poor pic, it's mid afternoon at the end of May and as gloomy as gloomy gets, it's almost dark out there and only 11C - should be about 17C!
Very late, while tea was cooking, the ringed Greenfinch came in for a while and then the male House Sparrow came in for some supper. Not much sign of many invertebrates today, hardly surprising given the weather! The mystery orchid hasn't opened any further either.
Where to next? We're really hoping for better weather tomorrow so we can sit out and get some fresh air.
In the meantime let us know who's providing all the excitement in your outback.
Nestbox Carnage Post Origin "North Lancs Ringing Group Blog" added here on May 25th, 2016
The first visit to our nestboxes in Pott Yeats Wood this season augered well - 7 boxes with Pied Flycatcher nests out of the total of 43 boxes, a good proportion for this relatively low altitude valley woodland.
However, today's visit told a very different story. All 7 nests contained many fragments of eggshell, the result of predation probably by a mammal species (possibly Woodmouse).
It was a depressing day, lifting one lid after another to find yet more predation. In all, 10 clutches had been destroyed (7 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Blue Tit) out of a total of 18 nests (7 Blue Tit, 4 Great Tit, 7 Pied Flycatcher). The predated nests were spread evenly throughout the wood. A further visit in a couple of weeks will be made to check for second attempts, although there will be little chance of this unless the weather warms up somewhat - it seems so sad that that the birds have made the long journey from south of the Sahara only to have their eggs eaten and then to return with no young produced.
Perhaps the anti-midge net ordered last weekend will not see any use this year after all!
Base Camp update Post Origin "Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris Blog" added here on May 25th, 2016
The Safari hasn't had the most exciting of times these last couple of days. The weather has taken a turn for the worse, we've lost the sun and gained a strong and chilly breeze, not really conducive to sitting outside. However it hasn't been all bad it's just that the highlights have been fewer and we've had to wait for them!
The sun was still shining yesterday morning bringing a Large White butterfly into the garden and then another and another, or possibly the same one doing a circuit. Eventually one/it settled to nectar on an Aubretia flower growing in one of Wifey's tubs. It was away withing seconds so no chance of a pic.
One of the pressies we received for Christmas was a year's subs to Birdwatch magazine, every month they have a competition which we don't normally enter. April's competition was different, it was for a Hawke telescope and seeing how Wifey has been enjoying using her Hawke EDs we entered. After being away for well over a week and then going into hossy we thought we'd best check and delete some emails. One was from Heather, at first we thought it was someone we knew wanting to meet up for an exiting safari somewhere or other; but no it wasn't that Heather it was Heather from the magazine - we'd WON!!! We never win anything ever, so much so that we probably paid for the 2012 Olympics alone with all our failed lottery tickets...And this was her second email as we'd not responded to the first seeing as how we were mostly incommunicado down in Cornwall.
Mid-mornig there was a knock on the door we answered to see a cheery chappy holding a reasonably sized parcel...Unpacking it one handed took a good while but we got there in the end.
Thank you Birdwatch mag and Hawke optics
We have a cunning plan for it...
Just about the last of the sunshine brought a dragonfly racing over the fence and hovering far too briefly over the pond before shooting off into the clear blue sky beyond the garage roof. The action happened so fast we didn't get a really good look at it but it was probably a 4-Spotted Chaser, an extremely rare visitor to Base Camp - we haven't even had sight nor sign of any damselflies yet.
That was the end of the sunshine and any further excitement until the male House Sparrow put in a similarly brief appearance although he did land on the mixed seed feeder and grab a beakful so hopefully he'll be back more regularly in the near future...with wife n kids in tow???
While pottering around in the garden with Wifey inspecting her pot plants after tea we heard a Swift screaming nearby but didn't see it. More thrilling was seeing the first bat of the year at Base Camp as darkness fell and we were out inspecting Wifey's multi-coloured forever-changing LED garden lamps. We're not certain but think it might well have come from the bat box our Extreme Photographer put up a couple of years ago.
Tonight's job will be to test our hypothesis...provided the bat(s?) play ball and decide to show themselves - it's pretty darned cold out there today!
So darned cold in fact that we've seen virtually nothing through the window, far too cold to sit outside. Early morning provided the bulk of today's interest when a pair of Greenfinches turned up at the feeders, the male sporting a BTO type metal ring. Getting the number off it could be a project for the 150-600mm lens when we can lift the flippin thing. It might not be as easy it it sounds as half an hour later three more Greenfinches appeared, two males and a female, and none of these were blinged up.
With nothing happening we had quick mooch round with the macro lens mid-afternoon
Common Speedwell, each flower is no more than 5mm across
The garden's first Ox-Eye Daisy of the summer - we'll get a better pic of the Fibonacci Sequence as the disc flowers open fully in due course
There's little other news other than the Starlings haven't been back so probably can't smell, or don't like the smell of, the fat blocks we've put out for them. The only one that has returned is a juvenile that came to bathe in our ornamental waterfall.
Not from Base Camp but something that concerns us greatly was recent news of yet another Red Kite being shot in Yorkshire. What are these people on? They're a worm, beetle and dead Rabbit eating scavenger, no threat to anything...apart from worms, beetles and dead Rabbits. We'd love to see them in Lancashire but they seem incapable of crossing the moorland separating the two counties - we wonder why.
Hall Lane is the short lane the poor bird was found crashing around under a hedge. What a shame - What a foul crime. The by far the most likely culprits are the Neanderthals involved in grouse shooting - ohh look there's lots and lots of ruined upland habitat nearby. For those that don't know rectangular strips of Heather (No, not our friend or the nice lady from the magazine) are burned in rotation to provide new growth for the Red Grouse to eat so there are many more of them to shoot than the habitat could normally hold.
Nothing with a hooky beak or sharp claws must get in the way of those 'grice'. How can you help stop this carnage, not only of Red Kites but Peregrines, Goshawks, Hen Harriers, Buzzards, Ospreys, Golden and White Tailed Eagles (in Scotland), Foxes, Stoats, Weasels, Badgers, Pine Martens (in Scotland), Wild Cats (in Scotland - yes they even kill the rarest cat on the planet!!!) even seemingly innocuous Mountain Hares suffer horrendous and probably unsustainable slaughters (they carry ticks which could spread disease to the grouse).
If you haven't already please sign this petition and pass it on - if you have get a friend or two to sign; lets get beyond the 100,000 signatures required to bring about a debate in Parliament and please everyone spread the word to your non-wildlifey friends, it affects them too through higher water bills (peat stained water has to be cleaned before it gets to our taps), higher home insurance (through increased flood risk) and increased carbon emissions (through burning on what should be active wet peat bogs) and more!
If an industry can't operate without the need for regular illegal activities it needs to be shut down ASAP. The more people who know how bad it is and how it affects them directly and indirectly the better. Our uplands deserve better than this shower of sh*tes!
Where to next? More sitting at Base Camp staring through the window - unless the sun comes out of course.
In the meantime let us know who's got the best numbers in your outback.