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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).

Comment on Leaving the Hen Harrier Action Plan: a personal perspective Post Origin "Keith Cowieson Blog" added here on July 30th, 2016

Jeff, As you are well aware, I take an interest in all birds.  I have enjoyed watching and photographing breeding and wintering hen harriers for 40+ years, in Scotland, the Netherlands and Germany (and their close ‘cousins’ in North America and New Zealand).  I am posting here in my capacity as an RSPB member and volunteer (as I thought the second sentence of my posting below stated fairly clearly, but perhaps not).  Here's the relevant sentence again - "Here’s a member and volunteer’s perspective."   As members, my wife and I are some of those folk who fund our Society, you know the staff salaries, (underfunded) pension plan, upkeep of existing, and acquisition of new, nature reserves and all the other seemingly boring but essential stuff.  As a volunteer I am one of those folk who saves the Society money by carrying out surveying, protection and representational duties in my spare time.  That way, the Society doesn’t have to take on extra staff, or hire ecological consultants or the like – I do it for free, as well as paying membership fees to help fund full and part time staff, infrastructure and other fixed, incidental and opportunity costs.  Not to waste them on half-hearted, on-the-bus/off-the-bus participation in what I consider to be a very important government-endorsed, multi-agency, conservation initiative that warrants fully-engaged, wholehearted commitment for however long it takes to secure the hen harrier’s future.     Glad to hear that our Society is continuing to support two thirds of the HHAP, why then announce with great fanfare that we were withdrawing support from the scheme?  And you still haven’t answered my query about the Southern England reintroduction pillar of the Project – what is happening with that?  And still struggling to understand how the situation changed between the Conservation Director’s clear and unambiguous statement on 6th June, and his volte-face on 25th July – please enlighten us.  For my part, if our Society wishes to Influence, positively, law abiding estates and responsible organisations - and anyone else for that matter - then it needs to engage with them in a sustained and fully constructive and collaborative manner, for the long-term, not flounce out of painstakingly built partnerships and initiatives at the first hint of difficulty.       Finally, I won’t be attending next week, because I have no desire to support the RSPB’s former Conservation Director - the chief proponent of the events - after his shocking blog postings of 6th and 7th October 2014 when he incited his readers to denigrate, disparage and generally abuse gamekeepers en masse, see here - http://tinyurl.com/jdygb4j and here - http://tinyurl.com/hfncpsr .  This thoroughly nasty piece of on-line, rabble rousing and incitement was very aptly dubbed a ‘Gamekeeper Hate Fest’ by one of our very own Skydancer Project volunteers – see the final Comment on the 7th October 2014 posting.  I prefer to support the hen harrier by getting out on the ground and reporting anything suspicious I see or find to the police – like the dead hen harrier I found in the Scottish uplands last year.  No signs of foul play in that particular instance according to the Police Service of Scotland and the Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture experts who analysed the samples I collected (because no-one else was prepared to).     Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow at Ragley?      

National Whale & Dolphin Watch 2016 so far Post Origin "Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris Blog" added here on July 30th, 2016

The Safari has been doing an hour's watch midweek during lunchtime for National Whale and Dolphin Watch but without success. Indeed we've probably had negative success when we recovered another dead baby Harbour Porpoise which is now awaiting a post-mortem. Today we learned of another youngster dead on the beach 'one day last week' which was found on the tide-line to the south of us along the toe of the dunes - what's going on with them? There does seem to be an awful lot washing up. Best of the rest has been daily Grey Seals, two today but always distant and not so easy to get the generally inexperienced at using telescopes volunteers on to them. Eventually everyone got at least a few seconds look at it/them. Thursday morning also provided a decent birding session when at least 20 Sandwich Terns and 10 Common Terns were fishing quite close to the wall. It's a pity it was so dull as they were probably just in range of the lens. Today bird excitement was limited to a brief build up of Gannets at a small bait ball just this side of the horizon to the south west early in the watch. There were never more than 20 and they soon either dispersed or drifted back over the horizon...it didn't amount to much at all and that was about it bird-wise for the next three and a half hours. Apart from the rather strange sighting of a pair of Common Scoters coming over the road from inland and landing on the sea just behind the surf - never seen that before!
Here's some pics from our trip north of the border to the capital of Bonny Scotland last weekend.
Edinburgh Castle with flaming torches
Late 16th century building skills - engineered onto the solid basalt rock The original 12th C castle was destroyed during a siege in 1570s

We were there to enjoy what may or may not have been Runrig's last UK gig after 43 years on the road. If it was the last it was an absolute cracker to end with and we can say "we were there", if it wasn't we'll have to go back!

Bruce - Canadian from Nova Scotia...New Scotland; so we suppose that's OK then

Here's Wifey's pics of the Greyfriar's Bobby pub we found by accident after the gig. What a dedicated doggy he was.
Oh and on the drive up we saw a real choo-choo train with smoke and all!!! Chooowwooooo. In Lancashire too! Showing our train-spotting 'knowledge' it might have been a Black 5.
After watching no whales or dolphins this morning we took the camera into the garden at Base Camp this arvo but there wasn't really that much to point it at.
A Small White butterfly was fluttering around Wifey's Nasturtiums so we went to have a look for any eggs finding some tiny already hatched caterpillars had started muching holes in the leaves - they'll be defoliated before too long!
Also lurking on the underside of the leaves were a few Blackfly, but with Aphids a few can very soon become very many!
The big one in the middle is exuding a drop of honeydew from its backside
On the upper surface of a nearby leaf an rather nicely marked dipteran fly of a totally unknown species was taking in the afternoon sun during a welcome break in the clouds. It's possibly a parasitic Tachinidae maybe Dexiosoma sp??????
Far easier to identify was this 'Batman' hoverfly, Myathropa florea. It's a whopper and an excellent wasp mimic.
Even easier to ID were the Red Tailed Bumble Bees  on the Thyme flowers. Plenty of Honey Bees on there too.
Where to next? The last throw of the Whale and Dolphin dice tomorrow. This time we're up at the start of Chat Alley - wonder  if there'll be any migrant birds on the cliffs below our watch point.
In the meantime let us know who's playing hard to get in your outback.


Early morning check in the heat haze Post Origin "Pete Marsh Blog" added here on July 30th, 2016

Heysham Obs

Ocean Edge/Red Nab/outfalls
Little Gull - adult summer
Med Gull - 2 x 2CY, 2 x 1CY, 2 x ad/3CY

Moths
Sallow (NFY), Drinker and four Slender Pug of note

Ringing by the office
Unremarkable with the only new migrants being a Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and Blackcap.  Very little on the feeders

Same time, same check, tide a bit further in Post Origin "Pete Marsh Blog" added here on July 30th, 2016

Heysham Obs
Didn't realise how much this morning's check would be on the drop as opposed to near low tide.  How time flies.  No good for eg seaward end Hey one and in the circumstances saw more than might have been expected with stuff scattered far and wide.  Didn't bother later on it what would have been an awful heat haze.  Meany to check for the Guillemot - forgot!

Little Gull - the/a Ad summer on mudflats by Heysham 2
Med Gull - the three flighty juvs plus 4 Ad/3CY
Kittiwake - 2CY
Whimbrel - 2
Greenshank - heard but didn't see - probably out of sight OE saltmarsh channels?

Moths
Spruce Carpet pretty rare here and Barred Rivulet a f.f.y.  Half a dozen Silver Y and the first Light Brown Apple Moth for a bit

Anyone able to do the moth trap in the next three days please - especially Sunday?

Comment on Leaving the Hen Harrier Action Plan: a personal perspective Post Origin "Keith Cowieson Blog" added here on July 28th, 2016

Jeff, As you are well aware, I take an interest in all birds.  I have enjoyed watching and photographing breeding and wintering hen harriers for 40+ years, in Scotland, the Netherlands and Germany (and their close ‘cousins’ in North America and New Zealand).  I am posting here in my capacity as an RSPB member and volunteer (as I thought the second sentence of my posting below stated fairly clearly, but perhaps not).  Here's the relevant sentence again - "Here’s a member and volunteer’s perspective." As members, my wife and I are some of those folk who fund our Society, you know the staff salaries, (underfunded) pension plan, upkeep of existing, and acquisition of new, nature reserves and all the other seemingly boring but essential stuff.  As a volunteer I am one of those folk who saves the Society money by carrying out surveying, protection and representational duties in my spare time.  That way, the Society doesn’t have to take on extra staff, or hire ecological consultants or the like – I do it for free, as well as paying membership fees to help fund full and part time staff, infrastructure and other fixed, incidental and opportunity costs.  Not to waste them on half-hearted, on-the-bus/off-the-bus participation in what I consider to be a very important government-endorsed, multi-agency, conservation initiative that warrants fully-engaged, wholehearted commitment for however long it takes to secure the hen harrier’s future.     Glad to hear that our Society is continuing to support two thirds of the HHAP, why then announce with great fanfare that we were withdrawing support from the scheme?  And you still haven’t answered my query about the Southern England reintroduction pillar of the Project – what is happening with that?  And still struggling to understand how the situation changed between the Conservation Director’s clear and unambiguous statement on 6th June, and his volte-face on 25th July – please enlighten us.  For my part, if our Society wishes to Influence, positively, law abiding estates and responsible organisations - and anyone else for that matter - then it needs to engage with them in a sustained and fully collaborative and cooperative manner, for the long-term, not flounce out of painstakingly built partnerships and initiatives at the first hint of difficulty. Finally, I’m afraid I won’t be attending next week, because I have no desire to support the former Conservation Director - the chief proponent of the events - after his shocking blog postings of 6th and 7th October 2014 when he incited his readers to denigrate, disparage and generally abuse gamekeepers en masse, on-line, see here - http://tinyurl.com/jdygb4j and here - http://tinyurl.com/hfncpsr .  This thoroughly nasty piece of on-line, rabble rousing and incitement was very aptly dubbed a ‘Gamekeeper Hate Fest’ by one of our very own Skydancer Project volunteers – see the final Comment on the 7th October 2014 posting.  I prefer to support the hen harrier by getting out on the ground and reporting anything suspicious I see or find to the police – like the dead hen harrier I found in the Scottish uplands last year.  No signs of foul play in that particular instance according to the Police Service of Scotland and the Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture experts who analysed the samples I collected (because no-one else was prepared to).     Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow at Ragley?      

Comment on Leaving the Hen Harrier Action Plan: a personal perspective Post Origin "Blánaid Denman Blog" added here on July 28th, 2016

Posting on behalf of Jeff Knott... Hi Keith, Apologies for brevity, but I'm on my phone and struggling with technology (ok, more struggling with my technological ineptness)! Good to see the Chief Exec of Songbird Survival taking an interest in hen harriers. On lack of progress, as explained in Martin's blog, fewer hen harriers than last year and ongoing incidents lead us to believe no progress has been made and indicate a lack of willingness to change voluntarily. On what happens now, we will focus on what we always have done, before, during and after the plan – trying to protect the birds on the ground. Our Hen Harrier LIFE Project was and is continuing to deliver on the first four points of the Action Plan. On licensing specifically, we published some principles about 2 years ago on Martin's blog and will be more to come. In the meantime I look forward to law abiding estates and responsible organisations accepting that there are real problems to be addressed and championing licensing as a way to drive up standards. Finally, as I said here, I invested more in this plan than most, but I'm now convinced it cannot deliver, so it’s time to try a different approach. Look forward to seeing you at hen harrier day next weekend! Jeff

Further Evidence of an Excellent Breeding Season Post Origin "North Lancs Ringing Group Blog" added here on July 28th, 2016

I have already reported about the good productivity of our nest box schemes,  now our ringing sessions provides further proof . A  further visit to Jerry and Barbara's garden brought the total Great Tit catch  for the month to 81 which compares to  last years total from August to April of 85! Blue Tits were 91 compared to 153 in the whole of last season. Great Spotted Woodpeckers an amazing 21 one short of last seasons total and Bullfinch 24 last month compared to  only 21  last year. All proof of an excellent season with almost all of these birds being juveniles.

At our reed bed site at Leighton Moss  because of poor weather we visited in July on four less occasions than in 2012 but allowing for this Willow,  Sedge  and Reed Warblers are all well up as  are Blue Tits. Blue Tits are interesting, the percentage of adults in last seasons catch was17% this year it is only 2.5% a sure sign of good productivity.

Just got the results of our Pied Flycatcher RAS in the Lune valley. We  ringed 483 nestlings which is 163 up on 2015 even though the breeding population was ca 10 pairs lower this year. and there was high predation at two sites.

Will be interesting to see if this good productivity results in good ringing catches as the season progresses .

John

Multiple juv meds Post Origin "Pete Marsh Blog" added here on July 28th, 2016

Heysham Obs
An 0930 check of the outfalls/Red Nab from Ocean Edge:

Med Gull - 3 x 1CY, 2 x 2CY, 5-9 Ad/3CY (mobile!)
Kittiwake - 2CY
Whimbrel - at least one

Guillemot remains Post Origin "Pete Marsh Blog" added here on July 28th, 2016

Heysham Obs
From Pete Woodruff - thanks for this
Med Gulls - all adult or 3CY
11 Red Nab in one 15 minute scan 
1 Stage 1
2 Stage 2

Guillemot still by intake, and 1st summer Kittiwake which incidentally behaved in the same way the bird I saw 12 July did, in that it was reluctant to fly but did so a few metres along the sea wall to sit again, if this is the same bird, it's surviving whatever's the problem is
 
Moths
A local mega in the form of a Plain Golden Y!

 

Where’s the dolphins gone? Post Origin "Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris Blog" added here on July 27th, 2016

The Safari has been out on Patch 2 for the last couple of days doing a lunchtime hour's watch as part of the National Whale and Dolphin Watch. So far we've had plenty of people joining in and several passer's by asking about what can be seen out to sea. But the only blubber we've seen is a single Grey Seal. Yesterday there was a big bait ball of fish which drifted in on the ebbing tide with at least 50 Gannets and many more gulls in attendance, three Kttiwakes were seen too. If there had been any Bottlenose Dolphins in the bay they surely must have been attracted to that commotion so we can fairly confidently say that unfortunately there's none around...YET. Will we see any tomorrow? There's plenty of time to go before the event ends on Sunday.
We did a rough count up of all the Grey Seals in the top end of this side of the Irish Sea and came up with about 1000 depending on how many hang out, haul out on the eastern side of the Isle of Man...that's a fair blob of blubber so why don't we have any mammal eating Orcas resident in the area? Wish we did, getting very jealous of Monika's recent escapades over on San Juan island in Washington state. Maybe we did in the dim and distant past of the 16th or 17th centuries and we humans managed to kill them all.
This morning on the way in to work we stopped off at the nature reserve to watch the Fylde Ringing Group's demonstration which was postponed from last week due to the bad weather. By the time we arrived they'd already started and processed some Reed Warblers. These turned out to be order of the day. Several were brought from the nets in the reedbed to the ringing station where the assembled early risers were shown the methods by which the birds are aged and sexed as well as how all the various measurements are taken, including looking at the pattern of spots inside the birds' mouths. All very fascinating and a superb opportunity to get to see the birds close up and personal!
A couple of Gatekeepers kept us occupied while the ringers were away in the scrub checking the nets.
Back at the office we got a txt saying we'd missed the star bird of the morning, a juvenile Cetti's Warbler proving that they have bred on site again this year. Not only that the Bittern that was spotted earlier in the week was seen again, and again later in the day too, this is likely the earliest 'autumn; bird for the site. We last saw one there on 19th March and we're not sure if it was seen after that by anyone else. Could it have been on site all that time without being seen???
Back at Base Camp the ringed Greenfinch was back again briefly the other evening, we managed to fire of a few shots but the angle was poor and the light worse so we weren't able to get a clear shot of the missing digit. 
Also about are a fair few young Herring Gulls fresh out of the nest and not that brilliant at flying yet. They're landing in all sorts of places we never see the adults.
They get a bit nervous when the can't see ma or da and start calling with that piercing shrill anxious cry they have.
Where to next? More whale and dolphin watching tomorrow lunchtime and we'll probably sneak in an early morning peek too.
In the meantime let us know who's giving ear piercing squeals in your outback.

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