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).
More odds and ends Post Origin "Pete Marsh Blog" added here on June 28th, 2016
Heysham Obs A pre-rain ringing session by the office saw the two juvenile Great-spotted Woodpeckers, presumably from the successful nest on the reserve, being ringed along with a scattering of warblers and finches
New moths for the year were Yellow Shell, Anania coronata and Common Footman
No time for any birding eg gull checks
Pics from Janet and Tom over the last few days. Thanks. Bad news with Red-veined Darters. I would have expected them before the weather broke and, even if any do appear, they are going to be harder to sort out amongst the by then reddish Common Darters which emerged over the weekend. No foreseeable suitable weather for Red-veined Darter and the shallow ovipositing area was continuously disturbed by splashing dogs at the back end of last summer - whether a continuous suspension of silt - it takes ages to settle - is good or bad for this species is not known. We'll see as there was a lot of RVD ovipositing observed last year and no sign of any late autumn emergence. The caddis is Mystacides longicornis (thanks Steve)
Warning – gruesome! Post Origin "Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris Blog" added here on June 28th, 2016
The Safari is concerned about the future of our environment particularly with regard to what might happen post Brexit from the EU, that dreadful organsation that gave us some the best wildlife and habitiat protecting directives in the world. OK so some member states flaunted the law, looking at you Malta and closer to home, looking at you England with regard to Hen Harrier (and other raptors) persecution and protected upland habitat destruction. But the law is the law and it is up to the member governments to implement and uphold it and bring criminals who defy it to justice. (Please sign this petition)
Also looming on the horizon are new trade deals, the most scary of which for the environment is the TTIP which brings American corporate profit-making at all costs to our shores at the expense of everyone and everything else. They don't seem to realise that we need to put the ecology before the economy - you can't have an economy without ecology, there's no money to be made on a dying planet!
With that in mind there was a snippet from the Woodland Trust the other day suggesting almost half of the population couldn't identify something as commonplace as Oak leaves.
We sometimes do a quiz for groups based on common birds (and trees if the group is up for it) and the results can be a bit frightening. If we are to have any chance of protecting the environment for our sake and its own intrinsic sake people need to be aware of what other species they share their space with. Here's a few and if you don't know what they are try to find out and leave your answers in the comments section. They're all common British species photographed in the garden at Base Camp.
No 2 - being a messy eater
No 2 again
No 4 - a youngster
No 4 - an adult
So have a go and let us know. Then try learning another five species in your area to make 10, then another 10 to make 20 you know well. After that you'll be well on your way to understanding a little bit more about how they fit into the web of life in the environment around you.
But never get complacent about the common and commonplace. House Sparrows were once far more common and widespread than they are now just a few years ago, their early declines went almost unnoticed until the declines were severe.
And don't fall into the trap of thinking that the common and widespread are boring and uninteresting - they aren't and there's always the chance of learning something new about them. Take for instance the very common and widespread Woodpigeon we saw with a couple of Feral Pigeons poking about on the lawn at work yesterday morning. nothing unusual about that you might think, but no that was the first Woodpigeon we've seen on Patch 2 (P2 #63) since 2013 and only seen one other, in 2012...so not so common and widespread as you thought!
This morning we had an early look at a cool, dull and dreary Patch 2. There wasn't a lot going on, nothing out at sea and just a few gulls on the beach with four Oystercatchers. We were about to give it up as a bad job when we had another 'last scan'. Good job we did there was a Little Egret (P2 #64) feeding very close to the wall down at the southern end of the patch. The only other one we've seen here was a fly-past quite a way out to sea last year so it was good to see one close in and grounded.
We didn't have the camera with us so had to run back to the office for it and then walk quickly down to the end of the Prom. When we got there we sneakily peeked our head over the wall to discover it wasn't there. Where had it gone? Carefully we went down the steps for a better view along the beach. There it was right down under our normal watching point...doh! Back we went but as soon as we got near we saw it fly and it didn't give us much of a chance to get any shots off as it went round the corner.
We caught up with it a few hundred yards further north feeding again in the pool at the bottom of the wall.
Minutes later it flew further on again and we had to leave it be and get back to work.
At lunch time we were out again as the rain started to fall. Again there wasn't much out there and again we had one last look this time seeing a dolphin washed up on the beach a long way to the south and down by the low water mark. At first we thought it was a Bottlenose Dolphin, it looked big through the scope. But looks can be deceiving; we drove down to the bottom of the Prom and walked out across the beach to discover it was a five foot long (1.5m) Harbour Porpoise.
Some of the following pics aren't too pleasant so if you're squeamish be prepared for a bit of blood.
An unusual wound but made how and by what
We think these are just peck marks from the local gulls
The other side was unharmed
There are some possible rake makes - again from what?
Sad to see a beautiful animal in a state like this and this wasn't the only one recently. A few nights ago police officers helped rescue a young calf back into the water but unfortunately it washed up dead later that night. Prior to that another dead juvenile had washed up earlier in the day. What's going on? No fish? There's certainly very few Gannets or terns out to sea this week, or could it be that pod of Bottlenose Dolphins that's about from time to time being brutally aggressive.
Hope there's no more dead on the beach tomorrow.
Where to next? We'll be back on Patch 2 in the rain no doubt. In the meantime let us know who's got the most colourful socks in your outback.
Epipactis and Hypericums – 28th June 2016 Post Origin "Bryan Yorke Blog" added here on June 28th, 2016
Atrorubens starting to come through today(Click over to enlarge)
Already you can see from the above photo that odd Atrorubens are coming through on Hutton Roof. Although most specimens are not yet flowering, just odd ones here and there.
I checked out the lonesome Schmalhauseneii (hybrid) No.1 and the good news is that at least it has come through yet again, making this its fifth year! although sadly the bad news is that again its already been cut by the local deer and will not reach fruition this year which is a repeat performance of last year. We are left with just the two large basal leaves being supported by a superthick lower purple stem.
It is now my fifth year of recording these fabulous hybrids and it seems to becoming more and more clear that the majority of hybrid plants seem to be dying out after their third or fourth years. So it was great to see Schmal No.1 having crossed over that four year barrier.
Looking at the general picture of these hybrid superplants it does not take a lot of working out to see how the possibility could be that they are simply burnt out after three or four years. Obviously the records will confirm this over the coming years but for now its certainly is looking like this could be the position.
Besides checking out more epipactis I thought also I should check out a area which supports a good population of the mega rare Pale St John's Wort (Hypericum Montanum). The best group we had which contained in past years up to 14 individual plants has today lost its best group which did have between 6 to 10 flowers, unfortunately these just have not come through this year. So we are left with a new plant which is already in flower, a two party, and two more singles about. I also need to check out a further two single plants in other areas.
Chiffchaffs are still singing in either broken or shorter verse, but the Willow Warblers are just now calling with their "hou whit" contact calls. I had a family group party calling with alarm. Also the Blackcaps and Garden Warblers have already gone into silent mode.
I did not expect butterflies on the wing today because its been so cloudy, but sure enough odd Ringlets and Meadow Browns were seen and one male Common Blue.
Flowers: Dropwort, Hypericum Pulchrum
Hypericum Montanum's beautiful leaves catching water droplets (flowers not out yet)
Blog Post: The hen harrier rollercoaster continues… Post Origin "Blánaid Denman Blog" added here on June 27th, 2016
It's a turbulent and uncertain time for nature conservation (and everything else) in the wake of last week's EU referendum result. The hen harrier is just one of the schedule 1 species currently afforded protection under the European Birds Directive. What will replace this and other vital pieces of European conservation legislation in the wake of Brexit is yet unknown, however you can read our Chief Executive, Mike Clarke's reaction to the referendum result here . One thing is certain, referendum or no, the emotional rollercoaster that is the hen harrier breeding season rolls on. The Bad News: It is with a heavy heart that only weeks after our beloved Highlander vanished over a moor in Durham, I have to share the news that our one remaining satellite-tagged hen harrier, Chance, has now also disappeared. Satellite-tagged hen harrier, Chance, photographed here at RSPB's Wallasea reserve, in 2014 by Tony Orwell. For those who haven't been following this blog, Chance was a female hen harrier, named by RSPB Scotland, who was tagged in June 2014 by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group before the Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project began. However, the project followed her movements closely. RSPB staff who were monitoring Chance became concerned when her tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting at the end of May. A search of her last known location, on a South Lanarkshire grouse moor, was carried out by RSPB Investigations staff, but there was no sign of her. It is possible that she could have moved some distance from here before going offline. We don’t know what caused the satellite tag to fail but as with Highlander, transmission up to that point had been strong and there was no indication of battery failure. She has not been found. Needless to say, we are deeply saddened, disappointed and frustrated at the disappearance of Chance. We were looking forward to following her movements, monitoring any nesting attempts, and sharing them on the LIFE+ project website. We had high hopes that now in her second year, this would be the summer she raised a brood of her own. We appeal to anyone who can provide any information about Chance’s disappearance to contact the RSPB in the first instance, or if the circumstances appear suspicious, Police Scotland on 101. You can also read a full statement on Chance's life on the Hen Harrier LIFE Project website here . The Good News: Around the same time that Chance disappeared, RSPB staff at our Geltsdale reserve in Cumbria became aware of a female hen harrier hanging around and displaying over the reserve. She was shortly after joined by an immature male, yet we didn't dare hope that anything could come of it so late in the season. I have never been so delighted to be proved wrong. As of late last week, I can now confirm that we have a hen harrier nest with five eggs on Geltsdale, being watched round-the-clock by a team of dedicated wardens, overnight protection staff, and volunteers, armed with the latest remote monitoring technology. This is one of only three active nests in England this year and if successful, these will be the first hen harrier chicks to have fledged from Geltsdale since 2006 - exactly 10 years. A similar nesting attempt last year resulted in failure when the male hen harrier suddenly and inexplicably disappeared while hunting away from the nest. Faced with the prospect of starvation, the female had little choice but to abandon her eggs. With the Government and landowners now officially committed to the recovery of the species through the DEFRA Hen Harrier Action Plan, we have spoken to our neighbouring estates so they can play their part in helping to ensure that this year's birds are safe when they leave our reserve to hunt. So what next? We have everything crossed for successful hatching and fledging from all three nests and we are doing everything in our power to make that happen. However, with the recent sudden and unexplained disappearances of not one but two satellite tagged hen harriers, it is difficult to feel positive about the prospects of this year's fledgelings once they take off. If this is happening to the satellite tagged birds, what can be said for all those hen harriers that haven't been tagged? Through the EU-funded Hen Harrier LIFE Project and with huge support from cosmetics company, LUSH, via the sales of their hen harrier bathbombs, RSPB will be fitting more satellite tags on hen harriers across a wider area this year than ever before. We will also continue to work closely with Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, and dedicated volunteers in the Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) and Scottish Raptor Study Group (SRSG), together with other organisations and individuals to monitor and protect these birds on the ground wherever possible. A wise person once said, "There is more that unites us, than divides us." We all want our hen harriers back.
Our Nuthatch Study Post Origin "North Lancs Ringing Group Blog" added here on June 27th, 2016
I have reported several times about our Nuthatch colour ringing study in Jerry and Barbara's garden at Silverdale. Since September 2015 we have caught a total of 21 Nuthatch coming to their well provisioned feeders. The most birds they see at once on the feeders is usually two. Numbers recorded each month have varied a little with 12 in December and January, 13 in February and a peak of 15 different birds in March. We rather expected numbers to decline in April but13 were recorded in April and 11 in May. These are minimal numbers as un-ringed birds have seen throughout. The May figure of 11 included 8 which were regular visitors suggesting four pairs breeding in the surrounding woodland with three others visiting very occasionally possibly birds from further afield tempted by the abundant fare in the feeders. John
Heysham Heliport mitigation fails at the first hurdle Post Origin "Pete Marsh Blog" added here on June 26th, 2016
Heysham Obs It has been a long road to try and exclude dog walkers and other people from the old heliport site, leading to lack of disturbance of the wader roost along the seawall. Re-fencing was a mitigation measure for Peel Energy's single wind turbine and this was carried out about a fortnight ago. It was stressed time and again the the roost on the seawall would only be undisturbed if either the fencing measures were secure or the exclusion notices were being enforced by security or both. The fencing at the Half moon bay café end is fine, but the south end saw just an extra gate and a lock and was clearly still easy to access, albeit only a matters of a few metres from the security base.
Wondering why the small summering Oystercatcher flock was not using the newly secured seawall, spent a bit of time today observing what was happening and sure enough the regular dog walkers who park and access from the Near Naze are just having the inconvenience of hurdling or climbing over the gate, otherwise it is business as usual
Went to have a polite chat to security as one of these dog walkers also parked on the double yellow lines to see what their take was and I was informed that they had received no instructions to apprehend anyone entering the old heliport site
Please can this be sorted out, Peel Ports? Thanks
Red Nab and area Med Gull - just adult in head moult, full summer adult and single 2CY in a much-reduced gull presence. Again there did not seem to be a lot of food on Heysham One outfall Grey Heron - 1
Moths Nothing startling with Celypha striana new of the year
Always a good day when you learn something new about nature Post Origin "Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris Blog" added here on June 26th, 2016
The Safari was a bit disappointed to find so little in the moth trap this morning after recent double whammy NFGs, just 10 individuals, almost half of those were Heart & Darts, of only six species. Riband Wave was the only one new for the year.
Mid-afternoon we were able to meet up with BD to have a look for White Letter Hairstreak butterflies on Patch 1, they'd been reported from a reserve in the nest town so while it was 'early' for them it was worth a look. We heard two Chiffchaffs in the main area of the park and had a look at the bottom lake but other than lots of litter, Duckweed and lots of Poecilobothrus nobilitatus flies dancing there was nothing there. At the butterfly zone there were several Large Skippers and a few Meadow Browns, the first we've seen this year, and a couple of very fresh smart looking Speckled Woods. The butterflies were mostly inactive hiding away as the sunshine turned minute by minute to more cloudy conditions.
With no sign of the White Letter Hairstreaks and the top of their favourite tree being shaken round quite madly by the increasing wind we decided to have a look at what else was on offer then wander down to the rough field. BD pointed out something we've never heard of before, Sycamore Leaf Aphids spread themselves remarkably evenly across the underside of the leaf, usually we think of aphids as all bunched together at the tip of a plant.
Flitting around the grass nearby and generally refusing to stay still was this colourful Sawfly, Tenthredo sp?
We also found a bee that had made a grave mistake!
Not much nectar there mate!
It had probably got caught out by the sudden much cooler, cloudier and windier weather.
Down at the far end of tthe field BD showed us something else we've not seen bef ore or certainly not noticed if we have seen it before. After looking at a few Yellow Meadow Ants' nests, one of which was huge, maybe about 3 feet (1m) across, he found some Ragwort plants being sucked by aphids white Black Ants in attendance milking them for their honeydew. A closer look revealed the ants had build their nest around the base of the plant, all the better to defend their 'herd'.
The whole base of the plant is completely encrusted with the ants nest
He also found us the first of this year's Grasshoppers and we showed him the local plant specialty Ploughman's Spikenard although it'll be another week before it comes into flower. As in previous years it was sad and upsetting to see wheelbarrow loads of garden rubbish tipped here, as usual mostly all over the big patch of Birds-foot Trefoil smothering most of it so not so many Common Blue butterflies this year - Yet another reason why basic education about the natural history, ecological relationships and what can be found in your local area is so vital.
With no butterflies on the wing now we walked back through the park to the car. Going through the wooded edge of the field BD spotted some weird looking fungi growing out of an old felled tree stump.
Later identified by the world famous and font of all knowledge woodland and beyond AB @HesistantWeasel - well if he isn't world famous he should be - as emerging Dead Mens Fingers. The Council's budget cuts have made it necessary to do much less grass cutting and the lower area of the park is no longer a cutting priority and has been left - it looks great, lots of different colours and textures of grass flowing like waves in the gentle breeze under the trees. There were even some kids enjoying playing in it!
Mostly Yorkshire Fog
Just needs a more flowers to make it that little bit more exciting, but after decades of being scalping twice a week through the summer there's probably precious few taller species left in the turf.
From Patch 1 we drove a couple of minutes up the road to a site we've only visited a couple of times before. It has - or at least had - Common Lizards but the area they were last seen in is now perhaps too well vegetated, if they are still there hopefully they'll have been able to move somewhere more suitable. Seeing the Common Lizards would have brilliant but they weren't what we were hoping for, that was something altogether rarer and harder to find and probably hasn't been at this site for tens of the best part of a hundred years - well you can dream! What we were after was a Grass Snake! Earlier in the week PT had told us one had been seen at a pond near here and the lad that found it had somehow tried to drown it??? That pond is very isolated so was the ID good, where had it come from, how many are there, are they anywhere else nearby - questions questions. Apparently the ID was correct but the other questions still stand...was it a pet someone had released - where do you get and how could you keep a pet Grass Snake, maybe they didn't like the smell? Anyway we didn't find it, the weather was against us as it stayed cold and cloudy and the sun didn't come out to encourage any that might be there to bask. The pond had a family of Coots and a family of Moorhens as well as a sinister looking Heron - not good news for any nearby Grass Snakes! It was the longest of long shots and of course we were unsuccessful, but it's a site that warrants closer and more regular inspection.
In the grassy area we found a Meadow Brown that was far more accommodating than those at Patch 1.
And a Nursery Web Spider
By the pond as we walked through the bankside vegetation we disturbed many Blue Tailed Damselflies and some bright blue ones all of which that stayed still long enough to ID were Azure Damselflies.
From there we went the couple of hundred yards to where the Grass Snake was seen and had a quick look round but the most exciting thing to be seen in the pond was a bicycle wheel.
All good things come to an end as did our time and we turned for Base Camp after a very enjoyable coupla-three hours out on safari not seeing what we hoped we'd see but seeing other wondrous stuff instead.
Where to next? We'll be out n about on safari somewhere tomorrow - but where, that the $64,000 question and probably weather dependent.
In the meantime let us know who's not slithering around in your outback.
Epi(c) not far away NOW ! Post Origin "Bryan Yorke Blog" added here on June 25th, 2016
Photo taken today of this which may have been leaning towards a "Palens" last year(Click over to enlarge)
Saturday 25th June 2016 - Hutton Roof Complex (0900hrs to 1200hrs)
Shortly after parking up I was to be serenaded with a very close Lesser Whitethroat, who sang for some twenty minutes or so and moving across within his territory, I also heard another one singing some two hundred yards away. New for the records for this year.
Also had my first of the year Ringlets butterflies of which several were seen, lots of Meadow Browns and my first Large Skipper.
I was really surprised to see how well the Epipactis where doing with some only a week away from full bloom but the majority still two to three weeks away..
Already Schmal No.8 this year has been got at with either slugs or hare. Can't see how a Hare could have got to it which almost convinced me that perhaps slugs where the culprit, but closeby other plants had already had a Harecut! Pity this because Schmal No. 8 (see photo below which shows it a beautiful show in 2014 but last year 2015 it had been attached by black aphids
Epipactis Schmalhauseneii No.8 - photos 2014 and 2015(Click over photo to enlarge)
Wasn't No. 8 a beauty back in 2014, then look at what happened in 2015 when Black Aphids were being farmed by Black Ants which all literally sucked the life out of the plant, and in 2016 she again has run victim to either slugs or a local Hare.
Also did a check today on Schmal 15 and 16 which were beauties in 2014 (see photo below), but fell victim of a harecut last year and this year No.15 is maturing well (left hand side of photo), but No.16 seems rather stunted at the moment.
The following photo shows how it is today, together with a photo of how they looked back in 2014.
Epipactis Schmalhauseneii Nos 15 and 16(Click over to enlarge)
Here below is the progress of Schmal No.9, last year both 9 and 10 had a harecut, but this year we are just seeing No.9 progress without its mate No.10.
Epipactis Schmalhauseneii No.9 (Click over to enlarge)
This one on the left is hopefully No.9 as seen today and it shows the flower how it was back in 2014 when then it came through with its mate which we called No.10, unfortunately in 2015 both orchids fell victim to a Harecut, but this year we are so far managing to see progress with No.9. This particular plant was like no other on Hutton Roof in that it contains such light features throughout in particular to the green intake. A definate one off Schmal this one and we just do not want to lose them. So fingers crossed....
And here below we have more specials on their way.
All these "specials" seem to be coming through OK(Click over to enlarge) a definite week to fortnight off!
Low tide Post Origin "Pete Marsh Blog" added here on June 25th, 2016
Heysham Obs A quick check at low tide this am saw not a lot of activity on Heysham One which is unfortunate as a lot of the attractiveness for the more unusual odds and ends goes when there is no feeding fest on the seaward end of Heysham One.
Outfalls low tide Med Gull - 2CY feeding end Heysham two Arctic Tern - adult feeding end of Heysham two
Moths Smoky Wainscot and Epinotia bilunana new for year