Wednesday, 22 September 2010

After the dreary drizzle of the last couple of days, summer seems to have made a very welcome return. Went over to Leighton Moss. Saw a buzzard, just outside Kirby Lonsdale, being seen off by a flock of around 20-30 Jackdaws, it circled lazily in the sky while they frantically harangued it. Interesting that the group split, one lot returned the way they had come and rest continued after the Buzzard. We had lunch in the airy upstairs cafe - some lovely fresh sandwiches and cakes, before heading off into the reserve. The flowering reeds were starting to look dry and silvery in the sun, rustling in the breeze, with lots of Dragonflies hawking just above their tops. Went to the Griesdale hide first, lots of ducks, Mallards and Pochards mainly, Little Grebe, a fishing heron and I think a Snipe. The heron lurked on the edges of vegetation, holding its head to one side before striking - compensating for refractioin or dazzle from the sun or was it trying not to cast a shadow on its prey?  We then went to the Allan hide where there were Curlew Sandpipers, Redshank, Curlew and a Crow bringing bunches of Elderberries in to eat on the island. About 4pm at the Griesdale hide we saw an adult deer and juvenile come out of the reeds to graze, then two more adults and two spotty youngsters. As dusk fell we walked along the causeway , seeing a group of deer watching us in the distance. Later as we left the hide, we heard lots of splashing from the reed beds, then stags started calling around us, low and deep, a little eerie in the half light. Above our heads flew the most bats I have ever seen at once in one place, tiny black silhouettes against the silver clouds, veering off at the last moment as they hunted around us. Hard to leave and head home.

Grey Squirrel foraging near car park.

Earth Stars - Geastrum triplex near car park.

Buzzard calling and circling by Griesdale hide.

Heron fishing, Griesdale hide.

Snipe by Griesdale hide.

Deer grazing 4pm, Griesdale hide.

Little Grebe or Dabchick.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Signs of Autumn in Gisburn.

Still breezy but welcome sunshine with blue skies and big fluffy clouds ambling by. Frank has sown his ploughed field and from a distance it has a lovely green sheen, close to you can see all the tiny spears thrusting through the dull bare soil. Still life left in the old year yet, even though there has been a real chill in the air the last couple of evenings. In the high winds several small branches have come down but nothing serious. The hedgerows are bursting with ripe fruit; hawthorn berries, crab apples, sloes and rose hips. Most of the hazelnuts seem to have gone, either the Jays and Squirrels have had them or someone has collected them, though I would think they'd be still a bit green. Sloes looked very tempting, deep purple black with a beautiful bloom, perhaps I'll have a go at sloe gin. Rose hips were covered in insects, feeding on the soft exposed flesh where birds had been pecking, nice to see them having a feast before winter!  Lovely views across stubble field towards Pendle.  Thought all our swallows had gone as gathering on phone lines at the end of last week and only seen one or two since, but as I walked through Franks farmyard there were lots of them swooping around and in and out of his barn, must be all the flies! Wonderful sight, I'm always sad to see them go.

"Looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more"


Pendle looking moody.

Autumn hedgerow

Ripe rose hips and sloes.

Feasting Flies.

Pendle from Coal Pit Lane.

Beech Trees.

Crab apples, the scent from the flowers was wonderful on a summers evening.
Rose hips.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Leighton Moss

Visited Leigthon Moss for the first time yesterday - drove past the entrance once as we were expecting something along the lines of Martin Mere - more of a reserved reserve.  We had a lovely lunch in the excellent cafe before heading off to the hides. Watched Nuthatches and Marsh Tits on the feeders near the visitor centre and my brother got the shock of his life when a Sparrowhawk flew in sending the feeders spinning, though it didn't make a kill. Lots of Redshank and Lapwings. Saw my first Marsh Harrier, I think it was at the Allen Hide. Lot darker and chunkier than the Hen Harriers we are used to around Slaidburn.(Saw two on the drive over the tops) There were several egrets at the Eric Morecambe hide and a Kingfisher flew past at eye level calling. Wherever we went we saw lots of Dragonflies hawking above the water and reeds and we were told there were Hobbys about feeding on them. Bit useless as a birdwatcher as I kept getting mesmerized by the beauty of the place with the sun sparkling on the water and every so often little shoals of fish would leap across the surface of the water after midges setting the water glittering. The sound of the breeze in the reeds was also very soporific.  Will be nice to visit in Autumn and Winter when all the migrants turn up.

Leighton Moss.

Walking through the reedbeds on the causeway.

One of the many Dragonflies we saw.

Redshank stirring up the mud with its feet.

Flock of Redshank.

Several of these were in one of the hides. Totally harmless.