Friday, 25 November 2011

Barn Owl Rimington

Just before we drove into Rimington last night we saw the pale outline of an owl in a tree. Reversed as thought it looked odd - owl sized but skinny! Reversed and could clearly see it was a Barn Owl with a lovely heart shaped face. It looked very indignant to be spotted and took off gracefully flying low over the field. Also nearly ran over a tiny weasel that ran into the road.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Tree Sparrows and Buzzards

We have recently started getting Tree Sparrows in the garden, usually about four at a time. They are quite striking with their chestnut crowns and black cheek patches. We got  a Brambling too but I think it was just passing through. On a recent walk we saw some odd but spectacular behaviour by Buzzards. We heard one calling and spotted a pair, but as we watched more flew in until there were at least twelve all wheeling on the thermals, calling and having the occasional light skirmish. Birds would fly in and then out again seemingly in pairs, so wondered if it was juveniles pairing off. We have never seen so many Buzzards all at once and they looked stunning against the bright blue sky with the sun on their feathers.

Tree Sparrow

Tree Sparrow

Goldfinches regularly visit for Niger Seed

Woodpeckers are regular visitors

Brambling, just seen it the once

Browsholme Hall and Lakeside Walk

Went to the farmers market at Browsholme Hall and had a walk around the lake. Got some lovely photos of Common Darter Dragonflies basking in the sun near a marshy area and stream.

Lake at Browshome Hall

Female Common Darter

Male Common Darter

Friday, 14 October 2011

Autumn Changes

I think its the time of year for all teenagers to be told to make their own way in the world, some go off to University and some just get told to spread their wings and find their own territories. Watched a Short-eared Owl hunting at dusk below Pendle. It would hover, then circle off to a new spot, hover again and suddenly drop. It must have impinged on another Short-eared owls territory however as one came in low and fast, there was a short tussle in mid air, then both flew off to continue hunting, though keeping a very definite buffer zone this time. Then today I watched two Tawny Owls fighting, one was sat quitely in the hedgerow and another flew in and literally knocked it off its perch, there was lots of calling and a very short fight in mid air.  The winner didn't get to enjoy its victory however as the racket brought in Rooks and Jackdaws who mobbed it till it left. Hares are really spooky, I watched one feeding under a beech tree and it seeemed to be able to go from hare to "I am a log" by flattening its ears and rearranging its features, really amazing. Two Grey Squirrels were also chasing round and round the trunk of a Beech tree occasionally stopping to feed on the mast. Bramblings, Siskins and Goldfinches are all back on the birdtable eating the niger seed.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Leighton Moss

Went to Leighton Moss late Tuesday afternoon - Barrie was being interviewed about the Lancashire Wildlife website for Diversity FM who are running a series of programmes called Wild Autumn. The rut seems to be starting although the stags are still eating between short bouts of roaring. Saw one stag and one hind at the Tim Jackson hide and two stags at the Grisedale hide both lying down, chewing the cud and occasionally insulting each other. Overhead large flocks of honking geese were coming in to roost. On the way home just before we crossed the motorway we saw a spectacular sight that we've never seen before. Gathering in and wheeling around the top of one tree were about 100 Jackdaws, all calling and seeming to be pairing off. Then as we drove on there were at least a couple of hundred more sat on electricity cables and whirling above it mostly in pairs and some having to see off challengers - the noise was incredible. Small flocks kept forming and flying off, silhouetted against a magnificent fiery orange sunset. Reminded us of the film The Day after Tomorrow when all the birds fly off to escape the impending mega storm - still here though!

 Autumn accessorizing for the well dressed stag.

Little Egrets roosting.

Greylags coming in to roost.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Autumn mists and spiders

Pulled back the curtains to reveal a very romantic, misty scene with the sun's halo low in the sky. After the stormy winds and rain of the last week it was very welcome. A few diseased branches have fallen with only one tree in the field showing major damage, split completely in two, though again you can see where the rot was starting in the heart of the trunk. The fields and hedgerows are ornamented by countless silver, moisture jewelled spiders webs, the world it would seem, belongs to spiders. In the stubble fields, Gulls, Terns, Rooks and Jackdaws are feeding, some rooks always sit on lookout on the fence posts ready to caw a warning to their families, setting off all the birds in noisy flight. On a rotten log there were some spectacular eruptions of honey coloured fungi and from high in a tree overlooking the lane a robin was singing sweetly proclaiming his territory.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Hodder Show

The Hodder Show was held in Dunsop this year and even though the skies looked a bit grim and we had one downpour the clouds cleared to a lovely sunny afternoon. There was the usual scarily high standard of exhibits in the craft and produce classes and lots of delicious local produce for sale in the food tent. Motorcycle stunt riding was held in the main ring and later there was a display of birds of prey by Cuerden Birds of Prey. Hardier souls than us took part in the fell race - one lady was running in wellies making us feel  complete wimps.

Cuerden Birds of Prey - Barn Owl

Cuerden Birds of Prey - Tawny Owl


The beautiful setting for the show

Sheep shearing competition

Start of fell race - note lady in wellies!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Browsholme Hall and Dragonflies

We visited the Farmers Market and Craft Fair held on the first Sunday of each month at Browsholme Hall, with food and craft stalls inside and plant stalls outside and a Gardeners Question Time with Peter Foley. It was a gorgeous summers day so we tool a walk around the grounds and the lake. Lots of fungi were popping up all over the place, with some stunning ones near the top pool.
We also enjoyed watching dragonflies mating. Males seemed to patrol territories, darting aggressively at any intruder, seeing off any males and grasping any females. When they caught any female, they flew high in the air holding the back of her head with her curled round underneath him. It seemed it didnt last very long or they disappeared into the rushes, but males seemed to be back patrolling very quickly. We saw a female laying eggs, she would land on a rush by the water or a damp mossy trunk then back down, till her tail was in the water.

Browsholme Hall Farmers Market and Craft Fair

Fungi by Browsholme Halls lake

Fungi at Browsholme Hall

Dragonfly egglaying

Male Dragonfly patrolling

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


I got really excited (sadly) when I saw what I thought were loads of hoverlies feeding on some grasses. However when none of them took off I realised they were all dead. I don't know whether they have become stuck on the flowering grass heads or they have been parasitised. All of them were head down with their bums in the air so perhaps its a fungus. I did notice lots of miniscule grubs and cocoons on the head of another grass so maybe its something to do with  them. Very strange. Found a Painted Lady caterpillar (I think) in the grass near thistles and nettles. There are lots of Ladybirds and larvae around too and there were lots of large flies which I think are a type of Flesh Fly hanging around - hope they weren't after the ladybirds. They give birth to live young apparently. Wasps have been coming into my kitchen so I have been throwing apples out as a bribe, (though a friend  suggested I check the nest isn't actually in the kitchen!) they can eat a whole one in a day- you can hear them chewing!



Tiny caterpillars

Painted Lady Caterpillar?

Ladybird larva

Flesh fly - its got suckers on its feet


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Hints of Autumn

Sunny so got up and out early. All the plants are either setting seed or forming fruits, with the Hawthorn berries, Rose hips and Crab Apples well developed. The urge to shout " Stop it, its only the middle of August" is very strong, I still have baby sparrows in the garden and every year summer feels too short and before you know it its Autumn. The crops in the fields are starting to ripen gold and  the green Hazelnuts are looking very fat and tempting - I bet the Jays and Squirrels get to them before I do. There are lots of Sloes too, so I think it'll soon be time to make some Sloe Gin for Christmas.

Harebells are flowering in profusion on sunny banks.

Crab Apples food - food for Fieldfares and Redwings.

Food for me if I get a chance.



Small White

Dew on feather - just looked pretty.

Common Knapweed.

Wet Walk in Wellies.

Did circular walk around Gisburn, how quickly things have changed since my last walk. Threatening leaden clouds filled the sky, and the varied green hues of the grasses and leaves on the trees have faded now and have the tocacco tint of a summer nearly over. Still lots of swallows swooping and weaving over Franks cow sheds, little glimpses of summer against a drizzly sky. Spooked a large hare again, this time it stopped about a 100 ft away to turn and stare at me then took off again. Photographed the patchwork bark of a tree that looked like the sort of thing you would get if Dr Frankenstein had branched out (sorry)  into trees. Orange Cuckoo Pint  berries lurk in the long grasss in the hedge bottoms and the peculiar shapes of fungi are starting to appear.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Odd Wildflowers

 I suppose Red Bartsia is probably familiar to most farmers as a weed, but I've never noticed it before.
It was once regarded as a cure for toothache, its scientific name Odontites verna reflects this, odons being  Greek for tooth. It is semi-parasitic on the roots of grasses, so can survive in areas of low fertility.
It is a relative of the Foxglove, in the photo its seed pods look very similar. Carder bees and  a type of solitary bee feed on red bartsia.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Butterflies and Ladybirds

Still not managed to get a holiday yet and not been out for a walk for ages and missing my nature fix. Did my usual route around Gisburn, very hot and humid but the Hoverflies, Butterlies, Bees and Beetles seem to be loving it. Startled a Hare hidden in the grass a few feet away from me so tip toed like a drunken ballet dancer till I got to the gate as scared of standing on any leverets. Lots of Butterflies feeding on the Thistles by field edge. Red Amirals, Green veined Whites and Small Tortoiseshells. Lots of micro moths too in the long grass and I could hear plenty of Grasshoppers chirping.  In the grass by the hedge there were plenty of seven spot ladybirds and their larvae and I came across two mating Green veined whites who kept getting bothered by other amorous males. Everything is feeling the heat, the sheep were panting in the shade and the young cattle that usually love to trail after me, just stared wearily. It must even be too hot underground, the rabbits were laid up in the shade of the hedges by their burrow entrances.

Green-veined Whites mating.

Red Admiral

Small Tortoiseshell

Ichneumon fly.

Ground Beetles.

Dandelion Clock.