Monday, 28 February 2011

Buzzards and Barn Owls

Saturday morning we had Jackdaws coming onto the bird table and flying off with beakfuls of food- surely too early for them to have chicks. Barrie saw 5 buzzards soaring over the trees opposite the 77 garage in Gisburn and when we walked down later there were 3 soaring and calling. 2 kept fighting and chasing each other- rival males? On Sunday afternoon we were driving towards Slaidburn when we saw a flash of white wings behind a hedge, didn't look right for a seagull, maybe a male Hen Harrier - surely not a Barn Owl. We pulled over and another vehicle passed us and the bird appeared to fly off - Barn Owl!! Barrie rummaged for his camera on the slight chance it was still around and I got out. I looked over the wall and could see nothing. Not sure if it was me moving or Barrie winding his window down but a little white heart shaped face shot up above the reeds. The owl took off surprisingly slowly with heavy wingbeats and disappeared into the hawthorn and scrub in the valley. Feel a bit mean, if its out in the day hunting is it starving or even possibly got chicks already? Saw a Jay at Stocks reservoir and this morning had a Siskin on the bird table though it was frightened off by the Jackdaws.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Leighton Moss

Went over to Leighton Moss on Friday. As we were driving below cliffs saw a Peregrine overhead with a bird. Driving alongside the Moss we saw a Marsh Harrier  and at the Moss itself there were a pair of Buzzards circling overhead calling. It was quite late when we arrived so we went to Lillians hide and watched the Starlings come in to roost. Small groups came in in waves heading towards the conifers then suddenly there was an enormous eruption of birds and we were treated to the spectacle of them ebbing and flowing in swooping circles above the reeds. Noticed how much they have flattend the reed beds. Here in Gisburn the Snowdrops have been out in force since early February and the hedge bottoms are dotted with the shiny green unfurling leaves of Arum and the new green flowering shoots of Dog's Mercury. Hazel catkins are all releasing pollen and the Alder catkins look set to do the same soon.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Signs of spring

The weather has kept us indoors the last few days but we ventured out for a short walk this afternoon. Lots of  yellow Hazel catkins in the hedges and they release puffs of pollen when flicked. Lots of Alder catkins too but not open yet. Down by the Ribble which is really high there was a small group of Willow with lovely silvery catkins out. The heavy rain has washed a lot of the Wild Garlic bulbs out of the ground and there is a strong smell of garlic in places. In the hedge bottoms there were lots of Garlic Mustard seedlings and the rosettes of Red Campion. Its also really easy to see the places where the deer cross the road as the ground is all churned up with their hoof prints. It was nice to see small groups of Snowdrops too but I don't know if they are wild or garden escapes.