A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Monday, 26 June 2017

Man Orchids at Copper Hill, Lincolnshire!

Man Orchids are one of my favourite species of British orchid, and having last seen them flowering nearly ten years ago, I thought it was time I made a trip back to take another look and get some improved photos of these fantastic plants.
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
With Man Orchids enjoying a decidedly southerly bias in terms of distribution in Britain, I returned to the same site I visited in 2009 to see them – the botanically rich roadside verges of the Copper Hill reserve in Lincolnshire and the most northerly site in Britain where Man Orchid occurs. 
Copper Hill - Lincolnshire
The Copper Hill roadside verge
Situated just outside Ancaster, the roadside verges that fall under the reserve’s boundary are protected under Lincolnshire’s Protected Roadside Verge Scheme, and as such a particularly rich and diverse mixture of limestone flora is allowed to thrive, including the endangered in Britain Man Orchid.
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Benefitting from an escape from the vastly overused council lawnmowers, the Man Orchids, along with a whole smorgasbord of other wildflowers, seem to be doing exceptionally well here, and we counted at least 34 spikes of these unusual orchids along the short stretch of the eastern verge (although the Wildlife Trust volunteers counted an exceptional 50 spikes a few days earlier!). 
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchids are one of the most fascinating species of orchid in Britain (along with the rest of the often-extravagantly decorated Orchis genus) and a closer inspection of the flower spike reveals a column of delicate banana coloured human shaped flowers washed with a delightful rich red and bronze hue, each one impressively mimicking a tiny little man. 
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Apparently the flowers also give off the scent of fried onions, although I didn’t sniff them to confirm whether or not this is just a rumour! 
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchids are one of the taller species of orchid in Britain, often growing to around 30cm high
With our native wildflowers in decline over here in the UK, it would certainly be good practice to allow all of our roadside verges to flourish like is the case at Copper Hill, instead of the current trend for our councils to be obsessed with neat and tidy short-mown grass, completely bare and devoid of any floral character at all. 
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchid in situ!
Copper Hill Reserve - Lincolnshire
The tank the Man Orchids are next to
Man Orchid - Copper Hill, Lincolnshire
Man Orchids in situ!
Copper Hill Reserve - Lincolnshire
Parking at Copper Hill reserve is off King Street (NG32 3PY), and the end of May/beginning of June is the best time to visit.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Mega!! Elegant Tern at Pagham Harbour, West Sussex!

After a relatively poor spring in terms of mega migrants, we thought a trip up to Glasgow so Alex could attend a concert would hopefully not result in us missing anything major on the birding scene…. We should really have known better, as right on cue with just 3 days to go after a spring of silence, it seemed the fates were against us and the birding Gods were punishing our naivety as the mega alerts wailed in to action **MEGA – Elegant Tern in Hampshire!!**
Elegant Tern in Hampshire
Pulses racing, our excitement was short lived as in the brief hour the Elegant Tern was present on the sandy spit at Hayling Island, only 6 observers managed to connect with it before it flew off out to sea, with nothing further until the Friday night when it was seen flying off towards West Sussex late afternoon after a 10 minute visit to Sandy Point.

Thinking it was unlikely to be pinned down to a site and with many of the Sandwich Tern colonies along the Hampshire coast situated in inaccessible locations, the fact that the mega alerts went off once more signalling the Elegant Tern had been refound at Pagham Harbour in West Sussex 10 minutes before we were due to set off for Glasgow didn’t cause too much alarm, as it surely wouldn’t hang about long enough for the twitching masses to connect with, its departure 20 minutes later adding weight to our misplaced hopes. 

How wrong we were, as the entire journey up to Glasgow and the evening therein after consisted of a constant stream of mega alerts telling us the tern was still present and showing well to its steadily increasing crowd of admirers, all happily ticking this potential first accepted record for Britain. 
Pagham Harbour, West Sussex
The Elegant Tern was a definite crowd bringer!
Colour ringed and DNA confirmed as a pure Elegant Tern in France where it usually hangs out, this was the best chance in history to get this species on our British lists – and we were heading off in the opposite direction up to Scotland!

There was only one thing for it, and with alarms set for 3:40am after a short snatch of sleep after the concert had finished, we were soon on our way back down a deserted M6 and heading for the south coast – a trip from Glasgow to Cheshire with the small matter of a diversion to West Sussex well underway!

465 miles and 8 hours later we arrived at the RSPB Pagham Harbour car park, the parking attendant’s walkie-talkie crackling in to life as he directed us to a parking spot informing us that the tern had just this second flown off – horrendous timing. However, with the Elegant Tern having developed a pattern of heading out to sea to fish for periods of time before returning to “Tern Island” to rest, we set off on the 30 minute walk to where the bird was spending its time hopeful that it would soon return.
Pagham Harbour - West Sussex
Blue skies over Pagham Harbour
3 hours later we were still hoping - there was still no sign of the Elegant Tern coming in to the harbour despite religiously checking every single Sandwich Tern that sped past us. With the sun having long since departed there was also now a definite chill in the air, bringing up goosebumps on a number of short-sleeved bare arms in the crowd of waiting birders. 
Sandwich Tern
Plenty of Sandwich Terns..but no Elegants amongst them!
Our morale at this point was decidedly low, surely, after our mammoth effort the tern hadn’t done the dirty and moved on after seeming so settled? With our hopes slowly diminishing, eventually the cry went up that we were hoping for – someone had just seen the Elegant Tern in flight over the island! Hurrying over to the point of the muttering and the source of the cry amongst a jumble of birders and scopes, a hectic few minutes followed, as directions were bandied around and I just couldn’t get on the single orange billed individual amongst a hovering mass of swirling Sandwich Terns. Having only the one scope between us proved particularly difficult; binoculars useless in being able to distinguish the bill colours in the fast moving and distant tern flock and I was definitely starting to panic that our tern would get flushed or hunker down unseen in the vegetation.
Pagham Harbour, West Sussex
The patch of vegetation the Elegant Tern favours - in-between the two bungalows
Pagham Harbour, West Sussex
"Tern Island"
Eventually however, after a good ten minutes of mental anguish, the cry went up that it was hovering over the island again, and getting my eye to the scope I was finally able to clasp eyes on a huge orange billed tern hovering over the coastal vegetation, facing towards us before turning and showing off the monster carrot coloured bill in all its glory, a pale orange in shade and with a slight curve to the tip. Success, relief and Elegant Tern and a British mega safely in the bag!

Proving exceptionally elusive in the afternoon we were there and with Alex wanting better views, we only saw the Elegant Tern once more in the next two hours, only realising that a small group of birders were watching it from the top path above the steps as we were leaving the site. Peering through their scopes revealed the Elegant Tern settled happily amongst the vegetation on the island, partially obscured behind the foliage but displaying its large orange bill on occasion as it preened and raised it in to the air. 
Elegant Tern - Pagham Harbour, West Sussex
Perhaps the worst record shot ever seen. The orange bill is noticeable though! 
With time marching on and the prospect of a long drive back ahead of us after such an early start, with the tern once more disappearing into the green we decided to call it a day (our hope of only being on site for a couple of hours a distant memory after being at Pagham for around 5 hours!), making the long walk back to the car park and pleased that our efforts of driving from one end of the country to the other in pursuit of this mega tern had paid off! 
Pagham Harbour, West Sussex

Elegant Terns in Britain and the Western Pal:

Elegant Terns have danced with acceptance onto the British List for a number of years now, with presumed individuals seen in Devon and Wales in 2002, along with another bird found in Dorset back in May 2005. An orange-billed tern species fitting the profile for Elegant Tern was also photographed off New Quay in Ceredigion in 2015.

However, despite 5 birds being accepted in Ireland from 1982 onwards, none have been officially recognised on the British list due to apprehensions of them possibly being the result of hybridisation with Sandwich Terns, which has so far been impossible to rule out on visual appearance alone. Recent studies in France however have well and truly disproved this theory after 3 individual Elegant Terns found breeding in Sandwich Tern colonies along the French coast were caught, rung and had their DNA analysed, with the results proving beyond doubt that the 3 birds concerned were indeed 100% Elegant Tern. As opposed to Mitochondrial DNA analysis which incorporates genes from the maternal parental lineage (and in turn wouldn’t be able to rule out a Sandwich Tern father) multilocus barcoding from nuclear DNA was used in the French studies, meaning genes from both the mother and father birds were taken in to account and thus establishing a definite species parentage. A fantastic article by Birdguides looks at this study in depth, as well as the full occurrence of Elegant Tern in Western Palearctic waters. 

Coupled with an additional two unringed birds also seen off the French and Spanish coasts in recent times, there is the distinct possibility that an impressive 5 Elegant Terns (at least) could be frequenting our Western Palearctic waters. This is made even more remarkable by the fact that two of these birds have paired up to breed since 2009 at L’Albufera (one of these birds is a rung and DNA assured pure Elegant Tern), signalling that there could well be a pure pair of Elegant Terns breeding in Europe. 
Elegant Tern distribution in Europe
Distribution of Elegant Terns in Europe
Usually inhabiting the Pacific coastline of Western America and enjoying quite a limited breeding range, it is fascinating as to how 5 Elegant Terns all ended up in Western Pal waters, even going so far as to breed together. It’s possible that the birds were blown off course from the Central Americas or while travelling around the South Atlantic Ocean, ending up in South African waters before heading up north to Europe each breeding season. Indeed, sightings of ringed birds off Cape Town and Namibia during the winter months indicate that the European Elegant Terns do overwinter there.

Sightings of each of the three ringed birds are well recorded, along with their breeding successes each season, and any hybrid chicks are ringed and monitored. As the hybrid young don’t visually display Elegant Tern characteristics (instead having black bills with a small yellow blob on the end) the chances are that if any orange-billed Tern seen in British and Irish waters looks like an Elegant Tern, then it most probably is an Elegant Tern.

The Pagham Harbour bird has thankfully been identified from its colour ring combination as one of the DNA tested pure Elegant Terns (known as bird C), removing any possible doubt as to its parental credentials and hopefully assuring it a safe passage straight on to Category A of the British list. The recent DNA analysis should hopefully also allow the previous records in Britain in 2002 and 2005 to be reviewed with a view to acceptance, based on the fact that they are highly unlikely to be hybrids.

Residing in France during the breeding season at Banc d’Arguin, Bird C – a male – was first seen in 2002 and was rung a year later, breeding in subsequent years intermittently from 2005 to 2013 with a Sandwich Tern. Bird C was also seen down in France up until mid-May, before it ventured north up into British waters. Whether it now stays to breed amongst the Sandwich Terns at Pagham Harbour is another matter, although it was reportedly seen to engage in courtship behaviour with a Sandwich Tern on several occasions. 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Bird's-nest Orchids on the Great Orme, Llandudno!

Having last seen Bird’s-nest Orchids once before way back in 2010, I was keen to catch up with several plants in bloom on the Great Orme in Llandudno, handily just over an hour away from home. Not being able to get over there to see them last year, late May saw us take a trip over to this botanically rich hotspot to explore the woodlands around the base of the Orme in an effort to try and find them.
Bird's-nest Orchid - Great Orme, Llandudno
Parking up at the Happy Valley car park area and taking one of the small trails into the trees, expecting a lengthy search I was surprised at just how quickly we stumbled across our orchids – looking up the slope we were met with two distinctive caramel-brown flower spikes nestled among the Dog’s Mercury and looming out of the dark understorey gloom. 
Bird's-nest Orchid - Great Orme, Llandudno
At first glance perhaps appearing dead to the untrained eye, on closer inspection they were flowering to perfection, tiny golden florets adorning tall leafless stems in the deep shade of the woodland floor.
Bird's-nest Orchid - Great Orme, Llandudno
A quick exploration of the surrounding area also revealed a third spike hidden a little bit further up into the trees, but we were unable to spot any additional plants in the immediate vicinity. With just three spikes (there were apparently only three plants last year too) this looks to be a very small population, but with extensive woodland carrying on further up the slope it’s highly likely there could well be more in the area.

Although Bird’s-nest Orchids can often be perceived as drab, uninteresting and plain looking due to their uniform brown flowers and stems (especially compared to some of the other more extravagant orchid species), there is actually a subtle beauty to these unusual orchids, with each petal looking as if it has been brushed with a delicious coating of sticky golden honey and almost looking good enough to eat. 
Bird's-nest Orchid - Great Orme, Llandudno
Their lack of leaves and chlorophyll (hence the brown colouration) also adds to their interest, mystery and allure, going against the grain of how plants are traditionally perceived and creating an air of botanical charisma. Completely lacking the ability to photosynthesise from the sun and instead obtaining all the nutrients they need from their fungal hosts deep in the soil, this allows them to tolerate the extensive shade and darkness that other flowers simply can’t manage. 
Bird's-nest Orchid - Great Orme, Llandudno
Bird's-nest Orchid - Great Orme, Llandudno
The Bird’s-nest Orchid has a tangled mass of roots, shaped, unsurprisingly, like a bird’s nest and indicating how it gets its name
With a scattered distribution across the UK and classed as Near-threatened in Britain on the Red Data list, there are only a handful of sites for the Bird’s-nest Orchid in the North West, although the north-east Welsh woodlands appear to be a bit of a local stronghold with occurrences around Wrexham, Mold and Ruthin all in recent years. Notably, 25 plants were also recorded in a small wood just south of Abergele hospital in 2005, as well as another record in 2006 near Bryn-y-maen, south of Colwyn Bay.

Looking back at the historical records it seems Bird’s-nest Orchid was present on the Great Orme back in the 1970’s and up to 1986, but a lack of reports after this time indicates they may have disappeared at the site until recently (I’m aware they’ve been occurring here for the past three years though at least).
Bird's-nest Orchid - Great Orme, Llandudno
Bird's nest Orchid photography in action!
With at least 7 species of orchid present on this botanically rich limestone headland, hopefully the Bird’s-nest Orchids will continue to thrive here in the coming years, expanding their population and continuing to add a sparkle to the jewel in the botanical crown that is the Great Orme. 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Great Reed Warbler chase - Albert Village Lake in Leicestershire!

Great Reed Warbler is a species I’d not yet managed to catch up with in the UK – not quite mega enough to warrant a 4 hour trip to Norfolk or Suffolk but sufficiently rare enough that only a small sprinkling of records occur in Britain each year. Bar a 1 day individual that took up residence in the West Midlands back in May 2015 (unfortunately on a weekday!) there hadn’t been any other birds nearby to twitch in recent years which meant Great Reed Warbler had remained off my list. 
Great Reed Warbler - Albert Village Lake, Leicestershire
Great Reed Warbler - a master of hide and seek!
Therefore, when reports surfaced of an individual found singing in the reeds at Albert Village Lake in Leicestershire a few weeks ago, I was keen to get down there to see if we could connect. Making the 2 ½ journey down to the midlands, we were soon approaching the southern reedbed the bird had been found in that morning, reports of it being extremely elusive playing on our minds and eyeing the grey rainclouds overhead ominously, hoping they would hold out until the evening.

Spotting several scopes on the opposite bank trained towards the reedbed, it transpired there was a 50/50 chance of picking the right viewpoint – heading over to the other side for distant views as the bird flew between the reeds or stick on the main reedbed side and hope the warbler revealed itself! Immediately hearing the distinctive scratchy and deafeningly loud song emanating from a nearby Hawthorn, we gathered round and hoped this impressive warbler would shortly make an appearance. 4 hours later, we were still waiting….

Tantalisingly close and a metre or so away at one point, it’s fair to say that the Great Reed most definitely won the game of hide and seek, teasing us with its song but refusing to show.
Albert Village Lake, Leicestershire
The reedbed at Albert Village Lake that the Great Reed Warbler favoured
As the afternoon wore on and with silence on the singing front for the past half an hour, we were just about to throw in the towel when our songster started up again, a brief glimpse obtained as it bombed down in to the bottom of the reed edge right next to the lake. Frustratingly we could see the reeds moving as it worked its way along, but just couldn’t see it due to the thick vegetation! Luckily at this point, fellow birder Jake Gearty (who had been watching it from the other side of the lake) ran back to the let the crowd on our side know it was on view and visible from the opposite edge – cue a frantic dash around the lake! 

After a few tense moments when the bird had disappeared, the Great Reed finally gave itself up, proceeding to work its way along the edge of the reeds, occasionally perching on an exposed stem to belt out its song, audible even at this range. Luckily I managed a handful of distant record shots – extremely hard when the bird was constantly on the move! Despite the distance, the extreme size difference from our regular Reed Warblers was apparent, as was the huge bill as it stopped to sing. Success, relief, and after 4 hours patiently waiting we had finally nailed our target. Proof that perseverance does eventually pay off! 
Great Reed Warbler - Albert Village Lake, Leicestershire
With the rain now threatening to break and the Great Reed retreating back in to the reedbed, we decided to call it a day, admiring the displaying male ducks in the bay as we passed and feeling exceptionally glad that we’d took a chance and tried our luck! 

Monday, 22 May 2017

Beautiful Bempton - but no Black-browed Albatrosses!

Albatrosses are truly a thing of awe – masters of the open oceans and enough to make any land based birder go weak at the knees at the prospect of seeing one cruise past on a seawatch off a British headland. Having never seen an albatross of any kind in either British waters or elsewhere, the thought of a Black-browed Albatross frequenting the seabird cliffs of Bempton RSPB was more than enough to tempt us up to Yorkshire for an all-weekend albatross stake-out.
Black-browed Albatross at Bempton - Joe Fryer
12 year old Joe Fryer's amazing Black-browed Albatross photos from Bempton!
First seen and photographed last Saturday by an eagle-eyed 12 year old boy and his Grandad, there had since been a subsequent two more reported sightings during the week from Bartlett Nab viewpoint at Bempton, when the bird was apparently seen flying close in to the cliffs. With no photographs to accompany these two reports however, there has been doubt cast by some amidst possible confusion for the unwary with immature Gannets, but without photographic evidence, who can honestly say they would have instantly believed a 12 year old excitedly running into the RSPB Visitor Centre claiming an albatross!

As to be expected, despite a Saturday and Sunday vigil through rain and shine watching from the cliffs, we didn’t even catch a sniff of the albatross, the bird being reported still from Sylt in Germany on the Saturday evening (having been roosting for 4 hours with swans on the lake at Rantumbrecken while we were battling torrential rain on the cliffs hoping it would pitch up there!) putting paid to any realistic hopes it might materialise off Bempton. Indeed, further reports surfaced later on the Sunday that the bird was still present at Sylt that morning (though we didn’t see this until after we were back!).

Nevertheless, the spectacle of the seabird city that is Bempton was enough to keep us occupied during the weekend, with Kittiwakes, Razorbills and Guillemots galore, along with firm seabird favourite the Puffin putting in several appearances. It was also great to be able to watch the Gannets up close, a small group perched on the cliffs in front of the viewpoint offering a fantastic insight in to their secret oceanic world and providing front row seats to their mesmerising courtship displays and neck dancing.
Gannets - Bempton Cliffs RSPB, Yorkshire
Not albatrosses...
Gannets - Bempton Cliffs RSPB, Yorkshire
...but still every bit as beautiful
With the albatross now seemingly back frequenting the German island of Sylt, having been reported there from Thursday onwards after its sojourn across the North Sea, now that it is aware that Bempton and its thousands of breeding Gannets exists, there is every chance that it could return in the future and settle down for a spell in Yorkshire - in which case we most certainly will be back for another albatross stake out! Indeed it seems to be becoming increasingly disenchanted from its previous favoured spot of Heligoland in Germany, and after realising that no breeding success is to be had there, could well venture further afield in the North Sea in search of a mate.

Having first rocked up at Heligoland back in 2014 this is not the first time the albatross has ventured across the North Sea either - underwing patterns revealed that the Fair Isle bird back on the 28th May last year was one and the same, having made a day trip over to Shetland from Germany, while the presumed same individual was remarkably photographed resting on a pool at Minsmere in Suffolk back on the 12th July 2015. With huge potential to turn up on the east coast, particularly when there have been no recent sightings over in Germany, it could certainly pay off by keeping a watchful eye from Bempton or any other prominent east coast headlands.

For up to date albatross sightings in Germany, it is best to check the ornitho.de website here, where all the recent sightings are displayed in the right hand column, or through the search function.
Ornitho.de
With perhaps the most famous Northern Hemisphere albatross “Albert” taking up residence for almost 30 years in various Gannet colonies off Scotland (Bass Rock from 1967-1969 and Hermaness in Shetland from 1972-1995) as well as an albatross frequenting the Gannetry at Sula Sgeir during the spring and summers of 2005-2007 for several days each year, hopefully another ‘breeding’ bird will take up residence in a British Gannet colony once more during our lifetime!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Skydancer - Pallid Harrier at the Forest of Bowland

Living in England, male Hen Harriers are not a sight I get to see very often. Driving along a stretch of grassy meadows sadly doesn’t yield a floating figure quartering over the fields as it does in Spain and other European countries, and instead numbers have now been depleted to just a few upland breeding sites – if they can cling on amongst the gunfire that besieges them that is. My first ever male Hen Harrier was an individual at Parkgate Marshes many years ago, a ghostly figure hunting distantly on the horizon, no more than a grey spec on the far away skyline. Fast forward several years and I haven’t seen another male Hen Harrier in England since – a very sad sign of the times indeed.

Therefore when a male Pallid Harrier (even more stunning than a male Hen Harrier) was reported as being present at the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire just before the bank holiday weekend - observed displaying and even nest building - it was simply too good of an opportunity to be missed to catch up with this impressive individual. Having seen a juvenile Pallid Harrier down in Somerset a few years ago, this wasn’t a new bird for either myself or Alex, but with only a very small handful of male Pallid Harriers making it over to our shores compared to juveniles, we couldn’t resist going to see this graceful beauty for ourselves.
Pallid Harrier - Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
Making the gruelling 4km treck to the best viewing spot along the winding hillside, we were immediately met by a hauntingly pale figure quartering over the moors, swooping down and gliding swiftly along the valley bottom, white wings shining out as he twisted and turned in the air. Glorious, and the tiring journey up to the moors was soon forgotten as we watched him perform.
Pallid Harrier - Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
Pallid Harrier - Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
Pallid Harrier - Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
Over the course of the next two hours the crowd watched on in awe as our ghostly visitor completed several circuits over the hillside, often sat perched preening on the fence posts for periods at a time as well as bringing small sticks back to the nest site on several occasions, spindly twigs held tightly in his bright yellow feet.
Pallid Harrier - Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
Pallid Harrier - Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
Pallid Harrier - Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
With a pattern soon emerging of crossing over the road to our right and swooping back overhead, eventually the moment happened that his captive audience had been waiting for, and to appreciative woops and gasps our male Pallid Harrier begun to skydance. Tumbling through the air with extreme grace and speed, wings twisting in a remarkable butterfly-esque style while his trilling call echoed out over the valley, he had the crowd of 30 or so birders completely mesmerised and hooked on his every move.

Sheer beauty, and to have a male Pallid Harrier skydancing over your head is a thing of enchanting magic. Without doubt this was one of the most exquisite birds I’ve seen, and to watch him perform was an absolute privilege. For anyone thinking of going, but hasn’t yet got around to it or who may be put off by the long walk – go! You won’t regret it!
Pallid Harrier - Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
Pallid Harrier - Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
Pallid Harrier - Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
Pallid Harrier - Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
Hopefully the amount of attention the Pallid Harrier is receiving will save him from the unwelcome persecution from gamekeepers in the area - indeed, it’s lucky that it was a birdwatcher that discovered him before the guns did. Sadly though, his aerial acrobatics will most probably be in vain, as the lack of Hen Harriers (and raptors in general) during our walk in the Forest of Bowland area was startling. With the likelihood of a female Pallid Harrier stumbling upon his airtime show almost nil, it seems the chances of a female Hen Harrier joining him at the nest (as was the case in Orkney in 1995) are just as depressingly slim.
Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
Emperor Moth
Emperor Moth
Male Emperor Moth!! What an amazing creature!
With the added bonus of our first ever Emperor moth causing excitement on the moors, as well as a supporting cast of Dipper, Common Sandpipers and Grey Wagtails on the brook, we were exceptionally glad we made the effort to head up to Lancashire to see this incredible bird and endure the tiring 5 mile round walk - although our aching legs and weary feet were nothing a tasty sausage batch once home couldn’t sort out!

For information on where is best to view the Pallid Harrier from, check out the directions page from the RSPB.

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