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Saturday, 17 May 2014

An early start in the fells

This Snipe had a mate with it in the long grass.
Chipping away on the fence!
Wheatear are common on the moorland!
This male Stonechat was feeding young in the bilberry
Male Whinchat,....... not long back from Africa.
This Tawny owl was located due to other birds mobbing it!
He flew across the road to this Beech tree,weighing me up!
Nice contrasting colours!
He was harrased by 2 mistle thrushes and a blackbird.
This I think is the female,her left eye seemed damaged.
A determined effort to obtain some better images of Hares, was my plan for the next few days,so with the alarm clock set for 4.00am I planned to head up to the trough of bowland to hopefully achieve my aim.Early morning is my favourite time of dayt o be out with my camera,the roads are deathly quiet and I can amble along, casually checking all the likely spots.A few known areas were visited where I`d seen hares before.They were there, but at quite a distance from the lens, so my initial hopes were dashed,however the air was filled with the sound of `drumming` snipe. I spent a good hour watching these displaying birds and managed a few flight shots in the process.Occasionally one would land on a nearby fencepost and a cautious approach would get me within range.I am always fascinated by the noise the snipe make when displaying, it brings back memories of being a small boy out in the fields!The drumming sound is produced mechanically, by the vibration of their modified outer tail feathers,which are held out at a wide angle to the body,in the slipstream of a power dive.I think there is no better sound when your out  alone on the fells, watching and listening to these birds,all against a clear blue sky,fantastic!! On my quest for the brown hare ,I came across a couple of roe deer feeding,as the morning gets on, the deer just fade away into the woodlands and you will be lucky to see them!As I climbed higher into the fells and upper moors,I came across a usually productive site for Whincat and Stonechat.After a twenty minute search, the melancholic sound of a male Whinchat could be heard proclaiming his territory.He would have only returned back from Africa a few days earlier so maybe no females where present yet! A pair of Stonechat were feeding young and I watched as The male flew into the bilberry with a tasty morsel for his chicks,he returned to a rock carrying a foecal sack,making sure the nest was kept clean.I was disappointed to see only 1 raptor on my day out and that was a Buzzard patrolling the scree on the hillside.Not long ago you would be guaranteed sightings of Hen harrier, searching the ridges for food.How times have changed for the worst and yes Gamekeepers are partly to blame for their sorry demise and that is fact!So sad not to have these birds any more on our uplands! My hope of encountering a few Hares was dissapointing, but there will be other times I`m sure. My day was more than made up though, by the fantastic scenery of Bowland and  its inhabitants,some of who, were quite obliging for the camera ,in all a great day in a very special place.Catch up with you soon and take care!!

The outer tail feathers make the drumming noise,a similar noise to when you blow through a comb!

Displaying Snipe ! There was about 7 snipe present ,3 of them being females.One would suddenly make her prescence known and the male would dive down to meet her and then land in the long grass,  to continue courtship!!


  1. An excellent illustrated account of your day in Bowland.

    The Snipe displaying images are particularly good and represent the first such photographs I've personally seen, you can almost hear the drumming....Great stuff Paul.

  2. Paul.We have really enjoyed ourselves this week in Bowland.Great images and I can't wait to see the tawny owl.As Pete says the drumming snipe shots are very special and brilliantly captured.Enjoy your forthcoming trip and catch up with you on your return