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Saturday, 11 July 2015

Whinchat in the fells!

     I decided to take a trip out to the Bowland fells this week,in the hope of finding a few Whinchat.I'd heard reports that numbers were quite down on previous years and I wanted to see if a few known territories were occupied.I know that earlier in the year on a previous recce, I didn,t see a single bird on territory, where usually you  were guaranteed at least 4 pairs.A sad reflection of the times indeed!

It was a good mile hike to the area that I was heading to and there was usually the chance of seeing various raptors en route.Kestrels were quite numerous,as were about 5 Buzzard but sadly no Harriers were seen.It used to be a stronghold for stonechat too down the track,but again these were conspicuous by their absence!

If the Whinchat hadn,t returned to their territory, it was always worth the effort, just to be in these wonderful fells, on such a glorious day as this.The temps were into the high 70,s and lugging all the gear with me was quite arduous,I tend to think that I,m still in my 20,s,but the strain on my shoulders and knees tell me differently!As the saying goes...no pain..no gain, but I really am going to have to cut down on the gear!

Approaching the decline, down the last bit of track, I stopped to scan the heather and bracken in front and to the side and sure enough the first bird I saw was a Whinchat, sat proud as punch on a thistle.Great, at least there was the odd bird about.By now they should be feeding youngsters, thus making them quite active.They seem to pick a favourite thistle to use as a viewpoint for catching insects and true to form this bird would disappear for 5 to 10 mins and return again, looking for more food!

This gave me time to get in position with my throw over cover and position the lens and tripod, in readiness for a few shots.Sometimes the bird would be away for up to 20 mins and with the heat,  it made for an uncomfortable wait.However it was all worthwhile, when the shutter did come into play.Ive learnt not to be impatient with the shutter button now and let the bird settle before I start taking shots.I always set the shutter count to 'S' for silent mode now,especially with everything happening at close range.In high mode, 10fps, the rattle of the shutter, usually has the subject scurrying for cover.A big plus too, is that it reduces the editing side of things.

Later that morning I found another pair of Whinchat busily feeding fledged youngsters,so 2 pair had made it back to the breeding grounds.Lets hope they have a safe journey south and come to return to the fells of Bowland next Spring...Bon Voyage!!

Again thanks for dropping by and do keep well!!

Thistles are a favourite perch that they use as a viewpoint,plus it makes for a pleasing picture.

                               The backdrop of the fells makes for a nice bokeh too!

                                          Bracken and Whinchat certainly go together.

                                                           Posing nicely about 15 metres away!
Typical Whinchat country,with plenty of foxglove to use as vantage points to catch prey!