Sunday, 7 August 2011

On tour

Into first week August visits to relatives down south took us over the head of the Tweed (A701) then the more tedious M74, M6 and M1. The southbound journey was remarkable on two counts - the complete absence of Kestrels (this is a first, I recall counting them well into double figures on these journeys historically) and the new seabird cities of urban Birmingham, with large gulls spread over the industrial roofs as far as the eye could see - both Lesser Blackback and Herring Gull with young. So many it seems artificial eggs are now being trialled to stem the population expansion.

Along the motorways only two Tawny Owl casualties were seen (Airport Way M1 link at Luton and Coleshill by Birmingham), a couple of Buzzard but no Barn Owl. A little atlas roving at Walton-le-dale outside Preston between the Rivers Darwen and Ribble. Tawny Owls are resident here but surprisingly had not been confirmed for the atlas - a brief excursion produced an individual which flew low over our heads at Mosney after uttering a shrill "kewick kewick kewooooh" call (an exact match to "to-wit to-woo" which is often stated to be an alliteration of calls of a pair). But sadly no young squeaking. A young Goosander was on the Darwen, with a juv Sprawk over the maize fields, and Pheasant was added as a 10km confirmation.

On the way home the Kestrel count was slightly better, at three, and Spotted Flycatchers were a pleasant sight feeding young around Moffat duck pond.

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