Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hills not yet alive with the sound or sight of birds!

Readers of this Blog will recollect that, occasionally, I deliberately cover the local grass moor and adjacent just to be aware of what is around locally and to keep in touch with any environmental changes. This morning, whilst it was windy and the odd shower swept through, the weather was sufficiently fine to have a bit of an exploration.  I say this because the weather of the past two months has been wet, in fact, very wet. The ground underfoot was saturated virtually everywhere and I spent as much time undertaking detours as I did making progress.

The most notable impression was the absence of passerines. The only small birds I encountered  were either in or around the garden ( Blackbirds and Dunnock ), with nothing on the open ground. The nearby conifer plantations were equally devoid of life, although my route only took in the edge of a couple of the larger blocks.  So, what was around?

Well, I suppose you could group them generally under scavengers!  Raven  (3) , Hooded Crow (4),  Greater Black-backed Gull (2), Buzzard (1), Sparrowhawk (1), Hen Harrier (1 ).   There was also a couple of Choughs exploring one of their favourite feeding areas.   Noticeable by their absence was any sign of Pheasants, of which one or two are usually encountered. Given I've not noticed any of the official shoots taking place over the winter then it's seems unlikely numbers have been reduced. Perhaps they've "retired" into the confines of the plantations where drier conditions are available?

I suppose you might question why so many "scavengers" were present , but I guess the prospect of  food availability attracts most of them, particularly dead sheep, Red Deer/Roe Deer, Rabbits or Brown Hare of which , at this stage of the winter, there's bound to be some. The Sparrowhawk was heading towards the house/garden , doubtless drawn by the occasional activity of feeding birds. The male Hen Harrier was moving purposefully northwards up the valley needing, I suspect, to cover a large amount of ground in search of prey!

Certainly a few days of drying winds would be welcome and less frequent rain, but I suspect most of Britain is wishing for the same !!