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Bird Watch Sept 2009

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					                                                    BIRD WATCH
                                                The Bulletin of the Blackburn & District Bird Club
                                                                                                               Registered Charity No. 1007190



                                                Bulletin No. 50                                                           Sept 2009



                     Brockholes does it again
Brockholes has come up trumps                    view the pools from the Ribble Way foot-        thing has gone drastically wrong with this
again ,with four new species for the site        path which conveniently runs through            species. The BTO has added Cuckoo to
arriving in May and June. The first was a        Brockholes. But the rest of us will just        the Red List of endangered birds and ur-
pair of Avocets that visited twice. Once         have to be patient and wait for the official    gent research is under way to understand
the Reserve is up and running we might           opening. We will then all be able to see        the reasons for the decline. It could be the
see these beautiful birds again in future        what a special place this is.                   lack of fat juicy caterpillar in this coun-
years, and who knows, they might even                                                            try, pressures in their wintering grounds
breed. During the same week, a stunning          I don’t know how the rest of you have           in Africa or climate change. Whatever the
Red-necked grebe in full summer plum-            fared this year, but I have found it in-        reasons, the thoughts of Springtime with-
age arrived on Pit No.1 and stayed for           creasingly difficult to find summer visi-       out the call of the Cuckoo does not bear
several days. In June a Fulmar appeared          tors which used to be quite common in           thinking about.
during some bad weather and then a               Lancashire. Redstarts, Flycatchers, Tree
beautiful Red-backed shrike was found in         pipits, Whinchats have all become scarce        Another species that has fared badly in
Boilton Wood which is at the north end           compared to yesteryear and who has              both Scotland and Lancashire this year is
of the Reserve. Other notable birds such         heard a Cuckoo this year? We briefly            the Hen harrier. Although all the nest
as Garganey, Osprey, Black tern and Lit-         heard one in the distance on the White/         sites were occupied in Bowland, only ten
tle gull all reappeared on migration, and                                                        young were raised, with similar results
the Whimbrel roost reached 246 birds - a                                                         being reported from Scotland. Many of
big improvement on last year.                                                                    the adults just did not come into breeding
                                                                                                 condition and this is thought to be due to
The Whimbrels are coming back and new                                                            a crash in the vole population. One good
species are being attracted because of the                                                       piece of Bowland news however is that
great work LWT has been doing in creat-                                                          the Eagle owls have again successfully
                                                                             Avocet
                                                                            Avocet
ing the right environment at the Reserve.                                                        raised a chick in the Dunsop Valley.
New pipes and sluices linking all the
lakes and a renewed main outfall into the        Black Coppice walk in May, and we also          The Club’s winter programme is about to
river have been installed, making it possi-      heard one in the Trough of Bowland              get under way, although it should be
ble to control the water at the correct lev-     when we were hunting for a Woodchat             noted that the first walk scheduled for
els. In addition seven hectares of shallow       shrike that put in a brief appearance, but      Brockholes on September 13th has been
channels and scrapes have been linked            we have not actually seen one in Lanca-         cancelled. When the programme was
together to form good wet grassland habi-        shire at all. I toured the far north of Scot-   drawn up last year, it had been hoped that
tat for ground nesting birds, the benefits       land in June and all the locals up there        the Reserve would have been open by
of which will be there for all to see when       were commenting on the birds demise.            now, but it isn’t. But we do have an in-
the Reserve eventually opens to visitors.        One b+b proprietor said that they used to       door meeting planned on September 7th
The bad news though is that this will not        drive all his guests mad with their inces-      with a talk about Florida by Stuart Mere-
be until early 2011. Work is going to start      sant calls, but this year not a one had         dith. We hope to see the meeting well
on the construction of the floating Visitor      been heard from Ullapool to Cape Wrath.         supported and we would ask all members
Centre in October but there is still a lot to    I personally saw four, one near to the          to consider inviting any friends who are
do even when this is finished. Some bird-        Castle of Mey and another three on wires        interested in birds to come along too. You
watchers have been given special permis-         close to the Falls of Shin. Normally I          never know, you just might end up help-
sion to access the site to help with sur-        would expect to see and hear them every-        ing to recruit a new member for the Club.
veys etc, and it is possible for walkers to      where in Scotland but evidently some-                                                Ed


          Chairman                            Treasurer                    Membership Secretary                  Secretary & Editor
          Jim Bonner                         Edward Hart                       John Haworth                        Anne Wilkinson
        6 Winston Road                 56 Bank Hey Lane South            Edmondsons Cottage Whins              19 Elswick Gdns Mellor
      Blackburn BB1 8BX                  Blackburn BB1 5RQ              Lane Read Burnley BB12 7RB               Blackburn BB2 7JD
      Tel: 01254 261480                   Tel: 01254 57076                   Tel: 01282 772872                   Tel: 01254 812425
                                             BIRD WATCH                                       SEPT 2009


                        Birdwatching and the law
The disturbance of a Hobby nest         The law is clear – all those people     to accept that you have responsi-
just outside our area this summer       who approached the tree did wil-        bilities towards the welfare of
has angered birdwatchers through-       fully disturb the birds by compul-      birds. You need to be aware of the
out Lancashire. The disturbance has     sion, ignorance or accident. And all    Birdwatchers Code of Conduct
been described as wilful – which        those who photographed the birds        (issued jointly by the RSPB and
means that by definition it was re-     without a licence, even by digis-       BTO) and know how to conduct
garded as ‘for which compulsion or      cope or pocket camera did commit        yourself whilst out bird watching.
ignorance or accident cannot be         an offence, which could have
pleaded as excuse, was intentional      landed them with a £5000 fine or a      You need to acquaint yourself with
or deliberate or was due to perver-     jail sentence of up to 6 months.        the Wildlife and Countryside Act
sity or self-will’. But would those     They were all very lucky not to end     1981 and the laws designed to pro-
involved have gone anywhere near        up being prosecuted.                    tect rare birds when they are breed-
the nest site if they had known they                                            ing. You should be aware of the 82
would be committing such a serious      Needless to say, the group of bird-     species scheduled for special pro-
act?                                    watchers were horrified as the reali-   tection under the law and known as
                                        sation of what they had done began      Sched 1 birds, especially if you are
It all started when some birdwatch-     to sink in. Imagine what might have     going to remoter parts of Scotland.
ers learned the location of a Hobby     happened to them if they had been       And most of all you should use
nest whilst chatting to someone in      caught at the site a few weeks ear-     your common sense. Don’t get in-
the Eric Morecambe Hide at              lier, before the eggs had hatched.      volved in discussions about rare
Leighton Moss. This information         And what if they had disturbed the      birds in hides – you never know
was shared with their circle of bird    birds and the eggs or chicks had        who is listening in. Never pass on
watching friends. Some of these         been deserted. Suppose they had         sensitive information except to
birdwatchers visited the nest site      inadvertently given away the loca-      your local Recorder and never be
and watched the birds coming and        tion of the nest to egg collectors or   tempted to go near a Sched 1 nest
going from a safe distance and          falconers. What if the location had     site, no matter how late it is in the
some photographs were digiscoped.       got onto the Internet and hundreds      season. You might be confident in
But two people with less experi-        of people had turned up at the site.    your field craft but it is just not
ence than the others could not find     It does not bear thinking about.        worth the risk. Confine yourself to
the birds, and were stopped when                                                hides and supervised watch points,
they went up to the nest tree in a      Ignorance of the law was no de-         better safe than sorry.        Ed
vain attempt to see them.               fence, nor was the fact that the ma-
                                        jority were pensioners who had
The group was quickly identified        taken up their hobby on retirement.              Rumania Trip
and reprimanded, but a more seri-       There was no excuse. They had
                                                                                Dave Hilliard is thinking of organising a
ous incident had taken place when       filled their heads with bird guide      trip to Rumania next summer. He has
the site was not being officially       books, started keeping lists, gone      been this year and found a wonderful va-
monitored. Two photographers had        abroad on bird holidays – but not       riety of birds and flowers, and the guides
also learned of the nest and had sta-   once had they bothered to read the      and hotels he used were excellent.
tioned themselves underneath the        Birdwatchers Code of Conduct, nor
tree. A party of curious walkers        had they made themselves aware of       Dave has not got his holiday rota for 2010
                                                                                yet and is not exactly sure when he might
who were passing by had joined          the law regarding the protection of     be able to do the trip.
them, and they had all stood watch-     rare birds. And most of all, they
ing and photographing the birds as      had just not thought about the im-      We intend to put some details onto the
they flew around the field. Those       plications of their actions.            Club web site in the near future, but in the
people were completely oblivious                                                meantime he would like to know how
to the fact that the birds were         This whole sorry saga is a sobering     many people might be interested.
alarmed by their presence and that      lesson and a timely reminder to all     Please register your interest with Dave by
they were probably preventing the       birdwatchers, young and old alike.      email or telephone message.
adults from feeding the young.          If you want to watch birds you have
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                                             BIRD WATCH                                    SEPT 2009


                                 St Kilda June 2009
We chose to visit St. Kilda (a long     There had been continuous occupa-       small military base on Hirta and
standing ambition) on a small           tion of Hirta for at least 2000 years   during the afternoon we watched
wooden ex-lobster fishing boat,         until the evacuation of the last 36     supplies being unloaded from a
which had been converted by its         inhabitants in 1930. The islanders      landing craft.
owner to carry up to 12 passengers.     lived mainly on seabirds and their
Accommodation was pretty basic          eggs, which they collected peril-       The next day being calm and sunny
being below decks without a port-       ously from the cliffs. In 1697 when     the skipper decided to take us on a
hole and amidst an array of gur-        Martin Martin visited the islands he    circumnavigatio of the St Kilda
gling pipes but with real character.    estimated that the 180 St Kildans       group. We passed huge stacks,
The skipper/owner had one assis-        ate about 16000 eggs a week and         arches and sea caves. Rafts of Puf-
tant and his wife who provided ex-      22600 birds annually, these being       fins swam by whilst Kittiwakes,
cellent meals.                          mainly young Gannets, Fulmar and        Fulmar and Guillemot called from
                                        Puffin. The feathers were gathered      the cliffs occasionally attacked by
After leaving Miavaig on the west       and sold by the island’s agent in       swooping Bonxies. After navigat-
coast of Lewis we spent the first       Glasgow, as was the oil from the        ing the narrow sound between Soay
night in the sheltered waters of        sack in the fulmar’s neck.              and Hirta the St Kilda group faded
Loch Tamanavay where the skipper                                                into the haze as we headed for
caught our evening meal of mack-        We wandered down the village            Taransay.
erel watched from some distance         “street” watching St. Kildan field
by a Red-throated diver. The fol-       mice scampering into the walls of       Location for the TV “Castaway”
lowing day as the wind was rising       the roofless black houses which         programme, Taransay has shell
and in the wrong direction for a        were interspersed with newer stone      sand beaches, a crannog (ancient
safe anchorage at St Kilda, we ex-      cottages into which the islanders       lake dwelling) and three types of
plored the island of Scarp. Here we     were re-housed in 1860. Six of          sundew. Our last full day was again
watched Golden plover whilst            these had been renovated with five      spent on Scarp where above a shell
Deryn found a pale butterwort           being used by Scottish National         sand beach, a Sea eagle watched us
amongst other flowers. We also          Trust work parties whilst the other     from its cliff top perch whilst be-
chatted to a man who had designed       housed an excellent museum.             low, Black guillemots dived in the
and built his own dinghy, sailing it    Around the village and covering         turquoise water. Now it was back
from Pembroke to Scarp via St           the hillsides were hundreds of          to Miavaig but not before we had
Kilda!                                  small dry stone structures with turf    close views of a Sea eagle above
                                        roofs called cleits. These had          Loch Resort along with a Great
Next day with the wind slackening       spaces in the walls for ventilation     northern diver.
we headed for St. Kilda. After six      and were used mainly as larders for
hours across moderate seas the          sea birds and other stores. Among       We had been very fortunate; the
stacks of Boreray appeared out of       the village ruins wandered Soay         crossing to St Kilda is always prob-
the mist. These were white with         sheep shedding their umber col-         lematical. We learnt since of one
guano whilst all around us Gannets      oured fleeces.                          person who has tried three times to
soared and dived. In 1959 nearly                                                visit the islands but on each occa-
40% of the world’s population           Our second day was spent search-        sion had been defeated by rough
were here and in 1971 on Stac Lee       ing without luck for the illusive St    seas. Perhaps the surest way is to
alone there were 6000 nests. An         Kildan wren and wandering along         go on a National Trust for Scotland
hour later we dropped anchor in         the ridge of Ruaival towards the        Working Party then you might
Village Bay, Hirta, the only safe       island of Dun where huge numbers        have the opportunity to spend a
anchorage in the St Kilda group         of Puffins nest. Amongst the scree      night out on the cliff tops watching
and headed ashore in the rubber         below here we discovered a              for the Leach’s petrels returning.
zodiac. Hirta is a grassy island sur-   “foxhole” constructed by the is-
rounded by huge cliffs of which         landers long ago to hide from pi-          Keith and Aderyn Turner
Conachair is the highest in the UK.     rates and other invaders. There is a

                                                         3
                                                       BIRD WATCH                                             SEPT 2009


                         Garden Bird Watch Results
Our garden Bird watch was held a little later                                    2009     2008                            2009 2008
this year and we are not comparing like with
like. But the number of gardens surveyed was                House Sparrow        202      254       Song Thrush           8      11
about the same and the weather was a typical
                                                            Starling             183      252       Redpoll               8        3
mixture of cold wind, frost and then Spring
sunshine. Nevertheless the big drop in num-                 Blackbird             93      116       Sparrowhawk           7      10
bers of some of our top ten species was a
shock , and terrible news for our area. Blue                Goldfinch             86      69        Feral Pigeon          6      15
tits decreased by a massive 32%, Starlings by               Blue Tit              85      125       GS Woodpecker         6        6
27% and House sparrows by 20%. Blackbirds
were down by 20% and Chaffinches and                        Chaffinch             78      91        Nuthatch              5        3
Greenfinches by 14% and 16% respectively.
                                                            Magpie                70      67        Tawny Owl             5        2
The hard winter will have been one of the
causes, but last years poor breeding season                 Greenfinch            65      78        Canada Goose          5      10
and food shortages for species such as Blue
tit have seemingly had a big impact on popu-                Collared Dove         65      83        Rook                  4      15
lations.                                                    Dunnock               64      67        Jay                   4      11
                                                            Wood Pigeon           60      76        Reed Bunting          4        8
The only small breeding bird to buck the
trend was Goldfinch with a 24% increase and                 Great Tit             59      69        Heron                 4        1
Bullfinches continued their steady progress.
                                                            Crow                  58      41        Mallard               3        8
Long-tailed tits were also well down after last
years big increase. This is surprising given                Robin                 45      59        Mistle Thrush         3        6
the species' first ever appearance in this                  Coal Tit              38      41        Herring Gull          2        1
years RSPB Garden Birdwatch top ten.
Siskins, Redpolls and Bramblings lingered in                Jackdaw               32      57        LBB Gull              2        3
our gardens this year.                                      Long Tailed Tit       31      50        Treecreeper           1        1

One non-member in Darwen will be the envy                   Pheasant              21      12        Cuckoo                1        0
of many birdwatchers this year because they
                                                            Wren                  20      25        Kestrel               1        3
reported a Cuckoo in a tree near Bold Ven-
ture Park. Only six others have been reported               Bullfinch             16      13        Tree Sparrow          1        0
in East Lancashire in 2009 .
                                                            Siskin                13      5         Brambling             1        2
Doreen thanks everyone who took part.                       BH Gull               9       34        Raven                 1        1


                                                                                                                   Photos Wanted
                                         Notice of AGM
                                                                                                       The last Bird Report included several
 The nineteenth Annual General Meeting of the Blackburn and District Bird Club will be held at St      bird photographs and was very well
                 Silas’s Church Hall at 7.30pm on Monday 2nd November 2009.                            received. We have decided to invite
                                                                                                       members to contribute their own
                                           AGENDA                                                      photographs for future publications.

                      1. Minutes of the eighteenth AGM held on 3rd November 2008                       We already have a library of mem-
                      2. Chairman’s Report                                                             bers photographs on the Club web
                      3. Membership Secretary’s Report                                                 site, and some in reserve. If anyone
                      4. Treasurer’s Report and Accounts                                               has any additional work that might
                      5. Election of Officers and Committee                                            be suitable for inclusion in the next
                      6. Appointment of Auditors for the coming year                                   Report, please let Doreen know.
                      7. Any Other Business



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