Monday, July 16, 2012

Nocturnal Listening - End June Update

Nocturnal Listening – End of June Update

A terrible month with only 13/30 nights even vaguely suitable and many of those had to be terminated prematurely for me in Airedale. Even most of the better nights were fragmented by rain and made useless by moderate to strong winds.  No nights suitable to get the other stations up and running! Continuing on from May, no more Swallows recorded. Dispersal evidenced by presence in and during gaps in the dawn chorus noted from the beginning of the month, firstly Dunnock, then Greenfinch, Common Partridge, Jackdaw, Wren, Goldfinch and just last week a Redpoll over and through calling for all it was worth. The dawn chorus, initially dense and preventative has for me now eased and is worth analysing, surely to improve more this month. Mistle Thrush have been around for a while but first recorded last evening at dusk. Blackbirds just over the last few days have started up with their enigmatic flight calls again. Other passerines, again more difficult and yet to check out.  Oystercatchers on several occasions and Curlews on the move from early June but mainly from mid month. Last night was particularly good for Curlews, just as it was starting to rain and the station was being shut down for the night after a glance on at the radar again showed little prospect till after dawn. The most interesting June passage bird for me has been another LRP, going through over dry land, miles away from water, well after dark. Many well spaced calls heard on approach and past in the silence of the night with only sheep as a backdrop. This was on the 17th, immediately following a period of exceptional rain which would no doubt have overwhelmed habitat terminally? Prospects for July little better, so perhaps a bad year to get started! Hopefully an Indian summer?? Again this evening more curlews over as heard thro the window in the gappy light rain but station shut as overnight prognosis (weather wise) is usless with near continuous rain forecast and even now showing on the radar.

A Bit more detail for those interested.....

Nothing to analyse tonight for me so some time to catch up and expand a bit! and yes,You,ve got in one Rob, but it shouldn't have been like that. Its a great pity the weather has been so poor as to me June is one of the most exciting months, when things really start to happen up here. The Curlews form big and very dramatic post breeding flocks as do the Golden Plovers and there is usually a good bit of movement through and most likely on at night, evidenced by vocalisation from the sky, especially prominent when elevated. This year very little of this has been apparent - not to say it hasn't been happening but just obscured by conditions or reduced. Just for the record my patch of moor was almost sterile even by early June, without doubt related to the terrible conditions.... and then even more and worse to come! Redshank, starting with the failures also start to leave the uplands an in-byes early as well and this often evidenced in the night sky but not this year. Oystercatchers have been difficult with the late spring movement seeming almost to merge into the early autumn disprsal. Swamp birds almost but not quite absent from the June night skies over Wharfedale, with none over Airedale. Was half hoping for a swift or crossbill but not happened yet. The siskin was heard moving during an afternoon, high over our local grave yard. Again Canadas en-route to moult sometimes vocal at night but again despite trying we missed out almost completely, one capture over Wharfedale with nothing over Airedale, as described later for Shelduck it is possible tho with the big congregations that a more local trend is developing. Shelducks should just have started but lots of time to go here yet.... sometimes vocal, at least over the high moors and waters, tho to date never from here. Leaving the coast at this time of year in the evening when suitable, right on the edge of dark is when I have managed to contact them in the past, very high or have them dropping in. Although the pattern in later years is reputed to be changing, with more now stopping in the west to moult. Never heard noise from the Scoters overland tho which at this time going the opposite way, so possibly passing in middle or opposite end of night for us in autumn and this might explain the apparent absence - but I wonder if anyone knows different re calling? """"re this, Nelson recalls a W Eagle Clarke record from 1879 on 24th April, ie the other end of the year when Clarke  recorded a most extraordinary migration of scoters at Skipton-in-Craven.... shortly after dusk birds were heard passing over head and continued during the night, many being bewildered and flying against chimney pots and houses. At the railway station they were immolated against telegraph wires and several were picked up on the following morning, one porter securing as many as seventeen. It was calculated that in all, one hundred and fifty had been taken, the majority of which were males.""""" Interesting that the birds were recorded first shortly after dusk, which fits with an evening west coast departure!  Herring Gulls (a very few) can sometimes be picked out on call from the lessers (thousands) as they pass. Small gulls, BHG's make a very small start with their evacuation from the colonies.... again only just a hint of this happening so far with a few captured over Wharfedale last month. July should see a massive change in gull passage as the colonies break properly and species diversity increases. Lapwings also on the shuffle with several captures mainly early in the month. LRP, the only unusual June wader... and was hoping for better, but time yet as autumn is only young.. Even after listening for only a few months, I am starting to grasp how migration at night is structured in relation to both species time and conditions, which may also affect calling  frequency and it really is interesting!!! Still addicted!


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