Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A Lancashire Walk

Colne Water and Wycoller Beck

Just a little description of a walk I took on my last trip home to Lancashire, so different to the deserts of Saudi as at that time of year everything is green and vibrant.  This does not help trying to spot birds as they are easier to hear than see but enjoyable nonetheless. No Pics as I had not brought my camera but in some ways that was liberating as I just watched.

A trip back to the UK in late July allowed me the opportunity to visit my old patch which essentially follows a stretch of Colne Water from Coal Pit Lane parallel with the A6068 along the river, east for about 4 kilometers towards Wycoller along Wycoller Beck and back again.

Most of the walkway was put in as a recreational walk called Ferndean Way and was originally developed by the local authority in the mid 80's.

The walk took me along some walkways by the river and into a number of small areas of woodland. On leaving the house I immediately spotted a small group of Jackdaws (Coloeus monedula) gathering on a TV aerial making their familiar sqwaking noises.  A little further down the path I came to the feeders maintained by some neighbours.  These kind folk keep the feeders full all the time so attract a wide range of birds all year round.  Today there were some Great Tits (Parus Major) and some Blue Tits (Parus caeruleus) feeding on nuts.  A single female Blackbird ( Turdus merula ) took exception as I approached and flew off into the trees.

Further along in a field there were a collection of Crows in the distance feeding in the grass and a pair of Magpie (Pica pica) flew over.

Walking down Carry Lane I cross the bridge at Coal Pit lane hearing a lot more than I'm seeing thanks to a full covering of leaves on all of the trees and bushes.  I did hear a number of Great and Blue Tits working away amoung the foliage gathering food. 

I took the walkway across a field towards the river making my way to the small wood at the top of the hill.  I got to the first style and climbed over looking back to the trees I saw what I am sure was a Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata) but did not get my binoculars up quick enough to be sure!! Not one for my eBird record then!!

Halfway across the next field I spotted a Carrion Crow (Corvus corone ) in a tree preening itself and a couple of Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) flew by, one alighting on a tree branch before spotting me and moving off rapidly.

Across the river there is an old friend, a common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) who resides at the end of the field, a male who makes a hell of a racket every spring when looking for a mate.  This guy has been in this same area for about 2 years as far as I can see. Unusual given that this is only yards from a pretty built up area.

Overhead I noted some House Martins (who nest in some buildings on the Trawden Road, B6250) and some Swallows buisily feeding overhead.

As I entered the little wood at the top of the hill I flushed another Pheasant, who scurryed off into the undergrowth.

Further down the hill I came across a couple of very active Great Tits and an even more active pair of Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes). They were chasing each other through the bushes and undergrowth and came really close at one point as I think they forgot I was there.

I crossed the B6250 and entered Ball Grove a  largish common area with childrens play area and nature walk.  There are two ponds in the the Grove the first quite large and filled with about 35/35 Mallard and usually a selection og gulls, although in this instance it was only Black Headed Gulls that were about. 

Further along I came to the second pond which normally has some Mallard and relatively tame Coot and Moorhen, this time however someone had decided to drain it so there was little water left and much of the reeds had begun to die off.  There were still a family of Coot there, two adult and two young ones.  I was watching a couple of rabbits feeding at the other side of the river when I noticed a Grey Heron standing in a tree about 15 ft off the ground, it was a young one and soon flew off but one of those things, I had not expected to see it there so missed it until the last moment.  It flew along the river for about 500m and landed in a field by the old walkway bridge. 

Crossing the bridge I watched some Jackdaws feeding in the fields and then spotted an adult Grey Heron standing in the middle of a field, adopting that fixed concentrated pose they do just before they strike.  I watched it for a while and it did make a couple of attempts, presumably at a frog, but failed each time. 

Crossing the river again I noticed a couple of Moorhen on the river but no sign of the Grey Wagtails that are normally found around the area.  A lone female Phesant was seen rooting around in grass tufts, almost invisible ue to her camoflaged colouring.  On reaching the road at School Lane, I had a call from home, back to reality. But a nice afternoons walk in the pleasant Lancashire countryside.

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