Thursday, March 03, 2011

Cold Edge Road/Fly Flats etc

We headed off from Mixenden Res'r in the mist this morning to walk over the moors to Hebden Bridge. Despite the mist, and frost over 1,000 ft we had a very interesting day.

Nothing much of interest on Mixenden but as we walked up Cold Edge Road towards 'The Withens' we disturbed 2 birds, just over the wall in the field. I followed one bird which landed nearby and turned out to be a Skylark. Jen followed the other bird which landed nearby in the opposite direction (glad she did especially when she said it had large white flashes on its wings) and it turned out to be a Snow Bunting. The bird took off again calling about four times with it's 'pr r r rt' and 'piu' but we lost sight of it in the mist and were unable to relocate it - it could still be there though (?) Another nice job for tomorrow!

Later on in the day we found a Stoat 'in ermine' not often seen one of these! It stood out in the fields as it was hunting along walls and rabbit holes - what was even more surprising was that it came out of a rabbit hole with a half-grown dead rabbit in its jaws, ran across the field into a banking and stashed the rabbit. It repeated this process twice more with half grown rabbits and stashed them in the same place. We wondered if it was a female feeding young (or do males hunt for females?)or was it just stashing them for later? A very exciting experience which left us with a few interesting questions.
The Stoat was just starting to lose some of the white around the head and nape. It did look bigger than normal probably due to the extra thick fur.
Elsewhere there was a flock of 300+ Fieldfare
Several Golden Plover and 2 Curlew starting to sing on the moor where there were 20+ Red Grouse.
2 Dippers were together in the river near Hebden Bridge


Jeff Cox said...

Well done on the Snow Bunting Jen.

Makes a nice change from saying well done Dave :)

Brian Sumner . said...

Excellent find and well deserved reward for the time and effort you put into it.
Glad Jen is on form because its nearly Osprey time.
Just shows that you can,t beat leaving the car behind and walking. Well done you two.

Steve Cummings said...

No sign of the Ermine this weekend. Saturday was bitterly cold up there with just a Buzzard for company. Sunday was warmer with 40+ Curlews in the valley, a passing Raven, Golden plover calling, but a surprisingly raptor-less day. Tried whistling old Stoaty out but with no success. Incidentally, they rear their families in old rabbit burrows that they line with rabbit fur. I half-suspected that this may have been a female preparing a birthing den. Sadly, no sign that she/it is still there.

Steve Blacksmith said...

Brilliant ermine record, Dave. just found it. From memory it's the first record of a stoat in white fur in Calderdale.

It would have been nice to have it on the wildlife blog, but I understand it's a pain putting it on both. Perhaps just a line on the Wildlife blog, referring to a good non-bird find included with the birds?

We could remind people to do the same with any bird sightings which are posted on the Wildlife blog.
No big stress about this. I guess things will work themselves out in time.