Some days out on the Moss the stories seem to just write themselves with this in mind I feel this rambling should have some of these recorded.
An alarm call or two slowed my progress down in fact it was time to halt my steady steps and peer high into a set of mature trees for these Song Thrush and Blackbird alarms spoke of only one thing…they had found the daytime roost of a Tawny Owl and were determined to let it know that their approval ratings of its presence stood at zero.
It didn’t take too long to find the source of these birds discomfort for peering down at me as if our search had been mutual was a Tawny Owl but this was but an innocent abroad for it was a recently fledged bird that was taking its first tentative steps out into this wild world.
Innocent though it was its parent was still nearby and that was where the other Blackbirds were letting their disapproval ratings known of the presence of in truth a bird which with its night vision par-excellence could take them during their overnight roost … an understandable cacophony which continued for quite a while…I moved on.
Then to remind ourselves of new terminology after weeks of ensuring that my ramblings were strictly solo a new phase had arrived when Social Distancing still being the New World’s byword there was an opening for meet up with friends and one of my birdwatching friends who had been in almost total lockdown wanted to taste the air out on our moss…
Thus there was a plan to have a social distance amble about some of the Little Woolden Moss Nature Reserve pathways and in truth this went accordingly and off tootled my friend whilst I stayed on a little longer.
Then as the day was simply being dubbed as one of those pleasant wanders in good company a headline grabbing moment sent me to my minds editing room in order to rewrite the story and all because of a whistle-blower…
A Corn Bunting… (Sadly now a rare farmland bird on our moss-lands due to modern farming I’m afraid) but we all seem to want our food as cheap as possible…at times I ask myself at what cost to our natural world…
This Corn Bunting was in alarm it had stopped it’s jangling keys song for an agitated chip-chip alarm call…I looked around for the cause and there trying desperately to avoid this (very) old news hound sat a Cuckoo intent on its day of laying one of its eggs in a host birds nest… (Not the Corn Bunting but most birds will react to anything that might be a threat).
We three just watched one another until the Cuckoo actually flew to the same tree as the bird in alarm…into some long grass moved I but the Cuckoo knew that I wished to pry into its business…thus it flew on …took a few nourishing caterpillars and invited me to leave.
More than happy in having another Lead Story I moved on leaving nature to behave in its wild ways. Then just as I thought my copy was complete and I could slope off from my laptop my editor in charge insisted I recall a morning where the rain looked as if this edition of my personal newspaper would be but a damp squib.
You could say the day looked as if it had an unpromising tone about it…the sky was grey…the air was damp from overnight rain…the clouds were struggling with the weight of moisture which they would have to release quite soon…As for me that cuppa tasted good and there was a new day to investigate out on Chat Moss. ..Route already planned in my head…off.
Hey along came that rain but on went the waterproofs and just over there 15 Swallow swooped low over the ground taking what seemed to be a plentiful supply of insect food…camera tried to capture these straps of blue…the memory saved them in the wow that was lovely area of my brain.
An unpromising tangle of weeds…to some…then drew my ears as a Grasshopper Warbler reeled out its song…bird unseen as often is the case but the Yellowhammer called me over with its notes of summer with no compunction to hide from my gaze.
Then a call not unlike oh wow drew me to search the sky overhead to find an uncommon visitor to the Moss and at present the only way I will see the area it gained its name from …not one but two Mediterranean Gull whisked by unable to resist letting me know they were present.
Juvenile Black Headed Gulls telling of a successful breeding season for their parents showed how soon the young birds gain independence in the world of the wild.
A burst of sunshine then lit the way for a few Butterflies including a freshly emerged Red Admiral which couldn’t help but dazzle my eyes…it seemed that once more the wild had swept under its magical carpet any sign of unpromising.
The rain by the way then came back and tested my waterproofs to the limit but let’s face it I knew it was promised.
To finish this rambling let me recount a meeting with Yellow Wagtails out on Barton Moss…
These summer visitors have found the damp conditions our Mosslands offer an ideal place to spend their summers over many a decade and I suspect over many a century.
Their adaptability to this ever changing landscape has always convinced me that as long as the land is open to them and here where I stood this day there is a real fear that concrete will finally drive them from Barton Moss but not dwelling upon that dreaded finale to their tenacity I return to this day.
Here within a Wheat Crop I suspected one or two pairs to be busying themselves with their summertime breeding but I really wished to count them…my solution came from my still held ability to whistle off key…their contact call falls within this range of my abilities…
A few discordant notes and I had proof of four breeding pairs as the birds came out of cover to check out this intruder but soon as with all newspaper copy I became yesterday’s news and was soon disregarded by these busy flights of Citrine coloured life…it was time to close my rambling for this month for next another would be expected and there was only 31 days in which to unearth more wildlife encounters from the rich mine of our Moss.
Regards and stay safe Dave.