Looks like a positive outcome for the Buzzard with the government u-turn on the proposed control of this bird of prey - for now.
There's been plenty written and blogged about this elsewhere but just wanted to throw in two links to Mark Avery's blog www.markavery.info/blog and to John Armitage's blog www.birdingodyssey.blogspot.co.uk - worth reading for their opinions of Richard Benyon and for what's been happening with the Walshaw Moor Estate.
Let's finish for now with a reminder of how awesome Buzzards are...
Recent sightings from Dove Stone this week include three Crossbills up at Binn Green this morning as well as a Spotted Flycatcher seen up at Binn Green yesterday. Regular sightings around the Binn Green feeders of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Jays, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Treecreeper andCoal, Great and Blue Tits.
Some of these birds can also be seen around the main reservoir trail where there have also been reports of Blackcap, Cuckoo, Reed Bunting, Stonechat, Wheatear, Meadow Pipits, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler.
For some interesting info on Willow Warblers and this species north-south split take a look at this BTO article http://www.bto.org/about-birds/bird-of-month/willow-warbler?dm_i=IG4,S1JI,563LHR,29XIP,1
Good sightings of a Peregrine this morning and a Woodpigeon who made a lucky escape - thanks to DaveO for that one. And excitingly also seen from Ashway Gap was a Red Kite. On the Bog Bodge guided walk last weekend we had sightings of Golden Plover, Dunlin, Red Grouse, Curlew, Skylark and Meadow Pipits - thanks to Kate and John for those sightings. Also up round Chew Reservoir have been sightings of Little Ringed Plover and Common Sandpipers. Look out for Common Sandpipers around Yeoman Hey and Greenfield Reservoirs too.
Also a few butterflies around this week with Small Heath, Green Veined White, Dingy Skipper, Small White, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacocks all seen in various parts of the estate.
The first Cuckoo of the year returning to Dove Stone, probably from sub-Saharan overwintering grounds, was heard on May 4th. This will be the male giving the 'cuckoo' call. Since then we've heard regular calling from around the plantations behind Bradbury's Farm; yesterday was our first sighting however below Whimberry Rocks where a Cuckoo was seen being mobbed by Meadow Pipits - thanks once more to Jamie for news of this sighting. If you're up at Dove Stone and see Jamie around stop and say hello and he'll be happy to talk with you about what's out and about at any given time.
So, a bit more about the Common Cuckoo, cuculus canorus, family cuculidae and in particular a closer look at what may be going on with our Cuckoo and those Meadow Pipits right here at Dove Stone. Breeding for the Cuckoo starts around the end of this month. Obviously the Common Cuckoo is a brood parasite and the Meadow Pipit is one of its host species. Parasitic Cuckoos specialise in a particular host ( other common host species are Dunnock, Robin and Reed Warbler ) with the females being divided into groups according to their favoured host species, with some evidence to show that cuckoos differ genetically from each other according to which group that they belong to. Interestingly, the Common Cuckoo does have a resemblance to the Sparrowhawk - particularly in flight and with the barring on the underside; this mimicry can alarm potential hosts and give the female a greater chance to access a host's nest.
With Meadow Pipits as host species Cuckoos will be laying eggs that closely resemble the eggs of the pipits. That's not always the case as other species of cuckoo will lay eggs that are, for example, dark whilst their hosts' eggs will be light and this will hide the egg from the host, particularly those cuckoos that parasitize hosts with dark, domed nests. Smart.
The shells of the eggs of brood parasites will be usually thick with two distinct layers. The outer, chalky layer is thought to provide resistance to cracking when the eggs are dropped in the host nest. Other features that may give cuckoos a further advantage is that the cuckoo egg hatches earlier than the host's, followed by the well documented behaviour - going back to Edward Jenner in the late 18th century - of the Cuckoo chick removing the remaining host eggs from the nest.
Cuckoos apart, elsewhere around Dove Stone there have been recent sightings of Curlew - showing well, Wheatear, Willow Warbler, Peregrine, Red Grouse, Common Sandpipers, Kestrel and Swallows. Also one to lookout for that's been seen recently at Dove Stone is Redstart. Reports of Bullfinch up at Binn Green as well as our regular birds including Mistle Thrush, Jay, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Coal, Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits.
Don't forget the Bog-Bodge guided walk this Sunday starting at 10am from the main carpark - full details on the events page. More soon...