Thursday, December 17, 2009

All I want for Christmas is a......

Slender Billed Curlew (Photo: Chris Gomersall ( - not because I have any particular affinity for this bird but it would be a shame to have it become extinct in this time and age.
Many birders will be out searching the western palearctic this winter in order to try and conclusively find one - it could be a very happy christmas for someone.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Brockholes Wetland Nature Reserve.

Work has started on the development of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust reserve at Brockholes - just outside Preston (J31/M6). The site, a disused gravel quarry of 160 hectares, with £8M of funding from the Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission and the Northwest Regional Development Agency, will be turned into a major wetland and woodland reserve with wildlife and visitors in mind. The site hopes to attract 250,000 visitors a year and will be open in 2011.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Blackcaps - one or two?

In recent times a migratory divide has been noted among southwest- and northwest- migrating Blackcaps - with birds wintering in either Spain or the UK. Both groups of birds face particular challenges, the Spain migrators dependent upon fruit on their migration route, while the pressures of the UK population appear to have been alleviated by our winter feeding techniques - we have enabled their survival. Over a very short time-span, in evolutionary terms, this situation has resulted in two 'ecotypes' where the birds, returning to shared breeding woodlands, are no longer breeding with each other. This could be the start of different subspecies and, indeed, it is already apparent. The 'new' northwest migration route is shorter and, as a consequence, birds on this route have developed shorter, rounder wings, giving greater maneuverability but being less suited to longer migration. They also have longer, thinner bills - less suited to eating fruits (which they no longer need to do).
There is a bit more science on whether "geographical seperation is necessary to drive speciation" - which this work appears to refute - but if changes have occured so rapidly in one direction they could equally be changed to another just as quickly.
Full article published in Current Biology on-line 3rd Dec; but also see:

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

More on the Bay

Specific plans for each part of the coast can now be viewed at: For those of you quick off the mark there is a public consultation to be held at Kings Gap Hotel Hoylake this Thursday (10th Dec) at 7pm

Monday, December 07, 2009

Twite Twite

The England Twite Recovery project, a partnership between Natural England and the RSPB - with funding from the Environmental Stewardship Scheme, is permitting Pennine farmers to assist in the recovery of this species which, last reported 2008, indicated only 100 breeding pairs from 15 colonies in England. Currently 17 farmers are involved, modifying their land to create upland hay-meadows and pastures in support of Twite. (See:

In Lancashire just over 100 twite survive - in a little colony near Worsthorne and a flock which visits Whitworth Quarry. Around Burnley the 'Watershed Landscape project' aims to raise £3M in order to reclaim peatland in the hills around Hurstwood (between Burnley and Rossendale) to assist in a Twite recovery. Although not without controversy (see:

Tim Melling, the RSPB Conservation Officer said of twite "They are a funny little bird." But someone loves them - see:

Image taken from: