In the same way that migrating birds crisscross the globe and butterflies traverse continents, birdwatchers from Yorkshire are regularly crossing the Pennines. How do I know this? It is not by observation on the A59 or by tagging of RSPB members, but via the remarkable Hillam News - 'The Voice of Hillam Village', a fearsome no holds barred sort of publication that strikes fear into the hearts of....those who have something to fear, which was recently sent to me and I quote extensively here from their Birding Column, written by Graham Todd. A nice descriptive piece about a well known area in Bowland -
"Before the present cold snap took hold, I drove over to Lancashire, principally to do a 7 mile walk round Stocks Reservoir... There is one of my favourite landscapes, with long views of the rolling, distant hills of Bowland, interspersed with purple grouse moors; but the main attraction for me and other birdwatchers, is that there is lots of glorious birding habitat thereabouts - wet, undrained grassland abounding with wading birds in the spring and summer. I wasn’t looking for grouse or waders though, as I wanted to explore the surrounding farmland, to try to locate the site of a little known roost of harriers and owls. The walk round Stocks reservoir was good exercise, but of very little interest bird wise, and by the time the sun began to set, it was becoming exceedingly cold. I got into the car and drove off to the area of wet rushy bog that I had read about as being a good place to see Shorteared Owls and Hen Harriers in the winter. Luckily for me, a birder from Burnley turned up shortly after I arrived, and he was able to confirm this was the correct place, but by this time it was absolutely freezing! A Peregrine Falcon flew over in pursuit of a Lapwing shortly after I arrived, to be joined by another Peregrine a few minutes later. Most people have read about the flying skills and spectacular dives of the Peregrine in pursuit of prey, but this bird must have been a juvenile, as it was totally useless, and the Lapwing escaped its lethal talons. It put on a memorable performance nonetheless, against a perfect azure sky, bordered by pink edged clouds to the west, illuminated by the setting sun. My day was complete, when in the gathering gloom, I spotted three Short-eared Owls hunting the long damp grasses, joined later by a couple of now very rare Hen Harriers, and after a couple of brief pursuits over dry stone wall, the birds all went to roost."
If anyone in Bowland has been birdwatching in or near Hillam, North Yorkshire, then please let me know - we should send them an article.