Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Made of the White Stuff ( December)

Buzzard, Annan

Early in the month John Milo and I headed upto the scots borders for the afternoon. We called in at Longtown pond to start with as there was a reported Smew on the water. When we arrived there was no sign of the Smew but plenty of other ducks around with Tuftys, Mallard, Pochard, Wigeon and Goldeneye on show. Longtown pond has good potential but the busy Gretna road right next to it and no accessible viewing points make it a letdown. It nearly got bought by the Wildlife Trust in the 1990s which would have been great for the site as well as the wildlife and their followers.

We moved onto Annan and the solway and after getting a Sparrowhawk over the car we spotted a Buz that had just made a kill in the field roadside after one quick picture it flew off onto a distance fence post. We made it to the Solway to see good numbers of Oystercatcher, Redshank and Wigeon.

Raven, Geltsdale

Christmas week and the white stuff is here! not just a light covering a spot of morning frost it was the real deal in a good few inches. Had to make the most of it and as I was pretty much snowed in I ventured out with the camea dawn till dusk 4 days flat out leading up to xmas day. A nice pic of a Raven on the 22nd of the month (the pic looks better on a larger scale). You dont get to many Ravens on Geltsdale so it was nice to have a pair of them mobbing a buzzard right above me. Another highlight for the day was two snowbuntings and a Peregrine disturbing the rookery on Talkinhead.

Female Goosander

A walk over to Talkin Tarn was in order as well to check out the Long-tailed Duck that had been sighted there. When I arrived there was a good number of birds on the tarn and it was just a case of scanning all the birds and keeping patient as the LT duck spends upto a minute under water and only upto 10 seconds a float if it is in feeding mode. As I made my way round the tarn I got a lovely treat as on a dead branch by the boat house a Kingfisher appeared and I watched it tag a minnow fish out of the shallows then fly off into the woodland. I managed to get this half decent picture of it before it took off. The next couple of times I came to the tarn that week it was there both times again so must be doing a lot of its winter feeding in that location as they are rarely seen at ponds and lakes, Magic!

Kingfisher, Talkin Tarn

A good number of Tufted Duck and upto 25 Goosander counted on the Tarn as well as Wigeon, coot and Moorhen. Got Nuthatch as well on the Woodlend Squrrel feeders but I can never got good pics of them there either not in focus or in focus but on a feeder which never makes for a good picture. if you want good Nuthatch pics then my partner Gary has just started a blog covering the Gateshead area for wildlife and you can read his blog at www.rowlandsgillbirder.blogspot.com.

Tufted Duck, Talkin Tarn

Back to the Geltsdale area and there is plenty of Raptors about as well as large numbers of Grouse in 300+ been seen on xmas week. I have had some magnificant views of Buzzards last couple of weeks as well as they stand out in the open trees and sit road side waiting for an oppertunity. I was just thinking imagine having a pet Buzzard or any bird of prey it would be unbelievable having it coming on trips with you and it came and landed on your shoulder when called upon ( would have to have a lot of padding in your shoulder). I hear storys of people having pet crowes or magpies even that would be class as a backup plan if you couldnt get a Golden Eagle or somat.

Common Buzzard, Talkin

Plenty of Roe Deer behind High Hyhnam on the fellside, enabled me to get some good pics of them, they are easy for photo opportunities because they seem to run off and then stop and pose for the camera for upto minutes so much appreciated the Roe Deer of Geltsdale! This photo made it into the top 12 winter wonderland photos on the bbc Cumbria web site so I was delighted with that! it really made my day! very rewarding...

Roe Deer, Geltsdale

I got up before dawn did to head out early before all the human footprints ruined some good snap shots and the plan was to see Kingfisher and Nuthatch and also to get Red Squirrel at T Tarn in the woodland feeders. But then came a great start to the day when as soon as I stepped out of the drive way a Red ran straight past me and up a Scots Pine to give me some good opportunities to get some cracking pics....done. There now quite scarce in the area as there used to be more about. What a beautiful small mammal they are though...stunning.

Red Squirrel, Geltsdale

This is what December is all about man! what a change of scenery and landscape its superb! I tried to make the most of it going out 5 days solid dawn till dusk on new years week and got some nice results with the Nikon.
There's Knee way its that deep! you better believe it, even just walking was a huge challenge. The Red Grouse made it look easy. Over 100 RG on the higher ground.

After taking all these winter scenic pictures I had to do a slideshow presentation on xmas day for the family! I did about 90 Scenic pictures and 80 wildlife pics and I think they enjoyed it including John Milo who kept joining in with the presentation with his own stories and knowledge and correcting me at every opportunity! haha Legend!

A good rarity to finish off the month with a Long Billed Dowitcher at Port Carlisle. Sorry for the poor commentary of me and Gary talking our usual drivel but hope you enjoy the bird! We also had a Peregrine flying overhead which is always a superb site! We moved onto Talkin Tarn after Port Carlisle to look for the LT Duck but no sign of it but I might as well tell you about Gary the hero as he is a modest lad and wouldn't boast about it which is the way to be full stop. Anyway as we were doing the lap of honour of the tarn a couple came past with their dog and the pooch ran out onto the tarn (even though it should of been on a lead because of an algae warning) which was frozen with ice and we watched this happen and could see where the ice got thinner. The dog ran onto the thin ice and went through into the freezing cold water. The man and woman owner just watched and scratched their head for about 20 - 30 seconds and Gary new that was the time to make a move so we went out onto the ice spreading his weight and keeping low down like a polar bear on Natures Great Event! Boom! and made his way out to the dying dog and saved it and got it to safety. the dog wouldn't have lasted 2 minutes in that temperature so Gary did class. We were saying afterwards that the lady must of thought her partner ( a bit of a toffee nose) was a right coward for not going to save his own poodle and then Gary the hero Storey stept in...if you want to view the heroes magic Wildlife blog then check it out at www.rowlandsgillbirder.blogspot.com.

Long Billed Dowitcher, Port Carlisle

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Autumn Colours, Splendid Scenery (November)

A college trip out to Haweswater started off the month in the first Sunday of November. A full car load made the hour journey down with me, Gary, Aine, Helen and Annita present. When we arrived the weather was drizzly with low cloud so wasn't the best conditions but this part of the experience and the challenge. We planned to do High street which is the route that goes right around the valley where the lone male Golden Eagle is situated. We started off on the track that goes up the side of the ridge approaching Heron crag and continuing onto Eagle Crag.

Helen and Anitta turned around about half an hour in as Annita did not feel very well so they continued to do a different route up that was more easy going. So there was just the three of us left to venture to high street and around the valley. We were making really good time as we all had quick legs and soon made it to the old Roman road of High Street in about an hour and when we got there we found a covering of snow at the peak which was a nice surprise!

No Golden Eagles of yet but always great to see and hear the Ravens. We also seen a good number of Red Deer lower down in the valley but it was to late in the year to hear there famous Rutting calls.

Once we made it right round the valley we got back down to lower ground by Haweswater lake and with the sun dropping it made for nice lighting for some good scenic shots. Me and Gary posing in this one but there is a bit of a gap between us as you can see there its not as shnug as it used to be the romance is going I recon.

Nice scenic shot looking through the European Larch onto Haweswater it's self. Interesting Historical facts about the area are that there used to be two villages under the lake up until as late as 1930s people used to live there until a decision was made to create a large man made dam and flood the whole area at the bottom of the valley covering the villages. The reason behind this was to create a water supply for the greater Manchester area which is still present to this day. Its amazing to think that in early last century it used to be so different with people living in the beautiful remote area with nesting Eagles flying overhead and now its changed so much not for the better but just a big change in general. I wonder what the locals thought though when they were told they had to find another place to live as there houses were gonna be swamped by water from the fells above.

Another nice scenic shot coming back down and round High Street. Did not see the Eagle this time but I have got a good record this year with an over 50% success ratio so I will take that!

Glorious Geltsdale on a lovely Autumn day. I no everyone is talking about missing the summer time and winter is upon us but I love the change in seasons and the different seasons and variation it creates. Geltsdale is world class in the Autumn season with the superb colouration and raptors circling above with huge flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing surging through the valley.

Great Views from Talkin Head were i walk the dogs. Look out to the scots side on a clear day you can see up to 60 miles of visibility. Always a great chance of seeing Sparrowhawk as well when your up there as well as Black, Red Grouse. There was a great viewing point from the track for nesting Buzzards as well this year it was superb!

Me and Gary decided to go for a potter further up Geltsdale valley as far as the waterworks where the adders are. We were hoping to see possible Harrier, Peregrine, Merlin but when we got there, there was a certain disturbance..there was guys dressed as twats with whisky flasks driving on quad bikes following hound dogs around the Geltsdale new water valley. I don't know what the political correct term for them is...oh yeah morons that's the ticket. To much disturbance but we did see a Buzzard and a Kestrel. Gary had stayed the night I had given him the double bead and i slept on the floor with the rats cos i am a good companion. The next day we were looking out to Geltsdale valley from my very own bird hide from the computer room and there was two buzzards making their way down the valley in hunting mode always a joy to watch especially viewing them from my window while sitting on my new bar stool I bought from amazon for £20 which makes viewing the wildlife on show even better chiling on a swivel bar stool. Its superb I can swivel the seat to talk to john or look at the computer then swivel it straight back at the window and get the binoculars out to scan the whole valley in front of me. complete corker!

A day visit to St Bees on the west coast of Cumbria to do a bit of sea watching as it was a splendid day with great light and visibility. I got this great scenic shot with the sunlight creating a great effect on the ocean. I spoke to a lady from Sea Watch Foundation on the phone and she said that you do still get Porpoise and Dolphin close to land during the winter months so I had a quick scan with no joy but it is good to know that there still about. Next year I'm gonna have great Success with Cetaceans hey Gary 2010 is gonna be the year!

Monday, 16 November 2009

The Story of the Eagle and the Whale (October)

A trip up to Aberdeeen started the month off and again the journey up was non stop pishing! wiper blades were doing over time and I had planned to stop off at a few locations on the east coast on the way up like the Firth and Forth Estury in hope of WTS eagle, Marsh Harrier or Potential late Osprey makng their way down. I was planning on calling to kirnordy as well my dads old stomping ground with the RSPB but stopping off anywhere was a waste of time as visibility was awful.
The first morning up in Aberdeen I got up earlish at 9 and headed straight out to the areas of Dunecht and Scotstown to look out for Red Kites. Its funny my nanny used to live in this area but the year of the Kites release she moved to westhill but never mind worse things happen at sea. Hung around for the whole morning period and eventually got some good views of the birds as there was about 5-6 on show. it drives me cockahoop that all around the area of Dunecht and the estate there is signs every 50 yards saying please drive carefully pheasants around, its all about the money.....shame

when scanning the press and Journal local Aberdeenshire paper the next morning second page in with a picture of a beached Sperm Whale I was in complete shock and when I read that it was on Balmedie beach half an hour from us I was not missing the opportunity to see the biggest toothed animal on the planet. Me and Tom Milo headed down in the morn and it was a splendid day to be by the seaside!..it wasent for the whale though. When we got to the beach we could smell the cetacean before we could see it, for obvious reasons it was a 35 foot mammal carcass. Once we seen the Sperm Whale it was a bid sad to see it and doesent really count as a whale sighting, well im not going to count it anyway. An amazing size it was been 35 foot plus. It was a Bull and they can grow to about 65 feet and feed on Giant Squid at extreme depths. When they get beached there sheer body weight crushes there internal organs.

The day after it was a trip upto the well known reserve Loch of Strathbeg up past Peterhead as there is a Sea Eagle that has settled there for over 9 months. It is a 2008 release bird from Fife a juvenile male. I got to the reserve at about 10am to give me as much time as possible for eagle sightings so I had a quick look around the facilities and was very impressed with the setup as I came across an indoor bird hide viewing point that looks right out to the Loch and the surrounding shallow waters. They provided scopes there and had a video TV screen zooming in on a desired area. tea, coffee machine and comfy chairs it was all gravy all I needed now was an eagle.
10 minutes in boom! flying barn doors straight ahead in hunting mode...special. the bird was manoeuvring back and forward flushing ducks and ended up staying for 4 hours! people were coming in and out the whole time and they all got to see the WTS eagle which was great especially this old couple who I showed the bird and told them a little bit about the species and the old woman bought me a sandwich which was smashing! she even got my favourite flavour chicken Tikka which I didn't even ask for! was a superb day all round with the only negative been the nob on my gear stick snapped off on the way home, but it didn't bother me.

A nice all round picture with the monument in the foreground and the bird been mobbed by lapwing with the farm landscape in the backdrop. I framed this picture and gave it to my dad for his birthday..he was delighted.

After a successful trip up to Scotland at the start of the month it was back to good old Geltsdale for some great views of our magnificent Buzzard that I got at Talkin head on a superb photo day where 7 Buzzards were circling above me as I was lying on my back looking straight up at me. One curious buzzard came in for a closer look as I had the dogs with me as well. It was so pleasing to see all those buzzards together and as well as that me and Gary had a walk around Geltsdale new water and must of seen 12 plus kestrels so the Raptors are doing well at Geltsdale which is smashing!

Buzzard looking right at me, this was a great pic!

Wildlife Sightings (October) : -

  • WTS Eagle
  • 8 Red Kite
  • Sperm Whale ( I might as well mention it)
  • 15 Buzzards
  • 20 plus Kestrel
  • Wild Polecat (Geltsdale)
  • Hedgehog (Geltsdale)

Monday, 2 November 2009

Heading North for the Winter (September)

Dunnottar Castle, Stonhaven

At the start of the month me and a person i know called Gary arranged a trip to the most Northern isles of Britain in Orkney and Shetland. It was pritty much lasminute.com organising
as on the morning we set off John Milo was telling us to head south to east Anglia and Norfolk. The journey up to Aberdeen was pishing solid with rain the whole time as the wiper blades were doing overtime. we stopped at the Forth Estury to look for Sea Eagle but the visibility was so bad we were wasting our time. We haddent even booked our Ferry or accommadation so we made a few calls on our way up and got a B&B and booked the Ferry crossing. we were so relieved that we had booked the ferry and guaranteed our trip across the north sea up to Shetland tonight!

we arrived at my family town of Aberdeen a couple of hours early so we decided to go and look for Red Kites out to the west side of the city where they had been introduced in the summer of 2008. We thought it was a good idea at the time kill a bit of time and chance to see the superb raptor even though the weather was still crud. When we got to the area of Dunecht estate and Scotstown we spotted some roosting Buzzards but no sign of the Kites so we hung about for a bit then headed over to Westhill to leave my Ferrari and get the bus into town.

we made it to the bus stop to find out we missed the last bus by 2 min so had to wait another half hour for the next one. Last boarding for the ferry is half 5 and our bus leaves Westhill at 5 and it takes a good half hour to get to the city centre and then we need to find the harbour! haha!

we go the 5 oclock bus and crammed on struggling to find a seat as it was full of school kids. Arrived at the bus station at half 5! then bus driver directed us to the harbour which was not far from the bus station. We sprinted to the ferry terminal like something out of the first scene of the Titanic movie film and arrived to a milf locking the door and telling us were to late and we had missed the boat! I have to say Garys manners at time are bottom off the pecking order but he might have helped things this time "this is f**king rediculas this" "the Ferry is still right f**kin there" a terriable choice of colourful language by the geordie lad right infront of the staff members. They asked us inside to see what they could do but we were just expecting a booking for the following day and they offered us a cabin on a cargo ship leaving in 30 minutes so we took it having to pay about £20 extra, success in the end but it came at a price haha!

The Cargo ship was very rocky, leering side to side but it diddnt bother me and G as we had a 3 course meal, sky Tv and a sauna so all was gravy on the trip over after all!

Once we made it to the island we didnt research into how big the place was and with busses coming like once an hour i came up with a corking idea to get a hire car so we found a place that hired them in Lerwick and it was only 25 for a couple of days and whatever fuel we use on top of that so it was well worth doing especially since we got a 4x4 to use!

This is a picture of a Gannet, you cant make it out to well on the small picture but we got some great views of the wonderful birds on the crossing over and to our first port of call at Sumburgh head on the south point of the mainland which is an RSPB reserve and is a superb viewing point for sea watching as well as costal birds and scenery.

Great Skua (pictured above) were superb to see, again the photo hasent came out very good but still an amazing bird that is described as the pirate of the seas as it would happily snatch another birds meal and also tag smaller birds like puffins. They are not affraid of humans either as they would dive bomp them from above if the y get to close to their nesting site.

This was a pic I got from a short ferry trip we took to a samll island on the east coast called skerries. We were hoping for a sighting of a Minke Whale which is one of the main reasons why we travelled up here but we diddnt get any look with them. The captain of the ship said he had seen two the previous day but we diddnt hae much look as the seas were very choppy with plenty of white horses on show. we did get Porpoise from Sumbrugh head but that would be all in terms of Cetatian sightings for the trip.

A nice shot of a Fulmer but it does not display its characteristics very well with its flat stiff wings.

The Grey seal with its bulbas elephant head sticking out. They are plentiful on the east side south of Lerwick. We did not see any Common seal but there is a good population on the island.

My and my buddy old pal sitting on a section of a Sperm whale skull amazing what a size! the only whale we seen on the whole trip and got a great view! it still counts as a sighting. Speaking of Sperm whles look forward to my blog for next week...

We think this a sub-species wren unique to the island but we will have to look into it.....

we made the ferry on the trip back funnily enough! we were like the first people to board haha! it was like stepping on the RMS Titanic as it had movie theatre, restraunt, lounge area, toilets...but no sauna or sky TV! we were still determined as ever to see any type of Cetatian so we went straight on the top deck to brave the weather as it was blowing a 60 draft! gary thought he seen a dorsal fin breach but thats all we got again. We diddnt fail through lack of trying as we put some good long shifts in but i think we were to late in the year for Minke and also better hot spots for them are west coast in Mull, Skye and Gairloch which do boat tours specifiaclly for them.
We fell asleep in the seated area and woke in the morning to the boat arriving at my very own Aberdeen, Aberdeen is in my blood! I thought i had lost my cell phone in the morn and was going barmy but Good old reliable Gazza found it on one of the seats as I had moved sleeping position like 15 times during the night!

On the journey down the weather was a lot better and we stopped at the Firth Estury by Dundee in hope of eagles but we couldnt find a good enough viewing point. We did see a Marsh harrier though with a distinctive green wing tag as the chicks got tagged to be monitored in the area, so that was a plus point!

We then called to Vane Farm RSPB reserve and as usual a woman at the door harasing you to join, No deal mr banker all the best and see you later! The shop there was class and had some great books and dvds and also bird pin badges but again didnt part with my bunsen burner!

Overall a quality few days away and good to go to such a special remote location like the Shetland isles as it is closer to the Arctic Circle than it is to London!

Red Admiral, the strong flying migratory species Main food sourse in the UK is the common Nettle, Pellitory-of-the-wall and Hop.

The Peacock It's spectacular pattern of eye spots is highly recognisable and best known species.

Painted Lady & Peacock, Migrant butterfly and travel from north Africa to as far as Scandanavia in the space of 2 weeks!

Meadow Brown, Habitat include Grasslands, including downland, heathland, coastal dunes and undercliffs, hay meadows, roadside verges, hedgerows, woodland rides and clearings, and waste ground. Also occurs in parks, gardens, and cemeteries.

Small White, Briliant white wings with black forewing tips and one or two wing spots.

At the end of September I went up to Aberdeen to see family and called in to the Forth estury again for the chance of Raptors. We called in at Errol where we found a back road that would lead us to the estury and we found an opening to look out onto the water. I dragged my mum and brother with me but it was a splendid day so I think they enjoyed it. about 20 minutes in we got a huge treat when an Osprey flew 20 feet over our heads and we all got stunning views of the bird as it ended up joining 2 other Ospreys circling over the water. We also seen a Marsh Harrier in the reedbeds on the other side of the Estury.


Osprey circling over the Forth Estury

Wildlife Sightings for September: -
  • Osprey
  • 2 Marsh Harrier
  • 5 Peregrine Falcon
  • 5 Porpoise
  • 2 common Dolphin
  • 15 plus Red Kites
  • 5 Grey Seal

Sunday, 27 September 2009

We all love Rain!...Not so much (August)

The August month was a good one in terms of sightings and wildlife on show considering the wet weather for pritty much the whole 4 weeks. Im going to start with the highlight of the month even though the medioka picture doesent reflect that at all! Gary and I decided to head down the the glorious Haweswater to go after a Golden Eagle! and I dont think I have ever montioned this before, England's last Eagle! When we got to Haweswater car park it was pishing down quite heavy so we were couped up in the car waiting for the shower to pass through for about 45 minutes until it started to brighten. When the weather cleard we were good to go and headed out to the Eagle viewing point which was a 20 minute walk from the car. The weather was still a bit dodgy but we soldiered on in determintaion of seeing this glorious bird. When we were approaching the viewing point Gary shouted Ewan!!! in complete shock as the Eagle was moving down the valley getting closer to us chasing off a raven from its patch so the giant bird must be very territorial of its area at Haweswater. We admired it for 10 -15 minutes as it worked its way down the valley and perched on a small tree where i got the mediocre picture of it (below). We didn't stay there long as the weather was fuddy and we werent going to get better views than we did just before so we left while spirits were sky high and the day was a success!

John Milo and I went for a day out to South Cumbria in mid August to see a few Nature reserves down there. The first port of call was Foulshaw Moss nature Reserve which is owned and ran by the Wildlife Trust and it is a really good set up and variation in landforms with a huge amount of reed beds and woodlands as well as pond habitats. we had a number of highlights on our visit with the first been a Peregrine chasing a duck right next to the reserve. We seen a couple more peregrines patrolling the skies as we got to the viewing point on the reserve and we also got a distant view of a Goshawk which was cracking also. We were hoping for Marsh Harrier but it wasent to be on this reserve so we made our way back to the car going round all the man made paths that manoeuvred around the ponds. We came across a good number of Common Lizards(Pictured Below) that were basking on the wooden paths and also got good views of Common Darter Dragonflies and Blue Damselflies.
Our next stop was Leighton Moss on the Cumbria / Lancashire borders and it is a huge Marsh land area owned by the RSPB. We visited a couple of the mansion sized bird hides but been the holiday season there was familys and little sproglets making a racket so it wasent the best. I'd never seen so many bird watchers in one single place an they all looked quite similar at middle age with a sleeveless waistcoat and a healthy beard! It was like looking into the future of what im going to look like but i have got a hell of a lot of work to do with my beard as all i can go grow is a couple of curly ubes on my chin but I have got time on my side so im going to keep the dream alive! We were hoping for Marsh Harrier at Leighton Moss as there was 5 nesting pairs there this year but some already could of moved on as it was late August. We did get a glinpse of a Marsh Harrier flushing some Ducks in the distance but thyats all we would get so that was that.

It was time in early August to ring the two Barn Owl chicks that had been reared in the Barn 100 yards from Jockey Shield. John and his assistent Rob did the job clinging the ladder and getting shat on in the progress but its part and parcel of the bird ringing job! I managed to get a couple of half decent pictures of one of the yougsters and they have the ugly ducklin sindrome where they start off ugly as sin and turn into beautiful stunning birds!

Went into my neighbours garden when he was at work to take pictures of what was present on his bird table including Nuthatch and Goldfinch. I also got a treat when a young Red Squirrel danced straight past me and stopped 5 feet from me to get some nice close shots of it where I didnt even have to zoom! I had just been moaning the other day that I had not seen a Red Squirrel all calender year then one runs right by me a couple of days later, its a funny old world!
Got a 1st snap lucky of a Great Spotted woodpecker knocking on a silver Birch in the garden as well, I was quite happy with this picture as all my others of Woodys involve them tapping on plyons which ruins the whole image.

My next blog for September includes a Trip to the Shetland Isles in hope of Minke Whles, Dolphin and Seals as well as a venture out at dusk in search for Otters. I have got more Buzzard encounters in Geltsdale and a few great ocean images from St Bees Head as well as the Wildlife that we encountered there. A trip up to Aberdeen to see there Red Kite Collection as well as Osprey on the Forth Estury.
Wildlife Sightings for the August Month : -
  • Golden eagle
  • 2 Common White Sided Dolphin (Gary seen)
  • 4 Red Squirrels
  • Marsh Harrier
  • 9 Peregreine
  • 10+ Common Lizard
  • Goshawk
  • 4 Common Porpoise
  • Short Eared Owl
  • Long Eared Owl

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Raptors Galore!

Through June and July I have had a great month watching Wildlife and as you can see from the title I have mainly got lucky with great encounters of Superb Birds of Prey in and around North West England and also travelling into the Scots side in Dumphries and Galloway. I am turning the blog into a monthly update as I am not doing enough for it to be worth updating on a daily basis. I have had a successful month in terms of Bird count and also a cirtain reptile that Gary and I were keen to see this summer so I will go through the photos with you for each encounter...

In mid June my main crew member Gary and I went for a day out to Galloway Forrest park making a list of target birds to see and also mark the areas out on the road map. Our first port of call and highlight was calling in at the Red Kite feeding centre just passed Castle Douglas which is riddled with Kites from the road side and even more when you head up to the feeding centre which costs £2.50 which i am more than happy to pay, best £2.50 ive ever spent FACT. Managed to get some great shots of the birds as they were all above our head and get some superb close up views. The one thing that racked mine and garys brain that we found out a few days later that there was a White Tailed Eagle spotted at Castle Douglas that day and while we were admiring the Kites Gary noticed a Large Bird very very high up in the sky which was unusual and behaving differently to all the Kites but we thought nothing of it at the time and just prosumed it was another Red Kite but we cant count it as a sighting but it just made us wonder at the time. Called into Southerness Point to look for Cetatians and were not let down with about 6 Harbour Porpoise spotted and also bottlenose dolphin after a little bit of debate and research. Weather was boiling hot at this point and we stayed for over an hour to admire the marine mammals.

Gary and I had been talking about going to look for Adders all summer season so after my mother goose of all people recomended a potential spot for seeing them further up Geltsdale valley by an antiant woodland so in mid July we headed up to the waterworks and it was good conditions for the snakes as it was warm day with the sun visibale but it wasent to warm for the snakes.

the Adder is the only snake found this far north with grass snake and smooth snake found in the south of England. When we got to the spot we were looking at the fell side which was covered in Bracken and was also south facing so we knew we had a chance, also we seen some openings in the bracken and collections of rocks which will be ideal locations for the reptiles.

We took about an hour to work our way up the fellside through the bracken and been carful on where we were standing. We got to an opening about 150 yards up the slope and got a right shock as i nearly stood on this coyled adder basking by a rock we stopped and admired as it headed for cover under its rock. We were well chuffed that we got to see a Snake in its natrual enviroment so we were keen to see more. we made our way slwely round the fell side and came across another opening further up and again me leading on nearly stood on 3 adders basking together! We got a great view of them and they did not seem to bothered about our presence as we watched for nearly 5 minutes getting some good shots with the camara aswell as you can see.

John Milo and I headed off to the scots side to Balcarry point which is past Dumphries and on the coast south of Kirkcudbright. We were gonna call in to Calaverock to look for the Crane that had been sighted there the last few days but the weather was poor on our way up so we just carried on hoping for brighter skies. We got down to Balcarry which took about hour and half from Carlisle. We planned a route to take which would be included in Dads book and there was also a tourism sign in the car park telling us possible wildlife in the area. we headed down the coastline on a nice scenic route that was minaly walking on the top of crags and cliff faces looking down on the high tide and all the costal birds such as Cormoront, Black Gillimot, Common Skota and Gannetts a bit further out to sea.
The highlight though was hearing then watching Peregrine Falcon male and female as well as to juvenille sitting on the crags quite close by and tormenting sea birds like Fulmer and Blackheaded Gulls. He headed to Kirkcudbright after Balcarry point as the Spoonbill was seen there the day before but we didnt know where to look, had a quick scan down thre estury but was more interested in getting fish and chips from this cracking little place called Polarbites i highly recommend it!

Osprey! This was on the same trip that Gary and I went up to Galloway National Park when we seen the Red Kites we headed up to Galloway Forest to look for a reported Honey Buzzard in the area North-East of the forest but we had no luck in seeing it just a few common Buzzard.
On the way back we called in at Castle Douglas and going off Dads instructions to find Thrieve Castle he located it to find a superb Osprey nest in full View with the two adults on show aswell as two chicks visable. We also got an otter crossing the river and disapearing into the read beds so some great wildlife to be seen in the area.
Went to this site again with dad a couple of weeks later to find the Ospreys showing good as well as two Red Kites circling low around the castle so Superb world class bird watching on show.

Next Month I am going after the last Golden Eagle in England located at Haweswater and also Hen Harriers near Keswick....

Wildlife Sightings this month: -

  • 25+ Red Kite
  • 5 Osprey
  • 4 Adder
  • Otter
  • 5 Peregrine Falcon
  • Common Lizard
  • 6 Harbour Porpoise
  • Bottlenose Dolphin
  • Cormoront
  • Black Gillimot
  • Common Skota
  • Gannett
  • Fulmer
  • Oystercatcher