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.
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.
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...http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/cumbria/hi/front_page/newsid_8439000/8439209.stm
Roe Deer, 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.
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