I am going to cover the sightings and happenings wildlife related in the north eastern part of Cumbria and to kick it all off the swallows have had a successful breeding season around the house with 3 nesting pairs fledgling a good number of chicks and during September the peak number of Swallows seen together was 96 on the wire outside the house. The latest Swallow sightings for the year was a group of 15 seen on the 15th October.
As I mentioned in an earlier posting John and I put up some Swift boxes at the start of the breeding season to try and encourage them to use for nesting as they have been in decline and struggling due to modern house designs and lack of suitable nest sites. Unfortunately by the end of the season the boxes still had the 'to let signs on them and even though we had Swifts passing through and we tried to lure them in with the iphone call it just didn't happen but hopefully next year.
Back to Geltsdale and I was informed that their was 9 pairs of nesting Short Eared Owls on the reserve and I had some nice views of them throughout the summer but one view in particular when I just got back from Scotland was extra special! I had an evening walk round the fell to see what was about, with the main target bird being the SEO itself. When I made my way to the top of the fell side and to my very own SEO view point ( where I have had good success in the past) I stopped and scanned for around 5 minutes until suddenly an Owl came and landed on the wall about 20 yards to my right. It was curious about my presence and get glancing over at me....and then suddenly it flew right towards me lifted above my head and started hovering only a couple of meters above me staring me out and saying hello! it was unbelievable and even though I had my camera on me I just took in the moment as I watched it fly on its way to a near by stone wall to carry on glancing at me. What an amazing experience and just days after I had arrived back from Mull and had an associating Minke whale communicating with me and the passengers then I get an associating Short Eared Owl approaching me to say hello!
Long Eared Owls also seen to be on the up with 2 pairs in the conifer woodland near by and a reported third pair also not far away. Again I had some nice views of them in the early summer season but just relying on reports and other people to keep me updated on their progress.
The Barn Owl pair occupying the box by Jockey Shield had a single chick this year and have had a few sightings of the birds hunting in recent weeks. Their is also supposed to be a pair up at the Gairs but I haven't followed their progress this year. Tawny owls are in good numbers judging by their vocal noice on an evening and also seeing them sat road side when driving in the area under headlights. I also got a good view of 3 juveniles sat on a Hawthorn one evening and they were being very vocal.
Spotted Flycatcher have nested successfully next door in a hanging basket and Pied flycatcher sightings in the garden in July. Black Cap sightings in August and Green woodpecker heard a number of times in Sept / Oct.
Badgers, and one sett I was monitoring had at least 3 cubs and had some good views looking across the valley at them, I feel so privileged to be able to do that.
im going to go through a few of the scarce and rare sightings witnessed by myself or John Milo on the Geltsdale patch and surrounding area during the last few months. Starting with a special moment for me being an avid Raptor fan, I was washing the dishes one day in August and as usuak was watching out for wildlife towards the fell side when I seen a large pale bird flying left to right just over the skyline towards Talkin Head. I ran to get the binos and straight away it was an Osprey getting mobbed by some Crows! it was my first one seen in the area and I watched it as it headed east towards Tindale tarn.
Two Marsh Harriers, a single Hobby, Peregrine and a number Merlins conclude the Raptors seen during the summer 2010. A number of Lapland bunting were seen in the Tindale area during August and John and I went to Talkin tarn to watch a Black tern.
A couple of exciting sightings in September with the first being a Chiff Chaff flying into the greenhouse as John was grafting away and at first glance he didn't think anything of it until he heard its call...and it was like a thin pipping like Bullfinch call. As soon as John heard that he locked it into the greenhouse and called for back up. The sighting ended up being debatable as juvenile plumage can cause confusion and also other reports online of Chiff Chaffs with a strange one toned call again adding to the mystery. Also the Siberian version having very dark legs and beak and we just didn't see that on this particular bird.
A confirmed sighting at the end of September was again a call picked up by John whilst amongst his crops in the garden and it was from a warbler that he spotted, again having a closer look and the unique call gave it away as a Yellow Browed Warbler! you beauty! got a glimpse of the bird as it was in neighbours garden with its lovely colour pattern and petite size.
A funny storey to finish with and it was on the week I came back from Mull and it was a strong westerly wind and when I entered the house there was a phone call about a strange bird that had turned up on Geltsdale farm just up the road. It could hardly walk and looked very much out of place...when the bird was checked out it was confirmed that it was a Guillemot! blown in from the crazy strong winds. I had just come back from the Hebrides where I had seen them every day out to sea and one must have followed me home back to glorious Geltsdale. It was kept at Ashleys house up the road and me, Gary and Emma (Garys bird) went upto feed it one night with some mackerel. Ashley showed us his superb slideshow of photography he did in S Africa last year which was great to see.
So....a Guillemot on Geltsdale...its a funny old world.....next posting will be photography of Autumn Colours and wildlife sightings for Oct / Nov.......