Sunday, 17 January 2010

The Great Melt....Jan 15th - Jan 31st

Goldeneye Male and Female

I decided to take an afternoon trip out to a couple of birding locations before I started work at 5. My first visit was Blackburn quarry just on the Northumberland border where potential Peregrines were to be seen. It was quite dull weather wise as I was making my way up the track to the quarry with just a couple of distant Red Grouse on show. When I arrived at the quarry there was no sign of the Peregrine in the area so it gave me the opportunity to walk up close to the quarry and check out the area properly as I had nothing to disturb. The sheer size and height of the quarry was superb and it was rewarding to know that the revolution of man in modern times as provided some positive effects on Wildlife in producing these great nesting sites for the raptors.
I moved onto Tindale Tarn hoping for better outcomes but to be fair it was a miserable day and was not expecting to much. A pair of Smew were showing well both the Drake and the red head. The birds have recently move here from Talkin Tarn. Three Goldeneye as well. Got to hear the male's funny call as well! Sounds like a man chocking on a Hobnob.

Drake and Red Head Smew

I was happy with the record pictures of the Smew and it was time for my shift at work so I headed back to the car after having my sandwich and a lovely muffin in the bird hide. I noticed a female RSPB worker drive past me twice back and forward from the offices and she seemed to be quite a milf so that was another bit of good news for the day. Another great highlight on the walk back was a Weasel running straight past me on the track and into a hole in the long reed grass. I tried to follow it but they are far to quick. I chased a Stoat once on the golf course and managed to keep up with it as it was also chasing a Rabbit. After failing to catch it I moved back to play my next golf shot.

Male Smew, Beauty of a bird!

Talkin Tarn, Magic Light

Talkin Tarn, Silhouette Shot

Two Goosander in the forground

Sunday Midday start for John Milo and I as we headed off to Talkin Tarn the first port of call. Our Target bird was Long Tailed Duck that had been present there all week. We parked roadside by the old tarn hotel because tight Yorkshire git John knows the score when it comes to saving a penny or two.
After Scanning for five minutes we did get the Long Tailed Duck and what a beautiful bird they are I might add, the LTD was in the mid sector of the tarn so no chance of any half decent photo records for the blog. I managed to get this nice continuous sequence of a diving female Tufty though....


And Dive...


Redshank, Port Carlisle

We moved onto the Solway by Port Carlisle and we got Red Shank, Little Egret, Teal, Dunlin. John was kicking off with all the Sunday drivers as we made our way along the Solway as he was tail gating pensioners enjoying a nice trip out in their Little Nissan. "Flaming get a move on man!"
We made our way to Campfield Marsh nature reserve for the chance of Hen Harrier which has been sighted coming into roost during the winter season. We arrived at the hide with another half dozen present. All the shallow waters on the marsh were still frozen over so there was nothing else to look out for other than Passing by raptors and the main event Male Hen Harrier.

Male Hen Harrier

We waited for about 45 minutes in patience and as the other birders left my dad called that the harrier could well be here in the next 5 min as the light was dropping. I was ratching around in the RSPB pin badges box and they were all boring flowers except a Sand Lizard badge which I thought I have to have. As John went round the back for a pish It appeared in clear view and with my delight I shouted for John and we watched the Harrier put on a great show for around 15 min coming as close as 50 yards! It happened just after I took that pin badge so I called it my lucky Lizard! then I wore my Lucky Lizard the next day to watch the Leeds v Carlisle match at Elland Road and we lost 2-1 so I chucked the flaming Lizard as it didn't work any more! that lasted long....

Male Hen Harrier, Campfield Marsh

Pink Footed Goose, Crosby

As I was on my way to Work in mid January I noticed a gathering of Geese and Swans on the airport road opposite Crosby-on-Eden so I parked FAP ( My tip of an auto mobile) at the side of the road and got the Binos out to ID them. A gathering of Greylag with a couple of Pink Footed Geese in amongst them. A group of Hooper Swans to the right of the Geese as well...nice surprise. Got the old Nikon p90 out to get a few record shots then I was on my way to work...Done

Whooper Swan's, Crosby

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Ice Age 2010...

Mixed plantation on lower ground at Castle Carrock ( Click on Images for a larger Scale view )

In the mixed plantation amoungst the snow drift ( Some of my images also avaialable at:

The young woodland includes: European Larch, Norway Spruce and Elder

The stone walls have collected a good amount of snow drift which has created a nice effect

Looking over to Geltsdale Valley from Castle Carrock fell

Snow Drift on a Stone wall, Scots side and the Solway

Sitka Spruce mature coniffer woodland with plane and vapour trail in blue sky

The snow covered heather has created a nice effect

Norway Spruce plantation with mas fellside in the backdrop

The highest point of Castle Carrock fell with the solitary cairn on show

A very remote area which has not got public access and provides great scenery looking north and west.

4 foot snow drift which I had to struggle through to get to the summit

High up in the moorland thousands of grouse on show and Peregrine also seen disturbing them

Two possible Snowbunting up in the heather also

The light was unbelievable with the reflection off the snow making it even better

Golden sunset looking west from Geltsdale

Sky colours were superb, with plane and vapour trail adding to the effect

Twighligt creating a nice effect through the open trees

Red sky creating a magic landscape, A few of the images made it onto BBC Cumbria Top 12 Winter Images, check out the link -

Superb sunset at Talkin village

Talkin Tarn..Glorious winter sky

Talkin Tarn..Frozen Over

The nature reserve scots pine woodland sticking out towards the tarn

Survival of the fittest, sheep fodder time at Talkin Village

Rookery at Talkin village

European Larch plantation on Talkin Head mount, trees felled and lower canopy thinned out

looking out towards Geltsdale Valley...what a landscape! click on image for bigger view..

Ice sheets on the river Gelt

Otter tracks have been regular on this stretch of river but still no sign of them...exciting though!

Great Colour combination...Ice white and Sky Blue

Hole in the wall..bring on the wall!

Burning Bush.....Magic

Up on the moorlands at Geltsdale a single Rowan tree surviving in the heather

The colours are unbelievable with the blend of the sun set and the blue sky reflecting off the bright white fresh snow covering

Saturday, 9 January 2010

The Great Freeze (January 1st - 15th)

Lapwing, Geltsdale (Click on photos for Larger scale!)

Still huge amount of snow and freezing temperatures. It reached -19 at Heads Nook just outside Carlisle and there talking about new records been reached since recordings started but saying that they have only been taking records for past 100-150 years and the time span is literally a blink of an eye in the age of Great Britain and the earth do it is hard to compare those results taken and look any further into climate conditions.
It also gives the 'fingers up' to the environmentalists trying to make money off the whole 'global warming' carry on. Making them look like a laughing stock when were experiencing coldest winters in decades and there saying we can make a difference on the natural warming of the planet over 10,000's of years.

Moving onto the wildlife and I have been making the most of the conditions which have been a photographers dream at the start of the year with fresh white snow and clear blue sky...glorious scenery, unbelievable to experience.
A solitary Lapwing through over my head while me and John Milo were watching hundred's of Grouse on the Geltsdale Uplands. A ring-tail Hen Harrier flew past as well disturbing the Grouse...what a bird!


A Hungry Fieldfare was not effected by the human disturbance and carried on its feeding attempts. A beautiful thrush, great to see them close up, hope it survives the extreme conditions!


The same bird enjoying a red berry from a Rowan Tree on the Geltsdale uplands. Im worried for the wildlife in these conditions, I hope it fairs up a lot and most of the wild creatures make it through the tough times. They are designed and addapted so well that I am confident they will make it thorough, I am sure the british species have endured tougher times in past years gone by!

What a joy and a reward it is to feed our feathered friends and get them approaching so close. I forgot how magic it is! There I am feeding a hungry Mute Swan. there was no bread at home so I took a couple of Bagels with me but the ducks didn't seen to complain with the full fat American bread buns.
The Tarn included Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Coot, Goldeneye, Goosander but no LT Duck or Kingfisher on show on this day.


A foraging Redwing by the tarn woodland, again a beauty up close! The cold desperate conditions are effecting the birds behaviour as they are more approachable which is good for photographing but you don't want to disturb them to much in this hard time.

Canada Goose Flock

I used the sports mode setting with this photo to get a flight shot of the Canada Geese heading towards the tarn. Normally the continuous sports mode isn't very effective but it came out well this time. Must of been to do with the superb light and slow moving geese. I put this photo on facebook and even Flaurence my mate even liked this one and he doesent like anything! he calls me Geltsdale Wildlife Worrier! He likes certain wildlife like small garden birds but I am going to persuade him to see the good in Raptors and British mammals as well, that's my aim!

Common Buzzard

On the way back from the tarn we got a real treat with this semi close up. Great effect with the coverings of snow on the dead branch makes it a good winter wildlife photo. They seem to be in great numbers at the moment which is great news and is good to have a bit of positivity relating to conservation which makes me happy happy!