Friday, 16 April 2010

March / April Spring Update....

Just to give you an update of sightings and outings from the last few weeks as I have done a posting for a while as I have been busy at college and the weather hasn't been the best of lately.

To get the update going the end of March is an exciting time for wildlife with a lot of stuff starting to appear and also stuff on the move.

Ill start with an exciting encounter as at the end of the month I thought I would go and check on the Long Eared Owls which are located in a remote area near to Brampton. I headed up just before dusk with my binos and camera hoping for some half decent pics of the birds as well. When I arrived in the area I got Woodcock and Snipe passing through as well as Male Tawny calling quite early.

When I arrived in the area for potential LEO I sat on a near by wall waiting patiantly and within around 10 minutes the male LEO appeared clapping in display and was again a joy to watch. A couple of minutes later I heard a high piched hooting from in the woodland and to clarify that it was the female I used my birdguides pro iphone application and as always a help it was the female calling and it would appear a couple of minutes later. Watching the two birds was a real thrill but it the light level mwas too low to get any pictures or video footage.

I was excited to follow the progress of the badgers in the geltsdale area this year and walked up to one of their sets a couple of times at the back end of March in hope of some early activity but no joy on those two occasions so I left it a couple of weeks and headed back up on one sunny eveing at the start of April and after waiting patiantly for around half an hour watching Kestrels and Buzzards passing through to roost I got movement looking down on the Badger set as one appeared from a hole showing well and wondering down a well used track to do the toilet after a long sleep underground. That was the only I got to see as the light dropped another notch and it was time to head back but good to see some activity and hoping for more as spring moves forward! I will keep you upto date with the Badger progression.

A bit of good news with Buzzard numbers in the area as their is new pairs taking up terrotaries. And the numbers in general are sky high as I have had double figures soaring together on a sunny day which is a delight to see.

I went for a walk around the Gares in mid March which takes you back round towards the new water of Geltsdale valley and where there are Adders in the area so I walked up the south facing fell side where they have been seen in past years and scanned the areas where there is openings in the bracken. It was a nice sunny day with a bit of heat so I thought they would be out as I heard they were seen in different areas of country already but no joy this time and would be back up in a few weeks to check again and hope for better results.

Another point to mention is the lack of Short Eared Owl sightings in the last 6 months in the Geltsdale area. They are normally a regullar occurance on the higher ground but it is worrying times for them at the minute.

On the 3rd Wednesday of March me and Cain (Hollywell Birder) decided to make a trip out To Haweswater as on a monday previous we attended a Golden Eagle talk arranged by Cumbria Wildlife Trust at Bramptons Moot hall. We learned a bit about the history of the eagles based at Rigindale with up to 2 pairs at once been seen there in the mid 20th century. The man who did the talk was a warden there for nearly 15 years and his most exciting encounter was watching the Male Eagle corner a fox high up on the valley with its wings out and showing real threat, it must of been unreal to witness. Anyway when we arrived at Hawewater we decided to turn it into an afternoon hike as the cloud was very low with poor viability. We headed up the right hand side of the valley and as we reached the highest point he decided it was too cold and went back and ourself, call it a day and move on!

An exciting bit of news in the easter bank holiday weekend was an East Coast Scotland Sea Eagle making its way down to Prestwick and then moving through to Yorkshire / Leighton Moss and then seen at Haweswater been chased away by the resident Goldie! again that must have been unbelievable to see! Sadly the bird was last seen heading east over the Pennines and the grouse moors and nothing else was ever heard from the special bird.

A treat for myself in good old Geltsdale happened in mid April when me and John Milo were out checking for Barn Owl nests in Rock faces, cracks and crevices and I looked up to see a raptor holding just above me so I got the binos locked on it and a white ring tail stood out and the distinctive wing shape and was a 1st year male Hen harrier! watched it hunting over the moorland for around 10 minutes and it was a delight!

John mentioned the lack of Short Eared Owls in the past 6 months as there had been no sightings at all until he got a distant bird up on coal fell at the end of April so that is a worry at the present time.

The first Swift recored at JS was on the 16-04 always a great sign and they are a magnificant birds to watch. Still waiting on the first Swifts, John has put up two Swift boxes at the back of the house so hopefully that will encourage them to move in! A Pair of Kestrels have again moved into the box down in the wood in view of the kitchen window so again it makes washing the dishes a lot more enjoyable.

A trip to Threve and the Castle Douglas area was in order for Mid April as the Osprey had returned to the island next to Threve Castle. Also a good oppertunity to watch the Red Kites in the area . The weather was not the best on the way up with showery spells on and off but once we got to the NTS car park the sun came out and we walked down to the rivers edge to view the Ospreys.

Threve Osprey pair

Threve Castle with nesting Raven

Roe Deer in the Reedbeds at Thrieve

Red Kite Castle Douglas

Red Kite time 3

Curious Buzzard



Barnacle Goose at Calaverock

Male Kestrel at Calaverock

Male Kes