Tuesday, 21 December 2010

This is a real winter season...

Well December is here and another year is drawing to a close even faster then the one before. I now understand what them older people were on about when they talk about the years flying by! A true winter season really does change the perspective of everything with the extreme temperatures and tough tackling surroundings regarding the snow and ice.

Sunset Just outside Castle Carrock

When the snow did arrive on the 25th of November, its always a nice surprise to see and creates a whole new world out there! I was straight out there in amongst it enjoying the refreshing scenery and landscapes. Again I was snap happy with the camera...camera at the ready...fingers steady....shoot!

Jackdaw, Castle Carrock

A nice sighting when I was driving through Carlisle with my golfing buddy Andy Oliver, we were heading through Rosehill to get to the town centre and we seen a potentially fit girl walking on the side of the road in the distance and then suddenly a small flock of birds flew right over the car landing in nearby Rowan that also had potential to be something good! So I had a tricky decision to make weather to check out birds to the right feeding by the car park or carry on and get closer look at the single bird of the non feathered variety walking near the road to the left. As I am a male human being the natural and normal instinctive thing to do would be to carry on and get a closer look at the female human being species...but like a true wildlife warrior I couldn't resist and took a sharp right heading into the car park and end up sitting 30 foot from 20 odd Waxwing feeding on a Rowan tree which was a fantastic sight! Was very happy with my decision to take a right and check out the birds and in the end we still got a glimpse of the lass as we headed out the car park and she was not that special and had a face that would make onions cry and looked like she had a tin of Ronseal smeared over her face! Rather look at Waxwing any day they are stunning!

Greenwell, Collie dog checking on the Shickens

Gary Storey (AKA Rowlands Gill Birder) came over in the 1st week of December for a birding trip out. I gave him three options for the day cos I like to be organised and know whats going on! We could go see Hawfinch down at Sizergh Castle, Look for Eagle Owls that can be seen in the area or we could go watch H Harriers coming into roost at Campfield Marsh RSPB reserve near Port Carlisle. We decided to go for the Harrier option and John Milo decided to venture out as well and battle the savage icy conditions.
When we arrived at the hide we sat and scanned for a while and plenty of Wigeon and show, Pintail, Shoveller, Pinkies and Barnacle Geese flying overhead. half an hour in and the main event had arrived to the left a female ringtail turned up working its way up and down the game crop for 20 odd minutes! in between that a male Sparrowhawk was sat on a fence post near by. A couple of Buzzards were circling in the distance and a Kestrel was on show as well. Then another triumph when I picked up a Male Hen Harrier in the scope working its way right to left over the long grass. It was Gary's first Male Harrier sighting so a good day all round. Another plus point to add to the good news day was that the RSPB animal pin badges in the Campfield Marsh hide had been topped up and there was some good new badges including Otter and Merlin!

BG! A lovely Black Cock!

Some sightings in the area during mid December were 2 Red head Smew at Tindale Tarn, 20 plus Black Grouse on Gdale and 5 Short Eared Owl, 200 plus Brambling by Talkin Tarn, 30 plus Waxwing at Dalston and Wetheral.

Male Yellowhammer in CC

An exciting encounter on the 15th of the month, had a free afternoon in the diary so headed up the valley and John sent me up the new water which I haven't covered that much compared to the old water that forks off to the left.
I walked all the way as the roads were carnage so it took a good hour to get to the water works and beyond. I reached a small mature Oak plantation and discovered a large raptor nest up one of the trees and just as I was about to climb the tree to inspect it more.........a monster of an Owl takes off from the tree next to it 15 feet from me!! it was the superb Eagle Owl, Largest of all Owls and I just admired the bird as it flew off up the valley and it was a huge object in flight! I didn't know what to think as I was in shock for the next 15 minutes. I went to check if it was sat on a large crag further up the valley but didn't want to get to close to disturb the bird (shut up Gary!) I didn't have any other sightings but I dint give a rats butt cos that was and will be one of my best wildlife experiences of my life full stop! I got a pellet from the tree it was roosting in and when I inspected it back at Jockey Shield headquarters it contained rabbit fur which makes sense as over 80% of their diet is researched to be Rabbit.

Starving Marving eyeing up the bird feeder in CC

A trip to Haweswater was arranged for the following day with Danny Naisbitt on board who is growing an interest for wildlife and the natural world and I think has very good potential. he was keen to have his first Golden eagle experience and Haweswater is the best and sadly only place in the county to see this special species.

On the journey there its amazing what wildlife you can see from the car as we had 3 Red Squirrels!, 5 Buzzards and a Rook which nearly caused me a major road accident as when I stopped to describe to Danny the differences between a Rook and a Crow I did not realise I was in the middle of the road and a car came wizzing round the corner smacking my wing mirror and missing my car by a fanny hair!

When we got to Hwater it was straight to the valley of the eagle as we didnt want to miss a trick! we put in a good 3 hour stint but the eagle was having a lazy day and didnt make an appearance so went off to explore around the waters edge and do some photography and some photos I got are further down the page. We did get 20 plus Red Deer deep into the valley and also another two Red Squirrel so over all a good day!

Frozen pond in Birch woodland in Geltsdale

A funny debate occurred the other week on the social network web site Facebook and it was regarding the good old fashioned debate of fox hunting! I had just updated my status in excitement of seeing a fox on my way home from work and the usual comments were flying around like 'you should of ran it over' and 'I shot one the other day' and then it all kicked off regarding the social hunting of the species. Now I know everyone is entitled to their opinions but in this debate there was a lot of twoddle said when Brunskill got involved it went to a new level. My side of the story was the mentality of treating it as a pleasure to kill these beautiful wild dogs and some people need to climb out of their time machines and come and join us in the 21st century where we have Ipods and sat navs! anyway to put it in a nutshell if we were all the same then life would be boring as hell!

Nailed it as G Storey said! just oppisite the house looking upto Castle Carrock fell

A journey south to Grasmere on xmas eve eve! I was accompanied by Andy Mcgreevy and Rachel Robson back from Edinburgh. When we arrived in the village first port of call was co-op for some crisps and the world famous gingerbread shop which was delightfully chewy and crunchy!
We headed on up towards the slate quarry looking over Rydal water and 2 Ravens was the first sighting on the board and a Kestrel in a hurry after that. Redwing and Fieldfare overhead in small flocks. A Buzzard when we reached the summit and heading down towards the Rydal waters edge. The main highlight came when we got to the slate quarry cave when straight over head a Peregrine was showing really well and then generated pace in a split second to flush a tit flock from some bushes, always a pleasure! five minutes later and a distinctive high pitched trill call over head with a small flock of Waxwing heading north in the Grasmere direction. As usual a traditional fall on my arse moment with my new Asolo boots on and Andy did his famous burst of laughter and said "the boots are no good take them back"

800 year old Sessil oak tree in CC, Beauty!

The plan to play golf on xmas eve was down the swanny as I arrived in the car park to see the signs 'Course Closed' So I hit some balls on the driving range with James Wilkinson and Andy Mcgreevy. Wilko decided do go to Gretna Gateway shopping centre for some last minute xmas shopping so we decided to tag along since there was nothing else going on.
On the journey over we literally lost count of the Buzzard sightings and also got to see one tagging a prey item road side.
I bought a new Jelay jacket (sleeveless waistcoat) from Gap and it ended up been my new lucky item as he seen a Red Fox on the way home with its head down looking in the tall grass!
Also got Brambling going home through Castle Carrock so good day again! :-)

A Buck Roe deer up in the moorlands of Gdale

Xmas day and Merry xmas everyone! I got up at around 10am and im not the type to sit around watch films and eat chocolate so I got my gear together and headed out in the wilderness planning to be back in time for the big feast later on! Seen 10 Black Grouse within 5 minutes of leaving the house, they were showing really well sat on a hawthorn. Red Grouse were to follow and also good numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare passing through. Roe deer are in good number all around the reserve and the sightings continues as I made my way around the fell and upto the Gairs. Lovely peaceful conditions with not a sole in sight I felt like the last man on earth!
Had 2 Buzzards and 2 kestrel and as I headed back round to the house I had 2 Brambling and a Treecreeper near the house. I got back for 2pm in time for the fodder! and had a great day with the family and watching the Ashes cricket on the TV on the evening.

The Gairs view point up in Gdale

We got some bird feeders for xmas and straight away we put them out on the washing line with immediate success attracting upto 7 Long Tailed Tits and also GS Woodpecker, Marsh Tit and Nuthatch.
After seeing the effects of the feeders I am going to purchase more feeders and fat balls and also look to make a couple of feeder tables to go with it, Jockey Shield nature reserve!

looking across to Connifer plantation

Red Grouse taking off from stone wall

High up Gdale old water, River Gelt in the great melt!

Duck pond frozen solid

Gdale old water, slow shutter speed creating different effect

the mighty Hawewater! looking towards Rigingdale from roadside

In my oppinion the most beaufiful location in England...even though I havent seen most of Cumbria yet alone the most of England!

Haweswater looking north

looking into Rigingdale Valley home of the last Golden Eagle in the country

What a place, I love it! Hwater rocks!!

Just to let any readers know if they are followers of Rowlands Gill Birder and are wondering why there has been lack of updates this year, well to my understanding the blogger himself has been very busy eating Pizza and watching internet downloaded video content while acompanied by a box of tissues. If we are lucky there might be a blog posting in 2011 or maybe when the next blue moon appears and he can write about seeing it in his blog!

Thanks for reading..........

Wildlife Sightings: November 25th - December 28th.....

  • Eagle Owl
  • Short Eared Owl
  • Waxwing
  • Black Grouse
  • Hen Harrier gray and ringtail
  • 2 Red Fox
  • Red Deer
  • Roe Deer
  • Buzzards
  • Kestrel
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Brambling
  • Treecreeper
  • Marsh Tit
  • LT Tit
  • Red Squirrel
  • Grey Squirrel
  • Yellowhammer
  • Red Grouse
  • Raven
  • Redwing
  • Fieldfare