Well the year is getting going and we will soon get out of the way the riff raff months of Jan and Feb and on with the real deal of the breeding season and where it all happens. I haven't done a great deal of wildlife watching over the last few weeks but I have continued with the wildlife / Fell walking trips to the Lake District on a Sunday which have been quite popular with the students at the Uni of Cumbria.
Not my pic but it gives you an idea of their area by Grasmere
Sunday the 22nd of Jan and a trip down to Grasmere with a record attendance of eight plus one dog! Kel, Amber (dog), Jess and Abi and I in one car and Greevy (driver), Phil Kania, Beth and Danny in the other car made up the group.
The first sightings of the walk were a Treecreeper and female Sparrowhawk going through a woodland in Grasmere. When we arrived at higher ground We got Raven, Buzzard and a flock of 20-30 Siskin. Danny was going on about wanting to see Peregrine and we were in a prime area as the birds breed over Rydal water where we were heading towards but today was not the day and he thinks he is cursed with Peregrine sightings are we went upto Midgeholme quarry a few days earlier and had no joy their either.
After visiting the large slate cave that over looks Rydal water we stopped for lunch as the Charlie Crows moved in for some scraps and I spoiled them with some whole foxes biscuits...if the Crows are happy then so am I!
We some how got split up as a group as we were approaching back round to Grasmere water because a few of us stopped back to look for wildlife. We managed to meet up again at the waters edge and we found a dead perch which we admired for its fantastic colour pattern.
The following Sunday was another trip and the destination was Tarn How near Coniston. The group consisted of Beth, Danny, Kel, Amber the dog and myself. Im always going to count the dog as part of the group cos it boosts the numbers when someone asks me how many went!
A long trip down because of diversions and also slow and steady driving, I get stick for slow driving but theres so much to look at driving through areas like this you dont know what your going to see next! Quiet on the wildlife front just a Buzzard that danny got to practice his photography skills on. The tarn was frozen over which always creates a nice effect. We called into Ambleside afterwards for Hot choc to warm up. The love of Kel's life works in the bar we went in but unfortunately she wasn't in so maybe next time! good trip!
Feeding a Robin cookie crumbs at Hawewater car park
A special one it was on the first day of Feb! Andrew Proud (Pruddy) had been nagging at me to goto the a remote area of the National Park and see some great views and a spot of wildlife so he had arranged this day a few weeks back to fit into work schedule. Danny the future warrior is coming as well....when asked a few weeks back what animal would u most want to see? he replied "a Sloth and a mole" haha a different answer indeed.
We chose Haweswater (my favorite place in England) and arrived at 11ish in record time because of Prouds Nicky Louder style driving! We decided to head to the bird hide straight away because the conditions were ideal for raptors with strong winds and sunshine. As soon as we arrived...boom! huge bird at the back of the valley being mobbed by 5 Ravens, it was indeed the lone male Golden Eagle showing well in the scope! What a start, we hung around for a while and then decided to get moving and tackle the round route of Rigingdale valley.
Me on Heron Crag...
After we managed the first steep climb of the valley we were on higher ground and enjoying the amazing views in all directions. When we got to heron crag there was a large puddle up there that seems to be there most of the year round, and Proudy claimed it and named it 'Proudys Pond' so if you ever go up there and notice it remember the name!
Next onto Eagle crag and the name was quite fitting on this day as Danny spotted the eagle in the distance going away from us and out of the valley. It was the first time I had seen the eagle from a different place instead of the viewing hide.
Me and Pruddy on Highstreet...
As we worked our way around the valley to the far side we continued to get ravens and also 50 plus Red Deer herded together in small groups in and around the valley. Then......the main highlight, as we were making our way down and the light was dropping I spotted a big bird circling just above the skyline and it was travelling away from us and I had it in the binos but couldn't get a scale of size....then it suddenly turned around and headed right for us dropping lower to the ground and straight away I knew it was a Goldie and it flew low down 50 yards in front of us....special. It was a very pale bird with what seemed to be white markings on the upper wings but I did read afterwards that the particular male was pale.
Fantastic day all round....
Low fog set in at Farlam
Another Wildlife group outing on the 6th Feb with Kel, Andy mcgree, Danny and I present. The forecast was awful all over the region so we decided to pick a location in the national park that was on lower ground and also sheltered in woodland. Thirlmere was the choice and off we went ready to brave the conditions. When we arrived at the resivoiur we were having second thoughts and Kel suggested the indoor climbing wall at Ambleside but in the end we were up for the challenge and fired the waterproofs on and soldiered on!
He headed north towards the top of Thirlmere and a nice bit of sheltere from the large mature fir and Oak trees was very welcome. We had an OS map with us but still managed to take a wrong turning and we ended high up in a mature Oak plantation so we had to work our way down the steep banking the forest floor full of life with mosses and lichen making it tricky on foot as well as slipped on our arse about ten times each! The woodland was superb and the steep terrain and naturally fallen oaks produced fantastic habitats for Badgers and Foxes and i had just explained this to Danny minutes earlier and then...Boom! a Red Fox Meters from me! It soon took off and ran into the distance and unfortunately the others in the group didn't get to see it but it was a great sighting to see it in a lovely woodland like this.
As we made our way down the woodland Kel decided he had had enough and rolly pollied all the way down with a bit of sliding involved which was hilarious. We got to a stream at the bottom and decided we were already drenched though so we gorged walked straight up it to get back on the intended path.
We decided to head back to the car after a couple of hours getting pished on. We all made ourself walking sticks and Greevy pretended to be Gandolf the Wizard and Shouting " U shall not pass!" and then he started talking to the trees like in the film and he said to them "How ya doing you going out tnite??....I will pick you up at tree" haha I was in stitches lol.
That was that and we seen 2 Roe Deer on the way back and to finish it off we all traveled back to Carlisle in our underpants as we were all drowned rats....good day and just shows u that you can get out and enjoy it whatever the weather!
Looking down on the fog blanket
two drake Smew on Talkin Tarn
Goosander at Longtown
Whooper Swans on Longtown Pond
Red Squirrel at Talkin Tarn
Red Squirrel at Talkin Tarn
Sightings for Jan / Feb Include......
- Barn Owl A69 Scotby Turn off, 28th Jan
- Marsh Tit In garden
- Crossbill in Garden
- Stoat on Brampton Golf Course, 5th Feb
- 2 Sparrowhawk on Golf Course, 5th Feb
- 3 Drake Smew and 1 Red Head on Talkin / Tindale Tarn
- Barn Owl, Geltsdale, 21st Jan
- 2 Peregrine at Midgeholme Quarry
- Ermine Stoat, Binnie Banks
- 4 Ravens, Binnie Banks
- Golden Eagle, Haweswater
- 4 Red Squirrel at Talkin Tarn, 14th Feb
- Green Woodpecker calling, Brampton Golf Club, 20th Feb