Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A time for celebrating the turn of the year plus friends and family...

The holiday season is upon us and its very mild compared to the last couple of xmas periods. Its a good time of year to celebrate the winter solstice (shortest day) and there fore the turn of the year. Also enjoying friends and family is another good reason to enjoy it. I managed to get out in the field a few times in among all the xmas hustle and bustle.

We have reached 5000 signatures with the Raptor protection petition which is great but still a long way to go to reach 100,000 so a lot of work to do. Please sign if you haven't already and spread the word.

 I wrote an article for Raptor Politics regarding the birds of Prey on Mull and comparing the whole set up and mentality to the mainlands problems. I enjoyed writing it and I would like to thank Terry Pickford of RP for giving me the opportunity.  

Pot of Gold in Keswick, no wonder all the locals can afford them fancy
North Face Jackets!
River Gelt in flood
















High Hynam, great for swimming in the summer, or at any time
of year if you re hardy enough...

The tight cluster is seven sisters other wise known as Pleiades

































I have again been focusing on night sky astrophotography and learning about the fascination of it all. I enjoyed a fantastic meteor shower on the 2nd week of the month with 20 landing vertically in an hour....stunning. I was also continuing to attempt to capture the night sky in all its glory which I really enjoy doing. You can get some unique shots and it is also more difficult to get right compared to the day time landscapes I have been doing recently. I'm enjoying close views of Jupiter at the moment as well and with the scope locked on it you can make out 4 moons orbiting the huge planet. Its most famous moon is Io which is covered in Ice as it has a surface temperature of -260 degrees but as the gravitational force of Jupiter is so strong it creates movement and friction of the planet which produces heat and there fore could there be liquid water under the surface of Io and also possible life??...I find it all fascinating.

A clear weekend gave some great night sky action...













5 minute star trail...


Snowy gdale with a cracking sunset






Geltsdale LEO

John's superb Long-Eared Owl article in Birdwatching Monthly

Castle Carrock on a frosty clear night...












































Xmas fodder with brothers and cousins...






















Family snap on Gdale, John is missing!










Xmas day and a walk around the fell with the family produced two Roe Deer, Kestrel, Buz and a small flock of Goldcrests. A Superb meal was had, Thank you very much Mum! the only problem was a 3 hour power cut just as we were going to tuck into our third course.It ended up being very fitting as it brought the candles out and encouraged us to get the fire blazing which created a historic atmosphere from the times before electricity. Power cuts are always welcome....unless of course x-factor or made in chelsea is on tv!
The power came back on at 8ish and it was time for my slideshow presentation about Mull and a 35 question quiz afterwards. It was more about the wildlife and landscapes on the island than my general experience and I think everyone enjoyed it. Jamie my brother had requested it as a present which was great because it meant I didn't have to buy him anything and also a good way to show off my photography.

Fulmar, 10 seen at Balcary in D and G













A boxing day trip to Balcary on the Scottish Solway. Andy Mcgreevy and Rachel Robson came along. We arrived at 10ish and started the superb coastal walk admiring the powerful waves charging into shore. up to 8 Fulmers seen as we made our way along and it was fantastic to see them again tackling the coastal winds. I got a record shot of one bird. We made our way round the fantastic round route which provides a great variation in habitats. It was quiet on the wildlife front today with no Ravens or Peregrine but did get a single Whooper Swan on the fresh water loch just inland. Discovered afterwards that there is a bird hide further up the coast so I will defiantly be all over that when we next visit.
On the way back I was a bit pished off finding out that Leeds had lost to Craig Shaws Derby County! I got cheered up when we decided to visit a Brown tourism sign and discovered an impressive Castle remains. We followed another brown sign before home time. Our future trips are going to consist of driving around Scotland following Brown signs....what a great country.

On the evening it was Tommy Milos turn to do a slideshow of his adventures across the pond. It was superb with great photos and videos. It was 4 hours long so the half time refreshment brake was well needed. He got me a Flamingos football top with Ronaldinhio on the back as well which was great.

Rascarrel bay looking west










Rascarrel bay, strong westerly producing powerful waves













At Balcary on boxing day trying to capture a Fulmar in flight..










I went to Bowness on Solway with my Dad on the 28th as it was strong westerly's. Our first port of call was Sandsfield where we parked up and in a superb 5 minutes scanning we got Merlin, 12 Kittiwakes, RB Merganser and Ross's Goose in among Barnies. Went to the Bus Shelter at Bowness afterwards and did not stay long as we got Guilimot and more Kittiwakes. Finished at Campfield Marsh hide and entered to be welcomed by two fellow Leeds fans which is a rare occurnace. We got a good number of Pintail and Shoveller. 80 plus Whooper Swans and plenty of Barnies in flight overhead. A possible Harrier in the distance but not going to count it. I was just delighted to hear that someone had reported 3 separate Harriers on the reserve the previous day. On the way back we had to take a diversion as the high spring tide had flooded the coastal road blocking it off.


Happy New year to everyone and good health and happiness, thanks for reading :-)

Monday, 5 December 2011

White Gdale and National Park photography...

The temperature has dropped now and along with some strong westerly's it has being savage in the last few days. A covering of snow on Gdale was a nice change to the landscapes. Strong winds with reported force 12 in the country made for a trip to the Solway to see if anything turned up. Also the usual trips to our national park to see whats happening down that way.

High up the Old water...

The Gairs viewpoint looking west...

I woke up to snow early on in the month and thought it would be a great opportunity to explore Gdale and look for mammal tracks as well as see weather there is any interesting bird behavior regarding the conditions.
I started off with 2 Black Grouse cocks going up the lane and also a pair of Stonechats at the top. I made my way around Simmerson ridge and round the Gairs and had good numbers of congregating Red Grouse on my way.

You can see the Solway in high tide in the back drop...

As I reached the old water I headed further up the valley and flushed a Woodcock and got a 12 strong flock of Bullfinch with the males colours standing out so well in the white back drop. More Stonchats to follow with a total of 7 recorded. As the light dropped I was hoping to hear an Eagle owl call but it wasn't to be so I headed down to the steep crag on the new water to see if anything was heading into roost. On the way over there was a Bunting feeding on the track and at first I thought it was a Lapland Bunting but after closer study and my trusty iphone app I found it to be a 1st winter female Reed Bunting. I got a distant peregrine and 2 Buzzards flew over flushing 15 Black Grouse cocks right next to me. As the light faded away I picked up a bird flying low over the heather and it was a Short Eared Owl! what a finish to a great day.

looking up Gdale valley...

Very strong gales on Thursday 8th so it was a trip to Bowness with my dad to see what turned up. We arrived at the 'bus shelter' at a retreating high tide and things started off fairly quietly but it picked up as we got a Little Gull (crap video below), 2nd year Gannet, Kittiwakes and 8 juvenile Eiders. It was fricking freezing so we moved on to Campfield Marsh where we got 6 Pintail and 20 plus Shoveler.

Keswick, Derwent water, Catbells and Snowy tops beyond...


View from Dodd summit...

A trip to our National Park on Dec 12th. I headed down to Dodd wood, east of Bassenthwaite lake. I got 3 Red Squirrels at the feeders and a female Sparrowhawk flashing in and unsuccessfully snatching a Coal tit from the feeders. I moved onto the higher ground as I wanted to focus more on the landscapes today as the snowy tops to the peaks were very impressive. High up there were the usual Ravens showing well and the views were as stunning as ever...

xmas chaos down in Keswick, much better up here!

I stayed high up for the preferred night time photography. Night time action is what its all about, listening out for wildlife and also the different photos you can capture. I am going to join the owls and turn nocturnal.

Rainbow at full time for Gary Speed...

A visit to Elland Road on Sat 3rd to pay our respects to Gary Speed and the team put on a great tribute with a 2-0 win against Millwall. A rainbow appeared at full time for Speedo. RIP

Speedo tributes...

We had a Red Kite on the A1 as well!...always a pleasure :-)

video
Spot the bird?? Little Gull, Its not the worst video in the world...buts its in the top one! are u watching Gordon Buchanan?

video
Raven in flight over Bass lake, looking from Dodd summit...

John acting normal as usual...Barry Robsons Letter in the Cumberland News a few weeks back regarding value eagles could have in Cumbria...

To finish with here is a plug for Craig Shaws excellent Cumbria birding blog...apart from being a Derby county fan he is a legend and his photos and reports are top draw....

Thanks for looking :-)