Wednesday, 18 January 2012

January is Dull?....Thank God for Wildlife (figure of speech, im an atheist)

Great to get back to normality and to know that spring is not far away. And one thing about this climate change it means spring is hear sooner than ever after the turn of the year. A few trips around the region to some new areas and also some old favorites.  

A visit to Ullswater early in month with two of my bezzers...

High up Gdale on a clear night...
Decided on a late night up the valley early in the month on a still moon lit night to see what I could see and more importantly hear. I brought the camera to get some night sky shots to keep me occupied while I was listening out. It started well with a Fox seen going down the lane and also a couple of Roe Deer further into the woodland. Tawny's were calling near by in the early night time hours as I made my way up the valley. The wildlife action was unfortunately quiet after that with a few Woodcock and a Barn Owl on the way back but the atmosphere was amazing up the valley as it was so still and calm with a full moon and a star lit sky I felt like the last man on earth and it was so relaxing. I stayed high up the valley until 1am and started making my way back home. 

The next day I headed out with Cainio the Hollywell Birder. The original plan was to head to Abbeytown and see the Blue Morph Snow Goose so he picked me after his exam and we headed north west for the last few hours of light. We took a wrong turn in Carlisle and I sent him towards Port Carlisle instead of the 595 west so we decided to go to Campfield Marsh hide instead as it was lashing gown with rain. Awful co-pilot skills by myself but I blame it on my vision being blocked by all the empty Mcdonalds wrappers and cups pilled up in his car! 
We arrived at the hide and got a dozen Pintail, Shovellers, a good number of Teal and 80 odd Whoopers arriving late on. No sign of Harriers today but hearing 2 birds had been seen the previous day was pleasing to know that there is birds around. We headed off at dusk and surprise surprise Cainio fancied a Mcdonalds so we headed to Kingstown, North Carlisle for him to get his fix. He ended up kindly buying me a meal and I will return the favor on our next birding trip out! 

The next day an evening walk around Gdale with the newly repaired John produced a great half hour with 7 Ravens, Black Grouse, 3 Roe Deer and a Brown Hare been chased by a walkers dog. Great to see John with a spring in his step after hid knee replacement as I struggled to keep up with him as he marched up the hill. Amazing progress...needs to keep it going!

Barnies in good number looking from Old Sandsfield

Edward I Monument...
Headed off to sandsfield one afternoon to view the Solway as it was lovely sunshine and dad had showed me this area a few weeks back so I thought I would cover it myself. I parked near the Edward 1st monument and walked down the shoreline to view from. Historically Edward I known as Longshanks died on the Burgh marsh on his way back from a campaign against Robert the Bruce in 1307. You might recognise the name from the film Braveheart, and he did have a number of encounters with the legendary William Wallace during his reign as king of England. Lydia Hosdell will be so proud of me learning my history!
Anyway back to the birds!....from Longshanks to Redshanks! I enjoyed good views of the Barnacle Geese and also the sheer movement of Gulls heading west out of the estuary was incredible, lasting for a few hours solid. Enjoyed a nice sunset to finish off the day. Took some night shots of Carlisle Castle on the way back as it is a stunning old building. 

Old Graitney

Old Sandsfield...

Carlisle Castle with a traffic trail...

Full moon showing next to Castle, What a great city!
I went to Skinburness and Grune point on the 10th. arrived at high tide with all the waders pushed up on the coastal grasslands resting. It was constant light drizzle all afternoon which was annoying but I had to get on with it. I started with a low flying Sparrowhawk as I headed towards the point. Huge numbers of Lapwing in flight and grounded along with the usual Dunlin, Knot and Oystercatchers all congregated at high tide mark. Eight Pintail and a douzen Mergansers were sat on the water nearby. I headed to the point to do a bit of sea watching which produced a few Cormoronts and a small raft of Teal. I headed back to watch the tide retreat and wait for activity behind a gorse in shelter. All the waders lifted in unison and must of meant a raptor disturbing them. Once they settled I picked up a juvenile Peregrine sat on a grass banking. About ten minutes later I heard a squeaking distress call and suddenly a rabbit ran straight in front of me with a Stoat on its trail. 20 yards later and the Stoat had tagged it and dragged the catch into the nearby gorse. On the way back I saw the Black Swan at Abbeytown among the 50 odd Whoopers. 

Heron standing on the river Caldew...
On the 12th I headed out with Danny in stunning sunshine to cover areas around Carlisle. We started at the back of Tesco to cover the stretch of Eden and its tributary the Petteril. A good number of Goldeneye and a pair of Buzzards were showing well. Lapwing, Starlings and Black Headed Gulls were taking advantage of the flooded fields. We moved through Stonyholme golf course and got 3 Dippers on the Petteril and some golfers kindly told us where Kingfishers can show well. 
We headed for lunch and also got some sweeties from Tesco before heading to the river Caldew to see what crops up there. I had never covered this stretch so danny was tour guide (makes a fricking change! lol) We ended up with two Grey Wagtails, two Dippers a Kestel and a few Herons. We also got asked to go for a coffee with two young lasses which danny was shocked about but I told him to get used to it as as soon as you put binoculars round your neck the sheilas come flocking just like on them Lynx adverts.   

What a place, Haweswater looking from the road in

Haweswater...
Saturday 14th and another clear crisp sunny day so I got up at the crack of dawn to head south. I was still undecided whether to cover bass lake and round to west coast or Haweswater but I though I havent covered Haweswater for ages and as it is my fave place in England. Also when there is a potential Golden Eagle involved I am all over it! I arrived to a chocker block car park with plenty of hikers making the most out of the weather. I set off round the reservoir and instinctively I headed straight for Rigingdale valley where the lone eagle holds down a territory. I sat for two hours at the view point scanning but no joy just plenty of Ravens near by taking advantage of a sheep carcass. Red Deer showing in the valley also. I decided to head off for a bit and see what else I could find. On the water was quiet with Cormoronts, Goldeneye and a raft of 20 Common Gulls. I took a few landscape photos and headed back to the valley for about 2pm to focus last two hours of light on eagle. As I was walking upto the valley by the waters edge I seen a large object at the back of Rigingdale above the skyline......Locked! Goldie!! the visibility was so good I could see the bird from the waters edge! I watched the bird til the sun dropped and it was showing very well with ravens constantly mobbing the bird. The eagle also had a go at the ravens a few times with real intent. I got a video of the special bird as well (below). As I was watching the bird I had this song in my head http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dq0llrCYtCQ.
 After seeing Eagles every day on Mull this bird is ten times more special to see because of the situation. Great to see the bird still there and providing hope that he will find a mate in the near future. He is 25 years old and has lacked female attention for a number of years now so you could say we have got a lot in common! great day :-)

video


Rigingdale valley, home to a very special bird...
amazing sharp light...
Looking back at Heron and Eagle crag from higher ground...
Sunset at Brow wells with Barnacle geese in flight...
On the Sunday I headed out with dad to cover the Solway on the Scots side. We covered around Gretna with it being fairly quiet and Dad showed me a few sites where I could visit in the future which was handy. We finished at Brow wells in lovely sunshine looking towards Criffel and Caerlaverock. Upto 10,000 Barnacle geese showing and 250 plus Whooper Swans in the field next door. A Merlin was spotted perched on a lump of drift wood and up to 10 RB Mergansers were showing well in front of us at high tide with one popping up right next to us. The sunset was fantastic and I could not resist taking a few pics of it as the sun dropped down.

Brow Wells looking towards Criffel with Red-Breasted Merganser

Red Breasted Merganser popped up right next to us
Thanks for looking :-)

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