Friday, 27 January 2012

West Cumbria trips and Aurora watch...

A trip to west Cumbria on the 17th to check out a couple of sites which have been well publicized for having great recent sightings on social web pages. The first port of call was Siddick Pond which is located in Workington. The pond and dense reeds are surrounded by industries, wind turbines and super stores which I think what makes Siddick such a special place that all the wildlife you can see there are surviving around our ever growing empires and it gives hope for the future.
In a couple of hours we picked up 5 Bitterns, 4 otters, Kingfisher, Drake Pintail, female Sparrowhawk and 4 Whoopers. Even stepping on dog shit did not dampen my spirits after some great sightings. That is the only downfall to Siddick although you have to focus really hard for illusive Bitterns and otters in the reed beds you also need to scan hard for dog shit because it is all over the parish! Otter video can be seen below....

Danny and I moved onto Broughton Moor at mid afternoon as there had been some good owl activity reported there and Craig Shaw had very kindly given us directions to the site. We had a little walk around the area before picking our proposed best view point to sit and wait for the action to happen. We got 2 Barn owls hunting in good light to kick the action off. A good number of Buz and Kes in the area. 4 Woodcock and a single Short-Eared Owl as the sun was dropping. You could hear the sheer number of Rodents in the thick grass and can see why all the avian predators were here. A great day out west side!  

Siddick Pond, Workington

Whoopers and Coot...

Otters walking on frozen Siddick pond...

Siddick Pond...

A couple of days later I headed over to the same sites with Cain the Hollywell birder and his mate Andy. Straight to Siddick again and we got an otter straight away. We headed further down the pond closer the hide and got a couple of Water Rail and the drake Pintail showing well. Cainio picked up 2 Snipe in the reeds as he had it locked as usual. We headed off to Broughton Moor for a spot of evening 'owling' and we sat and waited again enjoying another good sunset. 2 barn Owls again hunting and a couple of very illusive SEOs. 4 woodcock, 246 Goosander overhead going west, upto 3000 Corvid roost, Male Tawny Owl calling finished off another great day birding. Fish and Chips in Keswick as I returned the favor when Cainio got me Mcdonalds a few weeks back.   

Broughton, Looking south towards Northern Lakes...

Broughton Dump
On the 22nd of the month while I was at a pub quiz testing my knowlodge on Abba and Emmerdale I got a report of Aurora activity been possibly visible in the UK. I looked at some photos that had been uploaded from Scotland that evening and as far south as Edinburgh had reported it so it gave me hope! After the quiz the skies were clear so I headed out around Gdale to scan for a few hours. No joy on the Northern Lights but a few impresive shooting stars were seen.
The next day news items on LookNorth were showing Aurora photos from the east coast level with us so I was looking forward to the evening with clear skies reported again. I headed over towards Hallbankgate to a car park high up which looks north towards Talkin Tarn. Before I left dad warned me that the car park is a dogging hot spot and I thought....Who would be out taking there dog jogging at this time of night??.....Anyway when I arrived there was a few cars there and a few folk on the lookout after all the media attention on the news. A Barn Owl calling a few times was a big highlight. A young couple were there pretending to look to the skies but I am sure they were just waiting for us to go so they could get down to......taking there dog for a run. An hour in and Cainio phoned me to say there gonna head up Blencathra so I thought yeah sounds great so I headed down to Penrith to meet them. 

We started the climb at 11pm with 8 people going up including Rachael and Ciara . It clouded over as we headed up and we got as far as the Tarn before making our way back down. Lovely calm conditions and me and Cain were saying how it is the best time to be out in the wilderness, class. I got back to Gdale at 3am and did some more scanning to the north along with capturing some long exposures on my camera to try and pick up some colour in the image but no joy.
I retired to bed at half 3 unsuccessful after a good nights play. I got up in the morning and trundled into the computer room to the usual tune of dad humming and received the news that dad had got up for a wee wee at half 4 and seen the northern lights from the window! He did not wake me as he presumed in the eight hours that I was out there that I would of got them! Gutted, but with more activity reported I was hopeful in the coming weeks if the conditions were right.      

Siloth Golf Links, superb course
News in Brief over the last few weeks starting with up to seven Ravens seen around Gdale and with their early breeding time we are hopeful that a pair will produce this year. One of my favorite birds with it being my dads number one!

A trip to Skinburness, Grune Point and Siloth Beach on the 26th produced Pink-Footed Geese, Barnacle Geese, Sparrowhawk and 3 kittiwakes sat close to the shore from the beach.

A few SEOs are starting to show around Gdale again in daylight hours with dad watching a pair grappling in flight.

Driving at night always brings rewards as a couple of Barn Owl sightings on the way to Carlisle was magical. On the same day after reading Tony Warburtons book seeing the White Ghosts was a huge treat.

A few Crossbill have been heard and seen around the house and a few Stonechat on the higher ground also.

A walk on the Eden at the back of Tesco produced my first Grey Partridge at dusk with their amazing call which reminds me of Super Mario dying on the nintendo snes!

On the 27th Dad and I headed to Longtown with the dogs with the highlights been 31 Gadwell on the pond and 54 Whoopers by the river. We headed to Linstock to see the Starling mermeration and got up to 100,000 putting on a nice display with a single Buzzard in patrol.

Johns Article on Raptor Politics For our passion and love of Raptors .....

Thanks for reading :-)


  1. I love west Cumbria you know! I hadn't realised birding was good in Workington. I'll have to check out that pond sometime.
    Now you take care now when out jogging with the dogs!!!:-)