Sunday, 9 December 2012

Armchair birding...

Some strange people in Cumbria say "what a whitey!" which I think when translated means "Oh Gosh that's a pity" I am referring to the colour of the landscape around me as the winter season has kicked into gear.
More local sightings included in this post with some great species seen from the kitchen window with a cup of coffee in my hand. Some football fans get referred to as armchair fans if they never go to the live games, well I felt like that a bit this week but jesus did I get some great bird sightings.

Johns exciting new children s book Kitty the Toon is available and is the first in a fact & fiction story based series aiming to inspire kids about some of Britain's famous bird species. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kitty-Toon-Worlds-Inland-Colony/dp/1904078532/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355068784&sr=8-1

This is one of my favorite sites, by Roy Dennis, a man who has done a huge amount for British raptors in a number of ways. His web site is well worth a look as it emphases the use of modern technology to discover so much about our raptors. You can follow the progress of a number of British species with consistent live updates of their movements. It is also a way to help protect them and should be used in the future as that important bit of evidence that always seems to be missing to catch countryside criminals. If a tagged bird fails on a shooting estate then landowners should be held responsible and prosecuted for illegal persecution of protected species.

The Raptor e-petiton finished this autumn without the support of any organisations which with the members votes would of easily made the 100,000 needed to get a reaction. A few weeks later and the RSPB are asking for £600,000 from the public to help save Hen Harriers.
http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2012/12/04/rspb-campaign-requesting-600000-of-public-money-to-help-save-the-hen-harrier/

Sat Tagged Red Kites exploring brave new world and you can follow their where abouts online...
http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2012/12/02/sat-tagged-red-kites-explore-brave-new-world/

Some amazing sightings of great Whales off the west coast of Ireland in the last few weeks with Fin, Humpback and Minkes feeding near by.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20580373

Stunning Icicles from overhanging crag...

High up the Old water the Gelt was frozen with some impressive icicles...

Weeks sightings from the Computer room hide have been Ringtail Harrier, 4 Waxwing, juv Goshawk, 9 female Black Grouse (Grey Hens), 2 Black Grouse cocks, Goldcrests in the garden, Buzzards and male Kestrel.

4 Waxwing in the garden on Hawthorn before heading east up the valley...

On Simmerson Ridge up the valley looking west...
Headed up the valley last Sunday to look for activity on a crisp frosty day with not a breath of wind to be felt. Very quiet to start, with just a few Red Grouse up Simmerson ridge. Two young Stonechat also seen sat on the frosty heather. I arrived round at the old water and headed up the valley past the old eagle owl nest to arrive at some incredible ice structures with the flow of the river halted by the big freeze. Amazing icicles on the overhanging crag which can be seen on the photos above.

Working my way west back down the valley I got 14 Black Grouse cocks in flight and a male Peregrine. Small flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing were also seen overhead. As the sun dropped I flushed a woodcock and also watched 16 Jays going into a conifer plantation to roost. 

Middle Gelt...
A trip across the border to see the famous Starling murmuration with Danny and a lovely sunset accompanied it well. A Kestrel hunting the rough Grass and a Buzzard sat waiting patiently as well. Two Sparrowhawks also seen lingering near by. 

More snow arrived later in the week as Geltsdale looked stunning and I love the way the reflective light brightens up bird plumage to look even more spectacular!

Starling Murmuration with nice Solway sunset...

Female Kestrel hunting the rough grass...

Patient Buzzard eyeing up a Starling at Gretna...

Ponies up the valley...
A white winter wonderland up Gdale...


Just as I finish this post I hear about the passing of the legendary astronomer Sir Patrick Moor who died at the age of 89 and gave a life time of encouraging viewers and readers of his books of the fascination of the night sky. His bbc show 'Sky at night' was constantly broadcast by the BBC at a disgracefully late time even though the content is the most fascinating subject there is as I am sure a lot of people will agree. RIP and thanks for everything, clear skies forecast tonight as I am going out for a night shift and will be thinking of the great man.

Thanks for looking...

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