Sunday, 5 January 2014

December update...

My minke whale article for the AFON species advent calender...

Please sign this important government petition to make the Golden Eagle the national bird of Scotland

A new British bird of prey petition aimed at producing more action against countryside criminals...

Starlings shaping at Gretna...
An update from my winter wildlife experiences throughout December back in my native Cumbria. One of my favorite spectacles at any time of the year is the starling murmurations and I am very lucky to live near by a large roost near Gretna. I visited the area three times during the month and it never disappoints with some impressive sky shaping with raptors Peregrines and Sp-hawks in hunting mode. 
At another roost site on the Cumbria/Northumberland border myself and dad watched a 30,000 strong murmuration with small tight balls lifting to incredible heights with a couple of female Sparrowhawks on patrol. As the Starling slowly started to drop lower and lower a Sp-hawk targeted a loose individual and swooped to catch it on the wing only meters away from us...an amazing sight.
Sp-hawk shaping starlings...

Starling murmuration over reed bed....
My homemade Christmas caption
A quote I made on Mull turned into a photo caption by Andrew Jake
Tufted duck drake on Talkin tarn, a few Brambling feeding on beech mast also seen...
On the 16th I headed up to Castle Douglas with Cain, Rach and Frijj to the Red Kite feeding station and it was my first visit since they have revamped it and what a facility it is now...superb. The balcony view point outside the cafe provides fantastic views of the birds and it was nice to see good numbers of 15 plus visiting on a midweek day just before xmas. 
We moved onto RSPBs Mearshead targeting the Starling roost but we just missed it as we enjoyed good views of the Barnacle Geese, Pintail and the roosting Lapwing. 

Red Kites in flight... 
Stunning birds...
HB, Frijj and Rach enjoying the birds
Xmas morning and lovely sunshine as I had a wonder down the river Gelt covering all the surrounding woodland. Good numbers of Fieldfare heading up and down the valley searching for berries. I spotted a distant black grouse cock on the opposite fell side with two buzzards soaring overhead. I disturbed a roe deer in the birch woodland and flushed three Woodcock throughout the morning. Five grey hens in flight heading down the valley on my way back in and and a small group of Redwing overhead. Some great clear skies around xmas time and I did some nightscape photography in the valley as well. 

My house at Geltsdale with a trail of the stars...
Just before the new year myself, Dad and Guy headed up to the Solway scots side to cover a few sites with Mearshead been the most productive site with a female Hen Harrier and healthy numbers of Pintail again. Fantastic views of duck and geese close to the hide in lovely weak light coming in from the west. Teal, Wigeon, Shoveller and Tufties along with Barnies all around. Lapwing flying in tight groups could of represented a nearby raptor on patrol. 

Thanks for looking :) 

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