Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Saturday on the Solway...

On the 13th Dec, myself and Dad went to the Solway for the afternoon to see what winter wildlife we could encounter. The first port of call was Skinburness near Silloth to do the short walk to Grune point which provides nice views of the surrounding salt marsh and tidal mud flats. Our first sight was a huge number of barnacle geese (3000+) all lifting in sync due to a low flying aircraft overhead. 

As we approached the point we saw small numbers of shelduck, goosanders, mallard, wigeon and redshank on the east side with groups of teal, wigeon and very active redshanks round to the west. Three small groups of very compact golden plovers flew past heading north and we flushed a male short-eared owl from the vegetation while looking for the recently reported snow buntings. 

We worked our way back east on a number of minor roads and at Anthorn we got a large number of golden plover (400+) and a small flock of lapwings (40+) in flight over the car, a great sight. 

We arrived at the Campfield marsh hide just before 3pm, with enough light left to persevere and see what we could observe. If it was a football match then we would have scored a screamer in the first 10 seconds, as we got onto an adult male hen harrier working the far side of the marsh before lifting a group of thirty teal into flight. Five minutes later we got a juv male peregrine flyby which again got teal on the wing and perched on a prominent branch in the mature birch plantation. A buzzard chased the peregrine off back to the east, swapping places with the tiersal. The next sighting would be a little egret coming in from the north, landing on the edge of the same woodland before heading back in the same direction twenty minutes later. 

As the light was dropping a few people left the hide as we stayed on for a short while longer with huge rewards. The first sighting was a female peregrine on hot pursuit of four barnacle geese as she managed to brake on away, trying to drop down on it with her talons out just missing the target as the solitary goose got away! 
Moments later while panning across the long grass I got onto a red fox! It was a dog and it was sat patiently listening for activity before he started working the marsh, potentially trying to flush snipe. He made his way to the north walking with real prowess, right past the hide. 
All animals are equal, but I have always had a real soft spot for the fox. Their beauty, elegance and iconic status are a few of the reasons along with their 'super species' status due to the one species having a range spanning five out of the seven continents! 
no one can ever refer to them self as a 'dog lover' unless they have full admiration for the top dog on the planet!

Thanks for looking...

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