Monday, 26 January 2015

Local Haunts...

Sensational Starlings
Dad and I went to check on the Gretna starling roost at Rigg on the evening of 19th Jan. We arrived at around 4pm and noticed the main group of birds were quite a distance away to the east so we headed down another back road to find a suitable vantage point from there. Our first record was a female sparrowhawk flying in front of us and targeted some early roosting starlings in a nearby garden and the high pitched squealing told us that she was successful in tagging a bird. Later on some starlings on the wire were mimicking the call of a curlew which was just wonderful to hear/see. As the number of birds built to over a hundred thousand they performed some high intensity shaping from theoretically a peregrine due to the speed of the murmurations. An incredible display and always a winter highlight for me!
Starling roost viewing from Redkirk
Wonderful shapes, mother nature is the best artist in the world by a country mile!!
Some birds dropped into roost v close by.
Garden Records
One of our garden records of interest throughout the month were a flock of 30 plus siskin targeting our alder tree during the second week of January. Another record was five bullfinch taking grit off the driveway which included three cocks. Dad saw a grey hen (female black grouse) at the top of the drive on the 17th. A small number of house sparrows on the 25th is a nice record for the garden. Three lesser redpoll in the back garden on the 3rd Jan and a pair of mistle thrush regularly seen at the top of the mature ash in the arboretum at first light. Long-tailed tits were seen in a small flock once on the 17th heading towards the fat-balls. Up the valley I had a flock of over a hundred redpoll on the 20th. Common sightings were nuthatch, GS woodpeckers, robin, dunnock, robin and the three regular tit species. The first sub-song was a great tit on the 2nd Jan in the front garden.

Whens the next flight?
On the 20th Jan myself and Dad called into Carlisle airport to see the black redstart which was been there for around two months. Nice views of the bird and a new species for me. 
Black redstart at Carlisle airport
Castle Carrock Counts
On the 16th at Castle Carrock reservoir we had 30 wigeon, 30 teal and a female goldeneye before 140 wigeon and 120 canada geese dropped in presumably from a nearby shoot. On the 21st Jan we had 45 tufted duck, 5 goldeneye with goldcrest calling in the canopy above.

Stoatally unexpected!
Myself and dad were at the top of the drive getting in the car to head down to the local reservoir when a stoat ran across the road in-front of us and into a stonewall! It peered out and looked at us for a short spell before disappearing out of sight. I love encounters like that because it is difficult to go out and directly look for the highly sporadic species, its mainly pot luck.

Buzzard bonanza!
On the 17th of the month myself and dad observed 8 buzzards tight together soaring on a thermal column over the heart of the valley! We saw some territorial dispute with birds interacting and talon grappling. Later that day I saw a female sparrowhawk harassing a kestrel at the top of the fell.
Owl update
A number of barn and tawny owl records in the local areas throughout January and also vocal long-eared owls at the start of the month as their fascinating winter observations continue. We are keeping a check on the opposing fell-side for short-eared owls at low light as our chances of seeing them increases going into February. 

Fast Food!
On the 20th January as we were having lunch in the kitchen we got onto a female peregrine out of the window as it flew towards the house before making its way west back down the valley!

Thanks for looking :)

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