Monday, 28 September 2009


Not an update from Penrith, but one from home, I was lucky enough to be at home this weekend picking a laptop up, so on Sunday I made two trips to catch up with the Glossy Ibis that had been knocking about on the Saturday.
First trip I arrived at Cresswell at 7:30 to find it Glossy less, although there was 2 Scaup, 2 Greenshank and a nice appearance from the Otter.

I came back up to Cresswell at about half 5 where local Intel said that it was at Bell's Pond. When I arrived SP was just leaving, he said it was on a marshy patch of grass just opposite Bell's Pond and it was very approachable. This was a definite, down to about 3-4m, even a sheep dog walking past at close range, and barking at a rock didn't put this bird off probing into the mud.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The Adventure Begins ...

Well today was my last visit to Holywell, for who knows how long, hopefully sooner rather than later. Tomorrow I leave for the start of University, I can't wait. Thank You to the readers of this blog, helping me on my way, I hope that you will continue to check my blog for Cumbrian updates, as well as the local updates now and again.

19/09/09 10:30 Sunny with light breeze

Today I took the opportunity to drive my Grandad down to the hide, those of you who have met my Grandad will probably remember him bringing me down to Holywell, mostly on Sunday mornings. The shared passion for wildlife kept us going back week after week, becoming regulars in the process, he gave me a great opportunity to learn more about the natural world. I wouldn't be where I am today without him. Due to illness, my Grandad can no longer drive, but that doesn't stop us, as I can :) My little sister also joined us today.

On the water, 6 Teal, 2 Female/Juvenile Ruddy Duck, 3 Female Shoveler, 19 Canada Geese, 9 Wigeon, 8 Mallard, 8 Pink-Footed Geese flew in, and were later joined by another 8, 16 Little Grebe, 1 Female Pochard, 11 Coot, 4 Moorhen + 1 medium young, Black Headed Gull, Herring Gull and a single Lesser Black Backed Gull. Also about were 3 Stock Doves, 2 Migrant Hawker, 3 Grey Heron, 80+ Lapwing, Female Sparrowhawk, and a Common Buzzard.

As me and my Grandad were catching up with what we'd been doing the past week, I told him about visiting Big Waters with Crammy Birder the other day, in search of the Kingfisher. He told me that someone had sent a picture in to NE Weather and they had showed it, the magnificent blues, oranges with the eye catching oily finish caught his attention and imagination as well as mine.

My sister has began drawing birds in a small notebook (as she's the most artistically gifted of the family), labelling with plumage descriptions, and other notes, the Kingfisher talk sparked her own imagination and she promptly got out her bird book, found Kingfisher and began drawing the bird. Just as she had finished the sketch she shouted out, Kingfisher!. Bins up and there it was sitting on the depth post to the right of the hide, it stayed for about ten minutes, fishing from the posts and occasionally flying off and hovering just off the reeds, locating a fish and then diving, not unlike a Kestrel searching for a vole. Another build up of events leading to some great views, providing a great ending to the day.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


Out walking the fields tonight I heard a Tawny Owl from the Beehive Flash Area, another Patch Tick for this year.

14/09/09 and 15/09/09

On Monday 14th I fixed my bike, so a check of the patch edges was to follow. I headed for West Holywell and Backworth Pond, which was quiet, my aim for coming to this area was to catch up with the flock of Tree Sparrows which SP had found, not far along the track heading North along the side of Seghill Tip, the distinctive Tree Sparrow call could be heard in an adjacent hedge line, I stopped to find over 12 birds present, the flock must be dispersing because this is a slice of the original 40+ birds present. The flock consisted of mainly Juvenile birds. There was also a male Kestrel hunting in the fields near by.

Next was the Dene, I continued along the path along the edge of the tip, coming out closer to the Seghill Pond end of the dene, and the Canyon (the name given to the bike jumps in this area). It was at the canyon where I picked up a Dragonfly, I think it's a Southern Hawker but I could do with some help.

I watched it hawk around in small area between some jumps, patrolling a small territory, taking all the same turns, and now and again landing on the leaves above. It didn't stay long enough and near enough to get a decent photo.

As I was leaving the Canyon, a Wagtail caught my eye, I moved back to get into a better position and found an adult Male Grey Wagtail, in stunning plumage, this bird was immaculate. Just as it began to move off upstream, a small flock, of what at first I thought was just Blue Tits and Great Tits, pasted through, I knew from past experiences to check these flocks for other species such as Blackcaps, Chiff Chaff, Willow Warbler, and other Warbler species. Although none of these species were present I did pick up a lone Coal Tit, which began to bathe in the burn, some Long- Tailed Tits, and 2 Treecreepers which I had missed this year until now. I think it was at this point when a thought 'nature has a way of coming together', if I hadn't been watching the Dragonfly for 5 minutes, I would have possibly missed the Grey Wagtail, which would have in turn not led me to the flock of Tits/Treecreepers which passed through quite rapidly, I've been through situations like this before and they always make me wonder if a trail has already been left in front of us we just need to understand how to follow it.

Riding along the dene, I picked up a Female Sparrowhawk and a Grey Heron, I moved on, to the Pond. 10 Wigeon, 9 Teal, 2 Female/Juv Ruddy Duck, Pair Mute Swan, 13 Little Grebe + 2 small young, 1 Female Shoveler, 4 Moorhen + 2 medium young, 15 Coot + 1 medium young, 20 Tufted, 1 Female Pochard, 18 Mallard, 1 Grey Heron, Large No. Gulls mainly Black Headed with Herring and 2 Common Gull, due to East field being ploughed, also large no. Jackdaws. A Peacock Butterfly seemed to be beginning to hibernate inside the hide behind the central shutter.

15/09/09 10:30 Sunny with NNE wind

Back on the bike, although the plan was to pass the Beehive, then pond, then head through East fields to pick the dene back up at the sluice, check Rocky Island, then head for St Mary's, Briardene and back home. Well that's exactly what happened.

First crossing the carboot I noticed 8 Common Gulls amongst the regular Herirng Gull and Jackdaws. Beehive flash was quite productive, 34 Curlew, 3 Dunlin, Lapwing made up the waders, with a Grey Heron, 4 Mallard, and 20+ Linnet also present. There was a large number of Corvids throughout my travels today, feeding in the cut and ploughed fields.

At the pond I just stopped off at the public hide, and noted 57 Canada Geese, 10 Greylag and 4 Common Gull. Off towards the sluice, I flushed a single Grey Partridge from the footpath, as I approached the dene there was a large flock of Goldfinch and a single Speckled Wood.

Rocky Island was pretty bare, 1 Juvenile Gannet was diving just off shore, along with Eiders, 4 Sandwich tern joined a large group of Oystercatchers on the rocks. The wind was quite strong at this point, the Herring Gulls used the opportunity to hang in the lift given off by the cliffs. As I was leaving Rocky Island a Shrew ran across the path in front of me, which I was pleased to see, as normally only when they are killed you come across them. Due to the odour they give off when attacked, enough to put the predator off them even in death.

Only bird of note at St Mary's was a single Juvenile Stonechat, the Med Gull was yet again not present at the Briardene when I arrived.

I stayed clear of Holywell today as Natural England were due to perform some survey work regarding the aquatic plants on the reserve, will be interesting to see the results, instead I went to look at a job with dad, at Rothbury.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Red House Farm

Had a walk over to Red House Farm today, just the usual about, Woodpigeon, Robin, Wren, Blackbird, Herring Gull, a Magpie family, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Linnet, a lone Moorhen at the pond, and rabbits.
Quite a lot of sloes are now showing on the Blackthorn, my dads planning on making some sloe gin this year this can't begin until after the first frost so he'll have to wait. The pond has almost been completely choked at the back due to Willow and Greater Reedmace growth, hopefully it will cut back a bit for the arrival of the Kingfisher. I lifted up a bit of old plastic tarpaulin to find a mass of cherry stones which had been chewed open, leaving small circles with serrated edges, most likely from a Wood Mouse.

Blackthorn Prunus spinosa

Cherry stone remains from a Wood Mouse

Saturday, 12 September 2009

09/09/09 and 11/09/09

On Wednesday the 9th I went out with Crammy Birder, I had the Grandma's car so we could run around. We just stayed local be firstly visiting West Hartford, although this produced relatively little but the mud is looking good.

Next we headed down to Rocky Island to check for Roseate Terns, we weren't disappointed, there was quite a large number of terns present on the rocks just by the water, counting up there was 14 Roseate, 5 Artic and 11 Sandwich, regarding waders, 4 Sanderling, 3 Knot, 2 Juv Ringed Plover, Curlew, Oystercatcher, and Redshank were feeding on the shoreline amongst the rocks and weed. Also about Great Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Eiders off shore with 3 Juv Gannet and Cormorant, Feral pigeon, Rock pipit, Linnet, a lone Wheatear and 20+ Golden Plover overhead. Quite a few Peacock and Painted Lady butterflies were present on the island.

We moved onto Deleval Ices to give Crammy a taste of the best ice cream in the county, if not country, if not world. Beehive Flash was our next stop, 1 Male Eclipse Shoveler, Pair Mute Swans, Moorhen and Mallard were on the water, with 10 Curlew, Redshank and 2 Stock Dove amongst the grass. The water level is still pretty high at the flash, hopefully this warm weather will dry it up a bit, exposing some mud. In the field East of the flash was a large flock of Lapwing, joined by another Stock Dove and a few Starling.

The Briardene car park was checked although the Med Gull was not present.

11/09/09 Sunny with Light Breeze

I had to a walk to Holywell yesterday saying that the weather was nice. Birds of note on my walk to the pond included, a Pair of Red Legged Partridge at the Beehive Dene, and 2 Curlew in the horse/cow field just further along by the backtrack.

There was quite a few butterflies at the bottom end of the car boot field feeding on the thistles, I noted 4 Small Tortoiseshell, 4 Painted Lady and 1 Red Admiral.

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui

Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae

It was 14:00 when I arrived at the hide, on the pond, 17 Coot, 13 Mallard, 4 Shoveler, 7 Teal, 14 Little Grebe, 13 Greylag, 14 Tufted, 2 Female Ruddy Duck, 2 Pochard (male and female), Black Headed Gull, 1 Lesser Black Backed Gull, 1 Great Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, 1 Common Gull, and 2 Juv Grey Heron. Also present was a small flock of Tits, compromising of Blue Tit, Great Tit, and Long-Tailed Tit, scanning through them didn't produce any further species. A male Kestrel was hunting by the obelisk, the House Sparrow flock by the track has decreased by birds are still present, along with a large number of Hirundines building up on the telephone wires. 2 Red Admiral were also noted.

Walking back via the backtrack I came across a male Bullfinch feeding amongst the Willow Herb, further along a Wall Brown was sunning on the track.

I had the job of walking the dog tonight saying parents are on holiday, I took her out as soon as I got back, and headed straight for the car boot, just as I entered the field a heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker looked up and found it flying overhead into Red House Farm, normally I only find this species at Red House Farm when it begins to get colder, it must move in to make use of the residents feeders. It seemed to have come from Earsdon direction, although I am not familiar with any breeding sites in Earsdon, wouldn't be surprised if there was though.

Today 12/09/09, walking to CW Tents, I past Eccles Hall in Earsdon to find 8 Tree Sparrows on the fence line opposite, possibly some of SP's flock which he found near to the tip.

I'm due to leave for uni a week on Sunday (20th), really really looking forward to it, I will be studying Wildlife and Media for 3 years at the University of Cumbria's Penrith Campus, I will be hoping to get home at weekends although this may not be practical at times, therefore I will keep this blog up and running although the majority will consist of my adventures in Cumbria but will also be updated with sightings from Holywell when I'm home.
I would like to say thank you to everyone who helped keep my passion alight, and have allowed me to gain lots of experiences and develop skills related to the natural world which will no doubt help me in later life and my university course. Thank You, Cain.