Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Brothers Water

After viewing a house today I went down to Brothers Water as the sun was out, and I knew there was a Dipper to be photographed. A week ago I was down at Brothers Water, as I walked the wooded bank I heard a call I was unfamiliar with, scanning the shore I found a Dipper, it allowed me to get within 5 metres sitting on the bank. As I watched it began to fly out, 10-15m into the open water, swim on the surface as would a duck, then dive for 4-6 seconds, it repeated this 4-5 times catching small fish almost every time, returning to shore every now again with a larger fish. It hunted like this for 15 minutes before it moved on, I had never seen this behaviour before.

The plan today was to go and take some pictures of this, but the light wasn't in my favour, neither was the Dippers chosen perch, it was using the northern shore. I continued on my circular route, little showed except for a few Blue Tits, and a lone Raven. Once the eastern side was reached I scanned the water to find 8 Tufted Duck, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Drake Goldeneye, and 1 Drake Goosander .

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Yesterday at Cliburn Moss

This was going to be updated yesterday, but the studentcom internet service in my uni digs decided not to work with my recently purchased Macbook Pro. Fixed now, and I love my Mac, should of got one earlier.

I came back to Penrith early than usual to try and sort my next years accommodation, which isn't going well. After sorting a few bits and pieces out I headed for Cliburn Moss, arriving at 14:30.

As parked up, and put my wellies on a tribe of Long Tailed Tit fed in the silver birch canopy above. I was taken North along the western edge of the reserve, as I entered the mature Scots Pine the need to stop and listen seem apparent, firstly from the silence I picked up the song ofGoldcrests, quite a few, scanning the thick canopy above I found numerous birds feeding. Continuing North a Jay made a brief appearance, flying up off the track. Reaching the Northern-most edge of the reserve again I stopped to listen, I could hear the flack ofWoodpigeons to the North, the sound of Jackdaws and Rooks to the North, as wellCarrion Crow, but the most noise was coming from a presumed flock of Starling, chattering to the North. Naturally I headed north, though the gate off the reserve, up onto the disused railway, with the hawthorn hedgerow. Looking over the field, I could see a winter crop had been left, and large numbers of Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Rook, and Starling were feeding.Lapwing were also present amongst the Starlings, 4 Fieldfare fed close to the hedgerow and a single Stock Dove fed amongst the Woodpigeon. As I re-entered the reserve a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew overhead.

The track now headed East, it leaves behind the Scots Pines for a small marshy meadow area, with a small pond, 6 Mallard, and 1 Drake Teal were flushed from the pond as I approached. I followed this track it began to head towards the houses, not wanting to walk this way, I went for a bit of wandering, and headed South along the reserve perimeter, which I'm pleased I did. Just as I re-entered the Scots Pine a couple of Woodpigeons flew out of the canopy above, and a scratching noise on the tree in front of me followed. A Red Squirrel was frozen against the orange trunk of a mature Scots Pine, heading downwards. It camouflaged in so well, with that beautiful orange colour it shares with the Scots Pine, if it had not made a sound I may of missed it. Retracing 2 or 3 steps another tree provided me with cover, as I sat down the Squirrel repositioned onto a horizontal branch, it sat, cleaned and scratched for about 5 minutes before it move upwards into the canopy.

Pheasant, Blue Tit, Great Tit, and Common Buzzard were heard throughout my wonder of the reserve.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Holywell and sp Geese

Went down to Holywell this afternoon after helping out with Bird Aid, I was greeted by 16 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing and a Mistle Thrush just by the gate in the East field.

The pond has melted a fair bit now, roughly 70% still frozen though. On the remaining ice, there was 5 Drake Gadwall sleeping, 5 Wigeon (1 Drake), 17 Mallard, 6 Moorhen, 3 Coot, 1 Great Crested Grebe, and 1 female Teal. After scanning the pond for a while I moved towards the left hand side of the hide to check for the Brambling, as I did the Water Rail ran for cover. After sitting quietly for a couple of minutes it reappeared feeding in the open to the left of the hide, no bothered by my presence, it probe in the mud for about 15 minutes, giving me the best views I've ever had of a Water Rail.

The feeding station was busy with the regulars, although lacking Brambling.

As I drove home I noticed some Geese on a newly developed flash (from the thawing snow), to the West of the A192 (between Earsdon and Holywell), I pulled in and made my way up the hedgerow to get a better view, 42 Greylag were present, but as I reached the end of the group I picked up two darker Geese, no smaller than the Greylags, with long necks, they saw me and flushed (heading West), they showed a dark back. I'm not 100% so will not be saying they were definitely Bean Geese, but I can say they were possibly of the fabalis race. Looks like and early start is ahead of me, and possibly a wild goose chase.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

An overdue update

On the 09/01/2010 I received a text from BD saying there were Brambling in the feeding station, sorted a few things out then drove down at about 14:00. At first I thought only one bird was present, and adult winter female bird, but as I watched I caught a glimpse of a dappa adult winter male as well. I had to move on, although I did flush a Woodcock at the gate to the reserve.

Sunday 10/01/10, saw me back down at Holywell to try and get some pictures of the Brambling, and to spread some seed. (Look at my 'Get Involved' post). On the way I passed 60+ Pink-Footed Geese in fields to the East of the Holywell Road, (between Earsdon and Holywell), the snow was beginning to thaw today.

I Arrived at the hide to find it chocker, with a bitter wind, so only the left shutter was open. The majority of people I presume came to see the Brambling, and I was informed by SH, who was present in the hide, that they were still showing. Moving on sharpish to avoid the crowds we walked down to the public hide. Not a lot about so I headed for the East fields and the Obelisk area in search of Buntings.

Just East of the Public hide, a group of 100 Geese were feeding, consisting of 80 Greylag and 20 Pink Foot. From here I headed for the Obelisk, in the cow field I stood and watched a Male Kestrel, hunt, it managed to catch a vole whilst I watched. 4 Woodcock were flushed from the small copse just West of the Obelisk. Following the hedgerow East of the Obelisk before the plantation, I found the Bunting flock, although significantly reduced in number, before the new year I had counted 25+ Yellowhammer, this day I counted 5, and 10 Reed Bunting, making use of the pheasant feeders. After putting some more seed down I moved on back to the car. A Stock Dove flew overhead as I left.

On the 11/01/2010 I didn't get far, only the car boot to walk the dog, where Curlew were making use of the wet grass for probing.

Today, 12/01/2010, my dad woke me up to show me a Fieldfare a couple gardens along, feeding on the Crab Apple tree, a first for the street. I went along to Holywell at about 14:00, the pond is rapidly thawing, although 80% was still frozen. As I opened the left shutter a mature Male Sparrowhawk was hunting in the feeding station, not keeping still, but not bothered by my presence, either due to it being low in condition, or more likely due to it being switched on to hunting mode. No gulls were present on the pond, waterfowl consisted of 8 Moorhen, 5 Mallard, and a single Male Pochard. The Brambling weren't seen, although the feeding station was quiet due to Sparrowhawk activity. Magpie, Carrion Crow, and Woodpigeon were also about.

Again I headed for the Obelisk, 3 Redwing were present in the hedgerow just East, 1 Woodcock and 1 Common Buzzard were in the Obelisk Plantation. The surrounding fields held huge Woodpigeon flocks, feeding on the newly showing greenery. 11 Grey Partridge were flushed near to the Dark Plantation, and a large amount of Jackdaws and Rooks were circling above. The Dene was the next stop to check feeders, 1 Woodcock was flushed as I entered, the feeding stations were busy as expected with all the usual suspects.

On the way back from Sainsbury's tonight I had a flyover by a single Woodcock, another Garden tick.

If you haven't already, please read my 'Get Involved' post for links regarding Bird Aid.

Get Involved

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Moving South

My little sister was off school today due to the snow so we took the dog for a walk through the fields. There was 5+ inches of snow, and at least double that in the drifts, the wind was bitter and cut straight through you. We reached the bottom ditch and flushed a Snipe, we stood watching the snow moving across the ploughed field, like sand at the beach.

The usual Magpies, Carrion Crow, Woodpigoen and Herring Gulls around whilst we played in the snow, I a wagtail caught my eye near to the BeeHive Pub, it turned out to be an adult male Grey Wagtail, a male Chaffinch was also present in the Hedgerow.

On the way back towards home 5 skeins of geese flew overhead, from the Holywell direction heading south. 3 of the 4 skeins were Pink-Footed Geese, with numbers being over 1000 in total, the 4th skein was of 30+ Greylag Geese.

Back at home, at the moment, there's about 8 Common Gulls feeding on the shed roof, the greatest number I can remember, even the greatest in the area.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Started this winters day off with a walk of Red House Farm with my dog, Ruby the Short Haired German Pointer. The highlight of the walk, was when I reached the far ditch surrounding the car boot, 3 Snipe and a single Woodcock were put up, I was particularly pleased with finding the Woodcock as visits from this species are irregular at Red House Farm.

At about 14:00 I arrived at Holywell Pond, the walk down to the hide produced the regular suspects, House Sparrow, Collared Dove and Starling, but also an overhead flight of a Snipe.

SP was in the hide when I arrived, nothing new about, the pond was still mostly frozen, with the three pools now two, although the central pool has increased in size. On the left hand pool Mallard congregated 19 individuals. The larger central pool was dominated with Gulls, although 10 Moorhen and 3 Coots also made use of this larger pool. Around the main pool, and in a small group further NE on the ice 3 Great Black Backed Gull, 30+ Herring Gull, 24 Black Headed Gull and 8 Common Gull, rested, bathed and drank. Before I had left the number of Gulls had increased. Also on the ice were, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, and Magpie.

The feeding station was fairly busy, mostly with Chaffinch, and Greenfinch although, Blue Tit, Great tit, Robin, Wren, Blackbird and a male Great Spotted Woodpecker were also present.

Other birds around included a fly over of a skein of 8 Greylag, Pheasant to the West, a Kestrel on the Obelisk, and 7 Snipe which were flushed from the Public Hide end of the Meadow. They were flushed by 'tourists', I'm all for new people visting the amazing place and reserve which is Holywell, as long as they abide by the same rules as everyone else, and use their common sense, if thats possible, for an example, possibly entering the Public Hide from the footpath, and not the shoreline? to avoid disturbing the wildlife for everyone else. Hopefully they will have realised their mistake on leaving the hide.

Whilst walking back up to the car SP and I scanned a flock of mixed Geese on the close field, it consisted of roughly 80+ birds, with the majority (64) being Greylags, and the rest Pink-Footed.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

First visit to Holywell in the New Year, arrived at 14:30 to find a 90% frozen pond, and BD with ' You've just missed an adult Iceland Gull', no worries. It was calm, although the sky was covered with dark snow clouds awaiting to break there seal.

Walking down there was the regular Starlings, House Sparrows and Collared Doves. The West field held 60+ Pink-footed Geese, about 10 Greylag, and a large number of Gulls. Three small pools of water in front of the members hide held the remaining waterfowl, a pair of Mute Swans, and 30 Mallard, with the ice providing footing for, 11 Moorhen, 3 Coot, 8 Carrion Crow, Magpie, 42 Great Black Backed Gulls, a large number of Herring Gull, Black Headed Gull and a lone Common Gull. The feeding station was resonably busy with, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Great tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, a male and female Great Spotted Woodpecker, and a few Reed Buntings.

1 Skylark was picked up by BD flying in front of the hide, then minutes later a large flock of 100+ birds, which landed in the meadow by the public hide. We left the members hide to warm our feet up, as we walked up the path the characteristic whistling of Wigeon was heard behind us, at the pond, after a scan 30+ birds were picked up circling the pond, trying to land on one of the three pools. 13 Common Snipe were present at the public hide.

A walk down to the backtrack produced nothing further of note.

It was good to be back.