Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Leighton Moss

Decided to head down to Leighton Moss today with Ciara and Rachael, its only about an hour from Penrith, so not too far. Although it was dull, with a few rainy spells we still had a great day. There were good numbers of Teal, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Coot, Wigeon and Mallard, with a few Pochard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Cormorant and 2 Great Black Backed Gulls

Heading to the cafe at lunch we bumped into this confiding Robin.



Even bold enough to feed from Rachael's hand. Please double click image.

The feeding station by was busy with Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Dunnock, Blackbird, Pheasant, Moorhen, and Mallard. A skein of Greylag landed on the main pool, a quick scan produced the 3 Snow Geese that have been hanging around. After lunch we added a Red Deer stag and multiple Little Egrets to our list. The Morcambe Hides provide more wildfowl, and a large number of Lapwing on the salt marsh.

We ended our day in the Public Hide, viewing 5 Otters, with a couple of the well grown cubs play fighting, and porpoising, catching an Eel now and again. Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, and Teal came in close to the hide as the light was fading, Little Egrets headed to roost over head, and the Starlings began their murmurations. 

The sun shared its rays for a few seconds before we left.

Leighton Moss

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

West Cumbria

Today I ventured into Craig's territory, with Ewan and Andrew. We didn't leave Penrith till 12:30, arriving at Siddick Ponds no later than 13:30, Ewan had a brilliant few hours here a couple of days ago when the cold temperatures had frozen the pond. Today its been relatively warm, all the open water was free from ice. A scan of the nearest pond produced Mallard, Black Headed Gull and a single Greylag Goose.

Setting up at the railings overlooking the large pool I noticed the Gulls showing an interest in something in front of the near reed-bed, out of view, I'd seen this behaviour before at Holywell and Big Waters, I was almost certain there was an Otter. A Grey Heron soon joined the Black Headed Gulls, something I've never seen before, slowly moving into view I caught the tail of a large Otter. The dog Otter then showed well for a few minutes before disappearing into the near side reeds once again.

Walking further along the track, to view the main body of water we met Paul, who had been spending the morning filming. 30 Goosesander, 4 Whooper Swans, 1 Drake Pintail, Mallard, Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Teal, Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, and Goldeneye were all present on the water, a Water Rail gave a great fly by view as it travelled between the gap in the reeds, and a couple of Snipe showed themselves briefly, camouflaged against the reed-bed.

Next was on to 'The Dump' a large area of ex-MOD land left to re-wild, a brilliant area with some great habitat. As Cumbria provided one of its famous sunsets we clocked up 2 Barn Owl, 1-2 Short-Eared Owls, Tawny Owl, Kestrel, Buzzard, 4 Woodcock, 246 Goosesander overhead, 3 Roe Deer, and a few thousand Corvids coming to roost. A great day out.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

On the way to lecture...

Made a detour on the way to lecture this morning, via Campfield Marsh. The Great White Egret had recently returned and was feeding just North of the flash, quite distant but good views were had.

Great White Egret

Monday, 16 January 2012

Some more frosty images …

Dead Nettle Frost

The images below are of the frost on top of a gate post leading into the East fields.

Fence Post Frost

Fence Post Frost

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Frost

This morning I headed down to Holywell before the sun rose, hoping to photograph some frost. I slowly made my way down to the hide, photographing the crystallised leaves of Bramble as I went, Joe had beaten me there. The pond was 80% frozen, but provided one of my best wildfowl counts this winter, 300+ Pink-footed and Greylag Geese rose from the West field, 7 Teal, 22 Mallard, and 6 Moorhen huddled in one patch of open water, and 6 Pochard, 3 Tufted, 3 Wigeon, and 2 Coot huddled in another, the Common Gull and Black Headed Gull made use of the ice.

Heading East a frozen Gorse was stumbled upon, this is where I spent the remainder of my morning.

Frosty Gorse

Last night I had success with the Little Owl at Holywell Grange, so I headed down again this evening, to my surprise instead of a Little Owl, a Short-Eared Owl sat in its place, on a fence post amongst the horses. The horses soon moved it off and it landed on a fence post just to my right, erecting its tufts as 3 Carrion Crow flew overhead.

Please Double Click Image.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Holywell to Owls

This morning my Grandad and I arrived at Holywell at about 11:00,  it was a glorious but cool morning. Tree Sparrows could be heard as soon as we got out of the car, and continued to make themselves known as we walked down the track to the hide. Meeting SG in the hide, an enjoyable an hour and half was spent, sightings included, 2 Common Buzzard in their usual North Wood and West hedge haunts, a pair of Pochard, 1 Mute Swan, a pair of Gadwall, 1 Greylag Goose, 100 Lapwing, 1 Coot, 6 Moorhen, 9 Black Headed Gull, 5 Common Gull, a lone Great Black Backed Gull, 2 Stock Dove and a Grey Heron, as well as the usual feeding station suspects. A skein of 70+ Pink-Footed Geese arrived from the West as we were leaving.

Dropped Grandad off, had some lunch, and made sure UPS had delivered my new toy, then I was off with the plan to photograph some Short-Eared Owls.

Short-Eared Owl

On arrival no Owls were to be seen, but it wasn't long before an individual began hunting. 

Short-Eared Owl

As this bird passed by I could here another screeching from the grass, soon two Owls were out hunting, providing some great views, now and again catching me out as they appeared from behind, over my head. Attracting the attention of a Carrion Crow or two.

Short-Eared Owl

There's something about being close to these beautiful birds as they hunt. 

Short-Eared Owl

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

For Sale

I've got a Manfrotto 700RC2 Composite Video Head for sale. Used but in good condition, comes in original packaging, with instructions and fix plate. £40.

Contact me at if your interested :)

Sunday, 8 January 2012

From the patch...

This morning myself and Stephen headed down to Holywell. Sunday's seem to be the busiest days, with a few local birders about. The hope of Geese was thought to be lost when the West Field produced 10 Curlew, 40+ Lapwing and a few Gulls, but no Geese.

The pond itself was the most productive I've seen it for a while, but still it isn't holding the same amount of winter wildfowl as it use to, somethings changed. 7 Teal, 1 Shelduck, 1 female Goldeneye, 3 Coot, 4 Moorhen, 1 Canada Goose accompanied by the Greylag X Canada, a drake Tufted, 3 Mallard and a pair of Gadwall. Gull numbers were also low, most likely due to the closure of the tip, although Common and Black Headed Gull gathered at the public end, and a few Herring and Great Black Backed sat on the water.

Great to see that there's still Tree Sparrows about, hopefully they'll hang round through the summer as well.

A skein of Geese was picked up dropping into the East fields, so we headed down for a look, before we even reached the gate they got up, and were flying West, Greylag and Pink-Footed could be heard. We carried on hoping for some stragglers, only one goose remained, and it was a European White-fronted, Stephen's first.

In the afternoon I took my sister up to Preswick Carr, plenty of SEO's and some distant views of the Great Grey Shrike.

It seems Big Waters has stole all of Holywell's wildfowl ;)