Saturday, 28 April 2012


Spent this morning with GWW and Danny, covering the area of Geltsdale nearest to Ewan's house We had at least 3 male Pied Flycatchers, Willow Warbler, Chiff Chaff, Blackcap, Reed Bunting, Sparrowhawk pair, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Stonechat, Skylark, Wheatear, 3 Ring Ouzel, 5 Roe Deer and a Badger.

I'll be back down later in the summer to try to capture some images of these beautiful birds.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Almost there...

I'm back over in Cumbria completing my final University assignments, I don't know where the past three years have gone !

With almost continuous messages with sightings from the East Coast since I arrived in the West, the need to get out was felt more than ever! Handing in my final Media Production at 12:00, I found myself travelling South, to South Walney Nature Reserve. I'd never visited the site before, but had heard plenty about it.

I wasn't disappointed, by the time I arrived the sun was out, with a light easterly breeze. Driving through and past Windermere with its extensive woodlands, and peaks in the background really does make Cumbria a beautiful county. Walney Island is no exception, with its vast marshes, mudflats and grazed sandy ground, coupled with industry and the areas history it provides some stunningly unusual views. 

The afternoon held, Linnet, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Turnstone, Bar-Tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Lapwing, Eider, Herring, Lesser Black Backed, Great Black Backed, and Black Headed Gulls, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Starling, some foreign Emperor Geese, Sandwich Tern and a tiercel Peregrine which had just caught a Skylark.

Heading home via Kirkstone Pass I couldn't resist stopping off at last years haunts on the River Eamont. Parking on the Ullswater road opposite the Sockbridge Mill, you head down a old holloway, with overhanging Hawthorns and Blackthorns which leads you to the river. Once you reach the river a small ford breaks the river into two, forming an island, which was today blanketed with Wood Anemones and Wild Garlic. A Willow Warbler song overhead, a Blackcap and a Chiff Chaff fed low in a nearby Willow, with a Dipper flying by once or twice.

Following the river downstream you reach a small steep sided woodland. It doesn't cover a large area of ground, but its definitely one of my favourite spots in Cumbria. I always seem to be drawn to woodland, especially woodland that can hit all your senses as soon as you pass under its canopy. The first thing is the noise, the tree tops are filled with Rooks and Jackdaws, the Rooks form a substantial Rookery and the Jackdaws fill the cracks in the nearby red sandstone outcrops. They protest your approach and trespassing under their tree's by calling harshly, flying on mass now and again. Scent follows, the congregation of birds has filled the air with the smell of their droppings, almost like that of the Farne's but not as fishy, the closed canopy seems to bottle it up, but every now and then the overpowering smell of the Ramsons pushes through, and you notice the brilliant white clustered flowers, sight. Not a patch of ground is bare, Dogs Mercury, Bluebells, Primroses, Wood Anemones, Violets, Ferns and Mosses to name a few, Honeysuckle and Ivy climb the tree's. Through all of this you can eventually feel the wood.

The River Eamont runs gently alongside, I was surprised to find a reasonably confiding Red Breasted Merganser feeding amongst the root systems.

Roe Deer, roading Woodcock, and Tawny Owls drew the day to an end.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Last thing...

Back at the Beehive in the last rays of sunlight this evening to have another look at the Avocet, which has been around for the past 2 days now.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

BTO Nest Record Scheme

This morning my BTO Nest Record Scheme pack arrived, I'd been inspired through the work of Kane and Gillian. Taking a break from my final project I headed over to Red House Farm, mainly to check the bird boxes (courtesy of Wellfield Middle School) I had put up over the winter, in an attempt to hold the visiting Tree Sparrows.

Unfortunately the Tree Sparrows haven't used the boxes, although at least one bird is still present, calling from within the Hawthorns. Thankfully 2 out of 3 boxes are in use, both by Tit species. Both Blue Tit and Great Tit were calling in the vicinity. Box RHF Box 2 contained a half built nest, and RHF Box 3 had just recently begun gaining nesting material.

The area holds a huge number of breeding Wood Pigeons, although most are inaccessible. After searching some of the lower Hawthorns I eventually found this nest with 2 eggs. 

And for anyone interested, the post mortem for the Buzzard I found February 2011 in Cliburn Moss (near Penrith) was sent through today. Glad to see it hadn't been poisoned or shot. (double click for larger view)

Monday, 16 April 2012

Unexpected in Salford

Today I've been down to the University of Salford for an interview. Once I'd finished I had a few hours before my train departed for Penrith, so I wandered off campus and along the River Irwell. The first thing to catch my eye as I headed down was a Kingfisher darting along the bank side ! Something I hadn't expected in pretty much inner city Manchester. Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Moorhen, Canada Geese, and Black Headed Gulls were all on the first bend.

The majority of the stretch I covered had flood defences either side, with large housing estates not far from the water. Adding Chiff Chaff Grey Wagtail, Stock Dove and a few Grey Squirrels I soon began moving out of the man made landscape and into a little wild corner, an area labeled on the map as the 'Irwell Sculpture Trail', it had the vibe of Plessey Woods. Another Kingfisher made it self known, along with a single Grey Heron, but as I made my way round the corner the most unexpected sighting of the day occurred, first the call, then a brief glimpse flying by, a Green Sandpiper ! Using the bank as covered I managed to creep along and watch it feeding along the shoreline.

Its amazing what urban areas can hide.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Bass Lake

This morning I had my first shift at Center Parcs, teaching Wildlife Photography sessions. The amount and tameness of Red Squirrels there is unbelievable, I'm looking forward to getting some shots!

Later on myself and Roger headed over to Bass Lake, in search of Ospreys. The female had returned a couple of weeks ago, and the male just last week (which is a 2007 youngster). They've set up camp in the flooded basin nest site again this year, so distant scope views from The Dodd's feeding station were had, although apparently there are now nest cams streaming to the Whinlatter Centre.

The feeding station was worth the visit in itself, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Siskin, Coal Tit, Great Tit, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker fed on the feeders, whilst Stock Doves, Jays, Jackdaws and a single Red Squirrel fed on the ground. On a beautiful afternoon like today, the feeding station view must be one of the best in the country.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel

Friday, 13 April 2012

I've been down the Dene today with SW recording some narration for my final project. Picking him up at 11:00 we first headed to the Grey Wagtails, pleased to find them taking food into the nest, although no chicks were to be seen, I presume they've only hatched today or more likely yesterday.

Moving on to a remoter part of the dene, we spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on a fallen tree, writing and recording the narration. Amongst the hail, rain, wind and glorious sunshine we managed to see and here some of the Dene's secrets. A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were active overhead, moving from tree to tree, until we caught sight of them copulating, I'd never witnessed this behaviour before with GSW's. Next some commotion from behind, and then the culprit, a couple of Common Buzzards, interacting, possibly a pair? After the Buzzards had eventually moved on the Blackbirds could be heard 'kicking off' as it were, a characteristic sound which could only mean one thing, a Tawny Owl, first the slightest of calls, then a fly-by out of the Ivy.

Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Jackdaws, Stock Doves, Chiff Chaff, Blue Tits and Wrens were all showing signs of nesting. The Dipper showed well on our walk back to the car.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Little Gull at Holywell Pond

At about 11:30 this morning I looked at my phone to find a text from BD, informing me of a Little Gull on the pond. Unfortunately I had a few things to do, and it seemed that the bird had moved off, but half an hour later I was heading down. On arrival I received news that it was back! Moving quickly down to the members hide I joined BD, after a scan of the numerous Gulls catching insects over the pond, it wasn't to be seen. Scoping round to the public hide I picked the bird up sitting on one of the fence posts. A dash down and we were enjoying good views on the bird sitting on the posts. (excuse the heavy cropped record shots)

The White-Fronted Goose is still amongst the Greylags and a few Pink-Footed Geese remain. I had my first Sand Martins on the pond last week, and the first Swallow Friday just gone, the Denes alive with Chiff Chaffs, and the majority of the residents are back to breeding.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Windflower

Anemone nemorosa, is known as both the Wood Anemone and the Windflower, the latter derived from its latin name is directly related to Greek Legend. It is said the wind, Anemos, sends his Anemones in the earliest days of spring, to herald his coming.

Wood Anemone

nemorosa relates to the species habitat, meaning wooded or covered with trees.

Wood Anemone

Interestingly the flower has no scent as it does not require fertilisation by insects to produce seeds.

Wood Anemone

The flower has no true petals, instead six modified sepals.

Wood Anemone

For the majority of today I've been on the ground filming these beautiful little flowers, hopefully the weather may provide an opportunity to revisit them tomorrow.

Wood Anemone

If there was ever a moment for pictures to transfer scent, this would be that time. A few Blackthorns clustered together in a corner of the Dene, filling the air with their scent.

Blackthorn Blossom