Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Sunny morning at the flood

The Flood this morning, looking approx. North-West with the constant roar of the M6 in the background, taken with 80mm lens.

As can be seen the flood has to be worked more or less using a scope because of the distance.
Anyway back to the plot as they say, Last night my wife went out with the dogs and all three came back soaked as it rained very hard while she was out , and she came back with the story, hail-stones as big as golf balls ---? and I said balls too. However on opening my peepers this morning the sun was doing a great job, although I have to say standing up at the flood the wind was a bit on the icy side.
The flood has been a bit dead of late with very little activity apart from the usual flock of Lapwings, however this morning there was a little more of interest. The usual flock of Lapwings were there, although the whole lot lifted at one point and flew round as if they were going to leave but then circled back and settled again. Mixed in with them  was 6 Black-headed Gulls, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull and 1 Common Gull. Next I found the first Snipe then another, and so it went up to 7 . Then I covered the ground again and this time counted 10, the ground in places is very bobbly so its easy for Snipe to pop up and down , in and out of sight. So I covered the ground again and this time found 17 fantastic, some sitting out in the sun preening others having a doze and yet others busy feeding , and all looking beautiful in the sun with their marking showing  and being well highlighted I've said it before and I have to repeat myself, they really are the most beautiful bird.

Female Yellowhammer found with mixed flocks of finches that are around at the moment. 
 I'm doing a sort of PS. here to explain that when ever I write a blog I more often than not give the full names of any bird or animal that I mention. this may seem a bit old fashioned to the hard core of birders these days  but I try to think of our foreign visitors, as they may not be able to get their heads around the likes of Mipit and other such abbreviated versions.  Anyway just thought I would drop that in, lesson over enjoy.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

A visit to Mersehead

Just a fraction of the 10,000 Barnacle Geese
A few hours drive from Penrith and we arrived at Mersehead in Dumfries & Galloway, even as we got out of the car you could hear the geese, what a fantastic sound. There was also good numbers of Pink-footed Geese, and also high counts of Grey-lags. Its a massive area of marsh bordering the Solway, and stretches East to Caerlaverock. We had just left the main centre and heading for one of the hides, when all the Barnies lifted into the air with a thunderous roar , the sound of their calling was deafening, and it gave us quite an emotional moment.

Again this photo doesn't portray the whole, as at times the sky seemed to be black with geese.
  There was also plenty of wildfowl about on the various pools and overhead small flocks of linnets and finches. We eventually found our way on to the beech  and straight away found Wheatear flitting about, its getting a bit late fellas !!

One of a few Wheatears flitting about the beach
A couple of Herons was seen flying across the marsh, and on our way back to the centre the hedges were full of finches and Linnets, also we saw a few Siskins and Long-tailed Tits.

Long-tail Tit

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Try counting them

This is just a fraction of the wood pigeons
that was feeding in this field, try counting them.

This morning I looked in at the flood, not a lot going on, about 200 Lapwing and that was about it. I had the Westies with me and little Misty managed to find some dung to roll in. So for the second day she had to have a shower when I got her home, great.
After lunch my Daughter and I set off for a walk, starting at Thacka and then following footpaths in and around Newton Rigg. Firstly we had a look at the new ponds at the flood alleviation scheme, and it was good to see they had grown in size after all the recent rain, it will be great if they stay this way like the flood.
The first sightings with the bins was a flock of 50 Starlings perched on phone wires, this was quickly followed by a small flock of 20 Goldfinch which settled in an Elder bush, but when I tried to get a bit closer for a pic they took to the air again.
 We had to shelter from time to time as one or two heavy showers floated over.

This is a  testament to the kind of weather that was about.

At one point a Kestrel could be seen at a distance, and a Buzzard gave us a close flyby to land in a nearby tree. Robins and Chaffinches could be heard continuously on our travels, and then in one field we came across about 20-30 Red-legged Partridge, possibly recently released for shooting.
On passing the new ponds a Thacka on our way back home, there was already Mallard beginning to settle on them, fingers crossed.