Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Silver Meadows

Took the Westies out first thing and had a look in at the flood, ahh, now I've got to explain here. The Thacka area is becoming more official as a birding area, this is because of the new pool area created by the flood alleviation scheme, and when finished will become the Thacka Beck Nature Reserve. It will be looked after by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, and so for keeping birding records all birders have to be singing from the same hymn sheet, so henceforth the flood will be known as the Thacka flash, and the settleing pond will for the time being continue to be called simply "the pond"
       So on "The Flash" yesterday the Shoveler was still present although Lapwing numbers were down a bit and no Snipe, 7 Oystercatchers, also down a little. Talking to Roy at one point when a small party of Long-tail Tits came through the trees along the top track.
       After lunch Mrs W and I had a ride over to Silver Meadows wetland nature reserve at Dubwath. the feeders were doing a good trade as usual but that was about it.

                                     Three Coal Tits.

                                               Male Siskin, and Blue Tit

                                  Female Greenfinch This is just a fraction of birds coming to the the feeders at Silver Meadows.

This morning on the Flash, Lapwing numbers up, 220 , 3 Snipe, 14 Oystercatchers, a few Mallard, but no Shoveler this morning. In one of the nearby trees a Kestrel was perched, first that's been around for a while

Monday, 21 February 2011

A new visitor to the patch

Taken on a bleak and cold day near Ullswater.
Bitter cold as I checked out the flood this morning, wall to wall low cloud trying to dump sleet and hail, but it generally turn to rain for the day.
       Nice surprise this morning as the old bins alighted on a newcomer to the flood a Shoveler and after the news got round its looks like this is a patch first. So the number of species continues to grow, and the area is beginning to attract more interest. Still good numbers of Lapwing about , quite a few Oystercatchers this morning and Mallard, but not many Snipe.

The Westies having a rest after play fighting and chasing each other round the house.

Friday, 18 February 2011

The patch, and family outing, nudge nudge

There wasn't much change on the patch this morning, other than the fact that there was still a very cold wind blowing. However Oystercatchers were down, seeing as its turned cold again they are maybe thinking they have arrived too early. I decided to give the Westies an extra mile this morning and we continued along the top track to have a look at the new Thacka pools. Again the only things about was the gulls at a distance, and not too many at that. a mix of Black-headed, common, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
       It was cold, overcast and generally not the kind of day to go out joyriding, but driving back home I was formulating a plan, (this was my lets not waste diesel twitching plan) . So back home I asked Mrs W and the Daughter would they like a trip to Hayes garden centre Ambleside.(birders in the know will see where this is going). So lunch at the centre was enjoyable if as my Daughter pointed out a bit on the expensive side. This was followed by a walk round the place before we split up, the Daughter walking into Ambleside, while Mrs W and myself headed for the lake and the real reason for this little outing the Long-tailed Duck. I didn't hold much hope of seeing it,as if it was still around the lake was a bit on the choppy side. luck was on my side for once as it was the first thing my bins pick up.

Even as a record shot its a bit desperate, it was a light year away and it was asking too much of my 300mm lens, but there you go, anyone looking for an easy year tic then this is it.
     All the best.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The patch & nostalgia

Up at the patch this morning with the Westies, first a quick scan with the bins. then a walk with the Kyfer & Misty, then back at the flood with the scope. At first I could only see one Snipe which I thought unusual so went over the same ground again and two more heads popped up, but three is a low count considering the ground is good and soft now. There was also 200 Lapwing, steady numbers at the moment till they start nesting, then I guess we will lose a few. Oystercatchers down this morning 7, and 3 Mallard, 2 male 1 female. A Blue Tit was hurling abuse at me from the tree I was sheltering behind, and apart from a few Corvids flying about that was it.
           Back home and time for a cuppa, as I was taking the first warming gulps my eyes were perusing the book case and all the bird books on it amongst the many others. I went along the line until I spotted the two oldest bird books I bought myself, and have owned the longest. Purchest when I was a kid and looking all tatty and grubby.

On the inside facing the preface page it says c. FREDERICK WARNE & CO, LTD, 1937  29th Edition 1957. I probably bought it about then.
      and of course if you had this one then you had to have its mate----

The state they are in, but there again they were in constant use for quite a while, as can be seen this one lost its dust cover many moons ago.
       And inside this one, c FREDERICK WARNE & CO. LTD. 1954
           Revised Edition 1954
             Third Reprint 1957
 They were possibly bought around about the same time, small books but the amount of pleasure I got out of them made them great.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Spring is on the way

Barnacle Goose, unfortunately not on the flood.

 Took the Westies for their walk this morning, and had a look in at the flood. A quick scan with the binocks revealed a lot of activity, but there was a freezing cold wind blowing and also a dusting of snow, so decided to walk the dogs first. Having done this I put my mits on and started to do a count, over 200 Lapwing, but the interesting thing was that there was 8 Oystercatchers on view, and there could have been more behind the rubble mound.  Also 7 Snipe, and then a mixed flock of about 100 gulls came in mainly Black-headed Gulls with a few Common Gulls. So Oystercatchers back, Spring not too far away.

Green Iguana in my mates garden in Miami, yes I was birding in the freezing cold this morning and I started thinking of all the birding and wildlife watching I have done in the lovely hot sunshine of Florida.

Fort Jefferson Dry Tortuga's and the Gardens within, what a fantastic place this was to visit, we went via boat from Key West, the Quality of birding here is fantastic and also the snorkeling, I'm feeling warmer already.

Brown Pelican,  you can't go anywhere in Florida without seeing these. Unfortunately the last time we were there was 2005 and I've nearly always concentrated on video which is in analog, so I have very little in digital, after 5 visits, C'est La Vie. 

Saturday, 12 February 2011

A sunny day and ducks

Pochard on Derwentwater
Had a bit of a late start today as I was killing 2 ***** with 1 brick as it were. My Daughter was going over to the Keswick film festival as She was doing a day course on directing, something She wants to do as a career, She has already had a weeks work experience on Lewis, an ITV production filmed in Oxford. and also a weeks work experience with Carnival films in London, (they had just completed Downton Abbey while She was there) so it is something She is quite serious about. anyone out there in the business please please give us a call!!.
So as I was taking her over what better chance to spend some time with my mate Les on the Isthmus till my Daughter had finished her course.  And of coarse I kept an eye on the Lake at the same time. It was 10 by the time I got there and the lake was calm and any sound echoed over the water, at one point Les was having a conversation with one of  his workmates on the other side of the lake as the sound was carrying so well.
It was great listening to the Canada Geese (which are all paired up now) and also the Greylags their calls bouncing round the lake. There was also a few Cormorants, Goldeneye, 3 Pochard, a small group of Tufted Duck, and Goosander. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was knocking 7 bells out of a tree in the wood, and a good number of Blue Tits about.

                                       Tufted Duck Derwentwater

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Sun & Rain

This was the view the other morning with my back to the flood.
It just happened to be a good morning with a touch of frost, we are having alternate days at the moment, Sun one day, rain the next.
There hasn't been a great deal going on of late around the flood, the Lapwings have been putting in a regular appearance, with numbers creeping up towards the 300 mark. Mallard numbers have fluctuated, with on the odd occasion a Teal turning up. Gull numbers on the flood have generally been down, but this I think is due to the fact that many are now paying attention to the new pools created by the new flood alleviation scheme. These new pools by the way are officially going to be called the Thacka Pools, as stated by the Cumbria wild life trust, it will be interesting to see what happens to these pools if we get a "hot" summer!!, well come on we must be due one surely. There has been Snipe too but only in small numbers, and I haven't seen a high count since Autumn.
Feeding birds in the yard has produced as many as 14 Chaffinch mainly female, usually accompanied by a few Starling, six or so House Sparrows, 2 Collared Dove , 1Robin, Jackdaws, and occasionally a Pied Wagtail.
I; like many birders are looking forward to a more prolonged spell of good weather, hope we don't have too long to wait !!.