Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Marauders

Lesser Black-backed Gull 
Quiet times on the patch at the moment, with one exception, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and their numerous juveniles. They are marauding all over the new reserve and making a hell of a racket, they are disturbing everything else around, but the problems could be ahead of us. If they are still around when the Autumn passage starts then nothing will settle.

Moels beach
Had a ride down to The Wirral on Tuesday to visit my cousin, unfortunately didn't have time to do any birding. She is in her 80's so it was a quick trip out for lunch, then a ride along Moels prom. and the only thing spoiling the view was man's encroachment on nature, and I  maybe wouldn't mind so much if it was bringing in millions of megawatts of power but it ain't.

Rook, not a marauder this time, an M6 motorway service scavenger.

Rowan berries , Alright you Scandinavian crested guys, we are already preparing for your arrival, any time after November will do.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Patch before and after

As promised the before and after shots of the new Thacka Beck reserve, all the photos are taken from different angles and not necessarily from the same spot, but hopefully it will give you some idea of the work that went into transforming the area. 

The work took just over 12 months, and it was interesting listening to the various comments from people as they looked on. and believe me there was a lot of pessimists about, people couldn't see the potential, what a wast of money was one of the main opinions.

Once the earth had been rearranged and the water started to flood in, then the birds soon started to visit, but the problem soon became clear disturbance from dog walkers, some even to this day couldn't care less, and also kids who thought this was there new play ground. So the next priority was to get the area fenced, and now thankfully even that has been done.

So now more or less 12 months on and it looks  a totally different place.

All the bunds have green up nicely, water plants and vegetation has come on a treat.

Birds have bred here already.

And the list of birds visiting the area continues to grow, with some rare ones already on the list.
Later in the year the Long-horned Cattle are suppose to be arriving, to naturally graze the area, and the whole patch has been fenced in such a way, that the cattle can be rotated in different areas. So in the breeding season they will be moved away from the water area to a less sensitive area. So this area consists of one large meandering pond, and about 5 smaller ponds with Thacka beck flowing through the middle.
          Adjacent to this area is the settling pond, then about a quarter of a mile away is the Flash. Generally the Flash has more going on as it is too far away from any footpaths to be disturbed.
           All in all not a bad area, and as patchers we are all optimists, waiting for that something special to turn up, and hoping it will be on our patch.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

One of three Swallow nests at my old work place
I went up to the flash first thing with the Westies, wasn't a great deal on apart from a few Oystercatchers, they seem to be coming back again now that they have reared their young. Its a similar story with the Lapwings, although not so many at the moment.
Sneezewort Achillea  ptarmica
           I took Mrs W into work for 8-30 then made my way over to the Isthmus and spent the morning with Les and Carl. Derwentwater is teaming with Greylags at the moment, I saw one Merganser and not much else.

CatBells and Maiden moor
The weather was much improved on yesterday, although the wind felt cool when the sun went behind a cloud.

The north crag on Robinson
 Hope the weather is as good tomorrow, then I may have another trip out.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

We had a Hobby

An interesting week on the patch, first of all on the flash the Lapwings and Oystercatchers fluctuated greatly, some days only one or two Oystercatchers then the next day there could be as many as 20. Likewise with the Lapwings but in greater numbers, one day maybe a few dozen the next over 100, so we are gradually getting back to winter numbers. Amidst all this the Coots lost their 4 chicks to either Lesser-Black-backed Gulls or Crows.
               On a brighter note 2 juvenile Redshanks dropped in and stayed most of  the week, Swallows continued to hawk the area for insects and Starling numbers have been rising.
               Down on the new reserve Thacka beck, the Mallard numbers have dropped as the young have left for pastures new, Swallows and House Martins have been hawking in good numbers. Then at one period I get a text from John saying Kingfisher had flown in following the beck , then just as  quickly left again. Then another text from Roy with even bigger news a Hobby put in a brief appearance chasing Swallows but didn't hang around very long.

Sea Bindweed
Yesterday myself and Mrs W headed for the coast and ended up in the Havarigg where we had lunch  before doing some birding and planting, after looking through my records I realised we did the same thing about this time last year. The weather had been great all week and yesterday was a scorcher. It was good to be at the coast again, the tide was in and the waves crashing on the shingle mixed with the calling of the Turns, and the salty smell was just great.

Tadpoles but no ordinary tadpoles

millions of them, Natterjack Tadpoles  

The perfume of wild time filled the air

Large Evening Primrose

Found this male Linnet standing guard on some gorse 

So, that was a good ending to what had been a good week, but I fear rain is on the way, which I suppose is well needed in some areas of the country,not necessarily in Cumbria.

Friday, 8 July 2011

A visit to Leighton Moss

We had rather a late start this morning as Mrs W had to go into work early to make some rock buns, so it was 9-30am by the time she got home. The Westies still needed a walk before we could set off , then just as we were about to leave my mate John (from Oxford) rang for a chat and was updating me on the bird life in their garden. They live right by the side of the Oxford canal so get quite a variety of wild life. The latest news being that they now have a pair of Spotted Flycatchers nesting, which is great news.
           Anyway it was getting on for 10-30 by the time we got out of the house and finally heading off to Leighton Moss. The weather was a bit iffy with heavy showers during the day, though for most part when walking around we managed to stay dry.

Spotted Redshank nearest to lens Common Redshank behind, Its good to compare the two.

The first set of pics are taken from the Eric Morecambe hide, and while there the weather stayed fine.

Black-tailed Godwit, will have to see if anyone knows anything about the rings.

They have a beautiful plumage.

Time out for a spot of preening.

                                                And more preening this time a Dunlin
Back at the centre we had a spot of lunch before checking out some of the other hides, although bird wise there wasn't a lot going on. A Marsh Harrier put in a short appearance, and a couple of  Little Egrets showed for a while.

                                                     Red Deer stag from Tim Jackson hide

                                                And also hind, just about to take a rest.

Coming home on the M6 the weather turned very nasty, very heavy rain, and driving conditions were atrocious, fortunately we arrived home safe and sound.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Hot and sunny at Sunbiggin Tarn

Melancholy Thistle
Had my usual walk with the Westies this morning, but the only thing to see on the flood was 1 Coot with 3 young and a second Coot in tallish vegetation so hopefully number 4 chick was in the vegetation.
          Later I decided on a ride up to Sunbiggin Tarn, I was surprised to see quite a few Black-headed Gulls there, there use to be a nesting colony up there could be they are moving back again.

The Swans are doing well here as they have 5 young and are at an age and size that says they should survive

Northern Marsh Orchid

Bird's-eye Primrose

The above two flowers were in abundance close to the tarn and a multitude of others.
       On my way back I stopped to photograph the thistles and heard then found this Curlew, it was making some unusual sounds and I suspected that there could have been another adult about with young, and this could have been the male on guard.

I can't figure what looks like a leaning pose, as if it was leaning into the wind but there was no wind.
It was a really enjoyable few hours and the sun was hot, my kind of weather.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

The patch and out West

Centre of poppy or seed pod      

Took the Westies for their walk this morning and had a look in at the flash, good to see the 4 young coots are still doing OK. and also the young Mallards. there was a Heron on the other morning and I thought it may have had a go at the chicks but not so. There are always lots of Swallows about especially on the new reserve and also good numbers of House Martins.  Also last weekend John reported a Knot, this is a first for the flash.
                    Back home I sorted my gear out then set off for the West, first stop Soddy Gap where there was quite a few juvenile Mallard Swans with young and also a tufted duck with young.

Tufted with 2 of its 5 young
Next I made my way over to Maryport and Siddick ponds, More swans here also a few Redshank, these were on the first pond near the car park. Then on the rest of the area there was 3 Black-tailed Godwit Heron more Swans and Mallard and tufted. Also found this Mole unfortunately dead.

 Just after lunch I set off back home calling at Bassenthwaite lake to have a look at the Ospreys, pics below.

Female Osprey , Bassenthwaite


Always facing the wrong way

Juvenile Common Sandpiper, Derwentwater.

And lastly another colourful poppy.