Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Part of the patch with the Westies

Well that's the end of January and what a contrast to last year, Who can forget what we were getting last year as regards the weather.

The little Westies have not been playing in the snow this winter, (so far)
It was so cold at times last year the snow would ball up on there fur and turn to ice. then back home they would flood the kitchen as it stated to thaw out.
This morning no such thing, and no frost either, although the ground was still hard from yesterdays frost.
     It was interesting to see how crafty the blackbirds have become because of the frost, they were making the most of the new mole hills where the earth was soft to seek  out the worms and grubs.
On the remains of the flash this morning no Lapwings but there was 3 Oystercatchers. Along the top track a few Blue tits but mainly Blackbirds. The usual flock of House Sparrows by the cottages, and then a walk  along the railway path to Roy's feeder didn't produce much more, only Blue & Great tits this morning.
         The weather wasn't conducive for doing anything today , which was a pity as it looks like the Glossy Ibis and Smew is back at Leighton, typical wasn't there when I went!!. Lets hope the sun is back tomorrow, and we can do some more listing.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Brown & white, Black & white, & White

I decided to head North today, having seen yesterday that 2 types of geese had been seen at Longtown, North from Carlisle, also a Bewick Swan with some Whoopers. I don't know Longtown that well so did a bit of riding round before I located a field full of geese. They turned out to be Pink-footed Geese about 500. I went through them slowly looking for White-fronted, but no sign. Then when I was about to give up another flock of about 60 came in, and get in there 3 White-fronts with them, two more to the list, so where next. Didn't find the Swans so no Bewick today, you win some you lose some.
            Next on to the Solway and first stop Sandsfield and quite a walk down to the marsh but well worth it as there must have been 4 to 5000 Barnacle geese far out on the marsh. I spent some time scoping them but no sign of the Red-breasted Goose. So hiked back to the car and continued along the Solway not stopping too many times as the tide was out and with it all the waders.
          I pulled in at the scrape to watch the Great White Egret for a while it was enjoying some goodies it was finding in the small pools.

Great White Egret.

Next I moved on to Cardurnock where first I found about 100 Golden Plover  feeding with a few Lapwings in a field. Then as I drove on 5 silhouetted geese flew over the road ahead of me, then dropped out of sight. I pulled up to see where they had gone, grabbing the bins I got out of the car to look down the bank. I was amazed at what confronted me, not much more than 25yds from where I stood, was a 1000 or more Barnies. I started to scan them all looking for the Red-breasted but even after half an hour, again there was no sign. I did find 3 leucistic geese with them

Two of the three leucistic Barnacle geese.

It had been a good days birding, The sun shone for most of the day after a frosty start and now it was time to head for home. Even on the way home I still managed another lister 7 Whimbrel feeding in a field beyond some Lapwing I had stopped to check out. Not a bad day.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Over the border South.

Leighton Moss today in the hope of, firstly escaping the gloom of Penrith, and secondly adding good numbers to the year list . Succeeded on the first count but failed poorly on the second.
        I think most people that visit the main centre call in at the feeder first just out of interest, and these days are guaranteed to be greeted by Pheasants, both male and female, it gets more like a poultry farm each time I visit.

Female Pheasant
Also now taking advantage of scraps from the feeders, Moorhens.


I was hoping to get Marsh Tit here as there is usually one about, but even though I payed two visits I drew a blank. Quite a few other birds on the feeders including these two Bullfinches.

Male & Female Bullfinch, obviously Married, both wearing rings.
Next on to Lillian's hide, nothing to excite me there , Green-winged Teal had been on view but had decided to move back into the reeds, so missed out on that one. Then the shout went up Water Rail, oh its gone back in again, sh*t missed that and nearly got killed in the rush, honestly if it hadn't have been for the lovely sunshine I wouldn't have gone down, its like Boxing day sales on a weekend. So at least 2 target birds down the tubes and we move on.
       I decide to head for the marsh hides with the hope of  bagging the Glossy Ibis on the way. Well the fields by the level crossing were full mainly Greylag Geese there must have been about 200 also good numbers of Lapwings and a few Redshank. Then I found a white goose with the Greylags, Snow Goose I thought, one of the 3 that has been seen, then on closer inspection it was a x , one of those days, and no Ibis. Anyway at the Morecambe hide the wildfowl made up for it.

Male & Female Pintail.


Male Gadwall

And female Gadwall

And a few Lapwings on the Allan pool
My last port of call was Warton crag for the Peregrine, this time lucky, a lovely Female sitting in the sun High up on the far end of the crag. Too far away for pics even with the scope. And so I made my way back home via Arnside and the estuary, but nothing new there.

Friday, 27 January 2012

To go or not to go

Well what a day as regards the weather !!. It was raining first thing so gave Mrs W a lift to work then continued on my way up to Thacka to give the Westies an early morning walk. Now yesterday when I was up there I was surprise to fined an Oystercatcher on the remains of the flash, then this morning there was 2 . Now if anyone wants to do some digging into the blog archives they will see that not last year but the year before we were getting counts of upward of 30. I wonder if they are going to build to those numbers again for this year.
        I was watching the weather for the rest of the morning while playing about on the computer, then deciding it was time for some fresh air, I decided to head West hoping I could escape the bad weather of Penrith and find better conditions round Workington. Also on my mind was the possibility of finding some Purple Sandpipers and the Med gull thus adding 2 good ticks to my year list.

Well I'll say one thing it was dry just, but the wind was quite strong to say the least. I searched in vain for the Purps but no sign anywhere. Also Stumpy (the Med gull) let me down as it had done a bunk.

Water crashing over the old jetty on the beach

Herring Gull enjoying a bath in the fresh water near the harbour

Herring Gulls and Black-headed Gulls were the only birds in the area, and not surprising considering the conditions. So it was time to move on, lets try Siddick Ponds.

At Siddick a kindly gentleman had been leaving piles of seed at various stages along the footpath, which was attracting good numbers of House Sparrows, as well as Great Tits, Blue Tits, Chaffinches, and Bullfinches.
I had just got onto the footpath when a Bittern came flapping along and into the reedbed, not to be seen again, but a good year tick. Also these 2 whooper Swans were nice to see and also 2 Cormorants. The rain managed to keep off while I was there so it was enjoyable strolling along and chatting to the kind man that had put all the seed down. I was amazed to see so many Goosanders getting on for 200.

2 Whoopers
On the way home I decided to call in at Silver Meadows NR. Where on the feeders amongst the tits I got 2 more year ticks, Siskin and Nuthatch, Keep em cumming.
           Lots of Snow on various stretches of the A66 and the tops are plastered again, Kirkstone pass was closed first thing.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Odd Buddies

 Odd buddies,  Starling & Curlew sharing the same table.

Had a drive along the Solway yesterday picking up a few more year tics, I had a much later start than intended as I had to wait in for double glazing chap.
       I went up Thacka with the dogs first thing and counted 17 Lapwing on the remains of the Flash, a sorry state of affairs. So the Solway, it would be about 1-30 by the time I started to drive along stopping off a various points to have a scan. There were lots of Curlews, and oystercatchers, plus Redshank, and it was nice to watch half a dozen male Mergansers displaying to a few female.
        At Campfield scrape the Great White Egret was still on show feeding in the gullies, then round at Cardurnock I was hoping the Barnacle geese would still be there, but I think it was getting too late in the day. I did see a large skein of geese heading up the estuary and making for the Scottish side maybe going to roost, along with possible the Red-Breasted Goose !!
        Near Anthorn there was hundreds of Oystercatchers, but the highlight was a thousand or more Golden Plover.

Small section of the Golden Plover, the pic doesn't do the scene justice.  

And the last two pics, sunset along the River Wampool.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Afternoon tea & Black Grouse

Black Grouse
Myself and Mrs W decided to have a ride up to Hartside cafe for some scones with cream and jam. While participating in these delights, I suggested that when we had eaten said delights, we might have a ride down the Alston side of the pass on the off chance that there might be the odd Black Grouse about.
       The wind was blowing a gale so I didn't hold much hope, but ever the optimist and with stomach suitably satisfied we set off. By the time we reached the area where we have seen them before it wasn't looking too good. And then the ever hawk eyed Mrs W came up trumps again," I think I saw something black just over the wall," so it was hazards on, grab camera and bingo Black Grouse on the year list. which I have to say is still very modest, so won't go public just yet.
          On the way back down to Penrith the sun was in our eyes but gave good photo opportunities

Hopefully there will be an improvement in the weather tomorrow giving me a chance to add to the year list.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Ones better than none

Mrs W needed the car this morning so took the Westies for a quick walk round the block, then after doing some jobs and a quick cuppa, I decided to make the most of the sun before the rain came in.  
     So heading out with the camera and bins I headed for the Thacka nature reserve. Not a great deal about as usual, Black-headed Gulls were the greatest numbers of anything, Moorhens coming a close second with at
 least 13, there would be more in the vegetation. The Little Grebe is still with us, and there was a few Mallard about

 Little Grebe at a distance, sharing the pool with a Moorhen.

I had a walk round the old pond but there was nothing on there, I then decided to head up the railway path. The first thing I came across was a small party of House Sparrows sharing a bush with a few Chaffinch and enjoying the sun.

One of a couple of little old bridges spanning Thacka beck

The feeder that Roy has put up by the railway was doing a good trade, with good numbers of Great & Blue tits, also good numbers of Chaffinch. Then looking through my camera lens I fleetingly pick up a Brambling, luckily I fired a shot off because it flew off immediately. this is the only one I have seen this winter so far.

One Brambling, a little camera shy.
I have decided for the first time to do  a year list, and I didn't think Brambling was going to be on it. I don't anticipate my list being very long by the end of the year, as I'm not one for twitching long distance, but just thought it would be interesting for a change.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

A pecker on the patch

Great Spotted Woodpecker
Took the Westies for their usual morning walk, always look at what use to be the Flash, but very rare there is anything about, we are doing well to get 20 to 60 Lapwings when we use to get hundreds.

Always as I get out of the car Mats bulls are near the gate, this morning they were having a good munch.
This morning instead of just walking round the field, I decided to have a walk along the top track and then along the railway path. I hadn't been on the path long when the Woodpecker flew past me, I found out later talking to Roy, it had been on the feeder that Roy has put up on some bushes by the railway.
           There was a few small flocks of Starlings moving around, and quite a few Blue tits. Further along the path a Buzzard flew across and then I found another perched by the path.

Common Buzzard
I thought it may have taken flight when theWesties passed below, but it just kept an eye on them. These are the first Buzzards I have seen on the patch for at least 8 months. Later while talking to Roy another one landed in a tree by the big house.

The Westies have found an interesting scent

Frost on seed heads

Footpath by the railway
After lunch I went over to see Kieth and burn some rubbish and 2 Hedge Sparrows were feeding close by.

Hedge Sparrow, or Dunnock

All in all not a bad day and the sun never stopped shinning.

Friday, 13 January 2012


Part of the main pond at Soddy Gap
First of all may I wish every one out there a belated Happy New Year and many of them!!.

A beautiful morning this morning with quite a frost, but the sun was shinning and so decided not to wast it.

I noticed on Bird Guides that the Long Tail Duck was still at Soddy so thought I would give it a go, as can be seen from my last post (a long time ago) I was heading to see it when I got diverted. On arrival at Soddy I scanned the main pool but no sign, but there was a good showing of Goosanders.

Male & female Goosanders, just a few of at least 60+

There was also quite a few Teal about and Wigeon, and I counted 5 Snipe
I also found a female Goldeneye and good numbers of Tufted. There was also a large flock of Canada & Greylag Geese mixed, they later moved on to a nearby field to graze.
       I moved on to the first of the two smaller pools and bingo one female Long-tailed Duck. I had just got my scope and camera set up and squeezed a shot off when it and the 2 tufties it was swimming with got spooked by dogs and took off.

I tried to relocate it but couldn't find it anywhere, so the one poor shot is all I got.

Just a small portion of the flock of geese

There is always at least one on guard.
I started to head back home about 1-30 and as I got near to Penrith I ran into thick mist so I had seen the best of the day as regards the weather.