Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Kestrel made it worth the effort

Female Kestrel, looking a bit wet, there had been a heavy dew so maybe it got in this state through hunting.
I was awake early this morning, so as soon as the sun lit the bedroom up I decided to make the effort and head off for a walk around the patch, (even before breakfast !!). I parked the car on the edge of the industrial estate and headed on to Thacka beck reserve, the time would be 5-45. I had just started along the path when I met birder John (I call him birder John to distinguish him from other Johns I have in my phone book). Anyway we stood chatting for a while as you do and swapping notes, John has been telling me about a survey he is doing on the gulls that are breeding on the factory roofs (just for his own interest at the moment) Nests number into the late twenties with Lesser Black-backed Gull being the prominent nester.
   After a few mins. we parted company and I headed onto the reserve, I hadn't gone very far when my phone rang, it was John, "I forgot to mention" says He  "there is a Kestrel sitting on a post on your right as you head for the railway", and sure enough there was. The only trouble was the sun was against me and I had to pass the bird to get in the right position for pics. Fortunately I managed to do so without disturbing it and got a few pics

Gorgeous bird, an hour later and the place would be teeming with joggers and dog walkers and it would have gone, so worth the effort.

Just above the Kestrel was these 3 mates chilling out and having an early morning groom.

Woodpigeons making good use of the power line.
Next a walk along the Hawthorns didn't produce a great deal, but it was nice to see this

Dunnock (hedge sparrow)

and this

 Both enjoying the early morning sun.
        We have also got the Longhorn cattle back on the patch, all part of the Eco management.

Long horns, there are 4 altogether, but one was being uncooperative.
There is an abundance of wild flowers out at the moment, and this one typifies Summer for me,

The Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

This is one of the lucky young Mallard on the patch , this and 4 of its mates survived the marauding Gulls.

Just off patch this Hare was enjoying an early morning breakfast, and making me think it was about time I had mine, so set off back to the car.
Near the area where I had parked the car there are a good number of the gulls mentioned earlier, so decided to get some pics of them.
Now I don't know whether the gulls thought the lens was a gun, or maybe it was just the fact that a lot of the nests have young, but as soon as I pointed the lens to the sky I started being attacked.

Lesser Black-backed Gull, swerving off at the last minute.

They can be quite intimidating.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

And on a lighter note---

Hot air balloon taking advantage of great ballooning conditions, and an advert for Richard Branson.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Having a Grouse

Well tied to the house again because of the weather so it will be another day of floor tiling. Yesterday it never stopped, and it looks like another day of it, its coming down like stair rods as I type.
     However I do have some pics of Tuesdays outing and Wednesday, although most of Wednesday was spent painting the staircase and then the Olympic torch came through. Wednesday was a cracking day lots of sun and I would much sooner have been out birding than painting, but as its an outside iron staircase well it can only be done in good weather.
        So Tuesday out in the Northern Pennines having a drive round and found a Lapwing chick only a couple of days old , running around on the side of the road. its an area where there is a steep bank from a hay field and when the chicks get too close to the bank they fall onto the road. Anyway I caught it and put it back in  the field and the parent bird came in to look after it . We travelled the same stretch of road last year and it was littered with dead chicks, then predators come to feed on them and they get killed.
      Further on and we came across these Red Grouse.

Male and Female Red Grouse

2 of a least half a dozen Red Grouse chicks , most of the time they where well hidden.
2 adults and one chick.

And around the patch before the weather changed, A woodpigeon enjoying some clover leaves.

And near one of the ponds an Oystercatcher probing for worms

At Thacka cottages and at Mats farm near the M6 there are to small colonies of House Sparrows

Looking at this pic. you could be forgiven for thinking this is an ideal place to do some birding, but I turn the camera round and --------------

You can't hear yourself think for the constant roar of motorway traffic, so no chance of hearing any birds singing, until the path eventually veers away from the M6. Amazingly soon after this I got a beautiful male Blackcap singing but too far away for pics.

Fields of white and Gold.

The horse paddocks, all part of the patch, and the house Sparrows where flocking into the field feeding on seed, and there must be a wealth of insects in there as well, as the Swallows and House Martins hawk all over the fields.
Well its still persisting out there so its back to the tiling, God knows when I'll be able to get out for more pics, hopefully it won't be too long.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The torch comes to Penrith

The crowds started to pile into Penrith at about 3-30pm, at which point the Olympic torch was still a long way from Penrith. but eventually 5 o-clock arrived and the torch bearer came into view in our part of the town to hand the flame over to this little girl.

unfortunately at the shutter went off her arm came up and covered her face.

These guys got in on the act helping to whip the crowd up and throwing a few  freebies to the crowd.
turning the gas on

transferring the flame

and one very happy little girl was on her way.

It left Penrith and headed off to Carlisle

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Local birding

Well the lads have discussed the various aspects of the Kite that was seen over our patch (Thacka) and have come to the conclusion that it was a Red Kite, which has now been added to the patch list, the first new comer for a while but  very  welcome.
      For a few years now  Red Kites have been seen drifting into Cumbria mainly from Dumfries & Galloway, where they have had a very successful introduction scheme and from there its just a short flight across the Solway into Cumbria. Also they have started the same scheme in South Lakeland at Grizedale Forest, and the last batch is to be realest this year. So it won't be long before there is a permanent breading population across the whole of Cumbria, and possibly spilling over into Lancashire, fantastic.
         This last few days I have just been pottering about locally and keeping an eye open when out and about with the Westies. The other morning was great as regards the weather, which made a change as its been very changeable of late with a fair amount of rain. So we made our way up to Cowraik, the one good thing about this place, it does have a tendency to stay dryer and better under foot if we have had rain. As we entered the wood Blackcap could be heard but not seen, also Great Spotted Woodpecker and Jays were calling. Then on the edge of the wood I heard a soft agitated call coming from the tree line, so I backed off a bit and waited to see if anything showed. I was just about to give up when this little beauty flew out and perched on last years dead  Willow Herb storks-------

A Garden Warbler feeding young

Note the blue-grey legs

Looks like its got a Crane fly type insect
Another to the year list

And just for a change we will give the Westies a bit of blog space.

Misty having a refreshing drink

And pauses to say hello to Kippy her new blogger friend

Can you touch your nose with your tongue Kippy ?.
Hi Kippy, I'm Kyfer , like me you look a very smart dude 
Keep looking in you may see us again sometime, all the best.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Mixed bag from Leighton Moss

Well been back from Mull a few weeks now, and Penrith doesn't quite produce the same class of goods :-(o. Yes I know its summer now (though you wouldn't think it, rain, wind, flooding in various parts of the country and low temperatures) . and things generally quieten down a bit during this period in the UK, but I bet it doesn't go that quiet on Mull.
       So with not a great deal happening on the patch and outlying area ( although did get a text from Birder John this morning saying a Kite Sp had flown over Thacka reserve, and I reminded him that a Black Kite has been wandering around Cumbria on and off for the last 3 or 4 weeks) I have been heading out of the county.
     The following pics are from 2 visits to Leighton Moss one with Mrs W and once on my own. when my wife and I went down the weather was still holding good,  and the Marsh Harriers were showing well.

And here the food pass had just taken place, the male passing a small bird or chick of some kind to the female, she then takes it down to the young in the reeds
The usual noise greeted anyone entering the Lillian hide with all the Black-headed Gulls, some with chicks, food for the Harriers methinks.

A Wren was giving good song as we walked along one of the paths, in fact it wasn't the usual call, and before I saw it I thought it could have been something else, but then saw it actually singing and it did sound strange.

Lapwing from the Grizedale hide before we moved on to the Allen hide and watched these little beauties------
A pair of Avocets with their 4 chicks

As can be seen some of the chicks are more advanced and are fending for themselves

It was great to watch them, as they kept sweeping their little turned up bill from side to side.

They have done very well this year with getting on for 40 young.   its been an incredible success story since the first pair were found breeding in the South East in the 1940s I believe.

While on a neighbouring pool this Heron was having a good preen.

A week later A Spoonbill turned up, having missed the one on the Solway I decided to go down for a second visit in the hope of adding this to my year list. (and no this can't be classed as a twitch, as I don't twitch honest ;-)), ) This time I was more fortunate although as can be seen from the first pic it was a good distance away.

To give you some idea, this was taken with a 500mm lens. so I switch lenses and digiscoped it.


Look at the size of that bill, you could use that for canoeing.

Just looks like a paddle.
And from another hide a female Tufted Duck wing stretching and a ------

Coot having a wash and brush up. and lastly ------

A distant and sleepy Garganey added to the year list, as was a Reed Warbler, but no pic.

So not a bad day with three birds added to the year list, not too bad considering the weather was atrocious, and a total contrast to the week before. Good job I was on my own as I don't think it would have gone down too well with Mrs W.