Thursday, 31 August 2017

Solway Firth, the Cumbria side.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend my Daughter and I decided to have  a ride up to the Solway. Sunday dawned sunny and warm, so after a slow start to the day we finally set off, heading up the M6 turning off at Carlisle then making our way to the estuary road starting at Burgh by Sands and continuing along the road all the way to RSPB Campfield marsh. In  the photo below, looking across the Solway the hills of Dumfries & Galloway Southern Scotland. can be seen through a drizzly haze.

We were on the wrong side of the tide, it being well out, which meant virtually all the waders etc where well out on the massive expanse of sand, and even the big lens couldn't bring them close.

With the bins there was a good variety of birds, in one area quite a raft of Golden Plover , also one or two Lapwing, Curlew where dotted around and mixed in with the other waders.

A small flock of Oystercatchers where on the wing,  and the was a  good amount  of gulls , which consisted mainly of Black-headed Gulls and Lesser Black-backed.

Alone Cormorant drying its wings

The only waders the lens could pull in was a few Redshanks.

The weather started to change as we pulled into North Plain farm where the RSPB have a small visitor centre and is right next to the marsh. Alas there was very little to be seen, a couple of days back there had been 26 Little Egrets, another move North for this species, and with so many about , they must be roosting close by. Close to the centre a field had been planted with various types of seed, and one or two linnets and Gold finches were seen flitting in and out, but to fast for the lens.
   By 2pm the weather has turned nasty so it was decided we should head home.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Looks like a good harvest in Cumbria.

Walking round the reserve and Thacka there wasn't a great deal in the way of wildlife, the usual ducks and gulls on the large pond, and the odd Moorhen trying to keep a low profile rather than swim in open water and become lunch for the gulls.

A couple of wood pigeons feeding in one of the horse paddocks.
A distant Stock dove, the first I have seen for a while.

Also a single Black-headed gull , again in one of the horse paddocks.
Quite a bit of colour in the area in the way of berries, with good crops of Mountain ash or Rowan both names can apply the botanical name is Sorbus, and also Hawthorn (Crataegus) so there shouldn't be any shortage of food for the birds this coming Autumn/winter.

Rowan or Mountain ash.

There is a surfaced bridal way that borders the North East corner of the reserve , and can be followed all the way to Newton Rigg collage and passes under the M6 motorway. For most part it is bordered by horse paddocks,and at one point there is a gravelled drive leads off to some horse stables. Part way along this drive I could see a tree loaded with fruit, on closer inspection they turned out to be Plums, and again a very good crop, how they came to be planted where they are is a mystery.

 Yum Yum, I think I'll be back.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The reserve and Thacka, Penrith, Cumbria.

Sun cracking the flags again this morning , and very warm, ideal butterfly weather if not birds. However it turned out not to be much good on both fronts, as regards birds , I missed the best photo opportunity when amazingly a Buzzard flew over and I only had my small lens on the camera, and I say  amazingly, because if we see a Buzzard in this part of Cunbria these days it is amazing, simply because they are being shot or poisoned out of existence, all in the name of protecting the shooting estates.

On the butterfly front the best that could be found was these Small  Tortoiseshell there was a few Large Whites on the wing but nothing else, in spite of the weather conditions being very good for them. I've heard other people comment on the lack of sightings too, something seems to be going wrong, maybe the weather was too wet earlier in the year.

Small Tortoiseshell (Anglais urticae)

I photographed the butterflies on the top track close to the reserve and at the end of the track there is a manure dump from the local stables, on top of which I found some --------- ----------------------------

They where enjoying the sun and didn't seem to mind the smell.

A couple of the horses that create the manure.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Bassenthwaite Lake and Silver Meadows, Cumbria.

My Daughter and I decided to have a ride over to Bass lake and then on to Silver Meadows nature reserve to see what was about

First stop Bassenthwaite Lake , the photos I've taken are looking SE  or E.
   Its the only body of water in the Lake District to have lake in its name, all the others are water as in Derwentwater, or mere as in Windermere, or tarn as in Styhead Tarn, and so on. In the above photo the Helvellyn range of mountains are in the far distance.
looking East and the lower slopes of Dodd and the higher Skiddaw come into view, looking in this direction I was lucky enough with the aide of binoculars to find one of the Hen Harriers quartering the sedge and grass of the far side of the lake.
    Bassenthwaite lake out of interest, is approx 4 miles long and 3/4 of a mile wide and about 70 feet deep at its deepest, so a relatively shallow lake. at the Northern end of the lake there is a boat club, so a good portion of the lake is used for yachting, but a large portion of the Southern end is a nature reserve, including a large area of marsh and a small area of reed bed.

Continuous scanning of the lake didn't throw up much else, a few Mallard close in and a pair of Swans , which can just about be seen in the first photo, we did find at a great distance a large raft of juvenile Goosanders chasing shoals of fry, quite comical to watch as they would all dive on mass. The only other thing of note was a Great-crested grebe also at a distance. As regards the Ospreys, no sign , the female will have left now on her journey down to Africa, the three young are still here and the adult male. also amazing two strangers dropped in during the past week and fed the young Ospreys, one of them originated from a nest over at Kelder, and now has a mate but no nest as yet.

Close by we found some Purple-loosestrife(Lythrum salicaria) unfortunatly we are at the time of year when its past it's best.
when the west side of the lake is quiet Ospreys use this old tree as perch
And on the marsh at the Southern end of the lake is the Osprey nest, three young fledged this year great success.

Next we moved on to Silver Meadows, and again nothing of note to mention, only saw one other person walking round.

A couple of little arty type shelters have been built , and there is an Owl box inside this one but no sign of it being used, although Barn owls are seen on the reserve.

As can be seen it offers good habitat for Barn owls.

Another shelter built of Wattle and daub

Indian balsam (Impatiens grandulifera)
This plant is not a native to the UK and is very invasive, doing a lot of damage to rivers and streams , choking them with its summer growth and as a consequence also killing various forms of wild life. It has also spread through Europe , Canada, New Zealand, and the USA.

As we scanned the reserve we saw a pair of Swallows hunting insects, and this was the reason why.

Under the eves of a nearby house a nest of young Swallows.

As can be seen trying to catch the parents flying in was a challenge.

More than likely a second brood.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Penrith, a photo tour part two

Penrith has entered Britain in bloom competition this year, so the town has made an effort to put on a bit of a show. However from what I have seen in other places, they are up against very  good and seasoned competition.

They have placed quite a few rail baskets around the town.
Just to the North side of the centre is this little community garden, a nice relaxing area which catches the sun (when out) for most of the day.
Near the entrance to the garden these banners have been placed, and each design on them has been done by children from various organisations.

Our town hall which was adapted from two classical homes of 1791 .

Pyramid display outside the tourist information centre
Speaks for itself really, up coming event.
Our clock tower in the centre of the town.

yet another floral display.

mannequin outside a cloths shop, with a living dress

islands bedded out.

Town centre band stand.

one of our old lampposts and hanging basket.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Penrith Nature reserve.

Sunny weather for a change as we have had  rain most days at some point, and I just knew under such conditions there would be very little about. so with a certain amount of optimism I set forth. There had been reports of a new species record for the reserve in the way of a Reed warbler, apparently good views were had for the couple of days it stayed.
   Also before I go on , Great and exciting news has emerged, for the first time in over a hundred years a pair of Marsh Harriers have nested in Cumbria  and have successfully fledged two young at Bassenthwaite Lake.
     So with the sun  shining expectations were reasonably high if not for birds then maybe butterflies, not so.

The Large white being the only butterfly to be seen anywhere on the reserve, and there are plenty of wild flowers, so can't explain why there was no sign of any.

Great Willowherb,(Epilobium hirsutum)
Great willowherb.
Also on show lots of Knapweed (Centaurea maculosa)
At least the red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarious) was making the most of the Knapweed.
Also close by I found this Brown-lipped snail,(Cepaea nemoralis) of which there are many colour variations.
on the main pond there was a mix of of juvenile gulls, Herring gull and Lesser black-backed gull

Herring gull.
Lesser Black-backed gull
There was a good show of Golden Rod (Solidago)
And a type of Carder bee was found.
There was quite a few juvenile Mallard waiting to be fed.

And with them this juvenile cross breed, which stood quite upright when out of the water, almost like a Runner.
And lastly some Knapweed going to seed.