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Saturday, 30 November 2013

A bit of a Yorkshire Grouse

A day off today and I thought I would go and check out an area of Arkengarthdale I had sussed out from other birders reports/blogs etc for Yorkshire Black Grouse, I had tried the area laid down in John Mather's "Where to watch birds in Yorkshire" a couple of years back with no success, this site was further east on the road running up from Reeth to Barnard Castle and the area around Shaw Farm was mentioned frequently, upon arrival I had a good scan about the Farm area and was disappointed not to find any, I tried further along the road but there was nothing and I was soon into Durham and the Stang Forest, nothing doing there neither, I headed back stopping by Shaw Farm again for another scan and this time I managed to find one tucked in a little corner down near the bottom of the valley, I decided to get a bit closer but as I made my way down I was distracted by a Buzzard passing over which must have also disturbed the bird because the next thing it was flying off, thinking there must be more than one anyhow I started scanning again and I soon managed to pick up a group of nine or ten over the other side, a bit distant though but then five of them took flight and quite remarkably flew to the area where I had seen the first one, now this was an opportunity too good to miss and I started dropping down my side of the valley to get as close to them as I could flushing a Woodcock on the way. Now I didn’t get really close because I wasn't going to go right to the bottom then try and cross a fast flowing stream, but I was more than happy with how close I got and they pottered around the area for 10 mins or so before flying back along the valley giving me some flight shot opportunities, interesting to note that none of them had a red comb, I don't know if that makes them all 1st year birds or whether they lose them in winter. As well as the aforementioned Buzzard and Woodcock there were also some Red Grouse around but little else. Called off at Nosterfield GP on the way back, usual Wildfowl and Waders, nothing out of the ordinary.
on the way in the Red Grouse were hiding


the first Black

took to flight

when this fella came over

then I found some more

which thankfully came closer

very impressive in flight

Shaw Farm

the Red Grouse were more confiding on the way out

Friday, 29 November 2013

Local stuff

Well I haven't done much local reporting of late and to be honest I haven't been over to the Ings much this year, the few times I have its been very quiet and not really inspired me to watch it more, however I have been left looking after my eldest daughters dog on numerous occasions and that generally includes taking it a walk around Rawcliffe Lake, again there's not usually a lot going on there although a pair of Great Crested Grebes raised two broods this summer and a pair of Canada Geese bred for the first time raising one gosling to maturity against all the odds, but occasionally the odd decent bird/s drop in, this week two female Goosanders are gracing the water.

a good few Gulls around during winter months, usually Common and Black Headed

but Herring Gulls are starting to be more frequent

once an occasional visitor they are almost daily now

There used to be a healthy population of Coots a few years ago but the recent hard winters pushed them off with the Lake being frozen for prolonged periods and this year they didn't return, well one did this summer and its been plodding around on its own until three weeks ago when a second bird turned up, maybe we're poised for recolonisation.
Excuse poor quality of pics, they were taken with my pocket digital camera.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Second Helpings

Back up to Northumberland this morning for second helpings of the Lesser Grey Shrike at Long Nanny near Beadnell, as it had remained another week Mark and Paz were keen to go for it, I thought I’d tag along and try for better pics. The bird was still being faithful to the small field adjacent to the Car Park and was again showing well right from the off and after another couple of hours with it I think I got some slightly better pics although the light was dreadful today. Late morning we headed off to Stag Rocks but it was different again this week with a strong northerly blow and a rough sea there were less Sea Ducks about and they proved more difficult to see although there was a nice female Velvet Scoter close in and a small group of Pale Bellied Brents flew past, no Grebes today though.  As we headed back we called in at Seahouses Harbour to see if the rough weather had forced anything in but there were only a few Eiders again plus a Shag, we carried on and called in at a couple of places along the coastal route ending up at Cresswell Ponds, good numbers of Wigeon and a few Waders present there plus two pairs of Red Breasted Merganser, then the day was done, a bit short at this time of year.

a Robin demonstrating to the Shrike where it should be posing

a good number of Curlew in the area

Velvet Scoter off Stag Rocks

Shag, Seahouses Harbour