Whos keeping an eye on me....

Monday, 29 November 2010

Temperatures fall but no snow yet....

Brrrr..... wrap up warm and stay local was the best I could do this weekend. Both Poynton Pool and Higher Poynton canal were both frozen (and look like being so for a while now as the nightly lows reach around -8c). Plenty of Gulls on the pool with a nice couple of Common Gulls in with the Black Headed.

However the gulls didnt take all the limelight, as a couple of Kingfishers flew from one side of the pool to the other, fishing in the sheltered parts under the tree branches that shade parts of the waters edge

The Grey Heron didnt fancy being on camera! so it retreated to a quieter corner

Plenty of woodland birds along the pathways including a small flock of Long Tail Tits

and an inquisitive Wren

whilst this mother and Juvenile Morehen forage for morsals on a less slippery surface

up at the Canal the usual Mallards made use of the very little water that wasnt frozen

 and along the towpath berries are still in abundance, as are the Thrushes. Good numbers of Mistle Thrush guarding the food laden trees

from the dozen or so nervous Redwings that were easily chased off

Other local birds were very visible while foraging for food in the sub zero conditions

now for the new Garden visitors when the snow eventually arrives!!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Tuesdays moon

not full and not quite the clear skys needed for the extra sharp detail, but this is how it looked on Tuesday evening over East Cheshire....

Winter migrants return

With a helping hand from the windy weather conditions, the last few days have seen an increase of winter migrants to the UK. The lastest birds to fly in seem to be the Redpolls. Luckily for me 2 arrived yesterday and even better news is that 6 arrived this morning on the feeders.

One of the birds is ringed

Monday, 15 November 2010

rspb Leighton Moss

If you have never been.... you should! Even if your not a birdwatcher it is a wonderful place. Set in the Cumbrian countryside close to Arnside and Silverdale, comprising of coastal waters and reed bed habitats, along with plenty of woodlands it offers a variety of habitats and varying scenery.

Leighton moss specialises in a number of species that are not common throughout the country namely, Bearded Tit, Bittern and Marsh Harrier.

As winter draws in, it is a good time to see the Bearded Tits, and as they were not yet on my year list a visit was needed before christmas.... of course a visit doesnt guarantee any sightings of the aforementioned birds.

The early start meant a cold start and a deep frost

although once the sun had burnt off the early frost a warm day was in prospect

and as it happens the day turned out to be rather productive with a total of 66 species recorded within the reserve. Starlings were the first species of the day... hardly suprising as the roost at this reserve numbers around 80,000 birds. As they left the roost as the light came up probably 2000 or so flew directly above our heads creating a low dark ceiling.... impressive enough, I cant imagine the full orchestra flying low above your head.
Right on cue the Bearded tits were seen and ticked very early on.... just after first light. Four birds visited the grit trays (thats another story for another day), with this pair of youngsters giving good views in the morning sunlight.

The male is well marked and unmistakable

There were plenty of other highlights such as seeing 2 Water Rail in flight, a very rare occurance indeed and then bagging another year tick with this Marsh Tit

also some splendid woodland birds such as Goldcrest, Brambling, Treecreeper and Siskin all of whom gave stunning views down to no more than a few yards

Such is the weather in Cumbria during the start of winter the water levels were high in the coastal lagoons which meant that the Wildfowl numbers have increased and the Waders are few and far between

although Snipe, Lapwing, Little Egret, Greenshank, Redshank, Curlew and 100s of Black Tailed Godwits kept an eye on the Perigrine and Merlin.

Some very nice wildfowl were on show amongst the hundreds of Teal and Wigeon

namely the Goldeneye, Gadwall and Red Breasted Mergansers

however I think the shot of the day has to be this one..... this fella was so obliging (as they are in winter looking for free handouts) that he sat for a while on someones camera, an incredibly cute bird

Friday, 12 November 2010

An old acquaintance

I dont get too many visits now from Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, however a little over a year ago a small family were virtually ever present during the summer & autumn. This family included a very young male, maybe this is the same bird coming back to a familiar feeding ground, I like to think so.....

He didnt stay too long, but fed on the peanuts and some lard that is smeared on a tree trunk!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

A high tide.... but not nearly high enough

A trip over to the Wirral, and Parkgate marsh for the first really high time of the late autumn, in hope of a raptor fest. Unfortunatly it didnt materialise. The lunchtime high tide was lacking any helping wind so the tide struggled to get in view. In actual fact the very strong heat haze made for very poor distant visibility. There were a few raptors on show, Perigrin falcon, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier (and alledgedly a Merlin) but all were very distant... closer to the Wales & Deeside edges of the marsh than the Wirral side. The numerous Little Egrets kept the dozen or so watchers entertained along with a single Whooper Swan.

Homeward bound and a quick trip to the local patch at Adlington got a couple of Buzzards, Kestrel and this Robin trying to break free....

Friday, 5 November 2010

Waxing lyrical

Only when you see these birds do you realise how beautiful they are...... stunning!
This is promsing to be a great winter for these migrants. The berry count looks good locally and the returning birds have already settled back into the areas that they frequented in 2008.

Today was my first sighting of the year.... 5 adults and a juvenile. The light was poor and drizzle constantly in the air, but I managed a few shots to brighten up the blog..... really chuffed, superb bird... and local too, Bonus!!

more good news.... same 6 birds in the same place on Saturday


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Misty Mountain hop.....

Sunday was the last walk in this seasons calendar for the Incoherent Ramblers. Ladybower via Derwent Edge. The day started and ended in mist, only during the afternoon did it change in anyway... it got thicker. We decided to walk the route anti clockwise to allow the mist to rise for the afternnoons high level moorland section..... maybe not a good idea especially on Haloween. We climbed steadily if not sharply towards Cutthroat Bridge. Already the air was misty....very heavy and damp, but the braken and heather of Highshaw Clough rang out to the throaty song of the Red Grouse.

The mist lingers on...theres still no escaping it whichever direction you want

We would soon pick up the old packhorse road to Sheffield, this milestone shows that this exact route was driven by horse and cart way back around 300 years ago

the old road would lead us eventually to Strines reservoir and Dale Dyke reservoir, however we took a quick foray into the grounds of Sugworth hall and out past the Tower folly that on a clear day overlooks Strines.

Given all the rain in the previous months it was suprising to see the reservoirs still way below the normal water levels, I was able to stand in the reservoir to get this low level shot of Dale Dyke.

On the desecent to the reservoirs we did see a little of the autuminal colours, especially through the woodland of Bradfiled Dale and Bole Edge plantations.


no mist down here

Early lunch was taken alongside Strines reservoir with the Tower of Sugworth Hall in the distance

next stop the Strines Inn for a half way pint

where the welcoming party were to be a dozen or so Peacocks.....

We needed to make good time in the afternoon as this was to be the longer section of the walk which would take us across the moorlands of Foulstone moor & Broggin Moss. We left the plantaions and civilisation and again climbed steadily through woodland and the not so woodlands.

So this is where all the trees go....

Now we headed for a completely differing landscape of the moorlands.
I personally love moorland walks, they often have  rugged but scenic and colourful landscapes as backdrops, well today was very different, and just because it was Halloween it was special.... damp, heavy, dark and misty, eery.... very eery.

Visibility at some points was down to 50 yards or so, it didnt stop the Red Grouse putting on brilliant displays. Possibly upto a 100 were visible, groups of 5 or 6, possibly parents keeping an eye on the naive youngsters, although it is sad to see the shooting butts dotted along the moors.... its a pity the birds dont have guns, perhaps it could then be called sport!

Of course there was still a trig point to bag.... in sillouette

ah there you are......

It wasnt until we started our descent of the moorland and Derwent edge that we realised how little colour and contrast we had seen through the ever thickening moorland mist. At least now the countryside started to show itself

 Down into the valley the reservoirs now came into view, even a little distant autuminal colour, the air dried out and the long steep descent of Lead Hill took us back to the Ladybower Inn.