Monday, 14 April 2014

Upper Teesdale 14th April

Upper Teesdale 14th April
The promise of fine clear weather saw us heading off to Langdon Beck at 5.00 am, when we arrived there the light was perfect and the Black Grouse were lecking. There seemed to be Blackcock everywhere but what was also encouraging was the large number of Greyhens. we continued watching for some time before heading off towards Cow Green Reservoir and yet more Black Grouse on the way, our final total being 28 males and 14 females.
Around the reservoir itself were many Red Grouse, all paired up,the calls of many upland waders rang through the early morning air, including Golden Plover, Curlew, Common Snipe and Lapwing whilst overhead flew a single Peregrine.
They say the early bird catches the worm and that was certainly the case today as a few birders arrived as we were leaving by which point the Blackcocks had dispersed and were much harder to spot.  

Thursday, 10 April 2014

'Twixt Till and Tweed

Having spent the last week housebound incubating a vicious virus,I decided a breath of fresh air would lift the spirits!How right I was!
Parking at Tillmouth Bridge,I was immediately serenaded by the loud insistent call of Nuthatch,and simultaneously, my first Blackcap of the Spring!Chiffchaff called incessantly as we walked down to the river where Gooseanders were evident in good numbers. Blackcaps, male and female,flitted above us as did Blue Tit and Great Tit,accompanied by the noisy calls of Wren from the denser undergrowth.A Song Thrush sang from the Scottish side of the river.
 Down at the former fishing shiel the ghillies were cutting the grass and strimming in preparation for a busy week ahead.As always they were a great source of information on the local flora and fauna!They pointed out where the Barn Owl nested,where one could normally spot the Kingfisher and confirmed that Ospreys had already been seen heading up the Tweed. Little Egrets are now a regular sight,and Peregrine too - but not today.We bemoaned with them the gradual erosion  into the Tweed of the steep sandy bank where Sand Martins have nested since time immemorial.No,they hadn't seen any yet this Spring.
We reluctantly took our leave of the ghillies ,and walked upstream to the eroded bankside. An excited twittering caught our attention and there they were!Back again!Two dozen or more Sand Martins swooping effortlessly over the pebbly island where noisy Oystercatchers and Pied Wagtails were also spotted.Let's hope they nest successfully this year with no losses.
Onwards  past the next fishing beat, and Mute Swans could be seen where the Tweed meets the Till.Usually a great spot for Sedge Warblers,we were disappointed today.My next wish was the song of the Willow Warbler and no sooner said than there it was!The slightly sad song so welcome and so resonant of Spring!
Heading back to Tillmouth Bridge along the Till we noted Butterbur pushing up through the grass and on the bankside, Primroses,Wild Garlic and the first Bluebells.A flowering Cherry was magnificent as were the sightings of Tortoiseshell Butterfly.
Walking quietly,we were treated to the sight of a pair of Roe Deer completely unaware of our presence.An unusual call  from the river and there was an Otter,which,having surfaced, dived in alarm at spotting us!
Driving home ,I spotted Buzzard and Kestrel and another first for me this Spring-a single Swallow!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Ring Ouzels Return

The warmer south-westerly winds of the weekend must have encouraged the Ring Ouzels to return to their summer grounds in the Cheviots; it was wonderful to see a couple of male birds back in the Harthope Valley late this afternoon! However it was the song of the Mistle Thrush rather than the Ouzels which was ringing loudly from the rocky slopes , mingling with the evocative calls of the Curlews overhead. Also seen- a pair of Stonechats and a couple of Grey Wagtails.

Garden Visitors

Seasonal comings and goings over the weekend include a Male Blackcap on the fat-balls this cold wet morning-presumably the same Spring migrant who was singing so sweetly yesterday from our Hazel Tree . Another 'new' visitor for us this year on the seed-feeder yesterday was a Lesser Redpoll, no doubt mixing in with the recent big influx of Siskins over the 'hungry gap' at the end of Winter. As if to highlight the comings and goings of the visitors, a dozen Redwings landed this morning on the big Beech Tree straddling the rear boundary.