A smart looking male Black Redstart has taken up residence on Carlisle Airfield for the last week or so and with a day off today I decided to go and take a look for it this afternoon. I’d only ever seen two in Cumbria before today and thankfully it was on view straight away, favouring the area around the equally impressive Vulcan Bomber….
No need to get out of the car here, just sit tight and wait for the fella to come to you…
Over the last year I’ve become very aware that many of my posts have been about fellwalking and scenery and not about birds at all.
When I started Solway Sandpiper it was always intended to be a diary of my birding trips on the Solway and my occasional delve into the dark side of twitching. More recently I have to say I’ve lost a bit of interest in birding, it can get pretty tiresome going on the patch and seeing naff all every time. More and more of my free time is currently being spent enjoying photography and fellwalking, but clearly this isn’t what I intended for this blog. So the birders amongst you will be glad to know that any waffle about fells and the like won’t be appearing on here any more – I now have a new blog which will follow my photography and fellwalking trips. Of course I shall still be posting on here, as and when I am motivated to go birding rather than walking.
Anyway, feel free to take a look at my new blog here:
Well after not a sniff of a lifer since February I finally got a new tick today. After working all weekend I was already looking forward to my day off today, I’d actually made plans for a photography trip into the lakes but when an Isabelline Wheatear was found late on Sunday in Cleveland I wondered whether it might just hang on until today.
Not wanting to dip I decided to play it safe and wait for news before setting off, and just before 8 o’clock this morning the news came through that it was indeed still present – it was twitch on!
After a crappy journey over to Cleveland I parked up my car near the end of the Zinc Works Road at just before 1030am, and straight away birders told me it was still present on the beach, but quite a bit further north. I didn’t mind the walk so I yomped towards the beach. In the distance I could see a crowd clearly watching the bird, I stepped it out a bit. Then I noticed all the birders begin to walk towards me, not a problem I thought, it must have come this way. But as I approached the birders it was obvious that there was no Wheatear…
Unbelievably as I’d walked along the beach it had flown off and been lost. Nooooooo!!!!
After about 30 minutes of waiting for it to magically reappear in the spot that it was last seen in, birders began to spread out to search of it. I wandered a long way north in my search for it, and even scanned the next beach north, and the golf course, but all to no avail.
Nearly 2 hours had now passed since it was last seen, and I was getting pretty fed up!! I couldn’t believe how close I was to seeing it and now it seemed like it had done a bunk! I decided to wander back to my car and have some lunch whilst contemplating what to do next. I got to within a few yards of my car when I noticed two birders watching a bird on a roadside telegraph pole. Just as I looked up it flew off and went past me – it was a bloody wheatear sp!!! I watched it until it became a little dot in the distance flying towards the beach, disappearing over the dunes in the direction that I’d just come from. I legged it back to the beach and already a crowd of birders were watching it – it was the Isabelline Wheatear that had been right by my car. What a bizarre turn of events. Anyhow, I settled down to watch it and what an amazingly showy little bird it was too, oblivious to the crowds it often came incredibly close allowing for some good photo opportunities. And just as I was about to sell all my birding gear on ebay.
Back to work after my 2 weeks off and a flippin’ Red-eyed Vireo turns up in Cumbria. Bah. Never mind, good job I’ve seen 3 in the UK and I don’t bother with a county list any more. Still, they’re proper smart birds and I would’ve like to have seen it. During my 2 weeks off the only ‘tempter’ was an Eastern Crowned Warbler in Cleveland but I saw the 2009 bird in County Durham so I decided to do some family stuff, fellwalking and photography instead… (click on pics for larger versions)…
High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike
Helm Crag and Gibson Knott
Blea Rigg and Silver How
The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway
And the Solway…
A superb 4.5 mile walk this morning beginning and ending on the shores of Ullswater near Glenridding. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t as forecast with full wet gear required as I gained height. The wildlife highlight was coming face to face with a fox on my descent alongside Mossdale Beck – I don’t know who looked more suprised, me or him!.. As ever click on the images for larger versions…
(Above) Passing the ‘Seldom Seen’ Cottages looking towards Glencoyne Head.
(Above) Looking north towards Ullswater and Gowbarrow Fell on the left.
(Above) Glenridding Dodd in the foreground. But first I headed towards Heron Pike which rises steeply to the right (out of picture).
(Above) The summit of Heron Pike with Glenridding Dodd below.
(Above) Birkhouse Moor dominates the view to the south with St. Sunday Crag on the left and Striding Edge and Catstycam on the right.
(Above) Striding Edge and Catstycam with Helvellyn in cloud.
(Above) The summit of Sheffield Pike looking towards Catstycam.
(Above) On the tops of Sheffield Pike.
(Above) Walking down from Sheffield Pike towards Glenridding Dodd (left), with Glenridding village below. Beyond are Place Fell, Angletarn Pikes and Arnison Crag, with High Raise, Rampsgill Head, High Street, Thornthwaite Crag and Caudale Moor in the far distance.
(Above) The summit of Glenridding Dodd.
No interesting birding tales to tell I’m afraid, and I’ve not had a sniff of a lifer now since February – well apart from a very scratty-looking Booted Warbler in Lothian which just didn’t get me going at all. So I’ve been bagging a few Wainwright’s on my days off instead. Sorry about that. Click on the pics for larger versions…
Little Mell Fell
The summit of Great Gable is just shy of 3000ft high, and I was having a well-deserved sandwich at the Westmorland Cairn whilst taking in one of the finest views that my eyes had ever seen…(click to enlarge)…
No-one else was about, and apart from the occasional ‘cronk’ of a Raven and the distant waterfalls cascading down from Scafell Pike it was completely silent. And then through the silence I heard a familiar sound – Pink-footed Geese, certainly not what I was expecting to see up here! I thought it was amazing to see these migrating birds flying so high through this breathtaking scenery…