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…
At last some long-overdue birding/twitching today – Col had twisted my arm to leave rarity-free Cumbria and head over to Holy Island on the Northumberland coast. But first we made a very quick stop at Grindon Lough where Pec Sand was soon in the bag. Without doubt the target bird on Holy Island was a Greenish Warbler which would be a lifer for Col, and even though I’d seen six before it had been 8 years since my last one. So after parking up in the main car park (they have stopped you parking near Chare Ends for free), we walked to the area that the bird was last seen in. For the next hour and a half we scrutinised every movement in every bush, but the Greenish Warbler was playing very hard to get, I did however manage to relocate a Barred Warbler which was nice. It was typically very skulky and flighty…
Other birders had seen the Greenish in three sycamores some distance away so we headed to them, again we spent some time looking but nothing. The Barred Warbler however was now giving us really good views.
We reluctantly decided to leave Chare Ends and search for other stuff elsewhere on the island, soon adding Pied Fly, Whinchat, Wheatear, and Tree Pipit to our tally.
It was unbelievably busy with tourists today, I don’t know why but it was absolutely heaving, so it was nice to get away from the crazy crowds and head towards The Lough via the Crooked Lonnen. As we approached the hide at The Lough I quickly located the Red-backed Shrike…
Whilst watching this fantastic bird some other birders arrived and told us that they’d just come from watching the Greenish, so we headed off back to Chare Ends again. And what-do-ya-know? – the very first bird we saw was the Greenish. Marvellous.
One of the reasons we climbed up on to the summit of Binsey was to hopefully see the last two airworthy Lancasters which we knew were due to fly over Windermere mid-afternoon. It was all a bit pot luck though because I wasn’t sure of their flight path, but I figured that they may fly down Bassenthwaite on their way south. As we sat on the summit I was ecstatic to pick them up over Criffel! I watched – and listened, as these fantastic planes flew over the Solway and then down Bass Lake, it was a sight and sound that I will truly never forget. Had I known their flight-path for sure I would’ve climbed a different fell for better shots as they were always distant from Binsey and I was looking into the sun. Click on pics for larger versions…
Above: That’s the Isle of Man in the way distance!