Sunday, 22 April 2007

21st April - A trip to County Durham

Tick hungry Craig was desperate to go to County Durham to see the White Stork that had been present during the week. So after much deliberation, meditation and fighting with my conscience and my inner chi I agreed to go. However I did say that I would only go if we could do some local patch work first!
Craig arrived at my house at about 0750hrs and we set off to the Solway to see what we could see. All we saw was a Peregrine and the usual mix of waders plus a small group of Barnacle Geese. So off we went to County Durham.
We arrived at
Bishop Middleham mid morning, and stopped at the roadside pool near the quarry. There was no sign of the stork here, but we did see Little Ringed Plover, Corn Bunting and Little Owl. A local birder present said the stork had not been seen so far that day but said that it would be worth checking the pool in the quarry and castle lake. After driving around for 1289 hours we failed to find either the pool or the lake. It was going to be one of those days! We returned to the roadside pool to give it another check and then were just about to give up and head up the coast to Northumberland. However just in the nick of time a birder turned up and told us that he had seen the White Stork on Castle Lake. He offered to show us where the lake was, but first we showed him and his kids the Corn Bunting and Little Owl. We then followed him up to Castle Lake, and he kindly gave us directions of where he viewed the bird from. We climbed the hill where we could see the lake, however there was no sign of the Stork. The lake was more of a flooded field than a lake and there was no sign of a castle......spooky! Andy who had tuned up in the nick of time informed us that there was a series of pools nearby, we checked these pools but still no sign of the Stork! Craig picked out a cracking drake Garganey along with Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and several Little Ringed Plover. There were also lots of Sand Martins, a few Swallow and several Swifts flying over the site. We were scanning over the lake when Andy picked out the stork flying distantly over the plantation near the moto-cross place. The bird appeared to drop down into the wood. We decided to try and get closer to the wood to try and locate the bird again. We walked several thousand miles and got brief but close views of the Stork again over the plantation, however the bird dropped back down out of view. We then headed back to the lake as we assumed the bird would return at some point in the next ten years! A Sedge Warbler singing in the hedgerow was nice bonus.
We sat back on the hill over looking the lake hoping the bird would return! We were about to give up when using my super powers I relocated the Stork feeding in a field around 2km away! So we headed back to the car to try and get closer views of the bird that appeared to be near Hardwick Hall. We followed the track to the quad bike centre and located the bird feeding in a field. We set up our scopes and managed excellent views.

The land owner gave us permission to view the bird at closer range from his field. We were able to get some half decent pics of the bird as is was feeding. At one point the bird was being mobbed by some gulls and it responded with a strange predator response display (well that's what I call it any way!). I managed to get a video clip of this behavior which through the magic of youtube can be viewed below!

On our way back home we stopped off at a site in County Durham where we saw 14 Black Grouse, we also jammed in on a further 15 across the birder in Cumbria!

Another cracking day out!


Harry said...

Try telling Craig that the stork was an escape, just for a laugh...
Still not seen a fecking Black Grouse, I'm convinced that people take them back into their cages whenever I'm in a suitable area! Might luck out in Polska next month, mind...?

darrell j prest said...

half decent photos your having a laugh fantastic,must get to harewood house!!!!!!!

Varnon said...

Neat stork video.
I used to have a pair at a zoo. The female would ruffle her chest feathers like that whenever you had to mess with the nest or eggs.