Wednesday, 25 April 2007

25th April - Ring-necked Duck

I was busy working away at home when I got word that Darren had found a female Ring-necked Duck at the North plains bit of Campfield Marsh RSPB reserve. I had a very busy day with work, so could not get away until early evening. Craig was very excited about this small twitch, infact he ran all the way down the hill he was working on, jumped into his car and drove all the way to my house in reverse. Sounds a strange thing to do I know, but if you met him in person you would realise that this is quite normal behaviour. Anyway he arrived at my house several hours before he left and subsequently had to wait until I had finished work, Kath had returned home and the spider in the corner of the room had evolved into a jet propelled personnel carrier. We were going to head off to Campfield Marsh in this jet propelled personnel carry until we realised that it had to stop to feed on flies every two hundred yards. As this was clearly not an efficient method of travel we went in Craig's car instead.

We arrived at North Plains and after the treacherous hike to the second pool (many have attempted this and very few have returned) we were rewarded with nice views of the female Ring-necked Duck. I have managed to see many individuals of this species over my 192 years of birding and Craig has also seen several during the 2389902.5768 years that he has been birding, however this was the first female of this species that either of us have observed. The views were very good and we managed to get some reasonable pictures even though the light was terrible.

There was very little of note on the reserve, so we decided to have a quick look to see if anything was passing on the solway, it was fairly quiet.

We had to head back home as Craig had to go to his wool spinning and yoga class, whilst I had a another rapidly evolving spider to remove from my left nostril.

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!