Sunday, 25 May 2014

Off Patch but On Song.

A good morning spent around Derwent Reservoir and the moors with the Reservoir Birder, the weather was decent considering the forecast though hardly fit for dragonflies, so here's a summary of the day's avian sightings :

In the area around Blanchland Moor the star bird was a merlin, which I got onto as it zipped past but unfortunately Steve only got on as it dipped into a gully and it wasn't relocated.
But several cuckoos and a tree pipit, overhead drumming and wall-perched snipe, oystercatchers, redshanks and curlews were all good viewing and entertainment before Steve came up with the next cracker, a male Black Grouse in good view feeding in pastures.
Back on the move and not to be outdone I claimed two more black grouse in the distance, to which Steve enquired "Where are they in relation to the oystercatchers?" (d'Oh!) Well it was from a moving vehicle through dirty windows, but had we been in a cartoon, the donkey's ears would have been sprouting from my head. 

Into Blanchland where we waited patiently for a Spotted Flycatcher to appear, in the meantime we watched several Siskin coming to a garden feeder and a Red Kite drifting along in the distance (a Northumberland first for us both)
An old lady enquired what we were looking for and told us she's had redstarts and a slow-worm in her garden already this year. Nice.

Once a flycatcher turned up we made our way to the reservoir for a cuppa tea in the hide, hoping for the Osprey to make an appearance as one was only reported again yesterday.
But, for the third time in a month I was out of luck, though cracking views of a couple of male goosander, common sandpiper and great crested grebe among others were all superb, and a calling cuckoo was our 7th of the day.

Back on the road again, Steve asked if the two Oystercatchers we passed in a field were both Shelducks, and I suddenly didn't feel so bad.
A second Red Kite before we left the reservoir (this time in Durham) and we took the road back home across the moors past Edmondbyers, for more cracking views of Red Grouse families, Golden Plover looking superb in summer garb, numerous meadow pipits and a couple of Wheatear.

On the downside a knocked down lamb by the roadside was a reminder of the reckless way some people choose to drive in these parts, just as an earlier dead stoat in a trap was a reminder that zero-tolerance of anything predatory is the price paid for the upkeep of the habitat we had just enjoyed.  :-(  

But, some quality birds, and lots of quality views made a cracking morning out, so wasn't even disappointed in missing the reported Grey-headed Wagtail at Lamesley.

I would say 'Back to the Dragonflies next time', but the 5-day forecast doesn't look too good in that respect, and with the kids off school for a week and a new exhibition to prepare for, it might be another week before I can get out for Four-spotted Chaser, but at least there should be plenty on the wing by then. :-)



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