Monday, 10 May 2010

Upper Teesdale, Sunday

A late start as Howdon Blogger had trouble getting his head off the pillow so i wasn't picked up in Segedunum untill 5.03 a.m. Off we set for the Langdon Beck area on our quest to see the Black Grouse Lek. On the way we passed Raby Castle and revelled in the sight of huge numbers of Red and Fallow Deer chilling and chomping on the front lawn. What a start to the day, how were we going to top that? On we went and soon were following the path of the Tees. The Langdon Beck Hotel appeared and the directions said "after 600 metres turn right, then on past the cattle grid and look down into the valley below"..........they weren't wrong. Although there was heavy drizzle and the mist hung close to the contours of the surrounding hills,  that unmistakable "bubbling" sound could be heard and through the gloom 12 strutting Blackcocks and a lone Greyhen could be made out. I immediately got a lump in my throat, and although because of the mist the views weren't brilliant somehow the birds shone through. Something else caught my eye and there in amongst the Grouse was a tented hide. The birds seemed oblivious to it and continued there frantic displaying, in fact at one point one of the males jumped up on top of the hide and continued his " Jagger on speed " impersonation. We must have been 150-200 metres away but i almost felt part of it. If that wasn't birding heaven in won't believe it but a Woodcock was on the ground not more than 8 metres away!!!!!!! I didn't know where to look. The Woodcock sat for a minute or two then started sloping off across the field and slowly disappeared. I turned my attention back to the Grouse and John and i watched for.......i don't know how long. The mist did lift slightly and the stuff coming out of the sky altered between rain and hale intermittently ( well it is May ) but i didn't manage any decent images of the Black Grouse, however i did manage this shot of the Woodcock.

......what a poser

The rest of the morning was spent touring the area taking in Cow Green Reservoir and passing over Harwood Beck spotting numerous species all of which can be read on Howdon Bloggers blog.( i hope )
Early afternoon we moved on to Derwent Reservoir. I'm not a great one for sitting in hides but i must admit it was nice to get out of that nithering wind. My first time and although it wasn't teeming with birds it is a very nice place to visit. Nothing startling was seen BUT  we did hear a Cuckoo. Whittle Dene on the homeward journey and i heard my first GREAT SCREAMING LITTLE BIRDER. As John climbed out of the car to view the Common Terns he unfortunately left his thumb in the door. OUCHY!!!!!!!! When he climbed back in i could feel the glow coming from said thumb and i swear i could hear it throbbing.
I look forward to closer views of Black Grouse but the memory of my first sight of the Lek AND the bonus of that Woodcock will linger in the memory banks for a long time.

A sad note from the trip was the sight firstly of a dead Mole hanging on barbed wire above a 3ft wall beside a recently tilled piece of ground at a property in Durham. Having just recovered from that sickening sight, another 20 metres along the wall a further dozen Moles in varying states of decay were also "on display" . Some people are despicable.


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  2. ,

    Tuesday morning, thumb doing as well as can be expected, has been having complete rest (when taking pic I have not been checking them as the thumb is used to press the review button).

    22+ moles (started counting and then stopped) still shocked even after reading

    Look forward to your return from yet another holiday when we can play that game of "I Can Remember More Than You Can"

    Au Revoir

    PS Thumb was held rigid whilst typing this comment

  3. Sheesh, is he off on holiday again?!

    What I love about your blog John, is that I get the chance to see photos of fabulous birds that I didn't even know exist. The Woodcock is gorgeous and the more photos I see is yet more confirmation of how beautiful birds are.

    "Jagger on speed" Lol! How I would love to see the grouse doing that impersonation. :O)

    Your day sounds brilliant.... until the sight of the poor moles (I echo your sentiment about some people) and Codder John's thumb. I can sympathise with him as a couple of years ago I almost chopped the top of one of my fingers off while building a rock garden. I remember vividly that feeling of consciousness slowly slipping away! Tell him to get it checked out at hospital if it doesn't seem to be getting better.

    Looking forward to holiday pictures. :D

  4. Can i just point out that i'm not actually "going on holiday" but circustances have meant i can have a free trip down to Kent to visit my son and grandson............and i might, just might see an Iberian Chiffchaff, if it stays 'till next week.
    I'm pleased the thumb is on the mend John. As Lesley highlights that we have all jammed the old thumb sometime and that horrible pain stays with you in your mind forever.
    Lesley, that is why i enjoy birding so much, the fact is birds are incredible creatures and their beauty is only one of the things. But that beauty serves a purpose in the fact it camouflages them and it changes with the seasons. The Woodcock isn't a bird you see every day and when you do it is usually a brief glimpse of the rear as it lifts from the ground and you are only aware of it because of that. Some of my images are OK and there are a load of people out there that take some fantastic shots. I thank you for your compliments though, i must admit it makes me feel good. Feel free to keep them coming.
    Cain, thank you also. A brilliant bird i'm sure you'll agree.

  5. Free trip down to Kent, Free Accommodation, at least 2 days birding. Definitely NOT (LOL) a holiday, cos you normally pay for holidays dont you. Sorry, the word I should have used instead of Holiday was FREEBIEEEEEEEEEE.


  6. I'm being dragged screaming mate

  7. I would 100% agree, one of them mysterious birds, with strange habits, that can only grab peoples imagination.

  8. Yes I understand, beauty is a bonus while camouflage is paramount. I hope you get to see the Iberian Chiffchaff when you're away on your hol..... er, um freebie. :D