Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Sadder day. Death of a ghost.

Saturday became sadder day when HOWDON BLOGGER spotted a dead Barn Owl by the side of the A69. We were heading home after a brilliant days birding and suddenly we were both at a low ebb.
At 5a.m. we headed for Sipton Burn at the southern edge of Allendale Common hoping to see lekking Black Grouse. We heard, then saw, Red Grouse, Oystercatcher, Lapwing and Curlew then eventually had a couple of Black Grouse up on the hillside at The Combs which is sandwiched between Allendale Common and Tedham Moss but sadly no bubbling was heard. We spent a couple of hours at the site with very picturesque views of both the burn and surrounding area and had many more species. A couple of years ago accompanied by John, Langdon Beck was the site of a brilliantly morning with the Black Grouse lekking so i suggested we head down there to see what we could find. On the way we were side tracked by a field full of Golden Plover at which time we had a bizarre incident with a one armed gentleman who had a problem with Johns car, which was half way off the road, causing an obstruction and in the ensuing debate insisted John should hit him. Needless to say, seeing his condition John declined. (I was tempted mind)
We had immediate reasonably close views on arrival at Teesdale but alas too late for the Lek.
Male Black Grouse sadly no females present.
7 males in view at various times had us entertained for over an hour before we headed off to Cow Green Reservoir and the area around Harwood Beck. The reservoir was quiet, as expected, but the track leading to the burn held numerous waders all of which i have mentioned earlier with the addition of Redshank.
Curlew near Harwood Beck.
 Heading back towards Tyneside we spent time with the Red Grouse mainly in the vicinity of Bollinhope Common and very nice it was to. Lots of interaction between males and females and males and males. Fascinating to watch them with something going on all the time.A brief stop off at Bollinhope Burn brought us Grey Wagtails and a number of probable breeding Black-headed Gulls being as noisy as ever.
Red Grouse, male.
Red Grouse, female.

Although distant and not Lekking it was fantastic to have seen Black Grouse in Northumberland but Langdon Beck remains the best place to have comprehensive views. Even four days on i keep thinking of the stricken Barn Owl.


  1. Sad to see the demise of any wildlife, but Barn Owl particularly so. My favourite species. Sounds like a very good day otherwise apart from your strange encounter!!!
    I know a young man who would love to get a photo of Red Grouse such as yours (think he may be 'under his hood at present'). Me too.:-)

  2. John,

    great account of the day, had forgotten about the guy with the car who said my Fiat Panda was too massive and blocked the road stopping his tiny 4 Wheel Drive Trojan then the lady driving drove straight past with me standing at the side of my car (he reminded me of the farmer shearing his dog in the Specsaver advert). I can still visualise him saying come on "hit me, hit me" (Ian Drury had my Rhythm Stick so I didn't bother).

    How come I do all the notes in my little black book then forget to mention things (maybe I can only write but not read) or is it because I am just too lazy to write (probably).


  3. The Barn Owl was a very sad sight Brian. We had Red Grouse "coming out of our ears" but it was in the middle of nowhere apart from the lunatics driving past at however many million miles an hour that cause all the roadkill.
    John, your getting old, just accept it. That's why you have to write everything down so you can write an account on y blog. The advert with the shepherd for Specsavers is class. The guy has the best, lived in face ever.