Sunday, 4 April 2010


Went up to the northern dales today with my birdforum cronies. Was only an hour late...slight detour but what it did bring was a ridiculously close Black Grouse. Also wonderful views of Golden Plover, Oystercatcher & Curlew. Red Grouse were everywhere. We eventually arrived at the Black Grouse site via Cumbria & Durham... As we climbed through the woodland onto the moor 2 Jays gave good views.

Myself and my co-pilot Mark rolled up as the group were looking at a Ring Ouzel. It flew before I got on it. A consolation of several male Black Grouse made up for it. Despite being by far the warmest day of the three I have spent at this site I was FREEZING. Snipe were drumming all over and a number of Greylag bobbed about. 2 Wheatears were furtively bobbing about - it turns out loads were back. The Ouzel was a meet tick and this was followed by another - A Raven appeared over the ridge.

Due to massive cold we moved onto a wood for Goshawk and failed miserably. We did manage a number of Buzzards and a few Crossbills were picked up in flight. We mooched into the wood from our watchpoint and as we pulled up a Goshawk shot overhead after briefly circling. Despite this most of the party caught up with it. Pretty soon we were getting pornstar views of Crossbill and Siskin in the crowns of the trees.

The party split up and we returned to the grouse looking for Ring Ouzels but failed miserably. We hit Langthwaite and managed Dipper, Meadow Pipit, Treecreeper & Grey Wagtail plus loads more wheatear but still the rouzels didnt appear. Time had marched on so we gave up. Sort of. We went for seconds in the wood and managed a lovely male Crossbill and as we left a perfect adult Goshawk circling 25 metres over our heads. Great days.

P.s. if anyone else decides to unfollow the blog you will get receive a fate worse than death. Probably.


Dale Forbes said...

so yesterday morning I read this blog post and was utterly disgusted that you had just come across Black Grouse and tons of Red Grouse and mentioned it as though it was nothing particularly interesting.

I have never just stumbled upon Black Grouse - they are really shy here.

Grumbling to myself, I headed out for a walk in the (unexpectedly deep) snow yesterday morning in an area where I know Hazel Grouse had once been seen. A blizzard did not stop me. Nor did a small avalanche. No Hazel Grouse.
...But as we were starting to fight our way back to the car, we came across a Black Grouse lek with at least 4 males calling. Awesome.

So I got to thinking, maybe it was you that gave me the luck. If that is the case, could you please write a blog post about stumbling upon large numbers of parrot crossbills this weekend?

James said...

No problems Dale - will pass by Abernethy forest this weekend so will keep an eye out for you...

It really wasn't nothing - the Black Grouse lek is one we visit every year but the bird I saw close by was amazing - couldnt believe how big they are up close.

The let down was we were in the middle of an hours worth of missing the turn off to go to the lek. Red Grouse are a bit of a throwaway bird on moorland here - tons of them although they were looking good with their coombs fully inflated and 'go-away, go-away' regularly ringing out.

Dale Forbes said...

wow wow wow. jealouosy.
but then again, I dare say Alpine Accentors, nutcrackers and snowfinches are probably rather rare there ;-)

I'd still like a parrot crossbill, though

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How brains and birds become mutually exclusive