Posts Tagged ‘Black Grouse’


A nice trip to the principality to see some birds that, sadly we don’t get to see very often, which is a good enough excuse to visit Wales. We met in Norden at 6am with myself, Steve & Chris Brown with Chris driving. There was a feel of spring in the air as we gained height towards World`s End, we were hoping to get some pictures of the “lekking” Black Grouse. We first saw a distant couple of males but, as we reached a pull in around 14 male Black Grouse were all doing their posturing, displaying etc, only problem was a car was stopped right in the middle of the road! We headed along the single track road and watched from the car as another 20 male birds were displaying. Raven, Peregrine, Meadow Pipit & Stonechat also observed. As we headed back downhill around 6 more birds were seen and a few pictures taken. Great birds to watch and in a really good place.

The long drive to Anglesey was brightened up with lots of Daffodils in full bloom along the roads, very nice. We reached Holyhead Harbour and soon managed to watch a single Black Guillemot. The tide was very high and we remarked that we had never seen it that high before. We headed up to South Stack with its impressive seabird colony, Guillemot, Razorbill and Herring Gull. We were a bit early for Kittiwake and Puffin but a few Sand Martin heading north made up for that. The local Chough flock also put on a good display for us, Steve searched in vain for a Rock Pipit and we all missed a Hooded Crow that had been seen in the area.

We called in at Penrhos, but could not find a Slavonian Grebe that had been seen earlier in the day, next stop was the Spinnies or Aber Ogwen. We managed to see a Greenshank in the tidal pools along with Redshank, Teal, Shelduck and lots of Oystercatchers. We decided to head for Pennington Flash near Leigh as a Yellow Legged Gull had been “coming to bread” on the car park for the last couple of days. We even saved some bread, but no sign of the gull, a few contenders were seen out on the flash but as we had all left our scopes in the car an ID could not be clinched. Got home by 6pm after a good trip out.

Dave O.

 

Advertisements

With the weather prediction being okay anoth trip was organised by Chris B. So, with Chris at the wheel, four A Team birders left Newhey at 6am. Our plan was to meet up with Nigel from York at Strensall Common. At 7-30am we reached the common and set off to the area we believed was the right place. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was busy drumming away on a tree, then a call from Nigel had us heading in a completely different direction. After a trudge along a muddy path, we finally met Nigel. He had heard Woodlark singing a little while ago he told us, so we waited. After around 45 minutes with Linnet and Skylark`s seen, another Woodlark was heard and we headed in the direction. We watched and listened to it singing on top of a silver birch tree, very nice. A drive up to Wykeham Forest near Scarborough was next, Nigel also met us there and we enjoyed distant but good views of, at least 3 Goshawk and lots of Buzzard all displaying and chasing each other around, Tawny Owl also heard calling, thanks Nigel for your help. On the journey back to the main road a beautiful Yellowhammer male was seen and heard in song, its really spring now! A long drive north and west was next, to call in at Shaw Farm, Arkengarthdale. We usually manage lots of hill dwelling birds in this area, but, apart from distant views of the Black Grouse, we could not locate any others? Birding can be really hit and miss cant it. Final stop was Buttertubbs Pass to again look for hill dwelling birds and again without any luck, lots of Meadow Pipits though.We headed for Rochdale, arriving at a very late 6-30pm. Thanks Chris for driving through all that beautiful countryside, very enjoyable trip out.

Dave O.

 


Another one of our, “looked forward to” trips, was last Sunday. With Bob K at the wheel nearly a full A Team left Rochdale on a cold spring like morning at 6am heading for World`s End in North Wales. Lots of frost around greeted us in the elevated area and even at the early hour quite a few birders had assembled to witness something very special. It was a Black Grouse lek! Firstly around 5 male birds showing their absolute finery and making lots of bubbling sounds as they went toe to toe with the nearest other male. Then we moved to the main lek in which we estimated around 25 males all having some input to this great spectacle in the bird world! They were later joined by a few females who sat around the edges enjoying the show. You can never tire of watching this unusual activity. Quite a few Raven were flying around and “gronking” sounds were all around at one time. In a small larch copse we saw Crossbill, Siskin & Goldcrest and as the grouse lek ended we had a search for a Great Grey Shrike that was a regular winter visitor to these parts. We stopped along the small road as a few other birders were watching something, it was a very distant Great Grey Shrike. We moved on and found another shrike ourselves about 1/2 mile away, the bird quickly made its exit and was not seen again. We moved into the Conway valley to search for the Hawfinch at Llan Bedr y Cenin, we were not lucky on this occasion but were treated to great views of a few Red Kites that have moved into this beautiful area. With the tide being in, a trip to Morfa Madryn (The Spinnies) was next, but frankly it was a little bit of a let down as nothing new was seen, apart from one of the bringer’s of the spring a singing Chiff Chaff which was very nice. News of Surf & Velvet Scoters near Old Colwyn had us dashing up the coast to try to find them. None of us really knew were we where heading for but we must have found the right spot as there were some other birders present. We asked the question about the Surf Scoters and we got the negative (usual) reply! With a flat sea and the sun behind us we began to search through the ever-moving flock of thousands of Common Scoter. We must have a chance of picking one up of these resplendent American sea ducks. Luckily it was myself that finally found a cracking drake Surf Scoter, we really deserved to find one after many hours of searching in unfavourable conditions didn’t we? It did not end there with up to 6 male Velvet and a further 3 more Surf Scoter being found. A few Fulmar,Brent Geese, Red Throated Divers,Guillemot & Razorbills were also seen, a really excellent haul. A very, almost tame Iceland Gull had been present on the beach at Pensarn for a while now so we called in to see it and take a few pictures, guess what? it had flown off just before we got there! A few Ringed Plovers made up our day in North Wales and the usual traffic problems haunted us on the way home, but it had all been worth it as we all got around 10+ new birds for the year lists. Cracking day out.

Dave O.


Whilst one of our number was watching the Great Spotted Cuckoo in Pembrokeshire and another doing his conservation thing the 3 remaining members of the A Team (Steve B, myself and Chris B at the wheel) headed for North Wales. Our target was the Black Grouse at the well named World’s End, we left Brooks End at 6am and arrived at our destination by 7-30am. A bit of frost about but not snowbound like last year! Three aptly named Blackcocks were soon seen at the side of the track and about 30 birds in total were seen during our short visit. Its advisable to stay in your car so not scare the birds and you should have reasonable sightings. Raven, Skylark and lots of Meadow Pipits were seen but the Great Grey Shrike was not around and a couple of fly past Siskin made up the sightings. Up to 8 Surf Scoter have been seen each day from Pensarn Beach over the last week or so, must be worth a go then? The wind was fairly strong from the west as we arrived and the tide was in and the light perfect, but if you dont get all 3 at the same time your chances of seeing them are very limited. After about an hour of watching Common Scoter and a few passing Red Throated Divers, we decided to go without any success, the wind was blowing us about that much!. A nice Snow Bunting was seen on the seawall though. We headed off to Aber Ogwen / The Spinnies, were two Chiff-Chaffs were singing away, they gave this delightfull nature reserve a spring like feel. A Water Rail feeding below the bird feeders and a distant Slavonian Grebe and two Greenshank made up the species. A little detour to see some Chough`s followed and after a bit of good bird observation by Steve B two of these captivating birds were seen. Another visit to Llandulas and again Pensarn still drew a blank with the Surf Scoters, mind you they were not reported from any other birders on Sunday. A quick look in at Haughton Green Pool near Warrington did not reveal the hoped for Black necked Grebe’s but lots of people walking their dogs and low water did not help. Home by 5-30pm, with around 8 new birds for the year.

Dave O.


A day we will all want to forget due to the high winds that ruined what is normally a great trip out.What is wrong with the weather this year? Trying to get out of the car to do any birding was a bit of a task , a few Black Grouse were seen in passing.but, we quickly abandoned the upper reaches and headed to the lower area’s but faired no better! Lots of Swallows and House Martin’s at Bank Island, York area. At Skipwith Common no birds hardly were seen and an almost deserted Fairburn greeted us.The weather won this day!

Regards,

Dave O.


The wintery weather that we are still getting didn’t put us of having a trip into North Wales last Sunday. After a little planning and the promise of a 5:30am start, it wasn’t surprising that there were only three of us. Steve B, Chris B and myself at the wheel. After getting rid of some snow we left Rochdale on time and by 7am reached Minera, near Wrexham. Then a climb into the snow and ice line, up a steep gradient made us all wonder as to our sanity! Then we found the reason why we were here, 10 Black Grouse at a “Lek”. Great displays and much noise accompanied this spectacle. They were distant, but undisturbed by our presence as we stayed in the car, on a bitterly cold morning. A Peregrine was a nice sighting as it flashed by silhouette against the snow.Worlds end 001 Worlds end 008 Worlds end 005 Worlds end 003 At the other end of the valley more Black Grouse were seen, bringing the total to around the 30 mark. The hoped for Great Grey Shrike was not seen by our team but others found it back up the valley. My luck with seeing Great Grey Shrike’s carries on. Well the one in Clocaenog Forest is much more reliable to see, we were told by a group of Greater Manchester birders. We went to a couple of raptor watch points but were inundated by lots of Ravens, Buzzards, Red Kite’s, then after a slog up a mountain path we arrived at the highest point in the forest. Great views, but next to no birds and not a glimpse of the Great Grey Shrike that we were told had just been seen by 2 leaving birders! The sun was now shinning as we headed for the coast for our third call at Rhos point, this year, to search for Purple Sandpiper. As usual they were not present or showing themselves. Now comes the duck part of the title, one of our team has not caught up with Surf Scoter yet. We have called at Llandulas to search the enormous flocks of scoters for the Surfies but have always failed. Today we thought our luck was in, as we saw 4 Velvet Scoters and the large flock of birds were coming closer inshore, but,as luck would have it, some prat in a boat sailed right through the centre of them and scattered them all away, thanks pal! After we had added Red Breasted Merganser we decided on a last call at Burton Marsh, Cheshire. Upon arrival, I said that it would be a little early for the Short Eared Owls to be out hunting and of course up to 3 birds were quickly found. One of which was a really pale bird, that we have seen before. A Peregrine on a post and lots of Little Egrets were also seen. We headed for home having all added at least 4 species to our year totals. The day was a real success and the early start was rewarded with watching the Black Grouse “Lek”.
Regards,
Dave O.


One of our most eagerly awaited trips of the year to the uplands of England to see the Black Grouse was last Sunday, what a day it turned out to be. A quick call on the way up to see a few Hawfinch at Sizergh Castle got the show on the road. With the clocks having sprung forward, a few dissenting voices about the early start could be heard. But never the less we passed through a valley bottom that was completely white with frost with lots of Common Gull shivering with the cold, car outside temperature guage read 1 degree, upon return in the same valley the guage read 19 degrees! As the sun came up we began to climb and were soon rewarded by sight of a Ring Ouzel heading up a gully close to the road and a male Wheatear sat out on a favourite rocky perch. We were also serenaded by “chipping” Snipe and displaying Golden Plovers and a few Curlew, Skylark and Meadow Pipits for good measure and with the complete lack of any other humans except a farmer or two it seemed like heaven! Our next call had about 10 Ring Ouzel, busily feeding and chasing each other around with a few Redshank for company. The cameramen amongst us went and got some pictures of the birds. We headed for our “regular” place to see Black Grouse and, after about half an hours searching, we managed to see a male bird walk across a field and promptly disappear into the undergrowth, much to the dismay of Steve B, who had wandered off and missed the bird. Chris B. knew another location and we headed for it. After 10 minutes another male bird showed really well and Steve was happy. We called in at an area that had been “clearfelled” and managed to see a pair of Woodcock that had been disturbed by a couple who were collecting wood ? Also a couple of cameramen who were covered in camouflage gear and hated our presence as they tried to take pictures of some Crossbills, boring bastards I think. We now paid homage to a little railwayana in the form of a trip to the site of an old British Transport film called, “Snowdrift at Bleath Gill” about a steam loco getting stuck in bad weather and how they got it out. Next stop Leighton Moss to twitch a few Chiff-Chaff`s and meet up with “Ginger” a regular at these parts who had no news about owt good in the area. Then we decided to visit a new area in the form of Longridge Fell to see/or not to see, a “Lancashire” Great Grey Shrike. What is it with me and GGS in Lancashire? as we searched all the area and came up with my regular score on this species, nowt! But the area was nice but next to no birds though. Time to head for home on what had been a lovely sunny day that we will all remember. Called in at Kingsway “puddle” in Rochdale on the way home as one of our locals had seen 4 Ruff along with Little Ringed Plover and these birds were all still present when I arrived at 6pm. What a day!

Regards,
Oz.