Snazzy eye make up. Red Grouse, Cow Green Res.
1. Car packed.
2. Energy drinks & mars bars in the front seat.
3. Satnav set.
4. Binoculars & camera within easy reach.
5. Sod it if I've forgotten anything.
I really needed this break. To catch up with close family and visit the less well watched sites in North West Scotland. In 10 days I clocked up in excess of 1500 miles, 172 species of birds and 15 species of mammal / rodent. I did take a moth trap but I was unable to use it due to the vagaries of the Scottish weather. Too cold, too windy, too snowy or, more usually, all at the same time!
I'm used to losing tents to the Scottish weather, 3 tents in 2 visits to the Western Isles saw to that. However, I was given a North Ridge 2 man (1 Jim) tent for Christmas. It never budged or leaked for the whole of the trip. Below is a map of sites visited on that journey North.
I only had one planned stop during this part of the trek but it was very good. I picked out a lot of common species along the A17 & A1 but at Scotch Corner I hung a left and headed for my sites in Upper Teesdale. I stopped briefly at part of the Tees Way but hardly saw anything other than Blackcaps & Chiffchaffs. I did, inadvertently, stray too close to a Goldcrest nest and was scolded for my clumsiness.
Goldcrest, Tees Way, Barnard Castle
I continued my drive up Teesdale and then up the road to Cow Green Reservoir. It was a windy day and cold up here. I stopped by a burn on the way and had great views of hirundines, Dippers, including a confiding juvenile, Common Sandpipers and Song Thrush. The latter two birds were some of the commonest of the trip.
Juvenile Dipper, nr Langdon Beck
I carried on toward Cow Green but saw very little. However, in the car park were a pair of very confiding Red Grouse. The drive down to Langdon Beck was also more fruitful with displaying Golden Plover, Redshank, Curlew and Lapwing.
Whiskey anyone? Red Grouse, male, Cow Green
Red Grouse, female, Cow Green
Golden Plover on territory, Cow Green
At Langdon Beck I began a search for Black Grouse and it wasn't long before I found them. Three Black Grouse together in a field. As I watched, more and more walked, almost in single file, up the incline toward the top of the field. Scanning other nearby fields revealed other birds scattered about.
Black Grouse, Langdon Beck
Next stop? Blanchland, in the Derwent Valley. ten minutes by the bridge and alongside the river produced Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Nuthatch and female Goosander.
Grey Wagtail, Blanchland
Time marches on and so my final stop was at Derwent Reservoir to see the reported Ospreys. They duly appeared, despite the rough weather, and showed well, often tangling with the local Common Buzzards. There was very little else to see other than Common Sand, Curlew and a shed load of mixed Canada & Greylag Geese.
Osprey, Derwent Reservoir
Staying with parents tonight and looking forward to some home cooked food. The next portion of the trip is from Newcastle to Arbroath (Wednesday 27th).