Plans are made for a 'long weekend' with a bit of travel !
I picked M.S. and Kevin up at 22.00 hours on the Friday evening, we drove some 275 miles with two coffee stops, we arrived on the Pennines on Teesside, County Durham around 04.00 hours, an hour for a snooze, 05.00 hours out of the car to listen to the dawn, sunrise due at 06.00 hours.
There is a slight frost, no wind, absolutely still, silence except for bird call all around.
As daylight came, 'in the car', parked on the side of road on a side of a hill, we looked down into an area, surrounded by hills that made it seem like a huge arena.
The sun came up behind us, the light was 'perfect, bin's viewing incredible, at about 300 meters, no wind, still.
Black Grouse, 20 at first, all adult males, displaying, calling, the calls seemed to amplify around the
arena ! Stunning ! Then another male flew in, and another to make it 22 males.
We watched for about an 45 minutes, then went for a look around the other areas.
First, Black Grouse seen was a juvenile male, next a female sat perched up, it was only 06.45 hours, the light, perfect and was just good enough to allow photography so early in the day !
Its only 07.00 hours, we move on, we came to heather moorland, there it was
Continuing we see
Pheasant, m & f
Common Snipe, many
(6 species of game birds seen)
Short-eared Owl, 4 good sightings, most likely the same bird.
Jackdaw, Rook, Crow
Fieldfare, 40 +
Mistle Thrush, 6 +
Meadow Pipit, 100's
Chaffinch, Blackbird, House Sparrow
Black-headed Gull, Common Gull
Greylag Goose, 5 over
Also another 4 or five sightings of Black Grouse males and as many sightings again of females.
It is 11.00 hours, the sun is high, its warm, its a beautiful day, all the birds have gone to ground
We move on across the border into Cumbria, here an hour stop to look for a Snow Goose that has been reported seen to be in with a flock of Greylags
Move on again, back into the town of Brough in the Pennines, here we stop for lunch, I have a walk up and down the river, two bridges, hoping for a Dipper, no Dipper, but a very nice
Finished Lunch, back up into the Pennines.
The day finishes at 18.00 hours !
Now, into the car, a 40 mile drive to Penrith, Travel Lodge, Little Chef, shower and in bed asleep by 20.30 hours.
That was some day ! ! ! Alarms set for 05.00 hours, the clocks go forward.
We are going back in the morning for another look round !
Slept soundly, 06.00 hours, we are back up in the Pennines, came up via a different route, very scenic, arrived back at the 'leking site' at just after dawn.
No Black Grouse at first, then 5 adult males flew in, followed by 2 single females. We watched for the same as yesterday but no more Grouse came in.
Then we moved on for on basically the same route as yesterday
11.00 hours. Its all quiet again, all birds gone to ground, its time for a move, change of habitat ?
Into the car, a 3 hour drive to the next location for this weekend.