Monday, 6 September 2010

Lake District and New Hythe

I took the photograph above from about three quarters of the way up a small mountain called Haystacks. It shows Buttermere in the foreground and Crummock Water just visible in the distance. This is one of our favourite places in the Lake District and we make this tiring ascent and leg wobbling descent whenever we are in the Lakes and the weather allows it. The view in the other direction takes in one of the best known and loved mountains in the Lakes, Great Gable, towering over three thousand feet up from the shores of Wastwater, England's deepest lake.
This area is not always blessed with fine weather but this time we were very lucky and out of twelve full days we were able to get our boots and rucksacks on and haul ourselves up hill and down dale for ten of them, racking up a total of 71 aching miles of fells, lakes and mountain tarns in all four corners of this spectacular National Park.
The bad news is that the wildlife was a bit thin on the ground and in the air. The lower slopes and valleys offered a fairly good range of birds but the higher fells as you would expect were the domain of Crows and Ravens and Meadow Pipits and the usual Buzzards riding high on the thermals, their presence often announced by their evocative calls.
I soon realised that carrying a camera with a long and fairly heavy lens was a no no, especially on the high climbs. So I didn't take many pictures of the other species seen which included a juvenile Osprey at Bassenthwaite, Stonechats, Tree creepers, Nuthatch, Wheatears, Chaffinches in abundance, pictured below, a couple of Dippers, one also pictured below, Coal Tits, Bullfinches, Siskins and hundreds of Jackdaws. And If you wondered where all the Swallows and House Martins are, they are in Cumbria, thousands of them.

Dragonflies were also hard to find although I did see quite a few of the specimen pictured below which I think is a Common Hawker which are fairly widespread in moorland areas in the north and west. Damselflies were even scarcer with just a few seen and not identified.

After arriving home on saturday and resting the poor old legs on sunday I was keen to stretch them again today over the much flatter and less demanding terrain of our very own 'lake district' at New Hythe.
In warm conditions and a strong wind I strode out of Brooklands car park full of optimism that a Whinchat, Wheatear, Redstart or one of Warren Baker's Ospreys would make an appearance for me. Alas it wasn't to be. The usual species turned up around Brookland and Abbeymead lakes in the shape of Canada Geese, a small flock of House Martins and Swallows, a couple of Jays and two very large flocks of mixed Tits calling continuously to each other as they fed excitedly and leapfrogged their way across the open spaces between the trees. Surprisingly I didn't find any other species with them but I bet there were some there among the crowd.
On Abbey mead there was at least sixty Tufted Duck, probably more, which weren't there when I last visited.
Around the sunken marsh I found a couple of Blackcaps feeding on the Elder berries and a single Reed Warbler made a brief appearance as did a couple of Greenfinches. A Kestrel hovered across the river which was flooding in at a rapid pace covering all but one small muddy area where a Common Sandpiper bobbed and fed alongside a couple of Herons.
I searched the East Scrub for a while but failed to turn up anything more than a couple of Green Woodpeckers and a few Common Whitethroat before moving on to the Divers' footbridge area. While I was there I heard what I thought was a Kingfisher whistling in the corner of the Millstream lake. The call was coming from an overhanging tree and after a lot of peering and squinting I managed to get a glimpse of a juvenile Kingfisher being fed a small fish which was caught by a parent bird as I crouched not ten feet away from them. I've often seen Kingfishers dive from a distance but that was the closest I've ever seen it happen, absolutely brilliant! I spent a good twenty minutes trying to get a clear shot at the youngster but the leaves were so dense that all I could get was what you can see below, a bit embarrassing really but it was hard won so worth posting I thought.
Also here I saw a family of Great Crested Grebes with three young, still with stripey heads and being fed by the adult, must be quite a late brood.


ShySongbird said...

Hi Phil, it's great that the wanderer has returned :)

First of all well done on the Kingfisher! It must have been very frustrating not to get an unhampered shot but I would have been very pleased with that anyway. I haven't seen one at all this year...or last for that matter :(

It sounds like you had a lovely time in the Lake District and that the weather was kind to you. That is a lovely view and I can see why it is a favourite of yours.

Lovely to see the Dipper, a bird I have never seen and am never likely to in this area.

alan woodcock said...

Hi Phil,sounds like you had a nice time in the lakes,Jeanette and I are off to Cornwall next week.

Warren Baker said...

That Kingfisher photo is still miles better than what ive achieved of one so far phil. Send over some of those Tufties, and you can have one of my Ospreys :-)

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Phil.
How I envy you walking all those miles. It reminds me of all the walking I use to do before how I am now. Pam and I went on some good walks, especialy when we went to Austria.
Well done on getting the Kingfisher photo. That's a good offer from Warren, some Tufties
for a Osprey.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Don't know what happened , but the comment I left on Monday never appeared on your blog .
It was confirming your male Common Hawker and saying what a cracking shot that first one was .
I haven't got a good Kingfisher shot either .

Luuuuuua said...

f reusite fotografii,bravo

Jeremy said...

Lovely shot of the Lake District. Looks like you had a good time.