Sunday, 22 July 2012

21st July, Malham and the peregrines

The sun made an appearance today, very welcome after the wet and dreary weather we have had recently! I drove up to Malham to check on the progress of the peregrine falcons and with hopes of a few other wildlife sightings too.

The view towards Malham Cove opens up quickly as the path winds gently up the valley:-

And in the opposite direction the view towards Pendle Hill-
One of the falcons was conveniently positioned on the nesting ledge after I had climbed the steps that lead to the top of the cove, it stayed long enough for a few shots then it took off and flew at a ferocious speed, circling the ground below before settling on a ledge down beneath me.

I made my way around the back edges of the cove to see if any other birds were about, here the limestone scenery at its best.

Only one bird appeared, a juvenile wheatear on one of the plentiful outcrops.

Descending carefully on the shiny limestone steps I decided to explore a small copse of trees near the bottom of the cove, after sitting quietly for a while in the cool shade I was rewarded by a visit from a lovely spotted flycatcher.

The perils of going off path in these areas was well illustrated soon after as I was concentrating on what I could see rather than where I put my feet, a trip and a hands went protectively towards my camera and binocs, and my right shin took the full force of the contact with serrated limestone!

Later diagnosis from home was.."Numpty!!"
Anyway after the self prescribed number of curses and naughty words I felt sufficiently OK to proceed with my walk, green woodpeckers are difficult to watch at any time I managed to spot this juvenile as it rested in a tree.

Its close relative the great spotted woodpecker is a far more common sight, a regular visitor to gardens and feeders and the colours are beautiful. This juvenile first fed on a nearby tree and then the feeders which the RSPB provide near the peregrine viewpoint.

My leg was now becoming quite sore and I decided to head for home, the walk back down to Malham is quite easy thankfully and a walk beside Malham Beck is always a pleasure.

A good day really, the bruising and cuts will mend, the memories of the wonderful birds will last much much longer:-)

Thursday, 19 July 2012

10th July, Tarnflatt Farm and St Bees Lighthouse

Difficult to decide what to do today, Wasdale Head was not even visible from the usual viewpoint as cloud and rain shrouded everything. We had a few cups of tea, looked at maps and guidebooks and then went with our instincts. Clouds need to climb to get over the hills, in doing so they shed weight in the form of rain, so go coastwards where the rain may at least be lighter!

So we had a plan and we drove to Sandwith and the track up to Tarnflatt Farm, £2.00 for parking is cheap and perhaps a lesson for the National Trust and the Lake District National Park authority, whoah sorry I'm nearly on a rant:-)

The last coal fired lighthouse in the country was here until 1822, this is the modern version powered probably by electricity provided by another European country:-/

The weather faired up and we enjoyed a lovely walk on the cliff top, occasional rain drops meant a regular lens clean for the camera though. These razorbills seemed oblivious to the weather as they surveyed their decorating task:-
Once you start emulsioning a wall you really cannot stop!

The guillemots meanwhile had found that life is sustainable at different levels-

Herring gulls are much ignored by many, plentiful though they are they sometimes offer a wildlife photographer opportunities that cannot be wasted:-

Here an adult then a fledgling.

Next up, a real treat...guillemots in rather large numbers!

A lower shelf contained a smaller group who looked as if they were trying to work out which bit to decorate next!

Nesting kittiwakes are quite evident around here, but only in flight, try as I could this was my only shot.

The nesting cliffs are a spectacular example of eroding sandstone-

Crumbly rock and very susceptible to erosion these cliffs are gradually falling apart, Britain is becoming a smaller country, landwise anyway.

More brilliant sights to behold now, as we first saw cormorants fly past quite close and then guillemots take their first hesitant and almost reluctant flights.

A final shot of the coast, we headed back inland...cows are not Josie's favourite and when a very large bull lumbered towards us she fled quickly back towards the coastal path, no bother we found a route through some soggy but worthwhile fields.

A yellowhammer and linnet appeared in the fieldside scrubland, the next field was another good one too!

Ears of wheat on one side, and a birdfest in the gorse and scrub on the other..close to perfection for us, the lovely wheat swaying in the breeze, a ringlet butterfly and a spotted flycatcher, just not an ordinary day!!!

A challenging day turned into a great one, lovely sights warm weather helps. A hedge full of sparrows completed the day's photographs.

  1. A good exploration of a coast and farmland, always something to see for the wildlife watcher!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

13th July, Dunnerdale and the River Duddon

The activities of the day before played a small part in today's outing, exercises to ease the joints took a while, creaks, groans and grinding noises were heard, coffee was taken several times and a route decided on.

Our developing interest in wildlife has meant creating a gap in our holiday schedule, Scotland will be there forever, we may even move there one day when the circumstances are right. The walk up Middle Fell was great, a favourite for views but our special valley is Dunnerdale, a great view up to Bowfell my most climbed and treasured fell.

This is a great place to appreciate the beauty of the Lake District, the clean flow of the River Duddon is lovely, the parking at Birks Bridge is free, Harter Fell is a great walk from here for the energetic souls.

Fans of the smaller flora and fauna will find delights such as the Gatekeeper butterfly at the right time of year.... and fungi like these are abundant near the forest edges.

Damp conditions seem to have led to ideal foxglove proliferation, a woodland favourite luckily!

The woodland by the river Duddon, is a verdant and damp place, Cumbrian scenery without high fells.
We took a path into the woods, small unidentified birds flitted to and fro in the low light in here then a larger bird flew across our line of sight, a jay. We followed a pathless route through the trees, walking quietly towards the loud squawking which was now evident, the sound of more than one jay.

No matter how carefully we moved the only sights we had were jays in flight, not unusual though they are uncannily aware of human presence. We found the riverbank and tracked cautiously back towards the line of the path.

A nuthatch refused to appear in full and I had to content myself with top and bottom photographs!

Our path led us up to a splendid old bridge and some cascades known as the Froth Pot.

Not too far from here back to the car, more foxgloves to enjoy along the way-

After a rest back at the car we retraced the last few hundred yards of the walk, some small birds had been seen in a copse of trees and we wanted a better look.
This one was easy, a bluetit!

Next up was one that was more difficult and only determined when I had a good look at the photographs, willow warbler.

 Reaching the bridge again we turned and wandered back to the car park.

One last bird sighting for the day, a thin reedy call from the edge of the trees alerted us, I crawled into the midge infested undergrowth and after several re-focusing attempts managed to get a close up of a juvenile wren!

Back at the car park two mini buses were now parked, their passengers enjoying a snack by the river.
Visitors from the USA sampling the delights of the Lake District with

One lady enquired as to the source of our hot water as Josie poured us a cup of coffee at the back of our car, we showed her the thermos flasks which we always take, "Ah tailgate tea, what a great idea!"

How good to end the holiday with a wide smile!!!

Friday, 13 July 2012

12th July, Middle Fell and St Bees

With my back and hip problems forcing and end to my serious fellwalking I really wanted one last visit to somewhere relatively high to take in the views. A few days of fairly gentle walks, a good weather forecast and a plan, all was looking good except the weather as we awoke to slate grey skies and low cloud!

Patience won the day, in late morning the clouds began to clear and off we set from the cottage door to Middle Fell, 582 metres 1909 feet and a great summit for views of the big Lakeland Fells. We took a very gentle ascent route.

Greendale Gill is a splendid place, the beck gushes down with regular waterfalls.

Reaching the tarn we took a good long break to recharge the energy levels before the final climb up to the summit.

Keeping an eye out for wildlife at all times I spotted this lovely wheatear.

Time though now to head up to the col, a wide vista appears up here with a look back to the tarn and a lovely view of Haycock and Red Pike (Wasdale).

This pair of locals were keeping a close eye on our progress:-)

And so to the final push to the top, as the summit ridge is crested a stunning view appears out across Yewbarrow to Kirk Fell, Great Gable, Lingmell and The Scafells with numerous others playing a supporting role.

We made our way up to the summit and enjoyed a leisurely lunch break, this meadow pipit joined us for a while.

A closer view of Lingmell and the Scafells.

And for a grand change of scale a tiny toadstool!

Time to leave now though, a couple of summit shots before we do...Josie by the cairn and Dave in simlilar fashion.

Plenty of memories up there and a fitting goodbye to the fells that have played a large part in my life, a very careful descent as tired legs became a little jelly like!

Looking westwards over Nether Wasdale..

....and back to the Scafells

Back at the cottage we had a lengthy rest and then with a flask of coffe we headed to St Bees to enjoy some sea views and the warm sunshine.

The Isle of Man showing fairly clearly through the haze of the sea.
Dramatic St Bees Head in the bright sunshine.
Back in Wasdale the lake was in reflective mood and a perfect for photography.

One final shot of a panorama I took earlier in the day from the sumit of Middle Fell, a super day, happy memories!