Blackcocks and Woodcocks

OK, snop sniggering at the back…

On Saturday I spent most of the day with Andy Hill, who knows the Brightholmlee/Broomhead area like the back of his hand, searching for little owls. Sadly the cold weather wasn’t luring any out into the open, but much good stuff was seen the highlights being 8+ crossbill and 30+ siskin at Wigtwizzle, a couple of ravens doing the rounds and cronking nicely overhead, up to 3 buzzard in the air at once, and a mixed flock of 13 fieldfare and 5 redwing at White Lee Farm, along wth 31 lapwing. Best of all of the day was a handsome male black grouse among the more usual red grouse at Cowell Flat. Technically these aren’t considered “tickable”, due to their origin as part of the Derwentdale reintroduction scheme, but for the purposes of my meagre list I’ve ticked it, until the day I see a “proper” wild one…

Yesterday I had a short walk on my (once again) much-neglected patch, but there wasn’t much to note except for 8 meadow pipits at Old Wheel Farm and the now resident mute swan on Old Wheel Dam.

Finally, on the way back from work tonight, I saw a large bird flying above in the gloom fairly low over Loxley Road. At first I presumed it was one of the tawny owls that have been calling every night, taunting my “no heard-only” policy for this year’s list, but as it got close I realised its fast flapping flight, pointed wings, small head and long bill clearly identified it as a woodcock, my first of the year and my first for the Valley. A very nice surprise indeed!

Tomorrow a day off work and a trip to the coast. I’ll tell you all about it, you know me…

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Pete

My name is Pete

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