Sunday, 31 October 2010

No lie in for me

I was reminded that I was wishing my life away wishing it was March, so quite rightly, I was up at first light. So no lie in just because the clocks went back and I was up on the fell well before most of the dog walkers who were having that extra hour in bed.

I hadn't been out long went I picked up a large bird of prey coming from the south. It was certainly a buzzard, but the closer it got the better views were and showed it to be an immature Common Buzzard and not that hoped for Rough-leg. Never mind a nice start. 3 Siskin and 8 Skylark flew over and I thought I might have to go straight home to change my underwear when I nearly stood on a female Pheasant that got up from under my feet and flew off calling very loudly. When I say nearly, I do mean that, I'm sure my foot actually brushed the bird. Checking the eastern pools for Jack Snipe without any joy I headed over towards the next couple of pools which are at the Scrogs by Nettlesworth Hill.

Not the South Downs but looking towards Nettlesworth Hill
No name for these that I'm aware of  (please tell me to contrary)  but these pools are either side of the Black Burn by the little footbridge. Anyhow, this area was lifting with birds. 47 Redwing, 7 Fieldfare, 8 Skylark and 18 Meadow Pipit flew over, as well as 21 Lesser Redpoll and 3 Siskin. 2 Goldcrest, 7 House Sparrow and  a Willow Tit were in the Gorse, which still had a few flowers. By the main pool which I have walked around very many times in the past without anything of note, I thought to myself  there wasn't enough vegetation for Jack Snipe.  Then, on the burn side of the pool,  up went a Jack Snipe and headed towards Sacriston. This is not the first time I've flushed one just after thinking, or even announcing, that the area I'm at isn't right for Jack Snipe. Will I ever learn? In the wet field, some Dung Round head Fungi (Panaeolus semiovatus) and several Field Mushroom were showing.

Dung Round head Fungi (Panaeolus semiovatus) 

Every few minutes there was a squark of a Jay and about 5 birds were at this end of the Felledge Wood. Frustratingly, a group of 3 birds flying past reminded me of Waxwing. I didn't know if I should to use my binoculars or try and get a photo. Bad choice, they were over before I could get a decent picture so I'm no wiser. Had a feeling they were Waxwing but certainly not countable.  There are lots in and around Northumberland and hundreds in Cumbria currently, but where are all the Durham Waxwings? There's hardly been a sniff. If or when they come in, the berry trees around the Whitehills pub, Warkworth Drive and the cricket ground are almost certain to produce a few.

 Beany Lane towards Chester Moor usually holds a small flock of Golden Plover. I saw a couple earlier in the autumn but no sign today. The RSPCA Cattery here has a little wood just behind and is probably the best place in the Waldridge area for Nuthatch. I was at least 100 metres away when, as usual,  I heard one calling and within ten minutes saw 2 individuals. I do get them very occasionally in the garden  and they are quite regular around Waldridge Hall farm, but this is the place for them. Stand by the cattery and you are almost certain to hear the ringing 'tuit, tuit, tuit-tuit'  call, even if you don't see them. In the adjacent field a small flock of 7 Chaffinch also has a female Brambling feeding there. 5 Yellowhammer and 4 more Skylark were also in the field. 

The South Burn Woods were almost unrecognisable from last week as there as been so much leaf fall. All of the small paths in the wood were now under a layer of Silver & Downy Birch and Alder leaf and a good 80-90% of the leaves have now fallen.  There is much more Fly Agaric fungi and a species I still need to identify. Two more Jay were here together, 9 Siskin, 3 Bullfinch, with another Willow Tit and a Tree-creeper. I went down to the stream to try and get a better view when a familiar call and flash of blue showed a Kingfisher flying by. A campion still in flower by the road, even though looks quite white in the photo, looked more pinkish in real life and is in fact a hybrid between Red Campion and White Campion aptly named Pink Campion (Silene x hampeana).  A fine finish to the morning and so glad I went out and that I've got all this winter to enjoy the nature of Waldridge.
Pink Campion


  1. Hi C.B
    Enjoyed that walk.
    Good going with the Jack - Cant recall a name for those pools - used to call it Howlmire Gill, as there seem to be spots called 'Scroggs' all over the place.

    In the early stages of reclaimation of Daisy Hill OCCS, (early 90's ?) the recently seeded areas of rough grass for the nature reserve end was @1" tall if that - i had a couple of dogs at the time & we could get 5 or 6 Jacks up no bother.

    More recently from edges of typha dominated pools close by during specific searches.

    Seen JS sev times south side of Wan.Bog - i went past last week -it appears to be fenced off & being grazed & the Leos favoured Birch thicket there, all but gone...

  2. Steve,

    The typha fringed pools are very good for Jack Snipe but I failed the early part of this year to find any. I think the combination of a poor last winter for them and disturbance from dog walkers partly to blaim but will try harder this winter, especially as there is at least 1 bird present. Wanister is fenced off so Highland Cattle can mash up the ground. There is still access but yes the thicket has been ruined as has a Green Hairstreak colony by the looks of it.