Tag: Cumbria

(Black)game on

by on Feb.15, 2010, under North Pennines, Photography

With Spring drawing ever closer, and our North Pennines Safaris starting in just over a month, we decided to spend Sunday checking all of our regular Black Grouse sites.  Although the winter may have been expected to do some real damage to the population, we managed to find 24 Blackcocks and 9 Greyhens, split between 4 sites.  Birdwatching in the North Pennines, whether in Northumberland, County Durham or Cumbria, is always a pleasure and accompanied by a sense of wilderness.

A Common Buzzard perched by the roadside allowed just a second to capture this image before it was off and away over the trees.

Common Buzzard, Allendale, Northumberland 14/02/10

Common Buzzard, Allendale, Northumberland 14/02/10

On the way to Upper Teesdale we found a ‘new’ site for Black Grouse, one which should, with patience, produce some excellent photo opportunities.  Across at a traditional lek site, one enthusiastic male was letting fly all on his own, while 7 Greyhens watched him, presumably with a mixture of boredom and pity.

Do you come here often?

Do you come here often?

Does persistence pay off?

I told you already, I'm not interested.

As the weather deteriorated and visibility decreased, we stopped to check another site which has held 3 or 4 birds in the last couple of years.  As we drove along the road a Blackcock flew across in front of us and vanished behind a drystone wall.  We approached slowly, and incredibly there were no less than 8 2nd year Blackcocks, all feeding quietly within a few metres of us.  The lack of sunlight detracts from the image, but it’s an addition to our Blackgame photography locations.

Blackcock, Allendale, Northumberland 14/02/10

Blackcock, Allendale, Northumberland 14/02/10

 As the rain intensified, we spotted a pair of Roe Deer in a field near Cramlington.  Venturing into the realms of ISO 3200 allowed a record shot before we returned home.

Roe Doe and Roebuck, Cramlington, Northumberland, 14/02/10

Roe Doe and Roebuck, Cramlington, Northumberland, 14/02/10

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The Red Squirrels Last Stand?

by on Jun.21, 2008, under Red Squirrel

Northumberland is fortunate as an English county to still have a healthy population of Red Squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). I can look out of my office window and see them chasing each other around the trees in Choppington Woods, but for how much longer?

The decline of the Red Squirrel in England has been well documented here but it still clings on in Cumbria and Northumberland.

I’ve heard the opinion voiced recently, by a naturalist for whom I have a great deal of respect, that it’s a waste of resources to try and protect the Red Squirrel from the inexorable expansion of the population of Grey Squirrels.

However, steps are being taken to maintain Northumberland as a safe haven for the Red Squirrel but this doesn’t meet with universal approval, particularly amongst people who have little, or no, experience of Red Squirrels.

It’s a sad fact that, over much of England, the only squirrel that people know and love is the Grey Squirrel, but at least in Northumberland visitors and locals alike can appreciate this charming inhabitant of our woodlands.

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