More BTO Atlas work

by on Feb.21, 2009, under Birdwatching, Harwood, Kielder, Northumberland, Surveys

We went up into Harwood today, to undertake our late-winter visit to two of the tetrads we’re surveying for Bird Atlas 2007-2011. The weather was fine, with big fluffy clouds against a beautiful blue sky, and quite warm; at least it was quite warm while we were out of the wind… The winter is a great time for a walk in the forests of Northumberland, although the density of birds is somewhat limited. A pair of Mistle Thrushes caught our attention and, as we scanned the area for more birds, a pair of Stock Doves were up and displaying, a single Skylark flew overhead and a Buzzard soared above the trees. With a strong breeze and excellent visibility we expected to find more raptors, and two Kestrels hovering over an area of clearfell were a good addition to the list. Inland winter birding is often characterised by periods of nothing, interspersed with sudden concentrations of birds, and today was no different; after a long time with nothing to add to the list we came across a field that held 50 Fieldfares, 12 Redwings, 6 Mistle Thrushes, half a dozen each of Chaffinches and Goldfinches and a single Song Thrush. A pair of Stonechats ‘chacked’ angrily at us and flicked their tails as we had the temerity to cross their clearfell territory. The best was yet to come though; as we walked along the forest rides a Great Spotted Woodpecker flushed from close by and we rounded the edge of a plantation…and our ears were assailed by the maniacal screaming of a male Goshawk who had been sunning himself near the top of a spruce tree and didn’t take too kindly to being disturbed. His escape route was across a clearfell so we enjoyed the best views we’ve ever had of this phantom of the forest. When our Kielder trips begin on March 24th, this will be one of our target species; powerful, secretive but always impressive.

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