North Pennines Beauty

by on Apr.28, 2011, under Birdwatching, North Pennines, Photography

All of the areas we visit with our clients have something special about them, but the North Pennines is often our choice for a day out on our own.  The area is vast, with open landscapes, big skies and narrow valleys, and there’s always a feeling that this is somewhere really special.

A 7am start heralded the first part of the prize (a trip into the North Pennines to photograph Black Grouse) for the under 13 category winner in the Northumberland Wildlife Trust photography competition.  Driving through dense fog all the way to beyond Haydon Bridge didn’t inspire confidence, but visibility at our first stop revealed a flock of Golden Plover, Curlews displaying over the moors and a Brown Hare.  As we headed over a road that I always expect to produce memorable sightings, we weren’t disappointed; Jonathan spotted a bird perched on a dry stone wall, and it turned out to be a Greyhen.  Now, we see lots of Blackcocks on our North Pennines trips, but greyhens much less often.  This one was sitting there with a purpose, as 2 Blackcocks were lekking in an adjacent field.  Strutting, cooing and displaying their undertail coverts they somehow added an even more ethereal note to the sun-bathed moorland surrounded by mist-filled valleys.  The air was drenched with the song of Skylarks, Snipe were calling, Lapwings were doing that thing that they do (I’ve tried to put it into words…but I can’t do it justice!) and a nearby field contained at least 16 Wheatears.  On over the moors, Red Grouse bobbed their heads up and down, watching our progress, and we had the closest views of a Blackcock that I’ve ever had; iridescent and imperious in the morning sunlight.  It may be just about the best place in the world 🙂

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