At the start of the week I had a bird survey to do northeast of Penrith and Gail came along with me. It was in some plantation woodland again, but part of this site is one of my favourites as it does hold a few birds. The first few woodland compartments that we surveyed were thin on the ground bird-wise, but it improved as we went on. This part of Cumbria is good for Redstarts and we could hear at least two singing off site as well as two Song Thrushes.
There are six woodland compartments that I survey at this site varying from very small indeed up to about 3 ha in area. The last three compartments are the best and I'll call them compartments one, two and three for the sake of this blog post. Compartment one held a singing Sedge Warbler (there's a nice wet area in this compartment), two Willow Warblers and a pair of Bullfinches. This was only the second time that I had recorded Bullfinches at this site in the four years I have been doing these surveys, and the first time in this particular compartment. The second compartment was unusually quiet with only a single singing Willow Warbler of note.
Alongside compartment three is a smallish area of conifer woodland with some broad-leaves around the edge. For the past four years Buzzards have successfully nested in this woodland and each year the nest gets bigger as the birds carry out repairs and add to it. I try not to get too close, but I did notice what I assumed was the female quietly slip off the nest.
We had a pair of Tree Sparrows in this compartment and actually witnessed them mating! Only one singing Willow Warbler, but we did have a stunning male Redstart. Not that this male was particularly stunning, all Redstarts are stunning! It made me think that this compartment is crying out for some nest boxes and I have fed this back to the owner.
I then took Gail out for breakfast and after that we headed to the English Heritage property of Clifton Hall. Close by the last battle to be fought on English soil was fought at Clifton Moor in 1745 when the Jacobites returning from Derby were engaged by English forces. Gail's passion is history, so it's always a pleasure to visit an English Heritage or National Trust property, and after Clifton Hall we visited the National Trust property of Acorn Bank.
At Acorn Bank we had a walk through the woodland and it was full of bird song; Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs in the main. Numerous woodland flowers were showing and some pictures of these can be found below.
Later in the week I was at another plantation woodland survey site in the North Pennines to the east of Kirkby Stephen. Nothing too outstanding but I did have three singing Willow Warblers, two displaying Curlews, a Song Thrush carrying food, three Lesser Redpolls, a pair of Bullfinches (first for the site), singing Mistle Thrush, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, singing Blackcap and a displaying Lapwing.
I was hoping to get into one of the reedbeds at the Obs this weekend to do some ringing and I called this morning to check the water levels. The forecast had looked good this morning for a fall of migrants, but sadly I had other commitments. My hunch was confirmed by Ian when he phoned to tell me that the Obs was 'dripping' with migrants!
I had a quick look at the pools to see if I could get in and I could, but there was still a little too much water to operate mist nets safely. Never mind, I'll just have to go birding in the morning instead! It was obvious that there had been an arrival of migrants as I had five Whitethroats, a Blackcap, four Cetti's Warblers, six Sedge Warblers, three Reed Warblers and two Grasshopper Warblers.
On the pools were six Tufted Ducks, a pair of Greylag Geese with four young, seven adult Coots with 14 young in total, a Great Crested Grebe and two Little Grebes.
It's looking good for some vis in the morning, and my moth trap is set, so hopefully I should have something to report tomorrow!