Lovely weather there if a tad on the cold side but when we arrived at Langdon Common it was Bloody Freezing and there was mist swirling round all over the place. The Lekking was still going on when we arrived with 12 Male and 1 Female Black Grouse, the Female perched on top of a hide so the photographer couldn't get any pics:
The Lek went on for a good hour and when eventually it came to an end the female just flew away so I dont know if the photographers inside (could see at least 2 lenses poking through) got any pics of her. We then went for a slow drive along the Common, the first birds we saw were 2 Woodcocks just wandering around and at one stage we could see 3 although they were a bit spread out.
There was a definite pair though which came together on occassions but kept dissappearing in the mist and in the tall grass but unlike the ones I have seen in Northumberland, which normally composed of an "arse end" vanishing at a fast rate of knots, I did see a couple of them fly and then return to the same spot where they had taken off from.
Next was our first viewing of a Whimbrel, very distinctive with the white V on the back and the eye stripe. Once again there were a pair together and then we saw a single on flying around on at least 3 occassions. Unfortunately no pics due to the weather and the crap photographer. There were plenty of other species to see including Lapwings (the most viewed bird of the day), lots of Meadow Pippits which seemed to pose for you at the drop of a hat:
Then there were the Skylarks, they were everywhere although a bit harder to photograph except when a pair decided to have a three-rounder right above us as they spiralled down from about 100ft:
This is when one of them hit the other and it went to ground then came screeming out like a banshee straight at the other one then a quick twirl around and up they went into the wild
blue grey yonder.
Also saw quite a few Golden Plover but no matter what setting I adjusted on the camera the photos always turned out as though half the pixels are missing, the same happened last week also in completely different weather !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - never mind I will get
very lucky my techniques and setting sorted soon:
We then started coming across individual Black Grouse which were a bit closer and looked a bit better as the sun rose (but the bloody cold didn't go away) but still no decent pics. We then moved onto Cow Green where we found amongst others Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Mistle Thrush, Wheatear, Pied Wagtail etc and of course a few more Lapwings
We then headed to Derwent Reservoir where we spent an extremely pleasant couple of hours seeing amongst others, 3 pairs of Great Crested Grebes, Willow Tit, Wigeon, Goosander and GSWoodpecker.
Then off home but not before we called into Wittle Dene but on the way there I spotted something fluttering on a fence by a farm, on closer inspection we saw it was a mole caught on some barbed wire. Extremely puzzled we started off again discussing this phenomenon and about 20m further on there was a barbed wire fence with about 40 moles in various forms of decay displayed like a badge of courage. Now I know that Moles can cause a bit of damage but so do foxes, deer, birds, elephants but you dont kill them en masse then display them or am I being stupid and there is something I dont know why this is done (though personally I doubt it). Anyway got to Whittle Dene then the accident happened. Watching the Common Terns wheeling around I got out of the car with camera in one hand still watching the Terns and shut the door with my free hand. Somehow I had forgotten to take my hand out of the door and my thumbs ability to cover a certain amount of area suddenly doubled (held onto the camera though). Being
extremely hard not a word passed my lips as I checked the camera and opened the car door a well known wimp I uttered a few obscenities and felt the tears well into my eyes. John rushed to my assistance saying I knew something serious had happened by the screams!!. Eventually sorted myself out (ps. its still throbbing now and is very difficult to touch type). Never mind heres a couple more pics for you all to laugh at/ignore.
Well at the end of the day we had accumulated a total of 52 Species with at least 2 Lifers for both of us.
PS. Forgot to mention that at Derwent Reservoir we both heard on separate occasions a Cuckoo call