Thursday, 28 June 2012

Nightjars and Woodcocks

John and I set off at 18.00 for the wilds of Slaley Forest with 2 birds in mind, the Nightjar and Woodcock.  Arriving at 19.00 and parking at X marks the spot kindly supplied by Keith B as the best spot to watch from  we set off for a 2hr wander around.  Plenty of Fungi, lots of slugs (strange thing was that the Slugs on the outside of the forest were big and fat and the ones on the rides inside the forest were slim and short and some were brown) quite a few Meadow Pipits, a few Gulls, plenty of Robins and too many bloody trials bikes ridden by a couple of men who looked nearly as old as me.  We bumped into a couple of people from Durham Wildlife Trust and as we were standing chatting a Tawny Owls distinctive call drifted across the Fell, we also head Red Grouse on several occasions inevitably followed by shotguns blasting off many times over a 2hr period.  Eventually we got back to the car and I thought that the warnings about Midgies were somewhat over exaggerated but 30mins later I realised the warnings were true.  We started looking and listening seriously about 21.45 but didn't hear our first Woodcock until about 22.20 and another 3 possibly 4 in the next hour, 3 of which we also saw but only as silhouettes as they went over our heads.  I heard a Nightjar for a few seconds but it seemed far away.  Then we both saw a bird flying over thinking it was a Woodcock but as it banked the lack of longish bill made me realise it was probably a Nightjar but unfortunately it then vanished behind the trees so no real confirmation.  We then spotted several Bats (or possibly the same one several times) so out came the camera for an attempt to get a picture LOL (see pics at end).  Then we headed for the car for a 10min break as by now the midgies were intense.  Got into the car and so did a couple of hundred midgies so we didn't spend too long in there and on getting out John immediately picked up the distant churring of a Nightjar.  We headed towards it and must have walked 4-500m before we realised it was right in front of us only about 20m away but couldn't see anything.  Even when it stopped it only did so for about 15secs then started again.  We listened and looked for 25mins then headed back, once again encountering several Bats.  A great experience which I hope to repeat again in the not too distant future.

A view towards the Fell from the South side of Slaley Forest

All the White "Splodges" are Midgies

Trust John to Find a Place with Few Midgies

South Side of Slaley

Note the Bat at the Bottom

The Best of My Several Point and Shoot as John Shouted Bat

Lots of Toads and Frogs on the Road out of Slaley

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