Sunday, 29 November 2009

Atlas Comb

Yesterday I went with SH and DMcK to do 2 Atlas Tetrad squares at Kielder Forest. We left crammy at 7:30 and the heavy fog on the road didn’t clear until we arrived at Kielder.
The squares we were heading for were at Comb in Kielder Forest, an area none of us had been to before. I had done some Atlas work around Blyth, Havannah NR and Plessey Woods with LMcD in the summer so I knew that it was more about number of birds than species. It gave me another chance to improve my bird call i.d.
Before we started we guessed how many species we would end up seeing or hearing, I decided on 15.

We decided to do the longer walk first, which proved to be a good decision as the first part of the walk was uphill over an area of felled trees which were still covered in frost. The occasional stream and the boggy ground only added to the fun.
It was worth it once we reached the top as the views were stunning as was the silence. On the way we managed to add Robin, Dunnock, Wren and a flock of 25+ Crossbill to the list.
Meadow Pipit and more Crossbill were going over head as we finished off the 2 hour walk.

We drove further up for the next square which was on the edge of the Forest and had a flat path to walk on, which was just as well as the first walk nearly killed us.
We scanned the felled area in front of us when we heard a Raven calling. Soon two Ravens started calling to each other and it wasn’t long until they flew off as a Buzzard came into view.
The other highlight of the second square was the flock of 15 Bullfinch which flew in front of us before landing in the trees, always good birds to see. In total we had 19 Bullfinch in the second square. Good numbers of Coal Tits and Wrens were also present.

So after the four hours we ended up seeing 14 Species, 1 off my prediction.
The 14 were:
Dunnock, Wren, Coal Tit, Bullfinch, Siskin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crossbill, Woodpigeon, Meadow Pipit, Robin, Raven, Buzzard, Goldcrest and... I’ve forgotten.
Helping to do Atlas work always makes me appreciate nature more and it’s nice to work to see the birds rather than just stepping out of the car.

On the way home we made a detour to Ridley Stokeo which was Mandarin-less as the river was very high and Ridley Stokeo itself was completely flooded.

The fog was still visible in the valleys and it seemed to be following the river which would have made for some atmospheric shots, if I’d brought the camera.

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