Sunday, 15 April 2012

Blanchland and Derwent Reservoir

14th April. I attended the RSPB trip today with Sam and his dad Malcolm. I hadn’t expected it to be quite so cold. I should have known better. The day began with a few Common Buzzards. We soon had a chance to look on the river. Sam quickly found a Dipper’s nest, although we saw no Dipper at this point in time. We also missed the Kingfisher by seconds. We did find a Siskin at bird feeders giving a far better sighting than those later found high in the trees.

We walked up onto the moorland with the sound of Willow Warblers in our ears and an occasional call from Chiffchaff. I found what I believe to be Common Dog Violet Viola riviniana but I’m happy to be corrected on that one. I had been hoping for Wheatears, but we found none. There were plenty of Red Grouse and you can find good photos of a few of them on Sam’s blog. There was little other birdlife up there apart from the Curlew, Golden Plover and Meadow Pipits. When we walked down off the moor my muscles told me that we had been quite high up.

Common Dog Violet Viola riviniana

Best part of the day for me was down by the river and I would have liked to have spent more time there and explored further along the river banks where I know from a previous visit that there is quite a lot of bird life. Anyway, over lunch we did see, very, briefly a Dipper fly along the river. I’d promised Malcolm a Dipper today so I was hoping for better. Later we were to find a pair of Dippers in the area of the nest that Sam had found earlier. From their actions I think the birds were incubating rather than feeding young at this stage, although I couldn’t rule out the latter. The female went into the nest and didn’t come back out. The male went in with food and then flew off to search for more. It was a nice to watch this at an appropriate distance. Again, Sam has on his blog a very interesting photo of the male Dipper’s reactions at a car mirror!

A pair of Yellow Wagtails was also found and several Pied Wagtails performed for us along the river bank. Swallows were seen at some point during the day. When we returned to the village in preparation for the final part of the day which was to be at the hide at Derwent Reservoir, we were caught in a very heavy hailstone downpour. I had thought I was cold but when I had hailstones going down my neck and back I realised what cold really meant!

Grey Wagtail

Pied Wagtail

The water was really low in the reservoir and therefore the waders that were around were somewhat distant. My telescope had been abandoned today as I had chosen the camera instead, so my wader watching was limited although I did confirm Ruff were present when I had a quick look through another member’s scope. Oystercatchers and Curlew were easily seen and I believe others spotted Redshank and Ringed Plover. I spent as much time here watching the black Pheasants as watching waders. I’ve had check on the internet and there seems to be some mixed, but limited information about these birds. The most reliable seems to suggest that their origin came about by hybridisation between Common Pheasant and some other introduced pheasant. Other information suggests mutation and melanism. I don’t know that much about pheasants and to be honest I’m confused and need to do a bit more research. I’d welcome any information. What ever the explanation they are certainly stunning birds and do look black at a distance or at certain angles.

Black??? Pheasant

So we’d had a good day and Sam had got some good photos of Red Grouse which had been a target for the day. I’d thought the birding had been quiet until I looked at the group list on the coach whilst returning home and quite a lot had been seen by members.


  1. sounds like a good day, I've also just referred to them Pheasants as melanistic birds :)

  2. I'm glad you had a good (albeit quiet) day.

    I'm glad Malcolm got his Dipper sightings, lol and it sounds like that was the best part of the day birding wise!

  3. Yes a good day Cain. I'm trying to find more info about these black Pheasants and will let you know what I gather Cain. Cheers
    Dipper watching was good Mark. :-) Cheers.