Saturday, 27 September 2008

Carsington Wins Energy?

The big news at Carsington, bigger than shags, peregrines or any bird for that matter, and in some ways quite literally big, is that Carsington Wind Energy has won its appeal against Derbyshire Dales District Council's decision not to allow the wind farm to be built.

Now the project seems destined to go ahead it is perhaps times for those of us associated with the site to welcome the new development. Carsington is so brilliant because it provides such a wealth of biodiversity for Derbyshire (plus a wide range of recreational pursuits for Joe Public), and now the opportunity arises to contribute toward a sustainable future for the region. Perhaps that is the view chosen by the RSPB, the organisation has dropped its objection to the plans.

The impact of wildlife and rights of way are still concerning, and even the most loyal windfarm advocate would have to confess they are something of a blot on the landscape - turbines higher than Big Ben is the oft quoted comparison at Carsington. So are they desirable? No, no at all. Will planting them in Carsington Pastures mean we're taking one for the team in the name of sustainable development and action against climate change? Yes, and what a tremendous thing to do.
Let's face it, better us having the wind farm than Lewis.

A high worldwide demand for wind turbines may delay the development until 2010. Try to stave off the pessimism during the wait, all right folks?

Friday, 26 September 2008

More Old Moor

Took the family to Old Moor, in good time to enjoy part of the weeklong stay a fabulous Osprey. Kingfisher and Little Egret from the same hide thrilled family to satisfaction, and later in the day picking out Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank (all top inland records) from the Lapwings, Dunlin and Golden Plover did it for me.

The great facilities at Old Moor impressed too, including a full array RSPB optics in the shop. In the market for a new scope my dad tried and buyed the Viking AV80, plus a zoom eyepiece. The image through it is as clear as a bell, although for me the twist-cups of eyepiece seem quite bulky. That's about my only criticism though.
For the price it offers great value, and who better to be giving money to than the RSPB?

Mum raided the shop for gifts, picked out Pochard and Shelduck from the fluffy bird toys. Good choices, top ducks.
Proof the RSPB as something for everybody? Well, enough for my family anyway.

Treecreeper at the feeding station

Migrant Hawkers, getting it on

Friday, 12 September 2008

Paper bag

One of the two Shags are Carsington this week, popular birds for a county as landlocked as Derbyshire. A nice showy pair with a rich warmth to the brown hue of their juvenile plumage that's a bit lost on this digiscope effort.
Perhaps shows the Pythonesque nature of birding, to Joe Public they look indistinguishable from the Cormorants of which we have plenty, to birdwatchers they're a reason to get excited.
Hobby through on the day too, a couple of hours after Tuesday's ABB, and a rise in duck numbers whispering about the change of seasons.

Been treated at work lately with a family of Treecreepers taking to the big Cedar of Lebanon next to the gatehouse at Hardwick. Rare? No. Spectacular? No. Lovely? Oh yes.

...and substituting for a rocky coastal island, the draw off tower, current home to Carsington's two Shags.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Bird Storking

A while since my last post and I wonder where to begin this update. No doubt about it, the honour really does belong to the immature Black Stork [lifer #212], literally a big lifer, had in North Yorkshire over the weekend. The location was Cawood, a small town along the Ouse with fields sparse and wide enough to satisfy this most wary of birds. The wait to see it pop up out a ditch was around 2 hours and well worth it, although enormous thanks go to the birder who yelled us back. The girlfriend and I had just quit for the day, accepting the dip, and had walked no further than 30 yards when the shout came, "HEY, IT's THERE!". Never give up hope folks. Anyway a bird like that though shy gets noticed wherever it wanders, the individual possibly first picked up in Ireland, and now has made its way to Spurn. That's a long long way from Hungary - the region the Black Stork really ought to be in. The girlfriend, upon seeing the bird, she simply exclaimed, 'WOW!'.
Peregrine through too on the day also.

In other news, I have lots of shiny new bird kit. We'd actually headed up to N Yorks to check out some RSPB optics at Fairburn Ings, and only made it for the Stork when I realised it was just another 10 miles motoring on the day. I was after new binoculars on my RSPB volunteer/discount card, and settled for a pair of RSPB BGs. £60 more and I could have had the HGs, but I preferred the cheaper model. They feel a touch lighter and seem just as bright to my eyes. Tried the Viking range too, but for the same price they were dimmer and had a definite blue hue. Weird really, Viking manufacture both its own and the RSPB range, so why the difference?

So bins sorted, it was a scope next. The venerable old Kowa has served us well for 10 years, but using the Swarovskis at ABB events has spoilt me, they are simply too good to go without. Fortunately those of us not rolling money the London Camera Exchange have a wide range of fully serviced secondhand optics, and we found an AT-80 plus 20-60 zoom (and a spare 32x eyepiece). Sure it's a ten year old model but still light years ahead of mid-range scopes from Viking, Kowa, Opticron, etc at the same price. Also, forked out a Viking S1 tripod which is a sturdy animal and very easy to use.
Tried out the new set-up on my well neglected local patch today, King's Mill Reservoir, and straight scored a distant Dunlin (we get maybe three through in a year). I'm sure I would have overlooked the wee wader with the old Kowa, so am I happy with the Swarovski? YES, YES and YES again!

Round-up of for the supporting cast in August goes... family group of Spotted Flycatcher at Carburton/Wellbeck watchpoint and hundreds of hirundine gathering nearby, Yellow Wagtail at Hardwick village in Clumber Park, Red-crested Pochard at Carsington. Nice enough to keep my going in a month I've been at work almost non-stop. Glad it wasn't sunny, that would have been awful!

Common Sandpiper (Carsington)

p.s. Stressed? Tried Birdsong radio here or here.