Once again

Once again I find myself heading off to Dumfries and Galloway for a bit of wildlife watching.
It seems this area has an abundance of goodies to share with anyone interested in wildlife, and you don't have to go it alone, there's a great programme of events to take you through the Autumn months.
On this particular early morning outing I was heading off to Caerlaverock to see the Geese come up of the Merse as the sun rises. There must have been a few bitten finger ends because, with the gale force winds we've been having, all blowing from the south the numbers of migrants were seriously down. 
Then on the Wednesday  we had winds from the North East and many of those waiting birds arrived.
About a dozen of us met up at the visitor centre before walking down the Avenue towards the Saltcote Tower and then out onto the Merse, an area not normally open to visitors.
As the sun rose so did the geese, hundreds of them from every direction, heading for the fields around Caerlaverock to feed for the day. 
As well as a sight for the eye's it's also a feast for the ears, as those powerful wings beat the air and that mournful, or joyful honking surrounds you. Then it was over and we headed back for tea and bacon sandwiches, both excellent.

 Some Whooper Swans fly past

After breakfast there was time to check out the reserve ponds.


This Mute Swan looks to be enjoying its bath

I went onto Dumfries to check out the River Nith for Goosanders, I love watching these little birds dive head first into a raging torrent. Still haven't managed one with a fish yet but maybe next time.



This is probably cheating a bit, I took this lot of photographs along with the ones of Rydal Water. 
It seemed to make sense to split them up as I had so many.
The two lakes are close with White Moss car park in between, I must admit that we go a bit further towards Ambleside and once you've passed the end of Rydal Water there's a sharp right turn over a bridge and then right again into a small but free car park.
Walk around the footpath with the Lake on your right and then head uphill onto the Loughrigg Terraces looking across the lake at Grasmere.
It is possible to keep to a lower level and end up on the shores of Gramere and in all the years we've been coming to the Lake District we've never done that. 
No doubt as the knees get creakier it will become our favourite walk.
The views from the Terraces are lovely and there are loads of benches for you to sit while getting your breath back or simply to pause and enjoy the scenery.
Eventually you reach a set of steps to climb up onto Loughrigg Fell, don't be deceived into thinking it's an easy climb and you'll manage it in your flip flops. 
As it gets higher it gets trickier and I had a few 'never again' mutters under my breath.
Once you reach the trig point the views are awesome and you have a selection of paths to follow, take a map so you know where you'll end up. We'd left the map in the car so took the route we knew that brought us back down to the remains of the slate mine just five minutes from the car park.
So here are some more Lake District photographs.

Rydal Water on a misty morning

The footpath around the edge of Rydal Water

Looking back from the footpath up to Loughrigg

Coming up Loughrigg Terraces above the mist with the early light burning through, the footpath follows the wall you see in the left corner.
Still some mist over Grasmere

 Almost a birds eye view over Grasmere and the hills beyond.

Loughrigg Fell

TT heading back downhill, you can see all the lumps and bumps left from the slate mining operations. Seems hard to believe this was an industrial landscape at one time.

And that's it for another day. I was going to have one discreet ad on my blog but apparently I lack content, who'd have guessed, so you've been spared.
Thankyou for viewing my photographs.


One I've been waiting for

Last night our local BBC weather showed a photograph of a Water Vole taken at Killhope Mining Museum, just 30 miles away from Gilsland.
It's years since I've been to Killhope Museum and as it's due to close for the season at the end of October I thought today might be a good time to visit.
It's a nice run through the North Pennines, passing through Alston and Nenthead with the Lead Mining scars still visible in the lumps and bumps of the landscape.
The to Killhope, as an OAP I paid £6.50 to get in but that gives me as many visits as I like for a whole year, by gum I do like a bargain!
I got a free map and wandered off to the woods, saw a sign for a Squirrel Hide and like a bloodhound with a scent I was off, hoping the squirrels in question would be red ones.
I spotted the hide and just as I walked up to it a streak of red ran across the path in front of me, oh joy!
Our Red Squirrels are being wiped out by the Squirrel Pox, carried by the Grey Squirrels and deadly to the Reds.
Quite by accident I'd times my arrival to coincide with feeding time and three Red Squirrels were soon scampering around, filling up cheek pouches with peanuts and hazelnuts before zooming off to bury their spoils.
I'd taken my big lens, but the glass in the hide was too dirty for a good picture so I found a space outside of the hide but not to close to disturb the squirrels and I was off snapping.
ISO was at 1000 and even then I was only getting 1/30th of a second for some photographs, so if the Squirrel stayed still I was okay if not it was blurred.
I do prefer a natural look but today I was happy to take what I could get so here are my Red Squirrel shots from Killhope Museum.


An early start

I knew the fine weather wasn't going to last here in the north so I decided to make the most of it with a trip over to the Lakes.
It meant setting the alarm for 5.30am but that's later than normal for sunrises, by 5.50am we were on our way to Rydal Water, TT was driving so we took a bit longer to get there, he likes to maintain a regular speed to conserve fuel and ignores me rocking back and forwards in my 'go faster' attempts.
As it happens we arrived just after sunrise and in thick mist, so I had plenty of time to get from the car park to the side of the Lake.
The nice thing about mist is that it comes and goes so I was hopping back and forwards as bits appeared and disappeared from sight.
Rydal is one of my favourite lakes because it's normally very still so you can get perfect reflections, and it's about 1hr 10mins drive from Gilsland.

Here are some of the many photographs I took.

Rydal Water

Just a hint of Autumn colour, anoother two weeks and it should be lovely

The mists move back in almost hiding the Island

And the mist goes again

Two for one

Mist is burning off, it's going to be a beautiful day

The path around the Lake with sunlight streaming through the trees.

The path leads you to the Loughrigg Terraces or on a lower level path to Gramere Lake, we took the high path and I'll share some of those photographs in my next blog.

As always photo's are copyright of Joan Thirlaway and cannot be used without written permission.

Thanks for viewing -I'm having trouble finding a way to reply to comments, I do appreciate you commenting and want to say thankyou for taking the time to write.


Fire in the sky

After a long spell of poor weather and grey skies, at last we got some nice clear days.
I'd ckecked the position of the sunrise and thought I might be able to capture the sun rising through the trees on top of King Arthur's Well at Walltown, something I hadn't done before.
As I climbed up Walltown Crags the sky was colouring up nicely and I was feeling pretty optomistic, then I heard the bellowing of cows, now I love cows but come sunrise they get skittish and dash back and forwards in front of the camera, leaving ghostly streaks.
So I needed a backup plan.
For ages I've been thinking that I should take a sunrise photograph from Mucklebank Crag, I had planned it for a misty morning and there was no mist but it would be something I hadn't done before so off I went.
There's a good stone path up Mucklebank Crag, it is steep but very stable thanks to the lads of Northumberland National Parks Authority.
Lot's of sheep around but fortunately they were still sheep so here are some of the pictures I took.

King Arthur's Well and Mucklebank Crag, cows are galloping behind me.

Looking east over Cawfields and Winshields Crag, William's Black Faced sheep pose for me.

On the Hadrian's Wall Path over Mucklebank Crag

Sunrise over Allolee Farm

Sheep graze on the Roman Turret as the light catches Walltown Crags

As I headed back to the car I bumped into the farmer from Walltown Farm, he was out feeding his bull, a beautiful blonde Charolais called Emo. As William and I stood chatting Emo was nudging him wanting his nose scratched.
We're back to bad weather again today and yet more high winds are forecast.

As always the pictures are copyright of Joan Thirlaway and cannot be used without written permission.