Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Starlings on the shore

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Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

I hadn’t really thought about how starlings are to be found at the coast, to us here in Derbyshire they are winter visitors, with vast flocks  occasionally forming  murmurations, I’ve not yet being lucky enough to see one yet.

That said, I have a card, by one of my favourite artists, Mark Hearld, its title is ‘starlings on the shore’ its one of those gift cards I bought ‘for stock’ and I haven’t yet managed to part with, because I like it so much.  I think I’ll find it a frame, its a keeper.

'Starlings on the Shore' by Mark Hearld (A341)

We saw many starlings, on our travels, especially on Orkney,

I spent time one evening watching a  somewhat harassed mother feeding her brood, she worked feverishly, the chicks seemed larger that her, due in part I think to their  baby plumage being  less sleek than the adult.

Starlings fledgling_

It was a risky business though,  Mr uphilldowndale saw a gull swoop down and snatch a chick.

Later we saw starlings gathering on the fence, before taking flight together, they seemed to be using this a tactic to deflect the ever present hungry gulls

Starlings group


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Red Shank

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

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On Orkney again, near the magical Ring of Brogdar; a beautiful redshank. It was raining when we arrived,

Redshank in rain 2

but as is the way, it soon brightened.  They are such elegant birds.

Redshank take 3

I think by their agitation and shrill, piping call, that they had young nearby, and that they would like to lead us away from the nests.

Redshank flight

However we were well marshalled by paths and fences so there was no danger to their young, but also no hope of seclusion for their nests, so close to such an famed archaeological site.


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What was that noise?

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

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Whilst I was revelling in the company of curlews, I was startled by a strange noise (I should have noted the curlews were unfazed by it).  I wondered for a moment if it was a badger, but then I didn’t know if the Islands of Orkney have badgers (they don’t it transpires, have a look at the beautiful blog)

If I’d tried to describe the noise I’d have said the sound was a cross between ‘some one shaking a rug and the sound of a pair of flip-flops in washing machine’.  I walked on around the corner and  in front of me was  a small lochan, here I found the answer. A swan running up for take off.

Swan take off  2 Uphilldowndale

I’m considering becoming a Foley artist… It sounds like a lot of fun.

Taken at Sand o’ Wright, South Ronaldsay, Orkney


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Curlew

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

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Curlews are one of my favourite birds, at home in Derbyshire they are seasonal visitors to our upland pastures and moors,  apparently the collective noun for a group of curlews is a herd, which I think is very boring, given their enigmatic call, I think ‘a haunting’ would be a more suitable term. 

Curlew 4

In Derbyshire they seem to be nervy and reclusive, always out of reach of a good view, or just beyond  the reach of a long lens.

Curlew 6

  In the north east of Scotland and on Orkney, they seem to have no such inhibitions.  What a joy.

Curlew


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The Big Build

There is a whole lot of nest building going on.  I’m not sure how this thrush managed to find its way back to the nest site…

Thrush nesting

But it did.

Thrush nesting 2

We’re a little concerned as it seems a very exposed site, in an oak tree near the pond.

Thrush nesting 3

It’s only a hop, skip and a jump for the cats to be up there. We’ve already had  the bodies two young rabbits, two robins and three mice on the door mat, in the last couple of weeks. I suppose when the leaves open it will be better hidden. Fingers crossed. 


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Buzzards and Bramblings

How lucky am I to be able to sit and watch birds great and small from my window. I think these are bramblings, a bird I can’t recall visiting us before, there are greenfinches and goldfinches too.

Finch feeding_

We’ve moved the feeder, closer to a hawthorn, and it seems that with feeding wild birds, as in retail, the three most important things are position, position and position, there have been upwards of 40 birds visiting  at any one time, the hawthorn shimmers with them. But hard to try and capture in an image, especially when it is snowing, as illustrated here..

many birds in a bush

This afternoon a buzzard was soaring over the field against a blue sky, always a treat, it used to be rare to see to them here: and last week we had several sightings of a raven, much bigger than a rook and being mobbed by them, it was his distinctive call and a check with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust members on social media that confirmed our suspicions.

Saturday’s weather lifted everyone’s spirits  after a week of snow ice and rain: even if the  mood of the day was tempered by the news that after eight days without a telephone connection,  thank you Doris, we now face at least a week, probably more, before can expect to be reconnected, as the repair involves new cabling,  requiring traffic management, cherry pickers and cable drums.