Thursday, 6 June 2013

A Lakes Escape

The view from the osprey watchpoint at Dodd Wood
Everything came together just nicely earlier this week. We had a great forecast, Monday and Tuesday were my 'weekend' and I was off work, and it was Jenny's birthday week too.
So, we decided to head to the hills and drove the paltry hour and a bit to Keswick in the Lake District.
Jenny was keen to reacquaint herself with Catbells, a place she had walked frequently as a child, and I wanted to visit the Osprey Watchpoint at Dodd Wood.
Add to these obvious and wonderful attractions the lure of some excellent Cumbrian ales and food and voilà! - we have the perfect mini-break.

Jenny on the ascent
We headed first to Dodd Wood and from the vantage point overlooking Bassenthwaite we were able to see the osprey nest in the distance. Even at range we could see the female moving around as she sat low in the large nest and at one point the male flew in from the lake.
Having failed to spot any migrant ospreys at Aldcliffe this spring - there were very few seen locally on passage this year - I was delighted to finally catch up with an English osprey.
For some reason I had never visited this site before despite the fact that ospreys first bred here in 2001.
One of the greatest conservation stories of recent times, the Bassenthwaite birds were the first wild ospreys to breed in the Lake District for over 150 years.
Nice to hear good news concerning birds of prey for a change... 

After a plate full of excellent stodge at our B&B on Tuesday morning we got the boat across Derwent Water to Hawes End from where we proceeded to Catbells.
Blessed with glorious weather it was an enjoyable and easy walk up and along the ridge to 451 metres (1,480 ft). 
On the lower slopes a male yellowhammer was singing away, and as we climbed meadow pipits became increasingly conspicuous. We came across a pair of wheatear on the western slopes and a raven 'cronked' overhead but otherwise it was pretty quiet bird wise. 

Me on the first peak
At the foot of the fell we followed a dry stone wall bordering a classic lakeland oak wood which was alive with the sound of singing willow warblers, chiffchaffs, blackcaps and other common breeders.
I kept my ears and eyes out for redstart, pied flyctacher and wood warbler but I didn't have any luck locating any.

Tawny owl
I did however spot a smart tawny owl checking us out from its daytime roost, allowing a quick snap.
We made it back to the boat launch and caught the ferry back to Keswick in time for a late lunch, after which we headed back home having had a great time re-familiarising ourselves with this beautiful part of the world.


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