When I suggested going to look for Black Grouse to my dad at 6:30pm I wasn’t hopeful. But God works in mysterious ways, and dad said ok.
I had thought Black Grouse did their lekking at dawn and dusk but I have a feeling it’s just dawn, or at least mainly dawn… Here’s how the trip went.
On the way to the Black Grouse a large number of Fieldfare flew from one of the trees by the side of the road, nice to see they are still around.
Up in the hills we parked up outside a gate and the first bird was always going to be a Red Grouse. Surprisingly that was the only one we saw. The usual Kestrel was flying about over the moor, didn’t look like it was catching anything but perhaps it just didn’t want to show off. We walked back down the road to where we saw them last time and went along a sheep trail to get away from a guy who had a huge, multi-coloured parachute out, definitely not ideal when looking for Black Grouse.
Plenty Meadow Pipits and Skylarks about, singing and tseep-ing. Also making a noise were what I think were Snipes, sort off piping from the heather. We scanned across a lot of land and unfortunately only saw Mole hills and a Carrion Crow on a fence post. No luck with Black Grouse here. So we turned and headed back to the car, and as we turned around a Snipe flew up from right beside the path and circled around a couple of times. First of the year for me! Other waders heard were lots of Curlew and I think a couple Redshank. One displaying Lapwing over the moorland was nice to see, especially after seeing Springwatch at Easter last night with Simon King’s segment on Isla.
Nearly back at the car my attention was drawn to a bit of a commotion on my left. A Carrion Crow (typical) mobbing a much larger bird, a Raven. It was a particularly nice sighting as it meant I could compare Crow with Raven, the larger bird being much larger with back swept wings; a more protruding head; and longer, wedge-shaped tail. Lovely.
Driving back homewards bound, potential Black Grouse sightings turned out to be more mole hills, weirdly lit grass tufts and Carrion Crows.
More corvid action as some Rooks were feeding in a field and more Crows flying across the road to roost, getting my hopes up for my first Tawny Owl of the year on a couple of occasions. Then dad said why don’t we go looking for owls. He usually sees them cycling in to work, and thinks he sees a Barn Owl at one spot. So we headed there, adding Bat sp. to my mammal year list as we passed a farm.
Unfortunately our owl search gave us nothing other than some distant screeches, rustling in the roadside vegetation, and at least 2 species of Bat. I have no idea how you’re supposed to identify bats so I can’t yet, but will hopefully gain this skill at some point in the future. A Common Toad crawling across the road as we went back to the car added another species to our evening list. At this point it was about 8:30 by the way.
On the way home we saw another Toad on the road and a pretty certain Owl sp flying off the hedgerow beside the road. It was at least a bird sp and I’d assume, given the time and the wing shape, that it was an owl. Frustrating that I couldn’t tell what sort of owl it was but oh well.
1 Common Frog on the road outside the house was my last sighting of the night.