Birding in the North Pennines

Our birding trip to Teesdale was a quest for the black grouse, which displays in high moorland breeding grounds at this time of year.

We saw many, but none in any really photogenic positions. They tended to be far away, like this one further up the road.

You get the sense of how splendid the male are. In groups, they make a lovely burbling bubbling sound as they try to lure in the females.

We found one on his own, and watched him for a long time, but as Finch tried to stalk him more closely, he flew off.

I had several new birds, including a short eared owl that flew gently around our edges, just too far to photograph meaningfully, and some boobly grey partridges, and a European Golden Plover, stealthily camouflaged.

I did have some lovely views of meadow pippit.

And saw an awful lot of desolate looking sheep. Their lambies were a lot grottier than our lambies. The wind, the rain, the fear of the molecatcher.

One of the parts of this kind of birding I love the most is the sounds. The dimension you can’t capture, really — the curling sound of the displaying curlew, the flapping of the darting, displaying snipe, the flooping of the wide-winged, swirling lapwings, the burbling of the grouse. Not singing as we think of it, and just sound, until you still and listen. Distinct, overt, deliberate, threading and joining into a woven aural landscape.

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