Lake District and Pennines weekend 29 April - 3rd May 2011

Stella and I had fancied a weekend away in the lake district for ages and we finally got round to it. We stayed the first two nights of the trip at a B&B right next to Grasmere and then for the second 2 nights I suggested staying at Langdon Beck youth hostel in the Pennines (no real reason).

Friday 29th April

After watching a bit of the royal wedding we got on our way and turned up at the B&B at around 4.

The whole time wasn't about birding but we did manage to see some great birds. Before eating we went on a walk around Grasmere and saw a pair of Goosander a Pied Flycatcher in a large oak and noticed 3 Grey Heron nests on the island with young.

Saturday 30th April

Today we went to Beatrix Potter's house and then went to hire a motor boat to get out onto lake Windermere. We went for a nice walk before boating and stumbled across a singing Wood Warbler, showing very well at eye level. An hour on the motor boat was great fun. We hit the odd wave getting soaked but manged to avoid the ferries and picked up 3 Red Breasted Mergansers as they flew just infront of us.

Sunday 1st May

Today we headed off to Langdon beck and went a very scenic route past many lakes. We stopped in a forest and had great views of a Red Squirrel that came down to a feeder! Very lucky indeed with the amount of people around! We then went to baisenthwaite and had a look from the Osprey Viewpoint but the nest was very distant and although an adult was on the nest it was very hard to make out. An amazing flyby from a Goshawk more than made up for this however. We continued on to Langdon Beck and whilst passing over the heather moorland spotted our first Red Grouse. After spotting the first one they appeared almost round every corner. Lapwings and Curlews were also seen from the  car. The hostel was very nice and the meadow opposite held Redshank, Snipe and more Lapwing. The drumming sound of the displaying Snipe was amazing and the first time I had heard it. The area really was alive with birds all displaying and with prefect weather I had high hopes of seeing the morning grouse lek.

Monday 2nd May

I got up for first light and drove the short distance to the Lek site. On driving slowly along the road I soon found the spot and watched around 20 male Black Grouse doing their thing. The sound was amazing. Bubbling calls and then hissing as they have a real go at eachother. It really is an impressive sight and sound.  It was a perfect morning and the sky was full of birds. The sounds of Curlew, Redshank, Skylark and Lapwing over the top of the grouse was amazing. A few Golden Plover flew over and yet more Red Grouse were also seen. The Red Grouse themselves do a funny display flight over the heather. We went for a walk along the river and a look at the waterfall later in the day and watched a Dipper in the rapids.

Tuesday 3rd May

I got up a little later but still went for a look at the lek and again had excellent views with the birds being slightly closer. Driving on slowly a Short-eared Owl gave some cracking views and a Merlin dashed past flying high after pipits. I then got extremely close to one female Black Grouse as she sat right next to the fence on the side of the road. Once the Grouse finish lekking they flew to a nearby field to feed and I watched them here for a while with some giving good flight views. I returned to the hostel after getting super views of a pair of Grey Partridge and later after some breakfast and a walk we headed for Cheltenham.

To see lekking Grouse and a host of other moorland birds I can highly recommend staying at the hostel. You couldn't get closer, its very clean with all facilities and great value for money.