A late Ring Ouzel was found and photographed by Adam Moan near Tindale Tarn on Sunday. This is the latest ever record for the reserve, although we have had November records of this summer visitor before. The bird in the photo was with Fieldfares, there are thousands on the reserve at the moment, mainly feeding on hawthorn berries. There are also Redwings in some of the flocks and a few Lesser Redpolls. Good numbers of Snipe have been seen and on Tindale Tarn there are slightly higher numbers of Tufted Duck and Pochard and a few Goldeneye are there too. The occasional Whooper Swans have been dropping in and also the occasional flock of Pink-footed Geese flying over.
If finches were last month’s birds, this month is of the thrushes. Earlier in the week, mixed flocks could be seen passing through the reserve in number - groups of 10’s to 100’s of Fieldfare, Redwing and Starling. On the 6th, hundreds of Fieldfare stopped off to feed - erupting from the vegetation as you pass, swooping around in every direction. A more secretive thrush has been spotted about the reserve, black with its white crescent moon, look out for Ring Ouzel stragglers who should soon be leaving for the continent.
Finches are still present, Chaffinches and Goldfinches heard calling overhead or at the feeding station. Some of the birds are still singing – the Wren and the Robin come as no surprise, but Dunnock and Chiffchaff too? Tit flocks are to be seen in the woodlands – my favourite fluff on a stick (the Long-tailed Tits) are always a joy to behold in their family flocks.
Green and brown - predominant colours of the fells, but look a little closer, wait a little longer for that moment of sunshine to illuminate the land in its autumnal glory. The red of the berries attracting the Black grouse to the trees above the visitors centre, the orange and yellow of the shy waxcap mushrooms, the lush green of the grasses, hiding the Red grouse on the fells, the blue of Tindale tarn, dotted with the many Coots that can always be seen, the vocal Canada Geese, as well as Mallards and Teal, Tufted-ducks and Pochard, and the occasional Goosander and Goldeneye. The majestic Mute Swans floating, visible even from the far ends of the tarn, but look a little closer for perhaps it’s the Whooper Swans you see. The Lapwings that have been seen on the meadow, along with the Starlings grazing with the sheep create a myriad of colours within their own iridescent plumage.
Look low to see the Stonechats popping in and out of the vegetation, and the skittish Dipper amongst the rushing streams. Look to the sky to see the Kestrels dive bombing the Buzzards as they stray too near, the Barn owls silently floating by (or roosting the day away on the livecam in the visitor centre).
Autumn has come to Geltsdale, and it’s beautiful.
Written by Suze Lewis, a residential volunteer at Geltsdale for the last month. Thanks to Suze for all her hard work on the reserve in the last few week.
The Gallery at RSPB Geltsdale will feature a new exhibition from 25th October, showing original artwork by Barry Robson from the children’s wildlife books ‘Kitty the Toon’ and ‘Screamer the Swift’.
Local author and naturalist John Miles has teamed up with illustrator Barry Robson to create a series of children’s books which explore the lives of British birds.