Happy Birthday

Aira Force
Highlights from a recent birthday surprise and a visit to the Lake District.

Few better places to wake up than on the shores of Derwentwater with the snow-capped fells in the background. Following breakfast we headed south and through the rapidly melting snowfields to Ullswater and the National Trust managed Aira Force. On a Tuesday morning in mid-winter it really is a beautiful place.

Plenty of birdlife to be seen with the sound of Great Spotted Woodpeckers hammering resonating throughout  the woodland. More surprisingly were the Goldcrests flitting in and out of the Junipers and catching flies in the morning sunshine.

Aira Beck close to the start of the walk.
Aira Beck close to the start of the walk.
An unusual, arched bridge with the stones laid vertically.
One of the more unusual, arched bridges that the Lake District is famous for.
Aira Force at 1/5th second
With a mini-tripod in the rucksack i couldn’t resist trying the little Panasonic LX10 on a relatively slow shutter speed (1/5th second). Although the result is fairly reasonable it just feels like a bit of a cliché.
Another at 1/5th second.
Another at 1/5th second. Unsure which one I prefer so why not upload them both?
A Red Squirrel at one of the feeders.
A very wonderful Red Squirrel.

Fortunately surrounded by fells the remote location of Ullswater has allowed Red Squirrels to survive with numerous feeders found throughout the lower areas of woodland.

Hmmmm................suspect this one is a male.
Easy to forget just how much smaller they are than the Grey Squirrels released by the landed gentry during the Victorian era. The subsequent population crash that now threatens their very existence is a disgrace. The 11th Duke of Bedford really does have a lot to answer for . Likewise, the idiot who released them at Henbury Park in Cheshire in 1876. For more information an interesting article.
Another Red Squirrel on another feeder fixed as always to the shady side of the tree.
Expertly removing the shell to a sunflower seed.
Following a really enjoyable morning somewhat reluctantly we continued south over the Kirkstone Pass, stopping off in Ambleside for a coffee before arriving at Leighton Moss.

With young Meghan joining us the hides and majority of the footpaths were off-limit. A shame, but 7 month old Border Collie’s aren’t to be fully trusted in hides full of thousands of pounds worth of cameras, binoculars and telescopes. However, I’m fairly sure she’d be quieter than the stampede across the hide when one of the Otters decided to put in an appearance.

Female Otter fishing for Eels at Leighton Moss
Although I’m not 100% sure the consensus seemed to be this was the adult female. With 3 hungry mouths to feed she spent approximately 20 minutes diving amongst the ice and catching Eels.
Sunbathing in the chilly waters of the Island Mere
Sunbathing in the chilly waters of the Island Mere. Probably our best view yet of Otters at Leighton Moss.


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