Thursday, 10 December 2009

Simonside 8 12 09

Set off on Tuesday in beautiful conditions. No wind, no rain and the sun was shining. Picked up Jeff in Cramlington but as we proceeded through Morpeth and northwards the light deteriorated as the cloud descended. Never mind, as far as i'm concerned strong or blustery winds make for the worst conditions when out walking.
 We left the car in the parking area just past Lordenshaw and at the top of the first rise were greeted by the very seasonal tree in the first picture, mind it could have done with some nice lights.Despite the clouds the views were still cracking with a couple of Roe Deer and a Fox being the only mammals we saw. On the bird front, Red Grouse exploded into the air, whirred and glided regularly all the time we were walking. Apart from a few Crows and four Greylag Geese which passed overhead there was nothing to match the pair of Red Kites we had seen soaring in the Langlee valley last week.Oh yes there were some other birds i spotted, Swans, on Caistron lake, well as you can see in the pic it was quite distant and i'm not sure what type. You can see along with Caistron the meandering Coquet river also as it heads towards Rothbury passing Thropton on the way.
Due to the vast amounts of rain of late, underfoot conditions at times were treacherous and if not for my walking poles would have come a cropper on four occasions. If you are thinking about, or have just started doing any kind of "off path" walking get a pair of poles.

Merry Xmas..........BAH,HUMBUG

View N./N.E. towards Rothbury

View S. towards Fontburn Reservoir

View N. from Simonside Crag to Coquetdale with Caistron on left and MEANDERING River Coquet

Note the use of Meandering....Davy Tee

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Big Waters 5/12/09

I haven't been to "Muddy" for a little while and having seen the weather forecast, come hell or high water, i was going to commission the car this morning. I wasn't disappointed. More and more these days i find it harder to sit around in hides for any length of time.Thanks to Jeff Veevers i have discovered the joys of walking and although the hide at "Muddy" is probably one of the best sited and most comfortable, i enjoy viewing birds whilst out and about. I'm not knocking sitting around in any hide, the enjoyment i get from that is the patter with the lads and the advice i get from the experts to the continuous stream of questions i ask people. There are some very knowledgeable birders around and almost everyone that i have met have been very helpful.
My visit must have lasted 4 hours and only an hour of which spent in the hide. Like everywhere else water levels are high, i haven't seen the scrape opposite for the last 3 visits and the feeding station is partially under water. Stories of John Ballantyne watching the Kingfisher feeding in there were doing the rounds. It was fairly busy on the water with a female Scaup the highlight. Suddenly the Scaup was airborne, a series of ripples appeared on the water close by, then up popped the Otter. One of the lads managed to capture a shot of it with a fish it had caught before it disappeared into the reed beds to the right of the hide.
Before and after i had been to the hide itself i spent the rest of the time in the wooded area that the boardwalk takes you through. The lack of leaves on the trees now enhances the enjoyment i get from my birding as you can get good sightings of them scampering and scratching about in whats left of the undergrowth.The light and shadows cast also were absolutely stunning and i just stood and bathed in the glow. There was not a breath of wind in there and you could hear every sound clearly. Great tits and Blue Tits seemed to be everywhere. It
 appeared to me that they were reveling in the sunshine and had decided to have a game of tag in the trees. In amongst this there were up to a dozen Blackbirds scattered about with the usual alarm calls ringing out every few minutes. Chaffinches were in abundance, a number of which were hopping around on the boardwalk, along with a couple of Robins that made an appearance. I was on a tight schedule and had to get back with the car and reluctantly had to DRAG myself away. On the way out the resident Sparrowhawk landed on the branch of a tree less than 5 feet away but took one look at me and vanished as quickly as it had appeared. I was gutted as i had my camera in my hand at the ready but it had happened sooooo fast, but i did get a pleasant surprise a moment later when a Treecreeper appeared on the tree in front of me. This one didn't get away.               I reluctantly left, one happy man. I hope some of these images capture the atmosphere.

Scaup female

Pheasant male.........wader?????

These images were all captured in the wooded area

The boardwalk leading in to hide.

Coal Tit

Treecreeper 1

Treecreeper 2

Blue Tit