Tuesday, 30 March 2010

You want yer 'hammers

And i got mine. Having left Big Waters i came across a pair in the hedgerow even before i parked the car at Mayfair Cottage. I was within 2 metres with brilliant views but the camera was in the back. I mentioned the Yellowhammers, as in the 3 hours i spent at Prestwick Carr i came across them on a number of occasions. Now i don't know if these were them same flock and very mobile but i don't think so. They were brightening up what was a grey morning. This had started at 4.00 a.m. with the intentions of heading up to Harwood Forest hoping to glimpse the Great Grey Shrike, the Butchers Bird as it is nicknamed. What an image that evokes. The forecast was for rain coming in from the south during the early afternoon so i thought that if i set off nice and early ( naffed off about the clocks "springing" forward) i could get a few hours in before the lousy weather. At 4.35a.m. it started raining steadily and i was having second thoughts and by 5.15a.m. it was hissing down and the expedition had been aborted. Big Waters to look forward to i though ( stop that laughing, you at the back). Can i just point out at this point that i had already been up to Harwood last Thursday, not only birding but i do some walking with my mate Jeff, usually in the Cheviots, but i had convinced him that a walk in Harwood would be nice and that something interesting might pop up. The forecast that day wasn't brilliant but would be improving but we had to put up with very thick mist for the 9 miles we covered. Plenty birds could be heard but only showed up as silhouettes on the trees. The "Butcher" can wait 'till after Easter. Is that how it works? I'll book it in for next week. Wednesday would suit me.
Back at Prestwick Carr, Zola would be impressed with these 'hammers, full of vim and vigour unlike his lot. Plenty Reed Buntings, lots of Pheasant calling, Corvids galore, all on the Carr but no Owls or Birds of Prey of any description. I always expect to see at least one Buzzard here.
In the hedgerow and tree line the usual Blue and Great Tits, Robins Blackbirds, Dunnocks and Chaffinches. There was however a distinct lack of Wrens. I spent an afternoon at Prestwick in late November when the leaves had dropped specifically looking for Wrens in the undergrowth and wasn't disappointed but was saddened i had no joy seeing any at all. This is my favourite time for birding as the foliage hasn't started to cover the trees and shrubs yet and not only can you hear the birds calling but you can still see them. Not the case in a few weeks time. The other highlight at Preswick was having a Chiff Chaff less than 4 metre away in the hedge singing for all it was worth as i leant on a gate scanning the Carr. And it didn't cost a penny........real value that. You can't actually put a price on that kind of thing.
Big Waters was enjoyable without being over exciting, although there was 5 stunning Pochard on the water and i had a distant view of a couple of Great Crested Grebe. Speaking of which, i had also planned to visit Killingworth Lakes but the weather closed in and as i headed back , the rain started so i came straight home.
Fingers crossed for Sunday as i fancy a trip to Geltsdale.

Images from feeding station at "Muddy"


    Tree Sparrow


     and i had to include a Yellowhammer


  1. John,
    sorry to hear your visit to Harwood was postponed and am looking forward to Geltsdale (if there isnt snow of course).


  2. You must be a very experienced birdwatcher John. Hubby and I used to go out, armed with an identification handbook..... we used to hear the birds but hardly ever saw any!

  3. I'm only average Lesley, but i must say some of the guys i meet are unbelievable in the knowledge they have. I get by most of the time but its like anything it comes with experience and practice. I've only been been a couple of years since i had bilateral knee replacements and had to get out and about to exercise them and keep them mobile.
    I had very little dealings with nature in any way. I was a city boy and loved all the things i don't particularly like now. Booze, fags loud music and wild women......never had time for the countryside.
    Bloody heck!, i hadn't realised i had changed so much. For the better i may add.