Friday, 25 June 2010

Derwent Dipper delight

Thursday morning went out early and decided to call past the Derwent starting at the weir beside the tennis club. A slow walk up to wards Swallwell  visitors centre was interrupted by the sighting of what i thought were a pair of adult Dippers below on the river but turned out to be an adult with a juvenile. The only drawback was the fact that the clouds were dark grey and the light was lousy. I got a number of images that would have been stunning given better conditions but have turned out to be O.K. Here are a few of the "young 'un".

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Butterfly heaven

Paid a visit to Bishop Middleham Quarry on Sunday. This is a Magnesian Limestone quarry that has been a SSSI since 1968 which supports various species of Orchid including Bee. Here are some of the butterflies i encountered on my visit with the bonus of seeing only 5 people and 2 dogs in the 6 hours i was there.

      Common Blue, male.
      Common Blue, female
      Dingy Skipper
      Wall Brown
      Large Skipper
      Speckled Wood
      Small Heath
      also Large and Small White,   and the star of the show..................

      Northern Brown Argus (subspecies, Durham Argus)

Not so Ruff

Having been out most of the day yesterday i was going to give it a miss today but the sunshine got the better of me. I decided to go out later this afternoon and into the evening to make the most of the light. Called in at Cresswell for a couple of hours and was greeted by some Tree Sparrows as they came and went from a hole in the roof to the outbuilding next to the path on the way to the hide. From the hide some Lapwings and Black Headed Gulls were the only birds on the sand island with a single Redshank probing about in a tyre behind. A lone Linnet appeared and disappeared in the reeds directly in front of me and numerous Sedge Warblers kept popping up all around. A Grey Heron that had caught my eye earlier started wrestling with an Eel it had fished. I settled down to what i thought might be a prolonged tussle but the Heron swallowed it straight down. The sightings board had a note of a Little Stint that had been seen yesterday.
I headed up to Druridge Pools from here and after a slow walk up the Oddie hide was pleased to see a stunning male Ruff feeding in front of the hide. A real stonker!  I was going to have a wander up to East Chevington but ended up spending most of the rest of the evening watching the Ruff. A quick visit to the Budge Hide brought nothing of note except a nice sunset.

      a few different views showing plumage Ruff male

      this Grey Heron was looking rather dapper in the fantastic light.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

River Derwent

I have visited the River Derwent a couple of times in the last week. Not far up the river from the Swallwell visitors centre is a small shingle island that sits centrally in the river but is accessible and i love to spend some time on it. Sand Martins live in the riverbank right next to this little island and you can wonder at the speed they enter and exit their digs as they come and go. As i basked in the sunshine on my first visit, a Common Tern approached the island with it's obvious bobbing flight. The bird was fishing the river. It passed overhead, turned and headed back down stream before disappearing around the bend. A couple of minutes later it reappeared, following the almost identical flight path it had taken first time round. It had dropped to the water 4 times and did so again in what looked like the same spots as before. I was readying myself with my camera this time and fired off a number of bursts as it got closer. The bird did the same thing 5 times before travelling by again but this time continued on and kept going without turning. After moving on i noticed a pair of Grey Wagtails "fly fishing" from overhanging branches and semi submerged rocks. Bonny birds that are very acrobatic while chasing their prey, a joy to watch. They were VERY busy. A couple of Dippers, Pied Wagtails, a Kestrel hunting nearby and a Song Thrush belting one out were some of the other highlights. Oh yes, and a Banded Demoiselle was stumbled upon as i scrambled through some undergrowth as i tried to get closer to the river at one stage.
I was back in the vicinity again with Jeff Veevers on Thursday as he needed some images of Grey Squirrels for a project, so i suggested Thornley Woods, OBVIOUSLY. Needless to say the squirrels were located and a pleasant hour was spent there with views of Jays, Nuthatches, a family of Great Spotted Woodpeckers ( the juveniles  much in evidence) and a Stock Dove being the most notable species. Another venture to the Derwent, again to "my island" but as we worked our way through the tall vegetation that covers parts of the shingle and rocks we disturbed a Goosander and her 9 ducklings which took to the water and quickly moved away. The pair of Grey Wags that i had spotted earlier in the week were located, and this time i confirmed what i had thought, that they had young and could be seen travelling back and forth to a stone wall where there was obviously a nest. Although the nest was out of sight, a faecal sac was carried away from the wall and deposited in the river. We called in to Shibdon Pond for a fleeting visit hoping for a possible Dragonfly but were out of luck. Plenty Blue Damselflies and a variety of butterflies but sadly no Dingy Skippers.



......a stunning bird and blue skies       HEAVEN.

.......i was sad to think i had disturbed mum and the kids

        Banded Demoiselle
         Common Blue Damselfly

Monday, 7 June 2010

Killingworth Lake, Sunday

I called up to KIlly to check on the Great Crested Grebes to find both adults off the nest and 2 eggs laying unattended in the nest. I spotted one of the parents not far away and it climbed back up and on the eggs a minute or so later. The juvenile they have must be around 10 days old ( i was away when it hatched ) so i think these may not. Anyway, as you can see from these images the youngster is coming along very nicely.


        ........i must include these Pochard images, a very handsome duck

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Lambley and the South Tyne,Thurs / Ingram,Fri.

This is a walk as detailed in the booklet "Birdwatching in the North Pennines"  Started at Coanwood and after joining the South Tyne Trail for a short time dropped down to the river itself and under Lambley Viaduct then up to the moors. The walk started very nicely in beautiful light and my first birds being Oystercatchers in amongst the rocks by the side of the river. A couple of Pied Wagtails and a Grey Wag before i left the water and climbed the side of the gorge to arrive in the small village of Lambley. Passing by the cottages House Sparrows cheeped their greetings then the sound of young Starlings echoed as i passed through a tunnel under the road which opened onto a field with a lone Sycamore centre stage with a number of Swallows circling it before dropping to the ground. As i crossed the field along with the Swallows which lifted were some other smaller birds which turned out to be Goldfinches. There was a very small stream running across the field and this turned out to be a watering hole for these birds.
From now on and for the next couple of hours i only encountered 5 more species. I crossed the A689 and started to climb slowly and i had sight of the first of these species, Lapwing. One by one they took to the air, some displaying and others worried for the chicks that would be on the ground below. I seemed to pass through a belt of these before the Curlew started lifting.Unlike the Lapwing with their erratic flight patterns the Curlew circled elegantly overhead emitting the evocative CUR-LEW cry. Next species to be obvious were both Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. The later starting to appear on fence posts as i continued over Lambley Common. To my right large patches of heather started appearing and i immediately though i'd see Red Grouse now but to my disappointment didn't. The Pipits were happy making use of the heather along with the fence posts in between the Skylarks rising singing then parachuting back to earth. The fifth species appeared on two separate occasions and each time i nearly had a seizure. The birds in question were Snipe which only decided to appear when i was literally on top of them then would shoot out of the ground cover. I dropped back down and crossed Glendue burn and joined the Pennine Way for a few km. before arriving in Burnstones then turning to head back along the South Tyne Trail again. Nothing much of interest on the return journey as the majority of this was on the gravel paths of the trail with the exception of crossing the viaduct this time. I did spot my one and only Dipper here some 110 feet below along with some fish in the river.
Friday i joined Jeff and his mate Lewy on a walk above Ingram which would take us through Prendwick along Leafield Edge through Chesters Burn and back. A 17 km. walk following my !8.5km. the previous day . A nice walk without being exceptional the highlight, apart from the views, was coming across a Lapwing chick by the side of the pathway at almost the highest point of the walk. A couple of quick images before leaving it for the parents, which were overhead, to drop down and care for.
All images below were taken on my Canon compact camera, a decision i regretted whilst missing out on numerous "in flight" shots of Curlew, Lapwing and Skylark due to that fact i hate using the screen on the back of the camera as is doesn't have a viewfinder.


        In early morning light
        from footbridge below viaduct
        from Lambley Common
        lone Sycamore


        Lapwing chick

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Killy and Lamesley Meadows

A few images of the Great Crested Grebes from 2 days ago and a couple of shots from Lamesley.

        Wall Brown Butterflies.
        An insect!!!!!!