Saturday, 31 July 2010

Long Nanny, Druridge Pools. 30 07 10

A trip up the coast with Mr. Cheviot for a spot of birding. First stop Long Nanny with a wander up through the dunes from the car park. A large flock of Curlew were the first birds we got our eyes on as we spent the first part of the walk looking downwards for butterflies and moths. We dropped down to the beach next to the footbridge over the burn and had sightings of Ring Plovers and Dunlin but then noticed a very smart Knot still partially clad in his summer plumage. Very nice too. The rope fencing had been removed on the beach for the Little Tern colony who were mainly away in the distance at the waters edge with the tide being way out. There were however the odd couple of juveniles quite happily sitting higher up on the beach shuffling around occasionally as an odd few people drifted by them.
Our next stop was going to be at Low Newton to have a neb of the recently formed scrapes but there were cars parked along the roadside along way from the village so decided it might be a bit crowded so turned around and headed off to Druridge.
Our first sighting here was on the finger post as you head in off the road. A Dragon was taking in what little sun was being produced and allowed my to get my magnifier out( i won't tell you what i use it for normally) and inspect it within a few hundred millimetres. I love these creatures...........when you get in close and see those eyes and the way they turn their heads. My son was watching Clash of the Titans the other night in H.D. and kept saying "Isn't that amazing", commenting on the special effects. "NO" i thought to myself. Something you might see in nature is amazing.
Into the Oddie hide and a bit of bait, it was well after 2 p.m. by now, and here we had the obligatory Little Egret, which the few that saw it got quite excited about!!!!! Can't understand why, they are almost commonplace these days.

      A smart Knot
      A smart juv. Little Tern

     A finger post............but look closer.
      A TITAN of the insect world...........on a finger post

      A Little Egret........which i have included because of the TERN

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Buzz off .....Tues.

The forecast wasn't too promising so cancelled photo. day out and decided to exercise the legs with Jeff. As it turned out the weather held although it looked like it could pour down at any time. Today our outing would take us to Yeavering Bell from Browns Law taking in Commonburn House on the outward journey and Tom Tallons Crag and Gains Law on the return. Parts of the walk would be on St. Cuthberts Way, my first time. The final stats coming in at.....10.47 miles travelled, total ascent 431 metres and max. elevation 367 metres. Not a very high walk by recent standards confirmed by the fact that as we decended Yeavering Bell a class of schoolchildren, who we had encountered distantly on 3 previous occasions during the day, also climbed to the top . Nice to see the kids out and about like this, god knows what health and safety issues they had to overcome to do it!
The avian highlights of the day were a couple of Whinchat families on the way to the summit of Yeavering and while up there we had another family, this time 3 Kestrels all hunting on the hillside but below us so we could see the lovely markings from above. Makes a nice change seeing the Kestrel from this angle, last time was on Cabinet of Curiosities blog, photographed from the cliff tops by Phil.
The real standout of the day however was whilst coming back. We came off track for a time and while we did this rather loud droning sound was suddenly noticeable. I mean, it was a bit freaky as we were in the middle of heather and gorse with nothing else but a few sheep in close proximity, and i ruled them out straight away. Carried on and dropped back on to the path and a few kilometres later rounded a small wooded area to find 50 beehives. We spent 15 minutes in the area listening to the bees, at a safe distance of course, then as we continued kept checking on the GPS how far we were away from the hives before we could no longer hear the drone. I haven't a clue how many bees you can get in a hive but it was over 1.25 miles before we could  hardly hear the sound!
 Again, i only had my compact so didn't manage to capture the Kestrels in flight ( i hate those screens) but did capture something else airborne.

      We'll fly high in the sky....


      Hives in the middle of  nowhere

Monday, 19 July 2010

Greenlee Lough update

Mr. Ceviot has since been in contact with Alison Allcock, Information Assistant, National Park/ Tourist Information Centre, Once Brewed, Military Road, Bardon Mill, Northumberland. who said that they knew that the Ospreys were feeding on the lough and had put in a feeding station. The birds, they think , are from Kielder and that they might find that area too busy for them and relocate permanently.
I am sure if anyone happens to visit the area and have any sightings or images it would be appreciated if any information was passed on to Alison

Saturday, 17 July 2010


Sorry that should read OSPREY ! OSPREY ! OSPREY !
Not one, nor two but three.
I go walking most weeks in the Cheviots usually, with my mate Jeff "Mr. Cheviots" Veevers but yesterday we decided to do Hadrians Wall and a circular route from and back to Steel Rigg. Now bear in mind we were out walking not birding and i always take my bins and compact camera just in case there is something worth recording. Jeff is into photography more than birding and he had his Nikoff DSLR but only a 70m.m. lens as he was only expecting to take some landscapes, weather permitting.
The weather as it turned out wasn't brilliant with very gusty strong winds, lots of cloud cover with occasional sunshine and some squally showers. We left heading east following the wall itself passing Crag Lough to our left which disappointingly had absolutely nothing on it. Before Housesteads we turned north onto the Pennine Way  crossing Jenkins Burn with Broomlee Lough some little distance to our right. Again this body of water held no birds and to date we had seen plenty Meadow Pipits, all the Hirundines and Skylarks but not much else. Having followed the Pennine Way for 2.5 km. northwards we turned off as we reached Stonefolds and headed west which soon had us skirting Greenlee Lough but at a distance of at least 150 metres. Eventually we got closer to the lough and came across a signpost indicating that there was a hide. We had only been in the hide for a few minutes when we heard a loud shrill "Pieu, Pieu" and Jeff and i looked at each other. An Osprey immediately came into view, followed by another seconds later. No sooner had we taken this fantastic spectacle in then a third bird joined the other two. Jeff and i were panic stricken by now fumbling about in bags for cameras to record what we were watching. The original sighting lasted about 3 minutes with the birds moving about independently hunting for fish before disappearing behind the tree line. On another 4 occasions birds could be seen but at greater distance, i saw one dive into the water feet first but when it came up it did not have any prey in its talons. Here are 3 not so good images captured in our frenzy courtesy of Jeff.

The images are not the best but thy are something of a record. It seems obvious that there were a pair of adults and a juvenile but it was a bit frantic.
Leaving the hide to continue our walk took us on the 500 metres of boardwalk installed over the fragile wet habitats surrounding the water. Species in this area include Sphagnum Mosses, Cranberry, Bog Asphodel, Marsh Cinquefoil and Devils-bit Scabious amongst others. White-clawed Crayfish are known to be present also along with Large Heath butterflies that feed in the grasses.
This is Northumberlands largest natural lake and as you can imagine is a SSSI  and National Nature Reserve.
I will be returning in the next couple of weeks not only to try to get more sightings of the Ospreys but also to explore the areas flora and fauna.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Cowpen Bewley

On my way back from Crimdon Dene and having limited time i called into this woodland park. I have only been once before, much earlier in the year so was expecting much in the way of Dragons', Damsels',and Butters'. Unfortunately the weather has continued to be changeable with a blustery wind at times. I will be back in the next couple of weeks as the landscape looks to be brilliant for all three. A lack of water is very noticeable as quite a few of the smaller outlying "waterholes" were barren with large cracks running through them. A bit more rain, sunshine and a bit less wind and BINGO, i reckon.
In the limited time i had along with Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies, i came across some stunning Emerald tucked away in a wooded area which looked at if usually held an amount of water. I walked part of the nature trail and scanning the meadow insects of all sorts where hovering about with various Butterflies also but with limited time i was not able to pursue any to make out what species they were. Just the one Dragonfly was found, a Four-spotted Chaser, which i sat down to, to try to capture some images of. The sun was behind some menacing clouds for the rest of my visit so i had a walk to the main lake to see what birds were on the water. Nothing too exciting and no sign not surprisingly of the possible nesting Kingfishers but i did find the Sparrowhawks nest and in the two minutes i had to spend there saw two chicks. Got to go back soon.

      Four-spot Chaser

      Speckled Wood, female

      DOUBLE CLICK any image for more detail.

N.B. 2 good sightings at RISING SUN  COUNTRY  PARK, 10.00a.m. Little Egret, 12.50p.m. Greenshank THURS 15 JULY    per Birdguides

Monday, 12 July 2010

Holywell Pond

As i sat, legs hanging out of the car early on Saturday morning in Holywell village struggling to get my new "daisy roots" on i was thinking about how i had been chastised by the Blogger of Howdon for saying it was quiet on the birding front as Swallow and House Martins swirled above my head. Juvenlie Starlings uttered all sorts of strange noises,as they do, from various rooftops and a number of Goldfinches shot through. On the way to the pond aback the houses the large numbers of House Sparrows chirped continuously as more Swallows, this time sitting on the telephone lines and yet more House Martins zipped about between the gaps in the houses. On the school field the usual Corvids were on the grass but also it was a nice surprise to see an adult Song Thrush with 2 juveniles. Mmmm, mevvies not that quiet really.
Called into the public hide first and was greeted with17 Lapwings and 2 dozen Black -headed Gulls in and around the receding waters edge, in amongst them were 3 Lesser Black-backed and a couple of Herring Gulls. As i scanned around, a Grey Heron was preening itself, perched on a large tyre in the centre of the island with a pair of Mute Swans close by with their Cygnets. More House Martins, these collecting mud from the edge of the water and disappearing overhead.
A walk up to the members hide found the feeding stations either side very quiet. A lush juvenile Robin did appear on the ground briefly and was joined by a juvenile Chaffinch but they spotted me and flew off. (Can't blame them). For the rest of the time in the hide my birding wasn't focussed as a Black-tailed Skimmer emerged from behind the reeds to my left but was something like 15 metres away. It kept tracking back and forth but always too distant for an image and my prayers weren't answered. A Four-spot Chaser was clocked to my right a little closer but added to my frustration as far as photo opportunities were concerned. Although i had lost focus on the birds on the pond a Common Sandpiper flew into my eye line, did a bit of a circuit then went in the direction of the public hide. Naffed off with the "Dragons" i left and headed back on my tracks for the half hour i had left and relocated the Sandpiper. "Great little bird to watch" i thought, as it did its Roadrunner impersonations if a Lapwing decided to get too close. Those legs can move. A bit of a ker fuffle between another Grey Heron and 8 Canada Geese which appeared around the corner of the pond sent most the species up in the air including the Sand' which disappeared. I decided to have a quick walk down to the waggonway before i left to stretch my legs and as i stuck my head back in the hide before i left there was a Little Egret. It didn't do much in the 10 minutes or so before i had to leave but i left with a smile.


Friday, 9 July 2010

Banks Pond and Killingworth Lake

     A few images from earlier in the week calling in at both sites. As everyone else has commented , the birding is relatively quiet so these are of some smaller creatures including Common Blue Damselfly, Common Blue Butterfly, Five spot Burnet Moth and a Bee.

     At Killingworth Lake, a place i hadn't visited for 3 weeks or so all the Great Crested Grebes on both lakes are progressing really well with their young. This image gives you some idea how much the juveniles have grown in such a short time.