Friday, 24 September 2010

Migrant Hawker - Cowpen Bewley

On the day i espied the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Greatham Creek i called into Cowpen Bewley Country Park on the way home hoping for some success with dragonflies. I was not disappointed.
The first 4 images were taken around the small pools by the main lake. The final image was captured as i was returning to my car via the wooded area just behind the reception centre. I was stopped in my tracks by the pair of Darters as they appeared overhead before dropping into the trees. Don't forget to double-click on the images to appreciate the beauty of these extraordinary creatures. Whilst magnified take a close look at that last image to see how the male Migrant Hawker is embracing his partner.
Some like it rough, they reckon!


Thursday, 23 September 2010

White-winged Black Tern and waves of bombers.

Hadn't been out with Mr. Cheviot for a few weeks so we planned a walk to Ross Back Sands then down to Low Newton and Druridge Pools. The forecast was reasonable but deteriorating as the day went on and it was spot on. Early light was very nice as we walked across the links from Ross village down to the sands but it was quiet. When i say quiet i mean in bird terms but at the same time it was quiet in a peaceful and tranquil way with only 6 humans observed as we headed south towards Budle Bay. Spectacular views with Lindisfarne to the north and Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands in the opposite direction.
Just picture it, wide open sandy beaches with superb views of the Northumberland coastline. It don't get much better than that i can tell you. As we got closer to Budle Bay the honking of geese could be heard above the slowly increasing wind. Having heard the geese we started noticing more and more geese in the air. The tide was a long way out, which isn't the perfect time to visit Budle as the large numbers of birds deposited around the bay were spread over a very large area. We only had a limited amount of time so we took up a position on the north side of the bay and sat for 30 mins. or so just taking in the overall views and a coffee. I mentioned the geese in the air earlier but we had time to watch the skies as we were sitting and the geese could be seen coming in, in family groups of between 10-20 but also larger numbers, all from the north. Quite a few were dropping in front of us while others carried on down the coast. It was getting busier and busier overhead in the relatively short time we sat and looked skywards and by now the geese were coming over in waves. With the recent Battle of Britain programmes i couldn't help thinking they looked like enemy bombers coming over set to do there worst. There was of course plenty of other species present, all the waders you would expect and a few ducks but the geese dominated the scene.
Back to the car and on to Low Newton, this time hoping to get parked and finally get to see "Stringers Scrapes". The last time was a few weeks ago during the school holidays and on approach to Low Newton we could see the cars parked almost all the way back to High Newton so did an about turn. Approaching the scrapes we spotted 2 birders intensely peering through their scopes and asked politely if anything interesting was about. On looking up i realised one of the gentlemen was Ian Davison, a great bloke, and he said that the White-winged Black Tern had been there but a while ago and had not showed since. We hadn't had anything to eat so after a quick look on the scrapes headed to the hide at the pool so we could sit for a while, have our bait and see what was on the water. Again large numbers of birds present but nothing extraordinary and while not enjoying my hastily put together sarnies Jeff said "what we got here?".
It was the Tern. The lolloping flight of Terns always remind my of butterflies and this was no exception. The bird was in view for 15-20 minutes and never got a minutes peace. There are a number of timber posts sticking out of the water spread around the pool which the bird would land on from time to time but unfortunately it looked as if the various gulls had bagged them earlier and they were not going to let the tern make itself comfortable on any of them. A number of chases ensued with the Tern outmaneuvering any pursuants easily but the gulls never stopped so most of the time we watched the bird moving quite quickly.
A couple of corvids even joined in the persecution of the bird so eventually it disappeared over the treeline.Only poor images were captured so none here. Calling back at the scrapes as we left Ian said that it hadn't reappeared and the only birds we saw there were Dunlin, Snipe and Redshank.
On the way down to Druridge the skies had darkened considerably and there was rain in the air. Again nothing too exciting on the water but numbers of ducks look to be increasing.
A couple of images below including some nice fungi on Ross Links and an interesting insect from Druridge.

      "golf ball" fungi?
      interesting insect.......has it escaped from a radioactive establishment?
      i have captured Darters on this finger post before

      I'm very sorry but..........................

      ............shocking images of White-winged Black Tern

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

When a tic becomes a twitch

It was beautiful when i throw open the curtains this morning so i decided i would have a wander down to St. Marys'. A bit of bookkeeping, a neb on the blogs and a peak on birdguides.
I suddenly developed a tic when i saw that the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was still at Greatham Creek.
No, St. Marys'.
Bollocks, Greatham.
I am like the Queen. I never carry cash usually, so load up and call by the cashpoint for dosh for the tunnel.
On the bird straight away and had good sightings for over an hour ( cheers Simon) but never close enough for inages, not on my paultry lens. SIZE IS IMPORTANT!. So i was going to sketch the bird but as usual Stewart has beaten me to it so won't bother and you can look at his. Exactly as i saw the creature. It eventually lifted and i sighted it again for a few more seconds before it moved further up the creek.
I left a happy chappy heading off to Cowpen Bewley Country Park on the way home to see if there were many Dragons or Butters knocking about. Very quiet on the Butterfly front with a single Red Admiral and a few Speckled Woods. I did in fact actually see more Dragonflies numerically.I did capture images of these and will post a few in the next couple of days. Hawkers and Darters. A quick look on the main lake as i circled it but nothing exciting.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Shibdon Pond and babes in the wood?.........not likely

While all eyes were trained on Spotted Crakes, Green Sandpipers, Greenshanks and the like i was enjoying this little beauty.
      this juvenile Dunnock was "doing it" for me.
I must admit i did take a peek at the above mentioned birds before heading out to my favourite place, the reed beds where i enjoyed views of this stonker.
      a male Southern Hawker patrolling his patch and getting a bit of grief, it has to be said, from a Common Darter who had claims on one particular corner of the pond and was not too pleased when this guy flew over and intercepted despite the difference in size. A noticeable shortage of butterflies before i left for Thornley Woods, not for the hide but to look for a small pond in a clearing that i had encountered a couple of years ago. BINGO, stumbled across it almost immediately and first sights were of this little lady.....

      ovipositing continually along the side of the timber walkway next to the water. I was joined after 20 mins. or so by a lady with her daughter and 2 other children in her care. I was most taken by the amount of interest the kids were showing in the dragonfly and one of them even spotted a male which had appeared on the far bank. A lesson in the ID of dragons followed for the next 20 mins. along with explaining that the female was laying eggs. Everything was going well until the male came over to the female and there was a bit of a kerfuffle. "Look" i said "their having a fight" at which point they coupled together and flew off. I could see the kids looking at me and wondering, " they have flow off to get married!" i blurted out, looking at the mother who was wetting herself laughing under her breath and winking as if to say, you got out of that well. An observation from the lady saying that she had been in the woods for a couple of hours and had seen no other children. Commenting " If you call in the Metro Centre it's packed."       A sad truth.
But it made for a very peaceful couple of hours nevertheless. I might venture back up and down the coast again.
" SCHOOLS BACK "   Mr. Cooper.
NO, not Tommy, stupid.