Thursday, 23 December 2010

Lapping it up at the lighthouse. Wed. 22nd.

I spent the most enjoyable 90 minutes birding for some time late this morning. A trip down to St. Marys Lighthouse seemed in order to see which birds have been displaced by the cold conditions. A quick neb on the wetland brought the sighting of a solitary Moorhen, slipping and sliding on the iced over water. I headed directly to one of my favourite spots at the end of the promenade. As i covered the few hundred yards from the car, looking over the railings, my eyes were drawn to a stunning Golden Plover. The light was good and this creature looked radiant. In amongst the browns and greens of the rocks and seaweed it was, well , golden. I continued on and dropped down to the beach, to the waters edge, found a dry rock and plonked myself down. In the words of Bob the weatherman, "it was nithering". But i sharp warmed up as i watched the Sanderlings scuttling to and fro, in amongst feeding on the wrack. A Black-tailed Godwit, Redshanks, Turnstones and a Lapwing were also feeding at the end of the beach where it meets the first rocks. If the Sanderlings had made me smile the Lapwing made me stop in my tracks. Just look here.............
...........isn't that lush? ( double click for more detail)
This bird stole the show. It hung around for 10 minutes or so. As i sat i scanned out to sea and there was a raft of Teal and Widgeon. Over 100 in number with a few Mallard in tow on further inspection. By now i was frozen to the core so had to move on. As i climbed the stairs back to the prom i noticed a number of birds at the base of it. First a Grey Wagtail, then a couple of Rock Pipits. A Ringed Plover was picking at the seaweed as was another Lapwing alongside a Redshank.
From upon high looking down to the rocks now, leaning against the railings lots of birds could be seen being slowly pushed in by the advancing tide. What was slightly strange was that they were not in huge flocks, as they quite often are, but scattered around. Other species seen but not already mentioned were Cormorants, in the water and standing wings open on the rocks. By far the most numerous at this stage Oystercatcher with just the one Curlew in amongst them. I was about halfway along the prom and heading towards the small bay to the north before i thought i might do a spot of Bunting hunting when my luck ran out. The sky had been slowly darkening and suddenly the light went and within a few minutes the snow started to fall. In no time it was whiteout conditions. Time to leave but i had lapped up stunning sightings of a LAPwing and not the LAPland Bunting as hopefully expected.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Every picture tells a story ?

I don't think so. These images were taken yesterday afternoon at the Rising Sun, Dukes Pond to be exact.
They could have been taken on a balmy summers afternoon. I can tell you that my eyeballs were stinging, it was that cold. The light, however, did have a "warm" feel to it. The Teal looking spectacular, a stunning duck. The juvenile Whooper still gracing the country park with its presence. Swallow Pond was absolutely bird less on the other hand. The whole area frozen solid and not even a few gulls were sitting on the ice. This is the first time i had seen it like that. No Water Rail in the ditch today but i was pleasantly surprised to see single Treecreeper and Goldcrest within seconds of each other when i first arrived on the outskirts of the park in the wooded hill facing Station Road.

      Male and female Teal looking stunning in the light.

      "Yes, i'm still here" trumpeted the young Whooper to the human.
       "I'm loving this fantastic weather over here"
       "Much warmer than back home, phew!"

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Rising Sun, juv. Whooper

Having been laid low with a virus for over a week i dragged myself out in bitter conditions yesterday up to Swallow and Dukes' Ponds. Parking at Asda i ventured into the park along the main waggonway and didn't hear anything never mind see any bird for the first 10 minutes. First sighting being 20+ Siskins in Alders then things picked up with Tits, Blackbirds, Thrushes and odd Robins dotted around. Headed straight for the plantation ditches expecting and getting sightings of Water Rails. Two in sight, a juvenile and an adult about 15 metres apart, both feeding frantically. I spent over an hour here, trying, but not too hard , to get some images but not wanting to disturb the birds came up empty. Obviously with the birds being in the ditch and in the plantation the light wasn't the best so i kept my distance and just enjoyed observing the markings. I was frozen to the core when i left and moved on and headed straight to the centre, not for a coffee but stood reading the notice board half a dozen times thawing out a little.
On to Dukes Pond, on the look out for the juvenile Whooper which i came across immediately. The water on both ponds being 90% frozen so not much open water and here was the Whooper sharing what was available with Mallards, Coots and Moorhen. The bird left the water and slipped and slid across the ice and in doing so looked to be in fine fettle. Last week when the bird was in the prescence of the Mute cygnets it was approachable down to a distance of 3 metres but now it was on its own if i got within 6 metres it would move away. The conditions obviously no cause for concern for this bird but there were numbers of other species sitting looking disconsolate all around the ice on Swallow Pond. As i type this i can hear water bouncing off the bay window cills as the mini thaw promised starts to take effect. Great news. Lets hope it lasts longer than predicted...for the birds sake.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Sunderland, Mackems.......Newcastle, sackems.

I used to love my football but cheating and greed have sickened me so much that i have almost turned my back on it. The thought of players earning 50, 60 and £70,000 and beyond a week makes me want to throw up, while the folks that support them struggle to get by. The sight of footballers screaming in agony, throwing themselves to the ground and trying every other trick in the book to gain the slightest advantage turns my stomach. You could say i don't enjoy it as much as i used to. The sacking of Chris Houghton just about sums up the state of the game, but above all that of my once loved Toon. The guy who owns it is a **** (you can put your own letters in) and i can't wait for the day he sells up and gets out of town.