Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Belly nice

Caught up finally with the  European White-fronted Geese at the Rising Sun feeding in the field to the east of Swallow Pond. This is a horse field and the grass is always lush here thanks, i would think, to the manuring it receives throughout the year. I've commented to folks before that the grass must be sweet as the Red Stag favours this field also and the geese have been seen here mostly since they arrived last week. A bonny goose with lovely markings across the adults bellies, making each bird very distinctive.
What a fine goose...adult.

Juvenile...less markings around beak and on belly.
Loads of Blackbirds around the park, great to watch them chucking the leaves around in the undergrowth. No other Thrushes to be seen. Dunnocks were prevalent  with a few calling and a few Tit flocks. Quiet otherwise but i did see the Jack Snipe momentarily as it lifted as a walker almost trod on it at the far edge of Dukes Pond, it shot off towards Swallow.
Here are a couple of more goose images to have a gander of.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

See gull........

Herring Gull
..............enjoy gull.Imagine heading down to the coast and not hearing the iconic sound of this gull. A handsome, slightly menacing looking bird that helps to keep the streets clean also.
You gotta love 'em.
As a small boy they were the sound of a Sunday afternoon for me. I lived in North Shields not far from the Fish Quay and i remember when the streets were empty on a Sunday after 2.30p.m. when the pubs had closed and almost every shop was shut. There was almost nobody on the streets, there was no reason to be. Sunday was a day of rest and you were not allowed to sell so many things, fish and chips top of the list i seem to remember, except if they sold them at the rare Chinese or Indian takeaway. Woodbines were 9d for a packet of ten....................
Anyway, i love carpets me...........sorry Herring Gulls.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Double take

Prestwick Carr Thursday early afternoon, no Great Grey Shrike to be seen and generally in was quite quiet but as i approached  "that" hedgerow six of the beauties could be seen to be on the wing. Must have caught the end of the activity as they quickly settled down. Five birds in view by now, four on their favoured fence posts with another over to the left in a Hawthorn. Gradually they disappeared and all was quiet again. After that the high point was a passing Red Admiral. I had seen one on Saturday also when i ventured up the track to the sentry boxes. That day i did see the Great Grey Shrike, my first. A good week for me as i had my first Greater Yellowlegs, which i caught up with at East Chevington having seen my first Grey Phalarope earlier in the day on Wednesday at Hauxley. All in between sightings of a Water Rail, Kingfisher, Whoopers and a single White-fronted Goose.
I had already started this post before reading Peters update today, obviously confirming the owls schedules at Prestwick. Must add that i did see a Common Darter very briefly last Saturday at the Carr.
Did you spot the second owl in the image??

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Bit of sunshine on a miserable day.

Brightening up your day, i hope.
I'm taking you back to Sunday, 6th of November and a stunner. I'm posting this on Tuesday, 8th of November and the sort of miserable day that makes you want to chuck yourself off the Tyne Bridge at the thought of things to come. Having left Blyth South Harbour John and i ended up at Druridge Pools eventually. My first thought was to go see if there were still Common Darters at the end of the track heading out to Low Chibburn Chapel. For some reason we stopped off at the hide looking out over the Budge Field and a movement low in front of us brought one of the dragonflies i was after. It landed on the front of the hide in full sun taking in the heat that the sun was so generously providing as was the second Darter we found on a fence post when we moved along the track.
Common Darter looking dapper in late autumn sunshine.
Back along the track and views from the Oddie Hide included a fairly brief but clear sighting of a Water Rail on the far bank. Before Druridge we had called in at a very busy Newbiggin and with an explosion associated with Guido Fawkes sending every bird within half a mile of it up in the air we quickly headed up to the point. Jimmy Steele was set with his scope directed on the North Sea giving a commentary of some nice sightings as they drifted past as he told us of the Siberian Chiffchaff he had found at the mound earlier in the morning. We left him answering his mobile for the umpteenth time as news was obviously circulating of the bird and he issued instructions to inquisitive birders. 

Monday, 7 November 2011


On a beautiful Sunday in November with global warming flexing its muscles to their full extent Blyth Harbour was the first port of call. In quite quick time the sound of Snow Buntings carried on the still air and into mine and Johns (Howdon Blogger) shell like orifices. 8/9 of these delightful birds were in the vicinity but very flighty. We had the area to ourselves for around 30 minutes but gradually birders and "others" began to drift in, a bit like the sea in the tranquil conditions. The 8/9 count referred to the slight differing in opinion of how many birds were actually there. They did fragment into smaller groups on occasions and only settled occasionally. The top of the beach and the tall grasses in front of the wall, a couple of the jetties and in and around the industrial units seemed to be the favoured spots. Obviously loads of gulls were scattered about the area with numbers of Cormorants hanging out to dry occupying spots in amongst the sailing vessels. The sight and sound of Eiders, the males doing their "OOOH AAH missus" Frankie Howard impersonations and lots of necks being thrown backwards seemed to be impressing the girls. The thought of spring briefly crossed my mind.
Sundays best lookers,,,,,,,,,,,,who's a pretty boy ?
A couiple of other nice species soon to be seen in the form of a number of Shags opposite the jetty at the end of the beach. While watching the slightly too distant for an image birds, but hoping for a closer in flight shot the BONUS BIRD OF THE DAY appeared from beneath the calm waters of the estuary in the form of a Red-throated Diver.At a distance of approximately 25 metres initially views were cracking. It slowly drifted out of the harbour diving (the clue is in the name) and reappearing while i and another guy scuttled along the jetty trying to keep in front of it while keeping the lowish sun on our good side so we could fully enjoy the opporunity.
Juv. Red-throated Diver
Press F11 to enhance your enjoyment of the images. Enjoy.

Friday, 4 November 2011

S.E.O. W.H.

Arrived around 2 this afternoon at West Hartford having decided to get there early as far as the Owls were concerned and to have a leg stretch and wander about the site. All morning it had rained but by now the sun was out and the light was fabulous. Not much to report really, usual Tit flocks, numbers of Blackbirds, a dozen or so Redwings passed through but more importantly no humans. Very nice.
Headed back towards the two pools hoping for a Common Darter on the more northerly one but no luck. Took up position by the trees in between the other pool and the fire station and within five minutes at 15.45 a Short-eared Owl appeared in between the two pools and dropped into the reeds almost immediately. Out of sight for a couple of minutes but the bird showed almost constantly for the next 40 minutes. It tracked around the main pool from the northern corner through to the west almost systematically searching the short grass around the waters edge and landing on a fence post. It did this five times before covering the main reed beds, tracking across the field in front of the fire station then heading over to the small plantation beside the electricity sub station. Spent ten minutes on a post in this location before heading back over to what seemed to be its favoured area alongside the main pool.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Just the one..........

......but it was the first day of November. I walked up to the Rising Sun yesterday with a target species in mind but was side tracked on arrival by a small flock of Long-tailed Tits. Determined to get a nice image in the lush light i pursued the birds for a good thirty minutes. Either they were on the wrong side with the sun behind, partially hidden by leaves and branches or just kept ahead of me as i followed them along the waggonways. I finally gave up and had no sooner left them that another flock came towards me from the opposite direction. These were in the shade so i moved on to the small ponds at the edge of the plantation. I was hoping for a Common Darter, but i had arrived later than i had planned and although the sun was still putting out a bit of heat you could feel the afternoon chill that you get at this time of year just kicking in. Checked out the timber platforms immediately without success then into the reed bed areas, again nothing about. With the sun low in the sky anything on the wing always catches the eye so i stood for ten minutes, nowt. One last chance, check out the trunks of the trees and eventually the one and only dragon tucked away but with the beautiful sunlight glistening on the creatures wings. 
Basking Dragon.
I've seen some nice bird species lately. I had a thirty second view of the Pallid Harrier at Saltholme while out with John (Howdon Blogger) the other weekend, this despite John leaving me to search around the reception area while he was standing outside enjoying a fly by. NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY. Last Sunday i ventured down to Sleddale having discovered at the last minute the car was available. On a stunning day i had prolonged views of both Rough-legged Buzzards, a juvenile and an adult female. Fantastic birds to observe hovering, hunting low across the terrain or climbing on the thermals. Got a couple of record shots and having gone off mid afternoon to explore Hob Hole a picturesque ford on Baysdale Beck and returned an hour later i was gutted to miss out on  brilliant images as the bird appeared from behind me within twenty metres only to realise my camera was on the car seat. Earlier in the morning i had decided to explore Scaling Dam while in the area and stayed there until lunchtime having explored the nature reserve area and found a circular trail which took you out and away from the reservoir and onto the edge of the moors and beside a nice wooded area. I had forgotten that a Red-breasted Goose was there (and still is) but came across a flock of around 140 Fieldfare and numerous Red Grouse in between a Stoat chasing a Rabbit across the hillside in front of me.