Friday, 30 March 2012

Ring Ousel at The Rising're having a Giraffe !!!

Caught up with the little beauty this afternoon. Had three decent sightings as it hopped in and out of the gorse initially before it moved up the hill slightly joining up with a pair of Blackbirds on a track in front of the top tree line.At one stage some bozo nearly decapitated another birder and my good self as his model aircraft nose dived into the hillside. That wasn't too bad but what upset us was the fact that it startled the Ring Ousel which lifted and dropped into a much larger and thicker area of gorse which had it hidden from view for some 20 minutes!
I'm surprised so few came to see it. It was on view on the eastern side of the old spoil heap in the slight dip where the gorse bushes are. I've included an image of the area below.
Sedgedunum Ring Ousel
Hangin' out with a couple of Blackbirds.
Perfect Ring Ousel habitat !

Prestwick/The Sun/Muddy/Havannah

Pottered around earlier in the week in glorious sunshine. Everything singing their heads off perched mainly in the tree tops.
Reed Bunting belting it out at Prestwick Carr.

I was up at Prestwick Carr at first light on Monday, it was magnificent. With the mist clinging to the ground and trees until finally burning off.  It took a couple of hours and it was decidedly chilly for the first 90 minutes or so. No Shorties(too early) or G.G.Shrike but the place was teeming with life. Birds of note included a single Lapwing, half a dozen male Reed Buntings making themselves known, a score of Curlew lifted intermittently as i headed up to the sentry box from the horses field.( I missed a brilliant flyover image!) and a Kestrel made the presence of a Buzzard in the same tree as it to me by eventually chasing it off before joining a second bird of  its species immediately after doing so.
 Tuesday morning i spent a couple of hours at the Rising Sun, again in wall to wall sunshine. As i scoured the pond for a white winger one of the lads noticed a Pink-footed Goose as it drifted into view from behind the reeds but it was observed for only moments before lifting with 8 Canadas. An Oystercatcher dropped onto one of the islands briefly and the lone G.C.Grebe still remains. No Iceland Gull before i left for a wander with a count of 5 Chiffchaffs at various locations before i was drawn by the "wheezing" of one of my favourites a Greenfinch. The plumage on the males more than make up for the tedious call which just about matches that of the Chiffchaff.
Stunning male Greenfinch but an awful "song"
After a midday appointment i headed up to "Muddy" Big Waters via the Havannah reserve. A place i visit occasionally but fails to inspire. I did get my first white butterflies of the year in the shape of 3 Small Whites all in the same vicinity and 3 Peacocks scattered around. Bird wise very little.
Big Waters provided me with 2 more Small White butterflies as i drove in followed by 3 more Peacocks later on. I spent the majority of my time by the dipping pond close to hide number two. The NWT cut down some trees beside this pond late last year and it is now a very promising site especially as Alan J. put some time in cleaning up the pond itself. I had a pair of Newts on 4 occasions, don't know the species and there was quite a bit of activity in the water for the time of year. I couldn't spot any Damselfly nymphs in there but had Pond Skaters, Whirligig Beetles, a Water Boatman and various "other" smaller species swimming about along with a number of Tadpoles. While i enjoyed the sun and the pond i was serenaded by the bird pictured below.
Chiffchaff serenading, if you can call it that.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Nissan L.T.T. ?

Caught up with this bird at first light at Prestwick Carr. Obviously tavelling down to Nissan for the day shift as i caught it doing the pre-work stretching exercises associated with the car manufacturer.This little fella obviously working on the new Leaf.
Long-tailed Tit

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

It's spring, make love not war.

Rising Sun skirmish.
At first glance you would be excused for thinking "just some more Coot fighting" but this scene developed as i had been watching a pair of drake Mallard trying to drown each other as a female watched on admiringly at a safe distance. This duel had continued for two or three minutes when, enter stage left a Coot just had to join in. The Mallards had been evenly matched in what had been a relatively gentle affair but the introduction of Coot into the equation seemed to be the catalyst for a battle royale. Needless to say the Coot entered the fray feet first. I'm pleased to say all parties left the scene in one piece.
A few days earlier while visiting Killy Lakes a heavyweight bout broke out in front of me. No ring announcer or anything. In the blue corner a Canada Goose and in the red corner............another Canada Goose. This just about went this distance with, in my opinion, a draw the correct decision. But it was an aggressive clash with no quarter given by either protaganist or antagonist. Both live to fight another day i'm pleased to report.(Sorry LDNPA cullers)
Canadas battling with concerned onlooker in foreground.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


Very dodgy dodgy-scoping, in fact abysmal-scoping.
But what species are the birds ????
I blame the scope meesell.
That fantabulous image was taken at Cresswell along with the one below.
Lapwings sunning it on the sand bar.
Quite a number of birds about today while on a halfish day jaunt with Brian, Killy Birder. A large number of Pink-footed Geese the main attraction at Cresswell along with the two birds above. That was before a brief visitation to Druridge Pools with 5 Grey Heron and a Stoat stealing the show there. We called into Blyth Estuary initially and again, with perfect timing for the tide, masses of birds probing the mud. Hundreds of Redshank scattered the full length of what we had in view with the eyecatchers being the 28 Shellduck. Other waders there included Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwits. Brian brought some birds to my attention on the North Sea off Snab Point the best being Red-throated Divers but he secretly wanted a Gannet but was disappointed. Newbiggin had Brian spotting a nice couple of birds again. A PUFFIN and a CORMORANT had him quite excited mentioning that he had not noticed these birds here before. The edge was taken off these birds for me when i saw an old lady talking to the PUFFIN while her son let us know that she was not exactly compos mentis. That and the fact both birds were made out of cast iron !!
I was down at Teesside on Saturday with John, THE Blogger from Howdon and Alan, an expert from Dinnington and Big Waters. Highlights down there were the Black Redstart at Newburn Bridge and another sighting of the juv. Glaucous at Hartlepool Quay. There was a very, very well camouflaged Jack Snipe at Saltholme that had the two wardens on duty describing every detail of what they had not seen to every visitor to the hide. I'm being naughty here, these guys do a good job and my hat is off to them. But it was amusing.
A Fish Quay roof !
A grey bird with a red start or stert or steort, tail to you.

Best sighting of the day for me on Saturday was of  5 Skylarks chasing each other around at Saltholme.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

You cannot beat a bit of Bully !

As an iconic figure in broadcasting said often on a dozy Sunday afternoon.
Bully 1

Monday had me heading to Killingworth for a rendezvous with Brian, the birder from that location. I had an hour or so to myself around the lakes before we were meeting up and wandered towards to car park end having been enticed there by distant views of Goldeneye. Before that i espied 4 female and a single male Goosander. Always distant, always in the middle of the water, frustratingly. From one set of super birds to another and i had 5 male and 4 female Goldeneye surprisingly in the proximity of a lady who, having spoken to her, regularly feeds the birds. The lady in question kept disappearing from view occasionally disappearing in the melee of Swans and Geese. It was nice to get fairly close to the Goldeneye, who are another species that tend to drift to the middle of the lake as you approach, with the added bonus of some displaying.
I eventually met up with Brian and the account of most of the rest of the day can be read here.
Briefly though. A smart Ruff caught the eye at Shibdon. 2 pair of Bullfinch at Clara Vale. A number of Short-eared Owl were entertainng, as ever, at Prestwick Carr and i got to see the Great Grey Shrike at much closer quarters than i had done weeks ago when it had first arrived.
Bully 2

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Going batty at West Hartford. 29/2/2012

Aquired the car late on yesterday afternoon so thought i'd have a couple of hours up the road. On arrival i had a single Short-eared Owl hunting in front of me but it drifted over the larger body of water and continued over the fields by the River Blyth. Initially on the pool were a couple of hundred gulls but as i approached they all lifted and numbers drifted of in different directions. I was left with 10 Oysterecatchers and a scattering of Teal around the fringes of the phragmites. Not much else to report initially but as the light started to go i had a second Shortie to my left in the vicinity of the farm on one of the fence posts. It lifted then dropped to the ground and that was the last i saw of it.
I sat in amongst the trees between the two pools for 20 minutes after the light had gone but it was when i was leaving and had passed the metal railings of the compound on my left that someting caught my eye. It turned out to be a bat. As i stood watching between the tree line and compound the bat kept flying back and forth along the line of the path at a height of between 2 and 3 metres. It stayed with me for a good 5 minutes and as i made clicking noises with my tongue it seemed to stop in flight and come to me to investigate. I had it flying within 300mm of my head at times. I know that sh*t attracts flies so it may just have been that i had attracted some insects close by and that is what it was after. The individual was between 75 and 100 mm across the full width of the wings and 50 to 75 mm head to errrrrrr tail. It seemed to be feeding by aerial hawking so having checked out a couple of web sites going by its jizz i reckon that of the 15 or 17 species ( depending which site) in this country the chances were it was a Common Pipistrelle. Of course, had i had a bat detector i would have known immediately by the frequency it was using for echo location.
Absolutely no chance of an image of the mammal so this was the best i could manage.