Friday, 29 June 2012

Glug, glug, glug.

Blogging posts suspended for now due to flooding of house last night. Water had subsided this morning but you can imagine the mess! Birds lovers don't panic, the House Sparrows, Starlings and Blackbirds and all their young are fine and being well fed.
Canon lovers.............cameras first to be evacuated to higher ground.

Since you asked............we are getting there, thanks.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Pyramidal Orchid.

I was in Kent last week visiting family and managed a couple of excursions out on my own. Saturday morning was blowy, but compared to Friday it felt like a light breeze. I ventured to a spot very close to where my son lives but didn't even know it existed. Darland Banks is chalk grassland and scrub on a steep south west facing escarpment which is part of the Kent North Downs. More sites of which i aim to explore, due to the specialised terrain, over the coming years.
I didn't expect any of the potential Chalkhill Blue, Marbled White or Green Hairstreak butterflies due to the gusty conditions and exposed position and i was spot on. One interesting candidate sped past at a zillion m.p.h. but heavens knows what it was. I did however get one of the hoped for species of Orchid, namely the Pyramidal but i must have been too late for the other the Man Orchid. Happy nonetheless with what i had i then had the unenviable task of trying to capture a decent image.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Verging on the ridiculous.

While visiting Kent this week i walked along the promenade at Minnis Bay to Plumpudding Island wanting to return along the Wantsum Walk. On doing so the coucil workers were out with ride on mowers and strimmers flattening everything within 3 metres on one side of the path !!! It's June for gods sake. Most of the plant life is pushing on. HELP STOP THIS STUPIDITY with the Road Verge Campaign at Plantlife.Sign it NOW and an e mail will go to your local council.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Retail therapy and birding.

The Royal Quays has it all. The retail park is full of bargains and the marina has the returning Terns breeding. You don't have to go to the Farnes to be dive bombed just pop down to the banks of the Tyne.
30 birds seen on the ground with a further 4 heading out to fish as i arrived. I spotted one chick but many looked to be sitting on eggs. One pair playing catch up as i sat.
Single Common Tern chick
Catching up.....i think that's what it is called.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Weather harsh, Warbler................Marsh.

Hoping to get the daily double up on Saturday morning John (Howdon Blogger) and i heard the first Marsh Warbler at Big Waters around 6.45a.m. We were entertained by displaying Great Crested Grebes and feeding Tree Sparrows as we waited in vain for the bird to appear.
Having decided to try again later, off we headed in teeming rain to Hadston. On arrival the bird was heard immediately, performing most of its repertoire but staying low in the Phragmites. The rain had relented slightly initially but it was dark and chilly in a brisk wind. Up popped the Marsh Warbler onto a sycamore into full view for a minute or so then down again. It did this on around 8 occasions while we were there over an area of some 30 metres. While waiting on one occasion something caught my eye further to my right, this time in a line of conifers. Not sure of what i was looking at i said to the guy standing next to me " What colour is that Squirrel ?". "Red" he replied. A very nice surprise.
Meanwhile the birders present were still getting good views of the Warbler with some, i'm sure, getting nice images. I however had forgotten to reset my camera having been messing around the previous day with aperture openings and early images were taken on f 32, that along with high ISO's help to explain what you've seen so far.
A little belter belting it out.
The return to Big Waters brought us improving conditions. More Marsh Warbler song, this fella didn't quite have the same variety as the Hadston Bird, but still no show. While sitting with John and Graeme B. enjoying the song all three of us as one gave up a cheer as one of the Great Crested Grebes presented the other with some weed and both birds lifted out of the water momentarily. With the sun shining more and more we decided to explore a couple of ponds and had lots of Damselflies many in tandem, ovipositing and a few in wheels. Heading back to the  car park we all stopped in our tracks and fell silent. Cameras were raised and images captured.
Belasis Bridge not too far away so John and I headed there to see if any Banded Demoiselles were on the wing but the River Blyth was a raging torrent and water levels high so no surprise that none were seen. Compensation in the form of a flock of Swifts taking the huge numbers of Mayflies that WERE on the wing. The Swifts came in low and close on numerous occasions..............magic.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

A splash of black and white.

A walk up to the Rising Sun yesterday in variable conditions. The weather swung from sunny and hot to dark, windy and wet but it was always close. Swallow Pond was busy but nothing overly exciting on there. The Great Spotted Woodpeckers' nest was quiet, and quite possibly empty now, so i headed on to Dukes' Pond which had 2 families of Coot and a pair of Swans with their 6 cygnets. A little later a striking pair of Reed Buntings worked their way through the phragmites shortly before a single Common Tern drifted in to feed. This is a nice spot to watch the Terns when they come over from the raft on Swallow.
The dark grey skies made me decide to put this up in black and white.
On the Damselfly front, Dukes Pond had plenty tenerals in the surrounding meadow grasses. The Double Ponds again held numbers of immature Damselflies, all Large Red, which preferred the bushes and small trees as resting places. The Plantation Pond however had some mature Blue-tailed Damsels over the water with a single female ovipositing. This was the pond i posted images of multiple exuvia on stems from, which i found again.
Fantastic subjects. Common Tern over Dukes' Pond.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

A splash of colour.

While out with John (Howdon Blogger) on Saturday in the Beacon Hill area i took very few images. Plenty of nice birds about but the light was awful that and the fact that we spent a couple of hours in a wooded area didn't encourage use of the camera. At this time of year i have one eye on the birds and the other on interesting spots for possible Dragonfly sites. A couple of interesting spots were noted, one by the side of the road and a very nice pond alongside the footpath between High Trewitley and Muckley. In the words of Arnie "I'll be back".
The sight of these Bluebells in front of this Gorse did however prompt me to raise my Canon. A splash of colour on what was a grey day, always a bonus.

Monday, 4 June 2012


Here is "Red" the Red Deer stag who happened to be quite close by as i paid a visit to the Rising Sun a couple of days ago. As you can see he recently shed his antlers which are made of bone and as soon as they were shed velvet started growing over the bony stump. This velvet is richly supplied with blood vessels and nerves and bone is laid down within it. When this years antlers are fully grown the blood supply to the velvet will be cut off and it will  begin to die with the stag rubbing it off on branches and trees.
Incidentally a twelve pointer is called a ROYAL. The definition of a point, which dates back to the last century, is simple. If the strap of your binoculars can be hung on it then it counts as a point.
Here is"Red" back in March.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Whimbrel, Arcot Pond.

The now weekly Saturday birding jaunt with Howdon Blogger left at 6 a.m. as usual and started off at the Rising Sun so we could view the Great Spotted Woodpeckers' nest that i found a couple of days earlier. Enjoyable views of the female coming in to feed young in disappointing light leading to high ISOs on images.
On to the Beacon Hill area taking in a couple of places, i've since learnt we shouldn't have been, our first bird of the morning was a Pied Flycatcher. On an unnamed lake two families of Canada Geese both with young, an adult from each party decided that "this lake ain't big enough for the two of us" and the peace and tranquillity was shattered as they tried to drown each other. In another wooded area that was out of bounds i saw a pair of Redstarts then John put me onto nesting Blue Tits, Wrens and Robins. A couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were briefly seen flashing by, more conflict.
We both were having to cut our day out short so on the way home we called off at Arcot. Initially it looked quiet on and around the pond but a Grey Heron was spotted at the back of the reeds then pairs of Pochard and Tufted Duck and a single Coot on, with a number of Swallows over the water. Another pair of Blue Tits nesting was nice but as we left we both caught a glimpse of something landing in the long grass in the south east corner. We diverted slightly on our exit and up went a Whimbrel calling as it flew off in the direction of Big Waters. This one's for you Alan.

Any idea what was being fed to the young ??