Sunday, 24 February 2013

Fabulous bird, lousy light!

How many times have you said that ?
The plan was for the Howdon Blogger to pick me up at 6.45a.m. this morning and head over and have a pootle around the Gateshead area. I got up for a "pit stop" around 2 and a quick glance out the window brought no surprises. I need a couple of hours to pull myself together before i head out these days and when i arose at 4.45 a.m. i was shocked to find at least 50mm of lying snow and a potential blizzard raging.
The roads were treacherous so we decided to go to Big Waters and Gosforth Park instead. A circular walk around the periphery at Big Waters was enjoyable but cold with a Water Rail doing a Roadrunner impersonation the highlight for me. Back in the hide three Robins interacting and a female Pheasant squaring up to a feisty Moorhen brought a smile to blue lips.(i'll have to tone down that lipstick)
Approaching Gosforth Park and half a dozen cars parked outside the reserve we had already decided that if the feeding station hide was full we would come away and have a quick visit to Killy Lakes to finish, for us, a very short Saturdays' birding. I'm pleased to say that there was only one person in there when we landed which led to a superb encounter with a Fieldfare that proceeded to take control of the tree with the apples skewered on it. The six or seven apples belonged to this bird for at least the last hour we saw it and every Thrush who thought otherwise was to be dealt with in no uncertain terms including two of his comrades. One exception came in the form of a Magpie which was quite distant and up a totally different tree but the Fieldfare was in a bit of a frenzy at this stage and the bird must have caught the eye but just before they engaged the Fieldfare realised the mistake that it had made and pulled out of the attack at the very last second. Closest views i've had of this species and great to see the fabulous markings and colouration.
One word.......stunning.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Druridge Pools/ Rising Sun.

A few images from the last 7 days.
Saturday i ventured up the coast with THE Howdon Loony. We had fabulous light for the first sixty minutes or so, that was it.
Common Snipe on Budge Field
Pony splashing across the Budge Fields.
Now i'm back home i can call by the Rising Sun Country Park at my leisure. Have been enjoying brilliant views of the Short-eared Owls on most visits although i called by this evening for an hour late on and no birds were on view, unsurprisingly the Howdon Blogger had turned up to see some action. There was none to be had.  The Little Owl has been observed on a number of occasions but getting close without disturbing the bird is difficult so no images of that bird. The Bittern is still showing on and off but i'm not a one for sitting for long spells in hides so i will have to be lucky to see it. I see 4 Mealy Redpoll were seen at Swallow Pond yesterday and the lads have had regular views of Crossbills in the plantation.
A selection of Short-eared Owl images follow
A stream of photographers have visited the site with most congregating between the two fields at the bottom of the old pit heap but i prefer to stand on the side of the pit heap hoping for the birds to drift to the western side facing Station Road as the views there are tremendous. You get the birds above or below you as they hunt as opposed to just being at ground level all the time although they do spent more time over the lower fields. Below are a couple images of what i thought was a  Long-eared Owl i encountered before i left one evening last week but it turned out was also a Shortie.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Mediterranean Gull ring no. YJU7

Howdon Blogger John e mailed the ring details off on Saturday and received a reply the next day with full details.
Originally ringed at Palic Lake in northern Serbia as a breeding bird   26/05/2007.
Last sighted scavenging at Amble Harbour by J Hall and J. Atkinson 16/02/2013.

In between these dates the bird has commuted between Amble (autumn thro' winter) to Hungary (spring thro' summer) to almost the exact same coordintes with the exception of twice over here when sighted once each time at Seahouses and St. Marys' Island. In March 2008 it was reported by S. Sexton and on five other occasions by T Mason from 09 thro' 2011.
Very interesting.

Thanks to Brian ( Northumbrian Birdung) for pointing me in the direction of this piece on the Northumberland and Tyneside Bird Clubs' website entitled "Some origins of Med. Gulls in Northumberland" by Steve Holliday with a collation of other sightings but including YJU7. You can locate it HERE

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Mediterranean comes to Amble

The heading refers to both the bird we saw and the weather. The weather was very pleasant but the nice light we had earlier in the day gradually was lost. The bird in question was a colour ringed subject which according to info. gathered so far by myself and the BLAGGER FROM HOWDON was ringed in SERBIA. More to follow when we receive it.
We did spot a second Med but it was very elusive. On the water Eiders doing the Frankie Howard "Ooooh aaaah, missus, no" thing and an attractive pair of Mergansers attempting some synchronised diving. Alternating between the dock and the tethered boats three Turnstone stimulated our small but perfectly formed brains.
Colour ringed Mediterranean Gull.
All you need is a bag of chips and a bloke from Howdon.........
..........and you'll get that elusive white winger.
He tells me he has had this effect on birds all of his life.....
...they have always flocked to see him.
A few more queueing up to meet him.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Just in........................

Dunnock in full cry at the back of wor house.
Posted it on Very Common Bird Alert.

Waiting for the B I I I I G lenses turning up.
Just need a few dog walkers and it will feel like a real country park.

WHOOPS, nearly forgot..........3 black bags of doggie doos lovingly placed at several heights in the surrounding bushes.    That's perfect.

On a totally different subject. News just in that FINDUS are sponsoring this years GRAND NATIONAL.
"Is this wise?", i ask myself .

Friday, 15 February 2013

Monday, 11 February 2013

Sunday Segedunum Skylarks singing.

We moved back home after the flood of "Thundery Thursday" June 14th finally two weeks ago and i have been so busy i have been unable to get out birding. It's been like moving into a new house not moving back to the old one. Early Sunday morning at first light i headed up to the Rising Sun for the first time in a few weeks passing calling Dunnocks, busy House Sparrows and numerous Blackbirds on the way. I took time out on the top of the old pit heap to see if i could espy an Owl, be it  Short-eared or Little but had no sighting of either but my spirits soared despite the biting wind with the sound of Skylarks singing from a number of locations on the ground. I couldn't see any of the birds and with the noise of the wind couldn't actually decide how many were calling but there was at least three. Eventually the wind finally took its' toll and i quickly beat a retreat heading towards the hide on the main waggonway. I didn't see the Bittern in the 45 minutes or so that i spent there but had a very good consolation in the form of the company of ace birder Joe and the craic was good. Nothing exceptional while there but a Sparrowhawk kept us alert as the gulls kept lifting, Joe having mentioned that the gulls had reacted that way on a few occasions when he had seen the Bittern. I checked bird guides later but it was noted that the bird had not been reported at all yesterday. Although not confirmed it was mentioned that there was a possibility of there being two birds of this species hanging about Swallow Pond but then it is just a possibility at this time.
Nothing much to report around the rest of the country park to be honest but it was nice to bump into the Red Stag just before i left. Slightly worrying though as people were trying to feed it and he was approaching to within a metre of these folk. I have a feeling they may have fed him before as they seemed to know he had a soft spot for what looked like cabbage and he was enjoying it. I always worry when wildlife starts to interact with humans. That reminds me, i did spot a Fox circumnavigating the pit heap on arrival. I did check the mouth for any sign of human appendages but none were seen. Yes, wildlife and humans mixing only means trouble and we know only too well the the poor animals will come off worse.
Red Stag at the Rising Sun, getting too close for my comfort. Antlers covered in velvet.