Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Gosforth Park daily treble.

Any horse racing fans tuning in might think that I had the tote treble up at High Gosforth Park a.k.a. Newcastle Racecourse and had won a few bob. Au contraire.
The treble I had was at the nature reserve and consisted of Water Rail, Kingfisher and Bittern, in that order. On a bright but blustery afternoon I was sitting in the main hide chatting with Paul the reserve warden when a Water Rail appeared in one of the channels cut into the reed beds. There may have been more than one but we observed the bird/ s on six occasions. Not five minutes later I said to Paul "Don't look now but the Kingfisher has just landed right outside the hide". It was on the closest of the perches less than 3 metres away but the sun was behind. It sat for a minute or so before shooting off up the right hand channel and settling on a single reed which buckled under the weight. It moved again after a short while to the opposite side and after another 30 seconds zipped off  and out of sight.
I had decided to hang around until dark to see if there were any Starlings coming in to roost and had decided to make my way round to the Pyle hide. On arrival to my delight I found that a large area of reeds had been cut and a large area opened up. Normally I only call in here for ten minutes and a coffee, not expecting to see too much but all this extra openness might just change things, I thought to myself. While watching the Cormorant tree something lifted out the corner of my eye. A Grey Heron. It was lost from view almost immediately but reappeared further left, or so I thought, and by magic it had morphed into a Bittern. A brief view as it dropped straight into the reed bed again but that was the treble up. I didn't manage to capture the W. Rail or Bittern on camera due to light levels (one too high, the other too low) but did get a brightly backlit shot of the Kingfisher.
While in the Pyle hide and before the light went I did have 2 groups of Starlings which twisted and turned and lifted and dropped. One group had 21  birds the other 7. They were 5 minutes apart but did drop into the same area of reed bed. The question many Starlings constitutes a murmuration ? Did I have 2 ??
As I left the reserve in darkness the sound of the gathering Corvids on the periphery of the reserve was LOUD. There were hundreds, possibly thousands. A few more than my Starlings, anyway.
Hundreds of Woodpigeons passed by overhead also.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Autumn fruits

A walk up to the Rising Sun Country Park earlier in the week was quiet on the bird front but the fungi were very much on display. I did discover over three hundred and forty fruiting bodies of Fly Agaric in an area measuring approximately 200m x 4m in the western plantation which faces Station Road in Wallsend.
Some of the various stages of the Fly Agaric.

.............and a couple of another species.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

It's good to be "back"

Have been venturing out in the last ten days or so for the first time in nearly a month previously due to chronic back problems. Missed some nice birds and weather in that time ,so no last hurrah on the Dragon front sadly. Did see 5 Common Hawkers at Holywell Pond and a single Migrant Hawker last Saturday with a few butterflies, mainly Speckled Woods, putting in an appearance.
Saturday brought me my first Redpoll at St. Marys along with Yellow-broweds and Firecrests and a trip up to Druridge courtesy of the Howdon Blogger afforded nice views of the Subalpine Warbler and a beautiful hovering Kestrel that hunted the dunes as a nice distraction when the Sub. submerged into cover.
Yesterday I ventured up to the Rising Sun, something I will be doing more often with the oncoming of winter and got rather excited with my first autumn Redwings. Only the 2, but still. Nice to see a couple of Dabchicks on Dukes Pond but viewing Swallow Pond from either the hide or screen can only improve as the vegetation dies back. I put my macro lens away for the winter at the weekend and of course forgot about capturing some nice images of the emerging fungi, of which I came across 3 lovely examples which I had to capture with the 300mm. When I sort through them I will post a few. I will post a copy of each species on I SPOT for possible I.D., as with almost everything I come across in the natural world, I ain't got a clue what they are. I just know they are stunning.
One image follows. One of my favourite birds, a Rook, which was making its' presence known on the stabilising cables to the masts north of St. Marys.