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.


  1. Nice picture John and glad you could get out during the week when I was working hard to earn a few shekels to afford a packet of chips on a Saturday ;=}

  2. p.s You can claim you saw 2 murmurations and when asked how many you can say "into the 3 figures" without telling porkies thats 21 and 7 which is 3 figures, of course you will come unstuck if they have read your blog but then again how many of your friends can actually read, including me ?

  3. Placing a bet on getting all three may have made a nice accumulator John.
    Having been recently checking out collective nouns for bird species, I'm wondering about 'accumulator of birds'.

  4. PS I suppose that should have read accumulation of birds. ;-)

  5. John,
    I haven't got a clue what you are on usual.

    I suppose it would be an accumulator as the birds are coming in to flock and an accumulation when they have all arrived.
    SO........having read up on collective nouns, how many Starlings make a murmuration ??

  6. Ha way man, I haven't read everything yet. However it seems quite logical to me that you need enough to make an audible murmur, then you have a murmuration.;-)