Thursday, 26 June 2014

Consolation prize, Gosforth Park.

I arrived at Gosforth Park at 4.40a.m. today only to find that i was the fourth birder in there !!!!
No Little Bittern but we had views of a juvenile Water Rail on three occasions, two male Kingfishers put on a brilliant show and having kept an eye on an area of pond where some Black-headed Gulls were diving bombing something a Eurasian Bittern lifted and showed briefly.
Not a bad morning really.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Up Close

That's the name of my other blog dedicated to images captured with my 100mm f2.8 macro lens.
My latest post involves a visitor to our garden in Segedunum (aka Wallsend)
Click HERE if you are interested.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

The reel deal.

I spent ten minutes trying to locate the reeling Grasshopper Warbler while at Arcot Pond yesterday morning. It did the right and proper thing by me and appeared atop of a bush and continued to belt out this unique call. Doing this for almost the full thirty minutes or so that i observed it, dropping down on only three occasions to take a quick break.
You have to see this bird in the flesh to appreciate the effort that it puts into this activity. The throat vibrating and the whole body quivering as it continually turns the head in long slow sweeps of at least two hundred and seventy degrees. Sublime.
You little belter.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Black n whites flying high.

Not Newcastle United, i'm sorry to say.
I think i've got my next Blogger header lined up, for now.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Black-winged Pratincole, Hauxley. Right place right time, just.

THE Howdon Blogger picked me up at 4.30a.m. as arranged and we headed up to the Druridge Bay area. The plan was to call in at Cresswell, Druridge Pools, East Chev.,Hauxley and Amble (for lunchtime)
Anyway, having been to Cresswell and while at Dru Pools due to timing we decided to go to Hauxley next as it would be best for THE Bloggers chip fuel stop. As we headed there Great White Egret, Hauxley came up on Johns phone. Champion.
Enjoying nice views of the Egret from the Wader Hide with occasional interactions from the Grey Herons we noticed the Tern Hide opposite was rather crowded. A Red-breasted Goose had also been reported earlier so thought that was the reason for one or two arms and legs projecting from the openings. Jokingly John pretended to shout  across the reserve in the hides direction " The Great Whites over here !!" There was plenty other activity with Oystercatchers continually peeping and posturing around the edges of the islands and Shellduck squabbling on the water. The seemingly day trip for some of the residents of the Washington Wetland Centre, a number of the geese, also provided splendid entertainment. We were literally leaving the hide when a gentleman came in and said "There's a Pratincole  over in front of the Tern Hide"
In double quick time we set off but about half way round a message came up that a Black-winged Stilt was there. The bird has shape shifted !!! As we approached the hide a respected birder was leaving with his faithful companion ( a fine beast, i may add) and said "There's a Black-winged Pratincole out there and don't let anyone tell you different"  TOUCHE.
John got a seat in the front row but i was at the rear and managed a couple of squatted chances at viewing and photo opportunities but the bird lifted barely five minutes after we arrived. The bird was being tracked in flight by those at the front and i went outside to try to get views. The bird circled a few times but i only got on it once and it was high. I deleted almost all of the in  flight shots there and then. Much debate ensued on going back into the hide  and a few people had canny images of the bird on the ground. The debate was still continuing as we left and here are 3 abysmal images i captured. The in flight one, although embarrassing, i kept just in case it helped with i.d.
Heavily cropped

Here's one you can play "SPOT THE PRAT" on.             Yes, i know. He's holdimg the camera.
All awful, i'm sure you'll agree.
Back to the geese. There were 7 Bar-headed, the Red-breasted, a Swan Goose, the Egyptian Goose looked quite a home there and many Canadas and Greylags, as you can imagine. A strange scene at times  when they drifted about on the water.
Cresswell earlier had 18 Little Gull and 20 plus Black-tailed Godwit. Barn Owl made brief appearance. We were privileged to witness a pair of Avocets mate then they walked off with the male covering his partners back briefly with his wing. 3 Otters briefly appeared distantly in front of the reeds nearest the causeway. WE THOUGHT IT COULDN'T GET ANY BETTER AT THAT STAGE.
The Druridge Budge Field had 2 Spoonbill and 2 Little Egret. The main pool was quiet.
East Chevington also was relatively quiet.

UPDATE  Check out Hector Galleys images HERE on Birdguides. He did have a ringside seat (that's my excuse)

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Little Gulls in flight.

Not brilliant images but you can pick out wing detail easily. Early morning action from Cresswell Pond as the birds fed in and around the margins before flying off south in the direction of the village. The world of difference when the sand bar is exposed when the Trust take time out to keep the water level managed (i.e. clear the outlet ).

Monday, 9 June 2014

When Doves Fly.

I was not out with THE Howdon Blogger on Saturday so decided to head out early Sunday and head up to Druridge via Cresswell. On arrival it was nice to see 33 Black-tailed Godwits initially whose ranks swelled to 46 a little later. Looking resplendent in the early morning sun many with that fabulous orangey brown hue. Alongside, on the sand bar, 18 Little Gulls seemed fidgety. Taking to the air and dropping back down on a number of occasions triggered by either noisy Black-headed Gulls or anxious Lapwings. Eventually all the birds were spooked and both the Godwits and L. Gulls ended up on the far spit opposite the road joining 3 Avocets which were already over there. The Godwits mainly disappeared from view but the Little Gulls started feeding and moving around the edge of the pond. Activity in and around the reeds has died down noticeably since last week with Reed Buntings taking over from the Sedge Warblers as the birds to hear and see swinging on the reeds. A couple of Little egrets seemed to appear from nowhere with nice close views of a party of Swifts which decided to feed in the Willows next to the hide.
I was heading up the track away from the hide when a bird caught my eye sitting on the wall between the outbuildings of the farm just to my right. It was a Turtle Dove but after less then 20 seconds it lifted and flew off over the hedge line heading north. I noted the time, 6.22a.m., and headed back towards the hide in case it had dropped into the trees back there. I gave up after a while and called in at the car park by the causeway where a birder was standing with his scope. I let him know what i had seen before moving on and deciding to pull in by Bells Farm. There was the bird pootling up the drive towards the buildings. I grabbed a few shots before a gentleman on a quad bike suddenly appeared and voiced his disapproval of my pulling in with the car. I explained that a Turtle Dove was making its way up the drive and as it was 6.55 a.m. and giving me 5 minutes wouldn't put anybody out at that time in the morning but it fell on deaf ears and i was asked to leave. Not having a smart phone i rushed along to Druridge where i knew Iain was going to be ringing so he could put it out for others to enjoy. It seems it wasn't seen again.
Cresswell Farm wall with barn in background.

Record shots of Turtle Dove pootling up the drive at Bells Farm before i was asked to leave. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!

At Druridge the Budge Fields had singles of Spoonbill and Little Egret with a pair of Garganey roosting in amongst the tussocks. Out towards the rectory i had brief views of Tawny and Barn Owls. Obviously the rain on Saturday had stopped them feeding.

Monday, 2 June 2014

My first Odonata of the year,

Yes, my first sighting of a damselfly was on Saturday and it was on Teeside. As THE Howdon Blogger and i admired the Common Terns not far from the Greatham Creek car park a teneral caught my eye. I haven't a clue what it was but it was a damselfly at last for me. I haven't gone out of my way so far this year to seek them out and when i've been out recently it has been generally cold. Last Thursday for example i didn't see my first butterfly until after 2 p.m. due to the overcast and chilly conditions. I quickly saw (in order of appearance) Blue-tailed, Common Blue and Large Red. Yee haa.
Having visited a few sites birding we eventually landed at Saltholme. I saw my first dragonfly of the year there, four Four-spot Chasers were doing what it says on the tin and busy chasing each other about. I also saw my first damselfly casualty, a female Blue-tailed who was taken whilst in the grasp of her partner. She had been ovipositing and a diving beetle had grabbed her from below. The male was trying to lift her from the water but after a couple of minutes released hold of her and flew alone to safety.
On a break between chasing.