Saturday, 28 February 2015

Five of five.

Post title refering to the fact that i finally got my first Short-eared Owl of the year, Prestwick Carr the location. So that's the full set of five UK owls in 2015.
Can there be a better sight  than an owl hunting over rough grassland ?
I think not.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

On display.

I bumped into Sam while walking the Killy waggonways last week and while chatting he mentioned that one of the Great Crested Grebes had returned to Killingworth Lakes. I called past this morning and was more than happy to discover that a second Grebe was there but not only that they were displaying, crests raised and mirroring each other. Spring is definitely on the cards ! They were always distant, keeping to the centre of the larger lake so the following image is heavily cropped. Also of note at Killy the returning pair of Oystercatchers were seen and 9 Goosanders on the smaller lake. At one point i had a pair of displaying Goldeneye getting close to the GCGs but sadly not close enough to get them in the same shot.
After lunch i headed up to West Hartford and on approach to the pool had the pleasent sight of 80+ birds on the water. I then spied a fox hunting in the rough grassland directly behind the birds. Brilliant. Within seconds everything lifted in a panic as a dog came bounding towards them. Halfway across the pool the dog came to a stop realising there was nothing left to chase and turned and returned to its owner who immediately put it on its lead. She was quite close by at this time and smiled and said "good afternoon". At this point i explained that it wasn't a good idea to let her dog disturb the wildlife at which she replied "It's ok, thay'll fly back" I pointed out that how did she know that there wasnt breeding or young birds out there. She appologised profusely this time saying she hadn't realised and would in future try not to let it happen again.
A small number of the birds came back including Oystercatchers, Lapwings, Teal & a few gulls. The fox however had disappeared. Shortly after a Little Egret dropped in. A pair of Stonechats were seen as i made my way to the area towards the river but i had no sighting of the Great Grey Shrike in the couple of hours i was there.
I DID HAVE A HEAT HAZE as i scanned the field at one point.
I returned to Killy Lakes after WH and bumped into Sam but the GCGs were asleep while there before the rain started.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Sleeping Beauties.

I've been heading up to Cresswell and Druridge relatively early for the last couple of weeks to see what is about at sunrise (not that we've had loads of sun). I've had 2 Barn Owls, 1 each at Cress & Dru. Over 200 Curlew, 160 were on the edge of Cress small pool & the rest in the field next to it. And numerous sightings of Brown Hares. I've never seen them boxing until this year, that's the plan anyway. I'm home by midday but that means i've usually been out for over six and a half hours. Time flies, etc, etc. It was too dark for the first Barnie and the Curlews for photography but with a ramped up ISO i could have captured the Barn Owl that drifted along parallel to me for a few seconds as i walked along the path to the Budge & Oddie hides but as usual the fact that i wasn't in the Boy Scouts acted against me and i wasn't prepared. Camera not even turned on!
I have had more success with the Hares out in the fields towards Chibburn Preceptory, albeit slightly distant, but that first bout is imminent.
I called off at North Blyth briefly late this morning on the way home not really expecting too much and no Snow Buntings were seen but in the short time i had on my wander round i suddenly realised i was close to over 20 sleeping Oystercatchers and a couple of  Turnstones and they were totally unaware of my prescence. There was some sort of brick pillar in between us so i lined myself up behind it and got within 4 metres of the slumbering birds, leant out, took a few shots and retreated without them even stirring.

A Dru. Brown Hare

Nearly forgot. I saw 32 Whooper Swans on Cresswell Pond as i left earlier in the week. Couldn't fit them all in.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Two birds sitting at Prestwick Carr in conversation........

"Is that a Short-eared Owl up there ?"     "Aye it is, not seen one of them for aaaaages"

Don't panic, you haven't missed out. I've been sorting out an old computer and this image was captured in 2011. Although there have been Shorties after dark i hear.