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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Shaftoe Crags - Bolam

Not having been to Shaftoe Crags  for some time we had a drive up parked at the end of the lane and braved the fierce wind  as we headed on a circular walk around to the rock outcrops, a hard surface had been laid for part of the way since our last visit i thought it over the top till I twigged it comprised of  concrete railway sleepers placed face down ,but even so it must have taken some time and effort  to lay these.   Several   Buzzards encountered but little in the way of small birds and no sign of  expected Wheatear  we did see 2 grey Squirrel in a small wood  

 Thats one solid road of  railway sleepers
 I think this large stone is called The Tailor and his man
 Some of the as yet unused sleepers
 I have seen anything on this small pond
 the stone has some severe weather wear as presumably water runs over the edge

 This looks like a Lizards head

 Steps cut into the rock lead to a small cave presume it was used during quarrying

 More steps lead to the cave
 Some parts are very wert as you would expect from an area like this

 Its a nice area to visit we did a circular walk
 which goes back through this gap

 Called in at Bolam on the way back these two Roe seemed unconcerned by us
 picked out 2 Scaup on the choppy water so I got some shots just to check they where not Lesse Scaup

Friday, 13 March 2015

Mandarin & Short Eared Owl

Just a few images from the month 

Short Eared Owl from near Stobswood /Widdrington never came close harried by Corvids for most of the time
 The Barn Owls at Cresswell are certainly drawing the crowds this late evening just before darkness drops in digiscoped image
 Whilst it out flew the Crows it did prevent it from hunting over the grassland
 You can see the fascination  of Owls with the bright eyes looking down at you as they drift past silently
 Probably the closest it came lucky I had brought my DSLR as as good as it is the SX50 struggles with flight shots
 When Shorties drop on the ground they just blend in , I don't know why its wing is outspread it was not successful in hunting
 Slightly out of focus shot but I do like the wing spread

The recent Mandarin on the Wansbeck and with some sunshine to boot what a stunning bird these are  oddly the DSLR shots where very poor whereas the SX50 seemed to handle the bright sun and bold colours very well.

These two shots taken from the bridge before it went to settle with Mallards on a small island 
A section of the large flock of Pinkfeet at Stobswood that held the Ross's  goose spend some time on the pools with more a couple of fields over but no where near as many as previous it seems at this stage that many have moved on taking the Ross's with them

Monday, 2 March 2015


Boulmer  was the chosen site for a walk from the small village to Howick Burn not a long walk  just a gentle stroll the tide was well out on arrival ,so we set straight off taking food etc: with us and taking the top path rather than go along the shore .I checked the fields and fence-lines for any birds  but it was not till we had gone two thirds of the way that a flock of about 40 Linnets where encountered near the cattle feeders , I scanned as best I could but all seemed to be Linnets . Crossing the bridge at the burn and up through the gate i noticed a sign "Howich Hill Fort" so off we walked , I had no idea there was a hill fort here despite having walked the coast path a few times , it's only a short walk but it's not until you climb up the hillside and see the outline from within that it shows as a hill fort , so it's well worth the small detour . Back at the Bridge for a coffee stop the wind cool but it was sunny and dry , some years ago I found some large  dressed sandstone blocks laid out in the sand from an old structure , I sent off the photo and it featured in Northumbrian magazines section for any information but I got no reply so still intrigued as to what it was , no sign today it must have been buried ,heading back via the beach nicely sheltered from the cold breeze , Rock Pipits and Pied Wagtails a plenty feeding in amongst the rotting seaweed, by the time we got back to the car the tide was coming in strongly pushing the birds ever nearer , I scanned with the scope and made a loose count , nothing you would not have expected just a good number of waders frantically feeding as the tide pushed the line of birds up the sand I was looking for any colour ringed birds , six Grey  Plover flew past heading north .
Check out these stunning images of Northumberland , I just love the one of the bathing house which is just about 1/2 mile from the burn and taken the same day as our visit .Anita Nicholson Photography

 The familiar Yellow helicopter which I believe is to be replaced by a private service 2016? , It just hovered for awhile circled and hovered again before heading North
 Difficult to show the hill fort in a photo , you can make out the outline edge , with the burn to the right
 Looking back towards the burn there is a bridge across , and a path leads through to Howick Hall gardens
 Heading back via the beach looking back at  the burn as it meets the sea 

Friday, 27 February 2015

Prestwick Carr

Late afternoon and I headed to Prestwick Carr in the hope of Owls I did not go too early just enough time to have some daylight for a walk around down to the sentry post and back again to the platform just as well despite the sunshine it was freezing, Bullfinch ,Chaffinch, and lots of Goldfinch along the track hedge of the bumpy road , Willow Tit tantalised me with good views which I tried to capture  but they move around so fast all I photographed where twigs . I stopped now again to scan with the scope hoping for a roosting LEO hidden deep in the bushes but no luck .  Three Kestrels and two Buzzards encountered , heading back to the platform in the now fading light a  Tawny called from the plantation I got set up on the platform and just scanned and scanned the fading light gradually reducing how far I could see six Roe Deer hopped over a fence one by one and disappeared into the long grass . I tried the scope it seemed to gather more light but obviously a much narrower field of view , then suddenly a Short Eared Owl popped into view as it hunted in the distance, at one point it hovered in the air for what seemed like a few minutes but was probably only 10 or so seconds  I eventually lost it so looked through the bins but could not see very far at all , Surprised just how much more light the scope pulled in would not have seen the bird without it , Picked it up again with the scope and followed its progress till it was lost behind a hedge . I now turned my attention to the Moon and accompanying planets which where showing well but I dont have the gear to get any good shots , but in the setting of the Carr they did look impressive .
Willow Tit it took many shots to get anything decent , these birds move so fast

 Willow Tit with background Great Tit
 Field Vole
The Moon , Venus and Mars (just visible) much more impressive at the time , while I was looking through the scope at them something flew over my head I only heard the swoosh of wing beats , gave me quiet a fright in the near darkness no idea what it was .

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Morpeth to Mitford Castle

A walk from Morpeth to Mitford and back again  , it was rather a cool day only the fact I was walking kept me warm sadly not much bird life encountered, the site of the Abbey ruin is now closed to no access at all now sad as it was always worth a visit,  the usual hedge nearby along where the Hornbeams are held several Bullfinch that always alighted on the other side given close but restricted views , a flock of Goldfinch with a few Greenfinch, Chaffinch's and a small group of tits  but no Marsh Tit, a  raucous Jay flew across ahead of me and landed in the Hornbeams , I saw nothing on the river where it was visible , on the ground large patches of Snowdrops added some colour to the drab scene and thousands of shoots of Ransom starting to come through .
Mitford castle was to be as far as I went stopped here for my coffee, there are always birds passing through the hawthorns , nearby the drumming of a GSW , and 2 Buzzard circled  calling, years ago I had called here at dusk with the kids to observe the Bats coming out  it's a fantastic setting, I headed back via the road which gives several views of the streams and river  no Dippers ,just several mallard and 2 Little Grebes , cut back into Morpeth and over the stepping stones to check out Appleby's Bookshop having a 50% off sale due to closing down not a sole in save the one shop assistant , I checked the Natural History  section and found nothing  I needed but overall there are plenty of books going very cheap !!!!

 Jenny Wren the only photo opportunity
 The walk takes you under the A1 the Wansbeck snakes it's way to the sea  and a WW11 pillbox guards the valley
 Although these pillboxes are common in Northumberland and ones like this  will be around for many years to come , many at the coast have been lost to the sea or as in Blyth destroyed for health & saftey , to me they are as important a part of our history as any castle , or stately home  and as such should be saved .
 The path descends steeply down and over the stream Mitford Castle sits atop an isolated hill
 The Wansbeck below and the road back in the distance , there was splash of Dipper but no sightings
 Mitford Church through  the  castle walls
This is some sort of cellar ,used nowadays by youths to light fires and drink ! I only went down because I dropped some litter and had to retrieve it