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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Black Redstarts & Med Gulls

Saturday I went up to Newbiggin to check out the 4 Black Redstarts  that seemed faithful to a short stretch of beach , not the best of days very dull but at least not raining , birds located fairly quickly by just walking along the top of the dunes , but I could only get three and it took most of the afternoon  to finally get a total of four . I also tried a short seawatch  with only a few Wigeon and  two Velvet Scoter  as visibility was some what restricted , talking to AMc he picked up a Grey Phalarope as it crossed the headland and seemed to drop in the bay but it was not relocated .
Sunday we also called in to Newbiggin with the report of a Glaucous Gull on the breakwater and it was also a much brighter day , so I thought I would go around for the Redstarts  but when I got around the area they where frequenting was in shadow anyway  so I checked out the beach where  a concentration of birds where feeding on the shoreline . A quick look through and I picked out at least 12 Med Gulls in with the mass of Black Headed, Turnstone , Redshank and Sanderling , I could only see one Med with a colour ring on , several attempts made to get the number but without success 
Saturday 29th

Sunday 30th November

 The light fading fast

At least five Med Gulls in this shot by far the best place in Northumberland to see these fantastic looking Gulls 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Snow Buntings

A run over to North Blyth/ Cambois area which is only yards across the river but about 15-20 mins drive,  primarily to check the beach for any Little Auks  or perhaps a Black Redstart ,  failed to find either but I did come upon a flock of at first 22 Snow Buntings  which I had  just behind Alcans loading facility , they relocated to the start of the pier area where there was also a flock of Linnets and a flock of Starlings . The Snow Buntings where rather restless so I just sat on the edge of the breakwater and eventually they came nearer , just had my SX50  which was difficult to pick the birds up amongst the grass  but it does have some reach , and with a bit of sun for a change it was great to just sit and watch them in the hunt for seed , till they would lift and then quickly re-settle always giving that tinkling little call .   Wishing I had taken the scope as a flock of 100+ Common Scoter with some Divers amongst them would have been good to check out , actually the bay seemed to hold lots of birds scattered far and wide , with 3 Mergansers coming out from the Wansbeck. Oddly Blyth Bay never seems to attract more than the odd RTD  and a few Eider  off the Sluice 

 One of these days I will get down and have a look  for some seed myself
 Snow Buntings one of the delights of Winter , and even more so when you find your own !

 The concentration is evident  !!

  It's easy this balancing on one leg lark   !!!!
Wind Farm Turbines , love them or hate them (I'm the latter) they are here to stay , this one the largest in the area on the River Blyth

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Hume's Warbler

Monday the 24th caught up with the Hume's at Briardene having first checked out the three Waxwings nearby  just in case they decided to feed elsewhere , what a dull miserable day it was , but the Hume's being faithfull to a nice Sycamore tree still with plenty of leave on and presumably providing food of some sort . So it was not long before the bird appeared calling loudly and profusely at first as it relocated  ,views where very cood whcich is the main thing but trying to get any shots in the dull light of a small bird in thick cove r was a challenge to say the least . I tried to get some recordings but someone would talk just at the wrong time , a Willow Tit also passed through the tree picked out by DE on a short visit from his usual patch of East Chevington area . Well the bird went off to the far side of the dene so I headed down to St Mary's for a walk around Tree Sparrows and Grey Wagtail in the Cem but St Mary's was quiet although a Grey Phalarope was reported later near the causeway on the high tide. It brightened up somewhat in the afternoon so I headed back to try and get some more shots of the Hume's , indeed it was much pleasanter  with the Sycamore bathed in sunshine alas the bird decided  the feeding was better on the far side and it took an hour before it popped back  flitting around as close as it was going to get ,but sod it didn't the camera battery die on me  and even the spare was dead ................ always check your gear before going out  !!!!!

 Last shot before the battery went just as it was coming out into the open
I used my SX50 for this  shot the light was so poor , hopefully I will find some over the winter

Monday, 13 October 2014

October Sunshine

The first two weeks of October over already been enjoying the sunshine and the last flush of Butterflies & Dragonflies also some good seawatching  with large numbers of  Little Gulls passing through the area ,this is just an overview of the Month so far .
Kestrel drops in beside me with prey and just as quickly moves on to a better perch to consume it , a good photo opportunity missed
Barnacles past Seaton Sluice  in this case heading North into Blyth River where they seem confused and then head west  also 350 South in an hour and a half
Speckled Woods very numerous in their second hatch  lost count how many I have seen
Common Darters are still common I have seen them go late into November if conditions are right
I would have liked this one completely on the reddish  brown re-constituted plastic seat , but you get what you get
Few Small Copper around a fantastic looking Butterfly , often goes unseen due to it's small size

Small Tortoiseshell also in good numbers as are Red Admirals of which I have seen many but did not get any photos and a couple of Painted Ladies 
This is the Little Stint from Cresswell I just wanted to see what sort of shot I could get from the hide  and it's not bad given the distance 

Sunrise at Seaton Sluice ready for a Seawatch , looks nice but this day the bright sun  hampered visibility , the sea looked like silver foil , you have to look well North to get any I.D 's on passing birds
Comma I have never seen these in any numbers ,this one in Blyth Park as I searched for any migrants that had hopefully dropped in !!!!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Newcastle's Swing Bridge & Victorian Tunnels

As can be seen from the photo dates earlier this month I took advantage of a visit to the engine room of Newcastle's famous Swing Bridge , although we did not get to see it open the action was very well explained, it uses only water power to open and close having two huge accumulators that store water ready to operate the gears. Everything is very heavily engineered and will easily go on for another hundred years or more .
The Bridge was erected   in place of a fine classic Georgian stone bridge to allow ship access to Armstrong's works further up the Tyne 

Later that day I visited the Victorian tunnels near Ouseburn , this was a tunnel that ran from Spittal Tongues pit right down to the quayside to carry coals to the waiting ships , during the war the tunnel was used as an airaid shelter with numerous entrances added  along it's length at one point I asked how deep we where 55` , it's not open for all it's length as some has collapsed, blast walls where also added during the war as was lighting and it was used as a convenient walk way   well lit fairly dry access to the City which was in a total blackout situation , they are well worth a visit  and have plenty of  history , like the cost of adding entrances which spirraled out of control due to the difficult conditions  and the large cost of  "light bulbs" having to be continually replaced not because they wore out but where removed , the explanation was  courting couples where drawn to the fact that they could access the tunnels and not wanting to be seen the bulb was removed and once removed you could not see where to put it back so the bulb went off in some blokes pocket !!
One guy spent the whole war living down the tunnels having come through the first world war .his family taking food etc down to him . Somehow I cant imagine today's generation  putting up with it no phone signal for one thing 1
It's well worth a visit takes a couple of hours but can be rather chilly and chilling !

 The left hand gears are engaged and this turns the table ( the grey bit ) to swing the bridge , the right hand gears are the slightly faster gears, that have never been used  and the whole set up is repeated on the right side of photo so it would always be able to operate

 Brass everywhere
 Now that I think of it the tower bit was never explained , but the road runs just behind the white rails
 A different view of the Tyne Bridge  and the Blinking Eye

On along the Quay To visit the Victorian Tunnels well worth a visit 

 This is the OUSEBURN
 An art centre
 I did not have the camera to get any good photos in the tunnels these where bunk beds when the tunnels where used as a WW11 airaid shelter
 There is not much height or width for that  matter  just enough room for a coal wagon I think we went about 750 metres then back again

 This is the Grainger market(south end near the flower seller)apparently also used as a WW11 shelter there is no access other than they had the entrance open to show where it was .
The following are copies of a photo display showing the shelter from I think the 60's