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Sunday, 28 September 2008

26--09-08 Friday,Butterflies & Bittern

A bright and sunny day , so I thought it would be worth looking for Dragonflies in sheltered spots , the first site only a few Common Darters, so next stop the track down to Cresswell pond just before the boardway I saw the fluttering of a butterfly it landed to show itself as a Speckled Wood, so I took out the camera and got some shots only to find the camera flashing at me " NO CF CARD" bugger I had forgot to replace it from downloading, so I had to root in my camera bag for a spare seemed to take ages but I framed it again and got some shots just before it took off, but it resettled and showed well, what looked like a Southern Hawker from the hide.
Cycled onto Bells Pool only two Shoveller here but two large Hawkers along the edge and across the pond another two unable to get a positive ID, Druridge next first the screen , Red Admiral, Comma, and whites, plenty Common Darters and another Speckled Wood to far for a photograph
meaning you could see it with bins but try and refind it through he small screen of a camera , next stop the pools not much bird wise but a Water Rail just beside the bridge , Migrant Hawkers here and this time it settled as I looked at it noticed another two nearby and another overhead.
Back to Cresswell for another stint in the hide it had turned cold and no action from anymore Dragons, not much else at the hide got back to the car and Trevor pulled up with the news the Bittern was showing( thanks mate), so I went around for some good views although distant ,I was amazed at how easy it could catch fish it got 4-5 as I watched and finally a great sunset to end. Nice group of Fungi in the garden before I left

Speckled Wood at Cresswell
Speckled Wood resettled for another shot
One of at least four Migrant Hawker at Druridge pools ( check out the anal appendages)
Three of these just a few feet apart with a fourth flying overhead
Head first into the web, it was still alive as I was going to take it to look under the microscope, it was amazing how sticky the strands where as it stuck instantly to my finger, I cleaned it off and let it go.

Trying to be a Swallowtail
Small White
Whooper at Cresswell, perhaps the one that has been in the county all year
Bittern showed well at Cresswell, though a long way off for a shot, always worth a go I say
Sunset from the causeway of Cresswell


Saturday, 27 September 2008

24-09-08 Med Gull AAJR

Wednesday the 24th I called in at Newbiggin to try and catch up with Med Gull colour ringed AAJR which I first saw at St Mary's in July 2006 with 3 other Juveniles, what luck only about 30 gulls present on the beach and five where med one with a green ring flew off and I got a couple of shots , I was thrilled to find it was AAJR looking smart as a 2nd summer /3rd winter bird will have to get it again next year, also had a couple of hours seawatch 5 RTD,1 Pintail,8 Scoter, 9 wigeon 1 Brent & 1 Arctic Skua. not much but a great end to the day.
Reply from the ringing team below received in July 2006
Dear Brian
,it's great to hear from our gulls.Both were caught and colour-ringed on june 17 at Pionierinsel L├╝he, which is a small island in river Elbe north-west of Hamburg. Med Gulls breed with approx 140 pairs (in 2006) within a huge colony of common gulls. The coordinates are 53° 34' N and 09° 36' E.These are the first sightings and as soon as my programme works I'll send You life-histories.We also always appreciate info on food, flock, habitate.I think I can find out the coordinates with google earth but don't mind to send them if You know 'em. ; )
Thank You very much and have a nice summer,
Andreas (for the team)
AAJR with another Juvenile 2 of four seen within a couple of days, its ringed but not colour ringed the other colour ringed bird was AACE and another bird unringed
AAJR taken on the 27-07-06
AAJR
AAJR looking smart
2 1st Year birds and another 2nd year plus an adult also nearby

Friday, 26 September 2008

23-09-08 Boulmer

A run up the coast via Alnmouth to Boulmer the football field is flooded again with a sizable pool with 97 Redshank,4 Dunlin, 2 Bar Tailed Godwit & 1 Black Tailed ,2 Knot,12 Mallard & 2 Teal with lots of Blackheaded, & Herring Gulls and a few Common checked for Med but no sign , Grey Plovers on the beach with more Bar Tailed RB merganser in the bay and 3 Red Throated Divers a & 10 Common Scoter past.
It was a day out for a walk more than birding but I checked the area all the way to the Outflow from the dene and on to the Old Bathing house, 350-400 Golden Plover,with many Dunlin Redshank and a few Knot one Juvenile Gannet came to close inshore and found it difficult to get out of the surf ,then harassed by gulls plus the onshore wind it took four attempts to get away , a flock of 30+ Goldfinch went ahead of us for most of the walk, heavy rain on the way back but it eased by the time we got back to the car also 130ish Pinkfeet south,I always enjoy a good walk along here.
The football field flood defences still in place

The Bridge over the Dene,there is a spring here that comes up out of the solid rock
Stoat trying trying to decide which of the 8 Pied Wagtails to go for,
It must of heard something else as it ran to the undergrowth
Stop & listen
Pounce & it was gone

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

22-09-08 Monday

Monday the 22nd another run up the coast stopped near Newbiggin to look for Hawkers as it was sunny a 1 Migrant Hawker,Common Darters and several Slivery Y's, next stop Lynemouth flash it's looking good now as the level drops , Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, 10 Dunlin 15 Redshank & 2 Bar Tailed , on to Cresswell but I also wanted to go seawatching, having stopped at Snab Point for 10 mins with 2 Sooty & 2 Manx I thought it would be good, so I had a quick look from the hide as there was nothing at the north end , the sand bank is drying out now but there is still a good selection of waders. A Buff Breasted Sandpiper reported later but I did not see it , so it was down to Church Point for a couple of hours , it was not as good as expected but your never sure till youve been , 3 Sooty, 2 Manx, 1 Velvet Scoter, 10 Brent, 2 Black tailed , 1 Grey Plover, 30 Wigeon & 2 Pintail also a few Meds feeding offshore
Common Darter ,almost a cartoon like face
The Straight billed Curlew Sandpiper
Little Stint

Monday, 22 September 2008

20/21-09-8 Sat/Sun

Saturday I stopped at Lynemouth flash 40+ Redshanks and a Curlew Sandpiper the one with the straight looking bill , I took a couple of shots for a closer look the bill seems deformed not closing correctly perhaps explaining its feeding action here, legs look greenish yellow in the first shot which is just staining as shown on the Black Headed Gulls.
At Cresswell the Yellow Browed Warbler still in the Willows and Kingfisher towards the gut the car park was full as was the hide so I went to the North end ,Peregrine gave a great display also Sparrowhawk , a large flock of Swallows 100+ drifting South held 2 Swifts ad two small groups of Pinkfeet 27 dropped in to the west, another look in at the hide , 2 Little Stints, 10 Curlew Sandpiper, Water Rail feeding along the edge and the Merlin through, again unsuccessfully it settled on the fence to the North , Hawkers again in font of the hide .
Sunday afternoon a cycle ride through to Holywell Pond and St Mary's island held no surprises again Hawkers from both hides , St Mary's was very busy and the rocks there were people everywhere till the tide started to rise as did the number of Golden Plover ,sea conditions looked perfect for Cetaceans so I scanned for awhile but nothing

Curlew Sandpiper with a deformed bill, and 2 of the 40 Redshanks
Kingfisher towards the outflow
Peregrine over the pond

Friday, 19 September 2008

18-09-08 Raptor Watch Point

Raptor Watch Point ,well that was the hoped theory to go to the hills of East Cramlington the highest point around with views North as far as Newbiggin and Cobalt to the South with a clear view to the coast the purpose , to get my own Honey Buzzard I gave it a couple of hours but nothing apart from lots of Pipits over and a steady stream of Swallows South, Goldcrests in good numbers in the pines, Chiff singing and still a Spotted Flycatcher around , it was a pleasant time in the sun , at least showing it was good for vis mig but I'm not good enough with flight calls for that. a Migrant Hawker briefly and another unitentified Hawker and a few Ruddy Darter.
Went down to St Mary's for the high tide , 2 Bar Tailed, 2 Grey Plover and a Ruff in with the waders, and 15 Whinchats in the field west of the track with a Redstart still around Sparrowhawk low over the mast fields ended the day.
It's that time of year for large groups of Fungi
Spotted Flycatcher still around

This Spider ran across the water then went underwater
Curlew leaving the rocks
Grey Plover coming in to land
Ruff on the rocks
Not a sequence of a Golden Plover taking off, I'm not that clever , the last three leave before the tide rises

Thursday, 18 September 2008

17-09-08 Red Backed Shrike

Another run to Cresswell ,I started at the north end but only a couple of Common Sand there so I went into the hide it was full to bursting with students , it was good to see some young blood taking at least in interest in birds as they thumbed through a field guide trying to sort out Oystercatcher( I heard that someone once trying to describe what they had seen as like a Puffin carrying a Carrot), one guy came in a went straight back out , but after awhile they left and I could have a good scan , wader numbers are still good , one call that confused us what sounded like a Wood Sand calling from the front of the hide turned out to be a juvenile Little Grebe a call I have not heard before, word of a Minkie Whale on Cresswell beach so I thought I would take a look , it was about 40' out looked like it had been dead for some time , John Steele was just coming off the beach with his sketch pad ,he showed me some of his work all done in the field in watercolour ,it was fantastic he just captures nature as it is far better than even any photograph that I could take.
Thinking to come back later and perhaps get closer I went to Druridge for the Red Backed Shrike it was as described just beyond the entrance, the pools had a few Wigeon & Mallard but nothing else so back to Cresswell for another look in the hide as the light was good , a Hawker Dragonfly across the front of the hide but unable to ID, Spotted & Pied Flycatcher still in the Willows and 3 Whinchats not noted earlier, had another look at the Whale which was on the beach its sinking in a hole now, and had attracted a small crowd the news later said it was either a Minkie or Fin Whale, it looks like it has been dead for sometime , the Dorsal fin could not be seen as it's sort of on it's back, it's a bit ripe at the open end lacking top jaw and tail with the bones of the Pectoral fin showing through.
Red Backed Shrike still at Druridge Bay
Came across this Fungi in the dunes I thought it was broken shells at first, odd looking stuff

The Whale at Cresswell , just to give an idea of size
Part of the lower jaw on the right with the eye socket on the left
The bones of the Pectoral fin
Ridges of the underside
Close up of the ridges

16-09-09 Estuary & St Mary's

Called in to Blyth estuary and had a walk in both directions large number of waders further up and over the other side to far for bins ,Godwit & Knot near the small outfall, up to eight Whinchats near the settling pools and Wheatear, Linnets, Reed Buntings + single Sedge Warbler, gulls collecting in the compound again, Willow Warbler in the bushes ,3 Swallows over, a dog walker just ahead of me flushed the waders from the side of the boat yard , from here I went to St Mary's thinking there may be some migrants around and to check the rocks before the tide covered them, but it was very disappointing miss timed the tide as everything was gone , two large flocks of Golden Plover about a thousand wheeling around the lighthouse, but no Whinchats around or much else.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

13-09-08 College Valley

Just a small portion of the gulls on this flooded field
Plenty Lesser Black Back
Again showing only a portion of the flood I think this track goes nearer



I had long ago arranged to go up the College Valley on Saturday, but the pager seemed to go off constantly with the message of a Honey Buzzard somewhere, it sounded like I was missing something special, still a couple of Wheatears and a flock of about 30 Meadow Pipits, the scale of the water flow through the valley must have been awesome , still a huge run off a week after the heavy rain with new streams cut through the earth and piles of stones dumped here and there as the water changed course, and the oddest thing two small fish ( no camera with me ) trying to get along the Bridleway path well away from the stream, 0n the way back from Mounthooly an Osprey lifted from the side of the stream down in the valley and went South.

I had heard of the large floods in the area of Millfield which used to be a huge lake many years ago, on the Wooler Doddington road a flooded field held well over a thousand gulls 2/3 where Juveniles but also there a couple of hundred Lesser Black Back Adults, I took a few pics but so far can only find a couple of LBB Juveniles the majority being Herring Gulls but not many Adult Herring Gulls it's well worth a look, the size of the larger water has reduced since last week they tell me, but the photo shows the extent that remains , and I think some will remain for sometime, I left late afternoon wanting to try and get back to perhaps see my Honey.

12-09-08 Bluethroat


I went over for the Bluethroat reported at Cambois ,to be told I had missed it by a couple of minutes, I hung around and had a couple of glimpses of the bird but the cover was so thick it was mission impossible so no tick for me, Pied Fly & Willow Warbler ( the only bird I got a shot of ) I checked out the area for awhile but nothing exciting, then decided to go to Newbiggin to check out the seawatching, I usually give it at least an hour, but not having my seat I ended up on a small piece of wood balanced on a rock, anyway I must be getting soft as after 1/2 an hour I'd had enough.

20+30 Wigeon

20,15,1 Common Scoter

15 Teal

1 Velvet Scoter

1 Arctic Skua

A couple of large logs looking like Minkie Whale had me going for awhile

Friday, 12 September 2008

11-09-08 A Stint at Cresswell

I don't know why I was pondering where to go on Thursday, Cresswell was the obvious choice ,so I pulled up to the north car park and heard there were two Pectoral Sandpipers with the Buff Breasted, the wind was to strong for Digiscoping so I went up for the reported Wryneck in the dunes of Druridge Country park, no one there as I pulled up at a likely spot, but I found it after about 10 mins, hoping for some photos but not to be ,it flitted around and gave me the run around ,two Redstarts also here, so I headed back to Cresswell , the Sandpipers were at the north end giving great views, Barn Owl over the car park( Redstart,Spotted & Pied Fly also still here) and later overhead going west, the Sandpipers flew around keeping together occasionally calling , the Buff very soft low 'gerf ' just as collins guide lists ,but you could easily miss it amongst other noise, at least 10 Curlew Sandpipers, and two Little Stints with Dunlin etc: & Barn Owl also over the fields just to the south with a fox on the drive home another good day.
Grass of Parnassus in the dunes, Darters also in sheltered spots

The three birds together briefly



Two Pec's & a Buff
Two Pec's & a Buff ( showing the primary covert crescent)
Barn owl giving great views east of the car park