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Monday, 27 July 2009

Biking South Tyneside 24-7-09

Friday and I thought it was time I cycled through the Tyne Tunnel to Souter lighthouse,drove up in the car parked nearby and cycled down to the entrance which is just west of the road tunnel, escalators and lifts are available the lift was working going down but not up, so I had to put the bike on the stairs, which are very ,very slow, from here I cycled down to the ferry landing so I could go around the coast way , stopped at the red lighthouse and checked the beach area for terns etc, but too busy with people .
Its a good run around to Souter the scenery is fantastic, I stopped by an old gun emplacement for my coffee and it was here I could see what I counted 12 -15 but there could have been more ,as they came up in groups, looked to me like Common Dolphins showing a lot of white on the sides but they where at some distance and me no expert, they hung around beside the piers for awhile ,giving those that where there what must have been good views,still plenty of Kittiwakes etc. on the pillars of rock further south ended up at Souter Lighthouse, and thats as far as I went, it would be easy to get to Marsden Quarry this way , but next time its the ferry for me , the run from the Pedestrian tunnel is just industry including going over the new tunnel in the making , but it only took me 1hr 5 mins to get back to the car from Souter which I thought not bad going (till I saw that guy on the TV who cycled for 2years to get from Alaska to the tip of Argentina ) I also asked my other half to guess how long I had taken ,30mins was the answer , woman what do they know !!!!!
these are much longer than the photo shows , and as I say very slow.

They have a separate tunnel for walkers and one for cyclists, but you are supposedly not allowed to cycle, what a weird country this is at times, actually you can fly down here , but it is a bit eerie in a way.

You can see this on even very very old photos

Lunch stop with Tynemouth in the background

looking south

and back north again, great bit of coastline

and Souter, an aircraft was testing out its display overhead ready for the airshow.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Dragons again 22-7-09

Wednesday was a brighter day so I headed again for jimmy's Pond but I checked out the pond from Tuesday pulling in a layby and walking back a bit there it was just yards from a path, but at the side that has no access , still its worth a look now and then , the land looks earmarked for building but there was someone cropping the hay.
The sun came and went plenty of Common Blue Damselflies and Blue -tailed, masses of Butterflies, with the odd Painted Lady, and a few Small Tortoiseshell, but the actual pond had very little it took about an hour before anything showed being a single Red-veined Darter, then Black-tailed Skimmer followed by another this time they alighted on the rushes but only very briefly and would fly off and disappear for ages I was going to leave a couple of times but it brightened up but still nothing more showed.
Cresswell, 30+ Lapwing and a couple of Dunlin,Druridge Pools only had a single Common Sandpiper and the Mute Swans with cygnets which still seem very small, so I thought to try East Chev, at least I could check out the Terns south end of the north pool, but I forgot about the amount of rain we have had so the pool had no dry area several terns plunge bathing including a single Roseate, Common Sandpiper also here.
I think this a Ruddy darter

Red-veined Darter, only this one which showed briefly
Black-tailed Skimmer, at least resting on the stems, albeit very briefly

This caught my eye at first I thought it was just something caught up

but looking closer could see this spider inside, there is something else but can't make it out. I have increased the shadow to make it stand out better

It seems to mantling something, the nearest I can get is Comb Spider??? with egg sac??

Common Sandpiper

Friday, 24 July 2009

Dragonflies or the lack of !! 21-7-09

Tuesday another visit to Wansbeck towards the rear I could see a pond surrounded by bushes etc, so I drove as far as I could down the new estate Seaton Vale building is on hold for the moment , anyway I walked down to the pond nearly completely surrounded with vegetation, a view point from the NE corner looks like its where the geese come out, it is fairly large and well established, 2 broods of Tufted, Little Grebe , several Canada, and a few Mallard, Black-headed on some old fence posts that go through the pond ,no sign of any Dragonflies , but it looks ideal for some species, I could see a road in the background, will check it out , the grass that surrounds it is 4-5 feet high.
The next stop at this pond near Newbiggin, "Jimmy's pond" I think I'll call it ,the one with the Red-veined Darter etc:, wellies on and off I go around and around but alas only a Common Darter for the effort with no sign of it getting any warmer I headed off home . Pond behind the Wansbeck Hospital, that white thing is a sort of bag filled with ,polystyrene, there where a few, the kids probably use them as boats

Common Darter

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A bit more green birding 20-7-09

Monday 20-7-09 thought I would check the falling tide at St Mary's Island but cycle there via the fields to check out a few ponds only one Emperor flying and that was brief, and then a couple of Common Blue, I waited an hour, even when the sun came out and the temperature had risen sharply, nothing , not even Damselflies in the grass, they must be deep in cover or I wonder if stuff has had a real hammering from the wind & rain on Friday ( I was up the Coquet Valley looking at trees ,till it was decided to call it off, camera never even came out the car never mind the bag ) so I headed down to the coast its a very long way around doing it like this , plenty of people pouring onto the rocks as the tide receded, numbers of Golden Plover increasing, 3 sp Knot, about 30 Sandwich, a few Common & a couple of Arctic , Sanderling in the north bay but very flighty, so I just got a couple of shots.

Golden Plover coming in from the Island as the crowds descend

Following comments on about Starlings on seaweed, these guys caught my eye not just a couple but loads where lying on the tarmac I assume absorbing the heat, now have I seen this before and took no notice or not seen it before just cant think ,should take more notes.

taking in the sun !!!!!

Rooting around on the beach, they do actually bring in other birds , a Rook was just a few feet away, but in the light

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

On The Buses 19-7-09

Another slightly of topic post, just to show there are other things than birding, well when its quiet anyway .
Sunday the bikes came out and it was off pedalling to Whitley Bay via the coast path , 8 Painted Ladies in one small stretch & 5 Whimbrel South, tide in at St Mary's so we went past straight to the car park where there was a Bus Rally loads of old buses beutifully turned out but these wernt just to look at you could get a free ride on just about the whole lot so we qued wanting to get an open top bus but alas we ended up on an old London Decker, straight upstair nostalgic memories coming flooding back as a kid you went for the front seats which actually had kids in already , so having got seated the bus pulled off with a start, throwing you back in the seat, it was OK at first but the lack of air and the sun bleaching in through the large glass it soon lost its appeal , and going around a sharp bend I thought it was going to tip over , actually thats what we used to do as kids all pile into one corner to try and make it tip a bit more , but not so good when your middle aged.
The tide dropping I peeled off to have a look at the rocks, Common, Sandwich & a few Arctic Terns with Golden Plover coming in many still in some summer dress, worth a look at over the next couple of weeks for Roseate Terns , or Juv Med Gull (tell me if you do ) got back home it was time for a bottle of red in the garden looking at how high the weeds are growing from the comfort of a lounger, canny day out in the end.
I forgot to get a photo of a new bus it had an advert on the back "get a weekly ticket for the price of a tank of petrol " am I missing something here !!!!!!!

St Mary's Island and beyond from the cliffs

Whitley Bay and beyond from the prom

cute or what !!!! you can just imagine a group of birders pilling out of here on Holy Island , all kitted out with the latest optics, surplus from ww11 probably

Bus logo or is it livery ?

I have know idea what these are, much like my posts in general, but you can still enjoy them .

It's not easy trying to get a shot without someone in it

They used to run a n old bus on Scillies , remember getting it back to town one day.

Aidensfield ...... Not sure if this is from the TV or not !!

Everyone wanted to get on this old bus.

Monday, 20 July 2009

18-7-09 When is enough ,enough

Saturday morning I cycled along the bay of Blyth checking for any Terns ,it's not the best place to find them but occasionally there are some on the beach and sitting on the posts, but being a sunny morning the place was awash with dog walkers,normally you would think this was say, two people and one dog, but here there seems to be a trend to have a few more its quiet common to see people with 3 or 4 dogs and meet up with several others of similar numbers , but one old chap and his wife had NINE, nine rather large Collies,they must have one helish flock of sheep in the back garden, it took me awhile to count as they jumped around ,his missus spent her time "picking up'" ,what she could find that is ,bless her she could have done with a trolley or something , NINE dogs out twice a day 365 days a year, no wonder she walked with a stoop, anyway I thought what the hell am I doing here , I should have gone to St Mary's Island , oh!!! on second thoughts perhaps not.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Hospital,Meds & Dragons 15-7-09

A visit to the Wansbeck Hospital taking less time than I thought ,my next stop Newbiggin bay looking for Meds, juveniles in particular but no luck ,my first Common Tern Juveniles though and ran into Alan of Dusty Bins blog (I think the blog title has nothing to do with the famous TV show DUSTY BIN ,3,2,1, and all that but refers to binoculars that have become dusty with lack of use, clever that !) he had two of his very young juveniles with him , two smashing kids but alas Alan had forgotten the buckets & spades ,essential to any beach visit, but thankfully he had remembered to take his new camera & lens ,so that was OK :), I was way behind in what has been going on in the area and thanks to Alan he informed me of the Red-veined Darter sightings not far off so that was the next stop .
Tom Tams was already there my first walk around the pond revealed nothing but as it warmed up more and more took to the wing, along with Black Tailed Skimmer 2, and Four Spot Chaser 3, not sure just how many Red-veined Darters in total but I would say easily 8+ I got a couple linked that where ovipositing, out of focus shot but I'm sure they are Red-veined, the Skimmer would only settle on the grass,making photos hard to obtain, also had my first Emeralds of the year a great afternoon, will have to look back when the weather permits.
Three Meds at Newbiggin

Juvenile Common Tern Newbiggin

Red-veined Darter

Four Spot Chaser

Black tailed Skimmer

Black Tailed Skimmer

Just could not get a clear shot of these, but I'm sure they are Red-veined

Red-veined Darter

Four Spot Chaser

Friday, 17 July 2009

Cycle around the ponds 14-7-09

Tuesday it was a cycle around the ponds and back via St Marys Island on a very small pond near Newsham (NWT) a Common Tern fishing it caught a few then took one away south presumably to Holywell Pond, unusual in that this pond or old reservoir is deep set and surrounded with trees ,still if the fishings good .
Holywell Pond at the open end about 40 lapwings ,and the usual Canada , Greylag & loafing gulls, with 2 Common Tern on the island , at the east end a photo shoot of some sort so I did not hang about,there is to be a Moth evening tonight(17th) at about 9pm but given the weather its probably cancelled, through the Dene and out at the stream with not a single Dragonfly to be seen ,St Marys also had very little a few Terns came in to the rocks displaced from their usual roost, my first 2 Sandwich Tern juveniles with them , a few Sand Martin in the North bay which I tried to photograph, a sailing ship passed the lighthouse which looked interesting ,I later caught up with it as it came into Blyth

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A few days up the coast 8/10-7-09

8/10/-7-09 Spent a few days up the coast near Beadnel tried a couple of seawatches from Dunstanburgh Castle,the first evening I just took the scope its a bit of a trek but certainly a dramatic setting ,350 Kittiwakes & 165 Gannets + 4 Little Gulls North in 1 1/2 hours a lot of birds came past fairly close only 11 Manx but giving good views , as did the single Velvet Scoter & single Bonxie followed by another then 3 one coming right overhead, the usual phrase went through my mind "wish I had brought the camera", I did on the second night but not much moving then.
9-7-09 A walk along through Embleton to Newton Pool those steps up to the hide always give the sense of the un -expected you just never know what your going to open the shutters onto, alas today not much on show , so after awhile it was back along the coast via the beach, later I walked back to Dunstanburgh (30 min walk) with scope tripod and camera for an evening watch but only a single Bonxie, Gannets 200 hr, 4 manx, 3 Bar Tailed Godwits, but I still enjoyed it , by early evening not a sole around, I went around to the Rumbling Churn the cove at the base of the castle and just took in the scene the waves crashing on the rocks and the constant noise of Seabirds ,with mostly Razorbills coming at time overhead I slept well that night especially after a bottle of wine , I set the bat detector up outside but it missed a Pip as it came overhead, battery dead was the answer !!!
10-7-09 A day at the Long Nanny was fantastic it was glorious weather I spent a couple of hours at the watch point , the warden was busy so I could not get any info as to numbers of Little Tern & Arctic Tern I could only pick out half a dozen or so Littles although the heat haze did not help, Pyramidal orchids out in mass, as where Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Small Heath & Wall Brown, hundreds of Burnett Moths, a small colony of Sand Martins it was along walk back to Beadnell after the heat of the day, which I ended with a short spell seawatching from a point on the edge of the village again birds coming close to shore at times with Auks in the hundreds more Manx this evening with 100 in 30 mins.
It just goes to show you do not have to go far for something different, the walk from Beadnell to the Long Nanny there along the beach and back via the dunes was the first time I have done this, get out there and enjoy it for yourself.............. The Rumbling Churn

Razorbill and Guillemot

Vole on the path

Common Blues out in very good numbers

and as Usual loads of Burnett's

I took this not just for the sign but the plant at the base

Just coming into flower I presume

The view from the Wardens hut

The Posing Perch !!!!!!

They fight constantly but only very briefly climbing all the time till they just drift off