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Friday, 29 January 2010

St Mary's ......Bright "n" Breezy

I was going to bin this but actually I think it just sums up Purple Sandpipers.

A much brighter day today but with it the cold ,cold wind, just finishing off what I had to do at home and about to get sorted for a couple hours out , it start to bleach down with snow and lying ,here we go again I thought. But it did not last long now even more determined to get out so I headed off ,started off at the head of the prom Water pipit briefly but heading along south, I walked along but it was always way ahead of me and with the tide coming in I went along the prom and up to the wetland which was full but had plenty Teal , a couple of Wigeon , Gadwall, numerous waders and Gulls , it was looking good . I had not brought the scope ,which was just as well the wind blasting across the water, going further along the prom towards the causeway large number of Black headed and in with them an Adult Med, and 12 or so Purple Sandpiper, but it was not till I got around fully to the causeway that the scale of the birds present could be fully appreciated ,easily a 1000 Black Headeds, with Herring Gulls and a few Common Gulls picking off the water and on the beach , more Purple Sandpipers, Knot ,Turnstones , Sanderling, Redshanks all massed tightly on the beach as the waves crashed ashore ,obviously providing a feast of some sort , what a fantastic sight , birding's not just about rare birds, to me its this sort of thing, just being at the right place at the right time ,without doubt the most birds I have ever seen at St Mary's Island , stacks of Lapwings & Golden Plover wheeling around and a few hundred waders over on the island .Blisteringly cold trying to get some shots my hands where numb and I could barely stand so I put the camera away and just watched ,eventually the cold got to me heading back along the prom to the south bay hundreds more Black Headeds picking off the surface and a single Barnacle Goose dropped onto the wetland . Fantastic few hours out for a change , I nearly let the snow put me off, but now I just can't wait to get back out.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

My(not very exciting) Week Birding

My week Birding is summed up very briefly , a run to Holywell sat frozen in the hide nothing special around as was a run to Cresswell checking a few spots both on the run up and back , the level dropping slowly attracting small roost of waders and about 100 lapwings, still no information re: the colour ringed bird from last year actually one of two , great Crested Grebes still around and 1/2 dozen Goldeneye, a few Yellowhammers with Reed Buntings in the corner garden which has had most of the bushes etc ripped out for a new fence, sure there is plenty of Wigeon around ,also Teal & Tufted, Pinkfeet numbers still high ,but boy was it dull .
Thurday and I had to go up to Morpeth so later I had a walk along the river then up into Borough Woods towards Mitford just for the walk , as expected a couple of small flocks of Tits, numerous Nuthatch, 3 Great Spotted, Jays four and one in a horse field , not a bad little walk along here plenty of open areas and other paths to take to make the route more circular .
Goosanders on the river still but again light a bit dull , its still odd to see them coming for bread ,walked back into town and through the new Sanderson Arcade , reminded me of the arcade at Newcastle , I think that was called Sanderson as well ,they pulled that down to build Eldon something or other ,(Garden ) ???

Three small flocks of Long Tailed Tits

Common they may be !!! but try and get near them

Monday, 25 January 2010

Sperm Whale dies at Beadnell

Not sure if this was on the local news but a 10 mtr Sperm whale stranded near Beadnell has died , again not sure of it's exact location or access, re it's removal in the coming days . link below

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Review :Collins Bird Guide 2nd edition

A review of the 2nd edition Colins Bird Guide By John M cLoughlin on Birdguides not sure if I shall acquire this just yet , I may await the large format edition expected later in the year. Fieldguides have certainly come a long way in the past few years, I know of some who collect them , but you will deep pockets these days to keep up with the range available . I, like probably many others started off with "The Observers Book of Birds", sadly I lost my copy but there was just something about those earlier bird books "Witherby's " 5 vols being the classic, but now you can get guides for your "I Phone "or media player ,with video, calls, etc. Birding has certainly moved on from the days of ringing "Nancy's Cafe" (you may have to Google that ) happy day's...........

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Corn Bunting

Interesting short article re Corn Buntings on Birdguides.....some sight that.........check it out

The Naked Birder......................

No not that sort of naked, just going out without bins around your neck sort of nakedness !!!!!

A nice bright sunny day so I had a drive towards Linton Pond for the Smew, which this year has chosen to spend some time on these ponds, on the way along stopped to look at the Swans in the field(north of QE11 lake) that the Cranes visited some while ago, got out the car went to raise the bins which is more just a reflex.............but crap left them at home , I have only done it a couple of times but it's very annoying , I had the scope and thought it not worth the drive back so I just scoped everything all day or used the camera to get a better look at stuff, but reality is you need bins.
Anyway scoped the two flocks of Swans first to the east mainly Mute with 2 Whoopers but the other flack much further along the road were all Whoopers 60 (15 Juv) ,no sign of any Bewick's , but I did pick out a Peregrine on the ground with prey , after it finished it waddled around, not sure what was going on it looked rather ungainly but it eventually took off looking rather laboured after its heavy meal and just landed on a nearby pylon , scanning for more Whoopers(as some just over the brow) I also picked up a small raptor on one of those square fence sections they have in the field ( no idea what they are for).the bird was facing me and I thought Merlin,but it was a long way off it just looked like a Merlin , I kept checking it to see if I could make anything positive on it ,but it had gone , only to the next fence block this time sitting side on a fem/juv Merlin, there seemed a few Skylarks around ,the field looked like it would attract flocks of small birds.
Linton picked up the redhead Smew just out from the hide working the edge of ice in the free water always good to see , would be nice for a male, one of the things I noticed immediately "NO GULLS" this was one of my favourite winter haunts checking through the gulls for white wingers,but it seems the closure of the tip has sent them elsewhere ( was talk of a new tip at Darras Hall area :) ?) so checked what was there ate my sarnie and left for cresswel.
Cresswell water level very high it was good to see the Pinkfeet back ,in with the Canadas 9 Brent geese which ended up feeding on the grass, my plan was to go for a walk trying for some Shorelarks etc: but without bins a none starter so I drove along to Bells for the Twite set the scope up just in time for them to drop on the fence, just as well because I could not pick them out on the ground .
Just happened to look along the road to see a herd of cattle and me stopped in the gateway ,luckily they where heading further along but I put the scope away just in case, ( carbon fibres strong but not that strong ) accompanied by a very large Bull,they where heading for the Twite field and from then I did not see them again other than flying around , so I headed home , just as a huge flock of Pinks filled the air , a great afternoons birding !!!!!
A covey of Grey's in the open near Bells
Smew Linton

Goldeneye Cresswell

Twite Bells farm dunes

Monday, 18 January 2010

Bewicks Swan at last............

Saturday was not the best of days to be out so I did not bother turning out , except a text re: two Bewick's Swans just less than a mile away and I was out the door and scoping them within minutes , finally after a few years of not seeing any in the County, seemed to be one or two reports of Bewicks over on the east side , why are they moving now and where have they come from .
Sunday after far too much wine the night before , you know those nights when you say go on then I'll just have one drink, so it was late morning before I started to head up the coast , called at Amble just for the walk, several Med Gulls here today , a colour ringed bird new to me but has probably been here awhile, they have finally done something with the prom and now you can get on at the end of the Quay and walk around .
An interesting notice of proposed visits to Coquet Island Lighthouse , not sure how this is going to work, but I must admit not having been on the Island I will certainly be giving it a go !!
Late afternoon stopped at Hauxley heading down to the new hide on the West side , but the footpath flooded so that was the end of that, a few Tree Sparrows in and around the feeders, part of the old west hide is now overlooking a cleared area and the sea , not sure if it is going to be a new feeding area or if it is also intended for seawatching . A couple with a Springer Spaniel which was just left to go anywhere it pleased including the water , I found myself just about to say something, but instead just mumbled under my breath TOSSERS !!, actually the area was very busy with people everywhere, now either they too had a bit of a hangover or the sunshine had brought them out , I hope for the state of the nation that it was the sun, I thought it a waste of time going down too the Ponteland hide so we headed off for East Chevington ................. the final birds of the day 3 Short Eared Owls

Adult YJU7

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Camouflage.............Gear ?

Today I called into Cramlington at that outdoor type shop that sells jackets etc. I was looking for a camouflage type winter jacket, tried a couple on but could not find what I wanted , eventually heading out the shop an item caught my eye , it was a ring of Camouflage with black netting attached , whats this I thought picked one up looked inside and out being elasticated I stretched it out thinking what the hell do you do with this it was obviously to cover something, and thinking I might need one I tried to think what would you want to camouflage thats this big , so I got the specs out to read the label,............Ladies one size Camouflage .........Tutu !! , their going to have one hell of a laugh on me if I'm on CCTV ..........I didn't get a look at the price so if you want one you'll have to go in and find out for yourself !!!!!!!!! I think I might be banned

Monday, 11 January 2010

Touch of Man Flu !!!!!!

Well it's Monday afternoon the snow is melting slowly ,but I have not been far since Friday sitting in drafty hides and that walk Friday sees me down with the dreaded"Man Flu" so I should have been doing some work of some sort but have spent the time catching up with TV I recorded,browsing the net and checking flights so not a complete waste of time, I use one of those hardrive types what a fantastic idea they are I can also download it to computer if required, the best programme by far was "BBC Life " series the plant life episode was stunning, I especially like the end where they show you how it was filmed ,unbelievable effort to get the shots required. The BBC Natural History Unit has a record of fine productions second to non, and the Birds of Paradise episode on Natural World wow,wow,wow, I wonder when our nearest equivalent to them the Waxwing (opinions may vary) will put in an appearance !!!.
Its been a few months since I gave up the pager and so far not missed it at all, although I am bound to miss something in the Spring, but it's my intention to get out and find something for myself,going to try some new sites for 2010.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A few hours at St Marys and the cem........

Friday saw me drive to St Mary' s Island , I picked one of the worst days of the week most days had been at Least sunny but today it was dull with a sort of freezing fog hanging around , I went along the beach to try and see the Water pipit for the year, but no sign, I came across this dead fish it was actually quite large , I know nothing of fish but thought is was a John Dory Golden Plover along the shoreline, plenty of Sanderling but the colour ringed birds seemed to have moved on , I know they move to Sandhaven beach at times, lots of Golden Plover feeding in amongst the rocks and also Skylarks dropping in .
Woodccks around with 3-4 flighting around , a Merlin over the screen with prey later I found the remains of a Skylark down on the prom by a seat, and the remains of a Snipe along the track, a small area of open water on the wetland had numerous Teal and a single Pintail male, with Wigeon and Shoveller also 4 of these in a small rock pool, Snipe all over the place but no Woodcock in the open , Song Thrush seem to be finding plenty of snails to eat , I remember the one that used a bottle to break the shells on ,it took me ages to work out what the sound was till I saw it Bashing away on one of those flat Alcohol bottles, by 2 the light was poor and it was bitter cold time to head home.
I thought it was a John Dory but a search on the net shows not ??Thanks to the Boulmer Birder for the I.D. as a Lumpsucker

Plenty of Golden Plover in amongst the rocks and along the shore

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Holywell Pond ...............98% frozen

A session at Holywell pond which has or had a small area of free water packed with gulls , and the sight of two Fox one crossing the frozen pond and then skirting around the edge, the feeders not as busy as I have seen in milder times ,good to see a Brambling drop in , large skeins of Geese over heading south a single Pinkfoot over the pond calling , a Woodcock came over from the far side and past the hide, but it was the gulls packed in the small open area so tight it was hard to sort through them, a recent report of an adult Iceland but nothing out of the ordinary for me ,the colour ringed bird 1162 the only ringed bird out the whole flock, by late afternoon the cold had the best of me time to head back

Feeding garden birds

A Redwing in the garden today reminds me I must get some apples, I put out seed and a mixture of shredded suet/flour/marg mixed with a bit water and add whatever else Ive got around it makes a paste which is also good to stick in the hole of a tree or on a fence post , I have to confess I would have no idea what you do with shredded suet I got 3 boxes of Atora for only 50P, last year I bought christmas puddings huge ones shop selling them off for only a £1 each just tip it out , most of the fatballs I bought I just crush so they can be got at quickly the ones hanging hardly touched,the water trough I use is easy to tip over and just kick the base to break the ice, there is a huge pile of ice now but it does not take long to do everything, no sooner back in the house and the mob is down, I am not putting out too much in one go as the snow just covers it freezes and its lost.

Friday, 8 January 2010

A Walk in the White Stuff

I had a walk around the area past a couple of old reservoirs most birds seen where along a stream through an estate , its not till you look in the gardens till you realize just what a haven they are , last years tree with white berries which attracted a dozen or so Waxwings is still laden, the berries must be unpalatable to thrushes ( though I can't see why) the sides of the stream free from snow with a mob of Chaffinches & Tits just keeping ahead of me ,also a number of Song Thrushes, and a pair of Bullfinch , the first reservoir had some open water with a few Mallard and plenty Moorhen, its times like these that you realize how common they are at least 15-20 on this small area .

Out of suburbia and into the fields 4 Greylag in the middle of a field a long way off but still they took off instantly, more Skylarks over and 2 dropped into a field , an area usually alive with birds had nothing at all and this was the case for most of the walk, the area around the other reservoir also usually has a large mixed flock of Finches and several Bullfinch with the occasional Barn Owl but again nothing , it was not until I got back around to the estate , when a male Reed Bunting popped up just in front of me the perfect pose, camera raised & focused,refocused and focused again ,idiot I had knocked the close setting off !! another shot missed , checked the Waxwing tree again nothing, but just next to a bus stop a single Redwing caught my eye so popping away just as a Bus pulled up and me, pointing my camera up at what looked a bare tree........anorak !!
Slim pickings on this tree, don't just look at it get it down your neck !!
Its behind you !!! ........................ only two photos on this walk , my legs where aching when I got back home , it's hard going through snow

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Where's your fatballs ....Please !! !!

Blyth Estuary
Doing a bit of shopping the other day (fatballs only 49p for 6) I left the car in the carpark and had a walk along to the estuary fist birds I saw three Mistle Thrush , Song Thrush, and a Fieldfare, but further on a large patch of those orange berry bushes (Pyracantha ?) had attracted a flock of about 50, not the most confiding birds and I could not get anywhere near them, save for one or two while chasing Blackbirds would land briefly on a fence post or bush.
Golden Plover on the grass banks, and a few loafing gulls but on the farthest pool which you can only see birds that sit near the top of the bank, several small flocks of Skylarks over , several Snipe flushed even one or two on the exposed mud, I got a brief view of Jack Snipe and took a photo but it was rubbish I have yet to get a decent photo of one .
Reed Bunting , and a couple of Water Rail calling ,also loads of Moorhens with several Redshank and a couple of Oystercatchers again on the grass banks with A couple of Gadwall and afew Teal on the pool, a single Meadow Pipit working the fence edges in the long grass, usually a few around, more Song Thrush along the track on the way back.
As I have already posted the area is fenced off and in the process of redevelopment, so not sure what benefit or detriment the housing etc will bring could be a good patch for some birder moving into the area !!!!
P.S. I always take the netting off .

I seem to have lost the plot just lately three shots of Fieldfare was all I came back with

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Water Rail .............. a garden tick !!!!!!!!!

Yesterday while scraping the snow off the car a neighbour said you are interested in birds Brian, I have a funny little bird running about the garden, oh ! I said (still scraping away ) what does it look like , well I have looked in my book and I think its a Water Rail !!!!. Not very likely I said giving my thought s on the likelihood of such a bird turning up just yards away , but the description given sounded very like one, can I come and have a look , so camera in hand off we went , seeing the area was from free from snow under the large Leylandiis after a few minutes a shape could be seen in the darkness , first the flanks, then the backside and then the head indeed it was a Water Rail, so I hung around getting glimpses of it until it wandered, for a second or two, into view , so I rattled a few shots off for the record....... apparently it has been around for 3-4 days. So if someone says they have a funny little bird in the garden at least go and have a look.........