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Friday, 30 December 2011

Another year ends !!!!

As we near the end of another year of birding here are a few images from my travels around the region ,looking forward to getting  out again in the New Year with some good birds still around (hopefully) to get the year off to a good start , I'm hoping for a new gull in the coming months but anything will do , Dragonflies this year where the lowest numbers for me since I took an interest in them so lets hope for a good season or even a good summer this coming year 
 So here's wishing you all a very Happy New Year for 2012 and some good birding  !!, it is my intention to get out on the 1st  but you never know as  I do like a sherbet or two !!!!!!!
 Up to four Little Egrets on the River Blyth unheard of a few years ago !
 This showy Turtle Dove gave many the chance to add it to their  County list
 I photographed this Black-headed Gull 4 times but still have not found it's origins.
 And that star the White Throated Robin  ( which I even got on my bus list )
 Marbled White a new Butterfly for me
 Boneparte's Gull  which just never made it any further North. ( it did get me a small cheque for a photo in Birdwatch )
 Although not seen a Red Kite in Northumberland this year
 And what a turn-up Lesser Scaup on Tynemouth Boating lake (probably start the year off with this )
 And the Greater Yellowleggs  which I first saw in the gloom on Hauxley , but it stayed around for some time , surely Everyone should have got this one.
 Bewick's Swans on Big Waters and I gather on other sites in the region again giving birders a chance to catch up with these one time annual visitors.
 And another showy bird the Desert Wheatear the fourth I have  seen in the County and I believe the third found by Dave Elliot ( amongst his many other finds )

 Spoonbills another species that figured in good numbers this year.
 Avocets breeding in the County, can't wait for their return .
This is another bird which I still have had no information from the ringers, but it has not put me off looking for colour ringed birds , they can provide some insight into bird movements , why not look out for some in 2012.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Linton Buzzard

Well here's wishing you all a  very Merry Christmas 

 This photo is actually  a christmas card and was taken at 6500 iso hand held under tungsten light using my 400 lens from across the room and I thought it looked OK , so now I am ready for my next encounter in the gloom !!.

The other day I visited my one time   favourite winter haunt of Linton Pools  alas the west pool held 2 Mallard, 3 Tufted  & 3 Teal.
The East Pool had 2 Mute Swans ,70 Teal  and 2 Tufted so it actually took longer to walk to each pool than bird them .Except I noticed a Buzzard sitting on the fence ,they are usually miles away but in the scope it was not to bad ,so I thought I would video it . Now they are only very short so don't start them and then  go and make a cup of tea, but heh  !!!! at least they are not the  repeats that the TV is offering .

I think it may have had some form of prey here but finished by the time I got set up.
Here it had flown over the grassland hovered momentarily then dropped down, flying to this post it seems puzzled that there is no meal available ,but it has taken a large chunk of grass showing the force of the drop.
This is just after the above but the image is slightly better till it flys off.

I think this an adult or perhaps sub/adult , most of the books I have cover flight ID

Located again  slightly closer but now I'm in the wind , I was just going to move the camera to put the bird on the left so I could get it as it flew ,but alas it flew off.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Stoat'lly Ruthless

Wednesday another visit to Holywell Pond not expecting much but just another chance to look through the gulls ,good numbers around again and more Common Gulls than usual on the shore at the east end . Thought I would check the fields to the east looking back everything had lifted  took a few seconds to pick out a Peregrine as it lazily flew through the Lapwings rising then headed west. At the west end in the hide all there was to look through where gulls ,then I heard a shrill
squeal first I thought it was going to be gulls chasing each other , no thats too long perhaps Water Rail  fighting , again no it was only one sided  looked out the front a Rabbit hopped leisurely across the front of the hide  a second or two later the sound again what the hell is that I thought , carefully went outside and there right in front of me a Stoat with it's teeth sunk into the neck of the Rabbit  which was squealing very shrill and continuously but this just made the Stoat all the more aggressive. Camera at the ready I took a couple of shots the light so poor all where blurred so I pushed the iso up to 3200 and still I was only 1/50 th ,standing very still trying to hold the camera steady the Stoat could hear the shutter but the wind blowing my way it just had a look around , the Rabbit still not dead squealed again and the Stoat went at it again ,eventually after pulling it this way and that the Stoat satisfied it was dead started to pull it into the undergrowth which must have took some effort given the twigs etc around , one last shot and I left it too it and ten minutes later on the way home both where gone from sight . Thinking about it I have heard Rabbit squeal before but only briefly not on and on like this one nature can be ruthless !!!! 


By the time I got this shot the Stoat had been attacking the Rabbit for sometime but the photos turned out blurred
 Now it can hear the shutter sound but it's not sure what it is
Another frantic attack to finish it off

 Again it hears the shutter and heads off into the grass, but I just stand very still and it soon returns ,it's not going to let all that effort go to waste
 Not sure if this Rabbit has perhaps Myxomatosis, making it easier prey

A sizeable prey for such a small predator ,surprisingly only a small amount of blood on the face

And off it goes which is where I left

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Shortest Day

Well that's the shortest day over , day as in hours of daylight ,actually it was quite light and I was out longer than normal adding the fact it's  much milder , the long stayers are still around hopefully for at least another 10days  as they will be some good birds to start the new year with . Somewhat off topic but I came across this Graffiti on the old cinema wall in Blyth, it's due for development so I wonder if I should rescue it for the nation as it where  , I could take it over to the Baltic, unless that's where it came from perhaps they sell stencils in the shop with cfc free & bio degradable paints all you need is a steady hand and a lookout !!! no idea what they would cost though, I know the last time I was in there a "T" shirt was £15

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Seghill tip / Holywell Pond/ Blyth Harbour

Today I tried another session at Seghill tip area at least that was the plan but actually very few Gulls around , the field that held the huge gull roost now had 70 Greylag , checked the area for gulls and counted 19 Moorhen on a pool then headed down to Holywell Pond . Walked down to the east end first nothing at all on the shore an ice shelf held about 60 or so gulls and I was surprised to see two Whooper Swans at the west end and I could also see two juv Mute. So at the west end the two Whoopers where not far from the hide , I can only assume they are the same two from the weekend ?, the two juv Mute Swans where the only two around so the adults and other young had left. The Whoopers took off and headed east neither had any problem flying but they soon returned and dropped in near the hide again, a huge amount of gulls most at the east end due to ice but again nothing unusual that I could find, the cold overcome me so time to head down to Blyth Harbour to find an assortment of rare gulls !!!! . First I had a good look for the Black Redstart but no sign for me two RTD and numerous Cormorants and Shags in the bay Guillemot on the river,probably a couple of hundred gulls around but well spread out , the light already poor even at 3'oclock time for home  !!!.  
As I said I presume these are the same two from the  weekend one of which was unable to fly , but they seemed fine now

 Wigeon just outside the hide
with empty feeders birds looking on the ground for fallen seed (the nut lady arrived as I left)

Juv  RTD Blyth Bay never see more than a couple of Red throats in the bay
Blyth River

Monday, 19 December 2011

Holywell Pond Saturday 17th

Saturday afternoon spent a couple of  hours at Holywell Pond started off at the east end Mute swan Chasing a Whooper off which flew around calling before re landing over and over again, turns out its mate was injured not sure if by the Mute bit it did have a go at it a couple of times it obviously could not fly , I did phone it in to  a rescue centre not sure what happened in the end. Huge number of Gulls around probably as the tip was not working  Saturday ?, only had the bins with me but I could pick out nothing unusual  out of the  2,000 or so .A single Buzzard and numerous Pinkfeet passing over but no geese on the pond a Bittern was seen briefly but only by one person so the rest of the afternoon we spent hoping it would reappear ,I have never seen Bittern at Holywell before, the feeders quiet but a female Bullfinch came to feed on Meadow sweet  seeds then have  a drink from the pool edge. A pleasant afternoon more talking than birding .
Sunday feeling lazy despite the rather pleasant but cold day ,had a walk down to the South Harbour but nothing of note fishing boats bringing in there catch and gulls with them but no sign of any white wingers, but I see an Iceland reported  at Amble so may get one yet , also MH tells me of Black Redstart at South Harbour this am  was intending to call on the way home but it never really brightened up any .

 Whoopers seem to be very faithful to their partner this bird  just would not go
and again it returns to the pond, as I say to date not sure of the outcome with the injured bird, Whooper Swan is not the sort of bird you can just pick up   !!!

Friday, 16 December 2011

The Birds of Durham Heritage Project

Last week I went to the talk by Keith Bowey and  Paul Anderson of DBC ,giving an insight into the forthcoming Book  Birds of Durham, and what an interesting talk it was the guy can certainly tell a tale , I don't mean it was fiction but he certainly has  a way of  putting the story across his mind must be full of  anecdotal stories , I did think it was rather poorly attended given that it was a free event in the prestigious  venue of Gateshead Civic Centre Council Chamber and the amount of work those involved have put in , but the talk was avidly listened to by those that did attend , we heard about Britain's first Great Reed Warbler , bones from a Great Auk  dug up in a garden and G.W. Temperley where just some of topics covered. I must confess to having missed the last part of the talk , I went into a coughing fit and thought it appropriate to leave the room , but I will attend the next talk to find out what I missed and looking forward to it !!!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Seghill Tip

Had a couple of hours in the area of Seghill Tip trying to find a good vantage point to scan through the thousands of gulls , a large group of  mainly Great Black backed /and Herring gulls had settled on the north edge of a field with winter wheat  , its not only being able to scan them but also getting the light especially this low winter light which can be very strong behind you , so scope set up, first scan to look for obvious "white wingers", many of the gulls tightly packed and at lot lying on the ground  but no sign of any, so next checking them very slowly for anything that stood out from the rest hoping for Caspian which I confess I have not seen yet . Have been thinking about going to an area that has frequent sightings of  YL/Caspian which looks like Seaton Common is the nearest, one juvenile bird caught my eye nice clean white head with a beady eye, no sooner had I got onto it when it lifted and settled in the back of the flock only showing its head . I also check for leg rings but could only find one Orange ringed bird  in a flock of Herring Gulls /BH and 3 Common Gulls . So it was rather disappointing ,a freezing wind and distant birds, but I still enjoyed it. Ended the day at Blyth South Harbour hoping the fishing fleet ? had perhaps brought some gulls in with them but very few around no Snow Buntings and only one colour ringed Shag as most where on the river.

 Even failed to get the ring clear enough to read !!!!!!
Colour ringed Shag Blyth Harbour looks like TUZ ?

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Holywell Pond

A couple of hours at Holywell Pond 40 odd Greylags ,30+ Teal  at the west end , the Greylags left ,b ut large numbers of Gulls started dropping in to bathe could pick out nothing out of the ordinary from the large gathering but in any case I did not have a scope, the feeders devoid of birds even though they had just been filled.
Huge numbers of Wood Pigeon lifted from the woods and hedge flushed by a Buzzard, this was a well marked individual and I wanted to try and get some photos , but it just sat in various trees on the far side till it eventually dropped over the hedge out of sight . Then I noticed about 20 Geese heading straight for me coming in silent as they dropped on the water I thought  there Bean Geese 18 in total the most I have seen in one flock , I noticed a couple with more orange on the bill with some degree of white to the base and where they larger ? thinking these two could be  Taiga  ,with no scope all I could do was get a few photos the light ever changing making the odd bill look more like Pinkfoot , but  looking at the photos as they left they where all Bean Geese but I think all are Tundra. only one called a single very soft note which I only just heard. I waited for another half hour in the hope of Water Rail but no luck, a flock of 200+ Pinkfeet heading south ended the day.
 Greylag leave
 Bean drop in
 there where two similar birds this is one on the right that I thought may have been Taiga
They drifted nearer
 Before they  lifted as one and left

Saturday, 10 December 2011

More Desert Wheatear

My visit to the Desert Wheatear I got more than some photos of the bird I also picked up a good dose of Cold/Flu which has laid me up most of the week reminiscent of my winters spent at Linton Pond looking through the gulls so stiff with the cold it was hard walking back to the car (but I do miss it), good to see it's still around hope it's finding plenty to eat , so here is a few more of mine I'm sure there are plenty to look through on the net ,which is all the birding I'm doing just now.

In true Panto fashion  time to say "It's Behind You"!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Desert Wheatear

A Very Pleasant but very cold afternoon along the beach at Beacon Point Newbiggin  for the Desert Wheatear which performed remarkably well giving views done to a few feet, what a little star , it seemed to have a bias to pose to the left with most of the shots facing that way , you would think you couldn't fail to get some decent photos at this range , mine seem a little soft I think it's time to get my lens serviced .  Purple Sandpipers on the shore and a single Snow Bunting on the Golf course and 4 Short Eared Owls on the ash lagoons area, it took me till near home to get warmed up in the car with the blower full blast , I'm getting soft.
I also added a couple of different poses to Birdguides might as well add mine to the many others.
 Alula seems  displaced on this side