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Saturday, 29 October 2011

Little Egret-Hen Harrier

A cycle ride along the river was fairly uneventful a flock of about 15 Linnets the first birds noted ,tide fairly low so any waders where well spread out further East a Little Egret still around so I took the opportunity to get a couple of videos   
Little Egret tackles a flat fish
The Little Egret finally settles in a tree which is actually the first one I think I have seen in a tree in Northumberland
The next day took the bus to Woodhorn area to try for the Hen Harrier to add it to my Bus List . Did not have long to wait as it quartered the area although distant frequently dropping out of sight , Fieldfares  noted in the background several groups coming in off the sea also 2 Short Eared Owls also around , 3 Mistle Thrush,2 Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 2 Heron and c15 Long Tailed Tit working the hedge , not bad for just standing by a gate. To top it off the HH came fairly close giving some cracking views allowing me to take some notes as it's not often these birds give you the opportunity.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Big Waters....Whoopers

A couple of hours at Big waters in the company of Whooper Swans which eventually came to the shore giving fantastic views , also a Water Rail came out along the far edge, the usual Tree Sparrows etc: on the feeders this is one of the best places to get good views of  Tree Sparrow, Two Great Crested Grebes  amongst the Wigeon and Gadwall , birds would get flushed from the edge in a panic and I was hoping for Otter but none where seen , a ring -tail passed over the corner which I missed,4 Common Darter sunning themselves on a fence rail ,the first I have seen for awhile and probably the last I will see for awhile !!

When the birds are settled on the edge of the scrape it gives fantastic opportunities to have some close views

After being on view mostly all upending (good chance to look for Darvic rings) they all flew to the scrape and settled to preen or sleep ,this one giving the classical and evocative honking call   !!!!

A very pleasant and tranquil scene as they all settled down, with the odd bird taking the time to relax.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Gosforth Park

A recent visit to Gosforth Park reserve of the Natural History Society , although it was quiet I enjoy the walk around in the blustery day ever conscious  of the falling  small twigs and Acorns . Three Jays glimpsed a party of about 15 Long tailed Tits along the board-walk c60 Wigeon and 6 Little Grebes from the hide . At the feeding station Treecreeper  Nuthatch and a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers along with Blue,Cole , and Great Tit oddly only one Chaffinch around I 'm sure that will have changed by my next visit.
Membership of the Society is required to visit the reserve, contact the office in the Hancock Museum Newcastle.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Whoopers are here !!!

Sunday late afternoon saw me at Prestwick Carr started down the sentry end 20 Fieldfare well over by the wood , 3 Kestrels, 4 Buzzards, and a single Sparrowhawk ,also around M and  F Stonechats  and back down the track two Whinchats  more Buzzards a Fox  2 Curlew and 3 Jays with a single SEO lifting form a small copse a Long Eared owl picked out but I could not see it, but just on dusk several SEO's where either on the wing or sitting on the fence line with at least ten before it was too dark to see.
Monday I travelled up to Cresswell Pond it was nice and sunny at home but the Westerly wind rapidly picking up strength by the time I got to the reserve , it was good to see the arrival of 31 Whooper swans it looked as though they had just arrived and toured the pond with the resident Mutes looking on, I took a short video just left in in place as they swan through the shot. In front of the hide I picked out a Jack Snipe it lay tucked up for most of the time so the photos I took where of no use besides the camera wanting to focus on the moving vegetation , so another short video the only way to capture the curious bobbing motion. Two Brent Geese at the North end , and the by now huge flock of Pinkfeet seemed restless as they swirled around landing before again taking to the air ,a Hawker still on the wing despite the wind , I just could not get an I.D. on it, my intended look at the sea for Divers was a non starter given the white horses you could see from the hide.
Only three Juveniles in with this group which failed to pass through the video
I have tried an edit to the video adding another couple of clips to the original

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Foxy Photos !!!!!!!

Spent Saturday at one or three places ,a few Silver Y moths around today , the lesser Scaup still at Marden Quarry I got some good digi shots of it and a Great Spotted Woodpecker but had forgot to put the card in the camera so now they are on the internal memory and I don't know how to get them off as yet. Came across this Fox it was at first hidden in the grass but to my surprise it just kept coming closer and closer till I had to reduce the length of the lens to get it in , I felt sure the shutter sound would scare it off but no it may have been that it was investigating , the wind in my favour till suddenly it must have got a hint of my "Lynx" and contrary to the ads it was off so it does not work on FoX .
Holywell Pond held little to hold me for long a Hawker from the hide failed to be identified so I headed off to Prestwick  Carr one Short Eared owl on show and one Long Eared deep in cover with a Little Owl calling briefly.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

More Lesser & (Speckled Teal)

The report of the Lesser Scaup back at Marden Quarry so I went back up but on the bus to add it to my Birds by Bus list  , as expected a few birders already snapping away, at least with ducks they dictate how close they will come , so it drifted back and forth always keeping its distance , the presence of so many cameras etc: causing the locals some amusement , the well travelled,locally at least Speckled Teal drifted past and at one stage was behind the LS , other distractions while waiting for the sun to lighten the scene where the constant fights of Mute Swans and two Sparrowhawks that would drift over.
Edit : 21st October The Lesser Scaup has been labelled a 1st winter female so I will have to get back for another look if it is still around ,because when it was on the boating lake you could see a purple sheen on its head in certain light so I thought perhaps 1st winter male.
No flight shots for me but did get a quick shot of the wing
Not the easiest of birds to get a decent shot of
Classed as plastic (must be that bill ) the Speckled Teal drifted past well I just had to get a snap.
Speckled Teal & Lesser Scaup in the same view now that's a first for me !!!!

 To close for my lens these Mute Swans added some drama , this pond does actually provide some good photographic opportunities good practice for trying to get the best out of the light,
Two nice Sparrowhawks would drift over now and then !!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Turtle Dove/Lesser Scaup

Sunday an afternoon visit to Prestwick Carr  I came across this Bullfinch oddly feeding on Stinging Nettle Seeds , I would not have thought there was much actual food value in these but I wonder if there is some other trace element as Nettles are used for medicinal products ? No sign of any Owls although we did not stay till dark several Buzzards up and also a good number of Kestrels with Willow Tit also along the hedge.
Monday I went along for the  Turtle Dove it circled the car park as I got there but took another thirty minutes or more to come down to the field , it also spent time in a couple of the nearby trees but all those photos where of no use, it did eventually come and sit on the fence for twenty or so minutes till someone   got just to close.
The report of  Lesser Scaup  at Tynemouth saw me pull up later that afternoon ,a few birders already assembled with the bird on show , but it spent most of the time tucked in although I believe it had flown briefly and there is a nice flight shot on Birdguides. An adult Med Gull dropped in with the Black-headed Gulls,I tried to video both birds just for a change as they where just to far for my 400 lens.
I should have went for this bird on Sunday but at the time was not sure of its location 

tried some video as it just sat on the fence
Lesser Scaup its a bit jerky as it swam out of shot ,should have set the tripod etc: to video. a Very nice bird actually with some saying it was rather drab , but seen in good light the feather patterning made this a very attractive bird

Thursday, 13 October 2011

River Blyth

Another cycle ride along the River Blyth without the camera this time as I had the scope , so it was digi or nothing went straight along to look for the Little Egrets ,but the council is working on the new path  ( I think it's to make it easier for people to dump rubbish , or faster for the numerous unlicensed and uninsured motorbikes that seem to use this as a rat run so beware) any way found three of the Egrets but looking into the light so I had to go around and look back down but now they where some way off . Further down a Wheatear caught my attention so I spent some time trying to get some shots in a brief sunny spell , at least 200 Great Black Backs roosting  on the old pit workings , 2 Goosanders fed along the north edge later 3 Mergansers by the old power sattion. Later I went down to Ridley Park via any trees or bushes I could find, there was a very good site that was last used as an old wood yard with a tangle of bushes,Brambles etc; giving loads of cover but now the site is cleared and it's just grass. Ridley Park at this time most of the birds concentrated behind the Tennis Courts the cover is thick with little access, I could hear a Yellow Browed calling  but failed to find it all I got was  Chiffchaff, the Great Crested  Grebe was still around but the light no better making it look dull.

Click on an image to display and enlarge all images ..

 I presume the Yellowish tone to the legs of these two birds is an indication of Juveniles ?

I am sure Dulux could come up with some fancy name for those yellow feet
 This Wheatear proved very difficult to digiscope  with a fence blocking not my view but the scope as in was set , I persevered as its all good practice for that one day "biggy" , Wheatears are fantastic looking birds even this Autumn male looking smart

Typical of trying to photograph birds the sun barely breaks through the clouds then went dull, only to later come out with full force, but by now the bird has gone !!!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Mixed Bag of sightings

A few photos from some recent days out , a run through to Thornley for perhaps the last of the Dragons ,produced a female briefly and a male looking for the said female , with still a few Speckled Woods, a Buzzard and Red Kite over , on the way to Shibdon had a look over the old bridge on to the river with , Kingfisher, Dipper & Grey Wagtail noted , Shibdon Pond  had a couple of Migrant Hawkers  taking advantage of the sunny spell , a couple of cycle rides along the River Blyth of late to check out the waders nearing high tide has been interesting, heightened one day we I came across one of the smallest Curlew I have ever seen , I tried to stop behind a small bush to have a look at it but it was off  and immediately out of sight,  I did try and find it but it will remain a mystery ,was it as small as I thought or just because I caught a glance of it as I passed , interesting bird nevertheless and it was in my thoughts  for the rest of the day. While checking out the waders a Kingfisher past silently and headed further up river behind me a loose flock of Long Tailed ,Blue and Great Tits with  2 Chiffchaffs  tagging along , across the river 2 Wheatears dropped onto insects from fences and posts the Curlews gathered on the field edge up-to a 150  but no sign of my runt
 Migrant Hawker from the track at Prestwick Carr
 Migrant Hawker taken at Shibdon Pond
 Buzzard over Thornley Woodland
 Red Kite also over Thornley Woods just over a small clearing
 Red Kite again as it circled the small clearing briefly
 This Fungi forcing its way through the bark of a Birch Tree at Thornley Woodland
 Two Moorhens give the classic pose as they fight over ? , just that bit to far for a decent shot, Shibdon Pond
 Little Egret one of up to Four along the River Blyth
Still find it hard to believe that we now have Little Egret , becoming a fairly common sight in Northumberland and especially these four birds along the River amongst old tyres ,shopping trolleys ,traffic cones , and many other mystery objects.
Great Crested Grebe  taken along the River Blyth.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Prestwick Carr

Another couple of photos from Prestwick Carr and another short video of a bird sitting on the fence I am getting into video more as it can show some behaviour difficult to capture in a still shot, so its practice ,practice just need the subjects ...Sandhill Crane would have been nice   !!!!!!!!!!!!!

 This is at least a nice pose as it looks intently at us looking intently at it !!!!!
 A visit to Holywell Pond before going to Prestwick this Med Gull in with the Black -Headed
 This Heron came just along the shore so I tried to just capture the head
Could not resist this rabbit as it and others came out late afternoon in front of the East hide at Holywell

Monday, 3 October 2011

More of the LEO and SEO's

Pleased this week to have another one of my photos this one  the Bonaparte's Gull at Seaham , published in Birdwatch magazine.

Here are  somemore  of my photos of the LEO and SEO's
 Those eyes are just stunning and really bring the bird to life
 some of the Short Eared Owls in the late afternoon sun they always kept there distance although in reality giving stunning views you do need a fairly large lens to capture detail.
 Three birds briefly drifted over the track not giving me time to change my settings so they are a little dark
 I like the pose of this one just looking down at me looking a little puzzled
 and just a series of the same bird as it drifted across the track and down behind the hedge

 Spotted Redshank that plied between St Mary's , Beehive Flash and Holywell Pond also another Adult Med Gull here they seem to be  regular now I wonder if they may be spreading out from Newbiggin
 It seemed to eat a large amount of fish and always looked as though it was masticating or crushing it before actually swallowing . Still not sure if it actually caught the fish or they are dead or dying near the edge as I have also seen Black-headed Gulls and a Ruff eating fish here.
 The Leo has turned away again but has some nice light on its side !

One of a run from the top picture just looking down again as it relaxes