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Monday, 30 January 2012

Red Kite -roost

Last week I  decided to go and check out the Red Kite roost just over in Gateshead, calling at Shibdon for the afternoon  before heading to the nine arches , it was rather quiet at the pond workers over the far side on the boardwalk pushed out the Snipe and the flock wheeled around before settling at the edge on the North side  top count as they settled was 66 but probably more just out of sight , also counted the Lapwings  my first guess was about 300 but when they split into two groups it was easier to count them, I was surprised to get  536 but Lapwings being flighty birds it was not long before they where up again , only a score of B headed's and a few Common Gulls , 18 redshank and 8-9 Heron, the day had turned rather dull by now. Walking along to the arches two Kites seen straight away , up at the watchpoint  5-6 sitting in a tree and two more over the far side , the numbers increased rapidly with a total of 21 in the area and 15 in one view ,by now getting darker with light rain , although the birds coming lower the light was dismal  for photographs , so I just enjoyed as they circled the valley , one was noted to be carrying a twig , it settled near the two birds but lifted rapidly and just circled around . Brilliant bit of birding  I shall go back again soon but on a better day or keep going back till I do !!! 
A flock of Snipe at Shibdon Pond

 This Kite was carrying a small twig around
 Coming reasonably close overhead giving great views , but not necessarily good photo's !!
Three of 5 sitting around

Friday, 27 January 2012

Iceland Gull - North Shields Quay

Reports of Iceland Gull and Glaucous Gull at North Shields fish quay again had me thinking  at the moment it does  not look like I am going to find one in Blyth Harbour so I headed back up to check it out , a bright sunny but rather windy day saw me on the  actual  quayside after checking the beach area on the way. First what appeared to be an adult came past but after further views you could see traces or smudges of light brown especially on the undertail so at the moment it's age is undetermined but I just refer to it as sub-adult,  also a 1st year bird came past and it was thought another bird perhaps a 2nd year but this one not seen to come past , I think it was actually just the sub-adult when viewed at a distance looking very white. No sign of the Glaucous  but it was good to catch up with the Iceland's  a few birders came and went with varying degrees of interest from just a tick and go to some spending more time in the company of these great birds , there must be more Iceland's in the Country than in any time before perhaps it will take time for more to drift into the County hoping for a nice clear cut Kumliens type .

 Light makes a huge difference in photographing these gulls although it was sunny all day the direction of light washed out the subtle colours .

 1st year alights briefly
 1st year mobbed by Carrion Crow
 1st year
 I just love the way they hang in the wind checking out any food source
 The sub-adult cruised over a fishing boat flying slowly into the wind, it checked out the boat turned sharply then dropped down onto deck and came up with this fish, although I have no idea what sort of fish it is ?

It's getting late in the afternoon the sun light starting to glow

Monday, 23 January 2012

Fish Quay Foray !!

Last week a run up to the Tyne to look for any white-winged gulls started off at the Black Middens just a few gulls around up to 10 Purple Sandpipers along the breakwater, after a good search no sign of any white -winger's , a Grey Seal pup on the small beach it seemed Ok  as I watched it alert and mobile but I found out it was taken into care later into care the week , I presume that's a mark from The Farnes on it's back . On the off chance there could be something on the boating lake I stopped there for awhile , mostly frozen with just a 12-15' circle which meant the gulls if they wanted a wash had to use this ,plenty sitting around on the ice but nothing unusual not even any ringed birds 
 Purple Sandpiper Tynemouth
 Grey Seal pup near the fish quay

Taken into to care later in the week
 Herring Gull adult boating lake
 1st year Herring Gull
Adult winter Common Gull

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Maiden Hall Lake and the Coast

A run up the coast at the weekend picked up a Peregrine sitting on the fence when I stopped to look for the Twite etc:, which I did not see  anything of ,watched the Peregrine for awhile as its nice to see one perched even if it was facing away but a couple of jets going over persuaded it to turn slightly it was still there when I moved on . Called around to this new site Maiden Hall Lake , indeed large numbers of geese around the White-Fronts started to separate and move out onto the grass  I counted about 254 with lots still on the water but  a helicopter over sent everything onto the water, they all drifted into the shore below the gate eventually every single one of about 2,000 birds (Greylag, Canada, Pinkfeet , Barnacle 20, White-fronts) was out of sight  and anyone stopping for a quick look would think there was nothing there, they did eventually drift back out and start to come back ashore , 2 Buzzards, and 3 kestrels in the area.   East Chevington the next stop the 2 Bewick's still around but at the time fast asleep, 4 Short -Eared Owls   two sitting on posts and 2 over the dunes  the 2 Bewick's took off and headed south.
Called in to Druridge Pools   on the off chance the Bewick's had dropped in plenty of Teal  and  Wigeon around and a pair of Pintail but no Bewick's .
Back along the coast towards Cresswell a SEO on the ground and another flying further along was the end to the day 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Holywell Pond

Visits to Holywell Pond of late have not produced much even the gulls don't seem to be in the numbers that can visit the site ,presumed to come from Seghill Tip but not sure if it's working ? I went that way around the whole area with only a hundred or so gulls around. Two Buzzards are providing the main entertainment along the north edge of the pond one trying it's luck to catch one of the thousand plus Wood Pigeons that seem to sit around most of the day, three Roe Deer  2d 1b the first I've seen here for some time small numbers of wildfowl around and an assortment of geese seem to drop in now and then but not while I'm around it seems.
The Snow  Buntings are still near the Cemetery Blyth Links , I got a couple of digi shots , but I must confess they can be hard to pick out in the stubble.
Common Buzzard with a couple of mobbing Magpies  (one on the right)
Not sure if it's the Magpies or something else that has it's attention

Roe Deer only this one showing enough to digi

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Gosforth Park - Bittern

Gosforth Park is a  Private site run by The Natural History Society of Northumbria and is only open to members of the society membership details here.

A few hours in Gosforth park  Just to get out of the wind again ,usual suspects at the feeders and some Long Tailed Tits  and a Stock Dove dropped in . I had a walk to the lake area not expecting much ,more just to stretch my legs before heading home  after counting everything in sight  the chap next to me said "Bittern " on your right, camera came out and I rattled a few shots off  as it was only seen very briefly ,I should have reset my camera as I had forgot to put the IS back on and should have upped the iso as it was rather dull so I have put the shots into a slideshow on there own they are not much but together they show the bird in some sort of display? . It first stood on the reed edge then flew a few yards and started to flap rather like a young bird flexing it's wings  this it did briefly before again disappearing into the reeds . The images below are some of the better ones from the run.   

Bittern with it's wings spread neck feathers erect,threat display ? or actually just stretching it's wings ?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Newbiggin - Desert Wheatear

Last Friday I headed up to Newbiggin to have  another look at the Desert Wheatear walked along the beach to its usual haunt but no sign of it anywhere even further along on the beach south of Alcan Power Station , back to Beacon point in the hope it had returned  gave it another hour ,there had been huge amounts of sand blown across the beach onto the cliff edge this could have been what eventually persuaded it to move on . Across the Golf course a couple of Short  Eared Owls  sparring with each other so I headed over and got into the Gorse in the hope they would come nearer ,they just always seem to veer off before you get that great shot , the amount of blurred shots or shots with just half a bird in all end up deleted .  I counted up to 5 birds around ranged some distance apart , always great to see even the golfers seem to appreciate them. Last call before heading home a look on the beach several Mediterranean Gulls  around but rather wary as a digger was dumping sand that had blown into the car park etc: . a very pleasant day,I was expecting the Desert Wheatear to be relocated further up the coast , perhaps it is still around  just waiting to be re-found on someone else's patch !!!

 I counted up to 10 Purple Sandpipers from Church to Beacon point

 Short eared Owls hunting near the Golf Course

Med Gulls Newbiggin bay

Friday, 6 January 2012

Holywell Pond

A couple of hours at Holywell Pond the other day ,very few duck around does not seem to get the numbers it used to, there was a Buzzard along the north hedge now that is something you did not see in the past, numbers of gulls low ,I presume the tip has not yet got back to full working and perhaps some of the gulls have spread out. Seven Eurasian White-fronts dropped in silently followed by an adult Med gull which as always did not stay long , I think it dropped into the east shore but as I had not long come from that end which is always the first port of call to check any gulls with colour rings , so I thought by the time I pack up and go down it will be gone. Three Tree Sparrows on the feeders none of them ringed there seems to be an influx in the County of late, I always thought they where fairly sedentary birds.  
 Silently they came and silently they left , but it did give us something to look at.

This must be a photo effect ,that Herring Gull looks huge  !!! 
1st Winter Common Gull
 Tree Sparrows at the feeders ,perhaps the nucleus of another colony

Monday, 2 January 2012

Kicking off the New Year with 60

Well I made it out fairly early for a New Years day ,the first bird seen a Blackbird as I walked home in the early morning as it was still dark, got sorted and was out ,first stop the stubble field Snow Buntings flying around within seconds also a large flock of  Yellowhammers,Tree Sparrows Greefinch & Reed Bunting ,(Yellowhammers)some years I have found these hard to get in the early days of the year ,next stop Marden Quarry took about twenty minutes to get the Lesser Scaup with Goosander as a bonus . Desert Wheatear the next port of call ,parked at the power station I was the  only car but when I got to the beach I could see about a dozen birders tracking the bird along the beach much nearer Newbiggin, great I thought going to have to leg it right along the beach , a guy coming towards me asked is there something around ,yes a Desert Wheatear I said but its right along there ,but as luck would have it just as I said it the bird dropped in about 30' away  so there I was standing looking right down on it as it sat on the cliff side ,luckily I had brought the camera not thinking I would get to use it ,what a little star.
Headed further up the coast checked the Geese at Woodhorn most over a small rise no sign of the Bean Goose but White-fronts just over the hill , next stop Cresswell  checking fields for geese as I drove along, most of the Pinks where a field over from the road checked the few I could see, a helicopter over put the lot up but instead of them heading off they circled and most landed in the field near the road , I picked out some Bean and White-fronts as they first landed all with heads up but as the fed it was hard to find them , a Pinkfoot with a neck collar noted as IVD waiting for info on it, swing your scope round 180  and you could scan the finch flock which had mostly Linnets with Greenfinch ,Goldfinch, Chaffinch and some Twite . Stopped at Cresswell on the way back three Short -eared Owls near the car park two settled along the hedge before they all disappeared, also a pair of Stonechats nearby. Second last stop of the day back at the windmill to look over the ash lagoon but no sign of any SEO's , so the last stop of the day checking the geese out as they where now more in the open, picked out the Tundra  Bean Goose, and the four White -fronts of the Greenland race, so even though it was still light I was frozen stiff and unable to think where I could get anything new for the day I headed home , great start to the New Year 364 days left to go birding this year  !! 
 Lesser Scaup always gives itself up eventually ,but why is it always dull here

I digiscoped this one as it was some way off , so I thought  better get something before it disappears
 There must be several thousand Gigs of photos of  this bird around , so obliging for the patient  !!!
 That Alula is still dropped somewhat

Neck Collared Pinkfoot IVD
 Short Eared Owl hunting the dunes at Cresswell

 Not the best of shots this but I do like the look of concentration !!
 Another shot which looks a little odd as you can hardly see the left wing

These shots are actually the wrong way around as the bottom photo is with the camera ,I then set up my scope and took this , but trying to get the twigs out of the frame I moved just to far and it was off.

Stonechats  working the wall as I went back to the car

Tundra Bean Goose Woodhorn the White -fronts just too far.