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Monday, 27 February 2012

Back to Harwood

Another run over to Harwood Forest started at the Gibbet ,Kestrel, Crossbills , Goldfinch, Chafffinch,Buzzards displaying, a bitter cold wind reduced the time of our stay here, going into the forest it was warm in the sun so I looked for perhaps a basking Adder , checking out an open recently felled area , the edge was alive with birds also taking advantage of the warmth of the sun but where the sun did not touch the ground was frozen solid , a walk along the tracks and you soon realise just how large this area is , Crossbills over but not settling ,but again when I got back to the near the car Crossbills  feeding along the road edge and coming down to water, so I just set up the scope and spent the rest of the afternoon watching their behaviour.
 Harwood from the air the trees tightly packed

Great Spotted drops in beside us
 Harwood from the air---actually a clump of Moss!!!!
 Crossbills feeding along the tree edge
 This one coming down to drink
 Juvenile feeding on bark ? or insects below
 looking North towards Cheviot
 looking East ruined cottage which would have been very remote in it's day
 This male also seems to be feeding /stripping bark, mineral content perhaps?
 Talking to one of the locals who said Crossbills regularly come down to  their garden , I could only think of the photographic opportunities if a suitable pool was available all year.
 The wind ruffling up the feathers
 Coming down to water with the dark forest behind

 Not the best of shots but I liked the way it showed the bill and tongue, this one was getting something out of the end of this branch
Also coming to drink , a good water source being essential in their daily life.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Shibdon , Red Kites

Another visit over the water to first Shibdon , plenty of Teal around and Snipe along the reed edge, I watched a pair of  Teal as they picked some what looked like Moss and dipped it in water I thought they where wetting it to eat but it seemed they where sifting it using the water as it was all visible through the scope ,quite comical to see them back and forth with small pieces of vegetation . No sign of  the Ruff that have been hanging around Shibdons like anywhere else the birds come and go as now they have been reported just in front of the hide,  Lesser Black Backed dropped in looking smart.
On the way to Thornley I looked at the river from the old stone bridge two Dippers feeding in the fast water, Thornley feeding station is a shadow of what it used to be the finance cuts have reduced feeding to only two days per week and I think these are voluntary contributions , Yellowhammers, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, a Marsh/Willow Tit dropped in very briefly, a Heron in the small pool hunting frogs.
I next headed to Far Pastures to have a look for the Firecrest, 3-4 Bullfinch, long Tailed Tits, Cole Tits etc: but no sign of Firecrest , apparently it was to be seen further along the path but as it was marked no entry I did not venture further. Red Kites started to form overhead and I headed towards the arches some Northumberland birders already there and we observed some 19-20 birds in the air when they all left for the pub  I saw that one had landed on a pylon I ended up opposite it but by now it's very gloomy it just sat there calling a couple of times it was so  gloomy I never saw the large stick not sure if the bird had landed with it but can't see how else it got there it eventually flew off  soon lost in the dark another good visit. 
 Lesser Black-backed with a Black-headed Gull behind
 Teal with what looks like Moss which they seemed to filter out for whatever they could find.
 Seems a good year for Yellowhammers
 Heron is rewarded with it's patience with a Frog !!
 Kites start to gather over Far Pastures
 A Red Kite lands on this Pylon not sure if it had the stick or it was already there.
 In this shot the bird does have what looks like a hold of the stick  actually a small branch with part hanging over the right , and its tag clearly seen.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Glaucous Gull

Went over to the area this side of of the Stella  Power Station to have a look through the Gulls for some reason it seems to attract a reasonable number despite the large housing estate now on the site, I only know you turn down to  Ross's Pickle Factory  turn is just past the large electric sub station . A Glaucous Gull stood out easily amongst the others a 1st winter bird , I only had my small camera so I got some digi shots ,nothing else of note that I could see there had been reports of YLG but I could see nothing that could be a likely candidate. The location of the bird as it was on the far shore was not strictly in the County so I would still like to find one  for myself.. I did not have time to explore the area there is some extensive rough ground and numerous wet areas and the path runs along the river edge so there should be ample views of the river or mud edges.
 This one does not seem to have the fierce expression I have seen on others

I have left the sound on for a change gives a bit of atmosphere even with the wind !! 

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Harwood Forest

Harwood this week for the Crossbills parked just along from the turnoff to Harwood plenty of Crossbills in the nearby trees so I tried to digi them a bit breezy even here  the birds showed well but very active by the time I got the scope on one it had moved, Siskin Goldfinch and Chaffinch also around  it was a bit to overcast and cool to expect any Adders but I had a good look anyway. Cycled up the long drag and around to the more open area of Tutehill Moss where I just set up the scope, counting well over a hundred Crossbillls going in all directions some landing nearby but too far to photograph glad I got a couple of shots earlier. Two Great Spotted Woodpecker several Buzzards all too far away (actually nowadays I can see as many and sometimes closer much nearer home who would have thought it a few years ago !!!)  also in the distance a Raptor caught my eye through  the bins getting it in the scope I could see it was not a Buzzard it turned to avoid a Corvid and revealed itself to be a  Ring-tailed Harrier not sure where  it actually was located. It became rather duller so I headed back to the car where I hung around for ten mins or so but no Crossbills . Headed up to the Gibbet another 5-6 Crossbills here on the fence and the ground  even though I pulled up well short they all flew off, unfortunately no sign of any other raptors for me . Called at West Hartford looking from the road only a few gulls on the pond  a Fox heading for me turned and picked up something from the grass before heading out of view so ended the day.
 That's one powerful bill they have
 Not the sharpest but it does show the bill structure
 Found this lonesome pine trying to grow on a fence post
 It always look bleak if the suns not out !!!!
The long drag it s very hard to cycle up and dangerous to go down if you go tooo fast !!
Fox at West Hartford not sure whats it's picked the strong wind blowing the scope

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The White Fox

I forgot about this photo of a Fox ,found during the cold spell the frost  has turned it white only thawing slightly on the haunches as the sun comes through a gap in the hedge, a sad looking sight , I cycled on to Holywell Pond  which had the usual suspects.

 Buzzard on it's favoured perch
Not much coming to the feeders near the hide as now there is also a feeding station down the public footpath

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Iceland Gulls North Shields Fish Quay

This week I went to Holywell Pond as  well as a couple of visits to the fish quay,Holywell was mostly frozen over and the trust working on the island , a few gulls bathing in the small clear area and loafing on the ice , the numbers have dropped rapidly since the closure ? of Seghill tip , the birds soon move on to some where else, Buzzard in the nearby trees but otherwise a brief visit . 
The fish quay had  two 1st year, 2nd yr and the near Adult on Wednesdasy, but only the latter there on Friday and a Juvenile Kittiwake still hanging around no Glaucous or even better for me at least would be a Kumliens type Iceland . Here are  a few shots of the individual birds I have arranged in a Collage for no other reason than I could.
Mostly 1st winter Iceland

 2nd winter Iceland
Near adult  Iceland the right hand lower is from Friday still a very faint hint of light brown even on the wings.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Angry Birds Birding !!!

I got an introduction to the game/puzzle /pastime ? of Angry Birds in my first attempt I thought what the hell !!! this is so easy what's all the fuss about , of course later  I found myself sitting up late at night just trying to get past one more level of this stupid game . Having completed it but alas not getting 3 stars for each round ? I now face life without flinging birds by catapult trying to hit those green pigs hidden away behind their ever more elaborate protection ,however now   I find there are lots & lots of other devilishly contrived versions of this very addictive game , what should I do is there a patch you can get for it or an ABA organisation I can join for support , or is it just an innocent bit of fun , I think I will just have a look at what others are available before I go cold Turkey (I think that's the  the one like a Boomarang )
Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day and I will get out actually doing some  proper birding !!!

 Angry Birds the Devil in pixels ,or just a bit of fun !!!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Gosforth Park, Killingworth Lake & Fish Quay

Last Fiday  I started out at Gosforth Park NHSN site , the walk to the pond had lots  of Chaffinch on the wood edge and I was hoping for Brambling, a Sparrowhawk bathing in the stream which probably had Woodcock and Snipe along it's muddy edges as the pond was frozen to about 97% , several Moorhen lifted from the reeds a couple of minutes later a Fox came out along the left cutting , but ten minutes later came over the pond , so no wonder I did not see any Bitterns.
Called at Killingworth Lake all the birds at the west end where the Swans are keeping it open , hoping to get some close-ups of Goldeneye etc: but they all still kept their distance.
I next went down to the Fish Quay  2 Icelands up on the shed roof not very active so I thought I would head to the boating lake which also had some open water but no Iceland here , Tufted & Pochard with a few mallard, back down to the quay walked the very small beach only 4 Sanderling one of which colour ringed , by now the sub-adult was flying around  but no boats in and the light fading so I called it a day.

 In this cold spell there must be the odd carcase to scavenge in the reeds ?
 half a glance at the birds in the pool before it went back into the reeds.
 The Male Pochard is a rather smart bird in good light
 Black - headed Gulls coming to bread  at the boating lake
Colour ringed Sanderling on the beach

Juvenile centre and sub adult top  sitting on the fish quay roof

Caught this Iceland just as it was going over the shed roof , it's cleaner this side without the smudge behind the eye !!!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Around the Ponds , looking for something Smew !!

A run up the coast last week starting at QE11 lake which was heaving with wildfowl , 10 Gooseanders (7 male) , and the redhead Smew was still around but more to the south end  good numbers of Goldeneye also around  I did not count everything it would have taken all morning. Next stop the east side of Ellington to have a look through the Whoopers (92) no sign of any Bewick but they where reported there later in  the afternoon , I did have a colour ringed Whooper which till now I forgot to send in . On towards Maiden Hall Lake 2 Buzzards low over the new plantation, still huge numbers of Geese on the and at one stage the surrounding grass ,Pinkfeet , White-fronts, Greylag and some Bean Geese where noted but not counted ,3 Kestrel and a SEO in the distance. East Chevington was the next stop with three SEO being of note one sat on the steel pole for awhile but the news of Jack Snipe showing at Cresswell had me heading that way as it was now getting late in the afternoon , Snipe noted but well hidden , I got a few digi shots before the light went, another 2 SEO also  here made  a good end to the day.
 Goosanders QE11 lake
 Smew also QE11
 Just a couple of lucky shots as it stretched

 PD4 amongst the Whoopers it has probably  already been recorded but I will still send it in.
 Short -Eared Owl East Chevington one of three
Jack Snipe Cresswell pond