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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

River Blyth

A trip out on the bike the other day looking for Speckled wood I found non but came across this Shield Bug  it would make a nice subject for a macro lens , plenty of  Wall Brown  on the wing with the habit of landing on the path in front of me. The River Blyth has had of late a Curlew Sandpiper and several Black tailed Godwits have been around for a few days one of which is colour ringed , I have also came across several Fox including  some cubs but with no camera at the time , that's the curse of a camera take it and find it hard at times to get some good shots , leave it at home and something will pop up just in front of you  !!!
 The new track along the riverside of Blyth has this area fenced off with about six of these signs ,perhaps the new path is to be the wedding way !!!
 Meadow Pipits making use of any bit of height  within their  territory
 This one came back to the same spot several times
 A few new ponds formed after the heavy rains of April how long will they last with the hot weather as this one is evaporating rapidly ,this one near the old reservoir , which had not a single Dragonfly or Damselfly but actually plenty of fish coming to the surface in the warm weather.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Swift nest cam

9:30 on the 27th of May just had a quick look at the Swift nest cam two birds present doing a lot of mutual preening , still can't get the sound to record which is very disappointing I'm sure they are very vocal during this preening . 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Blyth Battery May 2012

Last weekend was another event at Blyth Battery  the WWI and WWII search light and gun emplacement , when I was a child this was a great place to play most of the units where used as beach chalets in an era when "vandalism " seemed unheard off , now if its not virtually "nuke" proof it gets destroyed . Anyway it's good to get a look at someone else's hobby , and this re-enactment can be a serious and very expensive hobby , the Tank below was apparently some sort of observation vehicle with a kit added to the top, it is motorised and had firing guns as did the 25pounder that was very loud during the re-enactment of the taking of the beach . All seems a bit over the top till you realise  at the time invasion was a very real threat , I know the access to beaches was very restricted if not completely banned , but it got me thinking what happened to the bird populations during all this did Little Terns and Arctic terns flourish with the beaches deserted, I remember reading the excellent book   A Naturalist on Lindisfarne  by Richard Perry , if memory serves he was based there as an observer during the war and I think the book was published on that thin war time economy paper , actually I remember a lot of natural history books seemed to published during the war, must try and get a copy and re-read.
Back to the day I have lived nearby most of my life and it was strange to go into a few buildings that I had never been in before , one chap I was talking too told me the searchlights only shone out to sea and not as I  thought up in the air as well, apparently it was common to fire on friendly ships mistaken them for the enemy such was the fear at the time . Blyth at the time was an important Submarine base which as it happens was indirectly how I came on the scene as my late father was a Submariner  based at Blyth where he met my Mother...

 An expensive hobby no doubt I'm sure this would be Several thousand pound

 What could have been two German soldiers patrol around the site.

 The business end !

 The detail is impressive most spent the weekend camped out ,but there is an excellent fish and chip shop nearby !!!

 All these guns are deactivated and cannot fire

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Cresswell and Druridge

Tuesday the 22-5-12, started the day off  just yards from my home looking for Speckled Wood Butterflies  I have counted over 50 at this site but not a one today  not sure if the first hatch of the year have died off before the good weather returned ,next  West Hartford in the hope of a reeling Grasshopper Warbler but no sign today, did have a Garden Warbler which I got some recording of .
travelled up to Cresswell via Lynemouth Flash which only had some bathing Black Headed Gulls, Cresswell only the one Avocet I could see there where three Barnacle Geese a nice bright Yellow Wagtail and a Wheatear just north of the ponds.
Druridge no sign of the Garganey a group of 13(edit) Curlew included a partial Leucistic bird  but taking  photos against the light never gives good results, Small Copper and Wall Brown out and my first Orchid of the year , with a pair of Stonechats feeding young back along at cresswell.
Three Barnacles in with Greylags
 Wall Brown
 First Orchid of the year at Druridge
 Leucistic , or I should say partial , shooting against the light probably does not show it at it's best
 And Stonechats although someway off it was reluctant to visit the nest  so I got this digi shot then moved on

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Cresswell & Druridge

A run up the coast only took us as far as Druridge pools the wind was strong and from the west , first stop was Lynemouth sewage works viewing from the hillnear the travellers site , Swallows , Sand Martins and a few House Martins feeding just along the burn, Black Tailed Godwit on the flash, Cresswell the small pool had a nice showy male Garganey but the strong wind put paid to any decent photos, 2 Common Sandpipers and  2 Avocets  at the north end with a few Dunlin feeding , Druridge from the screen and another 2 male Garganey feeding together, also 2 Black tailed Godwits and a Whimbrel dropped in 9 Herons in a loose group, the pools had Tufted and a few Mallard with Sand martins hawking across the pond and several Swifts over the trees and 2 Wheatear on the short grass before the dunes.
This week the Swifts have returned to their nest site in the loft first one bird spent two nights, then joined by another both roosting for the night viewed via CCTV.
 Lynemouth Flash looking very good at the moment if it dry's out a little should be tempting to passage waders

 Garganey at Cresswell it called several times
 Lone whimbrel circled calling before dropping into the field by the screen
 Two Males feed together before they both preen then fall asleep on the pool edge

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Hareshaw Linn

Another visit to Hareshaw Linn a month on hoping for more migrants ,weather wise it was much warmer a month ago the opposite of what you would expect at this time of year, some Toothwort still out but well past it's best, Goldilocks Buttercups just starting to flower . A Dipper feeding a single fledged young but too far down for me to get a photo a pair of Grey Wagtails fed around the waterfall and a nice male Redstart on the wood edge replaced by two Roe deer on the way back, only the one Wood Warbler briefly burst into song I think the dull cold day had subdued it.
 Goldilocks Buttercup not sure how common they are can't say I have noted them elsewhere
 Herb Paris

Short video of a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers at their nest site .

Monday, 14 May 2012

Bus Pass Birder !!

Well its over a year since I got issued with my bus pass and although the novelty is wearing thin now I still use it very frequently more for the savings in petrol but also it 's handy to get the bus to a location walk through to another location to get the bus back . I have completely lost track on the number of species recorded using the bus but I  did  do some comparatively longer journeys to Hartlepool Headland  for the fantastic White Throated Robin and another trip to Hartlepool for the Kumlien's Gull  seeing as none were recorded in Northumberland , a trip to see the Little Tern colony near Blackhall rocks , a Bonaparte's Gull near Seaburn , a trip down to Wingates for marbled Whites , numerous trips in the vain search for dragonflies and a few trips to Saltholme with two memorable dips for Sharp Tailed Sandpiper and Pallid Harrier.
I did however have some good sightings actually from the bus always choosing the option to go upstairs (if available of course ) seeing apart from the obvious common birds , other not so common  birds from a bus  vantage point anyway where , Waxwings at eye level, Kingfisher , Whooper Swan, Iceland Gull, Snow Buntings , White Fronted Goose amongst Pinkfeet.
So a year over already , but some good trips sorted for the coming Summer (that's if we have one) in search of Birds, Dragonflies and Plants. And with a greater knowledge of the system it should be a little easier, or at least I won't get on the wrong bus this time and instead of heading to Winlaton for the Red Kites I was heading for Durham , to be fair the bus did pull into the wrong bay and as there is no necessity to state your destination !!! anyway that's my excuse.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Blyth Valley

Blyth valley firstly I'm not really sure why it's called a valley as it is not quite like say the Hartehope  Valley , but as a birding area it is a fairly large patch incorporating such as the Beehive Flash , Holywell Pond and the Dene and also Seaton Sluice watch tower which I think is actually just out of the area must check my map on that,  Seghill area but not quiet Backworth ,then on the other side  the  River Blyth  including West Hartford  up to about the A1. So it is a fair size to cover now I'm not really a patch watcher but I do like to see what is on the doorstep so this year I'm trying to cover it just a little more thoroughly. 
Avocet on the Beehive Flash apparently the flash in in Blyth valley but the road is in  North Tyneside thus providing sightings to two areas   !!!!

Now Canada Geese  are popular with the general public a pair with 6 Goslings providing many OOO's and RRRRR's at Holywell pond, they are very good parents this brood still intact after more than a week , and there lies a problem the numbers seem to be increasing  yearly they can be encountered breeding at most wetland sites.
Distant view of a Little owl, in the Blyth Valley area a few years ago they seemed much commoner and could be seen regularly but not now .
Tree Sparrows however seem to be on the increase I always thought them rather sedentary but small groups are seen much more widely now.
This is a Blackcap singing his heart out I think it's a pleasant song ,I marvel at just how loud they can be at times
Blyth valley is not a butterfly hotspot apart from the dramatic increase in Speckled Woods in the past year or two.

Barn Owl looking rather pensive and it settles before an evenings hunting

Green Woopecker

I have added another local blogger to the side list Richard Dunn ,he has some fantastic photos  posted but I particularly like his recorded sound files check this out.Green Woodpecker  Try the three altogether its an odd combination but sounds good.

Friday, 4 May 2012


A recent trip to Wallington Hall a National Trust property , the forecast was not to good so we decided to go down to the feeding station first besides it would be quieter, not even a glimpse of Red Squirell  they used to be easy to see here , Chaffinch the dominant presence , but Goldfinch, Siskin, Great, long tailed and Blue Tit, and very briefly a Marsh/willow Tit , Great Spotted giving very good views , from here it was the river walk but surprisingly very few flowers out , no Dippers or wags on the river, there is to me what seems like a very good population of Nuthatch here with numerous birds calling and being very showy.
Lunch time picnic just got sat at the outdoor table when it started to rain , so it was decided to visit the house along its seems with everyone else, the house is very impressive far more than Belsay hall , there is room after room to visit  with striking  views of the grounds, a cabinet of Taxidermy caught my eye but its a challenge to ID some of them, two glass domes contained a large amount of exotic birds including some tiny Hummers fascinating yet hideous at the sheer quantity. 
Finally a walk over to the walled garden not looking its best on a dull day but the greenhouse/hothouse always has some nice plants , back at the house a falconer had set up and was flying a Harris hawk and letting it land on the arms of children , I finally got my turn rightly so as I had hung around long enough, surprised at how heavy the bird was and impressive only inches away from your face.
It was a good day out and well worth a visit 
 Wallington Hall

Wood Mouse at the feeders

 Stock Dove
I was trying to get an arty shot of the tree from low down , but not bad for a phone !
 Some very nice flowers as always in the greenhouse but what a greenhouse  !!

 No Idea what they are apart from the Geraniums

 A huge cabinet contained two opposing lead armies this is Napolean

 Snaps with my phone of the small fish pool and river
 The famous Gargoyles (which if I remember was actually ships ballast)
Just a clip of the Harris hawk in action ,it was good to see the kids get involved even though it meant I had to wait till they al had a go !! I forget the guy's name that was running the Falconry but he was very good .