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Friday, 29 June 2012

Tyne Kittiwakes

A week or so ago I went along to the Tyne Bridge to check out the Kittiwakes ,looking down from the bridge first they are on every conceivable point but only as long as there others there also , on the opposite side of the road a zip wire was connected down to the Gateshead side and regular zippers where sent down, it actually looked like a bit of fun apart from the part where you have to climb onto the bridge parapet before you go  !!!!.
I am not sure how many Kittiwakes are now nesting here I was going to count them but it's a bigger task than you think, of what I could see there was not many chicks yet and some nests where empty.
Close views can be had of the birds nesting on  the Baltic,view from the terrace below the  viewing window so the building is at least  serving another  useful purpose apart from the great views, I did have a look over the balcony to the exhibition space all that was there was a stack of pallets, not sure if it was a piece of artwork or just a stack of pallets but what do I know .
Here is a video link from our  local film-maker and Blogger  Cain
 Looking down from the Tyne Bridge

Doesn't look like it's fooling  anyone !!!

These ones from the bridge and on the bridge.
 The Olympic rings
 Nesting on the Bridge towers
 Close up of one on the bridge
They even have the ability to level off the nests on the steel work ,that looks like a steep angle

A clip from my phone

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Branton Gravel Pits

Branton gravel pits , situated just west of Powburn was the subject of a visit last week not a bad day weather wise got there first thing went over to the Hedgeley site east of Powburn to find the Black headed Gulls where nowhere to be seen apart from from a few Tufted and the usual gang of Canada Geese the usually raucous sounds of the large colony of Gulls nesting on the island was gone , two Common Sandpiper on the larger pool and 2 Buzzard over  so I headed for Branton , again large numbers of Canada geese one group had thirty young , two pairs of Black headed Gulls nested on a small platform one had three young but I couldn't help think that at least on a grassy island the juveniles could wander around picking up flies etc: here they where just stuck on a small platform till they fledged an easy target for the larger gulls,a walk around and I picked out  a wader on another island this also had BH Gulls nesting but difficult to see in the long grass, the wader looked like a Knot but as I only had my compact bins for dragonflies  I came back with the scope to check it out indeed a Knot , I did not think they went to far inland on passage obviously they do.
Still Garden Warblers,Blackcaps , Willows and Chiffs singing it was nice to hear early in the morning with very little background noise , only a few Damsels on the wing and no Dragonflies a chap I talked to told me last year they had also had Broad Bodied Chaser here , and Osprey ( one reported the next day ) pleasant enough couple of hours   but there is an awful lot of geese around , nearby I had my first Spotted Fly of the year although Iv'e not actually gone and looked for them this year , I have actually got it on my garden list  not bad for the centre of a  town. 

 Knot feeding on what little shore there is on one of the islands
 Whitethroat giving it  some from it's favourite perch

 Distant Spotted Fly
Two pairs of BH Gulls this with three young not sure how many the other pair had but all on a platform about 5' wide

 Great Crested Grebe apparently has not successfully bred  here for a few years, actually in common with a few other sites I know of .
 Long Tailed Tits are they  not just great to see this chap in a party of about 10 not sure how many where juveniles , they flit around so very quick only got the two shots.

 View across the larger pool that's an island
 and this further right than the above the nesting platform in view

 Looking back across the site
 Came out the site and had a look at the river , not hard to see just what they Quarry from this area , still the wildlife does benefit from a newly created habitat
 Looking back east , that's a Ford across the river ,but I wouldn't recommend crossing it in a Ford or any other car for that matter   !!!
A very substantial footbridge has been erected , I have yet to look on the map to see where it goes

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Dragons "n " Spiders

In search of dragonflies ,at least two things are essential location and weather , and as you probably figured out the weather can be a problem, Dragonflies need the warmth of the Sun to enable them to fly and somewhere to come together to breed so a nice pool of clean well vegetated water that is not likely to dry out  is easier to find , but frequent visits are required to find out if Dragonflies have found it suitable to there needs , so another visit to Great Park development site a day of cool temperatures when the sun was not out so only intermittent activity the smaller damselflies will just drop down into the grass and I'm not sure if they just hang around or actively crawl around in search of prey such as Midges , while the larger Dragonflies will fly to nearby trees and either hang facing the direction of the Sun and wait till it warms them again or go underneath leaves for shelter.  

This Four Spot Chaser rested briefly in the grass before flying out of sight 

 Not sure what  this is ,very common here could have come in with imported top soil, Edit ,Cut Leaved Cranesbill
 Small Tortoiseshell
 Red Admiral resting on Stinging Nettle
 Another Four Spot Chaser a plaer individual
 Azure Damselfly

15 Spot Yellow ladybird less than half the size of Seven Spot
 Female Gloworm
 A Common Wasp near its nest burrow all that soil to it's right has been excavated from the hole top of photo

Another photo of the first Four Spot Chaser 
 The following Spiders where a remarkable sight there where over 100 individuals spread over the warm sheltered rocks at the time I had no idea what was going on I thought there where two species involved I figured these where carrying egg sacs and some that did not have them I thought where males but smaller black individuals with club like feelers where gently reaching out till they touched the females a very delicate operation.
Some inquiries revealed these are Pardosa  Wolf Spiders so named as it was thought they hunted in packs. I think these could be Pardosa amentata the females do indeed carry the egg sac around (some species leave them underground and bring them out in the sun for warmth)attached to their spinners and when ready to hatch the female tears open the sac and the young climb onto her back and stay there till there next body change . The male has club like palps that actually carry sperm and the action noted was the male trying to mate with the female via her epigyne located under the front of the body.

I only wish I had a decent video close-up of the interaction still not sure why there was so many around I will check them out again and try and find a female  with the young on her back 
 Apparently some species will prey on the young Spiderlings ,, I wonder what these three are up to !!!
 Male lower he gently reaches out with his palps perhaps to see how receptive the female is
 Most of the females  seemed to be carrying sacs


Tuesday, 19 June 2012


A walk in the hills just North of Wooler starting at Kirknewton village hall , where you can not only use the toilet facilities but also pick up a route map card showing a walk around the two hills West Hill and St Gregory's both sites of Iron Age hill forts. There is usually some wildlife to see on this walk so I took the camera , recently fledged Blackbird on the green and a couple of Small Copper on the path out of the village . its along here I usually see the feral Goats but no sign today , also usually a green woodpecker calling  but again not today there was a somewhat eerie  silence other than a couple of Blackcaps. Around on the hills only a couple of Meadow Pipits and Linnets with a lesser Redpoll over very quiet  from previous visits , first up West Hill then down and up onto St Gregory's with the unmistakeable silhouette  of a Raven crossed the sky giving that delightful "kronk kronk" a couple of Small Tortoiseshell  and Hares where the only other wildlife , still a very pleasant walk given some great views of the hills and over Milfield Plain .

 Small Copper
 The track out of the village

 looking back

 looking over to the College Valley
 Looking North
 Views from West Hill

 Looking down onto Kirknewton Village
Looking over to Milfield Plain once the site of a huge lake
Raven over