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Monday, 30 July 2012

Sunderland Airshow 2012

Sunderland's Airshow is in it's 24th year , can't understand why I have not been before especially in the last few years when I have not worked weekends all I can say if you have not been then get along to next years show being the 25th year I'm sure there will be something special. The crowds where huge we went via the Metro I think it's the only way to go take plenty to eat and drink and something to sit on as it's a long day , I have never been to an event with so many people but it's well organized and being an airshow its all happening just above you. The highlight for me was the Battle of Britain memorial flight , like many boys of my generation I spent many an hour carefully assembling my Airfix kit of these classic planes Hurricane, Spitfire and Lancaster bomber when they where painted and finished we used to take a hot needle and pierce the wings with a row of holes to simulate bullet damage before hanging them from the bedroom ceiling to gather dust  happy times  !!!! . The flying was very very impressive, stunning , superb , you could use numerous descriptions but it really was a fantastic day well the final flight was the Red Arrows I have seen them a few times but they never fail to impress and gave a stunning display to end the show I took about 20gigs of photos and was having a great time as there has not been much in the way of birds to photograph of late . At the end we decided to wait awhile for the crowds to clear thinking we would be here for ages I checked out the numerous Gulls that had gathered above the crowds picking up dropped hotdogs, ice creams or numerous other items and giving there own display of some fantastic flying  they must have come from miles around for the feast ,eventually walking up to the Metro and seeing the queue  for north bound trains my jaw dropped it was huge around the corner and down the street four or five deep with police to keep it in check, Metro staff checking tickets before letting people in so I thought I had better dig it out and suddenly I was at the gate having just found it , amazing how quick we where on the platform waiting for the train and boarded in about 6-7 minutes very well organized , estimates are over 1,000,000 in the two days .....if   you've been then go it's fantastic. 

 For photographs you have to be quick as this formation rapidly split up for their  individual displays , making me one happy chap !!!

Lancaster ,Hurricane and Spitfire

 I'm not an aircraft buff so most of them I had no idea what they where but they did give a fantastic display , yes one is flying upside down while above it's partner cool  !!!!

 A Hunter jet

 Breitling wing walkers gave an impressive show

 Catalina and a Mustang

 The famous Red Arrows

 Skydiving display team they all landed on the beach within a metre or so of there target

 Red Bull team also very impressive show
 These are just some of the aircraft taking part being the more showy for taking photographs of , but also Tornadoes and a Typhoon came over very fast
 Hellicopters giving a display who would have thought it but again very good
Thats the angle it was flying at . One of these would have been good for the White Throated Robin twitch at Hartlepool you could just imagine it above the Doctor's Garden   !!!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Common Swift CCTV

Well its coming to that time of year where the Swifts nesting in the loft will soon be leaving the site ,I put the camera on this evening and I thought I can't tell which is adult and which is the juvenile then I realised they are both adults ,the juvenile can't have left already surely but a movement at the entrance caught my eye. The juvenile finally comes back into the nest after watching out into the night it looks like it can't wait to get out into the sky above , it returns to the entrance and seems to get chastised by the adults as they scream at it "get back in" this week I found the tiny corpse of the other youngster that either fell out or was pushed out as the adults  left. I shall miss them again as it seems a long spell till they return !!!!!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Pectoral sandpiper

When the Pectoral Sandpiper was at Cresswell  I eventually went up to have  a look called in a few places on the way up and was pleased at one site to have a Grasshopper warbler singing I could just faintly hear it as the wind was very strong taking the song away from me and the wind through the trees , so I went downwind and could hear it much clearer even through the wind noise , no sighting of it and I did't seek it out just pleased to hear one only my second of the year  numbers seem to have crashed from previous years.
The Pectoral sandpiper located just north of the causeway but the wind was fierce so I set the scope low and got some shots and a short video complete with the blasting wind  a nice bird which attracted a steady trickle of both birders and the curious !!!!!!!
 Robin's Pin Cushion caused by  a gall wasp having laid eggs in a leaf bud
 A family of Swallows being fed on a wire so I set up to get some video but then they decided to fly up to the adults to be fed !!!
 Pectoral Sandpiper

Short clip of the bird feeding complete with the sound of the wind blasting over the scope.


I must give credit where credit is due and I would like to sing the praises of Birdguides the internet information site that everyone must have used at some time or other, I decided to re- subscribe to their Text alert service coupled with Bird News Anywhere, the changes in phone technology makes the latter much easier and quicker to access loading in just a few seconds  and that's on a fairly cheap basic mobile , not one of  those phones you can talk into in order to get it to do something, not looking forward to when those get really popular imagine a hide full of birders talking into there mobiles ," where am I"," what bird is this" "have I seen this before" I wonder if they are regionally adaptable !!!!!
I digress I had some credits from my last subscription  which expired some few years ago but they still gave me them on re-subscribing 91 credits in total , now I think that is how to run a business , I have only had a few messages of late due partly to not much around and the settings I have but I do like the Bird News Anywhere  I can dip in to any region at any time just to see what's around elsewhere, very pleased with the services provided .

Friday, 20 July 2012

Long Eared Owl

While we had that spell of "showers" last week a break in the clouds saw me head to Druridge  in the hope the Long Eared Owl would be in flight also taking advantage and perhaps hunting near the hide , it was not long before one showed although distant it gave good views in the scope and a couple of times coming fairly close although the light was still very dull for flight shots and I failed to get anything decent .At one stage a juvenile flew up to meet it as it returned to where they where roosting in a pine , it caught prey several times and then sat obligingly on the fence so I got some digi via the scope , a juvenile dropped in front of the hide also , I was glad to have dragged myself out of the house even on such a dull day  the LEO's performed brilliantly . 
A couple of videos stitched together by the production team    !!!!!! seeing Leo's out in the daylight it's worth a go .
 Having them sit still helps with exposure on such a dull day
 I took numerous flight shots and really should have had some better results , most problems being the inability to get a focus as it flew past
 Juvenile Heron in stealth mode ..

Swift CCTV

Just a short clip of the Juvenile Common swift  Apus apus it is growing rapidly in body size and wing length  and will be ready to leave in early August .

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

College Valley

Saturday 7-7-2012
When you make arrangements for the Summer well in advance you might expect to get a bit of rain , but the current situation with the weather we where wondering if we would even get to our destination which on this day was The College Valley  this is a few miles North west of Wooler  the road along near  the turn off was covered in mud and the nearby field was a lake it had obviously flooded and then receded, even the drive up and then down into the valley the road was like a stream . Driving on to Mounthooly (you need a permit to drive actually in the valley ,but there is a car park near Hethpool ) the road  had several small streams crossing it and judging by the amount of gravel etc: the flow had at one time been heavy , although the rain was only very light the mist was pretty thick as we walked past the Bunkhouse  ( YHA  Mounthooly Bunkhouse check it out for overnight stays and/or guided walks ) 2 Grey Wagtails on the path and I noted a total of 25 Wheatears  also a family group of Stonechats and Common Sandpiper on the stream . The mist stayed all the way up to Auchope shelter via Red Cribs path, foolishly I had not taken a compass with me I know the path so well but today could not see more than a few yards ahead and I missed the start of the path , well nothing to see at the top no looking onto Cheviot no looking over to the Hen Hole it was just a slog back down again.
 I had looked forward to exploring  the area to the east of Hethpool more , there is a small waterfall but this year I could get nowhere near  as the path over was washed out (like this Summer)  
 Mist descents on the valley looking towards Cheviot
 There is a nice range of hills over there somewhere

 Auchope shelter on the Pennine way
 its basic but must be a welcome when youve been out in the rain

 Sometimes the river looks Ok after heavy rain but as it runs off the land it can quickly rise

Saturday, 14 July 2012

A Day of Emperors

Last week on Thursday it was sunny for a change so it was off to look for Dragonflies , it took me about twenty minutes to find the first Emperor of the year , but the problem with these on a sunny day is they just fly and fly it patrolled in front of me but try as I could ,it was impossible to get a fix on it, occasionally it flew up and caught an insect but they are so fast I couldn't see what happened to it . A cloud covered the Sun and it settled on the rush stem but a bit to far away . Wandered looking for other photo  subjects a Spider with a Large Red Damselfly caught my eye , having taken this I turned and there just a couple of yards away a coupled pair of Emperors what luck and they where accessible so I rattled a few shots off , this is when a tripod would be handy as the camera and lens was getting heavy , but how do you set up a tripod without chasing away your subject .
 Later I caught up with it again as it chased another Male , brilliant afternoon just getting absorbed in the action. 
Emperor Anax imperator
 They always land facing the direction of the Sun so when it returns they are warmed up immediately
  A difficult shot trying to get it in flight ,but now it's against the light
 This Spider must have  finished with this Large Red Damselfly because it isolated it then cut the thread letting it fall to the water. Turning from this to see this ........
 Doesn't look the most comfortable mating pose and look how hairy the body is  
 As they where already landed I don't know how long they where coupled , but the Female finally struggled and freed herself and they both flew off would have been a wonderful moment for video !
 I tried to get some close-ups of the Males head but vegetation  across the view blurred the shots slightly , you can't always see this in the viewfinder

 Another Spider catches a Large Red and comes down to secure it

 The Male settled a few more times , this below could have been a nice shot but again leaves obscure it slightly
Another flight shot I have taken better but today was just glad of the chance to catch up with some Dragonflies