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Monday, 30 April 2012

Great Grey Shrike

The plan for today was to start off at Seaton Sluice to do a bit of seawatching but the thick mist put paid to that, so I headed off to Woodhorn to have a look for the Great Grey Shrike , I gave it a good hour but no sign , so I moved on to Newbiggin parked near the mound and walked over to the golf course two Redshank on a small pool and two Ring Ouzel flushed  not much else for me but checked out the area where I last saw the Ring Ouzel and one landed in the Gorse than dropped onto the grass.
Moved onto Cresswell  with a brief stop at Snab Point to have a look at the sea but got distracted by Fulmars flying back and forth along the cliffs, Cresswell North end Two Avocets and a further two on the shore of the main pond , White Wagtail and Wheatear , Andy Mc informed me the Shrike had returned so I headed off and spent the rest of the time having some cracking views of it till it flew out of sight and did not return, Three Swifts over in the distance picked up by Steff, still very cold today but at least no rain !!!

 Ring Ouzel pops out from the Gorse and onto the grass to feed, great to see out in the open !!

 Fulmars at Snab just loafing about and enjoying their flights along the cliff
 "Tubenose" clearly seen in this shot

 30 Sandwich Terns at Cresswell being rather raucous but nice to hear !!
 And  a nice confiding Wheatear in the cattle field

Just got some short video of the Shrike before it flew off, but it did give cracking views !!!
video

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Fontburn Reservoir

We had a visit to Fontburn reservoir the other week its a pleasant enough run ,the entrance is on a bend and I think many people are under the impression you cannot go there or it is just for fishermen but not the case on the waters edge is a sizeable carpark  and during the season the toilet block is open . A walk around to the South West over a path and boardwalk  comes to a dead end the west end of the reservoir is a nature reserve but you can go out onto the open access land from here a path also runs around the North West edge but again comes to a dead end there was a lot of fishermen on this side so we opted for the south , Willow Warblers , Reed Buntings , Long-tailed Tits, Pied Wagtails and a Great Spotted woodpecker , the only birds on the water  two Canada Geese  and later some Sand Martins and a swallow crossed over , I have never seen much on the water here at any time why I don't know. A further stop nearby produced Nuthatch, Green Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail , Siskins, Goldcrest and more Willow Warblers with 2-3 Buzzards  around , There must be more in by now so I will have to have another run up but midweek this time !!
 Willow Warbler feeding up in-between bouts of singing , a nice sheltered spot this with a further two birds nearby
 Looking back onto Fontburn from the open access land but this was rather bleak on the day we where there
 Looking further west Harwood Forest in the distance
And the water from the carpark these three from my phone camera

Stopped at Morpeth to look for the Toothwort  most of the easy to see ones are now getting overgrown but many stalks/stems circled the trees

 A curios plant these I must read up on them
 You can see the many stems as ghostly fingers coming through the leave litter , I am not sure if it is not just the one plant flowering like a fairy ring , but as you can see there are many stems ,I had to use the flash here as it's so dark.

Monday, 23 April 2012

River Wansbeck

A walk along theWansbeck near Morpeth ,not expecting too much just an afternoon walk , plenty of Nuthatch calling , a pair of Grey Wagtail on the river and a Grey Heron flew up to the weir ,looking for the Yellow Star of Bethlehem , but they had all gone over you could just see a hint of yellow left on the stems, lots of Butterbur around a plant I avoided as a child as rumours abounded that they where poisonous, also Lords & Ladies pushing through with Violets and  Wood Anenomies , single Orange Tip on the wing and I came across this Bee Fly common and widespread apparently but can't say I have seen it before , this one perhaps looking for the nest of a Mining Bee in which the Bee Fly lays its eggs to feed on the larvae.  
 Nuthatch sitting on recently felled tree those are chippings around it.
 Oragne \Tip
 Butterbur ,quite an intricate flower when you take a close look
 Bee Fly alights on the sandy soil looking for Mining bee Nests
Several or even many names for this plant Lords & ladies being one !

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Harthope Valley

Last week a visit to the Harthope Valley , weather was changeable, sunny but a cold wind , pair of grey Wagtails and Pied wagtails on the stream , Chiffs singing , as where yellowhammer, Chaffinchs and Mistle thrush  , located two Male Ring Ouzels  at one  stage having a brief  argument over territorial boundaries squaring up to each other   rising like a cock fight but without any contact, the seaming victor retired to a perch in a tree which I think was central to the dispute, and sat and preened while calling softly , which you can just hear in the short video. Tim Cleaves had also witnessed the same birds the day before and produced his excellent note book complete with artwork and a detailed  account of the action it inspired me to try and take more notes and try the odd sketch (probably be very odd sketch)Plenty of Red Grouse around if you fail to see them here you really are out of luck. Only a single pair of Stonechats seen as was a  single pair of Wheatears   these at the same nest site I have seen a pair for the past 6 years. Raptors where absent from the scene or I could have just missed them spending so much time trying to get some digishots of  the Ouzels and Grouse . Rain at times put a bit of a damper on the the day but overall very pleased to have at least seen the Ring Ouzels
 Typical views up the valley sides

Red Grouse which sat on this wall for most of the morning also the same one in the video.
Ring Ouzel after routing its rival, for now anyway ,it sits and preens while calling softly you can just hear it above the wind and red Grouse.
video
videoWheatear a very short video , I had to use video because sometimes the digi is so slow to capture the bird as it  preens etc, you always fail to get the head in etc:
video
And again as this bird was so obliging to sit around in view I took a short video

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Around the Ponds

Just an assortment of photos and a couple of short videos of visits out over the past week or so, not many photo opportunities of late but still good to get out.
Chiffchaffs  singing in good numbers but no Willow Warbler or Blackcap for me first Orange Tip of the year ,weather on the turn again typical bank holiday . 




Caught up with the Common Crane near Warkworth Lane walking down the track from the main road ,actually I thought perhaps it had gone as there had been no reports first I looked for the Whoopers it had  been in company with, but the bird was alone, it was rather distant and there was a terrific heat haze , one of my digi shots showed some red on the mid crown but I could not see this through the scope, it eventually flew off going North but apparently returned  a short while later always a nice bird to see in the County.


I walked from the Crane down to Cresswell via the bridle path which has been cut back and some of the wetter parts gravelled ,this brings you to the pond from the West and provided the causeway is not flooded , eventually the road , two Avocets on the spit and later from the hide they came onto the sandbar.


Still a few geese around these where on Holywell Pond a few Pinkfeet and the single White-fronted Goose








I have seen the Prestwick Carr Great Grey Shrike a few times but never more than a distant view hence the very distant shot here

video just a short clip of the Common Crane before it flew off.



videoTwo Avocets at Cresswell Pond here on the small sand bar beside the hide where they fed in a shallow pool

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Hareshaw Linn

We had a drive over to Bellingham  for a walk along the banks of Hareshaw Linn its an easy stroll only about 1 3/4 miles , a reasonably sunny day Chiffchaff the first bird heard , Nuthctch, Great , Blue, & Coal Tit in abundance. Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming , and the yaffle of   Green Woodpecker  despite it seeming so close we could locate it, a pair of Grey Wagtails on the actual waterfall and Dipper also seen .
Whilst checking out a Nuthatch a Red Squirell scampered up the tree but eventually settled on the end of a tree limb.



There are six bridges to cross before you get to the waterfall but all are good vantage points to check the stream
 Plenty of Wood Anemones coming through especially where the sun reached












 Also vantage points to look down onto the stream











Most of the bridges are just that , a means to cross over


















 But the 6th one is a little differant and just shows what you can do with wood
 Near here is this sort of tree stump which people have hammered in coins it looks quite affective , I have seen  similar in Holywell Dene
Looking back onto the 6th and last bridge , a short walk up hill brings you onto a view of the falls.
 I was trying to capture the Rainbow which is about centre.



In the rock crevices are some great ferns , some I gather are rather rare, the sort that only have Latin names , so I will leave at that !








 Mr or perhaps Mrs Red Squirrel sits out on a limb to eat whatever it recovered from the hole in the branch end
Always see dippers along here from the village to the falls 

Four Roe deer up on the hillside  but soon out of sight on the steep slope 
video
And a few seconds of the small but enchanting waterfall at Hareshaw well worth a visit.