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Saturday, 23 February 2013


Not having turned out today but regular checks out the window at the comings and goings of the various birds dropping into the pool for a drink or bathe , I was surprised to see a Hedgehog waddling up the garden  so I grabbed the camera for a quick shot before getting the garden gloves to grab hold of it and check it out , but it had disappeared under the  bushes beneath a large pine tree so I carefully lifted the long strands of a sort of ivy  and was surprised to find a pile of grass and leaves and just the hogs little backside sticking out , well go figure never knew I had it hibernating in the garden , have seen them on numerous occasions over the years , looked carefully again and it was right inside it's cosy little nest well sheltered from rain and snow by the tree overhang . So I will just keep an eye out for it  perhaps get a pouch of dog food and leave a morsel for it at night.
So be careful in your coming garden tidy ups ,check the hedge or whatever your sorting out, it may just be a hogs heaven !!!!!  

Hog heads back to bed after a stroll around the grounds , he did try  out the snail shell on the left so he may be hungry , I,m heading off for some dog food

Monday, 18 February 2013

Humford Woods to Blyth

4th Feb Today I had decided to get the bus to the old footpath that leads down to the stepping stones  which we as kids used to take to get to  the old outdoor swimming pool at Humford Mill . I took a couple of side paths first but the going very muddy and slippery and given the fact I saw not one bird along either path I headed back to the river and the stones , the water was well  over the top of most of the stepping stones so rather than walk around in very  wet boots  for the rest of the day the boots and socks came off, the water was freezing so I hurried across , eventually following the path along the river edge which is mostly rock . I was well down the river before a Dipper flashed past , Jay heard , Treecreeper and Nuthatch seen a few Tits but all rather quiet . In the open area near the historical Old Bedlington Iron Works  my first Snowdrops and Butterburr of the year lots of old bottles along the bank side from some large scale dumping but this was more 40's ,50's  not the Victorian stuff ,even a huge knuckle bone , hard to believe they would dump rubbish so near the river but I remember the very same on the River Blyth at Kitty Brewster when I was at school just up the hill  . Not till I got to the Rail and road  bridge   did the birds start to appear with about 15 Mallard and several Goldeneye , then I got a flash of white in the field an Ermine Stoat  fossicking  (been waiting to get that in ) through the grass and under some old wood ,it heard the camera shutter and started heading towards me but rather too quick  disappearing in the long grass  only to reappear and before I could focus it was hidden again , the battery died and just as I got it changed it dashed across the track in front of me and was gone a brief though  enjoyable encounter. 

I forgot to look on the map for the name of this stream which feeds into Blyth could be the Horton Burn ?

First Butterburr of the year a curious plant the flower always coming before the leaves 
 The site of the Bedlington Iron Works hard to believe they used to smelt Iron & Steel here  but it is still called furnace bank , one of the locals told me a Steam Train made here is still operational in Russia , not sure if it's true another thing to search the net for .
 The high stone walls are from quays used to unload the ore from barges
This is one of the large rings used to moor the barges ,there is always a bit of history left behind if you look
This was taken just before the snow returned so this Stoat would at least for a short time blend in just a bit better !!!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Tony Karpinski

You have to check out this website for yourself Tony Karpinski  these are apparently all  Oil Paintings  I say apparently because at first glance they look like Photographs and if they where they would be very good Photographs but as Oil Paintings  they are simply stunning , check out his website to be amazed  !!!!!
Tony Karpinski
As you can see he also does nudes I had a quick look just so that I could comment ,and the comment is that they are also VERY good .
Hiding in the long grass is this not just stunning !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Holywell Pond Twitch ( sort of)

1st Feb and it was off to Holywell Pond for the reported Whitefront  turning into a right twitcher , well not really but I suppose any bird that you specifically go to see is a twitch , so heading down the side track had a quick look in the feeding station ,there is  screen  looking onto a feeding station in the copse, always worth a look might pull in a Brambling or two , or even the elusive Yellowhammer, there was plenty of Tree Sparrows 25-30 the most I have seen here but its good to know there are numerous birds about . A Kestrel passed me close and low over the field heading back up the track and settled on a tree it's a very obliging and confiding bird , I walked back and got some shots . Walking around the track as it turns into the next field I could here some Snow Buntings they flew across in front of me and headed over the pond , I had put the camera in the bag and the time I got them out it was to late , 8 birds I thought  but the photo shows 10 , couldn't re-locate them in the area  though I did try , it was good to see them I had looked in the harbour and beach area since the New Year in the hope the hard weather would have pushed some over.
Just further along the Whitefront was soon located in with Greylags , the end os last year I had a single Whitefront in with Greylags at south Woodhorn Flash as well as the ones to the North so it could be this bird,  a Greylag with bright orange legs also caught my eye so I will check out the net , did I not read of birds thought to have come from further east ?
Well it's now becoming tedious  that I still have not seen Yellowhammer so I scanned hedgerows etc but still none , the Kestrel came and hovered just above and in front of me  so I took shot after shot only to find the light was all wrong and despite the closeness the photos where rubbish , a flock of Pinkfeet lifted from the Oberlisk field and headed west, going along the old rail track the Whitefront was now on the small pond much favoured by the Greylags.

Tree Sparrow , I had not noted the overhang of the upper mandible before 

looks back not in anger but more curiosity or slight disdain !!!

Not the best photo I have of Snow Buntings but it just shows at least ten birds , they have to date not  been re found .
Whitefront in with the Greylags and from what I could see it could hold its own with the Greylags
 Orange legged Greylag ,it's probably commoner than I think, who looks hard at Greylags other than winter !
Kestrel actually came and hovered just in front of me , I thought it was fantastic till I saw the results , disappointedly this was the best of the bunch ,enjoyed the encounter , I was standing still at the time which is still the best way to see wildlife  at times ,let it come to you   !!!
I picture the Fox that gets on the trail of this dead Pheasant , puzzled that it can't find the quarry , but I'm sure it will work it out in the end's to good a prize to leave
Pinks heading west (and Lapwings)

Whitefront  now on the small pond

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Bean Goose -etc:

26th Jan checked out the flock of Pinkfeet along the Links road at Blyth the Bean goose still present and the Geese are  still around the area ,with another flock od similar size near Holywell Pond , I also called back  up the Estuary this time on a falling tide some Grey Plover where close in on some early exposed mud but before I could set up the camera they had all gone so I got a couple of shots of the Bar-tailed Godwits and Knot, there seems more BTG than usual this year with 35-40 present eventually they flew over to the other side giving there distinctive call , checked out the Teal again in the hope of GW, still a good flock of a few hundred Teal around no doubt they will be drifting off to the ponds again soon , Red Throated Diver a 3 Mergansers in the area they used to turn boats in , Fieldfares feeding again on the Buckthorn.
 Bar -tailed Godwits
 For some reason Goldeneye are not the easiest birds to photograph the contrast is so great between the black and white it's very hard to get it right ,these males looked stunning as they drifted just offshore before starting to feed again
 Bean Goose centre
A few Knot where along the estuary

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Blyth Estuary

An extended walk along the banks of the River Blyth as it changes from mud flats to more stony sides obviously the birds change waders and gulls feeding on the mud and waters edge ,Goldeneye & Mergansers moving upstream with the incoming tide  ,Black Headed Gulls dip feeding on whatever comes from the surface water  drain that pours into he centre of the river . In between the two bridges one rail one road is where the mallards are feeding also up to a dozen Moorhens ,this day the water was fairly fast flowing and I was surprised to see a Dipper on the far side well that was it scope set up to watch it feed as it dipped into the water and bobbed back up like a cork the water instantly running off it's back . I tried to follow as it was underwater crossing the flow on a diagonal path as it walked along the river bottom but the trouble with digiscoping is once youv'e lost the target its very hard to pick it up again having to take the camera off to re-aquire the bird ,but luckily it posed in-between its forays . The faint call of a second bird could be heard and I picked it up further upstream as it softly called from its perch on a small rock  ,there flight call is usually much clearer alerting you to there passing , and the song is also faint sometimes barely audible above the sound of the water ,but it must be clear to other Dippers, I spent a good 40 mins watching these two birds which is better than just ticking them off and walking on .

Just a couple of short clips I left the sound on in the hope of picking up the call but its impossible to hear over the traffic and flowing river.
You can see just how fast the river is running , an amazing creature that can virtually walk under water , the ever flicking nictitating membrane crossing the eye as it makes a cleaning sweep ,it seems to work from top to bottom ,also the dipping and fanning of the tail.
As I got back further down the river the tide had pushed in this Common Seal popped up to check me out , I love the way they just sink back  into the depths  !!!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Holywell Dene

The 24th jan I walked from Seaton Sluice via Holywell Pond and along to the avenue , several Bullfinch along the stream edge  2 parties of Goldfinch and a flock of Tits always worth checking for something else , the hope was for Dipper and or Grey Wagtail as to this date I had not had either , Nutchatch and Treecreeper seen  as I went from one side of the stream to the other it was running fast so there was not much hope of the two birds I was looking for , got to the old rail track so had to go up and over the other side  here there was at least some edge and sure enough a Dipper for 2013 I watched it for awhile till it eventually went further upstream, a quicj#k call at the pond revealed nothing new for the year and even Yellowhammer usually a cert around the fields also evaded me they all seem to have left the area.

Finally found a Dipper this one showing the nictitating membrane 

Today I encountered lots of Funghi these  are all taken with the phone 

 These where just the obvious ones I could easily see probably much more hidden from view

 Particularly liked this one fruiting from the end of the log

 These ones are about 18" across
 and these quivered in the breeze

Old Bottle found in the Dene don't know the full name of manufacture to date it , looks like leaving rubbish is not new !!!

WHY  .......Why would someone call at a cafe/sandwich shop get two cups of tea ask for the lids  to take them out , drive to Holywell Pond walk all the way down to the hide, (I presume) drink the tea replace the lid neatly ........then walk away and leave them for someone else to remove ? Just wait till I get my DNA app  !!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Cattle Egret-( for many a) County First

The News of a Cattle Egret having been found on Holy Island came out mid morning on Sat 26th but by now the causeway would be flooded , but the foot note was that the bird had been present for 3-4 days, I could have dashed up on the Sunday but had little time to spend there so I thought I would take a chance and go for the full day later in the week . So Wed 30th saw me crossing the causeway about 8-15 it was a bright day for a change but the wind was going to be a severe problem, on the way down the crooked lonnen I was told the bird was showing out on the grass  but within the two minutes to get there it had disappeared  but a large Sparrowhawk lifted from the garden ,it took about 1/2 hour to finally relocate it on the west side ,you could get an occasional glimpse  as it passed along on the other side of the fence, apparently this was the sort of view most had seen on Sunday . So That looked like that was it , was that going to be my best view for the day, heading off down to look over the sea as much to get out of the wind as anything a Brent Goose fed in the corner of a field not far off , but the sea as expected held little of interest , another look back at the garden  there was a narrow strip you could see down I picked out a bird dead on the grass  it was definitely white  with white underwing which you could see as it blew in the wind , gull was the first thought but no , was it the cattle Egret it looked to small but size can be deceiving at a distance , I pointed it out to a couple of other birders but we could not decide what it was , so I went down to retrieve it  ,because if it was the CE  we would know its fate had the Sparrowhawk returned and tried to have a go at it ,seemed unlikely , it turned out to be a Barn Owl without any visible injury the corpse loose ,I cant' remember is it rigor mortis then looseness or the reverse , anyway as we were disscussing it's fate the CE was back out on the grass and finally good views achieved, rattled off loads of shots holding the tripod with one hand as it kept tipping over in the wind and the camera the other ,very surprised and pleased with what I got given the circumstances . A Redwing dropped in beside it seeming to be confused with this large white bird ,it followed it around to be joined by a Fieldfare which picked up an earthworm , suddenly it spooked and flew off back into the garden .
I headed down to the Heugh to look over the harbour and channel conditions terrible managed to pick out 1 Slavonian and 2 Long tailed but just gave up heading back to the car and drove down to Fenham Low Moor to catch the high tide.  

Crossing the causeway the day looked promising
Eventually some decent views 
 started to relax with some active feeding

 Here with Fieldfare and Redwing, there was some definite interaction here the Fieldfare pulling out an Earthworm ,the Redwing especially seemed to follow the CE around

 At last some good views it will now probably stay for some time or perhaps head further South into the County nice "patch" tick for somebody  !!!!!!!

" I wonder if I can get that down my neck "