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Saturday, 23 November 2013

River Wansbeck

Last week I went up to Morpeth on the bus so that I could have a walk along the Wansbeck without having to go back to the car, the downside is bthe route from Blyth to Morpeth is probably the worst route in the country they use the oldest buses that rattle and shake the life out of you  why, it's because on today's roads apart from being pitted with potholes (try cycling on them) are also littered with "humps" "sleeping policeman" "traffic calming measures" call them what you will but disregard them at the risk of damage to your car, anyway having arrived at Morpeth shaken but stirred for a brisk walk . Went down via the Abbey site which is now closed to access ,a pity because it was well worth a visit , surprising number of trees in near full leave , a Party of tits along the first hedge kept to the rear , 2 Jays went into the Hornbeam's , at the weir no sign of Dipper but a Grey Wagtail and 2 Heron , most of the weir got washed away a couple of years ago such is the power of  a river in flood. 20 or so mallard on the river near the bridge but not much else this was more just a walk than anything else when I headed back to Morpeth the Bungalows where in the process of having huge walls build in their gardens to keep the water at bay such is the modern day price of life on the river edge, the footbridge was closed so I couldn't get a look along the river nor a skip(figure of speech only) over the stepping stones 
 Sat here for my lunch and see what would turn up ? the weir washed out
 A calm scene for the moment
 Could this be Beavers in Northumberland :)
 I saw this on the opposite bank a bit like Feverfew but I don't know what it's called ,garden escape perhaps

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Blyth to St Mary's

Another cycle ride last week I started off at Blyth Harbour (a Woodcock in off the sea ),a report of 3 Snow Buntings along the road in , no sign for me but when I got to the pier and looked along the beach a flock of birds lifted from the shore and headed to the dunes going back along I re- located them in the dunes before they headed back out onto the sands, not seen Snow Buntings this far down the shore usually they stay on the tideline I was sure there was a Shorelark in with them in the dunes but no sign when they where on the beach where I counted 19 , seems to have been a bit of an influx with numerous reports of un specified numbers . Stopped along the Links road the fields are attracting a large flock of Golden Plover , Starlings and Corvids with a small flock of Linnets and hopefully some Twite, single Dunlin and 4 Snipe in the mud. Continued on to St Mary's and down past the wetland a group of birders on site so nothing to see there again no sign of any Med  Gulls  so a peddle back along the coast  Golden Plover settled back in the field they will surely bring in a Peregrine over the Winter.
edit : in the early afternoon I had the bright idea to get my kayak and paddle along to see if I could get the Snow Buntings on my list alas too many dog walkers by now and no sign of them ,nor Sunday either
 Snow Buntings heading for the dunes
 And down on the shore
 I can only assume they are gritting
 Although here they look as if they are feeding
 They where not too approachable , I usually find the smaller the number the more settled they seem
 Stonrchat beside the farm and I notice its got a BTO ring I think it was 2011 I also had  a ringed bird here ,for that one I went back with the scope to try and get the ring number but it was not seen again , I will give this one a try
 Snipe soaking up the suns ray's
 Golden Plover,Lapwings, & Starlings take to the air
 Single Dunlin also present
 Looking over the harbour at Seaton Sluice for Kingfisher I noticed this on the pipe , what the hell is that I thought
 Zoomed in to reveal this, someone has gone to a bit of effort to make and hang this ?
 Looked over one of the screens at the wetland to see these a guy turns up with bins asking is it a rarity of some importance , no I said I think they are looking for the outflow , well I hope that's what's going on or I am party to suppression and I have no idea as to what !!!!!
Golden Plover settled back in the field which will no doubt also attract some Geese over the Winter

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Haydon Bridge -East

Last week I tried something different  it was a trip down the South Tyne from Haydon Bridge to Fourstones in an open canoe another pleasant but changeable day with sunshine and showers sometimes both together  I have not been along this stretch before either in a canoe or walking we got in at Haydon Bridge and off we went this they tell me is a grade 2 river Herons a plenty along the route and some big Salmon leaping completely out of the water I noticed about 4 Dippers pass us presume they where heading for feeder streams as the river was way to deep and fast for them a large flock of Fieldfare crossed ahead of us and about 30 Redwings in a tree on the edge the river follows the rail line for awhile or I should say the railway follows the river surprised at how many houses where on the banks and we saw a couple of man made type jetties probably from some past industry . We pulled up onto a small beach which had steps leading to a house nearby  and the railway adjacent so must have been a halt at some time , lunch was quickly consumed I seem to take more and more each time and still feel hungry , there are some turbulent stretches at times then it settles to a calm but fairly fast current and it seemed like no time we where at the get out point at the bridge to Fourstones , when I say get out point it's not a stable platform or jetty its about 6" of level ground and a steep haul up the bank with the 5 heavy  canoes and across the road about 200yds in total I was wrecked but another good day out with Dipper(s) added to the kayak/canoe list .

Sunshine and showers its actually pouring down here

 Lunch stop the rail line just yards away, Buzzard crossed  lazily over the river

 You can just make out the cottage on the edge
 Very pleasant stretch of river it's always good to go somewhere new
These shots are just with the phone

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

St Mary's Island

A Cycle along to St Mary's last week more for the fresh air than any expectation of anything exciting a sunny day again several hundred  Golden Plover along the Links road they seem to be regular now along with a couple of hundred Lapwings and Starlings they must attract a raptor at sometime .An amazing number of Black Headed Gulls feeding in the backwash from  Colywell Bay  to the causeway I scanned the lot but no Meds for me, huge piles of seaweed  in the north bay had at least 12 Purple Sandpipers amongst the waders feeding on the weed and the gulls picking from the water surface.  I walked as far as the Golf course where the track leads down to the fishing boats , again several hundred Black headed Gulls feeding in the surf with more Purple Sandpipers on the shore. At the wetland the presence of  a Scaup had attracted a crowd of twitchers well 4 including me apparently  a rarity on the patch , I had a couple on a Seawatch earlier in the year for the Blyth patch and Holywell Pond gets one now and again years ago they used to be regular off Druridge Bay.

You would have thought there would be at least one Med  in with them or even better a Bonaparte's 
Just what they feed on I don't know but it must be plentiful and worth the effort
Days like this draw lots of photographers and with a Rainbow right over the Lighthouse there must have been some good photos but you need a very wide angle lens to get it all in

I took some shots on the Panoramic setting  but no idea how to stitch them together

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Prestwick Carr

Monday was such a bright sunny day but rather cold I decided to go to Prestwick Carr just for the walk around and the off chance of a shortie or two ,parked at the east end of the lane  and checked the fields to the north before walking along the lane which is looking pretty rough in parts no way would I take my car back down there. The air was clear and still but not much activity at all eventually I came across the new platform which is very substantial in its construction  and does give good views to the south ,although in my experience of watching owls here this is an area they do not frequent much, platforms at wildlife sites abroad are fairly common and some like in Estonia are a bit scary as they are so high they sway in the wind and you have to go through a trap door in the floor can't ever see those in this country but you have to applaud the effort of the council for erecting this one. It would be good to see something like this at East Chevington perhaps they could adapt the tin huts with steps up and a mezzanine floor (all flame proof of course).
I went as far as the Northern boundary past the sentry box and spent 1/2 an hour just looking over the area with the scope ,3 Fieldfare  landed in a tree joined by 2 Reed Bunting a Kestrel hovered and a Buzzard passed over , heading back along the track 30-40 Redwings flitted from tree to tree another Buzzard landed beside the old brick building . Back at the platform I waited till dark in the company of  PC ( I had thought the blog PC Wanderings was about the travels of a police consatble as he wandered around Northumberland , it did take me awhile to twig)
various subjects where discussed  as I scanned the area hoping for a SEO hopping up onto a fence post , but other than another Kestrel ,Buzzard more Fieldfare and Redwing it was rather quiet till up to 20 Snipe started flying off to feed in ones and twos with their raspy call, eventually headed back down the lane stumbling in the dark.
This is one of the  towers at Kloostri Estonia with this at East Chevington  you could probably see Prestwick Carr as well !!!

Photo taken from Easybirder

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Cresswell to East Chevington

The first of November already and I had a run up the coast passing Cresswell Pond the car park had six cars there I thought thats the hide going to be full , so stopped at the north end instead  couple of hundred Wigeon feeding in the field edging the small pond off the causeway but also further up about 60+ Golden Plover hundreds of Starlings  Lapwings  Corvids and Black Headed Gulls , there always seems to be more feeding on grazing pasture than seeded crops . A walk over the dunes , a dead Seal on the beach eyes gone but no signs of injury Grey Seal I think it's always a surprise just how large they are and a fearsome set of teeth to back them up. Druridge Pools had the usual ,Tufted Mallard  and 4 Shoveller from the main hide it's such a dismal hide to sit and awkward to view from so I did not stay long , kestrel flushed on the track so I hung back and it settled again feeding on something , it finished it off and was soon hovering for more, had a walk along past the turning circle 150+ Goldfinch with a few Greenfinch in made an impressive sight  walked over the dunes where 15 Snow Buntings flew over but I could not relocate them .Only went as far as East Chevington outflow a quick scan of the sea , 5 Mergansers, 11 Red Throats ,45 Scoter ,had a good scan along the shoreline for Buntings  none seen but up to 20 Pied Wagtails working the area oddly one avidly chased a Ringed Plover flying around  for several circuits it looked very odd  .Two Stonechats on the way back and one near the car they always pose for you so why waste it !!!
Forgot to mention a Hawker species at Druridge so thy are still around . 
 I forget to set the camera back to quality fine so it was only on basic very evident when I zoomed in
 I have know idea what its eating  but it made short work of it and must have been hungry to stay on the track
 Not sure if  I like the date and time on or not but it's handy when you look back in the future must set the right time though
 Back in the air and looking for more
 Lots of Fungi in the dunes most trampled it has a very short life span
If you can I D these as Goldfinch from this then good on you , the wings look surprisingly long in this shot
 They settled on the ground to grit and back on the Thistles just north of the turning circle , the area looks brilliant for something
 When is close too close when you cut of part of it's head !!
 Dead Grey Seal on the beach at Cresswell north end car park , seagull crap on it's back so they have been down , it's one of my dreams to go along Ross Links find a carcase with an Ivory Gull in attendance , 1st Winter or Adult ,either would suffice.
Given there size and diet , the mouth seems rather small but those teeth don't