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Monday, 22 December 2014


I have been out and about most days of December but photo opportunities where few  so I have just added a few from various days ,some days out it was so dull the camera never left the case .

4th of December  a visit to Blyth South Harbour , in reality  there is no public right of way to the harbour  access has been seriously restricted in the past few years in the interest of security , the middle jetty was the place to be  where you could see the fishing boats unload and get very close to the ever present Gulls. Walking the path a Snow Bunting lifted from the grass I stopped and it settled on the wall  as it was on it's own it just sat there giving superb views ,till it flew across the road into the restricted yard . There was masses of Gulls in the harbour and distant shed roofs , but no White Wing Gulls that I could see. 

 Common Gull not that common in the harbour
 Red Throated Diver off the stone jetty it was getting nearer till kayakers came around and onto the beach
The stone jetty and entrance to the river on rather a dull day  one of many in December

The 5th saw me spend a day at Shields Fish Quay , never seen as many gulls at one site , these are just a fraction of gulls coming in with the fishing boats . At last a bright sunny day but it soon became a problem the strong low light was impossible to pick out any WW gulls   I had also taken my DSLR  but did not go mad taking shots . I took the bus to the boating lake and back again it often has gulls on taking the chance of a bath in fresh water.

The 8th another walk along to South Harbour very little around no sign of the Snow Bunting but the Red Throated Diver still around

16th  A day at Big Waters , first problem the small hide on the south side was closed due to vandalism , an ever present problem not just at nature reserves  but everywhere  and with seemingly little retribution for those that are caught it's only going to be an increasing problem. Apparently the shutters had not been bolted properly , which is also what  happened at Holywell Pond . Anyway it was a good day in the sense that I had sightings of Otter first two for about 20 minutes than an hour later a single  slightly nearer , which would have given great views from the closed hide . 

17th  Went back to West Hartford with the Great Grey Shrike having been refound I had been there on the Monday but it stayed hidden for the couple of hours I had given it , the bird gave good views via the scope but stayed rather distant , looking at some of the photos of the bird it did come much nearer at times. I thought as my luck is in I would head to Swallow Pond with the chance of Bittern, Harris Hawk, and Water Rail it was worth the run . Well I gave it till near dark but no sign of Bittern , Harris Hawk dropped in nearby as did a Sparrowhawk and in the field behind the screen an Adult Med Gull with the Common and Black Headed, and in the fading light 2 Water Rails called and a bird crossed the gap , ended the day getting some shopping at ASDA \

18th stopped off at QE11 lake to try for the Black Necked Grebe  I went around the east side which was a mistake as the wind was howling across the lake , the bird located via the scope so I went around to the west side which was at least calmer , I never got close enough for any decent shots , but again I have seen some cracking shots from other birders , you need Patience or luck .   Not having been to Linton Ponds  for a year or more , my most favoured winter haunt when the local tip was in full swing and  the pond used to get full of gulls , alas the closing of the tip  (and others not sure where all the rubbish now goes) sees the ponds very quiet with only a handfull of Mallard a few Teal and Tufted 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Black Redstarts & Med Gulls

Saturday I went up to Newbiggin to check out the 4 Black Redstarts  that seemed faithful to a short stretch of beach , not the best of days very dull but at least not raining , birds located fairly quickly by just walking along the top of the dunes , but I could only get three and it took most of the afternoon  to finally get a total of four . I also tried a short seawatch  with only a few Wigeon and  two Velvet Scoter  as visibility was some what restricted , talking to AMc he picked up a Grey Phalarope as it crossed the headland and seemed to drop in the bay but it was not relocated .
Sunday we also called in to Newbiggin with the report of a Glaucous Gull on the breakwater and it was also a much brighter day , so I thought I would go around for the Redstarts  but when I got around the area they where frequenting was in shadow anyway  so I checked out the beach where  a concentration of birds where feeding on the shoreline . A quick look through and I picked out at least 12 Med Gulls in with the mass of Black Headed, Turnstone , Redshank and Sanderling , I could only see one Med with a colour ring on , several attempts made to get the number but without success 
Saturday 29th

Sunday 30th November

 The light fading fast

At least five Med Gulls in this shot by far the best place in Northumberland to see these fantastic looking Gulls 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Snow Buntings

A run over to North Blyth/ Cambois area which is only yards across the river but about 15-20 mins drive,  primarily to check the beach for any Little Auks  or perhaps a Black Redstart ,  failed to find either but I did come upon a flock of at first 22 Snow Buntings  which I had  just behind Alcans loading facility , they relocated to the start of the pier area where there was also a flock of Linnets and a flock of Starlings . The Snow Buntings where rather restless so I just sat on the edge of the breakwater and eventually they came nearer , just had my SX50  which was difficult to pick the birds up amongst the grass  but it does have some reach , and with a bit of sun for a change it was great to just sit and watch them in the hunt for seed , till they would lift and then quickly re-settle always giving that tinkling little call .   Wishing I had taken the scope as a flock of 100+ Common Scoter with some Divers amongst them would have been good to check out , actually the bay seemed to hold lots of birds scattered far and wide , with 3 Mergansers coming out from the Wansbeck. Oddly Blyth Bay never seems to attract more than the odd RTD  and a few Eider  off the Sluice 

 One of these days I will get down and have a look  for some seed myself
 Snow Buntings one of the delights of Winter , and even more so when you find your own !

 The concentration is evident  !!

  It's easy this balancing on one leg lark   !!!!
Wind Farm Turbines , love them or hate them (I'm the latter) they are here to stay , this one the largest in the area on the River Blyth

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Hume's Warbler

Monday the 24th caught up with the Hume's at Briardene having first checked out the three Waxwings nearby  just in case they decided to feed elsewhere , what a dull miserable day it was , but the Hume's being faithfull to a nice Sycamore tree still with plenty of leave on and presumably providing food of some sort . So it was not long before the bird appeared calling loudly and profusely at first as it relocated  ,views where very cood whcich is the main thing but trying to get any shots in the dull light of a small bird in thick cove r was a challenge to say the least . I tried to get some recordings but someone would talk just at the wrong time , a Willow Tit also passed through the tree picked out by DE on a short visit from his usual patch of East Chevington area . Well the bird went off to the far side of the dene so I headed down to St Mary's for a walk around Tree Sparrows and Grey Wagtail in the Cem but St Mary's was quiet although a Grey Phalarope was reported later near the causeway on the high tide. It brightened up somewhat in the afternoon so I headed back to try and get some more shots of the Hume's , indeed it was much pleasanter  with the Sycamore bathed in sunshine alas the bird decided  the feeding was better on the far side and it took an hour before it popped back  flitting around as close as it was going to get ,but sod it didn't the camera battery die on me  and even the spare was dead ................ always check your gear before going out  !!!!!

 Last shot before the battery went just as it was coming out into the open
I used my SX50 for this  shot the light was so poor , hopefully I will find some over the winter

Monday, 13 October 2014

October Sunshine

The first two weeks of October over already been enjoying the sunshine and the last flush of Butterflies & Dragonflies also some good seawatching  with large numbers of  Little Gulls passing through the area ,this is just an overview of the Month so far .
Kestrel drops in beside me with prey and just as quickly moves on to a better perch to consume it , a good photo opportunity missed
Barnacles past Seaton Sluice  in this case heading North into Blyth River where they seem confused and then head west  also 350 South in an hour and a half
Speckled Woods very numerous in their second hatch  lost count how many I have seen
Common Darters are still common I have seen them go late into November if conditions are right
I would have liked this one completely on the reddish  brown re-constituted plastic seat , but you get what you get
Few Small Copper around a fantastic looking Butterfly , often goes unseen due to it's small size

Small Tortoiseshell also in good numbers as are Red Admirals of which I have seen many but did not get any photos and a couple of Painted Ladies 
This is the Little Stint from Cresswell I just wanted to see what sort of shot I could get from the hide  and it's not bad given the distance 

Sunrise at Seaton Sluice ready for a Seawatch , looks nice but this day the bright sun  hampered visibility , the sea looked like silver foil , you have to look well North to get any I.D 's on passing birds
Comma I have never seen these in any numbers ,this one in Blyth Park as I searched for any migrants that had hopefully dropped in !!!!