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Monday, 30 June 2014

Little Bittern-2

I could not get back last Tuesday to try for the Little Bittern so at 05:45 on  Wednesday Morning I arrived at the hide to hear that it had been seen again some birders had to leave for work so I was able to get a seat this time just got the camera out of the bag when the call of  "flying left" so rather than try to get some shots I just got a very good view of the bird flying a semi circle over the lake and disappear to the left , well that's it I thought  it's in the bag and not even 6 in the morning. I decided to stay around for the day why not as it was being  seen albeit a flyover , the warden sitting on the left could hear the bird calling it was rather feint but you could hear the bird change direction as it called and with the distant rush hour traffic and the odd plane taking off and the gulls constantly screaming it was a wonder it could be heard at all. We sat patiently the the bird could be heard off to the west and a couple of minutes later MN picked it out sitting up in the reeds , not visible from my position so he kindly let me into his seat and I got some hasty shots before in went . I did manage to see it another 4 times from then on , the first time no one else saw it  as it dropped down well over the far side , again I picked it up as it came nearer only one other person saw it , it was getting frustrating with the hide full and many not yet having seen it , again I picked it up as it broke cover some 30yds from where it had dropped in yet again no one saw it and I think they thought I was getting it wrong all the time . Well I said at least we know where it is and being on the edge of the wood at that side it would most probably fly back across the pond , one or two people seemed to think this was going to be a very large bird one remarked we should be able to see the reeds move as it walked through. Anway after only ten minutes I picked the bird up again and indeed it did fly around in another arc and everyone got onto it at last .I left and went to the west hide where it was much quieter staying there an hour or so from where i walked the circular route and returned to the main hide it had just been seen but I never heard or saw it again for the next hour or so before I left. 
Could I please make an appeal to those that are not Northumbrian Natural History Society Members  to at least think about joining it's from £30 per annum , with lectures, meetings, the reserve to visit , and a fantastic library access it's a small price to pay , without the society's  management this site would be lost.
 Grey Wagtail drops in near the hide there is no wader area as such
Unable to access the flight shots as yet but on the back of the camera they are all distant , this is one as it sits in the reeds and I posted one on Birdguides, not much for all day but at least I saw it many had to leave without getting even a glimpse

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Little Bittern -1

Monday the news filtered out of a Little Bittern  seen and heard at Gosforth Park Nature Reserve, I was along the coast and rather than dash off straight there I decided to go home first and dress more appropriate to an evening at the lakeside  complete with insect repellent. It had been decided as with the recent Feruginous Duck to allow day passes to what is normally a private reserve of The Norrthumbria Nartural History Society so I suppose I should not have been surprised when arriving at the hide to find it filled to overflowing and being a nice warm sunny day  it was rather comical to see everyone sweating profusely , well at least I got in the hide with a few standing outside where you can see nothing, I was bent over trying to get a look out of the low shutters temperature rising by the minute so I decided to head around to the South hide which overlooks a lot of the reeds and has a small pool in front. Arrived at the hide to find it empty what a strange contrast , no sooner had  I sat down when a Kingfisher drops in sitting on a nicely placed branch  it has a couple of attempts at fishing but without success, numerous Reed Warblers feeding along the reed edges also a Reed Bunting, with Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, and Blackcap  singing beside the hide. Well I gave it my best shot spending about an hour and a half gazing over the extensive reed bed with no sign of the bird I could hear it calling but only faintly, (it resembles a small dark barking but in slow motion) with the surrounding area providing lots of traffic and aircraft noise pollution , the seemed to over towards the west edge where a screen overlooks another pool which are all collected with narrow passages . I decided to walk around on arrival only a family of Mute Swans to be seen with the occasional Common Tern trying it s hand at fishing , a Green Woodpecker called and sounded fairly close so I headed off to have  a look , surprised  myself at picking it out fairly quickly as it rested in a tree calling briefly giving me the rare opportunity of getting a few shots  , I did not go back to the main hide but the bird was reported as having been seen/heard at least it was still here , no chance to get back Tuesday but Wednesday was free so the plan to get there early. Round one Little Bittern 1 me 0 
 Kingfisher for company in a nice cool empty hide
 Preparing to make a dive
 Not sure how long  it sat around probably not more than a few minutes in reality but enough for me to get loads of shots
 Obligingly it change pose several times
 A Reed Warbler takes a moment to preen the  constant effort of feeding young takes it's toll
 Water Rail puts in a brief appearance but would just not come far enough out in the open
 View from the screen what a fantastic evening
 Green Woodpecker sits for me with the odd short call
 Unlike the Kingfisher it just sits there looking around ,not complaining though at last an opportunity to get some shots of this elusive bird.
So that's how my evening ended I'm not complaining no sight of the Little Bittern but nor did I have to spend hours in a packed out hide !!! Being a member  I can return as often as it takes . So why not think about joining from as little as £30 per year it's well worth it without membership this site would have just overgrown and slowly went over to woodland it takes money and  management  to preserve wildlife habitat

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Butterflies & Dragonflies

Some photos from June of Butterflies  and Dragonflies from various visits around the local area some nice sunny days helped with the emergence of some new species for the year . No sign of any Broad Bodied Chasers as yet , I probably hear about them when it's to late , a visit to Belasis Bridge to see the Banded Demoiselle was a literal wash out with the river running high and fast the only thing noted was a Crayfish hanging on to the vegetation trying not to get swept away


 My first and so far only Painted Lady in the front garden in company with three Red Admirals
First Common Darter of the year with two just emerged

 No idea as yet what this is jut caught my eye
 Green Veined White on Comfrey
 Four Spot Chaser there seemed to be a lot in the grass that had newly emerged  and could be approached closely with care but always with grass in the way
 I like this species it has spread rapidly in the last few years and is now very common with large numbers on suitable ponds
 A very good show of  Northern Marsh Orchid this year these two especially vigorous
 I was photographing another 4SC it flew off then I saw this Exuviae  surprised it was so low to the ground and about a foot and a half from the water , I had assumed they always went up a rush stalk etc: but perhaps on dull days they come up in the thick grass so as not to be easy prey if emergence is delayed , pure speculation on my part  but it was odd that despite 30+ seen this was the only Exuviae seen and I do have a good look for them
These eggs are on Salix no idea what they are seem to rather exposed still there a few days later
Seeing more Speckled Woods now but not as many as previous years or as early
Skippers starting to come out in numbers now
Wall Browns in good numbers in the right habitat
Some more unidentified insects gathering to mate

Damselfly Exuviae always to far in the water to collect for ID

Anyone that's takes photos of Dragonflies must take hundreds of shots of 4SC  they land nearby inviting you to get there best side , take off and re land in a different pose
What's not to like about these , a sunny day at a pond teaming with life a camera in hand magic!!!
Nothing better than a bloom of flowers , Lesser Spearwort, Ragged Robin, and Northern Marsh Orchid
Another collection of Insects

Friday, 20 June 2014

The Long Nanny -3

Another visit to the Long Nanny to see how things are progressing ,it started off a nice sunny day but the further north I drove the sun soon disappeared , I was hoping to check out  the  dune slacks  either on the way to The Long Nanny or on the way back . I decided to walk straight there along the beach a cool breeze blowing onshore . I viewed from the wardens hut area the Arctic Terns nesting right up to the roped off area as you come off the beach into the dunes . Two LIttle Gulls , Sandwhich Tern, and a couple of first Summer Arctics on the beach.There where high Spring tides  due in the next few days so attempts where made to protect the Little Terns which seem to prefer to nest in potential danger areas. I went over the bridge to the other side and sat and had my lunch, Sand Martins digging nest holes in the dune edge, and the odd Little Tern would fly along the burn fishing  you had to be ever watchful as they just appeared dropped in the water and where gone in a flash. I headed back via the dunes a few Wall Brown and a couple of Common Blue , I also tried to find any new flowers but with no joy , even the Northern Marsh Orchids where very scarce or just coming through , I will have another look in July and see what has developed its a magic place and a constant stream of visitors to the viewing point where well impressed .
Arctic Terns nesting just off the path
This one favours a dried out branch giving great views 
Sand Martins digging in the dunes ,not sure if this is a serious attempt or not

The Marram Grass roots providing a convenient perch but would also provide the same for a Magpie or Crow
Every now and then the whole lot would get up in a panic but usually soon settle

A Little Tern drops in the burn with the wardens hut in the background
Little Tern hovers momentarily , when you watch them fly the flight looks slow and floating but they can move surprising quickly especially if you have ever seen them on a seawatch

A view from the footbridge , Beadnell in the background and the Wardens Hut on the right

Monday, 16 June 2014

Butterflies & Flowers

This is an amalgamation of tramping around several sites with just an odd photo here and there , I did go on a Botany walk which was very interesting and I did learn some new plants but most where either too small to get a photo or not in flower, this was along Warkworth Links I did however have a Garden Warbler and saw 2 Cuckoos,  lets see what the next one offers. Small Copper out along the dunes last year I photographed one laying an egg and got down and dirty and found that egg with the intention of watching it grow, unfortunately the leave it was on dried out very quickly along with the egg , I will try and be more organized  next time perhaps grow the food plant  before hand.
Cinnabar Moth they look better in flight with that scarlet rear wing

 I always like a photo of the first for the year but it does not always come out well
Stalking does pay some dividends
 Star of Bethlehem this along the dunes at Druridge apparently the petals have a green stripe underneath which I failed to check for
 Those petals a perfect landing pad for insects
 Scarlet pimpernel either hidden amongst the undergrowth  or as here a good clump in the open
 Lesser Meadow Rue it's very small and those flowers even smaller to me they are like a bunch of bananas
 Checking a small pool that last year had Broad Bodied Chasers on sadly this year no pool at all there was however a very good showing of Northern Marsh Orchid the best Iv'e seen so far along with some Common Spotted just coming  through
 These  growing in profusion on a field edge there where a large number along the whole strip
 22 spot ladybird seems to like Stinging nettles
 One of the Wolf Spiders with an egg sack on the rear, that's that plastic boardwalk it's on , which even had me puzzled and I took the photo
I would love to get more into real close up work there are so many good insect subjects , and you do not always have to know their name , I presume this is an aphid of some sort