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Friday, 27 February 2015

Prestwick Carr

Late afternoon and I headed to Prestwick Carr in the hope of Owls I did not go too early just enough time to have some daylight for a walk around down to the sentry post and back again to the platform just as well despite the sunshine it was freezing, Bullfinch ,Chaffinch, and lots of Goldfinch along the track hedge of the bumpy road , Willow Tit tantalised me with good views which I tried to capture  but they move around so fast all I photographed where twigs . I stopped now again to scan with the scope hoping for a roosting LEO hidden deep in the bushes but no luck .  Three Kestrels and two Buzzards encountered , heading back to the platform in the now fading light a  Tawny called from the plantation I got set up on the platform and just scanned and scanned the fading light gradually reducing how far I could see six Roe Deer hopped over a fence one by one and disappeared into the long grass . I tried the scope it seemed to gather more light but obviously a much narrower field of view , then suddenly a Short Eared Owl popped into view as it hunted in the distance, at one point it hovered in the air for what seemed like a few minutes but was probably only 10 or so seconds  I eventually lost it so looked through the bins but could not see very far at all , Surprised just how much more light the scope pulled in would not have seen the bird without it , Picked it up again with the scope and followed its progress till it was lost behind a hedge . I now turned my attention to the Moon and accompanying planets which where showing well but I dont have the gear to get any good shots , but in the setting of the Carr they did look impressive .
Willow Tit it took many shots to get anything decent , these birds move so fast

 Willow Tit with background Great Tit
 Field Vole
The Moon , Venus and Mars (just visible) much more impressive at the time , while I was looking through the scope at them something flew over my head I only heard the swoosh of wing beats , gave me quiet a fright in the near darkness no idea what it was .

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Morpeth to Mitford Castle

A walk from Morpeth to Mitford and back again  , it was rather a cool day only the fact I was walking kept me warm sadly not much bird life encountered, the site of the Abbey ruin is now closed to no access at all now sad as it was always worth a visit,  the usual hedge nearby along where the Hornbeams are held several Bullfinch that always alighted on the other side given close but restricted views , a flock of Goldfinch with a few Greenfinch, Chaffinch's and a small group of tits  but no Marsh Tit, a  raucous Jay flew across ahead of me and landed in the Hornbeams , I saw nothing on the river where it was visible , on the ground large patches of Snowdrops added some colour to the drab scene and thousands of shoots of Ransom starting to come through .
Mitford castle was to be as far as I went stopped here for my coffee, there are always birds passing through the hawthorns , nearby the drumming of a GSW , and 2 Buzzard circled  calling, years ago I had called here at dusk with the kids to observe the Bats coming out  it's a fantastic setting, I headed back via the road which gives several views of the streams and river  no Dippers ,just several mallard and 2 Little Grebes , cut back into Morpeth and over the stepping stones to check out Appleby's Bookshop having a 50% off sale due to closing down not a sole in save the one shop assistant , I checked the Natural History  section and found nothing  I needed but overall there are plenty of books going very cheap !!!!

 Jenny Wren the only photo opportunity
 The walk takes you under the A1 the Wansbeck snakes it's way to the sea  and a WW11 pillbox guards the valley
 Although these pillboxes are common in Northumberland and ones like this  will be around for many years to come , many at the coast have been lost to the sea or as in Blyth destroyed for health & saftey , to me they are as important a part of our history as any castle , or stately home  and as such should be saved .
 The path descends steeply down and over the stream Mitford Castle sits atop an isolated hill
 The Wansbeck below and the road back in the distance , there was splash of Dipper but no sightings
 Mitford Church through  the  castle walls
This is some sort of cellar ,used nowadays by youths to light fires and drink ! I only went down because I dropped some litter and had to retrieve it

Thursday, 19 February 2015

River Otter

One late afternoon walking along the River Blyth I could see some ripples along the river edge probably a couple of Mallard I thought but no the head of an Otter popped up briefly catching me by surprise, whipped the camera but the light fading fast I should have practised with the settings for just such a case , I rattled a few shots off but the poor light made it hard to focus ,so I just watched it as it searched along the bank coming within a few feet at one point but I could only see it 's back , it made my day the first time Iv'e seen one in a river setting apart from the glimpse of one in the harbour while kayaking.

 A walk for the sake of it in an area west of Morpeth turned up a couple of Marsh Tit , and in the same tree 2 Nuthatch which seemed determined to have the tree to themselves , a large flock of Fielfare was encountered a few times as we walked in a large circle, Tawny Owl called from a copse, with 3 Buzzards in the air, Bullfinch, Jay also encountered

 Distant Buzzard taken with the SX50 which was just able to make out with the bins
Someone has placed this barrel presumably for Barn Owls it was well off in the distance so unable to get any nearer

A run up the coast which ended back at  Cresswell  in the hope of the Barn Owl  which duly turned up it usually starts off on the east side near the small pond it was still reasonably bright but the setting sun put the area in shade so again I just took a couple of shots with my sx50 a watched as it cruised over the field . The Pond had 34 Whoopers that dropped in and several Snipe in front of the hide and the small pool had lots of Wigeon and Teal including a hybrid  Wigeon of some sort I thought it was an American/Eurasion Wigeon it realy stood out amongst the flock
 Hybrid Wigeon
 Not sure if this Cormorant caught this flatfish in the pool but it also seems unlikely that it flew in with it , in which case it shows the power of a tidal surge
 Whoopers drop in announcing their arrival with loud honking
 Barn Owl settles along the south edge of the reserve you never tire of seeing them

And again settles along the fence line of the road  good to see another one has survived perhaps the worst of the Winter

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Year So Far

Just an assortment  of shots from the past few weeks been neglecting the blog of late partly due to the fact I have not had a decent run of pictures to include. January I concentrated on the Blyth Valley patch challenge to see how many birds could be seen in the are of Blyth Valley which roughly is from Blyth River to Holywell Dene to toughly just short of the A1 and as far out to sea as is visible but only for the month of January, I must say in the end I rather enjoyed it going to areas not usually visited  in the quest for the more elusive Marsh(no) & Willow Tit(yes) but rather than just trail around aimlessly I also surveyed sights that could be good for Dragonflies in the coming months of Summer and areas that perhaps had potential for any Spring wader passage , I ended up with 117species in the end which  obviously being on the coast was supplemented with Seawatch sightings, total in reality could have been much greater given the fact I did not see CANADA goose which you would have thought of as a given, I even went to anywhere I thought I would see them, and would have twitched one if I could ,how sad is that !!! , 
 Med Gull at Holywell Pond turns out to be a Polish Bird
 Digiscoped this Fox I like the fact he had no idea i was there
 Forgot I had this shot 2 little egrets on the Horton Burn
 And this Great Black  Backed Gull with the unusual wing pattern what will it mature in too
 I do have a soft spot for Yellowhammers this is one bird that reminds me of my childhood
 Little Egret on the small stream running into the River Blyth , the only bird I have ever seen on this part
 And this one on the Horton Burn late one afternoon
 Kingfisher also on the Horton Burn again late afternoon , it was only the water ripples that gave it away at first
 Goldeneye displaying on the River Blyth probably the sunshine set it off
 Lesser Redpolls  at Cramlington actually feeding amongst the shallow water

 Gadwall at Holywell Pond a species that seems to be thriving and one you had to go to Gosforth Park in the hope of seeing them some years ago , how things change !
Came across this Fungi at the base of a tree , to me it looks like it's upside down , the white coating was very hard and smooth , I put  a shot on twitter to see if It can be identified

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


I forgot to change my header for this month not that I had much to choose from this is the best of the West Hartford Great Grey Shrike that I managed , so for me at least it sums up the species stunning but often distant !!!