Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Punch Up On The Quayside

Really misty morning and high tide so decided to have a walk along the quayside to see how the Kittiwakes are getting on.  As soon as I got out of the car there was squawking and squealing going on literally just over my head.  Looked up and started snapping straight away.  Once again I had failed to change the settings to suit the conditions.  The dispute went on for several minutes with the birds going up and down the side of the Guild Hall never less than a metre apart as the victor kept flapping back to the nest only to be dragged of it within a couple of seconds.

At first I thought it was a bit of foreplay but the viciousness of it soon made me change my mind.  Look at the beak of the right hand bird gripping the cheek of the other one.

They seemed to go directly for the face each time.

They bounced off 2 windows/sills

Eventually they got so entangled that instead of them flying back to the nest they both hit the ground together just next to me with the camera desperately trying to focus.  When they hit the ground I stopped clicking away and they lay there for about 2 seconds then the right hand bird got up took a couple of steps and flew away up the river.  The other lay there for a couple more seconds got up stood for another few seconds then flew back to the nest.

I have seen a few birds "fights" but this was by far the most vicious and in vocalness was only outdone by 2 male Pheasants. 

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Early Morning At Big Waters

At last the Great Crested Grebes have returned to Big Waters and they looked amazing in the early morning sunlight

There was also 15 Goldeneye on the Pond.  They look stunning when swimming around but are definitely  dont look as elegant whey they are coming into land.

The way these Cormorant are looking at the Goldeneye I reckon they agree with me.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

End Of An Era (Well 18 Months Actually)

This week shot by, lots of work and no play is enabling me to take a week off starting next Saturday.  Went for a walk earlier on in the week down Whitley after work and my beloved saved me from becoming a "Murderer" by bellowing, thus enabling my Size 9 not becoming an instrument of death for this, "cute" and I use the word very loosely, little fellow

On Tuesday morning the day started off well with what I think was my first ever garden tick (only started keeping records halfway through last year) of a Song Thrush which started singing as I was clearing the ice off the car window so grabbing the camera I clicked away and it flew away.  Had to muck around with the pic later on that night to get this.

Then down to the Quayside and a quick look  at the Kittiwakes which are increasing in numbers

Up to work and refilled my 2 remaining feeders, as a couple more vanished over the weekend, and hung a couple of fat balls out then upstairs for tea and toast before work.  A couple of colleagues came in and told me to go downstairs quickly.  I shot down and aarrgghhh the "Tree Surgeons" where there getting their gear out.  After chatting to them the bad news was they were cutting everything down in preparation for the new building going up (sob sob) so took the feeders and fat balls down and transferred them to a tree in the car park only to be informed that the car park and trees and bushes were going also.  They got to work quite quickly and the larger trees were dispatched first although a couple of the "young ladies" who work with me were upset it was not a bit warmer so they could ogle the sweat laden bodies as they swung from the trees with their chainsaws and toolbelts.  It still took 6 of them the rest of the week to nearly finish (reckon they will need another day).  So I took a few more pics during the week as the birds did not want to leave as they kept going back to stumps that were left and just sitting on the fence or just standing on the bit of manicured lawn.

Not much left now

Normal (whining) service will be resumed shortly once I have wiped the tears away

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Saturday and off down South and our first trip through the new Tyne Tunnel.  We arrived at Teeside just after 7 the headed for the Bus Stop Hide although from 300m away you could already see the Avocets circling.  We watched from the hide for quite a while with the Avocets alighting then taking off within a minute or so.  Got some decentish pics which would have been better if the light had been.

A wander over to the other side of the road gave us some great views of the Seals which were closer than I had ever seen them, also a Little Egret about 200m further on with Canadas, Greylag and Pinkfeet dotted all over the place. 

Off to Saltholme for a quick walk round.   The best birds were the Great Crested Grebe and another Little Egret (wasn't the same one as earlier as it had been there all morning) although there were many others around.  Our quick walk round turned into nearly 3hrs as when we arrived in Saltholme Hide the few people there were all watching 6 Hares in the distance who were doing a bit of boxing.  They were running, chasing, fighting and XXXXXX.   This went on for nearly 90 minutes with about 25 people watching them.

There were several Skylarks around with Meadow Pipits also.  Due to the Hares we didnt have time to check the other places around Teeside as we had to fuel ourselves up.  Ended up at the Merry Go Round in Hartlepool which for a franchised chain was not too bad.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Off To Scotland For The Day

Last Friday had a day off so went over to Laurieston to see the Red Kites feeding.  Once again I trusted the BBC a bit too much with their weather forecast.   We first went for a walk in the Kern Dee Marshes, well it was a case of under a tree for 5mins whilst it tipped down then 5mins walking under the thickest clouds I have seen in a while.   We did see plenty including several White Fronted Geese but without a doubt the Oscar for the best performance by a Goose goes to the following Greylag who landed then walked around with chest out and wings unfurled for a couple of minutes.

We managed to get to one of the hides and sheltered in there for 30mins.  It was filled with Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches in unbelievable numbers.  They were queing up to get on the 4 peanut feeders.   Also seen were 2 Willow Tits, at least 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a couple of Nuthatches.

We eventually got to Bellymack Farm just as the skies really opened yet there was still 10 people there for the Red Kite feeding.  Most of the time was spent watching them although I did manage to get a couple of passable shots.  The size of the birds differed greatly and some of them seemed to be tag free.  We watched them for nearly 45 mins then most of them settled in trees and we were informed that they digest the first bits of food which takes about 10-15mins then they return for "pudding".

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Kittiwakes Return To Newcastle

An early morning visit (06:50) produced the first Kittiwakes I have seen round the Tyne Bridge this year.  Couple of quick shots and as stated in other Blogs you can see the nests built around the wiring which was probably put there to deter the birds but is now being used as a method of securing the nests.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Its March and I Still Haven't Left Northumberland

A bit of an improvement in the weather, emphasis on the bit, allowed me to get out slightly earlier in the morning although gone are the days when I would lollop over to Lamesley, amble to Arcot or sully over to Shibdon for 15-20mins before work.  The bloody astronomical rise in petrol has seen to this and I could point the finger at the government, the previous government, the Saudis, struggles for democracy in far flung places, garage owners or oil companies but I personally think all are to blame one way or another.  Having worked/existed/holidayed in the far flung places Im not blaming them.  The rest of them are to blame one way or another.  Anyway thats my whine over.  So taking the above into consideration a walk along the Tyne for 30mins is all my pocket can manage.  A bit of early morning sunlight on a Shelduck is a great start to the day.  Looking westwards along the Tyne I could see between 6 to 10 most mornings along with Curlews, Redshanks, Teals and plenty of Gulls

At the weekend my first port of call was of course Big Waters with once again the star of the show being the Mealy Redpoll although quite a few others were seen including 3 Shoveller, 7 Curlew, 7 Goldeneye, a Ringed Plover and an outstanding count of 14 Coot. 

Off down to North Shields for a couple of bits of shopping and a stop off on the Fish Quay for a relaxing lunch of Pie and Chips.  Not liking to eat alone I asked a couple of passing strangers to share my sustenance they both accepted although their topics of conversation could have been a bit more intellectual

Hadn't been to Holywell for a while so off I went but alas there was very little apart from a few Pinkfeet, 40 or so Greylag in the field behind the hide and from the hide plenty of Gulls, a few Pochard but the only thing in camera range was this absolutely stunning (although the picture isn't) Tuftie.

The sun started to come out so I decided on a fast wander round St Marys.  It was around high tide time so everyone there was congregated in one place with lots of dogs running around.  I went over to the wooden screen just in time to see a dog running along the top of the embankment causing the birds in the wetlands to skedaddle. 

On Sunday the beloved and I headed for Holy Island, arriving very early and only a couple of cars in the Car Park gave us an opportunity for a decent 3 hr walk around.  A couple of Bar Tailed Godwit, a Ruff and plenty of Brent Geese were seen.  Plenty of  Eider on the sea and at least half a dozen big (80+) skeins of geese high overhead. 

It was still a bit brisk when we headed into Berwick for a bite to eat but we both opted for a big mixed grill instead of the traditional Sunday Lunch.  A  wander round the harbour afterwards to get the circulation then a little wander up the Tweed with nearly a 100 Goldeneye on show.  Off South stopping at Hauxley but failing to see the Barn Owl again.  A great day out