Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Bad Head Weekend

A couple of visits to Big Waters at the weekend and out last monthly Sunday walk produced a couple of surprises.  On Saturday the sighting of 2 Kingfishers, one of which I got yet another bad pic of but at least it was on the tree in the pond, the other one was flitting from perch to perch on both scrapes.

There was also at least 3 Common Sandpiper around but now the scrape is beginning to look a bit better we can but hope for a few more waders, providing they don't come early morning when it is "chocker" full of Ducks.  Below is a short video of the Sandpipers on the island although a Common Tern is muscling its way into the video with a bit of "displaying"

Common Sandpipers and Common Tern Displaying

The Tree Sparrows are still pouring into the Feeding Station and a couple of Fatballs in the feeder will bring even more (4 Fatballs = 24hrs Max)

The Willow Tit is sticking to a diet of seed though and is appearing quite often although we know there is 2 of them around.

On Sunday a walk round with the usual motley crew  and even though the chatter kept turning to Aeroplanes (anyone got a spare anorak for AJJ, he will be looking at Trains next) we still managed to get some great views of Redstarts, 3 of them to be precise.  Back at the Feeding Station yet another visitation from a Kingfisher.

Compilation of Kingfisher Visits on Saturday and Sunday
(Bit of a wobble occasionally as it was handheld)

Then another year patch tick was spotted in the North Field, well actually I was a bit busy writing up my book so asked AJJ to check through the Gulls for a Med Gull as I thought he needed the practice.  After an initial scan he didn't say anything but a few minutes later he got his scope out and scanned again and he eventually spotted one.  I now suppose I will have to start a new list called "Self Found Assist (Get someone else to look through a bunch of gulls cos you are lazy a bit busy).  Thanks Al
It was a bit of a distance away so photo is not as good as my usual standard.

Med Gull at Big Waters

Another good weekend only spoiled by my headache from a night out in The Toon on Saturday

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Thursday With Johnny

Last Thursday myself and Sedgedunum Warbler headed up the Coast  to see some Barn Owls.  I won't bore you with more amazing pictures of Barn Owls as you can see plenty of them here on Flickr and they are more amazing than mine, I know its hard to believe but there it is.  I did manage to get a Short video of a Barn Owl post hopping though (a bit distant but still an amazing bird to watch)

Barn Owl Post Hopping

Whilst sitting in a hide a tiny Snail was making a slow progress across the ledge in front of me.  I noticed that its shell had a bit missing and wondered if this damage could cause a disturbance in its aerodynamic air flow, similar to when a F1 Car damages its Nose Cone ?

Snail With Damaged Nose Cone

We then headed up to Warkworth Gut via Amble for an early lunch of Sausage and Chips which we shared with this fellow and several of his brothers and sisters

Waiting For A Chip

At Warkworth Gut we walked out and encountered many Linnet and Meadow Pipit and on the gut itself there were the normal Redshanks, Oystercatchers, Lapwings and plenty of Gulls.  I did decide to do a distant video of the Redshanks and as I started a wader ran across the ground so I just followed it and didn't bother to look at it till I got home and to my surprise it was a Wood Sandpiper, which was reported the next day.  We also spotted a Little Egret which I stopped to look at and get a couple of shots but John wandered off down to the wooden bridge and just before he got there 2 more Little Egrets took to the air as he approached and flew up the Gut to join the other one.  A good video opportunity, if a bit distant.

Meadow Pipit

3 Little Egrets at Warkworth Gut
Once again a very good day.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Bits From The Week

From Ace Reporter Big Waters Division a fantastic pic of Big Waters taken in 1969 prior to tree planting and mast cutting down.  Wonder how he managed to get such a good picture with his Box Brownie

 Trip to Shibdon was not quite the event it normally is, couldn't see much due to the massive growth everywhere apart from outside the reserve which had been mown to within a centimetre of its life.  This Black Headed Gull young was calling away, parents probably couldn't see it for the Jungle sprouting from all bits of  land.

Barn Owls at wherever you find them

Look at me, I'm Hard, now bugger off and Birdwatch somewhere else

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Big Waters Mini Air Show

On Saturday and Sunday Sunderland held the biggest free air show in the United Kingdom but not to be outdone Big Waters held the biggest free air show North of the border (The River Tyne Border) so to music from Top Gun here we go with all pictures taken in Big Waters although two were taken a few weeks ago (artistic license)

Much better to watch through UTube

Bigger Waters Is Being Reduced to Big At Last

Sunday morning and off early to Big Waters.   The water has dropped a bit although it is not back to its normal levels yet but having just watched Countryfile's weekly weather forecast I doubt it will be for a few days yet.  Anyway the place has had a short back and sides thanks to Alan and friends yesterday.  You can actually see out of the first hide, a channel has been cut in front of the main hide, the old scrape has had a trim and the ducks are starting to gather there and even the Tree Sparows are out scratching around in the mud.  There are now several Kingfisher perches spread along on the old scrape.  Alan's new scrape had to be left for a while till an opportunity arises to get over there to sort a few things out.  Alan also managed to get the 1st Year Mute Swan out of the dipping pond where it had been since the influx of water last week.

The ponds main occupants are approx 50-60 Mallards at the moment although today there was a few other things around.  A couple of Pochard were around although they keep vanishing into the reeds, there are now 3 Great Crested Grebes (on the island sits a largish lone egg which I believe is one from their 3rd abortive attempt when the island was completely below the surface and the not too well anchored nest vanished), the 2 Grey Herons are hassling each other and both of them get hassled by the Gulls and the 4 remaining Common Terns..  The family groups are still around, Gadwall +4, Mute Swans +2, Canada Goose +5, the Tufted ducks family has now reduced to 3.  In the Feeding Station there seems to be a never ending  flood of Juvenile Blue Tits.   

The normal walk set off this morning but the wind had freshened quite a bit and the BBC forecast of 14mph seemed to be a bit on the low side.  Not a great lot was seen due to the conditions but its always a good time to catch up on gossip, latest birds seen, the ups and downs of life etc etc.  From the First Hide we could see the "Hybrid Gull" had returned.  The Canadas and their family decided to have a break and clambered onto the island for a bit of a R&R (Rest and Recuperation)

None of us had been to the Sunderland Air Show as here at Big Waters we have our own mini Air Show whenever the Sunderland one is on.

Weasel (I think) just hanging out around the boardwalk checking out the people walking by

The Tufted Duck Family rising from a slumber whilst a Pochard looks on

One of the 2 Willow Tits frequenting the Feeding Station

Blackbird trying to get a Sun Tan, was there for about 10 mins

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

A Few More Things

Set of on a trip to Coquet Island, light was a bit dull but not too bad but halfway there the rain came.  Saw a few Roseate and Sandwich Terns, Puffins etc but didn't manage to get any decent shots due to weather and the swell but it was a great trip still.  Managed to snap this Fulmar drifting around looking like it didn't have a care in the world

In Northumberland this stunning Marsh Harrier stretches its wings.  It actually was in view for nearly 20 minutes

Stopped at Cresswell Ices for one of their £1:90 Vanilla Tubs then set of Northwards just wandering along and this delightful Kestrel was just posing there.  I stopped and sat down as I did not want to scare it off, ate my ice cream, took out my camera took a few snaps and then stood up to return to the car and off it went.

At Big Waters my first sighting this year of a Southern Hawker, unfortunately it had positioned itself in the middle of the water, although if the boardwalk wasn't flooded I would have been able to take super macro pics.  Just hope they are still around when I'm next up there.

Birds are quite clever and polite little things when you think about it, these Greenfinches have always just flew straight into the feeding cage in the past from all directions but when a certain person left the door open after putting seed in they all entered and exited by the door.

Finally, another first, well for quite a time anyway, a Tufted Duck and family at Big Waters

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Bits and Pieces From Last Week

A gorgeous young Reed Bunting at East Chevington, there was at least 2 of them.

A year first was the young Yellow Wagtail I saw at Cresswell and a couple of hours later I spotted 3 Adults.  The young one was quite approachable but no doubt it will soon learn.

A couple of young Swallows were observed sitting on a fence and being fed by their parents but sometimes they would take of vertically and bump chest to chest with one of the adults but it happened so fast you couldn't actually see what happened.  After watching this several times and discussing it we were of the opinion that they were being fed in the air.  A lucky pic shows the young one appearing to take food from the adult.  Anyone know any different

Went on the boat trip up the Tyne to Ryton and passed this boat with a bunch of "Sea Cadets" !!!!!!!!! who looked as though they were having a good time.

Finally, can I recommend everyone to read Tim's blog about the desecration of Wild Flowers in the Whitley Bay area.  I have sent a comment to North Tyneside Council asking them "why oh why"when other councils are actually planting them.  You can use the form at https://www.northtyneside.gov.uk/online-forms.shtml?p_QID=341&p_subjectCategory=138

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Pectoral Sandpiper at Cresswell

Friday and off early to visit Creswell hopefully to catch view of a Yellow Wagtail which I hadn't managed to catch up with so far.  Upon arrival I spotted what I thought were 4 Dunlins and was scanning around when another birder arrived, we headed up the causeway and were looking around when a small bird landed on the edge of the mud.  I thought it was one of the Dunlins but upon closer inspection it was a bit too light, the beak was too long but being small(ish) I couldn't quite get the angle to see the legs.  Trevor suggested Pectoral Sandpiper but then he had to leave for work so I stayed for a little while longer and took a few pics then it flew off and joined the 3 Dunlins on the far side of the pool.  I noticed then the yellowish legs.  Headed back to the car but my Collins was at home.  Headed up to the Budge Screen at Druridge and showed Vee and Maria my pics and sure enough after comparison on the Internet (now why hadn't I used my phone!!) it was definitely a Pectoral Sandpiper. 

A couple of videos, first one taken on Friday and the second on Saturday

Remember they are best viewed in UTube Player in HD Large

Friday, 13 July 2012

The Futility Of It

Tuesday I headed out early for Big Waters just intending a quick visit but the rain started so I stayed for a couple of hours.  I was glad to see the Great Crested Grebes had built another nest which looked as though it was anchored on the Island and the water seemed to be receding albeit slowly.

After I left I felt a bit of trepidation though as the rain didn't slow down much and I could visibly see the water rising, this was confirmed by an email from my No 1 Reporter at Big Waters (Big Al) which enclosed the following pic which looked as though they were fighting their third losing battle as the water rose so it looks like another futile attempt.  (STOP PRESS - Just been informed that the water has risen at least 13 inches and the Island is completely submerged, as a matter of fact the Water Measuring Post has vanished underwater also).

There was a bit of good news was that I finally got to see the Willow Tit feeding happily in the Feeding Station although it would not pose for any decent pics as it was straight into the feeder then after gorging itself it was up and away.

The new Kingfisher perch on Alan's Scrape has been busy again but its a Common Sandpiper that seems to have taken a liking to it.  Its the 3rd time I have seen one on there but no proof its the same one.  3 of them did fly in together with the other 2 heading down to the public end

Other birds seen in the Feeding Station included a young Bullfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Chiff Chaff.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Monday in Newcastle

Monday once again bad bloody weather so Carole and I went for a late breakfast then a walk on the Newcastle Quayside ending up in the Baltic.  Two of the three major exhibits left me scratching my head but the installation entitled "The Forty Part Motet" was right up my street.  It lasted 17 minutes and I was so impressed I stayed for a second "Showing".  If you have the slightest interest in music or choral music in particular then this innovative way of listening to music is for you.

There was really 2 reasons for the Baltic visit.   The second one was these beauties which are viewable from the viewing station on the Fourth Floor.

Of course there are some amazing views from outside and inside the Baltic

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Sundays Wandering

Out for a day with John we headed for East Chevington where the Red-backed Shrike awaited us, some good views were had, as well as a good bit of Chat with various others coming for a looksee also.

Off down to Druridge where after about 30mins wait a Long-eared Owl made an appearance and it only took about 2mins for it to catch something and head back to the family.

Then onto Blyth for a refreshment break whilst checking out the river.  Plenty of Curlews, a few Eider, Redshank and 5 Female Goosander.  A trip up to Castle Island, nothing out of the normal but John was morphing into Butterfly and Moth Explorer mode.  There were lots of Male and Female Ringlets around and several Silver Ys.

Great day as usual and the weather was contradictory to the BBC's witterings plus I got John home in time to his temporary residence (Villa Premier Inn Longbenton) as he was a tad tired by now for reasons most of you know by know.  Keep Smililing.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Bit of a Cock Up

For those of you who read my last blog I would like to apologise for a couple of factual errors and bloody atrocious English.  In my flimsy defense I had decided to watch Wallander (starring Kenneth Branagh) which turned out not to be a patch on the original version so I nodded off and when I awoke I decided it was time to do a blog so off I went still in a bit of a dopey state (but then again aren't I always), so the voice recognition system had got a few things wrong (Geordie is hard enough to recognise at the best of times but when its slurred!!!) so when I started checking it through but obviously my own brain recognition system didn't work at 100% either.  I have amended the blog and would like to thank the Proof Reader who pointed out the errors and omissions.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Lots of Patch Dips Last Week

A trip to the patch on Saturday just in time to for a short walk round with Alan who regaled me everything I had missed during the week after my dismal week off, these included 2 flocks of Crossbills, a Cuckoo and a Marsh Harrier to mention only a view (Proofreader Correction). I was also told by the Proof Reader that I had forgotten to mention the Willow Tit which I had missed also (He just loves to rub it in). Off we went and the first different thing I came across was a couple of Canada Geese with a small family of 6 which didn't look as though they were newly hatched so I wonder where they have been hiding.

Then at last only my second view of our Resident Swans and their Sygnets  which unfortunately are now down to Four from Seven and Alan says there were 5 yesterday (Proofreader Correction) Cygnets which are down to 4 from 5.

Staying on the subject of Swans this beauty was swimming round inside the Feeding Station which yesterday was back to normal albeit a little muddy but after the overnight rain it was back to at least a foot deep in water in most places and the island on the pond had vanished yet again

Walking around we did not come across anything unusual although Alan did point out a couple of things, like thats where the Black (Proofreader change) Redstart was last week while you were at work etc etc.  We did however come across something new, a Four Spotted Chaser.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Back to Work

Early yesterday morning on my first day back at work John A I headed for Backworth Pond/Flash and after an hour searching the Red-necked Phalarope came out to play.  Found at about 06.30 but properly identified as it got brighter at about 06.50 then left for work at 07.00.  Thanks to John for telling me about it as my phone and internet had decided to stop working for the previous 24hrs.

On Sunday night I had a visitor to the garden, not a SPECTACULAR rarity just a plain old Hedgehog but what was amazing is that it is the first one I have seen this year.  Previous years I have seen up to 3 in the garden at the same time at least a couple of months earlier.