Sunday, 28 April 2013

Lets Go Lekking

Saturday and a very early start, picking up John A at 04.30 and an hour later we were hitting Teesdale where the average speed dropped dramatically as the weather changed from a bit chilly with slight rain to this.  We pulled over to let a couple of gritters pass us, the only vehicles we saw for about 10 miles but the roads were still treacherous.  We were fully equipped for the weather though, John had put an extra pair of socks on and his new Jacket which stops you sweating (I think he had broken the zip) and I had an extra pair of underpants on (lined trousers actually)

The flurries of Snow, Sleet and Hail were stop start for about the next 3hrs but we did manage to get to the Black Grouse Lekking with some great views.  There were, at one stage, 17 male and 4 females on view although they were a bit difficult to hear with the wind whistling down the valley.  We then went for a drive round Langdon Beck and the Cow Green area stopping often to look at the many birds we saw but rarely getting out the car and only being able to open one window at a time as the wind made it impossible to look into it.  We saw Red Grouse, Lapwing, Redshank, Whimbrel, Snipe, Golden Plover, Pied Wagtail, Skylark, Curlew and practically everything you would expect to see.  Watching snipe drumming was pretty impressive though, pity the weather was too bloody awful to get decent pics.  Here are a couple of pics from the rest of the visit.

We then started a slow drive back through the Blanchland and Derwent area and stopping to watch Red Grouse, Golden Plover and whatever we saw when just before the Derwent Valley when we were watching some Curlew a Policeman on a motor bike with blue lights flashing pulled over and said we had to move and pull over completely off the road as there was a bike race coming through.  This we did a bit further up towards Derwent Reservoir and we were eventually joined by others being told to do the same and a couple of photographers covering the race.  We fortunately choose quite a nice position and not only got some great views of the race but also some close up views of Wheatear, Red Grouse, Skylark, Meadow Pipits but what we did not know was that the race was a 5 Lap affair so we had to stay for an hour before a convoy of vehicles were let through.

Then as we departed I asked John where should we go next, how about Prestwick Carr said he, how about going to see the Kittiwakes on the Tyne I replied, all right he said.  WHOOPS

Thursday, 25 April 2013

A Nice Day Out Intterruppted by Work

Another walk round the Ouseburn on Tuesday didn't produce a great lot but its a nice place for an early morning wander, only saw 1 person in the 45mins I was there.  Plenty of Goldfinches, Greenfinch, Chaffinch,  Blackbirds, Mallards and their offspring and a couple of Moorhens (still no Kingfisher though).  Its a nice urban environment with lots of nooks and crannies.

An Osprey in Newcastle (if you look closely)

Low Tide is always the best time to look around, messier but more interesting

I saw 6 adult Mallards with 7 young uns, then another pair with 4 in a different location

A bit of street art painted on a board covering a window 

I then headed down to the Tyne Bridge for a look at the Kittiwakes.  There seems to be a steady compliment now which hasn't changed for a few days but less than last year.  If anyone wants some nice flight shots they like to land in the water close to the quay just beside the Guild Hall then take off in both directions and head along the quay at about head height.  Unfortunately my lens is just not quick enough for them and the sun is in the wrong position early morning.  

I also popped up to Big Waters for an hour in the evening, more Chiff Chaff and Willow Warblers, plenty of Gadwall and Tufted on the pond with a couple of Pochard, a couple of Swallow and Sand Martins having a late look at the pond and a new bird for the month, a Shellduck which dropped in for 10mins for a breather,

I'm Here, is there anyone else out there

Well, no one around so I'm Offski!

On my way out I bumped into Cain S leading his band of intrepid explorers,  He is one of the good guys.  Come on you oldies with bags of experience, get out there and help them, just like Mr J harangued helped me so any cock ups I make (and there is a few) I can sort of lay at his door with the excuse that "Alan didn't tell me that".

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Anyone For A Wash and Brush Up

It came into the ditch opposite the hide and seemed to be having a drink then in it went with the grace of Tom Daley, NOT, splashed around in the muddy water then managed to get up onto the fence where it started pruning and cleaning itself, I was going to lend it my hair dryer and GHDs (ask your wife if you don't know what they are) but I had brought the wrong bag.

It then flew off to join its pals who were sitting on the bank probably p***ing themselves laughing and talking behind its back

ps.  Spotted this beauty yesterday morning under the Swing Bridge in Newcastle

Monday, 22 April 2013

Black-tailed Godwits at St Marys

Yesterday (Sunday) I had a quick visit to St Marys and after spending 30mins watching the Sanderling (again) I stopped off at the Wetlands and was extremely surprised to see 4 Black-tailed Godwits .  I watched them for about 45mins and then spotted 
Jack B who I beckoned over to see the Godwits but he  said he had been watching them for about an hour from the Photographic Screen.  With my miserable lens I managed to get a few pics which don't quite reach Jacks standard.

and of course the inevitable video

Friday, 19 April 2013

No Migrants Yet, Hopefully Tomorrow

Been working all week whilst everyone else is out finding migrants but here is a few pics I managed to take during the last few days.

Dipper on the Derwent

Spent a pleasant hour at St Marys watching Sanderling and Dunlin for an hour

A bit of Displaying

Bit too late as it looks like she is buggering off with another Guy

Poor little birdie was all alone, not a pal in sight

Nearly as quick as a Dunnock, but not quite

Its really easy, just move them 3 piles on the right
to the place of the left.

Come Back next week and take my pic in the Sunlight from a more flattering angle

Could have done with this duck at the picture above the Kittiwake

Back on the Patch tomorrow morning

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Saturday Mornings Visit to Big Waters

On Saturday morning before heading off to see the Little Bunting I did a quick trip to Big Waters where I got slightly distracted watching a Common Snipe on the Scrape.  There was also 2 others on the new Scrape on the North side of the pond but they just stayed in the same place occasionally feeding but not moving into the open at all.  The one on the new Scrape was having a good old wander about, feeding, just looking around, preening and washing.  I did a couple of videos of it which I have compiled into the one below.

Whilst there I also watched a Long-tailed Tit coming to the same branch at least 5 times, each time carrying a similar feather to the one in the photograph below.

And to finish off a nice picture of Big Waters Tree in the early morning light

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Off To Durham

After a quick trip up to Big Waters early morning I headed off to Elba Park hoping to see the Little Bunting.  Parking as far away as possible from where it was located because I needed a bit of exercise (Yeah really) I eventually walked along the winding paths listening to and watching unbelievable amounts of Skylarks and picking up my first Willow Warbler of the year.   After a 20min walk I arrived at the suspected location of the Bunting (bit difficult to miss)

The Bunting put in an appearance as I arrived and continued to move around for the next hour or so giving some nice views and I suspect the boys with the big cannons got some pretty good pics.  My records shots were good enough for me but if you want to see some decent ones check John M's Blog

Bumped into several well known North of the Tyne guys, including LiverBirder, Cain S, Eric G, Sometimes, Phil and a chap called Paul who had twitched the Bunting all the way from Essex.  He also picked up a Little Ringed Plover there also.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Sunday's Saunter

Big John and I set off early on Sunday (06.30)and did the long walk round Big Waters.  Still no definite sign of the beginning of Spring but at least it was not below zero although the wind did pick up slightly.  We did have quite a few species including 6 Greylags, Snipe, Siskin, 6 Curlew, Skylarks, Linnets, 2 Pied Wagtails, 3 Oystercatchers, lots of Meadow Pipits, Woodcock, 4 Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, a largish flock of c70 mixed Fieldfare and Redwings having a good time flitting around being disturbed by walkers, horse riders etc and all the usual species.  Graeme B joined us for the last part of the walk on his bike as he had a tight time frame, something about a Plane, Cyprus etc.   Unfortunately I pressed the wrong button on the camera and deleted all the pics of this walk so you will have to forego the pictorial delights, the good news is that I didn't delete the ones from the next visit to Gosforth Park.

After a cup of coffee we headed to Gosforth Park, with the thought of a quick visit to the Feeding Station then a short look around as we had still heard it was a bit muddy.  The society has stopped putting out food now so we enticed a few species in with a bit of my own.  It is great place just to stop, sit and watch the normal species with the chance of something you don't normally see close view of (the Fieldfare that were there on our last visit for example).  Here is a few pics from our half hour or so spent there.

I wonder what they are up to ?

After you, no, after you, no, after you

We then decided to go for a wander round and remembering a blog from Brian a day or so ago we were prepared to abort as we were only wearing boots but were pleasantly suprised to find little mud.  We decided to see if we could beat his total of 43 Bird Species during his visit but unfortunately we only managed 40 although we missed out on several species we expected to see/hear such as Green Woodpecker, Jay, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk.  We finished the day off with a quick visit to Killingworth Lake to see how things are getting on with the Great Crested Grebes.  We could see 2 although they seemed as distant as they could be, never coming within 20m of each other.

A Canny Day