Saturday, 7 January 2017

Great grey shrike at Big Waters

The Sunday walk around Big Waters on New Years Day brought as a great start to the year in the form of a Great grey shrike.  It was at a bit of a distance but managed a few shots before it flew off in the direction of Prestwick Carr.  I only managed 3 shots whilst it was on the tree then 3 as it departed

We were joined by Susan, Graeme and Tony B on our wander round today so there were many eyes watching and quite a few birds were spotted but I had to leave at 1 so we only had made it about three quaters the way round when I shot off to attend to other things then go away for a few days to Liverpool so dont know if we did better than the 63 which was our previous record for New Years Day


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Little Egret at Big Waters 11 December 2016

We met as normal but Keith was away watching big silver birds (so we were expecting something different) and of we went in anticipation (Alan J, Ian D and Graeme B).  Weather was a bit dull but warm until you got into the wind then it was extremely cold.  During the week there had been very large counts of ducks on the pond and geese around but as usual a lot of them had stayed in the warmth for the weekend although we did spot quite a few geese at places not usually frequented and also a flock of approaching 200 Lapwings and a smaller one of 50ish.  Not a great lot of small birds but quite a few Thrushes flying around and a solitary Grey Wagtail.  On the pond Alan said the numbers were very small compared to record counts during the week although these had happened when the ice had formed and the wildfowl seemed to amalgamate on it so no doubt they are in there somewhere.  A total of 31 Mute Swans were also on the pond.  We also came across a flock of 70+ Common Gulls and a solitary Curlew in one of the South Fields.  As we were getting towards the end of the walk Graeme said he had just seen a possible Little Egret drop into one of fields about 300m North of our position so we headed down to its possible location and after checking a stream the Little Egret came flying out but only flew around (unfortunately away from us) but then returned and landed in a field about 100m from the stream.  It was still a fair distance from us but after a couple of minutes it then flew back to its original position so off we went.  Unfortunately I had a domestic chore to attend to so never made it to the hide and probably missed the Brambling that has been there a few days this week. So here is a short video and a few pics of the walk around

Some lucky sods returning from the miserable weather on the continent to the bonny Toon

 Teazel in the wild seems to do much better than in my garden
 Noticed a Juvenile and an Adult feeding and flying around together with
the Juvenile seeming to lead, unusual for this time of year ?

We are off for a couple of short holidays (relaxing coach trips with a bunch of other wrinklies to Yorkshire and Lancashire with plenty of joviality and drinking) so dont know when the next blog will be out so have a Happy Christmas and New Year to my thousands odd reader or two


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Big Waters - Last Couple of Visits

Just a few shots from the last couple of visits to Big Waters on the 27th November and 4th December. I hardly took my camera out on the first one and on the second I couldn't be bothered to take it out as I was just enjoying the dry but cold weather, the wildlife and the chatter.

 This was taken on the 27th November but if you had been there 3 days earlier  when the
 heavy rain happened you wouldn't have seen the island or got into the hides at all

This one was taken about 8.30am when a lot of the pond was still frozen
and all the ducks had retreated into the weeds

Lots of Swans around trying to land and take off with the ice causing them problems.
I think there was around 30 there although no doubt Alan J will correct me

It was quite dark as we walked around although occasionally the
sun did get through a few holes in the thick clouder layer

Right at the end of the walk the sun came out although still with
strange levels of dark and light

Onto 4 December and a quick stop off at Little Waters where ZAT and ZAS seem to be spending their nights (the pair that have raised two families in the last two breeding seasons) probably for a bit of peace and quiet from the myriad of Swans that seem to be passing through on the main pond although I did see them leave and head through the tunnel towards the main pond

A few of the several hundred Greylags that are around Big Waters atm.  I remember Alan J saying that there was more than 500 counted a couple of days ago

Once again my favourite view on the walk round although I did take the pictures using the Bracketing Function then combined the pictures together to make a basic HDR image

A Grey Heron just passing the time of day

Can't go without putting up a video but this one is in the form of a question
(for those of you who don't like watching videos I have put up 2 pictures 
first taken with my box brownie so if you stop it after 14 seconds you will
not see those evil moving pictures which capture your heart and soul and 
rip it out of your body - wonder if any of these people watch Richard
Attenborough's Planet series?)


Finally a note for all of  those brainless dog walkers who leave their dog's doings in plastic bags hanging from tress, gates, bushes or just dumped



Sunday, 13 November 2016

Howdon Wetlands in November

Visited Howdon Wetlands 3 times last week and each time the weather was different, dreadfully cold, tipping down with rain and the last visit on Friday was unbelievably bright sunshine.  Nothing out of the ordinary was seen although Colin J did have some Blackwits in the first few days of November.  It still is a delightful place to go where peace reigns and you will never bump into people and therefore no uncontrolled dogs.  Here are a few pictures from my visits, probably boring for those who have seen accentors, shirikes and rare warblers recently but absolutely bliss for me.

Gorgeous Rainbow very early morning
 Looking Upriver towards Newcastle about 8.30 in the morning
 Pleny of Stock Doves around
 One of the numerous Cormorants dropping in for a fresh water wash and brush up
There are at least 4 Wrens who visit the reeds in front of the Hide

 Plenty of Curlews but sporadic depending on tides
 You can nearly always see Snipe but usually tucked against and in the reeds

 Most of the white dots in the trees are Grey Heron 
(Think there was only about a dozen around when I took this picture)
 Plenty of Redshank and loads of Teal

Shelduck are in and out like yoyos

Finally a short video


Friday, 4 November 2016

Big Waters - 30 October 2016 - Crossbills

Sunday walk around with Alan and Ian had us seeing quite a variety of species but for me the highlights were the Crossbills and the Greylags.  We saw 3 lots of Crossbills but the best views were the 7 that landed on the tree about 30m in front of us, managed to get a few shots before they were off again.

Short video followed by a view of the island after a Good Cleanup

Plenty of Greylags moving around the pond then back to the field, there were in the mid 200s but no doubt Alan J will send me a message giving me the exact amount although I do remember him saying there were more during the week.  Plenty of other things but didn't take a lot of pictures so here a few I did get.
The colours this time of year are brilliant


The island has had a short back and sides

 A couple of the 30+ Adult Swans that were on the pond
 Don't you just love the Greylag call ?