Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Belated Entry

Saturday 26 Sep, decided to head South and check out the Bishop Middleham and associated places after reading a nice blurb we found in Derwent Reservoir Hide. We visited the farm (famous for the Bee-eaters a few years ago) and there was quite a lot to see including the Bison, Rhea, Elk and the Deer. There was quite a lot of Birds (see below) around also including quite a lot of Pied Wagtails, Robins and a flock of Corn Buntings which were very difficult to get a photo of due to the public (and the wife) getting friendly with the deer and elk.

We moved onto Castle Lake and arriving at the hide found that you needed a key (the leaflet I had picked up didnt tell me that). Fortunately there were 2 lads in there who let us in and I saw my first Pectoral Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank, thanks lads.

Sunday it was up at the crack of dawn (actually about 2hrs before) quick breakfast then off to Holy Island where we planned to stay over the high tide hoping there would not be so many people wandering around. We had a pleasant 4hrs walking about and it was very peaceful and the majority of people we bumped into were all carrying Bins or Scopes. Suffice to say that next time we go it will be over the high water also. A couple of pics from our visit:

I originally thought it was a Goosander then decided on a Merganser due to the habitat but when I emailed one of my "mentors" he told me never to discount the habitat and that it was a Goosander. Actually when I first saw it, it was swimming around with a bunch of female Eiders and only popped out of the water a while later, I assumed it was an Eider from a distance cos of the flashes of white and it still wasnt very bright. Then it came out of the water and I started thinking of my crap bird recognition skills so took a couple of pics and eventually got the book out on Wednesday night.

Saw this lovely Song Thrush and like a complete burk watched it for a while hoping for it to sing but when I was talking to another birder he said that they didnt really sing this time of year and if I had heard anything it would probably have been a mistle thrush. Walked away with tail between legs.

I had tried to get pictures of the Godwits in the harbour last time I was there and found it impossible as people were trampling all over the place but now they just wandered about and even when I got too close they returned after 5mins of sitting still.

Well I had to go and look at the Glossy Ibis on Tuesday and boy was I impressed even though it was very muggy and could have done with a bit more sunlight. Saw loads of photos around so tried to make mine different so you could guess where the Glossy Ibis was. I went back yesterday for another look as the weather was much better, got some better pics but still like my one above. I was puzzled also as to why all the cattle had been removed from the area round the pond and it looks like the gate had been padlocked. The Glossy Ibis obvisouly wasnt phased by their presence so why?????. Popped up to Big Waters afterwards and Geoff was there so knowing his luck for attracting birds my heart sank but how wrong was I. Onto the lake came another 8 Adult Swans and 4 Sygnets which then provoked the resident female into some mad careering about chasing them. Geoff and myself were absolutely fascinated although most of the action was a bit out of the range of my 200m I know he got some good shots with his super duper lens so will try to cadge a couple of him (just for myself actually to remind me of a great hours bird watching)

P.S. Sorry Alan, would have entered it into the book but there was no pens and we didnt have any either (will do a belated entry tomorrow)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Back to the Fray

Now that Im feeling better a quick trip out to Cresswell (thinking about it there is an Ice Cream Shop there) and Druridge would make be even bettererer. We stopped and perused the Pond at Cresswell but it was quite empty but over on the dunes was this little beauty hunting away. Would have got out the car and followed it with the camera and got some better pics but the Ice Cream was a bit of a problem to carry as well so sat and watched from the Car snapping whilst gently increasing my girth with each spoonful.

Eventually we moved on to Druridge and on the way in spotted and picd what I think is a Vagrant Darter (corrections welcomed) it led me a merry dance for over 5 mins before it settled.

Arriving in the Hide we met this chap just leaving who said that the Otters had been out. Just my luck I thought but when we opened the shutters sure enough there was one out there fishing away and within 5 mins we could see 3 of them in different parts of the pool and they stayed and entertained us for nearly an hour and a half. No really good pics of them apart from a couple of head shots which I wont bother with its the thrill of watching them cavorting about and it even kept the wife occuppied especially with several visitors popping in and out and her pointing out where they where and what they had been doing (must see if I can get her a job as a tour guide somewhere to add a couple of bob to her pension). There was not a lot of bird life apart from 6 Grey Herons, pair of Swans, few Mallards, 2 Cormorants, several Moorhen and a solitary Teal all crammed into the top of the lake to the left of the hide whilst the Otters were out frollicking.

Headed home and was intending to stop for another small ice but my heart sank, it was closed.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Poor Sick Little Me

Saturday and off to Big Waters for a couple of hours before a well planned and full weekend. The mornings there are quite spectacular as you can see from below and never fail to awake all of my senses, well at least the ones that are still functioning.

An early visitor was the Kingfisher who just dosent seem to be phased by all the other birds around unlike a few other Kingfishers I have seen who are up and away at the slightest noise or the nearness of another bird.

One of the Otters made its obligatory appearance moving the birds on the lake around which gives one a closer view of the ones who tend to hang out near the far end. Unfortunately the Otter knows just where we are and tends to keep just out of camera range or does a Jacques Costeau and stays underwater till it gets to the reeds then moves around about 10m from the hide but never comes into view.

Most of the morning was spent watching these 4 Snipe parading around and trying to avoid the resident "Mental Backward Walking Moorhen" they are just spectacular birds with that X Factor.

A quick trip home to pick up the beloved and then our first visit to Plessey Woods. Its a great place for a walk although not too much wildlife can be seen. Even though we arrived at about 9.45am there was a lot of people around already and we were the only ones without dogs. A lot of them were just running around with owners unable to control them although there was some that were enjoying themselves but the owners were able to keep them out of the river or stop them crapping in the picnic areas.

I came across 3 different kinds of fungi that I have not photographed yet, I suppose I must get down to looking at them properly some day and finding out their names.

Down by the "Pool Area" I did manage to get some quick shots of a Grey Wagtail which seemed to patrol the same 20m of river back and forward relentlessly.

It was at this point that I started to feel a little off colour and we decided to call it a day. We went straight home. Later on that night I had some really serious balance problems and couldnt even lie down without feeling completely disorientated. A trip to the Walk In Centre on Sunday Morning, then a visit to the Docs on Monday, a few drugs and I am now feeling a bit better even though I started this blog at 1000 and its now 1720 and had about 3 little naps inbetween.
Hopefully I will be fully recovered by the weekend

Monday, 14 September 2009

Wheres the Birdie Pics ??

Havent managed to find time to do a blog for a few days due to so much time taken with looking at RAW files attempting to make them better (Lots of Belly Laughs) then converting to JPEGS so here goes.

Friday 11 Sep - After a couple of early hours at Big Waters the wife and I went for a drive up to Holy Island as the Weatherman said it was going to be a "extremely nice cloudless day". Hadnt been there for a few years and that was in winter so absolutely amazed to arrive only 10mins after the start of the crossing times and the place was packed. Spent a good couple of hours walking around not seeing much birdlife but visiting the castle and the priory. Then went to the Causeway where I remembered seeing quite a few birds there last time and also had spotted a couple of godwits when I drove on. Anyway a couple of pics below:

Small Male Tortoiseshell

Plenty of birds by the causeway with lots of taking off and landing, these Swans were particularly impressive.

Red Admiral

Sure enough the cloud appeared at about 3pm completely contrary to the Weathermans predictions (HOW UNUSUAL)

Saturday once agains started with a couple of dawn hours at Big Waters then off to Washington Wildfowl. The lakes whilst not devoid of our winged friends only seemed to hold the colony of Grey Herons, the obligatory bunch of Lapwings which showed absolutely brilliant in the Sun and various "Gulls", must get round to learning more about them one day (actually that last sentence could be said for all birds), a few mallards and 4 Teal. Took some different kind of pics:

Possibly a Speckled Wood

Now Fungi I know absolutely nothing about but this was different to stuff I see growing around. It was growing on the front of a Step made of wood, stones and dirt in heavy shade.

Painted Lady (there was dozens of these flying around)

Finished a great day out with a nice meal in Newcastle then off for an hour at St Marys
Sunday morning, first couple of hours at Big Waters for a change then off to Wallington. Went straight to the Wildlife Hide hoping to see a couple of Reds before it got busy with people coming and going but unfortunately the feeders have now been removed because of the Grey Squirrels although they still scatter peanuts on the ground and no squirrels were seen. There were still plenty of birds though. Nice walk around afterwards and into the Hall where there are some wonderful birds on display in the "attic".
Just outside the Hall is a row of the plants below which were covered with some of the biggest bees I have ever seen.

Once again some strange Fungi although this one looked as though it provided a meal for something.

Yet another Fungi with a couple of bits missing.

At last a pic of a bird, this Robin had an absolutely stunning red breast which even the camera couldnt show properly

Finally a small LFA (Little Fury Animal), vole, mouse ????????

Will try to find time to get a few pics of my many visits to Big Waters

Monday, 7 September 2009

No Ice Cream This Weekend

This weekend was definitely better than the last. Started off Friday with an evening trip to St Marys. Weather drizzly but there was a fantastic flock of Golden Plover numbering into the many hundreds. Watched them for over 10 mins alternately wheeling around until a big alsatian charged in amongst them sending the whole flock soaring and the dogs owners standing yards from me admiring the way he can run and saying to me he does well for a 12 year old dosent he.

Saturday morning early start and up to Big Waters. The various birds started congregating in the top end of the lake and squawking like banshees, now I wonder what caused this ????

Yep you've got it, Mr Otter out looking for his breakfast.

As usual the Kingfisher appeared and stayed there for quite a while despite the cannon shots from the big lenses nearly deafening everyone, but he just sits there, obviously intent on where his next fish is.

The rest of Saturday was spent wandering round between Whitley, Tynemouth, Blyth seeing quite a number of birds and just enjoying a walk

I got my new (second hand) camera this weekend and as I was sitting wondering how to even turn it on whilst at Big Waters on Sunday a Water Rail appeared. Managed to switch it on and point, click several times, felt like a machine gun in my hands compared to my Fuji s8100 but the pic below was my first one taken. Whilst not a great pic the subject is. Hope its a good sign for the future.

After Big Waters I picked the wife up and did the rounds visiting a couple of places we had never been before. Went to Bothal Pond, parked in Layby and watched from the side of the road, Carole did not like it as the Cars and Lorries rush past. Is there a better place to watch from as all the area seemed to be private.

Then went to Longhirst Flash, fantastic amount of Goldfinches and Swallows mill around you as you tried to watch what is on the flash, really enjoyed myself. Quick 5min trip and you are in Linton with Carole only having eyes for the Swans and their Sygnets.

Then back to St Marys for an hour, sit and watch from the Car Park with Fish and Chips and a Cuppa is absolute heaven, only wish Seaton was a bit closer so you can finish off with an ice cream.

Back to Big Waters for an hour and a little walk round the lake, returning to Tynemouth for another Cuppa then home for 2100.

On Monday at 5.30 left house for Lamesley, the sunrises there are extremely spectacular

Lamesley is not exactly good for photographers but for sitting with a scope and bins is absolutely great. Within about 10mins after dawn the movement of birds starts and there is always something in the sky to identify and plenty landing in the small pools dotted around. Also if you leave the door to the hide just slightly ajar you get some marvellous sounds drifting in from the various passerines that wander up and down the road. I always aim to leave about 7.25 to get across the Tyne and into work for about 7.45 but today I stopped in the Ravensworth Arms a bit too long to watch about 100 goldfinches leaping from tree to tree. When I eventually turned out of the Car Park the traffic was backed all the way up to the A1. I cant believe it was all caused by the return of the kids to school. Think my early morning trips to the South might be curtailed till next Spring now.

Well enough for a few days, must set aside at least 3 days to read the 237 page manual for the camera

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Coloured Rings Red Over Green

On checking some of my photos from Monday night at St Marys noticed that one of the the little blighters had 2 rings, looks like red over green. Anyone know where I can find some info ?

I then checked the photos I had deleted and noticed one of the same bird which then showed a yellow ring on the left leg.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Bank Holiday Weekend

Before the tale of woe just thought I would share this delightful pic of a Starling (fasinated by them) who had just finished pecking away at a Fat Ball in my garden. Hope he has a good toothbrush.

Saturday Morning 0530 at the Airport waiting for son and family arriving from Florida. After everyone seemed to come out I phoned son and he answered promptly, where are you, Im in bed says he, why didnt you tell me you had come back early, I havent says he, Im in Bed in Florida. SHIT says I. Guess who had the day wrong and was £6 poorer for the parking.

Anyway went to pick the beloved up and head for Cresswell, got to Cresswell just in time for the wife to take a bit "ill", headed back home, put her to bed, sorted everything out, shopping, washing, feeder replenishment. Wife said go, I argued she was ill and I would stay (not convincingly) so off I went. Got to Cresswell, loads of birds on the pond and a few people in the hide who obviously all knew each other. They were recounting all the birds they had seen and which country they were going to next, ah look a Woodie says one, behind the 3 dunlin next to the sanderling, 2 back from the Curlew Sandpiper or something like that, 4 of them dive to their scopes and withing 5 secs all replied affirmatively. Im impressed, there is about 500 birds out there on the bar moving around so I keep my mouth shut and look intently through my Bins. After about 5 mins I think I spot it and am quite chuffed. They all leave after various beepers and phone calls happen. I immediately get my 2 books out my cheap scope and am scanning the pond properly by god was there some birds there.

Later on I head to Cambois by the houses, never looked there before but remember lots of birds being there when I used to fish. Loads of Turnstones, Ringed Plover, Redshank and Starlings (100s of them). Popped in to Big Waters on the return for an hour or so.

Ringed Plover and Turnstone and plenty of rubbish
Next Morning off again at sparrows far to pick the son up, this time he appeared, once again another £6 to park, should have just given him the money and told him to get a taxi. Back to the house check wife is still living, she insists she does not want to spoil my weekend (have already missed 2 sessions at Big Waters) so make her a bit of brekkie (tea and toast) then off I go to Big Waters. A kindly Snipe (my first) posed for photos for a good while.

Whilst there I noticed that the weed on the lake had reduced considerably, the photo of the Kingfisher taken by Carole a couple of weeks ago shows him trying to find a fish supper amongst all the weed - he was there for nearly 25mins and just gave up in the end.

Next morning after once again pampering to the wifes needs, bought her a couple of soap mags on Sunday which made her quite happy even though she was still feeling a bit dicky. On the way to Big Waters, I encountered this Robin which sang for over 10 mins while I just stood watching. About 20m away on the other side of the Boardwalk was another bird singing absolutely superbly which I did not recognise but on entering the hide a Song Thrush flew through being chased by a Blackbird

A young Dunnock popped in and out most of the Morning and I got some great phots of him/her.

When the Buzzard below flew over and every birds scattered to the 4 corners, the chap with me had just put his Supa Dupa Camera away and so all I got was this. BTW, I thought Buzzards were Scavengers so why did all the birds hop it.

Later on that night I popped down to St Marys, for a quick walk round. Went through Whitley Bay and noticed that most of the girls celebrating Bank Holiday Monday had less cloth covering them than the one I carry in my pocket to wipe my bins on. Went slowly and sat on a stone trying not to disturb the birds in the North Bay and after 10 mins the Turnstones, Ringed Plover, Redshanks, Sanderling, Curlew, Herons etc had resettled and some were within 5m of me, the light by this time was getting quite bad so I only took a couple of pics, quite happy to sit and watch. POOF everything scarpered, heard footsteps approaching from behind and this young lady (about 30) walked up to me with a minute camera and asked would I mind if I was in some of the photos she was going to take of the birds as they seemed to be attracted to me. Carry on says I gesticulating with my arm to look, aahhhh they have all gone says she and walks away heading towards the next gully where all the "POOF and up goes a bunch of Oystercatchers" guess what were.
Its now Tuesday night and the wife is feeling better, she even asked me to go out for an hour to St Marys to get a bit of Fresh Air and see a few Birds (might have had something to do with the bunch of flowers I brought home). Sat her down, took pulse and temp and mentioned that this would encroach into Soap hour, not bothered says she (Now I know she is ill). Went down there anyway, well wrapped up and needed it after 30mins as it started to pee down. Carole never moved watching the Sanderling running around like little lunatics only 5m from us, eventually back into the car and drove to near the viewing holes and sat in the car with the east facing window down and watching all the birds on the beach until 1945 Carole said better get back now, Holby is on at 8, knew it wouldnt last