Saturday, 31 October 2009

Golden Plover Day

Day off work to take the beloved to the Docs and afterwards she wanted to go for a walk so St Mary was the obvious choice. The weather wasnt at its best but the views of the birds certainly were, especially the Golden Plover. There had to be easily 500+ with a few interlopers (think I even spotted a Purple Sandpiper among them but havent had time to look yet as I doing this at stupid o clock as the beloved is feeling even better and wants to go to Fountain Abbey and Studley to see the Deer) and the flying displays were awesome, unfortunately once again I had left my camcorder in the car and pictures of dots dont even do it for me.

I also took a look around North Shields for the Sabine Gull but left after 30mins as beloved needed sustenance. Noticed Alan Tilmouth had pics from yesterday on blog, didnt even see him and he is a bit easier to spot than 1 Sabine in 2000 other Gulls, maybe its my near 60 year old eyes which managed to not see a Woodcock at St Marys yesterday whilst a pair of relatively new ones (13yrs) did as we were probably there round about the same time (well spotted Jack).
Well better feed cats, replenish bird feeders, sort car out, make the Mrs some breakfast (oh what a hard life I lead) and take it to her in bed then off to Sunny (hahahahaha) Yorkshire (the wife actually believes the weather forecasts!!!!)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

You Try to Do Something Good.........

Monday morning, back to work. Thought it was time to show the lads and lasses at work a few birds close up so I hung a few fat balls and a couple of tatty old feeders that I had in the bushes across the road from the office. I did this at about 0730 and when I checked them out at 0900 there was already a couple of Blue Tits, a Long Tail Tit and several Black Birds showing quite well(I had strewn a bit of feed on the ground around the bushes also). Went out with the girls for a smoke after lunch, I dont but did until a few years ago, but still like the chatter and to be honest could still smoke a fag anytime. Little bit of banter from the Office comedians, Shazza and Mary, about tits, great and small but it was better than talking about NEXT, X Factor, matching shoes to dresses or whatever strange subjects these young (and I use the word loosely) females talk about.
About 1500 we heard this awful noise outside which I tried to ignore as I tried to struggle through the mountain of queries on my desk but after about 30 mins I went outside to see what was going on. There were 2 chaps with a hedge cutter and a tractor and they had cut all the hedges down to about shoulder height (sob sob sob) they had left a couple of trees which the hedges had been growing around. I spoke to them and they said that the College which had purchased the property now wanted to tidy it up whilst waiting for the funding to come through to build a new teaching block. Well I managed to spot one of the fat balls still attached to a small tree that had been left but the others and the 2 feeders were gone (I did spot a bit of green plastic been cleared up). Will stick a couple more fat balls outside this morning and try to pop into B&Ms and pick up a couple of their 99p feeders and a 1 and half kg pack of seed for 79p (I dont normally recommend places but for cheap and cheerful for birds try B&Ms in North Shields or High Farm).
A couple of pics from the (now decimated) hedgerow, where last week all you could hear was tweets in the distance and see the odd flyover, now you can see birds. Now if a couple of fatballs and feeders can attract birds (by the way I dont really think it was just them) why dont the bloody goldfinches come into my garden and nibble on my expensive nyger feeder.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Twitcher I Am Not

Its only 5, I suppose your going to see that European something bunting down at North Shields murmurs my beloved as I potter round. You learn something as you get on in life, never correct the wife, especially when she is off colour. Well I eventually left after getting her paper, making some toast and tea and doing a flask of tea and leaving it next to the bed (oh what a caring husband). Arrived at South Shields thinking I would be there first (ish) I was amazed to find nearly a hundred there already. To cut a long story short by the time I had seen the warbler through my own bins then someone elses Scope I decided to leave, walking away I realised that taking my camera had been a waste of time and I had definitely brought the wrong lens for two reasons as the bird had been at closest 60m away and when I was over 200m away from the site I still couldnt get eveyone in the picture that was there. The other thing that struck me that this was not bird watching as I knew it. It seemed so dispassionate, strange and as I walked away another chap joined me, he said he was from Lincolnshire and came up last night and had to get back straight away but it was worth it for a lifer tick (it had only been showing for a couple of minutes of and on so what pleasure can one get). I think that this will be the last time I will go on a twitch (even though it is only 5 miles from my house as the crow flies) I prefer to walk around by myself or with a few other guys, not a football crowd or sit in a hide watching and being able to take pics on most occasions.
Leaving South Shields I headed straight for Big Waters, thanking god when I arrived, just a couple of lads a bit of banter and some nice birds on view. I dont know whether this tree matches the cormorant or the cormorant matches the tree
Hoi, what are you Sparrows doing, this nyger feeder belongs to us Goldfinches

Swans, dont you just love them.

Alan, I took a couple of pics of all the greylags but they didnt all fit on one pic, on the other pic there is another 7 to the left so you can count them now without any of them daring to move.

Off down to St Marys for a bit of walking, searching and looking. Dropped into the cemetery first and spotted these fantastic looking fungi

You all know Im a real beginner at this so after 15 mins of standing, watching and following the bird below obligingly posed for the photo. Even after looking at it through the bins for 5 of those minutes and looking at the crap pic I still couldnt figure out what it was, an experienced birder nearby (theres always at least a couple within spitting distance at St Marys) took a 2 second look and Reed Bunting came the swift answer (mind working overtime thinks of course it must be a female because I have seen plenty of males, files away for future reference), thanked experience birder, couple of minutes chat and I was off searching again. NOW, that little 25 minutes was more enjoyable and fulfilling than 90 mins of standing at Trow Quarry looking for a bird who I felt was the prisoner in a comic version of Alcatraz with searchlights roaming all over the place.

Now for the best/worst pic of the day. Was watching this Kestrel hovering and got a few pics but as usual they were just silhouettes but as it dropped down looking for an early evening appetiser I got a couple of shots, just before it tried to cook its appetisers goose, off on my super fast 3.6 shots a sec Nikon, alright its out of focus, its got motion blur but so what I like it and it was fun taking.

Now dont get me wrong there is nothing wrong with twitching but it is definitely not for me and someday I might put together a list so I can start ticking

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Lots of Swans

Got out a couple of times during last week and did a trip round the various Gateshead hides although nothing really seen especially at Low Pastures where the words severe cutting back take a new meaning, all the nice bushes where the warblers, bunting, wrens etc used to fly in and out of have vanished and several stumps with signs of being burnt off are showing. Spoke to a couple of locals who said that absolutely nothing has been there since.

At Big Waters, noteworthy birds were a couple of GoldenEye and a Scaup with a couple of flying visits by a Sparrowhawk but the shot of the visit for me was one of the resident swans just watching after it had sent the 7 Sygnets off on a 20 mins Training Flight, it seemed to show a not bothered attitude but kept stopping and looking skywards although when they did return they both turned their backs on them whilst they glided in.

Back home to pick up the beloved who is now a bit better and wanted a bit of fresh air so off to St Marys. A couple of shots, the first from the Cemetery of a absolutely beautiful Sparrow , dont know how I did it but the background seems to make the shot.

Next down to North Bay where the Godwit showed nicely on the shore (although the photo below was taken on Friday Evening). I did see the Lesser Whitethroat but like most of the others (apart from those dedicated pic guys like John and that Nigel from Wideopen who I know did get pics) failed to get a shot. As we were leaving my beloved said whats all the fuss about its just another nice bird to look at although those pretty nice reddish ones on top of the trees (Stonechats) were much better to look at (I suppose its a bit like men and curtains, whilst they are functional item I dont get any enjoyment going round shops to find that subtle shade to match the rest of the room).

Next morning after a heated discussion with Royal Mail Sorting Office on where my recorded letter was (still havent received it yet after 3 visits to the office which is less than a mile from my house) I went down to St Marys via Cullercoats and sat on the top overlooking the bay and having a cuppa to calm myself down. Nice place to sit and watch the world go by though.

Off to St Marys where I watched a superb aerial display for about 10mins by a Crow and a Short Eared Owl in which the Crow came off better, both were last seen heading North East into the wild blue yonder.

Back up to Big W again just in time to get a shot of all the Sygnets in formation flying away for about 25mins this time (anyone know how long these test flights last before they leave completely ?)

Also on the way out saw some great Robins (you can never have enough pics of Robins)

Shot off with the Mrs to Holywell looking for the Pec but unfortunately we were too late along with about a dozen others who turned up but we sat and watched for 45mins the many species that came and went. Pic below is for Alan who complained about shots of just 1 bird and said wouldnt it be nice to see some shots with lots of different birds.

On the way home stopped at the Beehive Flash to see if the Pec had dropped off for a bite but there was only Swans who were in quite a bad mood as a couple of other swans kept trying to encroach on their territory.

Finally a msg to the 2 not so nice birders who were a bit rude on the approach road to St Marys, where they were blocking the road with their car, one of them even using the car as cover to look at the Golden Plover thereby other road users being unable to pass, I heard at least 3 horns and 2 people shouting. When I walked over to them the flock went up, I said sorry if it was me (although with the car movement and horns I suspected it was not as I walk up and down that margin most days and never put anything up) to which the reply was "No your not" with quite a severe inflection in the voice. He then left with his mate in the car making gestures. The message is chill out not everyone is experienced as "possibly" you are and stop being so inconsiderate towards other users of the road thereby giving birders a bad name.

Apart from the Royal Mail and the above I had a very good weekend. Now only if I can tune myself into my mate Johns sense of humour which sometimes he has to explain to me. LMAO silently

Monday, 12 October 2009

Firecrest (Dont have time to think of anything witty)

Another day off to get myself in the right frame of mind for a visit to the Arena tonight with the Beloved for her dream gig, Cliff Richard and the Shadows (Thanks to my son for buying us the tickets). Personally I would rather watch the awesome Rammstein, Jose Carreras or Yusuf Islam, we have quite eclectic tastes in our house, sorry, I have eclectic tastes my Beloved has Bad Taste. So off I went to a few places but the one that stood out the most was St Marys with a lifer for me (well all new birds are lifers having been at it for so short a period). A Female (well I thinks its a Female) Firecrest. The pictures are not the best in the world (from not the best photographer in the world) but I really just wanted to watch it thru the bins.

Saw quite a few others down there also, Stonechat, Whinchat, Skylark, Kestrel. I also met someone who knew about my blog, fame at last. Thanks for the kind words Mick. Must rush, Cliff is waiting.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Common (It Certainly Is Not) Crane

Thought a half hour at Lamesley before work would be a nice starter to the day. The hide was open someone already there (thats unusual at 0645hrs), "its there" says a voice in the dark, "whats there" says I, anyway to cut a long story short he then explained that the Common Crane was first spotted yesterday etc etc etc. I hadnt looked at the blogs late last night or this morning so didnt know anything about it. It was still quite dark but the Crane was quite visible although quite a distance away. It stayed for about 30 mins then took off and headed up towards Kibblesworth. We then went to find where it had alighted but I had to give up at 0800 and go to work. Lunchtime and I was back down there, my compadre had left a note in the book but after about 90 mins and only 1 glimpse of it in the distance had to go back to work again.

Came back at 15.30 and there it was in the Water Meadows. Below are some of the pics from the worst photographer in the world (well nearly anyway).

Every bird in the place (about 300+) was put up at about 17.15 when the black and white dog (which I have mentioned previously in another visit to Lamesley) came charging into the Meadow.

I was going to take a trip up to Druridge this pm and try to get some better pics of the Ibis (Think I am the only birder in Northumberland without decent pics yet) but that will have to be put off till the weekend (hope it will still be there then)

Sunday, 4 October 2009

New Lens Weekend

Friday 2 Oct 2009 - Arrived home from work at 1500 looking forward to a quiet night. My beloved immediately gave me an ear bashing, whats this she demanded holding out a parcel, the guy knocked repeatedly and loud on the door at Twenty past Seven and woke me up. I explained to her that it was my new lens which I had only ordered on Thursday morning. After a quick explanation I was out of the door and away down to St Marys to play with my new toy. Got down there and set up and started taking pics, voice behind me said look over there its a Godwit, no says I, not expecting to see one but bugger me there was one. The voice belonged to Jack, Whitley Bay Blogger, who I had seen on a couple of occasions. His knowledge puts mine to shame at times. We eventually got to within about 5 yards of it (until some nice gentlemen and their dog got a bit too close) and I got some great photos which wasnt much of a test for my new 70-300, probably could have used an instatmatic with nearly the same results.

Next morning was up and away to Big Waters where the local drunk hung around drinking for at least 2hrs. When he left I couldnt tell the level of intoxication as they always fly as though they are 3 sheets to the wind.

Once again the Swans were out in force with some marvellous chasing going on.

All the Birds seemed to be huddled into various sheltered spots like we were in the hide, the wind was bloody horrendous. At one stage we had to close all the shutters with the rain blitzing in and soaking everything. Alan J, look, a picture with more than one bird on.
After hanging around till it quitened down (it didnt, it got worse) I headed to St Marys, and didnt even get out the car, just watched the birds getting their heads down also. Then I headed home to have a look at the 700 Pics I took with my new lens. My right index finger had been doing as much overtime as the wind had.

Sunday morning, off to Big Waters again, what a difference. Set up then sat down with a couple of others, first cup of tea and there was a Roe Deer having a look around the gully in front of us, too dark for photos really although the lens were working overtime anyway. There was a lot of movement today with birds, large flocks of Lapwing and Corvids flying around with several small flocks of Teal also.

The Sparrowhawk below dropped in for a minute and sat on a branch no more than 5m from us, the cameras were swiftly heated up and I dont think there has been more photos taken in one minute by 4 guys. I took 42 but severly pruned them down at home to a manageable 24 LOL. I like this one because it reminds me of a hobo shuffling along with his hands in his pockets.
Went home and made the wife something to eat cos she was at home feeling quite under the weather, would not have gone out but she insisted but I did return at 1300, having only been absent for a measly 7hrs. What a diligent and dutiful modern man I am NOT. Once again she insisted that her illness did not spoil my weekend so I was forced out to St Marys (didnt go too far in case I was needed). Saw plenty of wildlife although most of them had 2 legs and 2 arms, although they werent using their arms for their intended job (Keeping hold of a lead to stop their dogs charging into the birds). Discarding these Trials and Tribulations I managed a good walk around with a chap called Brian who gave me a detailed account of what goes on here (Thanks Brian I did learn a lot but forgot a lot also). Only 1 photo to show of a Rock Pippit which we watched for a couple of minutes devouring a moth like creature. The ones of the Golden Plover, Stonechat and Reed Bunting were not too brilliant so were dispatched to the big Recyle Bin in the Sky.

Well a successful weekend with the new Lens, needed all Sunday night to weed the chaff out and only ended up keeping a couple of hundred (thank god for big detachable HDs).