Monday, 28 June 2010

Saturday Visits

Shibdon, Saturday morning and lots of young uns around, all it needed was Carole to stand there and wave her bag of goodies in the air and the place went from everything asleep to her surrounded within 2mins.
A walk round the pond was rather tuneful with plenty of Whitethroats warbling merrily
and the squeaking of lots of young Long Tailed Tits.
This little chap kept hopping about the boardwalk but as usual I was unable to figure out what it was so any help would be appreciated
We then moved onto Prestwick Carrs where we got some great views of a Skylark which kept to the same flying pattern and returning to the the top of the "Shit Pile" then flying off to the same spot in a nearby field but entertaining us first with a lot of singing and parachuting.
We then watched a Kestrel on a dive then it appeared a few seconds later with some sort of mouse/vole in its claws and away it went over onto the top of one of the fence posts and stood there tearing its kill to pieces.  We bumped into Peter (PCWanderings) and had a chat for 10mins before shooting off to Big Waters.  At Big Waters Alan and John were ringing and whilst we were there they ringed their first Willow Tit for a couple of years.  On the lake there were 4 Little Grebes, Common Terns, Cormorants, Common Sandpiper and a Reed Warbler which blurted its (not too melodic) song out for nearly 2hrs only a couple of metres from the hide and I had given up all hope of seeing it when it decided to make a brief appearance.   Just ouside the front of the hide there was a lot of insect activity with this 4 Spot Chaser being close enough for a terrible pic.  
Another youngster knocking around was this delightful thing which Carole identified quickly as a Juvenile Robin (but with a bit of help)
Several Tree Sparrows kept flying out onto the reeds then returning to the Feeding Station.
We then decided (she did) that food was needed so off we went to The Plough at Killingworth to refill up on some red meat.  After stuffing ourselves we decided to finish the day off with our first visit to Banks Pond and we were pleasantly suprised to find Little Grebes plus young uns.  We also saw many damsel and dragon flies, several butterflies, heard a grasshopper warbler and watched some rather largish hover flies flitting around.
We did see 6 different species of butterfly which I recognised (WOW) but unfortunately this one didnt ring a bell until glancing through Tims blog and I now suspect it is a Large Skipper.
Well that was it for the day, retired to the Garden, sat in the lounger and watched the birds.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Breamish and Harthope

Thursday, Carole and I headed up to Breamish and Harthope Valleys.  First thing we came across was this very young bullock standing in the middle of the road, Caroles first words were "nice earrings" in a non commital voice (now she is not known for her humour and her idea of top comedy was watching Mr Pastry in slapstick mode) I didn't reply as when a man dosen't know what to say to a lady silence is best way.
We saw 39 species during our visit including 4 Red-Legged Partridge, what looked like a family group of 7 Common Sandpiper, 2 Dippers, a couple of Spotted Flycatcher, Raven (some great views through the scope and a lifer for both of us), Stonechat and Grey Wagtail.  Myself and another chap standing next to me both thought we saw a Pied Flycatcher but I wasnt sure and when he said he had only been birding for 5-6years so couldnt be positive either (just cos someone looks like an old knacker (me) dosen't mean he knows a lot and has been at it a long time).  Anyway now the boring bit, a few pics of a great day.  First of all a couple of distant Red-Legged Partridge
Some better shots of the Common Sandpiper, they split up a lot but always came back together as a group but too far away for a group shot.

Inevitable there were plenty of opportunities to watch the Swallows, although I have chose some stationary shots for a change.

Whilst we were sitting in our mobile camoflagued shelter (the car) watching some Spotted Flycatchers a Chaffinch hopped onto the passenger side window and just sat there for at least 3mins just looking around then just flew off.
Havent had a Robin picture on here for a while so here is one of Carole's
Now for that well known competition "Spot The Ball Stonechat"

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Trip Round The Garden (and the Derwent)

A few shots from the Garden from the last few days.  The first one shows a Blackbird sitting on our Rotary Clothes Dryer.  The Beloved made me buy one for her about 4 years ago, I think it had clothes on it a couple of times in the first year, since then it has become a Rotary Hangout for the birds of the street.  I have personally seen over 50 mixed types of birds there at the same time.
We tend to see quite a few Swifts between 16-1700 each day lately although they dont normally come as low as this one
We put out bread for the Magpies who pick it up take it to one of the Water Bowls for a bit of dunking, leave it there for about a minute then fly off with it.  Sometimes though the other members of the various clans in the garden whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs have a go at a bit of pilfering.
Next is this occassional visitor to the Garden, lets hope it comes a bit more often and brings some of his mates to serenade us.

We have an Allsorts tray in which anything goes and normally within a couple of minutes the Gulls are there, especially the Herring Gulls followed by the Lesser Black Backed Gulls.  I think this one was rice and potatoes.
Life outside the Garden goes on as well, a trip up the Derwent area with Carole who spotted most of the birds first and then I identified them (LOL).  We saw Dippers, Goosander, Pied Wagtail, and many others including this Grey Wagtail (No matter how bad, any pic of a Grey Wagtail is a good one).
Good views of a Jay and some decentish pics for a change

Dont they look like "Mario the Plumber"

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Wife Tries Her Hand at Insect Photography

Saturday afternoon managed to drive through the Teesdale/Weardale area after visiting relatives in Darlington with the beloved saying how come it takes 45mins to get to Darlington and 3hrs 20mins to get back.  Anyway she was quite happy as the first birds we got some great views of was Red Grouse.  Of course she was more interested in the little fluffy bundles that were running round near the road with Mammy and Daddy observing from a discreet distance.
There were also several Curlews, Lapwings and Oystercatchers around although the Curlews tend to keep their distance
We then stopped off at Low Barns for a quick walk round where a couple of Nuthatches kept us entertained for 5 mins in the Feeding Station along with the usual occupants.
And this gorgeous (well soon to be) young tit
Also came across this Moth (I think it is anyway) which was on the outside window of one of the hides but couldnt get a good pic as the beloveds macro camera had decided it needed more power from Mr Duracell and they were in the car
Finally on the way out there was a mole trying to climb the kerb but it kept falling off so gave it a helping hand into the wood.
Although I said "Finally" my beloved just reminded me that she had taken a few pics before the Duracells Died so here are a couple of her David Baileys which whilst I am pretty crap at Bird IDs my insectty thingie IDs stands at GCSE Grade U
I think this is a Speckled Wood
Common Blue Damselfly
No idea on this one
Some sort of Hoverfly
Initially thought this was a 4 Spotted Chaser but the colours dont look right then changed my mind completely and came up with Emerald Damselfly then realised it isnt Emerald(ish) so god knows

Friday, 18 June 2010

Kittiwakes Doing Well

Thursday and an early morning walk across the Tyne Bridge to see how the Kittiwakes are getting on.  There are quite a few chicks around although there is quite a few Kittiwakes still sitting on eggs.   As you walk across the bridge some of them are sticking their heads out between the balustrades offering one some wonderful views.

The chicks just look absolutely stunning.

The eyes on the adult are just awesome.

Standing on the Bridge also enables you to see some great flight action

Also a few iconic shots of Newcastle which I never tire of seeing, first the Millenium Bridge,
then the Sage
and finally St Nicholas Cathedral