Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Seems like ages since I blogged, its work, enjoying myself birding, sorting out the pics, reading other peoples blogs and doing the "odd" little chore for the beloved.  Most of my time recently has been spent at my local haunts, Shibdon (in the hide mainly for a change) and Big Waters with an odd stop at Lamesley.  Shibdon has been teeming with birds and birders for the last couple of weeks but the Spotted Crake/Crakes still keep their distance.  The Little Egrets reached a peak of 6 but the last 3 days have been down to 3.  A few waders have turned up also, Greenshanks, Redshanks, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper and Spotted Redshanks.  Heres a couple of pics of some of the above mentioned
2 Greenshanks coming into land
2 of the Little Egret who seem to feed for about 15mins in one spot then shoot of to another
One of the Snipes directly under the hide
Green Sandpiper getting close enough for a snap

Also becoming more and more frequent are the Kingfishers.  On several occasions there have been 2 together sitting on the same bunch of perches.   They also have a strange habit of fishing from a raised lip on the ground which is only 3-4inches high.
Both of these sat for 10mins without fishing then just flew off
Successful catch from just outside the hide
Bit blurred but I just love the water flying off from the Kingfishers head
Fishing from the mud bank (never seen this before) only a few inches above the water
Another successful catch (wonder how many sticklebacks make a meal)

Friday, 27 August 2010

Wonderful Woody

Managed to get to Shibdon every morning this week before work for 1 to 2 hrs and despite seeing 6 Little Egrets, 3 Green Sandpipers, 2 Greenshanks, Spotted Crake, Garganey, Female Mandarin, god knows how many Water Rail, countless views of the Kingfisher and the hundreds of other birds that "hang out" or pass through there, the highlight was once again the smiling face of the wife when she handed me the camera on Friday and said have a look through my latest bunch of pics.  Sure enough there was a Garden Lifer
There is always that little extra feeling when your own little plot throws up another tick (this being No 35).  Other notable views of the week in the Garden was the Sparrowhawk on 3 occassions but only succeeding on 1,  the return of at least 5 Goldfinches after a couple of months absence, the Juvenile Lesser Black Backed Gull sliding down the roof several times a day and having to fly off instead of stopping near the gutter like his mother/father does with ease and having a dig in it looking for a delicacy.
Anyway a few pics from Shibdon this week.

Finally a shot from the office across the Redheugh Bridge on Thursday morning when the mist was rolling along the Tyne Valley.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Sometime Soon My Picture Upload Will Work Properly

More good weather this weekend despite the BBC telling me it wasn't going to be. Hadn't looked at the forecasts since Thursday so when I arrived at Big Waters early morning the sweat was already rolling down me from the clothes and amount of gear I was carrying. Never mind there is always plenty of room to put your stuff down there along with hangers. When we arrived the first thing that was shoved in front of our faces was a camera showing a Water Rail along with a comment about it was here until it heard you walking along the boardwalk (some mention was made of my delicate tones). Actually I felt guilty and saw his point for about 30 secs then we started taking the mickey out of each other again. It was a beautiful morning and I wonder how he got the pic of the Water Rail as this was taken about 5 mins after we arrived.
At least 2 Greater Spotted Woodpeckers put in an appearance during the morning and instead of heading straight for the Peanut Feeders they both did a bit of posing first.
After checking the Great Crested Grebes a few times at last the 2 Adults and 2 Juveniles were all in view and just then another 2 Juveniles (although much more advanced than the resident 2) circled the lake and landed. They never got close to each other but no animosity was shown at all and they were still there when I left (fingers crossed)..  
Still quite a few Willow Warblers around despite the SparrowHawk trying at least twice to reduce the number. The Sparrowhawk always seems to come in the same way heading directly for the area where the Warblers and Chiff Chaffs congregate but havent seen them get one yet.
Thanks to Alan's contribution a few years ago of a designer drinking receptacle (dustbin lid) and John D occassionally washing it out several species now use it. The picture shows a Greenfinch and a couple of Tree Sparrows (for those that don't recognise the species) having a drink/splash around.
As we left the hide just after midday with the sun shining unfamiliarly (is there such a word and cant be arsed to spellcheck it) a lovely Peacock Butterfly and a Common Darter were tanning themselves on the handrails.
Finally can someone tell me what this tree/bush is. The thought was a species of Hawthorn as there is hawthorn either side and the leaves are quite similar if a bit darker but this one has never flowered/bloomed/berried or are the little growths on it as good as it gets. If Phil reads this I was gonna send you an email as I suspect that you will know what it is but couldn't find your email. Or is there an Ornithilogical Consultant and Naturalist out there who might know ???????
As some of my many fans will notice I have changed the Blog Format yet again, this is to accommodate the problems of uploading photos as I get "Server Rejected" so many times I have lost count and have to change settings continously.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Tuesday and All Is Well In The World

Tuesday morning at Shibdon before work arriving at 06.00.  First bird on view was the Kingfisher and it was to return several times enabling me to get a couple of shots through the drizzle.
Was there originally to see the Spotted Crake (again) and was rewarded with views of Water Rails, Little Egrets, Greenshank, Snipe, Shelduck, Sparrowhawk and the Crake put in several appearances.  Not even a bad record shot of the Crake but if you look closely at the blob in the centre just beside the edge of the reeds I assure you with hand on my heart that the blob is the Spotted Crake
On Monday I had arranged to take Tuesday afternoon off and head up to Druridge to catch a view of
"The Sykes Warbler" but after checking Bird Guides and not wanting to waste an afternoon I headed to Big Waters.  Lots of friends there and a few birds.  I had seen fleeting glimpses of a Redstart at Prestwick Carr earlier on in the year but got some great views today after all the members of the hide directed me towards it  as I had misheard the first directions and was looking completely in the wrong place (not the first time and definitely not the last)
Finally the most common of the Dragonflies a Common Darter but was really pleased with the pic as it is the best Dragonfly one I have taken so far.   Well for some reason it wont let me upload any more pics, never thought the blog might be intelligent and dosent believe I can take a decent pic so wont let me upload it to embarass myself

Monday, 16 August 2010

Great Weekend

Saturday spent the whole day at Big Waters, the weather (once again) felt like Autumn.  One of the Otters was out when we arrived (06.30) and was around for the next 4hrs.   A couple of Greenshanks put in an appearance and paraded up and down the developing scrape for a short while.  The Sparrowhawks made several appearances silencing the Feeding Station for 10 mins at a time. 
The following photo is a bit strange.  On the way out one of the guys spotted these marks on a tree and they went all the way up (at least 15ft) alternating about 1ft apart.  Various knowledgeable guys have been consulted but only one conclusion has been reached so if anyone would like to chip in a thought please feel free to and see if it matches what the others think.
Sunday went for a drive round quite a few places as it was drizzling and had forgot to put a waterproof in the car.  Places visited included Bothal, Longhirst Flash (only to find out it has now dissappeared behind a big comples? with 10-15ft mounds all around it), Newbiggin then a trip to Laverock Farm to stock up on bird food then headed onto Big Waters via Arcot.   Keith (this weeks Bird of the Week Pic Winner Fame) was just leaving telling me the Greenshanks had already been and gone.  Spotted a couple of juvenile Blackcaps and the Mother on the way in but camera was in bag protecing it from the constant drizzle.  When I got there it was quiet for an hour then a Otter put in an appearance, another Greenshank turned up and a few more birders then several people shouted at the same time as 2 Otters bounded across the scrape.  Camera of course was well out of reach.   After a couple of hours headed to Lamesley, but on leaving Big Waters the Butterflies were out in their hundreds and the sun had put in an appearance at last, where there was a Ruff but right at the back of the Water Meadows.  I wandered round the lanes for a while not spotting anything unusual but its just so full of life round there that you never get bored.  Then thought an hour at Shibdon before heading home.  Was I suprised when I got to the hide and there was standing room only.  Quick enquiry as to what everyone was looking for and Spotted Crake was the answer and immediately seen.  Great view through the scope along with 2 Adult and 2 Juvenile Water Rail, Green Shank, Green Sandpiper, 5 Little Egrets and a couple of Snipe thrown in for good measure.  Overshot my 1hr by 2hrs then headed home an extremely happy chappy only to find on BirdGuides when I got home another Warbler that I had never heard of up at Druridge.  A few pics from the day. 
3 Gorgeous Whites sunning themselves and within eyesight I could see at least 50+ more
Small Coppers
Wall Brown
All Butterflies at Big Waters
Black Headed Gull mobbing the Otter or possible trying to steal its catch at Big Waters
Doves in formation over Wideopen (there were 8 of them)
Greenshank at Shibdon Pond

Little Egrets at Shibdon Pond
Went back to Shibdon Pond this morning, Spotted Crake showed well for 20 mins then moved into the reeds, 4 Adult and Juvenile Water Rail and 1 Greenshank were also seen along with the staying Little Egrets and a couple more snipe

Friday, 13 August 2010

A Garden Lifer !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday morning and a quick 30 mins before work on the Tyne just a bit east of the Newcastle Business Park.   The tide was quite low and the mud was packed with birds.  At least 30 Curlews were in view, without using my binoculars, Lapwings galore especially on the South side, about 25+ Redshanks and a couple of Shellducks.   A couple of Grey Herons flew west along the river with 1 Common Tern having a go at both of them.  The rest of the mud was taken up with Gull, Glorious Gulls many of them juvenile but just too many to count.   Haven't seen any Teal or Mallards, with the exception of a solitary Teal on Monday which I flushed whilst walking along the Wooden Jetty. Just a couple of pics.

Would have taken more but was concentrating for 10 mins on trying to get a decent shot of a Blacked Back soaring, god knows why as the light was bloody awful.  Thursday morning and a trip up to Kibblesworth and a walk along the lanes, light was a tad better this time, lots of Goldfinches and Long Tailed Tits flitting about and then spotted a Kestrel who looked as though he was having forty winks.   Carried along the lane and got a couple of distant shot whilst he stayed perched for over 30 mins as I meandered up and down the lanes. 
You get some great views from Kibblesworth which my equipment, expertise and picking the wrong time of day to take the photographs does not do them justice but heres' one anyway
Friday morning 0500 and its fairly hissing down.  Off for an hour in Shibdon.  Made it from the car to the hide in record time swerving between the raindrops.   There were 5 Little Egrets on the pond, I had only ever seen 4 before although they never all came together.  

Also present were at least 3 Snipe quite close to the hide but all in different places, normally I find they stick together but not this morning.

The trees on the island were full of Cormorants and the scrapes were packed with Juvenile Moorhens.  Also had 10 mins of delight when 3 Dunnock chicks stood in a line with one of the adults rushing back and forward feeding them.  The juveniles did not move once but just stood stock still and waited and they didn't even have an umbrella to keep them dry.  A couple of Yellow Wagtails put in an appearance and a couple of Pied also.   Lots of Grey Herons around constantly moving due to being mobbed by the Terns.  Then George S arrive and we chewed the fat for about 45mins before I had to shoot off to work.  Lunch time and the phone rang, wife reporting in saying she was watching a Garden Tick, our first ever
She insisted on using this photograph which was shot through double glazing from upstairs, pouring rain and about 10m away with her Finepix.  She was ecstatic, a cute GREY Squirrel in her garden.  It came back 3 times in about a 4hrs period.   O Joyous Delight, I wonder how many of it friends it will eventually bring.  I have never seen a squirrel round here, not even on the Wagonways, reckon they are sneaking through the new Tyne Tunnel   LOL

Monday, 9 August 2010

Big Waters (Again)

Spent most of the weekend at Big Waters (all Saturday and Sunday 6-2) and what a super time.  Plenty of birds and plenty of company, all of it good.   The first pic is a Little Grebe, one of 4 that is presently circumnavigating the lake.
Next another Little Grebe having a good old shake
Next up on the catwalk is the delightful Willow Warbler which seem to be one of the most prolific species around Big Waters atm
I feel a deja vu coming on here as the next pics are of a Reed Warbler and this post seems to remind me of my last one.  Watched the Reed Warbler take 2 White Butterflies then scoff them down hidden in the reeds and only come up to try and catch more. 
This next pic shows it searching for another one with a tidbit of the last one still visible on its beak
On Sunday morning arrived early and as I opened the window a Kingfisher flew by.   It was to put in an appearance 7 times over the next 3 hours perching for up to 15mins at a time, unfortunately for the other avid Kingfisher watchers I was the only one there for its first 6 visits.
Dropped into Gosforth Park for an hour, lots of people around because of the Newcomers Day but still managed to see a couple of Deer very near the entrance, and an hour in the Pyle hide was very relaxing.  The Swans were having a stretch finishing their run up just in front of the hide with some great views.