Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Week At A Glance

A few pictures from the past week starting with a couple of Coal Tits from the little Feeding Station outside my office. 

Unfortunately on Thursday some delightful people and I use that term loosely decided to pinch 4 of the feeders that I had just replenished and leave the 1 empty Nut Feeder.  Its the first time in over a year that anything has gone missing so just pinning my hopes that it was some F****ing Idiot passing through so that when I put some new ones up on  Monday they might stay.   The funny thing about it was that at least 6 people told me they had been pinched so it just proves a point that some people do take notice.  2 of them I found actually put food down in the bushes themselves.  Next to appear was this really appalingly dressed Dunnock

We had several Blue Tits knocking around also

In Big Waters this lovely GSWoodpecker popped in for a little while and hung around flitting between Peanut Feeders.

One of the record count of Gadwalls this week which just increased today to 14 after several recounts and them eventually all coming out of the reeds and nooks and gulleys but we still reckon there are more to come.

In the Feeding Station the ever delightful Tree Sparrows  are all over the place.

Today 99 Greylags landed on the lake although when Alan and I walked round we noticed that they had been joined by a few more and a very distant count showed at least 110 but by the time we got round to the bottom of the lake they were up and away, I did get a quick shot of and counted the ones that I got in which was 87 but we could still hear a few on the lake.

Took this pic of a Hawker this week on Wednesday but not quite sure which one it is

Finally 11 Partridge all in a line walking up the side of one of the fields (cute)

The other bad news of the week was my Nikon D5000, only 6 months old decided to die on me, just no power at all.  Off it went to Currys this afternoon with a promise of 2-4 weeks to repair.  So its now back to the trusty D70 (sorry Carole) and my beloved is downgraded to the Fuji Coolpix 18x Zoom which I think she secretly prefers

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Foxes at Big Waters

Had some great views of the foxes at Big Waters a couple of days ago, unfortunately, as usual, the camera didn't get as good as views as I did.  I think they are 2 different foxes even though they only appeared about 1hr apart.   The one on the scrape didn't seem to be worrying the ducks and geese and the Greylags all swam to within 8-10ft from the middle of the pond.  It stayed there for about 10mins

Prior to the above this slightly younger looking fox appeared in the Feeding Station and just wandered around for 10mins.   There was 10 female pheasants who arranged themselves into a semi-circle and just followed the fox around.  There was chaffinches feeding on the ground also although the Moorhens did scarper quite fast

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Med Gull - Patch Tick at Big W

 Saturday 0500 and the sky looks quite clear with stars blinking away, get ready, make breakfast and check emails then 0700 look out the window and it is hissing down (the lying bloody BBC/Met Office).  I'm ready so might as well go to Big Waters.  On arrival bump into another regular, Willy, arriving in the Car Park and when we get there another 4 are already there, John B, Keith, Alan and a chap from Keighley in Yorkshire (why the hell come all the way up here asks I, Kingfishers says he, dont know much about birds but suspect there are better places twixt the 2 places).  Anyway the wind is blowing hard, the rain is belting in the windows, its bloody freezing, the light is crap but I suppose its better than staying in the house.  In between the squalls the Otter made its first appearance of the day.  In the Feeding Station it was faring a bit better as it was quite protected a Reed Bunting was flitting around along with the usual suspects:

Eventually the others apart from John B left to get some Breakfast and then Alan J arrived completely soaked and within 10mins the weather started to ease.  Eventually we got down to some proper counting and although I had spotted 7 Gadwalls, Alan managed to turn it into 9, which he informed me was an all time record for Big Waters and then 20 mins later another couple seemed to appear so we both did another count and definitely 11 (5 Male, 6 Female).  Alan then spotted a sleeping Gull on the island and thought it might be a Med so we hot-footed it down to the other hide to get a better view.  Sure enough it was a Med Gull with a coloured ring with 3 letters which was a year tick for the patch.  

We then returned to the other hide and observed several flocks of Greylag one, landing on the North Field and 2 joining together and landing on the water.

The Feeding Station had got rather quiet whilst we were away and sure enough the cause was spotted being chased by a Magpie

Even though the weather had been crap to say the least it had been rather a good morning and just as a parting gesture it decided to really brighten up when we closed the door to make our way back to the Car Park

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Non Pallas Pour Moi

Sunday and went to Cresswell as the weather, whilst bitterly cold, was quite sunny and could possibly afford some decent photograpy chances but unfortunately nothing came too close so had to rely on slightly distant shots which seemed to turn out OK.  The sandbar on Cresswell pond was showing quite well and attracting quite a few species, including a couple of Curlew Sandpipers, a few Golden Plover and loads of Lapwings.

There were several skeins of Geese over although this one was by far the biggest and eventually wheeled round and put down less than 1km from the pond.

After doing a Bird Feed replenishment run to Laverock Farm I shot off down to St Marys and after parking up at the cemetery I was "picked up" and dropped off at the toilet block by no other than the infamous Liver Birder.  He informed me that a Pallas Warbler had just been seen, so on and and off for the next few hours I watched for it getting at least 3 glances of less than 4 seconds each and a few "there it goes" and pointed fingers so unfortunately in my eyes it goes down as a wait and see it properly non tick.  Spent an hour down on the prom watching the birds being pushed closer by the incoming tide.  Once again Golden Plovers, although this time they were the dominant bird looking absolutely glorious in the sun.

Bumped into Segedunum Warbler and chewed the fat then had another wander round returning again to play "Find the Pallas" but ended up having a wander round the cemetery.  A Mealy Redpoll did appear and keep the crowd entertained on and off during the day with the odd appearance of a Goldcrest pretending to be a Pallas and keeping the audience on their toes - actually it was quite a nice day

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Gorgeous Sanderling

Saturday morning and back to the normal routine of Big Waters. Great views of the Kingfisher and Sparrowhawk as usual and the rest of the views of the birds would have been better but the guy with the over and under shooty shooty bang bang, at 0700, who was in the bottom of the North Field next to the water doing his One or Two for the Pot thing and just about everthing dissappeared for a while, filtering back in dribs and drabs. It was the coldest morning of the Autumn so far so was glad to have a full flask of tea to keep me warm. After a wander round with Alan J I went to St Marys where I spent a couple of hours in the North Bay with the Sanderling and Turnstones running round my feet. I just walked into the corner after a dog had put all the birds up then stood and waited and withing 5mins they were all back coming within 10ft of me. Took quite a few shots of the Sanderling so heres a few:

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Monday Mostly Work, Tuesday All Birding

Tuesday and managed to get a day off work so shot off to Big Waters for a couple of hours and even at 06:55 as I walked past the newly sown fields I could see plenty of birds feeding including Finches and a couple of Brambling.  On opening the shutters in the hide a Kingfisher was sitting on one of its perches and stayed there for nearly 10mins even with my attempt at stealth so as not to disturb it.  John B arrived about 45mins later and had only been there a couple of mins when it returned again with just enough light and a big twist of the ISO button to enable a records shot.   Keith (him of "I got Bird of the Week Pic on Birdguides") arrived and after about half an hours banter we headed down to St Marys for a look at the Red Flanked Blue Tail expecting it to be a bit quieter than at the weekend, oh how foolish were we, the first "busload" of approx 40 arrived just 5 mins after we got there but what the hell all they were doing was what we were.   Once again it put on a great display but after 15mins we headed off for a walk round, still a few Goldcrests knocking around, a couple of Redstarts, a Whinchat and a couple of Wheatears in the Gully.  The other 2 left but I went for another wander and ended up in the cemetery where good views of a Yellow Brow and a Redpoll were had.  I then popped down to The Haven but the only thing of interest was a couple of Siskins still feeding in the bushes at the end of the peer and watching Mary release a Gull which had been injured by a Fishing Hook.   I eventually arrived home at just before 6 where my beloved had been tidying up the Garden (I struck gold there) and prepared me a lovely dinner.

A few pics from Monday at work and Tuesday out and about.

Dunnock early morning whilst replenishing Feeding Station at Work

Goldcrest - forgot to change settings from Morning Morning
Early Morning Beauty at a very high ISO
Redstart at St Marys

Red Flanked Blue Tail at St Marys

Mealy Redpoll at St Marys Cemetery

Yellow Browed Warbler at the Cemetery

Yellow Browed Warbler at St Marys Cemetery

Monday, 11 October 2010

Weekend Glories

Saturday and not quite sure where to go to first, so eventually plumped for the closest, The Haven Tynemouth.  Arrived there and it was still very dark so whilst chatting to a fisherman the Great Grey Shrike - Lifer - made an appearance on the wall next to the pier entrance, good view but unfortunately a bit too dull for pics but I tried anyway and even when you know they are going to be sh*te you still feel dissappointed when they are.  Next tick was "Liver Birder" who hung around with an ever increasing audience for the Raddes which eventually morphed into a Dusky Warbler - Lifer 2 - and throwing my expert (LOL) opinion into the ring I agree with the latter (once again if you want to see decent pics see John Malloys), unfortunately Liver Birder did not get to see it as the North Tyneside Money Making Macines (Parking Meters) required feeding and as he correctly predicted as he left it would appear in the next few minutes and so it did.   There was lots of Goldcrests also (as there was everywhere) and plenty of Siskins just dropping in and gorging themselves on thistles completely oblivious to the weirdly dressed folk pointing big black and grey things at them.  A Ring Ouzel also gave a quick fly past.

News came on several pagers announcing a Red-Flanked Bluetail at Newbiggin so after 10mins I was on my way, with the car now full with 3 passengers.  Next time I go somewhere with "Tony", you know who you are remember my little legs do not go as fast as my car.  Unfortunately we dipped although I did get to see a photo (Thanks Alan Tilmouth) so I would know what I was looking for if it did actually appear, also a Male Peregrine soared over quite low.  Had to go and pick the beloved up so after a swift meal at Sambucas on the Fish Quay it was off Tynemouth and St Mary.  Now I had an extra pair of eyes (the wife) she was onto a few birds quite quickly, a Redstart, Blackcap but we were captivated by the Goldcrests, a bird I have been trying to get a pic of for over 2 years and now they were everywhere. 

Next morning back to St Marys to try and see the Red Breasted Flycatcher but as I wandred across the Car Park a car pulled up and as I was the only one there this chap asked me where the Blue Tail was, Newbiggin says I (chatted for 2 mins and realised that there was actually 2 and I hadnt been paying attention to Bird Guides - might have to get one of those pager thingies after all NO NO NO).  Any way within an hour we were having great views of it thanks to John M (so that was Lifer 3 of the weekend).   Decided I couldn't go a full weekend without a visit to Big Waters so off I went.  On the fields walking to the hide there was quite a couple of sizeable flock of Birds which included Linnets, Chaffinches and a few Bramblings, the place was very quite compared to the mass of Birders and Public roaming round St Marys and The Haven.  So 30 mins peace and quiet with Alan J and Ian D was bliss and then a very slow walk back to the cars which took the best part of an hour whilst trying to count the birds on the newly sown fields.

Back to pick the wife up for another meal (Steak and Chips for me and Fajitas for her in Killingworth) then off back to St Marys to see what else had dropped in.  Once again ticking Liver Birder and Mrs LB, no Im not stalking you but having said that managed to get bits of himself in several pics including this nice shot of a well turned out left leg with an impudent little Goldcrest causing it to be out of focus.

After getting some more great views of the Blue Tail then wandering around viewing a Shorteared Owl over the fields,  Redwings in the Wetlands, a Wheatear and Rock Pippit in the Gully and lots of others and no matter what you saw within spitting distance (disgusting saying but a stones throw was too far) was a Robin and about 3 or 4 Goldcrests.  

Then thanks to a tip from LB off we went to Knotts Flats for the most unusual viewing of a bird over the weekend, a Shore Lark which just paraded up and down on some grass right outside the flats/houses and when people walked past or dogs jumped around it just moved out the way then walked right back, it was extremely surreal.

Well heres a few pics I took over the weekend.

Blackcap at St Marys

Red Flanked Blue Tail at St Marys

Siskin at The Haven
Rock Pippit whoops Meadow Pippit at The Haven
A Hard Looking Blackcap at St Marys
An Unbelievable Cute Looking Goldcrest at The Haven
Goldcrest at St Marys

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Saturday at Big Waters

If its Saturday its Big Waters.   Plenty knocking around early morning including 7 Snipe, 50+ Wigeon, 50+ Teal but only about 30 Mallards.   The normal "residents" were there including the Otter which paid an early morning visit indicated by about 30 Black Headed Gulls mobbing it, even so it stayed and fished for nearly 30 mins.    A fly through by the Kingfisher meant no pics for Keith and Allan, although Keith did get some great shots of one of a pair of Green Sandpipers that dropped in for a few secs, unfortunately I didn't.   Other drop ins to the pond included c20 Pochard, 3 Canadas, 4 Greylag and 18 Lapwing.  A Juvenile and 3 Adult Mute Swans dropped in seperately and withina few secs the pair of Mute Swans on the lake saw them off.   Alan J and Susan arrived a bit later and after a further 45mins in the hide in which a Water Rail was on view for a short while and 5 Skylarks flew over, we went for a walk round, although there was not a lot to be seen apart from quite a few Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters.   Back at the Public End a flock of 20+ Siskin made a good viewing experience on the treetops, also a few views of the Kingfisher looking for a snack.  Altogether a total of 53 Species seen.

Sunrise over Big Waters
Even shooting into the Sun gives some nice effects

The "Aah" isn't it a pretty shot from the beloved

Happy Landings

One of the many Siskins from Saturday

Wind got up a bit spoiling the reflection shot