Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Last Few Days

Arrived home from work on Thursday to yet again be shown a series of pics taken by my beloved of a female Sparrowhawk.  It just sat there for about 5minutes then shot off, obviously just checking out the lay of the land as the hedge to the left is where about 40 House Sparrows spend a lot of their life.

Then it just flew off through the feeders in the garden

A walk round an unusual quiet Shibdon (Boardwalk still locked) produced some Bee Orchids (if you want good pics of Bee Orchids then check out these at SedgedunumWarbler ) and the Goats Beard which is quite a looker.

Where the Derwent joins the Tyne is normally quite productive although only a Curlew, couple of Common Terns, lots of Gulls and a pair of Ringed Plover were the only things to be seen

Saturday was spent at Big Waters and for change I was bitten a few times by the unbelievable amount of "mossies" that decided to drop in during the morning, thankfully they vanished for the second half of the day.  A couple of Emperors did put in an appearance for a while although always keeping to the edge of the reeds.  Watched a pair of Black Headed Gulls and Coots doing a bit of "Hot Nesting" where they kept sitting on the nest for 20mins each then changing round.  I suspect that the Coots (the ones who hold the mortgage and had been sitting there a while) were kicked out by the Gulls after their eggs although no sign of any smashed eggs could be seen. 

Aren't Blackcaps GORGEOUS
Gosforth on Sunday and with some good company and great crack a lot of the time was spent trying to catch Reed Warblers catching Flying "Thingies".  I was going to put up one of my valiant efforts but when I saw this one that Keith had got I decided not to bother

A 4 Spotted Chaser posed for pictures a few times just outside the hide.

The Little Grebes were present again and they are definitely the most enchanting of "ducks"

Had a walk round the reserve but by the time I had finished I had to head home for a change of "swimming costume" as I was absolutely soaked.  I think the rest of the reserve was tucked away in the shade as all I managed to see was 4 species of butterflies, 1 solitary deer and heard the odd call of a bird.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Swifts, Swallow and Martins

I have been trying to get better shots of Swifts, Swallows and Martins in early morning sessions so here a selection from "many" of the shots that I have taken and practically the same amount deleted.  I think the following shot of the Swift is quite good.

This shot of a Swallow, whilst technically bloody awful, has a nice feel about it

A Sand Martin  coasting along at a slightly slower speed than the Swifts and Swallows.

This Swallow is a bit sharper as it was coming into land on a wire fence.

and this is where it alighted swiftly followed by 2 of its mates

This Swallow was very low and I was a bit higher up on the bank of a pond enabling me to get a better pic.

Not brilliant but I seem to be getting a bit better anticipating likely shots.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Yorks and Lincs (4 Days Old - Forgot to press Publish Post)

Carole and I headed down to Yorkshire and Lincolnshire for a few days for our Wedding Anniversary.  We visited Blacktoft Sands, North Cave, Far Ings and Fairburn Ings.  The weather stayed dry but overcast at times but we still had a great time.   Blacktoft was a great place with many species.  The Black Tailed Godwit in fantastic plumage with the brick red looking amazing in the sun kept doing a couple of circuits of the pool then landing in the shallow pond then off again.

There was a load of Avocets on the reserve, at least 40+ most of them defending their territory very tenaciously.  Then there was the Marsh Harriers and when I saw at one stage 6 in the air at the same time time I was absolutely flabbergasted, when one went over to the pool where the Black Headed Gulls and Avocets were there was absolute mayhem which the Harrier seemed impervious to and just carried on flying.

 At another pool were 4 Spotted Redshanks in their glorious black plumage.

Other birds seen were Spoonbills (must be related to the ones up at Cresswell as they seemed to sleep the same amount of time), Little Egrets, Greenshanks, a Cuckoo was heard and seen down the western end of the reserve with 6 Hares and a Fox.   Up at North Cave the place was filled with birds and their young.  We did see a Wood Sandpiper and thought it must be a regular but later on we were informed it was probably as uncommon as it is up here.

At Far Ings there is some absolutely spectacular views of the Humber Bridge and even more great views of the numerous Warblers that abound throughout the Reserve.  We even managed to spot a Wood Warbler but didnt get any pics unfortunately unlike the guy standing 10m to our right who got some unbelievable ones

We only had a short time at Fairburn Ings on our return trip but it seems like a place I will no doubt visit again.  The chap on the desk gave us a map and sketched a quick route as we said we only had about an hour and he was adamant that we would see Kingfishers as they pop in every 10 mins or so (have heard that one before) so when we reached the screen and looked through there was a Kingfisher which flew off after 2 secs so we thought at least it was a note for the  books but a couple there said if you stay or come back there will be another along in a few mins, so we stayed and sure enough a couple of mins later it came back.  We then went for a walk and when we returned and looked through the screen just in time to see another one land on a stick about 10m away.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Last Weekends Visit to Teeside

At last the Internet is working fully again and have a few minutes to put fingers on keyboard.  Last Weekend I had a trip down to Teeside with John A (Segedunum Warbler) where we had a good wander round the many nooks and crannies that are down there. We had quite a full day seeing many things but a few things that stuck out  were finding a flock of 10 or so young Long Tailed Tits which  kept us entertained for about 15 mins flitting round a small copse.

In Saltholme there was quite a few damselfly around although this stick held 4 in a row.

As John stated in his blog the star of the day was the Pectoral Sandpiper which we had some great views of but by the time we got to see it the light had taken a very bad turn for the worse which also prevented us from going for a quick spin round Cowpen Bewley. 

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Rising Sun

Early Morning wanders at the Rising Sun Reserve on a sunny morning should be mandatory for all BOFs like myself.   The amount of Wrens around at the moment is phenomenal and every few yards down the track a different one is singing marking out their territory with young ones flitting around also.

Always at the top of the bushes the Greenfinches pound out their strange sounding song which always reminds me of someone with a cold.  Mind you the colours of them especially with the low sun in the mornings is astounding.

At Dukes Pond the proliferation of Swifts is spectacular yet despite spending a lot of time taking pictures and an even bigger amount of time deleting the following are the best I could manage.  p.s  was there this morning also having another go

Also looking like its been dunked a few times in a dipping pool is this Blackcap (think it is anyway)

Finally the Stag is getting more stunning even though it spends a bit of time moving around away from the dog-walkers who I have seen twice in the past week climb over the fence into the horse fields then take their 6 Beagle-ish looking hounds into the field disturbing the Stag and the horses, the dogs also crapping all over the place.

Will post the weekends stuff later as my machine at home is playing up and have to get the MCSE engineer out (one of the sons) to show me where the on and off switches are (I remember teaching him everything he knew about computers at one stage of his life LOL now when I ask him a question (normally a stupid one) he is ever so patient)

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Gosforth To Hartlepool

At Gosforth last weekend I had some great views of several Little Grebes

Looks like Male Sticklebacks were the main course for adults

These 2 young Little Grebes kept appearing but were always chased off by the adult Little Grebes although they were smaller.  Note the one in the background with its long neck which when side by side was much longer than the adults also.  Suppose its a bit like when Peter (Crouchy) and I go out for a drink

Then there was the Reed Warblers which I never get sick of seeing or hearing

I did get down to Hartlepool but thankfully missed the Ladders Fiasco and walked into a well behaved twitch of about 50 in the kind Doctors Garden in beautiful sunlight.  20mins later after several good views the skies opened for a torrential downpour.  Stepped into the garage then came out when it stopped.  If only all viewing of birds was as easy as this, but then again there would be no challenge but an occasional one like this is quite good.   I wont bore you with my "pin sharp" shots of the Robin but havent seen many flight shots so heres one (LOL)

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Big Waters (for a change)

Very early Friday morning and went for a walk around Big Waters.  Too early for Mr Nikon to be of any use so it stayed in the bag for the first part of my walk.  A Green Woodpecker spotted at a distance, stopped and watched but as soon as I took another step away it went.  A couple of Chiff Chaffs and a Willow Warbler calling from their usual spots still makes me stop every time and try to locate them, today I managed just the 1 Chiff Chaff as the first part of the journey is always into the Sun.   2 Canada Geese and a chick sat on the bank as I strolled by and just had to take a very bad pic of them (why cant the camera see what I see!!!!)

As I strolled along the Mallards and Coots were in their usual places, a Grey Heron broke cover from the reeds and flew up towards the Lake, even though it knows it will be disturbed as this is the main route for the walkers it still goes there every day waiting for the first walker to stroll by.   Eventually turning towards the East on the circular route gave me a chance to warm Mr Nikon up with a few shots of wild flowers and a couple of scenic shots including this serene lakeside view, with a Common Tern the only thing in view and the glass like features were due to a complete absence of wind. 

On Saturday morning up to the hides where the unusual site of a pair of Bullfinches which flew straight into a feeding cage were a pleasant suprise.  All other shots I managed were spoilt by the wire with the feeders on that runs across the feeding station, I must grow a couple of inches in order for me to get a better shot and being able to use the crop facility on the camera or persuade Alan to move the wire, thinking about it growing a couple of inches is the easier bet

At least 3 different Great Spotted Woodpeckers came into feed several times and then probably back off to their nests to feed young uns.   Although one of them seemed to be a bit tired as he rested on the stump with his eyes closes having a cat bird nap.

Then a bit lof lying down on the job

Down to the island hide on the way out and the Common Terns where quite active although this shot was from Friday morning when the light was 500% better.

A couple of brief glimpses of 2 new Tern chicks as the parent got up and moved its position to get more comfortable,

Then it was off to Gosforth Park via McDonalds for a 2nd Latte and a late breakfast of a Crunchie McFlurry and my insulin.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Thursday and Friday

Thursday and Friday off work so shot off down to Blackhall Rocks and got this pin sharp photo of the Surf Scoter (its the 4th from the right for those who haven't seen one before so you dont have to get your Collins out).  I met 6 different birders whilst I was there and it was a lifer for all of us.

The area around the top of the cliffs seemed to be a place for a good walk round later on as I heard at least 3 Grasshopper Warblers, had glimpses of several species, the most prominent being Whitethroats.

A few Caterpillars were around although this was by far the prettiest, a Drinker Moth (if I'm wrong I know I will be corrected)

Quite a few Swallows which were a bit quick for my old eyes and new(ish) camera although did manage to get a nice colourful shot when they came down for a rest.

Back home to do a couple of chores for the beloved then off out again. 
Spotted a couple of Sedge Warblers and got some pics that look as though they have been photoshopped (must read the instruction manual on basic settings) although as most of you will know that my pics are of such a high quality (LOL) that I have never done any post picture production apart from DLighting and a tad sharpening here and there.

My pic of the 2 days is this delightful Red Squirrel which walked upright along this log reminding me of Alan Ladd in Shane

In Gosforth Nature Reserve there was quite a few offspring of many species knocking around, this was one of 2 Blue Tits which just sat in the hedge on one of the paths calling away for parents to feed them, bit like the kids when they leave home but keep popping in to cadge a meal, a few quid, a bit of advice etc etc.  I think Swans have the right idea, when the offspring have achieved self feeding status they chase them off (Luv all our Kids, really)

Nice Reed Warbler which sings incessantly in the Reeds although I always thought they only sang continually when they hadn't found a mate as this one tends to be with another and short of them holding hands as proof,  I am presuming they are a couple

Reed Bunting catching "Flying Things" which I thought was quite good until Keith C sitting next to me showed me his which he took using his "second" camera as his main one had run out of electricity.  If you want to see some good pics you should see his here

Finally finishing off on the cute "aahhh" factor with this signet which had got detached from the family (was only 10m distant) and was calling away and the latter pic showing it back in the clan.