Friday, 22 July 2011

Wonderful Warblers and Harmed Hawkers

The last of my long weekends for a while produced some nice birds withn a few Northumberland ticks.   Thursday started brilliantly with an intended 10mins at Arcot which extended into 90 at least.  Whilst crossing the road I could hear the distant song of a Grasshopper Warbler then a few steps further another one further on.  It took me all, with my consumate search and find skills, of 30 secs to spot it sitting on top of a bush right next to the track I was walking on.  Knowing they are quite a confiding bird I gradually got to the bush and by this time it had dropped slightly down to the other side.  It carried on reeling then as I shifted my balance to bring up my camera it took off, damn I thought, I knew I should have not taken that extra step but I was completely amazed when it whirled round the bush and alighted on the closest branch to me and started reeling again.  The following pic (uncropped), taken with my trusty 18-200mm lens shows the closest it came to me without me moving.  Its definitely the closest I have ever been to taking a pic of a bird in the open since my previous Grasshopper Warbler taken at Arcot also last year.

Heres a couple more taken from different angles as it moved round.

Whilst I was watching the Grasshopper Warbler I was rudely interrupted by a Little Egret flying over my head and I resisted the temptation to turn suddently and take some pics so had to wait until its flight path crossed the direction my camera was pointing (resulting in crap pics).  Anyway it settled down further down the pond where I managed to get a distant pic of it on the bank.

After Arcot I headed to Newbiggin where fortunately I bumped into Andy Mc who is an absolute wealth of information and had a pleasant couple of hours watching Common Scoter, Gannets, Sandwich Terns, Artic Skua, Guillemot, Razorbill, Manx Shearwater, Puffin, Fulmar with Andy contributing snippets of valuable information.   On Newbiggin Beach I also saw 4 Med Gulls, a Turnstone in absolutely stunning Summer Plumage and a Black Tailed Godwit again an absolute beautiful bird.

I then took a trip up to Big Waters to check out the beastly flying things and found a Darter within a very short period of time of releasing itself from the Xuviae.  I was about 5m away and watching it through the bins when an obviously "well trained" labrador came bounding down the steps ran across the boardwalk behind me then bounded into the outskirts of the pool and rand through the reeds.  It then ran off with its owner shouting for it in one of those wimperish voices you know that every dog just disobeys.  I went over to where the darter was hatching and after a minute or so looking I found it floating in the water so I got it out with a stick (it was still moving) and left it to dry off in the sun but I think it was a forlorn hope as its wings were in a big tangle (I didnt have my bug 1st Aid handbook ready) and as I moved it round still on the big stick to get the best rays of the sun I decided to just leave it as I was not sure whether I was helping it or hurting it.  Anyway I returned about 4.30 and it had gone so I felt better (trying not to think that it had been served up as a starter for some passing bird) Nature is Cruel  (Pity I couldn't do with it what Lesley did with her baby sparrow).  The following is a pic of how I left it.

Then a trip up to Kibblesworth which apart from meeting Mike Eccles who I had a 25min chat with, was quite a dissappointment although I did spot my first Painted Lady of the year, a few Small Heath, a couple of Grayling and a Small Tortoiseshell.

Small Heath

Small Tortoiseshell
I then head back up to Big Waters (see sob story above) and did see a family of Blackcaps although only got this half hidden pic of Daddy.

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