Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Patch Birding at Big W

The New signs went up at Big Waters this week to officially let everyone know this is a Nature Reserve. 

Spent most of my birdwatching time at Big Waters again this weekend.  Even the urge to twitch the Sharp Tailed Sandpiper at Greatham Creek was not taken up.  One chap said you must be becoming boring spending most of your time there but I disagree as seeing something in your own little patch is just as exciting. Although I dont lay claim to finding the Black Necked Grebe (first since 1998), the 5 Whinchats (none since 2003) and seeing then photographing my first Osprey over Big Waters was fantastic.  Last week I arrived home from work slightly later than usual and made a cuppa, changed and sat down in front of the computer and looked at what had been seen around the area on Birdguides, SEO at Prestwick, Curlew Sandpiper at Blyth, great I thought as Carole said 10mins to Dinner then I saw an email from AJ saying Black Neck Grebe at Big Waters and when Carole appeared with my dinner and said "oh your going out then" I was sitting there redressed with bag on back of chair and knife and fork ready.  Thats when I realised that Patch Birding was becoming the main focus.  Back to the weekend and arrived at Big Waters and wandered down to the public end and the first things I saw were these Mallards in a line and the first thought that came to my mind was


There was quite a lot around including 4 Gadwall, 7 Little Grebes, 11 Pochard and a possible sighting of the Black Necked Grebe again but I couldn't be positive as it was right up the far end and if it wasn't then a claim for the record for this year of 8 Little Grebes will be put to the Big W Official Records Team (AJ).  The one Great Crested Grebe which has been around for a while was joined by another younger one which seemed to be chased in by a Grey Heron and was still there on Sunday although the 2 never get close.  4 Tufted Duck and 2 Shoveller were also spotted.  A Kingfisher put in an appearance but after sitting on a perch for a couple of minutes it was promptly set upon by a Sparrowhawk which chased it for a few seconds with the Kingfisher letting out some "fearsome squeaks", but eventually it got away although I never managed to get the 2 in the same shot.

Outside the hide a Common Darter was having a snooze on the boardwalk rails

A record count of 19 adult Mute Swans was seen although on walking up to the hide on the boardwalk I did see 5, then another 2 take off and fly Southwards then about 1min later I was in the hide and counted 19 on the pond but under the "Graeme Bowman" method of constant observation I can only claim 19.  Anyway here is another couple of boring pictures of Swans with the unmistakable Big Waters "Tree" in the background

A Kingfisher put in several appearances on Sunday obviously not phased by the Sparrowhawk as according to most of the photographers who told me when I arrived "The" Kingfisher had been several times and one did appear several times whilst I was there also. 

A slight readjustment of the Feeding Station furniture means that you can get some glorious shots of the more common birds now and who can resist a good shot of a Blue Tit which is spoilt only by its jewellry (those bloody ringers).

A walk round the reserve, the long way on Sunday produced very little due to the wind.  Even in the most reliable spots where a couple of Darters or a Hawker and a Warbler might be seen were in the process of being Strimmed by the "Rangers" so absolutely nothing was around.  The signs of Autumn are showing with this wilting beauty being the only place along a nice walkway being availed of by insects.

A good (ish) weekend and looking at the weather forecast for next weekend a bit better than the one that is forecasted although the BBC still have time to get it wrong as in the background whilst I am typing is Paul Moody saying today, Wednesday, is the best day of the week with it being downhill from here.
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