Sunday morning up and away by 7 and a quick visit to Killingworth Lake. 4 Goosanders on view, 2 Male and 2 Female with one of the Males being a Full adult with gorgeous plumage. But as usual they are up and away like rockets once you get within 50m of them, unlike the ones we saw earlier in North Wales who came up to you and took bread from hand. Quite a few Tufted Ducks and at least 118 Mute Swans. The Mallards seemed to be having a mass migration onto the smaller pool and were crossing the road in small groups of about 6 to 8. They would wait for a car to pass (quite busy for 7.20 on a Sunday) then would scuttle across then the next lot would wait even if there was no traffic until the next car would appear then away they went as soon as it passed. I watched this happen at least 8 times then wandered across the road to see where they were going as they would hop across the wall and would dissappear. There was over a 100 tucked on the little bank leading down to the water. On to the patch at Big Waters and the Sun assisted by the clouds was giving some awesome views as I wandered round the public end.
By the football pitch car park there was loads of Thrushes around bathing in the light and warmth of the sun and on this tree alone there must have been a mixture of at least 50 Redwings and Fieldfares.
Plenty of them on the Football Pitch also but had to shoot with the Sun in front of me and from inside the car.
One of the bonniest birds around, the Fieldfare, is even more of a stunner in the sun, now if only I could teach my camera to take pictures of what I can see.
I was standing by the gate in the car park finishing off my Maccydees Latte when this Blackbird came and landed on a branch right above my head and just sat there. I didnt take a pic at first just stood and watched thinking that if I lift my camera it will be away, so finishing my coffee I went and put my cup in the bin and the Blackbird hopped over to the tree next to the bin so with 2 hands free I took a couple of snaps put my camera down and he then flew away. Now if only the Redwings and Fieldfares had been that accommodating earlier on.
I had a quick visit to the hide and a chat with John B who was occupying his usual corner then headed back to the car to meet Graeme B for a trip up to Holy Island to see a visitor from the East. I actually bumped into Graeme halfway down the track on his hunkers examining a freshly killed Blackbird with a ring on. We then left and bumped into Alan J and Ian D on the way out and told them where the dead Blackbird was. On our return Alan had already sent an email saying
"Yes it was one that I ringed but interestingly it was a while ago.
A 4M Blackbird 24/06/2006. There had been no further retraps."
Off we went to Holy Island arriving about 30mins before the water receded enough for us cross although these Brent Geese being unable to read completely ignored the signage. Whilst we were waiting I did spot an outline looking into the sun and thought thats different, pointed it out to Graeme, who confirmed it was a Pintail and thought "the boy had done well" until Graeme said there were quite a lot round here.
With a couple of nods and winks from a local couple and directions worthy of a Satnav we were viewing our Eastern visitor within 5mins of getting out of the car. It was certainly a great view as well with the bird doing some great leaps up for a quick snack and whilst everybody seemed to keep their distance and acted very responsibly the bird didnt seem to care and just went where it wanted and was at times within 4-5ft of some of the watchers, especially those that were standing on the top of the steep cliff (a 15ft drop from the path actually).
We watched it for a good 30mins then headed off to look for its a cousin, a Black Redstart (with no unprounceable words in italics after it). Bumped into quite a few people and stopped to chat (Hi Maria and Dave and Vee and Dan and etc, etc.......) which probably was the reason we didnt find the Black Redstart but a bit of mountain climbing was participated in by myself (although to Graeme it was a bit of a saunter). Loads more Brent Geese around continually coming in to land just off the beach then buggering off again. We tried to conjure up some Grebes but only a few Eiders offshore and a couple of seals couldn't be morphed into anything although it did give me time to suck in a bit of Oxygen.
Graeme got a msg on the phone saying that a Black Guillemot had been seen off the shore beside the excavations, so off we went, although I did lighten my pack at the car (Scope and a couple of heavy things) as Graeme said it was a bit of a trek. Of he went briskly stopping every 3-4 mins putting his bins up and looking around (what a polite chap he is) whilst I caught up. We eventually reached the top of the Dunes and I was looking around for Livingstone but all I could see was a normal family (couple with 2.4 children and a wee doggie) wandering along the beach (obviously we werent in the back of the beyond). About half an hours scanning produced a few Common Scoter, several Guillemot (no black), a Red Throated and a Great Northern Diver. Feeding in the pools on the rock edges was the normal suspects plus a single Grey Plover and 3 Knot. We then headed back and immediately bumped into 2 Short Eared Owls and watching them whilst we were heading back, they seemed to "bump" into one another with at least one of them calling (which Graeme said was unusual). They hunted for quite a bit then dissappeared out of sight to the West. Toward the end of the trek across the dunes another SEO came up from the ground about 20m in front of us and did a few circles then it headed West also. A slow drive back as the sun faded with me doing most of the talking (trying to clear a bit of space on the old internal hard drive) as once again after a day out with a great guy who imparts knowledge like I exhale CO2 my brain was full to overflowing and didnt have any more space to try and remember birdie stuff.
Then when I got home my beloved prepared a great bacon and sausage buttie and as I sat down to scoff it she gently pushed the Nikon D70 across the table and said that word that makes Chris Packham rub his legs and makes the pic takers in Big Muddy Hide actually move