Sunday, 30 September 2012

Holy Island

Saturday morning and off up to Holy Island with John A.  We stopped at the Causeway where there were a few Bar-tailed Godwit, a couple of Curlew and some Dunlin very close  but in the distance were hundreds if not into the Thousand of Brent and Barnacle Geese in 2 distinct groups.  We headed onto the island and there was already quite a few birders looking for the Arctic Warbler.  We decided to go for a walk round as the Arctic had not been seen seen.  We spent a couple of hours wandering round getting some close views of Spotted Flycatchers, Long Eared Owl, Wheatear, Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush.  We then headed back to the last known location of the Arctic Warbler and over the next 30mins or so we had a couple of fleeting glimpses and at least 4 good views although it only seemed to pop out into the sun for about 5 to 10 Seconds so didn't waste any time taking pictures just got the bins on it and kept them there until it vanished back into the Sycamore.  Its strange that it stayed in the same tree with up to 20 people watching but it only came out once every 5-10mins or so.  We then went looking for the Wryneck which had been reported but dipped although we did get a good view of a Peregrine patrolling moving everything in its path.  6 Roe Deer were in a recently cut field sunning themselves and a flock of Goldfinch moved up the path with us keeping us entertained.  Back to the other side of the island where we spent 30mins in the Cemetery watching a couple of Spotted Flycatchers, a couple of Robins and a Song Thrush.  We then headed back to the Causeway where lots of Dunlins were congregating, Curlews were nervously feeding, a few Eiders were showing, a few Godwits were feeding close in again and the Geese Flocks looked enormous.  There was plenty to see in scoping distance but we stayed in the car as the wind was quite strong by now and there was a lot of movement of birds when I spotted another Peregrine coasting along in an erratic pattern no more than 3 or 4 feet above the water causing birds to flee in all directions.  The Peregrine flew in a big arc doubling back on itself occasionally and changing direction abruptly.  It stayed in view for what seemed like ages but was probably no more than 1 and a half to 2mins.  We then headed to Fenham Flats to try and see the Pintail but we had lingered to long at the Causeway and the cupboard was bare with just the odd Wader showing as it was now high tide although we did get to see all the Brent and Barnacles flying South when they were forced off their bit of Sand.  Here is a few pics from the day.

Bar-tailed Godwit

Long Eared Owl
Eyes Shut

Left Eye Open

Left Eye Open Again

Right Eye Open
(Never caught it with Both Eyes Open)


Gorgeous Goldfinch

Roe Deer

Spotted Flycatchers

Godwit and Brent Geese

When returning to Fenham Flats we had to stop whilst at the railway crossing for a train and on the warning sign on the other side of the crossing a Kestrel hovered then perched on the sign.  

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A Bit Of A Fall

Day off today so had intended to head up North but stopped of for an hour or so at St Marys, not a soul around for the first 30mins and by this time I had seen at least 8 Goldcrest, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, lots of Song Thrushes, Reed Buntings and 3 Meadow Pipits that landed on the path and never even moved when I walked past them.  It was now about 7.15 when the other birders started arriving and this was fatal as I started chatting to a few of them and before I realised it was a few minutes to 9 so I went to the Car Park and stuck 2hrs in the Cash Gobbler.  One of the reasons I decided to stay was that a lot of places including bits of Cresswell and Druridge were flooded and I didn't fancy wasting time trying to get to places.  Some of the Birders/Bloggers I did bump into included Peter FBrian and Tom (apologies to them for not recognising them all bundled up), Tim S (great to see you again Tim) and Brian (you know who you are).

I actually stayed till 12 and added Yellow-browed Warbler, Garden Warbler, countless Redstarts, a couple of pairs of Blackcaps and on the causeway 2 Wheatears and a Brambling.  I then headed home picked up Carole and headed for a restaurant in a not too distant galaxy and was extremely satisfied with the Grilled Sea Bass whilst Carole' Steak Strips in Garlic and Chilli was very good also but because it was just a tad too spicy I then went out miles out of my way and headed to a certain Ice Cream shop then sat for 30 mins gently cooling our throats with it whilst watching lots of Model Aeroplanes, Sea Birds, several ducks and to top it all a Red-throated Diver was entertaining us through the bins (Isn't life just great).

We then headed back to St Marys for a final look and didn't even get out of the car as we were now needing a rest from the exertion of the marvelous repast so we just watched the Golden Plover putting on a stunning flying display.  Then along to Tynemouth to the car park overlooking the mouth of the Tyne where the main entertainment was the Rats attempting to climb into the rubbish bins and some stunningly beautiful Starlings sitting on the bollards next to the car.

Great day off work, great birds, great company (for half of the day at least) and cracking grub 
(Life can't get much better)

Now the bad news, here is a few pics from today

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Black Darters at Newbiggin

John A and I arrived at Newbiggin at 07.30 and didn't leave till 14.45.  It was quite a good day with  a wide variety of birds seen.  We did an hours sea watch seeing a few Brents, a couple of Great Skua, 2 Manx Shearwater, 4 Velvet Scoter (thanks to Alan T for pointing some of them out) with a fair amount of Wigeon and Teal passing through.  There was also a fair spattering of Gannets around.  We then headed over to scan the beach and found 3 Med Gulls.  We had intended to go to Seaton Sluice but we had heard of a Yellow-browed Warbler at the Plantation so decided to have a quick look there first.  We had a look round for 30mins but no luck then we bumped into Alan T again who had no luck either.  He left but we decided to hang around for another 10mins which turned into 30 when we caught a couple of glimpses of it although the only thing we saw afterwards was a couple of Chiffchaffs.  By this time the weather was getting a bit better so we headed back to Church Point to do a bit more Sea Watching.  Graeme B was there so we picked up some invaluable tips and managed to catch good views of plenty more Brent Geese, Scoters, Bonxies, Wigeon, Teal, Red-throated Diver, Med Gull along with a Grey Wagtail in the churchyard and the normal assortment of Newbiggin inhabitants.

Brent Geese

One of the several flocks of Wigeon heading North

We then headed back to the Mound as word came to G from S that E had seen some Black Darters.
We did go via that nice Bakers in the High St where a bit of Quiche and a hot Corned Beef Pasty filled the spot till I got home.  On arrival at the pools and wandering around for over an hour we saw probably a Dozen Black Darters and too many Commons to count.  The Blacks were Ovipositing and mating then taking a break which I found to be the best for getting pics although I must admit they are probably the hardest thing I have photographed as the black is quite translucent and it is hard to focus on, even manually also.  Eric B joined us for a while also.

Black Darter
 Black Darter

Black Darter

Eric B photographing a Black Darter and me photographing
a Common Darter on his back

As we were leaving a Whinchat alighted on the top of the bushes not too far from us although directly into the Sun then Graeme shouted and pointed at a skein of Geese flying over, once again they were flying directly into the sun but I got off a very distant shot.

Graeme explained that amongst the geese were 2 smaller ones that were all white.  Eric had also tried to contact Graeme so a quick check with him confirmed that he had also seen them but there was a lack of black on the wing tips so possibly leucistic birds ?  John and I then took a stroll back and walked into a small irruption of Speckled Wood on the track

Finally, on Friday afternoon I popped up to Big Waters for a quick walk round and managed to get a nice shot of a Common Darter on the reserve sign,  There was one at either sign sunbathing but not such a good pic.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Roe Deer

Sunday morning and I gently ambled to Big Waters with a poorly poorly ankle.  No Big Walk for me today so I staggered up the track and as I turned into the reserve the Roe Deer Buck was ambling across the field so with Mr Nikon in its ever ready position I snapped a couple of pics and glanced at one, aarghhh was the only word as I remembered taking pics late last night of the night sky so flicking it into automatic I managed to get a few of it just after it jumped the fence (which I missed) and stood looking at me as we were now only about 10-12m apart.  After about a minute or so it looked as though it was going to head towards the car park so my guard went down and as quick as a flash it turned and leapt back over the fence the way it had come (missed the action shot again) so a quick fiddle with the settings and a couple of better coloured pics (See if you can figure which ones they are)

The antlers tend to confirm that this is the same Buck that Allan Forster photographed on 14 September with a close up head shot after a lot of stalking (or so he gives the impression of).

Then into the hide and the first of 105 Greylags started to arrive which is not far off the record for September

Put a bit of food out in the Feeding Station including 3 Suet Balls and within a couple of hours there was only a half of one left.  At times there was up to 10 Tree Sparrows pecking away at the same time in the Feeder

Then the Red Arrows arrived (Im gonna do a blog with out airyplanes soon) although once again I missed the first one coming quite low in a looping turn which moved the ponds inhabitants over to the North side although when I went outside to get the following photo most of the Mallards decided to call it a day and head somewhere quieter.

Then the Boeing 777 (Emirates) came in and managed to get a shot of it and the Big Waters Tree

Alan, Ian and Graeme turned up after their walk full of sympathy for my poorly poorly leg (really!!!) and they discussed the bird counts for the day although there was a couple of differences.  Though I did end up with
the following figures

105 Greylags, 50 Mute Swans (incl 2 Cygnets), 5 Cormorants,
Grey Heron, 2 Curlew (over), Black-necked Grebe, 2 Great Crested Grebe,
15 Pochard, 5 Wigeon, 8 Little Grebe, 8 Coots, 1 Water Rail, 5 Teal,
2 Tufted Ducks, 20 Mallard and finally a solitary Goldcrest in the Feeding
Station along with the usual miscreants although the Willow Tits haven't been seen
for a few days.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Scrape Sorting at Big Waters

Saturday and off up to Big Waters as the new scrape needed a bit of a haircut.  Before we started though I arrived a bit early with John A for a bit of a look round.  On the way in we had a Buzzard and a Goldcrest with a lot of birds flying around although no pictures as everything was tucked away in bags.  We did bump into a stranger who we hadn't seen for a while, John B, who was just leaving.  Into the hide and Malcolm (the Roofer) was already happily ensconced in the favoured photographic seat.  Plenty on the lake with some large numbers as well, the Black-necked Grebe was still there, 19 Pochards, 25 Canadas, about a dozen Greylags, 11 Coots, 40+ Swans, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Cormorants, 9 Little Grebes, lots of Mallards, Wigeon into double figures and a few Teal dotted around.  In the feeding station we managed another 3 Goldcrests, 11 Long Tailed Tits, 3 Sedge Warblers, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, lots of Tree Sparrows including 3 quite young looking ones.

Allan F  arrived then Alan J and Graeme B and we set off to the New Scrape.  We worked solid for 3 hours with the odd break although Graeme B worked more "solider".  The scrape is definitely looking great, plenty of mud and even as we worked 5 Curlews did an about turn as they flew over and checked it out, obviously only declining as they had spotted Alan J in the open.  A few pics from the day.

A Hurricane and a Spitfire came over the pond heading for the airport, probably for the Great North Run tomorrow as one of the Red Arrows planes came in a little bit later on.

We went back to the hide although Alan and Graeme decided to give the avenue in the reeds a bit of a clean out and no sooned had they finished and got back to the hide then a young Water Rail stuck its head out for a little while