Sunday, 18 November 2012

Long-billed Dowitcher, Jack Snipe and Barn Owl (Great Day)

Saturday and off with John A to the Long Nanny to try and see the Long-billed Dowitcher.  The BBC lied, it was still raining at 08.45 but being hardy soles we got out of the car and ventured forth (it stopped completely within a few minutes, despite BBC saying 07.00).  A Wren and Robin were greeted us by the buildings by the Car Park (Patrons take note of the new car parking charges which the huge notice said were on the machine - they were but the machine come up with a minimum £2 charge).  The walk along to the Nanny was not very productive apart from the normal gulls and corvids.  The first bird I saw when we got to the Nanny was a Kingfisher which sat there for about 2-3 minutes whilst I tried to guide John onto it from about 50m away so I headed toward where he was and the Kingfisher was off.  We then tried to relocate it but failed so we continued along the path and with 5 seconds of setting off the Dowitcher took off from the grass just 20m away, it flew straight past us and continued going South with a Kestrel joining, seeming to be giving it a bit of grief.   A look around the Nanny produced a few Redshanks and lots and lots of Gulls but nothing else so after 30mins we started back but we spotted movement which didn't seem to be a Redshank across the other side of the burn. A passing birder joined us and got his scope out and after a bit of looking we were onto it (I hadn't brought my orange box to stand on so it was a bit of a performance adjusting the telescope up and down for a midget, tall John A and in Johns word "how bloody tall are you, I'm on my tip toes here" to the kind birder).  Later on in the day we bumped into him and another chap who we also saw and they told us they had got much better views a bit after we left.  Anyway so as not to fill your mind with drivel we headed on down the coast stopping at various places (including Craster for a Craster Kipper Bun)as we headed homewards ending up at Cresswell where some great views of Stonechats were had then up to the hide to see the Jack Snipe.  In the hide we encountered our first fellow blogger of the day, Peter was on Bittern Watch but he and a fellow birder put us onto the Jack Snipe which was unbelievably well hidden as you will see from the video later on.  It was getting quite darkish now but we still managed to see the Long-tailed Duck and the pond was filled with a myriad of birds.  John A was getting distracted with the Starlings going to roost only feet from the hide when a Barn Owl was spotted on the East side of the road, it quickly made a kill but a Kestrel came zooming in and took the kill from it and beat a retreat (why oh why had I not been filming).  I then stopped filming the Jack Snipe and concentrated on the Barn Owl which made some quite lengthy forays up and down its hunting patch before making a kill and it nearly being hit by a couple of cars.  When John and I left we waited a few minutes to see if the Barn Owl would appear again but no luck so off we went and we hadn't gone more than 50m when the Barn Owl came out of the hedge just a couple of metres in front of us prompting a quick application of the brakes.  No wonder they appear regularly on blogs as being found deceased.  Anyway onto the bit all you readers are waiting for, the pretty pics and the fantastic filims (note the geordie spelling).

This film is 2mins 23 seconds of bobbing as the light gets darker and darker and guess what, just
as it gets dark it decides to come out...........a bit.
Mr J Snipe and his amazing camouflage

This is a fuzzyish film of a Barn Owl hunting just a couple of minutes before sunset
for his dinner after a Kestrel stole his first catch.  Watch for the close misses with the
cars (obviously it hasn't learnt the Green Cross Code).
The noise you can hear in the background is about 1,000 Starlings
roosting in the reeds right outside the hide

A Black Headed Gull which dropped onto a post right next to us as were
scanning the mud flats on the estuary at Amble.

One of the 3 Stonechats we saw at Cresswell

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