Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Nigella's Recipe of the Week

A few things I haven't managed to fit into my last couple of Blogs from the last week.

Very inconsiderate Bullfinch not coming out from behind the brambles to give us photographers a fighting chance of a decentish picture

Gorgeous looking Brambling

Now children, if you get into difficulties in the water you must remember where the lifebelt is

Now why can't someone on Dragons Den invent a Feather Comb  for Curlews I would buy one
Nigella's Recipe of the Week
1 Chopped Up Apple, Couple of Broken Digestives, 2 Crumbled Slices of Brown Bread
= GULL MAYHEM outside the Office Window

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus graellsii )  dropping in for a snack at a Toon Brasserie
Dine in the Dark Lunch at Work
(A thought provoking experience which made me stop and think about a really
basic problem that Visually Impaired people encounter every day)
It also let me enjoy my 2nd favorite hobby, eating, and boy was it good

At least I got the food into my mouth unlike my friend Helen

Another picture of that stunning looking Fieldfare in Gosforth

Finally the sun starts to come down over North Tyneside

Monday, 25 February 2013

Gosforth Park in the Snow

On Saturday the Warbler from Wallsend and I dropped into Gosforth for 15mins which extended into over an hour as a few Fieldfares and 1 in particular kept us entertained.  It snowed incessantly as you will see from some of the pictures so the next morning before heading off to Big Waters I dropped in for 30mins, it was still snowing off and on but I managed to get a couple of slightly better pictures of the Fieldfare who was still holding his ground against the torrent of Blackbirds that kept heading for the apples.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

A Saunter in the Snow

Well what more can I add to Johns eloquent Blog other than a few pictures of Big Waters which I snapped the odd time my camera came out of the bag in the unceasing snow.  I have still to sort my pics from Gosforth Park so will do that in the next post.

The Scene that met us at about 07.30 on Saturday
(on advice from my publisher I have been told to mention that the snowfall
in the lands of Howdon and Sedgedunum was much more substantial in order
to show that we were not a pair of Whingeing Softies)

 Quite a few Rooks and Starlings feeding in the fields the up to the Trees for a Break
 Newly imported Sheep into the North Fields sharing it with Rooks and Crows
 We waited for it to get nearer but eventually it spotted us and off it went
 Great looking Cormorant even through the incessant snow
 A few Lapwing sheltering on the island 
The Whooper that I mentioned last week turned out to be the same one that was here for 
a few weeks last year but this time alone.  Now to try and find out where it comes 
from as the ring looks like a normal Mute Swan one.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Fox On The Run (Well A Saunter Anyway)

If you have nothing to do all day
Then just do what a Fox does
Just wander around
I would show you the Video of it
Sunbathing and Sleeping for an
Hour and a Half but even that
got boring for me!!!!!!!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Pictures From The Last Few Days

A few pictures from the last few days
(An alternative look at Birding)

Don't you just hate going round in big gangs

"Ahh, thats better just the two of us now"
(thanks for the crop John)

"I told you I was putting on weight, this branch is bent more than yesterday"

"Yes, we will take No 32 but only need it for a short let over Spring and early Summer"

"Do my wings look good in this pose ?"

"I can't fly properly with a blurred wing, I wish the Photographers would take more care"

"John, why do them birds have different leg rings on, cos all the ear rings you buy me are the same?" "Carole, they are to help the people feeding them chips know which language to tell them you have the chips, Red and White means Hungarian so you have to shout "Gyere ├ęs vedd meg zseton ide"  

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Med Gull Migration - The Real Reason

No doubt you have had enough of Med Gull sightings by now after 2 postings by Sedgiedunemin Warbler and you have read Steve H's interesting thesis on the subject so here now is the real reason why Med Gulls on migration return every year to Northumberland and in particular why to Amble.

The answer is simple, in Szeged Hungary where YJU7 (and probably many other Med Gulls) have been reported several times, the lack of  Fish and Chip shops stands out as one of the main factors pointing to the decline of the Med Gull abroad viz a viz the increase of Med Gulls on our coastline. The food sources are scarcer in the east and as reported on Trip Advisor , the best place to eat there is the 

John Bull Pub  

Oroszlan u. 6SzegedHungary
Ranked #1 of 32 restaurants in Szeged
4.5 of 5 stars15 Reviews
Cuisines: International
Most recent review
- 18 Feb 2013
Update restaurant details

Whereas in Amble there are several Fish and Chip Shops, some of them are very close to the harbour therefore the chips and batter are still warm for the Gulls delicate pallet and refined taste buds.  Being a keen conservationist and willing to assist in the distribution of food to feed the gulls, the best place I have found to feed said Gulls is the Car Park to the South of the estuary this then stops them hanging around street corners and in dark ginnels awaiting the chance to mug the unsuspecting chip eating homo sapien as they pass by.

Quayside Chippie Fishmarket, Amble, Northumberland
This Fish and Chip restaurant is right on the entrance to the harbour. Lets be perfectly honest about this place though, it's not a restaurant in the traditional sense of the word. A more suited description would be a self service Cafe, you collect your food, either man or bird sized portions from the counter and pay for it before you take it out to feed the Gulls and if you mention to the staff that you are assisting conservation and helping the feeding programme then they no doubt will drop a few extra morsels in. What you do get however, is some of the best, freshest and tastiest fish and chips you'll ever experience and you get to sit down in your car (whilst keeping an eye out for the Traffic Warden) while you eat and share them with various Gulls. What more could you need. The drinks menu is also comprehensive with a good choice of cocktails (Lime and Lemon, Dandelion and Burdock etc) and if your really posh you could drop in to McDonalds grab a Latte and drink it quickly leaving a bit in the bottom so that Gulls can put their heads in finish the coffee then fly off complete with a new hat.

The above  is the handiest for parking and then scooting off to the car park to sit and gorge.

So if a bird from Hungary comes all the way here to sample Northumberland Fish and Chips then we should do our utmost to help them as the government will not give them any social benefits till they pass the British Immigration Reading & Development Test

Remember also that vital statistics have been discovered that  plays an important role in Med Gull genetics. There is proof that eating fish and chips and the numbers of eggs that is laid is an inherited trait. Most important fact is that if your parent didn't lay any eggs, odds are you won't either.  

Hope John hurries up with the Chips

ps.  now I know you are all going to get upset about the grammar, layout, lies, statistics (I think the last 2 are the same, just spelt different) and wrong assumptions, but being a 62 year old Wrinklie with Onset Forgetfullness I will have forgotten about this by the morning so don't bother.


Monday, 18 February 2013

4 Patch Ticks on Sunday

Still sorting out pics and stuff from Saturday so will post something about that later in the week, had to mention that in case Sedgedunum takes the "Huff" that I haven't mentioned him.  Anyway on Sunday I headed for the weekly walk around Big Waters starting early at 07.20 as the sky was blue and as I arrived a few Mute Swans left (they must have heard I was coming), flying directly over my car.  5 male Bullfinches were feeding in the corner near the bridge and from there I also spotted 3 Roe Deer  but as soon as the camera came up they were off.

Then I espied a couple of Goldcrests on the walk to the pond, they are one of those birds that when you go looking for them you can never find them, then the minute you are not looking you get short views of them passing.  Then a white shape came from behind me and I presumed that it was one of the Swans returning then as it dropped onto the pond I realised it was a Whooper (The First Patch Tick of the Year for me).  Quick msg sent to Alan and Keith. 

Methinks that it hasn't travelled far, could it be the one from Killingworth ??

I also spotted a single Pochard on the pond, only the second of the year and the Tufted Duck and Goldeneye numbers had both increased.   The pond was bathed in beautiful sunlight and I actually had to take off a layer of clothing.  The birds sounds and song were coming from everywhere, without a doubt the best aural day of the year so far.  I also saw and listened to a couple of Song Thrushes, spotted a couple of Field Fares moving around, a flock of Long-tailed tits feeding along the trees by the boardwalk through the public end, quite a few goldfinches and a couple of Woodpeckers hammering away.  Then Keith arrived early, didn't want to miss the Whooper in case it flew off after a few minutes like the last one.  Whilst watching it Keith spotted a male Goosander which had appeared from nowhere which a little while later was joined by another which dropped in from a Westerly direction (The Second Patch Tick of the Year for me).

The rest of the crew arrived and Alan informed us of the birds we had missed during the week whilst we were lounging away at work and he was ardously toiling away birding blah blah blah......  Off for a wander round and just as we crossed the bridge we were joined by the Graeme who had us on our toes after a couple of hundred metres by saying he thought he had just seen a Med Gull heading towards the pond but even such a tempting bird did not tempt us to do the short walk cos the weather was so gorgeous and we are so hard than anything under 3 miles is an insult to our fitness (well some of them).  A Redpoll was spotted after much scanning at a place which according to certain people and he reiterates this fact every time we get there that it should be lifting with birds.  Further on the cry went up Oystercatcher and sure enough there it was flying over the pond but it did not stop unfortunately.  (The Third Patch Tick of the Year for me).

  On we went avoiding the Dog Walkers, the numerous cyclists and the largest amount of horses I have seen on the walk for a while (was tempted to put a joke in about the current beef situation here but as I know my readership is of  non Pi**taking stock I refuse to stoop that low - second thoughts check out the JOKES here from an upstanding purveyor of current affairs - The Guardian). 

Further on Alan called a Golden Plover heading directly over us which we all managed to see (The Fourth Patch Tick of the Year for me).

There were Skylarks in/above most of the fields although with Graeme setting the pace on occasions we made it back round to the Hide in record time even after wading through the thick mud which hopefully will be even less next week due to the efforst of our own James Brindleys, Alan and Ian, who have (allegedley) set up canals to take the water away from the paths using the latest equipment.  I will believe it the first week I don't have to spend 20 mins cleaning my footwear on returning home.  The Med Gull, mentioned previously, was conspicuous by its absence although the "it is, it isn't, it could be, it might be" Gull returned and as you look at it flying in it has lovely Yellow Legs but when it plonks itself on the post it only looks a bit yellow, so out come the cameras and more pictures are taken and will be studied in darkened rooms by dedicated birders with microscopes looking at certain primaries for joined up dots (Get a life, go outside and look at the other birds, ITS A SEAGULL (sorry Maria for pinching your copyrighted saying)).  We all sat pleasantly for about an hour waiting for whatever but the whatever didn't arrive but it was worth watching the rest of the pond.  Eventually we drifted away and went for a quick glance at the Dipping Pond and immediately a couple of Redpolls lifted and flew around the trees.

So the moral of today's visit is, "If you spend every day visiting a patch and then you go mob handed on a nice morning at the weekend you will see everything that you found single handed during the week"  Can't wait for next Sunday for Alan to give us a blow by blow account of what he found during the week so we know what we will see on our walk.

Just a couple of pictures from the day or earlier in the week

Pity that I didn't video this the song was tremendous

This may seem strange but on more than a couple of occasions I have noticed that Goldeneye seem to go against the flow of traffic or am I just imagining things

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Oot and Aboot

Haven't had time to do my usual diatribe so here
is a few pretty pictures from the last few days
in no particular order

A first for me at Big Waters - 4 Grey Herons in view at the same time

Plenty of stuff on the pond at Big Waters but the only bird missing was the White-fronted Goose which we saw in the North field when doing our Sunday walk.  Graeme B was in the hide when we arrived and had seen it from the top hide but when he moved for a better look it had taken off and headed elsewhere.  Anyway a good tick for the patch

The Mandarin at Wallsend Burn taken with a dinky little camera
(which allows the bird to come right up to me and can still focus)

My first Bramblings of the year in Northumberland

Siskin and Greenfinch sharing a feeder

Bullfinch were constantly ground feeding

Finally for those of you who actually read this Blog instead of just looking at the pretty pictures you might remember me talking about "cold hands".  Well at last I have obtained permission to publish the following picture

"The Blue Hand of Death"

This is what it looks like after it has been in a glove for at least 15mins so imagine how cold it is when he only wears one of his many 1 handed sets of gloves (he tells us he always buys them in pairs but keeps losing the right one but we think it walks away, would you want to be touching that hand) although he does wear 2 lefties on lots of occasions.  As he sometimes touches our bare skin (ooohhaaaa) we have all clubbed together and rescued a pair of heavy duty ones from a charity shop bag and presented them to him in a small ceremony in the Car Park on Sunday.