Thursday, 26 December 2013

Back to Big Waters and Howdon Wetlands

A couple of short trips to Big Waters and one to Howdon Wetlands on Christmas Day was all I could fit in after our return from the Isle of Wight during the last few days as the many tasks associated with the Festive Period took up so much time.  Big Waters is still holding the Scaups attention and a few Goosanders and Shovellers have been seen also.  Large counts of Mallards, Teal and Wigeon were made today by Alan J although there wasn't as many Gadwall as there has been lately.  Just a couple of pictures from Big Waters showing a Redwing and a Willow Tit.

Down at Howdon Wetlands it was quite busy also with up to 30 Snipe, lots of Teal, Redshank, Curlews, 7 Shelduck , flock of Lapwing and Gulls all over the place.  

Finally a couple of short videos from Christmas Day

Howdon Wetlands - Christmas Day Part I

Howdon Wetlands - Christmas Day Part II

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Back to Big Waters

At last I have managed to get my fingers on the keys to write a short blog.  Been extremely busy the last couple of weeks eating out, drinking, eating out, having fun, eating out, christmas shopping and preparing for a week in the Isle of Wight (leaving at 4am tomorrow morning).  I managed a few hours at Big Waters on Friday and Saturday morning where I managed a year tick of a Scaup, and a couple of birds I hadn't see for a few months, a  GBBGull, 3 Goosander and several other monthly ticks.  It was also nice to meet up with Alan and Ian again for a bit of a chit chat and a bit of advice on Scaup general bird identification (thanks Alan).  There were more than the usual number of Mute Swans on the pond which was causing a bit of furore as the resident birds spent so much time trying to get rid of the visitors.  The Otters were out quite frequently with up to 3 being seen as you can see in the following video.

I saw the Scaup on Saturday and on Sunday morning it was very close but it was still early and quite dark so I inched myself a bit closer and got onto one of the picnic tables and set myself up and waited till it started coming closer, then I took a couple of shots but it was still dark so I tested my video out and as I was looking at it through the video everything on the bottom half of the pond lifted and flew right up the top, glancing around an Otter appeared heading straight for the spot where the Scaup had been.  See video below.

Here are a few other pictures from the visits:

Juvenile Swans still testing out their flying skill but I haven't seen them leave the pond area yet

A few pictures when the place was lit up with sunlight with terrific dark clouds 
in the distance giving some great contrasts 

Now I wonder what put them up

Fantastic view as you leave makes you want to turn around and go back

Commonplace nowadays but still amazing to look at

3 Goosander were most rude and didn't stop but just headed straight for the coast 

Goldeneye and Scaup

Well time for a couple of hours nap then off to the Sunny South

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

A Bit More Than A MEDium Day

Sunday I headed up to Big Waters to try and get the monthly count off to a good start and it certainly did.  Picking up Treecreeper, Bullfinch and Song Thrush in the first 10mins was certainly a bonus.  Then whilst counting ducks from the hide Alan J latched onto a Med Gull with a Darvic Ring which was a year patch tick for me.  It didn't stay around for long though and was off after a short nap which was rudely interrupted by something unobserved which made most of the Gulls head skywards.  The first four pictures were taken around 7am.

The Med Gull having a good yawn before dropping off

Thanks to Keith B for this pictures taken with his Canon SX50 

Time for a nod, could be tired after a long journey so will have to wait and see until Alan gets the ring details back to let us know where it is from 

This is it scarpering

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Purple Day

Saturday morning and armed with a key (thanks to to Jo) John and I headed to Seaton Sluice to try our hands at the Black Art of VisMig (Seawatching).  We were the first ones there but the winds hadn't been as  forthcoming as the Met Office had promised so with only a few Curlews, a couple of Gannets and some Eiders it was quite quiet.  Then within 30mins there was another 3 watchers, still not a great lot but Teal, Shelduck, Scoter, Diver, Eider and more Curlew were seen (by them).  John then I a few minutes later left the experts to sit in a bit of comfort and do some serious counting whilst we went out to look at the pretty "Seagulls".  We actually did pick up Scoter, Eider, Shelduck, Gannets and some distant dots from outside but we soon left for St Marys to see what was around there.  We immediately went down the steps onto the beach where there was more dogs than birds but eventually there was a break in the phalanx of advancing dogs which let the Sanderling, Redshanks, Turnstones, Rock Pipits and Pied Wagtails entertain us for a bit.  The enjoyment was halted when once again a couple of dogs came charging across the sand and immediately started jumping up at me.  I told the owner what I thought but I was wasting my time as he told me they were only puppies and wouldn't hurt me.  John was a bit more subtle as the dogs ran around the place and the owner was screaming for them, saying something like "there still not listening, are they".

We then headed over to the North Bay where there was a lot more birds including 6 Purple Sandpipers, a couple of Dunlin, lots of Sanderling, Turnstones, Redshanks, quite a few Gulls and a couple of Curlew.  These kept John and I entertained for well over an hour.  We then headed back and bumped into Simon P, we compared notes and Simon shot off to count the Purple Sandpipers as them and the dozen we could see from the promontory would constitute a record patch tick.  We then were put onto a couple of Knot and Simon picked up on a 2nd year Med Gull about 30m away.  We chatted for a while then wandered off to the car spotting a Stonechat in the Wetlands on the way.  A quick 15mins at the Fish Quay to check for white wingers, unsuccessful but the chips were lovely then off home to do a couple of chores for Carole.

Here are a couple of photos from the day