Friday, 30 August 2013

My First Time

This is the first Moth I caught in my new Skinner Moth Trap.  There were 22 others as well but it will take me a couple of days to probably identify them all and I will then more than likely need help (just like with the birds).  I still haven't identified this one as I started the trap at just after 3am and turned it off just after 5am then by the time I cleared all my mess up, it was my first time and I kept needing things and was traipsing in and out of the house leaving grass and slipper prints in the kitchen, it was time to get ready for work.  I was also attempting to take some "Sky at Night" shots so it should be fun looking at how they turned out.  I have warned the Bird Feeding Assistant, my wife, and Chrissy, the Grandson who turned up out of the blue a couple of days ago looking for a bed for a few days that there was a dozen pots in the fridge with creepy crawlies in which I will start photographing when I get home this afternoon.   Looks of horror from Carole but I am sure she will learn to love them LOL.  Well, must do some work

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Some Tits and Bits From Recent Days

Getting back to my old theme of I must retire in order to do all the things I need to do and if I did I wouldn't be posting random photos of what I have observed instead of doing beautifully articulated flowing prose of my epic adventures.  So here are some pics of places I have been and things I have seen in no particular order in the very recent past

This BHG chased the Kingfisher around for about 30 Seconds
till it managed to get away or the BHG became bored and
then presumed to test out several of the perches during the morning

Southern Migrant Hawker on the wing (thanks Alan J)

Southern Hawker resting

Southern Hawker after nearly drowning thanks to Alan J
rescuing it with a big stick (not the one he normally beats
me with) and depositing it on a dry growth and we wish
it well in its recovery

A lovely couple of Greenfinches at Howdon Wetlands

Back in the Garden at Home I think I should sack my BFA (Bird Feeding Assistant)
for not replenishing empty vestibules.  Poor little thing must be starving

A lovely view on our Long Walk around Big Waters

I've got my Eye on you

Does anyone know where I can get a trim and a shave ?

At last the BFA is doing her job but she should also
be standing there with a big arrow on a stick (like they
do at ASDA) pointing out to the birds that a couple of
the perches are empty

Bye For Now

Monday, 26 August 2013

A Common Patch Lifer (Well I Thought It Was)

On our weekly Sunday walk around Big Waters yesterday, whilst the rest of the North East was seeking out Warblers without shoes, insect eating ones with spots or without and Woodpeckers that look like dinosaurs we stuck with a bit of patch birding.  The highlight of the day was not the Pintail, Owl or the Sandpipers we saw but this little beauty (Now known to be a Juvenile Smooth/Common Newt and not a Common Lizard)

Alan J, who was the one who spotted it, said previously that a certain dog walker had mentioned that she had seen Lizards in the area where we found it but we had never seen any in Big Waters himself at all despite its reputed "Commonness".  I had seen a few before but this one was tiny and very "yellow" as you can see.  Ian D said it was the smallest one he had seen.  Unfortunately I only had my long lens on the camera and had to back off quite a way to focus but I will definitely head back there to try and get some better shots

After departing from Big Waters Sedgedunum Warbler and Myself did pop along to the competitors patch to see their Fab Duo.  See report on Gordon's Blog

(Sun behind the clouds in this pic)

(but plenty of sun in this pic, lovely colours)

Friday, 23 August 2013

A Thoroughly Enjoyable Evening

A short trip out to Big Waters with The Treki Fan was ticking along quite nicely and we were enjoying a nice relaxing evening just gazing out at the pond when in flew this little beauty

Yes, it in the picture but it was on the North Scrape.  It stayed there for about 5 minutes then flew across to the main scrape alighting next to a Teal and then put its head down for a few minutes.  It then started to get a bit agitated with the movement from the birds that were coming in to book their places of rest for the night and moved further away but at least I then got a couple more bad shots of it

Eventually the movement was too much for it and it shot off back to the North Scrape taking a bit of a circular route which I was following in the bins and when it landed it was just next to a Snipe, another new one for the month.  Once again look hard you will see them.  Must get myself one of those Canon things with a 50x zoom then I can stand as far away as Gordon does and get birds that are recognisable. (Sanderlings)

We then headed back home and I was sitting eating my pasta and salad by 19.30, a thoroughly enjoyable evening

Last night I tried my new (second hand) Tamron 70-300 lens which I purely got for the macro function which you can engage between 180-300 and stuck it on my old Nikon D70 and took a few pics.  It was a bit fiddly but I started getting the hang of it and was soon photographing some of the 7 Peacocks and various whites that were in the garden.  A bit more practice needed I think.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Greenshanks at Shibdon

On Tuesday morning I headed to Shibdon for 90mins peace before work.  I hadn't been in the hide more than 10mins when I spotted 2 birds flying in from the direction of the Airport.  It wasn't till they reached the edge of the pond that I realised they were Greenshanks.  Didn't have time to grab the camera to catch the landing but the light was still bad anyway.  They landed a bit to far for decent photos but it was still great to see them close up through binoculars as they are a most delightful delicate bird.

Managed to grab a quick few seconds video of them as they waded about 10m then flew off to the extreme West side of the pond.  All told they were on the ground for 45seconds maximum.

There was also up to 5 Snipe around the pond but very elusive and quite far away, this one being the nearest

Meanwhile back in the garden at home this particular Starling hangs onto the Fat Ball Feeder and defending his place against all allcomers quite fiercely which makes me wonder if the injury to his mouth was caused by one of his competitors for the best place at the table

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Fly Tipping - String The B*****ds Up

Didn't get out much at the weekend apart from a couple of visits to Big Waters due to various planned and unplanned commitments.  Got to Big Waters about 9ish and was in the 1st Hide watching 9 Little Grebes moving around the pond trying to get them up the magic figure of 13 that Alan J had earlier on in the week but failed.  The Mallard population had dropped although about 80+ were still around with one of the possible reasons being this lovely looking and much sought after creature.

Whilst fascinating to watch they do cause a bit of a stir to some of the wildlife around the Reserve but then again so do other wildlife such as Sparrowhawks, Peregrines, Marsh Harriers, etc so what is delightful to some is a bit of a pain at times to others.  They do tend to force the ponds inhabitants into small areas as shown below with the Coots and Mallards crowding into a corner

Sunday Morning it was a repeat of Saturday with Otter roaming around the pond forcing rapid movement of  the inhabitants into corners and reeds although when one got close to the Swan and Cygnets the hissing and growling could be heard a fair distance away and it retreated to a safe distance and started to fish, quite successfully, for at least an hour.  A bad picture but shows the size of the fish it is taking, once again upsetting a small community of some of the pond users, the fishermen.

On our walk round several Common Darters were seen, a large flock, c80, of Greenfinch was seen towards Dinnington, Linnet, Pied Wagtail, Buzzard but not a great lot else.  We did have an unusual encounter of a bit of fly-tipping, although why one would dump it on the approach road to the farm on the North of the reserve which is a dead end when it would probably have been easier to take it to the tip which was proably closer.  Lets hope the Bastards get caught.

Bloody Pointless!!!!!!

Towards the end of the walk we met up with Keith B who had come to inform us that a special bird would be passing overhead at 11:42 so we headed to the the special bird watching hide place and sure enough it was right on time

The 1000th Boeing 777

Our recently renovated island has now become a resting place for Black-headed Gulls

I then headed to Killingworth to get a couple of pics of the Great Crested Grebes and their young as having seen many pictures and tales of them on other blogs, great narrative about them on 
Killy Birders Blog, I thought I had better get a few of my own.
Anyway here are a few of my pictures

and the inevitable video

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

National Moth Night and a Wander Down The Coast

On Sunday morning Graeme B and I went to Howick taking up Stewarts invitation to 
National Moth Night 2013  We only attended the morning session but what an absolutely fascinating session it was.  Read his report of the Night and Day Session  on his blog here
After that we made our way down the coast stopping at several places, first at Boulmer, then on to Foxton Bends where we saw, if my memory serves me right, 2 Green Sandpipers, 2 Greenshanks, a Common Sandpiper, a Whimbrel and 80+ Curlew.   We dropped into Amble for Lunch after checking the river where there were lots of waders and ducks and then onto Hauxley where we had some great views of a couple of Little Egrets.  Onto East Chevington, no sign of the Tern reported the day before but plenty of wildlife to hold our attention for about 30mins.  The weather was starting to change as we left Druridge Pools where we shared the hide with the Swallows and by the time we got to Cresswell it was starting to come down heavy but stayed long enough to catch view of Yellow Wagtails, Greenshank and Little Gull.  Then it was time for home after a canny day out.

A couple of the young Shelduck from the 12 on the Estuary at Amble

Little Egrets at Hauxley

and of course a short video

Also at Hauxley there at least 3 broods of Gadwall

At East Chevington Lapwings and Terns were the prominent species

At Druridge we kept to the other side of the hide which the Swallow didn't seem to mind
as it carried the business of feeding the wee ones
 Then time for home

Night Night

Friday, 9 August 2013

AJJ - You Have Been Framed

"John, don't put that movie on your Blog"
"OK Alan"
(Did I Really just say OK, I Thought - LOL silently)


Now See The Full Movie
(Leave the sound on to hear Alan's informative commentary)

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Big Thanks to the Northumberland Wildlife Trust Volunteers

Last Thursday volunteers from the Northumberland Wildlife Trust came to Big Waters and did a great job strimming the scrapes, paths and rides.  Big thanks to them as they give their time freely helping tidy and clean up places that they sometimes never visit.

Whilst this was going Alan J, Graeme B and myself were clearing the forest in front of the First Hide and tidying up the hide itself (I was in charge of the odd bit of painting, as they only let me use soft ended items usually).  As usual a blazing hot day had been picked so it was pretty hard work.  Alan sent me off to do some Willow extraction with a pair of croppers (ooooh, pointy things at last) which took a fair bit as i hadn't realised how tall the reeds are as in some places they were nearly twice my towering height.  When we eventually cleared the space in front of the hide Alan and Graeme went out to clear/tidy up the island.  We eventually finished about 3ish as it was just too hot to do any more and I was knackered a bit tired.

A couple of pictures from the day but not of me as I am still awaiting photos 
which the other two took.

Graeme starting to clear the Island

Alan holding up the tree in case it fell down

I found half a photo of me (it is uncropped unlike the willows I'm disposing of)

If you want to see how we got on come on down to Big Waters and have a look and if you see anything just drop a line or two in the book, even if someone has already written in it that day, and then we can keep a track of the ins and outs of some of the feathered visitors.
I came back at 19.00 to see if anything had dropped in and Alan had beaten me to it.  The first bird we saw on the newly cleared scrape was of course yet another Water Rail

Then as dusk drew in the Corvid roost was moving nervously about and eventually settled in the wood next to the Car Park

Heading back to the Car Park we saw a couple of Noctule Bats flying high over the pond then a couple of Pipistrelles also were seen.   Next morning back again and the first bird again seen was a Water Rail (its like buses with them, none seen for months then loads come along together).  Once again a couple of Reed Warblers were showing quite well.

I then popped down to Howdon Wetlands and after topping up the feeders courtesy of Colin B and filling up the Fatballs feeder I must have not kept my head down enough as the 23 Curlews which were in the wetland in front of the hide took to the air. 

There were several young Tufted around each in a separate part of the reserve practising their diving and as I was leaving the female adult took to the air by itself and flew East.

By the time I got back to the Feeding area there were several birds around including at least half a dozen Greenfinches, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Robin, Blackbirds, a Song Thrush, the Kestrel hovering very close (hopefully it might get a couple of the rats which seem to still be around) and a couple of delightful Wrens singing away behind the trees.

Well I crammed a bit in there as when I got home I found Carole had a "slight" accident and had cut her foot and badly bruised it but being of the harder species she wouldn't go to the doctors and let "Nurse John" try to repair it!!!!  I stayed in Saturday (first time I haven't been birding on a day off for ?) then on Sunday she ordered me to go on a planned day out at Teeside with Sedgiedunemin with the Natural History Society, but I think that is enough blogging for a couple of days.  My next blog, which I will do when I have finished working, shopping, cooking, nursing, keeping my garden feeding station going (thank god she won't teach me to use the washing machine after my last disaster) and general house dirtying cleaning will be a video I took whilst on Thursday whilst clearing the front of the hide.  
"Beware Mr Johnston"