Sunday and up to Big Waters eager for a walk as the weather promised to be better. Graeme joined me in the 1st hide after about 10 mins to do his Webs Count before heading of on a Twitch to Durham. The water had risen dramatically overnight and the normal photo I take of the island with its inhabitants was very different today.
Early on this is all that was viewable of the island and not much on there
A few hours later there was a few more birds but not more island
I then headed off to meet Alan J and Ian for our walk and we were joined after 30mins by Keith.
It was quite a good walk with good light but the wind was still a bit of a bother at times but it was great not to be bothered by rain. There was plenty to see including Alan making a prediction that we might see a Grey Wagtail but might just miss it because of our walks timing (yeah, thats a way to make a prediction you might see it or you might not) but it was unbelievable as he altered our normal walk pattern by a few yards and then called us over and sure enough there was a Grey Wagtail feeding, also accompanied by a Pied. A Patch Year Tick and a month tick for the Pied which are not as frequent visitors as when I first started walking round.
Grey Wagtail - not an uncommon bird around the County but definitely a great patch tick
at Big Waters
Also saw several Skylarks, heard a couple of Meadow Pipits (actually Alan draws attention to them as 2 slightly deaf pillocks with him can't hear bugger all - one of the reasons maybe for no Gropper last year). Saw at least 4 Kestrels (or just one several times if Graeme was there :)). Also heard a single peep from an Oystercatcher but didn't expect it to drop in due to lack of an island (see pics above). A couple of Buzzards drifting over the hide gave some great views also
Some canny views today as mentioned above
Another good spot was a Willow Tit which we all heard in a place I had never seen/heard one before. Also a nice shot of "The Archway" as I call it which I always take pictures of every time we pass now but this time Alan said to get someone in to give it a bit of perspective.
Back at the hides there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing of the birds which we normally associate with the Otters but never actually saw one apart from a quick glimpse of one when I first arrived this morning but it gives us the opportunities for yet more bad flight shots (honest, I will get better)
Fossy, count them, you owe me one
The Wigeon count had decreased slightly
The Greylag count had decreased slightly also
If you counted the birds in the picture 3 above you will know how many were there today
Finally my last pictures which were actually the 1st one of the day and the 1st one I took as I joined Alan and Ian. This one I was showing to Alan which I had taken as I got out of the car and noticed 3 birds flying high but as my bins were still in the bag I just took a couple of shots then grabbed my bins but only saw dots in the distance but the way they flew gave me an impression of what they were. If you have an idea post a comment or send me an email please (I will clear a couple of hours over the weekend to read all the replies)
As I was showing Alan this pic on the camera a Kestrel flew towards us so I grabbed the camera back as I had noticed a slight bulge beneath it and took the following 2 photographs which show it carrying a kill somewhere (usual standard of photography applies)
Saturday I headed down into deepest Durham to see the Warbler from the West. Even though I got there quite early there was already 20+ people there (and I passed 2 leaving) but within seconds the birds was showing but mainly hiding behind a coconut feeder. Eventually it showed a bit more but then turned and flew across the field over the A1. Some people left and a couple of others went to hunt for it. I just stayed where I was and waited as what I had seen wasn't exactly "stunning" or a "crippler" or whatever the modern parlance is nowadays. When I go on a "Twitch" (yes, I know it was only 22 miles away) I want to see the bird, not just tick it and off I go with another one under the belt. A few minutes later it flew back in and went onto the roof next to us then into the tree on the mound where we were standing. As you know the weather was really crap (excuses again for bloody awful pictures) but I don't think anyone got any decent from those that I saw, even the guy in front of me who was clicking constantly every time it appeared, even if just one feather was showing and it was 30m away. I got some good views straight above me in the tree, enough to recognise it today, 2 weeks ago I hadn't even heard of it, but a bit of homework last night and I at least knew what it looked like. Not the prettiest of birds but it was still enjoyable seeing it and adding it to my increasing British List of which I haven't got a clue how many I have on it, but I know exactly how many birds I have seen at Big Waters last year, last month, this month. So here are the worst and best pics I took, I will let you decide which is which.
I then drove straight to Big Waters but unfortunately it was absolutely hissing down so I decided to go home and let my beloved have the pleasure of my company on a Saturday for a change, isn't she a lucky girl ladyT.
Monday morning and up early to see what the Birthday Fairy had brought me, the presents were great (thanks) but each year the cards decrease and the number of "Happy Birthdays" on Facebook, Emails get more as technology advances. Thanks to everyone especially those ones who came round to visit me. Anyway on instructions from "er indoors" I was sent off to Big Waters to see what was going on. The light was great but 2mins after I arrived an Otter swam across the lake and everything flew off down the East side so very little photo opportunities.
The Otter goes across the front of the hide looking at the Ducks on the North Side
It then heads towards them
Then off they went
Then it dives and repeats the process many times sending all the duck
down the bottom of the pond
Then after a wait I decided to head down to the 1st Hide as the majority of the
inhabitants had not bothered to come back up the top of the pond. Ian was in the
1st hide and pointed out that the Scaup, which had been way down the bottom of the
pond, had come slightly closer, although still not near enough for a decent picture.
I did get to see a bit more of it though when it decided to fly off and return to its normal
A couple of trips to Big Waters again this weekend produced a couple of new patch ticks, the first Oystercatcher of the year and a couple of Drake Goosander. The Green-winged Teal was out and about both days and the appearance of a couple of Otters had it moving around quite a lot so we spent a lot of time re-locating it. It does tend to end up back at the North (Alan's) Scrape though. A Willow Tit eventually showed itself in the feeding station on Sunday although we did have a single Redpoll on Saturday. Whilst I was there on Thursday afternoon I also saw a life tick for big Waters in the shape of a Red-legged Partridge crossing Alan's Scrape with a couple of Male and a Female Pheasant. Simon had also seen the same bird more than likely earlier on in the day.
Green-winged Teal in flight after being disturbed by Otters
And being disturbed from the reeds by Otters also
The first Oystercatcher of the Year
The Island's Inhabitants
A Flock of over 300 BHGulls arrived but nothing else with them
Having a sore leg after a slight accident at work I didn't do much working but spent most of the time in the hides (pretty cold).