Thursday, 30 October 2014

Well its Wednesday again before I can get round to blogging, got to make more of an effort instead of resting on Mondays after a hard weekend, talking to Carole on Tuesdays (not too much yesterday actually as Autumn Watch was on) and we have Autumn Watch tomorrow as well as Life Story so getting a bit square eyed but will suffer the pain in the furtherance of my Wildlife knowledge.  At the weekend Mr Sedgeum and I headed up to Cresswell where was lots of ducks and very little sand for those little guys and gals who like digging in it.  We then headed off to Druridge but met a couple of birders coming out and after a quick discussion we headed up to Widdrington to look for the Buzzard who doesn't use Immac.  There were plenty of Buzzards who did use Immac and a few Birders there who didn't (apart from Mr Common who is too young to have used any skin products yet) so another failed local twitch.  We did get some great views of a Peregrine though who was taking a paddle in the far side of the lake and decided to go for a bath as well, and it was well worth watching.  We then went on another local twitch to Tynemouth for the large flock  3 Ravens that had been reported but it was once again a negative result.  So then we went home.  I did take a couple of pictures but nothing to worry the competitors in any of the local or national competitions, as a matter of fact nothing worth looking at but to hell with it here are two I took.

Tynemouth Pier (taken from the side where there was no wind) 

 A Kestrel (on the windy side of the Pier, just hanging)

On Sunday I headed straight to Big Waters for a change and went to the hide for an hour or two to get out of the wind and (none forecasted) rain before the walk.  A Curlew went over, a Kingfisher whizzed through, Water Rails squealing away, 32 Swans + 11 Juveniles battled occasionally round the lake, a few Shoveller were a bit distant (still not a good picture) and a nice flock of about 30 Goldfinches settled down on a tree next to the feeding station but didn't bother visiting.   After the walk which was done in record time due to the strong winds and once again the unforecast rain.  It was quite a good session in the hide with plenty to see and count, even I got my counter out and managed 169 Greylag (same count as Keith).  Golden Eye still on the pond along with many assorted Ducks.  Here are a few pictures from the day.

 Wonder if the wife will mind me upsizing, I could fit a shed in the roof

Some of the 169 Greylag arriving (quick count showed 165 Alan)

Then some of them leaving

The Vole eating Heron despite waiting patiently failed to score whilst we were in the hide

Then descending onto the Kingfisher perch without as much as a sorry for not doing the hair.....

My first shot of all this years 7 Juveniles from Big Waters practising their flying skills

Finally the highlight of the day was the appearance of a mother and her 2 does which we first saw a few months ago but today popped up on the scrape next to the hide

A great little video of the Deers on the scrape at Big Waters

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Big Waters Just Before the Big Hurricane (that sort of fizzled out over here - well I didn't see much from the Office)

Sunday I did a quick trip to Howdon Wetlands but it was low water so there was not a great lot present  so shot off up to Big Waters to meet the walkers and we walked all the way to the hide as the rain was coming down.  There was a lot of movement on the pond with the rain, wind and an Otter keeping things moving around.  Here are some of the shots I managed.

Great welcoming shot at 9.30am 

Goldeneye, the first one since March

A Black-tailed Godwit dropped in for a few minutes 

A slightly better shot of a Shoveller than the ones I have been getting the last few weeks

Big Waters is always a great place for Woodpecker sightings

A youngish looking Grey Wagtail graced the scrape for a few minutes

This is the regular "Big Waters Coot Oaks", very much like the the Epsom one but about a mile shorter.  We have no starting problems here though as our regular starter, Mr O Lutrinae, can guarantee to get them moving at the first twitch of a whisker.

Searching for a scrap on the scrape

Now, for some reason I forgot to do a blog from Big Waters the previous week so here are a couple of more pictures for you lucky people

A Sparrowhawk causing chaos at the North and West end of the reserve 

Another Hawk over the reserve

It was closely followed by a Hercules

If you look closely you can see the Sparrowhawk that was terrorising the North scrape just over a week ago (think its the same one above) and could have been the one that dispatched the Grey Phalarope  (a nice pic of the Phalarope can be seen at Phil H's Blog here)

We stood looking at each other about 75m apart for a couple of minutes

 Another couple grazing on the North Scrape for over 30minutes

The end of another week, thats another week towards retirement CAN'T WAIT

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Saturday at Howick

Headed up to Howick on Saturday to twitch the Deaths head Hawk-moth being shown by Stewart and Jane at the Village Hall.   Prior to that John and I stopped off at the path along the cliffs just outside Howick and immediately spotted a Stonechat in its normal pose on top of a bush.  We were distracted though by a number of Goldcrests which were hopping around also.  When we had our fill of the gorgeous Goldcrests we turned to look at the stonechat which was being harassed by a Dunnock and a Robin we both looked at each other with looks of amazement and after a few minutes of humming and hawing we went back to the car to get the Collins.  We started going through but still couldn't decide on what it was although Stonechat and another bird were favourites (not mentioning the other candidate though).  Just then a friendly face turned up, so I shouted and he came up and looked at my photograph (as the bird had buggered off by then).

A couple of seconds hesitation and he said yes it was a Stonechat.  
I nodded knowledgably, wondering if I had a page missing out of my Collins or there was a 
special section on Birds who grew Santa Claus's beard for him in his off season I had missed.  Anyway we then headed up to Howick where we also showed some more of the pictures I took, to some of the experts gathering there.  There were, thank god, a few puzzled looks before most of them gave the verdict of Stonechat also.  A couple more pics, taken in different lighting circumstances, completely untouched by photoshop or whatever apart from a couple of sharpening tweeks  and 1 click of exposure change.

and here is a Stonechat which we saw later on in the day

Anyway the reason we were up there was this little  Big Beauty:

Tom T arrived bringing another great species with him,
the Hummingbird Hawk Moth

The following is a picture of both together
 (don't think there will be many of these around)

Atropos - The Movie

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Howdon Wetlands

Last Sunday I had an early morning start at Howdon Wetlands.  High Tide was a couple of hours past as the sun rose so a lot of the Birds had headed off but there were still a few left.

Some of the 27 Grey Herons 
 and down in the old Dock............

Meanwhile just outside the hide a Wren was doing a bit of displaying

A Fox was also out having a wander round and attempting to hunt for quite a while and whilst I was videoing it a flash went through the viewfinder which I realised immediately was a Kingfisher and sure enough a few minutes later it flew in and perched about 10m from the hide for a good 6 minutes

(note the kingfisher at 2:40)