Thursday, 31 December 2009

Last Post For 2009

Well my last visit to Big Waters of the year but first a question, the day before I dropped into QEII and saw this strange Duck, was told it was some sort of "Call Duck" but after googling it I couldnt find any ref to the the strange tuft on the head, anyone out there can help.

A few random pics from Big Waters the first showing the ducks eating the bullrushes which I had never seen before, is this a sign of hunger as they havent had much water to feed in.

Yet another shot of a Robin in a nice Christmassy pose, cant stop taking them.

Nice shot of a Blue Tit, it must be the cold slowing them down giving me time to focus in.

Many thanks to Alan at Big Waters for replenishing the feeders no matter what the weather, watched him walk around in up to 18ins of freezing cold water for nearly 20 mins. Also thanks to John B, Ian and John for making Big Waters one of the nicest places to go Bird Watching (Now if only they could install central heating in the Hide, a drinks dispenser and a mega waste bin LOL)

Shortly after replenishing even the Mallards come in to the Feeding Area to see if they can get anything followed closely by the Swans also.

Well thats it for the year. Happy New Year to Everyone

Monday, 28 December 2009

Cold But Sunny

At last I've found time to post a blog for last Monday. I have been out every day but just havent found time to sit at the puter. Anyway I stopped at the fields between Moor Farm and Annitsford Roundabout, on the way to Big Waters, as the Sunrise looked absolutely Fantastic.

Lots of birds in the fields but my attention was diverted to a couple of Roe Deer which were grazing away on the edges of the field. I watched them for about 20 mins but they never came any closer unfortunately. (I went back on Tuesday but was unable to spot them although the 2 Kestrels that normally hunt over the Moor House Roundabout were in that field so another 20 mins were spent watching them).

On to Big Waters where the footwear of the day should have been Ice Skates. Plenty of Mallard, Gulls, Mute Swans, a few Teal, Tufted Duck and the Coot numbers now reduced to 16 (they get less and less every day). In the feeding station plenty to see including Bullfinch, Brambling (havent seen them since though), Yellowhammer, Siskin as well as the normal Finches, Tits, Robins and an absolute flood of Blackbirds

Moved on to Blyth Estuary where there were quite a lot of Eider which made for some great pics with the the sun and reflection from the ships in the water.

Then onto the Business Park where the Estuary was absolutely full of Birds, well it was for about 10 mins until a couple of chaps with "big" cameras decided to walk right to the end of the spit of land where the river splits and sent up a few hundred birds including Goosander, Shelduck, Teal, Mallards, Swans and lots of waders and I didnt even see them taking pictures (Thinks back to when I "might" have accidently put up some birds that someone was else was watching and the comments and looks I got). Well thanks to those 2 for spoiling the fun the birders on the other side of the river were having watching them, especially the mature guy with the white hair and beard, the guy in the full camouflage suit and huge backpack seemed to disappear round the corner. Following is the only decent pic I got when they all flew off.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Big Ice (used to be called Waters)

Returned on Monday evening from a visit to Martin Mere and the surrounding area. Intended to stop at Leighton Moss but could only get to within 2 miles of it due to the snow so took an enforced slow drive back to Howdon, it took over 6hrs for the journey.

Anyway next morning I was up and out to Big Waters and on Wednesday and today. The scenery, even more enhanced by the snow and the wildlife feeding voraciously cannot fail to keep ones attention.

The only spot on the lake that isn't frozen.

Robin tucking into one of my wifes home made Fat Slabs.

Obligatory Robin in Snow Piccie.

A few of over 100 geese arriving for a rest and drink.

The Swans were unable to take to the air as they couldn't build up enough speed and were slipping and sliding all over the ice.

I saw 4 Brambling today, believe it or not they were my first ones.

Well Happy Christmas to everyone.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Quick Run Out

Had an hour or so to spare between shopping and getting ready to go away so went for a quick run along the coast, started off at St Marys where there was quite a few birds on the Wetlands. About 10 Teal, several Mallard, couple of widgeon, Redshank and lots of Lapwings dropping in and out.

Drove round to the Car Park but just sat in the car as it was a bit wild to say the least and watched the Lapwings battle against the wind. No Gulls were flying and the place was absolutely devoid of Starlings apart from a lone one sitting on top of the parking payment machine.
Moved along to Tynemouth Park and was surprised to see a couple of Tufted Ducks and a few Sygnets hanging around where the public normally feed them, although I was the only stupid member of the public around. Although I must take my hat off to the council employee who looked like he was tidying up around the bushes and pruning, if it had been me I would have been sitting in the back of the van with a cuppa reading the paper.

Most surprising of all was the presence of a Barnacle Goose which also came over towards me when I walked around which was most strange.

Finally there were several Jackdaws settling in the Gully which is at the back of the path and they didnt move when I walked past them, actually ran past as the wind whipped my hat off and had to chase it.

Out & About (Not a Lot)

Havent posted for a few days, several reasons, nothing of note, christmas shopping and lethargy due to crap weather. Since Saturday I have had a couple of trips to Big Waters, a couple to Prestwick Carrs and one to St Marys. Big Waters just prior to daylight is still one of the nicest places to be the songs and calls as you walk from the car park down to the far hide is great, it sometimes takes me nearly an hour to go the few hundred yards. A couple of pics taken in the dark on my saunters down at the weekend.

Only stayed in the hide for about 45mins but was entertained by the resident sygnets trying out their flying skills.
Female Pheasant having a bit of a plodge in the Feeding Station which is still suffering from an excess of water.

Had noted in the book that there had been a Goosander seen but didnt see it at all until I headed back to the Car Park. I noticed it, as I did a final wander round the bottom end of the water, tucked away in a corner. Stopped to watch it for a couple of minutes but that soon came to an end when a Labrador went charging into the water chasing a ball. Got a couple of distant shots but not the best in the world.

Off to Prestwick Carrs in order to stretch the legs on a good walk and the possibility of seeing the Short Eared Owls. Got some great views of 4 Owls hunting across the Carrs but too distant for pics although one did come and settle in a tree about 200m away (hence the pathetic picture below)

Also saw a couple of Kestrels hunting and a couple of Buzzards doing their sitting on a fence post thing (must buy a scope to see better - was thinking of getting one of these as money is a bit tight atm - Hawke 20-75x70 Maksutov-Cassegrain but cant find any reviews on it).
Finally, the sunsets at Prestwick are absolutely sublime, both times I was there it was picture postcard stuff although my photographic skills dont match up to picture postcard standard. If you look closely you can see hundreds of lapwings flying across.

Well we leave for a few days in Stockport tomorrow morning (my beloveds birthday), visiting Martin Mere, Leighton Moss and generally just wandering around. She was the one who wanted to go there (having overheard a couple of ladies extolling Martin Meres virtures whilst at Caerlaverock a few weeks ago) so being an old romantic at heart I fully agreed.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Shopping and Birding

Well not the greatest week/weekends birding in the annals of my long !!!! birding history. Last week was curtailed by work, only geting to look outside the office on one lunchtime, my viewing was restricted to 07:00 when I was refilling feeders/clearing paper and crap away which those Southerlies blow straight up the street. Anyway one early morning shot and a couple from a lunchtime. Nice Dunnock taken with flash about 07.10 .

Greenfinch and Bluetit discussing the finer points of peanut eating

Finally a Mistle Thrush, one of a pair that just spends a lot of time hopping from 1 tree to another, sits there for about 10-15secs then moves onto the next. When they get to the last tree (about 7 trees) they then fly back to the first one and start all over again. Have seen them do this a few times.

Saturday morning up early and down to The Toon for Xmas Shopping, not arriving at Big Waters till about 10.45, missing Graham who was just leaving (Pity, I always learn "stuff" from him). Lots of the usual suspects around with the Sparrowhawk emptying the feeding station on at least 3 occassions. The Sygnets were out having a couple of practice takeoffs and landings and when they landed I thought they were going to hit the hide.

Went for a wander round the reserve with Alan J and came across several deer hoofmarks alas nothing to fit in them.
Had a wander through the Scrubs on the opposite side of the car park which was alive with Blackbirds, Fieldfare and Tits.
Popped back home to see the beloved and the garden was absolutely chocker full of birds. Beloved had replenished some of the feeders and put some Melon Seeds, Fruit Cake and Cheese out which was causing quite a hive of activity. A new pole with a couple of feeders on was also causing a bit of a queue. Beloved also informed me that when I was shopping she didnt want her normal Chloe and Elizabeth Arden but wanted to try something new called Poison and some Chanel for a change. Would gladly have supplied the "Poison" there and then as I reminded her I had just returned from Christmas Shopping to which she replied "Thats Good Then". Shook head and walked away puzzled.

Shot off down to St Marys but the tide was just about at Bottom Water and there were people all over the place with their loverley little kids and dogs. The Lapwings and Golden Plover were taking off every 30 secs or so after being disturbed by forementioned people etc. Nothing on the North Beach due to it being cruised by quite a few "young uns" sipping a tonic prepared by Mr Carlsberg. The Coastguard and police turned up and said "young uns" left. The only place to really see any action was the carpark where the Gulls waiting for Chips to be deposited by people whose eyes were bigger than their stomachs. I have got to admit though it is fun watching them and must have taken about 40pics of them diving in screeching. Although the one below is not one of them I just liked it.

Sunday was a bit of a washout due to Xmas Shopping once again and a quick trip to Big W for a couple of hours but didnt bother taking pics. Cant wait for Friday, 3 weeks off and hopefully plenty of time to have a run out to new places and those I havent been to for a while and lose a couple of pounds to fit into the new trousers I bought a size smaller as an incentive !!