Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Grasshopper Top Tune No 1

Went out for an early morning walk around Arcot Pond and was watching a Grasshopper Warbler from about 15m away when it flew into the bush next to me and started Reeling.  Quick flick of the button and the above shaky video is the result.  Couple more shots of it also:
Also saw a Whitethroat but no sign of a Lesser unfortunately.  John, where were you, was expecting to see you there.  Back to work now

Monday, 26 April 2010

Super Sunday

The day started off well at 0715 in Arcot, within 20m I came across a calling Grasshopper Warbler, listened to it for a couple of minutes then it popped up on top of a bush no more than 3m from me.

There were loads of Willow Warblers singing away and managed to get a couple of snaps of one:
Then we spotted my first Whitethroat of the year (actually not by me but by another birder) thanks.  It flitted around too much to get a piccie but no doubt in a couple of weeks the place will be lifting with them (hopefully).  Then all of a sudden a shout from Steve Holliday and he was gesticulating toward the sky, bugger me I thought as I looked at the back end of a Great White Egret flying across, you wait for years to see one then you get 2 in a couple of weeks.  The area was also full of Long Tailed Tits and Goldfinches and Birders (5 plus me) unfortunately we were all beaten there by 2 non birders and their four legged friends who despite walking through the area at 0730 didnt seem to have much affect, most of the birders coming to see Grasshopper Warblers and Lesser Whitethroat.  I then headed off to Big Waters and just as I arrived I saw Alan J and Ian D heading off for their Sunday Walk so being the nice chap I am I let them have my company in case they needed some advice on Bird Recognition.   Its always great walking round with 2 fonts of knowledge and how Alan managed to pick out a Lesser Whitethroat call from all the others amazes me and after 45 seconds sure enough we spotted it (another first for me).  After a couple of hours walking we got round to the hide and another regular at the hide Maureen pointed out 2 Common Sandpiper feeding in the mud:
and after a while they had a short spell of displaying:
There were also 4 Common Terns present now.   I then headed to Prestwick Carrs where I failed to see the Marsh Harrier, Redstart, Tawny Owl and the Ring Ouzel which Tim saw later on so decided to head back to Arcot for a quick drop in as its on the way home and I was glad I did (on the way out I came across this lovely Linnet which was singing away so nicely I stopped and sat down for a couple of minutes to review the pics I had taken and listed to it):

On reaching Arcot I immediately came across the Grasshopper Warbler again and a Whinchat which was ranging all over the area but eventually got close enough for a record shot:

A perfect end to a Great Weekend and thanks to all the Birders I met for making it such including, Keith, Geoff, Paddy I, Paddy II, Peter, Steve, Alan, Ian, Maureen and the ones whose names I have forgot, specially the chap with the little beard I met in Arcot and in Prestwick.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

My First Tawny

Saturday and off to Big Waters, first new bird  I came across was a Common Tern which whirled around the pond for a good hour:

Also on view were a pair of Gadwall, the pair of Great Crested Grebe, a Little Grebe, a Goldeneye, several Greylag Geese and 4 Canada Geese, the Geese being obligatorily chased by the resident pair of Mute Swans:
Also there were 4 Wigeon which kept taking off and returning back to the exact same spot at least a dozen times:
Stayed till after Midday then headed home to see the beloved and a bite to eat.  Immediately after refuelling I headed to St Marys but I think there was more people there that there was at a small shindig going on at St James in Town.  Did stop for a few minutes though as there was a Kestrel putting on a bit of a show over the parking places outside the stone Screen.  Got several good pictures but mucked around with one with Photo Perfect (cant afford Photo Shop) and ended up with this arty looking affair:
Headed up to Prestwick Carrs where I had a few sightings of a Female Marsh Harrier with the standard crap picture from quite a distance:
Then after being after being pointed by Paddy in the direction of an obliging Willow Warbler I headed up the track scanning around and just a glimpse of movement made me scan the trees, something didnt look right and after about 2 minutes moving around I finally figured out it was an Owl.  Got the others to come up and then Peter arrived also.  Very difficult to photograph but got a few shots when it just moved the odd centimetre to show a bit more of itself and the sun decided to shine for a few seconds.
Also got my first decent glimpses of the pair of Redstart (thanks to Peter PC Wanderings) but couldn't get a Lens near them at all. 

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Wagtail City

Went to Cresswell on Monday Afternoon hoping to see the Whimbrel that had been reported there on Sunday.  Was glad I went when my year ticks went up a couple of notches.  Got to see 2 Grey Partridge, Common Sandpiper, 6 Yellow Wagtail, Jack Snipe (the one I saw at Far Pastures was a bit suspect), White Wagtail (once again the one I had seen previously was a bit suspect but with a full explanation of the differences I was now convinced) and finally the Blue-Headed Wagtail.  My usual crap pics are below:

 Yellow Wagtail jumping to catch insects
My only flight shot (of the bird, not the post)
Once again after the insects
Blue-Headed and Yellow Wagtail together
Once again the pair together

Thanks to Tim (blogger tick) for the entertaining chat and information and if you hadnt guessed all pics were horribly cropped to enable me to show something.  Didnt get to see the Whimbrel though (sob sob)

Monday, 19 April 2010

Quiet Sunday

Early Sunday Morning off to Killingworth Lake for another look at the Great Crested Grebes.  This time I got a bit closer and got a couple of decentish shots with some strange effects from the sun.  The one below is not altered at all apart from a bit of cropping and I think it looks really "Arty Farty"
Up to Gosforth and a good 3 hours wander round, loads of birds seen including 4 GSWoodpeckers chasing each other round the treetops.
Lots of Reed Buntings heard and seen and a couple of Chiffchaff calling.  Saw 3 Wrens in 3 different parts of the Reserve including one at the Feeding Station which I had never seen before.  Not much at the Feeding Station apart from Blue and Great Tits, the Wren and a Bank Vole.  Plenty of calling and singing in the rest of the reserve from Robins, Long Tailed Tits, a couple of Song and Mistle Thrushes, lots of Goldfinches and the bunches of Woodpigeons which seem to take off evey 30 Seconds as you walk along.  Also saw a couple of Treecreepers, a single Goldcrest (dont see one for ages then they just keep on coming). 
On the water it was a bit quieter, with several House Martins buzzing around, a few Mute Swans giving chase to the odd Greylag and Canada who dared to venture onto their territory, just a couple of Teal, a few Mallard with quite a few Moorhen and Coot.  Went for a quick spin round Big Waters, as it was getting time for Lunch and I watched the crazy Blue Tit carrying on building a nest in the open top of a metal pole which is hollow.  It dissappears down there with nest building material and stays down there for a couple of minutes at at time (dont think he has taken account of the flooding factor when it rains).
Back home in time for Lunch and a quiet afternoon sorting out the masses of paperwork that seems to accrue.

Friday, 16 April 2010

A Quiet Few Days

Tuesday morning quick trip to Killingworth Lake before work, saw both pairs of Great Crested Grebes, one pair definitely nesting but not sure about the ones on the main lake as they were in the middle for the hour I was there although they did venture over once enabling me to get a shot:

If you want to see better pics of them see Segedunum Warblers Blog.

Later on a lunchtime time walk down the business park and snapped away and rather liked this piccy of a common bird in an environment you normally get songbird pics from:
After hearing the hype on the tv last night about the probable spectacular sunrises resulting from the volcanic activity in Iceland I shot off to Newcastle this morning to get some pics along the Tyne hoping for some nice shots with the Sage, Millenium Bridge etc in but was extremely dissappointed when the sunrise was a complete flop.  Still snapped away quite happily though and got the following:
 The above was a piece of contemporary art that I have never seen before which I happened on by chance tucked away in an alley and I suspect it can only be seen properly in the late afternoon whey the sun is in the West.
 Nice shot of the Tyne Bridge with the Sage in the background although this would have been better with the reflection of the Sun on the Sage and lastly the shot that every happy snapper has taken of the high level bridge:
Back to the birdies now and a couple of Lesser Black Backed Gulls observing the traffic flow on Scotswood

I swapped a couple of feeders over at work today and immediately the finches were there chomping away

At lunchtime I shot up to Far Pastures for 30mins, not much on the pond but a solitary chiffchaff was plinking away outside the hide although it was lying at a weird angle on the branch but seemed to be OK is it worked its way around the Car Park.
On the stone in the Car Park where everyone seems to drop a bite to eat for the birds a crowd was forming
Also had some great views of a couple of Red Kites which flew around for 7-8minutes.  They always seem to come out more when the sun is shining.  Went down to the Derwent and immediately spotted a couple of Dippers just resting on the far bank, had a wander round taking a few snaps of a comma and a Peacock Butterflies then returned and found one of the Dippers still standing the same position .
On my way back to the car I came across a Pied Wagtail sitting on top of a small building in the car park.  This is the first time I have come across one down here.
Finally back to work, for those of you that think that I get massive lunch breaks all the time, its end of Term and we have no students so I tend to take a lengthy lunch break each Friday as I can get a parking place when I return.  One last pic of my favourite Mistle Thrush which I have managed to tempt down into the feeding station area with apples.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Day Out with a Valve Expert and a Tiling Expert

Sunday morning up early, passports and travel insurance checked and off to Teeside with John (SW ) and Jeff  NB (No Blog but acknowled expert in Valve Identification which proved very useful in Teeside)).  First stop was Greatham Creek and plenty of Avocets around.  There was 16 at one point:
The sun low on the horizon gave the opportunity for some great reflection shooting.
This pic shows an avocet alighting on a very rare No 4 Roof Ridge Tile (well spotted SW) which showed well through the day.
We then moved onto Saltholme and after a swift coffee and a good view of the Sand Martin from the Cafeteria we then walked round and stopping of at the 1st Hide (cant remember its name) we saw quite a few birds including my first ever view of a Hooded Merganser which came and posed quite well in front of the main windows.  Unfortunately we had just missed the 4 Yellow Wagtail and the Greensandpiper.

We then wandered over to the next hide and on the way had some glorious view of Kestrel in full attack mode which I believe resulted in success as when it dived it did not come back up and we could see a bit of movement in the long grass
In the hide we were treated to a great display of 2 Great Crested Grebes for about 20mins doing their mirroring routine and a bit of passy the reed, unfortunately a bit far off for pics but in the next hide we had some good glimpses of 2 Little Egrets resulting in a "record shot".
Also a quick glimpse of my first hare of the year
Finally all this takes place within a hop, skip and jump of the biggest chemical concentration in Europe and  I find it amazing that there are any birds here at all, although Jeff thinks he has died and gone to Valve and Pump Heaven.