Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Weekend

 Saturday and off to Big Waters again and watching Alan J breaking the ice, feeding the birds and getting his "left foot" wet. 

3 Roe Deer were gamboling around the North Field.

Despite the snow the planes were still departing quite regularly and if you look at the pond you will see that there was still a little bit of water which was not frozen, unlike.......

Sunday midday when this was the total bit of water unfrozen.

Prior to going to Big Waters on Sunday I took a drive to Blyth where I did manage to spot 3 of the 4 Snow Buntings that have been reported  over the last couple of days although no pics.  On the wooden pier in the town centre this Grey Heron which didnt look in the best of health perched on the railings and never moved for over 30mins even with people walking within 10m of it.

Further down the harbour HMS Blyth made a nice backdrop for the Black Back Gull

Out to sea the snow clouds were on there way in so I headed for a Latte and when they passed over a quick trip to the estuary but the tides were not conjusive (just 2hrs after high tide) to a lot of birds being in view although there was a flyover heading North of a couple of Whooper Swans (didnt realise until I looked at the pics when I got home) and also several skittish redshanks flying around.

Then headed up to Big Waters and had a wander round with Alan and Graeme hunting Redpolls but with no success.   After they departed I did a quick visit to Prestwick Carrs where there was a small flock of Lapwing on the big field, a Buzzard circling by the woods, at least 6 Yellowhammer digging around the goats troughs and about 10 Redwings making their way up toward the Sentry Box.  I did take a couple of "Scenery" shots towards the airport which looked rather nice in the snow but you can only take so much nice when you want to see birds. 

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Big Waters - 26 Nov 10

Friday and a day off so off to Big Waters to see what the snow had done.  On the walk up the lanes and paths it was hard to observe wildlife as most of the time I spent watching where my feet were going as in places the snow was up to 8inches.  The scenery looked spectacular, completely free of humans and dogs for a change.  It took me over an hour to get to the hide due to the snow and the continual stopping to examine the tracks that crossed my path including Deer, Fox and Rabbit.  Part of the lake was frozen and the island has now completely dissappeared.  A glance out of the hide window was met with contrasting views every few minutes, beauiful blue skies then 10 mins later the snow cascading down.

A strange bird stood out and in my 2yrs visiting Big Waters I have never seen a Starling in the Feeding Station and a pair of them stayed for over an hour.

The Feeding Station itself was flooded with depths ranging from knee high to a couple of inches (deduced by watching Alan J breaking the ice and plodging through to replenish the feeders on Saturday).  A lot of the birds were feeding on the ice as the feeding tables were under approx 6inches of snow.  A few Yellowhammers were around, also a minimum of 10 Reed Buntings along with the usual Tits, Finches, Dunnocks, Robins and Tree Sparrows.

All the wildfowl on the ponds were right down at the far end but included 16 Goldeneye, 22 Wigeon, 12 Pochard, a couple of Tufted Duck, c100 Greylag, 70+ Teal, 8 Gadwall, a large amount of Mallards and a Buzzard putting in several appearances.  The Otter showed its face for about 10 mins and so did a couple of foxes who nonchantly strolled through the woods.  On the way out after a couple of hours the fields had quite a few gulls in them digging in the snow and observed quite a few Snipe flying around, managed to count up to 27 on the ground although I am sure there was quite a lot more as they kept vanishing in the undulating snow drifts.

Amazing Scenery, Great Birds, what more could one want (a bit of warmth perhaps)

Finally a quick vid of Big Waters Strictly Come Skating for Birds

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

2inches of Snow Hits Newcastle

05:30   Look Carole its snowing in Howdon

In Newcastle Mr Dunnock reports 2 inches of snow under his arse

Mr Blue Tit sitting about 6ft above Mr Dunnock reports no snow on higher ground

Saturday, 20 November 2010


Off for a look round the patch with a Latte in one hand and bins in the other.  The Nikon was holstered as I didn't expect to use it much on such a dismal day.  There was plenty of sound as we wandered down the tracks although not a lot to be seen as the sun still hadn't managed to break through the 30tog worth of cloud.   As we settled in the hide and one of the cameras showed 40th of a second speed(Keith and Alan were another couple of early loons) the Greylags flew in, 113 of them.  The water had slightly receded and a couple of foot of scrape was showing but the only thing on it was a couple of Moorhens although a couple of Snipe did drop in.   Then after four circumnavigations of the pond 11 Goldeneye alighted next to the 2 that were already there.

There was quite a lot of activity in the Feeding Station with Tits galore, quite a lot of Finches and at least 1 or 2 GSWoodpeckers on the peanut feeders for most of the morning.  The Tree Sparrows were also plentiful.

Its also been a while since I had a pic of a Robin on the blog so heres one.

Just to prove no favourtism heres a pic of the other kind of Sparrows that the beloved took in the Garden.

Finally, Keith and Alan left at about 09.40 and about 5 mins later this little chap popped up onto the Scrape .
Should have waited Guyz LOL

GOOD NEWS - I got my camera back from the Camera Hospital HOORAY

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Cresswell on Sunday

Sunday we had planned to nip up to Scotland but the beloved was feeling a bit off so I was forced to go Bird Watching alone.  Headed for Cresswell and on the way to the hide spotted a Little Owl flitting around and a pair of Goosander.  The light was rather good as you can see from the pic below but the photographer was not as when I got home and looked at my pics and was puzzled till I checked the settings and found I had set everything to "Sharp"

I eventually spotted the bird I had come to see, the Long-Tailed Duck and unbelievably it came quite close to the hide giving some lovely views.

Then from out of nowhere Andy Mc shouted Bittern which was flying "left to right" and I managed to get off a couple of quick shots.  15mins later I spotted it flying over the reeds again just changing position as though something had upset it.  How come all the reports I read are of it flying Left to Right, West to East, nobody ever sees it going the other way (must wait till all the birders have left then sneak across in the dark)

I was amazed at the number of Snipe that were on the pond and their continual movement, at one stage I  counted 60 in front of the hide.  Note the one perching on the stick (not the Lapwing) in the pics below. 

Another highlight of the day was my first sight, for a while, of the Barn Owl which had obviously been hunting behind us as the birds on the pond were quite skittish, mind you as a Peregrine flew over as well you cant blame them for being skittish.  It then flew right over the hide, settled on a post on the West Field line then managed to catch something, then was mobbed by Gulls and Crows and promptly skeddaddled to its "pied a terre"

We also had some great views of at least 3 Stonechats flying around in the reeds immediately in front of us and a Scaup which put in a late appearance.  Other birds seen were 8 Hoopers flying NtoS, several Goldeneyes, Shoveller, quite a few Dunlins and Golden Plover and all the normal suspects with the inevitable hundreds of Lapwings.  Then I decided to head up to Alnwick for a view of the Great White Egret, nice drive up there but when I got there (Vee following) we were too late it had vanished and despite a search by several birders I dont think it has been seen since about an hour before we got there.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Saturday - A Bit Of A Mixture

Saturday morning, weather forecast pretty good so I thought I would have a further look at the Squacco Heron.  Arrived at what I thought was quite early only to find Vee and Nigel already looking.  It was eventually tracked down by a chap from Harrogate and then flew up the river right next to the Blue Bridge where it paraded up and down for the next couple of hours with too much "light" at times.  Took quite a lot of pics but only kept a few (how unusual although you know the bad workman blames tools thing (cant wait to get "my"camera back from the fixers)).  When I left at 11ish there was about 30 people there.

Off up to Big Waters where the water levels are becoming quite high and the island has just about dissappeared although the scrape and cut have vanished, as can be seen from the picture below.  The cut has been foreshortened by the camera and is at least 20m long and normally your more likely to catch a deer or fox strolling on it than ducks "paddling".  Plenty on the pond though, 11 Goldeneye, 110+ Greylags, 4 Mute Swans providing a bit of flying fun and also spotted a Treecreeper and several Redwing.

After a walk around with Alan J I headed to Newbiggin where I tried to hone my sea-watching skills LOL.  Not a great lot flying around although I did manage to recognise a few as they flew closer but who gets Cormorants and Eiders wrong although I did spot a couple of Gannets.  Got a long distance shot of an Eider flying (my first one) so cropped to hell here it is.

I've come to the conclusion that there is a few thing I need for Sea Watching:
1.   A better telescope.
2.   A cornea transplant.
3.  5 years more experience
4.  An experienced birder sitting beside me patting my head when I get it right and ................... when I get it wrong.

Fill in blanks spaces if you want to

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Stoatilly Super Squacco

It was off to Morpeth in Cumbria this morning at 6 (at least thats where Bird Guides thought it was in their
Week At A Glance article "and another was at Morpeth (Cumbria) on 7th–10th".  They couldn't outfox me though I knew it was in Northumberland so off to find the Squacco.  It was very dark as I stood cuddling my McDs Latte near the Blue Bridge at 6.45am and the first dogwalker stopped for a 30sec chat "the Cormorant you want was here last night" says she, thanks say I and watched her dog walk to the centre of the Blue Bridge and crap right in the middle, she just walked straight past it.  Next dogwalker a couple of minutes later asked me what I was looking for, I explained and she said she had seen it several times over the last couple of weeks and said it looked all white when it was flying.  Just 1min later this white bird came out from under the bridge and landed just about 20m down towards the town.  A quick walk down the lane and there it was on the opposite bank in full view albeit still dark.  It flew up and down the river about 20-30m each time resting for about 2mins before stretching its wings again.  I was joined about 0725 by a local birder on his way to work and it was his first opportunity to see it also.  I managed a couple of shots in which the bird is just recognisable before I had to depart to earn a daily crust.

Anyway hopefully it will stay till the weekend when I might get to see it in the daylight.

Meanwhile last weekend I managed an hour at Hauxley and for 5mins was entertained by a delightful Stoat which was just playing around only 15m from the temporary Reception Centre.  Heres a few pics which are just so delightful.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

More Waxwings

It was just too much too bear, the sun was up, not much of a wind, fancied a chat, so as I was passing I took a right at the roundabout with my Satnav shouting "Turn Around When Possible" and off to Woodhorn Motors I went.  Well it was those Waxwings again, just like last year, if they were there you just kept going to see if the better conditions could improve your pictures.   I know they are much the same but I like them nearly as much as I like taking pics of Blue Tits and Dunnocks

The one above I took early in the morning with the flash on as I was "passing" the police station on my way to get a cup of coffee before going to Cresswell