Tuesday, 31 May 2011

3 Day Weekend (Part 1)

3 Days off and an average of 14hrs absence from the house each day resulted in loads of pics stacking up and no time to write blogs so this is just a quick one with a few pics.   First of all this female Great Spotted Woodpecker was feeding its young ones (numbers unknown) about every 5mins and there was no sign of the Male.   The first pic is when she returns to the nest she sat about 5m away on a branch then called 4 or 5 times, the chicks responded so then she flew in

Then when alighting onto the tree she waited between 5-10 seconds,

then its head goes in - I only got to see a little beak once so I presume they are just recently hatched

At Druridge this little chap/chappess was quite busy just outside the hide building/renewing a nest obviously or it just wanted to look busy (like some people do at work) just shuffling the same item around all the time

In the hide 2 Little Ringed Plover pottered round outside the hide, one of them flying off after 30 secs of the shutters being opened in a Northerly direction and the other hanging around for 5mins then flying off Southerly

Blackbird also at Druridge seeming to be collecting food for chicks also as he kept popping in and out to the same area whilst I was watching the Spoonbills waiting for a bit of movement.  I have never seen birds that sleep as much as they do.  Also spotted a Drake Gargeny.

Thought it was time to go and see the Terns also this weekend.  Plenty of Artic and a few Little Terns at Long Nanny whilst at East Chevington a few Common and Sandwich Terns.  Also a Roseate Tern at Long Nanny was quite a suprise as the Warden said they hadn't been seen for a couple of days.  Seen but not photographed  :(

Artic Tern

Artic Tern

Artic Tern

Little Tern

Little Tern

Spent 2hrs on Sunday morning looking for Great White Egrets and so did a few others but with no luck.  Then off to Cresswell (see next blog)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Tuesday Morning at Druridge

Tuesday morning I eventually got to Druridge to see the Spoonbill.  All 4 of them were viewable instantly from the Budge Screen although it was still quite cloudy.  

They were harassed by a Grey Heron and some Shelducks with the horses ambling around seeming to keep them on edge but eventually a direct run at them by one of the Shelducks sent 3 of them flying off towards Cresswell and the fourth off toward the South Facing hide.

I moved round to the other hide and although the other 3 headed back a couple of times, they never seemed to pass the boundary of the road by the entrance then wheeled around and headed back to Cresswell.  They were my first Spoonbill apart from a fleeting glance of one a couple of years ago down in Somerset.

I was also entertained that morning by a couple of Hares who did some great posing in front of the Budge Screen although no shenanigans were got up to

On the main pool a Wood Sandpiper was briefly at the west end of the pool and a Common Sandpiper was directly in front of the hide.

Plenty of singing going on all morning, especially by the Whitethroats but didnt get a glimpse of any Willow Warblers but still heard a couple of Chiff Chaffs calling.

As I was the first one to arrive in Druridge that morning when I drove in there must have been 200 birds, all shapes and sizes, took off from the ground just to the right of the entrance.  A GREAT sight (little things please little minds)

Monday, 23 May 2011

Saturday - Northumberland and Durham

Went for another early morning wander in the countryside with Carole and after stopping to watch a couple of pheasants in case they did their hari kari dash across the road  I spotted a Yellowhammer flying around and pointed it out to Carole who immediately retorted "Well theres one over there bobbing up and down but I dont know what it is".  My first Redstart of the year sat there and just looked around for over a minute.  Got a couple of shots by leaning across Carole and shooting through the passenger window.

After it flew off we decided to park up and go for a wander.  Immediately we heard a Cuckoo but it was quite a distance away.  We also saw possibly up to 4 Male Blackcaps zipping around a small copse although no sign of any females.  Several Whitethroats and at least 1 Lesser were spotted also during the course of the morning.  We did hear the Cuckoo again a few times but didn't have an OS map with me so didnt know where the paths were, if any, across the many fields.   Then off again in the car and out from a hedge dashed yet another lunatic Pheasant except it was a Leucistic one, the first I have ever seen.  I pulled over and watched whilst it ran up the road then turned round and ran back to the same spot where it had appeared from then vanished into the undergrowth

Then a quick drive to Rainton Meadows to see if we could see the Temminck's Stint.  We were greeted with "Its not been seen for a while so we are off now" as a couple left the hide.  Within 3mins 2 of them flew in giving us some great views and the offer from a chap in the hide called John who said "stick your camera on my lens and fill your boots if you want to" was taken up with swift speed.  I not only shot the Stints but every thing else in sight including Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover and many others but I wont bore you with the details or pics but here is a couple anyway.
Little Ringed Plover
Little Ringed Plover
Ringed Plover
Temminck's Stint
Temminck's Stint
Finally a nice Linnet and thanking John profusely we departed after 2hrs of good birdwatching and good crack and headed for a late lunch of Pizza at a Trattoria in Gateshead.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Another Garden Report

Carole's Garden has had a bit of TLC recently from one of the slaves sons who owed us a couple of favours, thats if you can call cutting the grass TLC.  After the influx of the Siskin then their departure it has been rather quiet

Plenty of Starling around and no sooner has Carole stuck a couple of apples out they are unmercilessly beaked to death.

The Collared Doves are still plentiful and just sit around looking mournful whilst waiting for some seed to be spilled on the ground or onto the table which is the only places they normally feed from

The Blue Tits are seen only infrequently recently as they speed through the garden to their nest boxes to feed the young uns.

About 50 to 60 House Sparrows are inhabiting the various bushes which will no doubt spew forth some more in the not too distant future.

The Gulls have thinned out a bit recently although we still have at least half a dozen Lesser Black Back and about a dozen Herring that come screeching in every couple of hours, with the odd appearance of a Common every few days.

The Starlings are becoming more numerous and we have several young ones being left in the garden for short times whilst parents nip off for a short break from the kids.   The picture below was taken approx 4-5ft from Carole and myself sitting in our seats having a cup of tea on my return from work.  The adult starling flew in with the young un in tow landed not more than 6ft from us looked up as if to say can you watch this for a few minutes then dissappeared.  It returned about 4mins later during which time the young un had pottered round beneath our feet and under the chair.  I know its "only a Starling" as some would say but its amazing to just sit and watch.

A lot of mixed bathing going on in the garden with sometimes up to about 15 birds in  that particular receptacle.

As readers will know my wifes little foible of calling blackbirds Mammies and Daddies has led her to being confused as there is obviously a nest in a hedge which we cannot see but Mammy, pictured below, seems to just sit and watch/coordinate as the now 2 Daddies (looks of disapproval from the beloved) seem to be supplying the same nest with quite a lot of tit bits and only returns to the nest when they both leave

Finally, one day last week on return from work Carole sticks the camera in my hand and says got some pics for you to look at smiling triumphantly.  Once again she has captured the Sparrowhawk, a male this time.  I get them up on the computer screen as she never looks at what she takes on the camera and just points and clicks, leaving "me" to do the tecchie stuff.  I get the pics on the screen and zoom in a bit and she says as you say its a matter of being there at the right time still gloating and then as I zoom in a Great Tits head becomes quite obvious sticking out from the Sparrowhawks left leg talons.  I will not repeat what Carole said but several expletives of anglo saxon origin were used.  

Well another Garden Blog finished except for a couple of reports.  Last night our first Swift flew across promptly followed by several others, a pair of greenfinches have started to appear once or twice a day, the Dunnock has a nest not far from the Blackbird as they seem to use the same access point to the thick hedge which is directly below where the cats like to lie although they just sit and look up  for quite lengthy times then get bored and go back to sleep.  Butterflies are now being seen with at least 5 different species.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Beacon Hill

Sunday and headed for my first ever trip to Beacon Hill.   First encounters when nearing the Hill was with Hares, at least 6 were seen during my wander round

Deer seemed to pop out in several places and this one just stood and watched me whilst I got out of the car and took a couple of snaps.  It didn't run till I got back in the car and headed towards it  and was only about 20m away before it skedaddled.

This quite impressive herd of horses seemed to be posed for a shot when I passed so I stopped and obliged.

Red Legged Partridge appeared on the road on several occassions with a clutch of 4 being the highest count.

Spotted one Lesser Whitethroats near the farm but only got close to Whitethroats which there were several around and singing from various perches

Then again deer popped out, on the same road but about 3/4 mile further on
I will have to compare the pics properly to see if its the same one.

Further on through Beacon Hill there was a sizeable flock of Linnet and Goldfinch which were doing circuits then landing on the road for a portion of that Northumbrian delicacy Sun Baked Gravel and whatever else was down there

Plenty of Willow Warblers around

Then headed back home to collect beloved for Sunday Lunch and a bit of the old cold white stuff from Seaton Deleval (aahhhh heaven).  Then went for a sit on the headland at Tynemouth where a little bit of excitement was the lifeboat coming out at very fast pace to tow in the yacht which I think had lost its engine and was bobbing around midway between the lighthouses.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Nice Birds and Broken Cameras

Friday morning and a lovely rainbow detracting that beautiful building known as the Dunston Rocket NOT.  Thankfully it will not blot our landscapes much longer when looking from the North side of the Tyne as I believe it is about to be demolished.

Not a great lot on the Tyne in the last few days apart from a Spotted Redshank for 2 days although its cousin the Not So Spotted Plain Redshank was around in ones or twos.  A number of Shelducks were seen mainly closer to Newcastle though and even the various Gulls were very low in numbers.

Heading up the Derwent early in the morning last week gave me some great views of the Adult Dippers with their young ones.  I wonder how long it takes before they start feeding themselves as articles I have read say up to 2 weeks before they become independent and I have been watching this family of 4 for 2 weeks now and they are definitely still being fed by the adults although they do tend to do a bit of foraging themselves but in very slow water and dont submerge

Up at Big Waters on Saturday and several Sedge Warblers were extremely vocal doing some good choral work just outside the hide.  Lesser Whitethroat were heard but not seen despite a good intense 30min search.

This gorgeous little thing wandered along the front of the freshly cut scrape and stayed there for nearly 10mins.  It appeared later also with a partner in the North Field

Managed a nice sort of silhouette shot of a Whitethroat which I cropped quite severly but think it still looks quite good specially with the blurring from the bits of foliage in front.

Then my birding was interrupted as I had to take Mr Nikon to the hospital as the SDHC Card was stuck.  The kind Doctor in Gosforth extracted it and as it is still under warranty I will send it back to the factory when I get the Junior Master Nikon back from the factory which I dispatched on Wednesday as it failed completely.  I then thought I would drop into Holywell before heading home and glad I did.  Bumped into a chap whilst walking in who told me there was a Little Stint on the East Pool but when I got there it had evolved into 2 Temminck's Stint.  A Lifer for me and a big thanks to Liverbirder for letting me use his Scope as I hadn't bothered to bring mine.