Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Quiet Weekend, Still Got A Lifer Though

Very quiet weekend mainly due to the weather.  Saturday went to Big Waters early and returned home within an hour, it was absolutely hissing it down so spent the rest of the day sorting out photos and backing up everything apart from a foray out to a restaurant for a bit of Bass, Mussels and Squid which was Bootiful.

Sunday morning and back to Big Waters where the water had risen a fair bit but a small bit of scrape was still showing although it was covered with Mallards dozing in the sun and even when I accidentally dropped a shutter nothing seemed to disturb their rest.  There was 5 Teal leisurely drifting in the bay and a Male Shoveller which occasionally raised its head then swam into the reeds then returned to its original spot and dozed off again.  A walk round with Alan J, ISD and Keith B produced nothing out of the ordinary although we did see 4 Redstarts.  After the walk I did a few fleeting visits to local places but nothing of note was seen so I worked my way down to the coast intent on seeing if I could get a glimpse of the Greenish Warbler that Jack Bucknall had found but it was like Dodgems with bikes so I gave it a miss and headed home which took me over an hour.

Next morning I picked up Sedgedunum Warbler and we headed down to St Marys for a looksee for the Greenish Warbler.  Others had the same idea so after an hour and nothing seen we headed down to Tynemouth to see if anything else had arrived.  We bumped into Tony from Howdon who informed us that the Greenish Warbler there had flew off into the park so after looking at loads of Goldfinches, a couple of Blackcaps, Robins and a few others we spent half an hour Sea Watching, not a pleasant experience for me as I thought it was such a nice day I had left my coat in the car.  Before the icicles started forming we managed to see a couple of Gannets, a Red Throated Diver, a few Common Scoter with a couple of possible Teal and hundreds of Gulls.  We headed back to the car and found that the Greenish Warbler was now showing in St Marys so off we went.  It took about 45mins before we managed to see it properly but a very nice looking bird indeed.  Didn't want to venture too far away as the skies got darker so headed for a rare visit to Holywell.  Very little mud at the public hide so no waders showing and at the other hide several Little Grebes were quite close and a few Tufted Ducks although the rest seemed to be a bit more distant than  is normally the case when I have been there.  We were kept entertained though when it decided to hiss down by the antics of birds in the Feeding Station, specially the Moorhen taking advantage of the Feeders (see video).  A pleasant weekend with the notable exception of the outstanding Greenish Warbler and the company I kept.  John is away down to Kent for a couple of weeks so I will be venturing out on Saturdays on my lonesome and on Sundays that well known Anor Birder, Keith will be away in some foreign far off place taking pics of unorganic flying things (have a nice time).

I am getting a bit better with the videos now I took time to read the manual but can only manage a step at a time.  I've managed to do the joiny uppy thing now and putting writing on the screen (although not too well yet), now I just need to get rid of John A's voice doing his commentator thing in the background and my beloveds insistence in having Radio Newcastle on at all times when she is sitting in the garden so the Spuggies can hear the weather forecast.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Little Grebes Galore

Quick trip to Big Waters last night after an afternoon in the garden cutting/trimming hedges and delivering said remains to the Recycling Centre.  Lots of Black Headed Gulls around in the main hide John L and a young lady who was paying her first visit to Big Waters for a couple of years.   They informed me that I had just missed the Otter which had been out for about an hour but no sign of the Kingfisher.  After a while they left and after about 5 mins the Kingfisher put in a brief appearance and did a bit of fishing from one of the perches and the far end of the scrape but was in competition from one of the many Little Grebes that gathered around the scrape which at one stage numbered 10 although I could see at least another 2 a bit closer to the island.  Then just as I was about to leave an Otter appeared very close to the public end then headed towards the 1st hide moving most of the wildfowl towards the main scrape.

Snippets of the Little Grebes

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

"That Hole Has Just Flew Away"

On Sunday set off for Big Waters for the normal 9.30 wander with Alan, Ian and Keith.  The pond had risen a fair bit and both scrapes had no mud as far as we could see and the island was definitely lower in the water.  Although prior to this a Common Sandpiper appeared on the island and then vanished without me seeing it fly in or out ore even walk round the island.   I was probably too busy recording all the sightings in the book.

On my walk in early on I did see the Golden Rabbit which has been seen by a few of the Birders recently and it actually stopped still long enough to get a pic

Off on the walk and we had to stop and detour when Alan and then Keith heard a Goldcrest or possibly 2 calling whilst the 2 senior members of the company who couldn't hear a thing were told where it was and when it was calling and I realised what Mrs Blogger must have felt like when she couldn't  hear the Grasshopper Warbler and I could and kept telling her where it was was etc etc and many more etcs.  After a slow wander in what was becoming quite a warm morning we came across the first 2 of a probable 9 different Redstarts which we spotted during the walk in different combinations of sex and age.  Whilst we were all standing searching a field a bird came from very low and flew right in front of us and behind us, it was my first sighting of a Cuckoo in Big Waters.  Unfortunately we didn't see it again.  We carried on the walk and on 3 more occasions we spotted Redstarts.  It got a big quiet in a couple of places we normally see things but there had been a lot of footfall and cyclists through prior to our arrival so that was proably the reason.  There was quite a few Butterflies out including a few Walls

Then came the highlight of the day, so far, for one member of our party when Keith (resident Anorak plane spotter) informed us that the BA plane approaching was the Olympic Flame one, so immediately out came the cameras and our Apprentice Anorak (not Ian or I) got off a couple of shots which he was mega happy with.  My Pics were OKish but here is a borrowed one with the plane in all its glory.  

Every time we walk round we stop at a certain place as Alan tells us it is the most obvious place for a Spotted Flycatcher and as usual there wasn't anything there but a 100m further down we looked back and Alan called Spotted Flycatcher and after retreating back a further 20m on the opposite side of the hedge sure enough one was seen along with a couple of Whitethroats and a further 2 Redstarts.  We also had a morphing bird, which changed to a rabbit then a squirrel then back to a rabbit which is a bit more than the Chiffchaff in Fife got as it at least only had 2 legs in both variations (it was just so funny, I'm still laughing about it).

Another great walk, 2 Patch Lifers, and the best remark of the day from Ian after Alan informed us of a possible Redstart nearly 150m away in a hedge, lots of looking and eventually someone said it looks like a hole in the hedge so we moved to another angle to check it out although we were saying that if you move the hole would not be visible from another angle but as we were edging along Ian said "you won't see the hole from that angle cos its just flew away".  Yes it was a Redstart, Alan does it again.  Must of you know I'm just a beginner at this game compared to most and walk in the shadows of these guys and get the P*** taken out of me royally but what the hell, its great getting taught at 62 even though my full little brain doesn't retain a lot nowadays as others keep telling me.  In a couple of months no doubt I will have to go and get another anorak fitted for my aeroplane watching as last week I actually emailed another nurd (probably Ians equivalent) in the aeroplane world describing a plane as that old fashioned RAF looking thing and within a couple of hours had an answer back.  Must stop prattling on and get back to watching TV and talking to Carole.

Monday, 20 August 2012

South Of The Tyne and Down Whitburn Way

On Saturday, John A and I headed down South clutching passports to check out the delights of Whitburn Coastal Park, South Shields Pier and attempt to see the Bonapartes Gull which John had dipped on the last two times it had been in the vicinity.  I wont bother to reiterate the itinerary and sightings  which can all be read and seen at Sedgedunum Warblers Blog  A couple of extra pics and a small video (turn the sound down if you watch it)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Back On The Patch

Before I get there though I forgot to put up a short  video of Common Darters I quickly patched together on Monday.

The Big Waters Sunday walk started off at the usual time on Sunday and this time we tempted fate and went on the big walk but the threatening rain didn't arrove.  A couple of geese were spotted heading into the lake and not much else until we spotted 3 Redstarts, 2 of them males.  It was even quieter than usual on the walk round but as usual was interspersed with bike riders who haven't heard of bells and a certain bike rider who sends his dog running on about 20m ahead.  On Sunday his remarks as he went through were, "Sorry, cant get him to run with me", well if you can't control him don't bloody bring him out unless you have him on a lead.  Even though we ventured into a couple of spots where we don't normally go the perfect places for certain species were there but unfortunately the species weren't.  Onto the hides and the most unusual thing we saw was John B who had decided to get away from it all for a couple of hours, nice to see ya mate.  Alan J and Ian D headed off at their normal time but I stayed on for 30mins but nothing turned up apart from a couple of Willow Tits and a Willow Warbler in the Feeding Station.  On the way out though we did come across a Comma which if my memory serves me right is the first one I have seen this year though no doubt Alan J will probably correct me.  This one seems a bit well worn though.

Finally, getting onto one of Alan J's pet peeves, yes he has more than one, but litter is one of his main ones so if you know which kind person sat and ate 8 Crunchie Bars and left the wrappers in the 1st Hide then maybe you could have a word in his ear.  Now I like chocolate as most of you who know me can tell but to sit and eat these is beyond me.

Hand modelling by Alan J himself

Well heres hoping the birding picks up during the second half of the week like it did last week

Forgot to press the publish button and due to work and social commitments have just realised.  But before I do I just thought I would show you this impressive visitor that on Wednesday night just as the skies opened it flew in the study window and landed on top of my Nikon camera, I then reached for my other camera when it lifted again and landed on my hand.  I think it is a Copper Underwing

It then flew onto the blinds and stayed there for over an hour and left when the rain stopped

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Saturday Afternoon

Saturday afternoon and carried onto Druridge after a swift lunch in Amble where the Black Headed Gulls and a few Starlings benefited from Johns over exuberance with his Tuna wraps before departing in the morning.  At Druridge it was a Butterfly and Common Darter Fest and unusually I was the one lagging behind when I started playing with the macro, whilst watching various Common Darters, on the Fuji which I hadn't really used a lot.   

There was quite a lot of Butterflies around and managed to get shots of several of them

Common Blue

A Couple of Green Veined White in a Romantic Mood

Large Skipper

Small Tortoiseshell and Green Veined White


I also managed to take quite a few pics of various things with lots of legs but the following I haven't been able to identify.  This insect did quite a few short hops but never let go of the piece of foliage it carried round.  It looks like a normal fly but don't understand the carrying round of the leaf without any sort of purpose.

Not sure which Damselfly this is despite looking at all UK species, could it possibly be a female

Another fly with a version of "The Toons" strip on

Super day out with John, thanks mate.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Raft of Goosanders

Friday night and a trip to Big Waters with John (Sedgedunum Warbler).  The scrape was empty but there was plenty swimming around including 9 Little Grebes.  A couple of Pochards joined the Tufted Ducks and plenty of Mallards were spread around with the Moorhen count increasing to 15.  The Prince of Darkness dropped in and settled on the Tree in the Pond and stayed there for over 2hours.

Grey Heron

Once again a few visits from a Kingfisher who was there for quite a considerable time again flitting from perch to perch


A Green Sandpiper flew through the pond but didn't stop and a couple of Willow Tits again graced the Feeding Station although in the Sightings Book it did say that Alan J and John D did ring 3 of them earlier in the day during their Constant Effort Ringing.  One of the Willow Tits I saw was not wearing any bangles so once the ringers are obviously not working hard enough.

Willow Tit

The next morning I picked up Sedgedunum Warbler at 06.00 and headed up North intending to start at Low Newton and work our way down the coast.  Too much waffling on in the car and we overshot our turnoff and decided to start at Budle Bay.  It was magnificent as usual but could have done with one of the new Swarovski 95s to check a lot of the birds out.  The bay was littered with birds but nothing out of the usual that we could see but it was a very pleasant hour.  We then headed down to Stag Rocks where we only intended to have a quick look but the amazing sight of a raft of 61 Goosanders although to be perfectly honest I did believe they were Mergansers due to the location swimming South although there was probably more as we could see them diving as they swam along and the best picture I have shows only 57.

Goosander Raft

We then visited Stringers Scrape but to save you being bored with reading more tomes here is a video of the  Scrape

Stringers Scrape

After that we headed for Amble to fill our empty stomachs.  Will finish off tomorrow as I am just about to watch the Olympics Closing Ceremony

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Tuesday Sandwich (Birding at both ends with work in the middle)

Early Tuesday morning and a quick visit to the Tyne by the mouth of the Derwent.  Had been informed of 140+ Redshank there and even though the it wasn't far of high Tide I could see at least a 100 with a few passing the time of day away on the Jetty

Evening and after an early dinner headed for Big Waters.  Arriving there I was pleasantly surprised to find the Scrape full of Mallards and Moorhens.  The bay held 5 Little Grebes and the 3 Juvenile Tufted Ducks pottering around with a couple of Common Terns fishing.

Through the Scope I picked up a Green Sandpiper on Alan's Scrape then another flew into the bay, did a couple of fly arounds then headed over to Alan's Scrape also but I couldn't pick it out when it landed (some irresponsible person left a load of debris there LOL).  Here is an extremely bad shot (as usual) of it casting a glance around the bay.

A few visits by the Kingfisher resulted in me setting up a long distance zoom in when I watched it drop in for the 4th or 5th time.  You really get fed up of those close up pin sharp shots of one sitting on the perch, btw Alan nice shots you showed me last night of it sitting on the closest perch, you photographer you......

Finally things were going along quite smoothly on the Scrape with most things probably settling down for the night when in flew a Grey Heron

Monday, 6 August 2012

Banded Demoiselle

Visited Big Waters on Saturday and as the BBC and forecast it would tip down on Sunday which was backed up by Warnings by the Met Office I decided to have a good walk round as I suspected that our Sunday walk might not take place.  Wandering round I did manage to come across the Redstarts feeding at quite a distance so out came the camera.

Visitors landing on the pond on Saturday  included 29 Canada Geese and 42 Greylag with 39 Lapwing doing a couple of Loops then departing South.

Alan J arrived and we had a look from the hides for an hour although nothing unusual but heading back to the car Alan took me on a mystery tour to pick up a nest he had found and wanted some advice  on what kind of nest it was.  Not wanting to give him the easy way out and tell him what it was I did suggest that it was not a Blackbirds.  He did go home that afternoon, did a bit of measuring and eventually found the answer.

Sunday, again an early start and first person on the track normally gets a great view of the birds and this morning was stunning.  Lots of Goldfinch,  Chaffinch, Willow Warbler, Chiff Chaff, Tree Sparrows and a couple of stunning looking Yellowhammers. Just stood there for 10mins, clicked my shutter a couple a
times but nothing can capture the moment.  Into the hides but nothing on the scrapes so a wander back to the  public end and waited the arrival of the walkers.  Off we went and once again distant views of the Redstarts and then the highlight of the day, a Banded Demoiselle but no matter how I tried I couldn't get a decent pic (how unusual).

To the hides and the only thing of any note was the shout of Marsh Harrier by a certain person as he caught glimpse of a large bird flying low over the Reeds, "oh, you mean that Buzzard" said Alan and Howdon Blogger looked around for a Goldcrest's nest to hide in.   Whilst sitting in the hide and watching the rain falling we noticed that at the other end of the pond it wasn't raining and people just sat around for 5mins before they started putting brollies up.  At least it proved right what the BBC forecast said earlier that morning that the rain clouds would be slow moving.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Green Sandpiper

Thursday morning stopped at Shibdon for an hour before work where I encountered a Green Sandpiper and George who it is always a delight to chat to.  I have only decided to post a pic and a video of the Green Sandpiper.

Green Sandpiper at Shibdon Pond

Remember to view thru UTube