Thursday, 27 December 2012

Boxing Day

Couldn't even get out for a walk on Christmas Day as by the time I opened my pressies and waded through the mountains of food it was a few minutes of 4 and time to open "some" of the boxes/tins/packets of sweeties I received.  Boxing Day I was up early and away although the weather wasn't the brightest but still great to get out.  Big Waters level seemed to have dropped a bit as when I was there a couple of day ago the island was not in view at all but now you could see a couple of inches.

The pond was filled with Wigeon and Mallard with a few Coot, 3 Tufted Duck and a solitary Goldeneye.  Plenty of Gulls around and at one stage up to 7 Cormorant and 8 Mute Swans.   Greylags and Canadas dropped in and out from the North Field with a Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk sitting high on the Alders keeping an eye on things.

In the Feeding Station Charlie S was awaiting the arrival of the Water Rail and sure enough it put in a quick in and out in its normal style and a opportunity for one pic only which I took with the wrong set up as I had been playing with the dials as usual so all I got was a completely dark pic so the Shadow Protection was tweeked to its fullest and at least you can tell what it is.  No doubt Charlie's were more than a notch better than mine.

A Kingfisher shot through the perches did a fly round without bothering to stop and headed down the pond towards the public end never to be seen for the rest of the visit.  The Willow Tits were in and out very frequently and managed to see 3 in view at the same time.

Other regulars included the Great and Blue Tits, Tree Sparrows, Reed Buntings, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, lots of Moorhens, Goldfinches, Dunnocks, Chaffinches, a Wren and the Robins.

The hide was quite busy for Boxing Day with Alan J, Graeme B, Trevor and bumping into Steve W on the way out.  With the heavy rain showers increasing a couple of rainbows were showing but it was time to go as the BBC had decreed it would rain from 1300 hrs although the first heavy showers did hit us about 1100 but whats a couple of hours between us (the TV licence paying public) and the BBC's (highly paid weather forecasters) interpretation of the Meteorological Office Office forecasts.

Note the 2nd Rainbow in the distance

Finally on the way out we did spot a few Bullfinches flying around the car park.

On return to my humble abode I was met by my own little wild thing (no, not the wife) who was sitting 
waving his huge paw at me in a threatening/begging gesture (yes, a bit like the wife) for his treats.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

A Few Days Away (Happy 65th)

Back to "Sunny" Newcastle after a week in Cornwall where despite the weather we had a great time.  Highlights were the Eden Centre, it was unbelievably impressive and massive and due to the weather it was quite quiet, the company + drink (Rattler Rules) and the Cornwall Cream Teas (heaven).

I didn't expect there to be many birds in the Domes but the amount of Robins seemed to be endless but working on GBs rule of Constant Surveillance I only saw 3 but they followed me around the place the whole of the time I was in there.  There were a couple of other species but it was the vegetation that was astounding.  

Bumped into a few of these just wandering around the Rain Forest Section.

Then there was the main reason for our annual Christmas Jaunt,  although I still have a bit of catching up to do (but not much), here is a representation of the cards we received although there was plenty more on our return to the house (just in case you didn't see yours)

For cake lovers Cornwall is amazing, all cakes seem to be double the size of the ones you get in our shops

Once again "Happy Christmas" to everyone from
John and Carole
Mam and Dad
Grandma and Grandad
(delete as appropriate)

Friday, 14 December 2012

Lots Of Tits

A trip out with John A to Big Waters via Killingworth for a Latte had us getting some of the closest views I think we have ever had of Waxwings.  So here is yet more pics and a small video.

As the sun rose and the light reflected on the thin clouds we just stood and watched

The clouds dispersed and the birds just changed colour and it was like this for about 10mins

They were chased several times by a combination of  Magpies, Blackbirds, Mams with Pushchairs shouting ooohhhhhh look at the pretty birdies and double decker buses passing.   I only got one chance of flight shots though as they always seemed to go off in the wrong direction

Passing by the "Sign of the Latte"

A short video of them as them moved around the area

We then headed up to Big Waters where the pond was about 70% frozen and the multitude of Wildfowl, Gulls and Swans were crammed into the 2 non frozen areas.  We spotted Bullfinches, Goldcrest, Siskin, Yellowhammer and several Wrens on the way in, also a couple of Grey Squirrels were working their way along the ditch on the side of the track.  On reaching the Hide my compadre kept counting the Moorhens in the Feeding Station as he had asked me what the records was for the number spotted actually in the Feeding Station and to be honest I didn't know but told him 12 after a quick glance.  He then started counting loudly on lots of occasions and after about 20 mins he hit 13 and was exceptionally pleased with himself and so I congratulated him.  Will have to check with Alan J what the record is and if it is over 12 then I wont bother to tell him but if it is I won't tell him either but anyway will keep him away from Alan for a while in case he mentions it..  Whilst John was counting I had set my video camera up to use its sensor facility where if something appears on the screen then then it starts recording (bit like a trail camera), although the last one is a hand held jobby.  So here is 

Lots Of Tits

Thursday, 13 December 2012

3rd Big Waters Visit in a Row (Heaven)

Managed a wander round Big Waters last Sunday with Ian D and Alan J.  It was pretty cold and the wind certainly chilled ones bones on certain bits of the walk so we decided on the short walk although on bits of it more time was spent looking at the ground as the wind blasted into our faces.  We didn't see any Greylags in their favoured fields but substituting for them for our viewing pleasure was about 30-40 Fieldfare with the same number of Starlings feeding on the ground.  A couple of Partridge were also spotted, my first for a few weeks.  A large flock of mixed finches were spotted in 3 or 4 locations as they moved about the area with quite a few of them feeding along the boardwalk on the way to the hide.  The pond was FULL of wildfowl and I vaguely remember Alan saying something about another record Wigeon count of over 400 although I could be wrong (as I have been on many occasions).   The large amount of Wigeons and Mallards is added to by a smattering of Gadwall, a fair amount of Teal when they come out of the reeds, the Coot count increasing also, a fluctuating number of Mute Swans (not above 10) amd high single figure Cormorants which seem to dominate the small island (there is just a few inches showing now with the rise in the water) although still no view of Tufted Ducks or Pochard for a while.  A couple of Grey Herons are regulars with a Bittern putting in odd appearances (spotted last Tuesday and Friday).  A female Goosander was a suprise drop in on Sunday as it landed quitely then within 30 Seconds was out of sight then a couple of minutes later off it went doing a circuit of the pond then heading off in the direction of Killingworth (Once again I though Alan mentioned something about it being the first female for ?????? (think it was a while).   A not bad morning out if you can dismiss the nithering wind and the mud/slush.

Whilst waiting for my fellow walker I put out a few bits and pieces which attracted  the odd bird or two

The light coming through the trees makes it seem warm - Photos Lie

Hey You, Who Me, Yep, Get Offa My Pond 
(Thanks to the Rolling Stones)

A few of the mixed Finch flock flying around
(Lift the camera, dont use viewfinder, point roughly, press button several times)
Another free photographic tip

I think its Big Waters that needs an extra Landing Strip, not London

This is where the 3rd picture should have been as the Cormorant landed gingerly on the end of the island
(but Mr Nikon ran out of buffer puff as I had taken several shots previously)
For a good flight sequence shot see Twelve, Twelve, Twelve but dont believe that 100m rubbish,
I reckon it would have taken Usain Bolt at least 14 Secs to run the distance

Now for the Anorak Wearing WannaFlyBees: Note Alan on the left hand side, the Emirates on the right and the dot in the middle is a C130 Hercules.  Have you ever seen such 3 fast moving objects in Big Waters
at the same time
(ps. Alan, I did get them in and I didn't know it)

Is it the Wind or the Bittern that keeps causing all the wildfowl to move to the middle of the Pond ??????

Down for a few Seconds then Offski

Finally the Willow Tit that Peter From PCW reported on is still in captivity although it is being fed and watered appropriately and will be released in due course but in Big Waters when we say 30 Days Food and Water we mean 30 days and you dont get 25 days remission cos your a good boy.

Note: Face partially obscured as we must protect the criminal and the leg chain has been removed (after complaints) although the shackle is left on as a deterrent

Finally using a bastardised sign off from a well known Ex-Blogger (or is he ex) would say

"Blogger from Howdon Out" (see you soon)

Saturday, 8 December 2012

A Bird Blog (sort of) At Last

Its 04.15 on Saturday morning and this is the first time for ages I have had a chance to do a blog (about birds).  I did managed to get out last weekend for a couple of short visits to Big Waters but that was all.  The water level was quite high but the bird counts were also with Wigeons over the 300 and Mallards hovering round that figure also.  A few Gadwall were still around along with a few Teal but not a sign of Tufted.  Some Goldeneye, I think it was 5, were present (cant remember exact figures as I had forgot my book).  In the Feeding Station good views of a couple of Willow Tits, lots of Chaffinches, the ever present Tree Sparrows are still buzzing around with a couple of Woodpeckers putting in appearances.  Well thats all I have time for (some might say thank good) as I now have to recharge batteries as I am photographing all the adorable little kiddiewinkies with some weird guy (sorry Geoff) in a red suit for the Works Children Christmas Party so thats another day birding missed although I am determined to get out tomorrow to Big Waters for a walk round in the Sunshine (well at least the BBC and Met Office says we are going to have SUN tomorrow).

Counted the birds but wonder how many are still in the reeds.  Need an appearance of the Bittern, seen on Friday last week, to move the wildfowl out of their hideaways.  Dont know if the Bittern has been seen this week.

The walk in to the Reserve was a little slippy on Saturday and when I got to the 1st hide Alan J was in there refusing to move along the seat as he had warmed a little bit up and wouldn't give it up.  

A few Greylags flying over but not many landing although a flock of over 130 have been regular visitors over the weeks.

Finally I wonder if you can figure out what this Blackbird has been eating (bit like my face after my 
toast and honey/jam for breakfast)

Well its taken an hour and 45mins to do this blog as I have had to make a cuppa, then decided I was peckish and toasted a Teacake with lashings a little bit of Lurpak, fed the cats twice, put 3 different lots of batteries on to charge and suddenly remembered where I had put my Beloved's birthday present (for safety) although it wasn't there when I looked, god when will I find those Earrings (Everyone knows what she is getting but she dosen't cause I haven't taught her to switch the computer on yet so she can't read the blog).

Well time to run a bath for a bit of a soak.

Monday, 3 December 2012

The Star Awards (No Birds With Feathers)

A few excerpts from the "Star Awards 2012" which
took place on Friday 30 November 2012

You can best view this video by pressing the Arrow then
selecting the icon shaped like a sprocket and changing the
quality to suit your computer and then changing it to Large Screen