Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Big Waters Wander

I arrived at Big Waters early on Sunday about 07.45 for an early wander round hoping to spot something but it seems all our feathered friends didn't have the same idea as me and were tucked up in the warm somewhere.  Even the ducks on the pond were in 2 groups hiding behind the island in an attemp to get out of the wind.  Not a Teal in sight either.  I was entertained for a short while by a Charm of Goldfinches then got down to a bit of counting, as the birds on the pond had been disturbed by something I couldn't see and had had come a bit closer to the public end.  This unfortunately didn't take too long and the 3 Pochard, 4 Tufted, 68 Wigeon, 6 Mute Swans, 8 Cormorant, 18 Coot, 8 Mallard were all I could make out.  Bumped into Graeme B but he wasn't doing the walk today due to prior commitments and he headed off to the hides.  Keith, Alan J and Ian D arrived and Alan regaled me of the birds I had missed during the week all of which would have been year ticks, they were Redshank, Great Crested Grebe, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail and Crossbill.  Off we went on the walk but spotting LBBs was harder than getting 3 numbers up on the Lottery lately and it was bloody freezing so we did the short walk and ended up back at the hides where the numbers of the birds had increased but not by a great lot.  Alan put some food out and immediately the Feeding Station was full including Willow Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrows and all the usual suspects.  Then the bird of the day was spotted, a Drake Pintail, keeping close to the reeds on the new scrape.  Didn't stay too long after that so an early bath was had

Some pictures from the day

Quite a few Wigeon about

Picnic Table hogging Robins 

Fascinating the way the water freezes when there is a strong wind

One of the Willow Tits tail feathers has turned white.  Is this common ? 

 The same Willow Tit and you can just make the white tail feather out

Tree Sparrow - there seemed to be quite a few around today

Stood watching this Kestrel for a while waiting for it to fly off for a couple of flight shots but it just flapped its wings a couple of times. 

Then when I turned away and headed to the car some guy came up the path between the woods and field and it lifted and all I managed was the following shot  

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Rampancy at Rainton (R Certificate)

Saturday morning and a long hard look at the weather and John and I were still sitting in our respective houses in Jim Jams at the designated departure time.  At 09.30 the beloved asked me to go and get a newspaper so I decided to head out for an hour or two.  Not a great lot seen so here are a few pics from earlier in the week and a couple from today.

A nice male Reed Bunting at Big Waters

A bit of "Rampancy at Rainton"

The Moon taken from the house a couple of weeks ago
with a Gull in the foreground

Invasion of Greenfinches

"Shall I, Shan't I"
Don't Do It The Owls will miss you

Still a few Brambling around in North Tyneside

The Herring Gull which I spotted last week was probably T:204 not T:207 as 7 has only been seen in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.T:204 was seen several times in Peterhead last year, seen in January, July, and September. It was then seen in Le-Potrel beach, Pas-de-Calais, France on 13/01/2013.   So although we don't know for certain, it seems more likely that it was T:204 making it's way back up from France to Peterhead for the breeding season.

A very quiet week and according to Windguru the lightest wind till the end of the month will be 10mph with all coming from the East with the temp not getting about 3Degrees

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Saturday Minus the "Sedgedunum Warbler"

Saturday morning and not having to pick up The Warbler I felt a bit strange and with nobody to buy my Latte I was forced to use one of my freebie vouchers.  Off down to the Dark Side and first a visit to Thornley where it was very quiet till I put a bit of seed down and out came 3 Grey Squirrels, a couple of Blackbirds and Tits Galore.  I sat and watched a Grey Heron for a good 10 mins in the mist whilst it did a bit of stalking and had a couple of smallish successes.

Off to Far Pastures for a quick visit to the Car Park.  A couple of Nuthatches were quick to the seed I put out but no sign of Willow Tits.  At least 4 Goldcrest were around but its still hard to get a steady lens on them especially in the mist and drizzle.

Down to the Derwent to look for Dippers and they didn't take long to find, also a few glimpses of Grey Wagtail .  The Dippers seemed to be setting up home or at least one them was with the other just standing around watching (bit like me watching the beloved hoover, wash, iron, cook etc)

Then a quick trip to Big Waters as I couldn't make it on Sunday.  Good views of one of the Deer as soon as I arrived and it stayed in the same field for a good 15 mins but was still watching me intently.

Quite a lot of the usual stuff on the pond although the Whooper and Goosander were not seen so it looks like they have moved on.  The Cormorants were relaxing on the island with every so often 1 or 2 flying in then 2 flying off.

I then decided to head back South and found myself missing Sled Lane and ending up in Clara Vale where a pleasant 30mins passed catching sight of Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher, Bullfinches, Woodpecker, and the usual Tits and Finches.

I then headed to Sled Lane for my final stop of the day.  The 13 Goosander were all on the far bank and stayed there throughout  There was quite a few Tufted Ducks and 3 Goldeneye on the pond with quite a lot of  farmyard ducks and geese and a single Mute Swan

A canny day out but spoilt by the lack of banter with The Warbler

ps.  I did go out a bit later to the Rising Sun but only caught 2 glimpses of SEOs.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Bits and Bobs From The Last Week

A few things that due to time constraints (Eating Out, Presentation Awards (mine), Meetings and Socialising) that I didn't manage to Blog about.  First up is a short trip to Big Waters last Sunday, absolutely lovely when I arrived bright Sunshine, dry ground then before I had time to finish my Latte it was absolutely blitzing down with snow.

At times the island was nearly invisible in the Snow

Gorgeous Scenery

Then the snow stopped (for a while)
I dont know if it is my imagination but I am sure a Swan with the same crooked neck was at Big Waters last year or is this a common occurence

Pair of Goosander at Big Waters last weekend but couldn't get the two of them together

Curlew battling its way through the snow

In North Tyneside the Long-tailed Tits were out in reasonable numbers

At work in the College I put out a Fat Ball feeder and the same afternoon a small flock of 14 Long-tailed Tits came in to feed, unfortunately camera was in the car.  Then on Thursday morning I spotted a Black-headed Gull with a Colour ring on so got my camera out in anticipation but it never returned but a Herring Gull did which I got a couple of snaps of then submitted the sighting report.  I didn't get the full number as the last digit could be a 4 or a 7 but I submitted it anyway and have sent pics which show some of the number on the BTO ring.  From the colour code and the alphanumerics I ascentained it was ringed in "Aberdeen".

Thursday evening straight from work to the Great North Museum for the North East Photography Awards.  I hadn't submitted anything (for obvious reasons) but just wanted to see the pics and there some fantastic ones, no doubt they will be in some some sort of bulletin or on a website soon.  
The following are a few pics of chaps I know receiving prizes.

Eric receiving overall winner from David Lindo (Urban Birder)
 Callum, unfortunately (as usual) I was a bit slow
to get the optimum shot

Then a quick trip to the Bird Club meeting at Gosforth to acquire more 
knowledge to cram into my tiny old brain which seems to be retaining
less and less each day

Finally, have you done your bit for Red Nose Day

(or in the case of SedgeDunum Warbler, Hi, as he just sent me an email
in which the first line was the following
"Just got up.....9pm"

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Saturday Morning (2nd Half)

After our visit to the Fish Quay we headed along the coast stopping to look at various spots but the rain and cold meant that when we got out of car we got back in quite quickly.  Onto Holywell but as we drew nearer the weather got worse so just a slight diversion and off to Gateshead, stopping for a Latte on the way.  We headed to Shibdon first and moved quickly into the hide where we spent a pleasant 30 mins looking at Gulls, 22 Shelduck, several Canada Geese, and a few Mallard and Teal.  We actually spent quite a while figuring out the differences between "SeaGulls" and when we should be wishing them Happy Birthday as they changed from 1st to 2nd and to 3rd then 4th if applicable, Sub Adult, Full Adult then when we moved onto race our brains began to throb violently.  

We then moved up to Far Pastures, intending to only spend 30mins there then move down to Thornley and finishing at the Derwent.  As we pulled in we decided to have another coffee in the car park and whilst John played Mammy I stuck a bit of seed on the rock and immediately we had birds feeding.  We had the normal Great, Blue, Coal Tits, Blackbirds, Pheasant but what we had not figured on were 2 Nuthatch and 2 Willow Tits.  We were just taking pics from our mobile hide but the rain/sleet was still hissing down.


Willow Tit

Coal Tit (nice comparison with Willow Tit - just need a Marsh Tit now (where can I see one ?))

We did pop into the hide for 15 minutes although there was only a handful of Tufted, a couple of Mallards and 3 Canada Geese were playing tag/chase/leave my girlfriend alone or some sort of similar game although when 2 of decided to consumate their marriage it was quite a delicate affair compared to most I have seen as the male was probably cream crackered after all the precoital antics

Just a standard pic of a Canada here, no cheap thrill shots (although they could be available on a small fee basis from a Blog site not too far away)

On our "long" walk back to the car we encountered the 2 Goldcrest that John had seen earlier whilst having a "wander" although we couldn't quite pin them down for a decent pic and this was the best of half a dozen extremely bad ones.