Sunday, 29 September 2013

Saturdays Wanderings

Out with John A yesterday, his first trip out for 4 weeks.  We stayed local venturing no further than St Marys, North Shields Fish Quay for Lunch (no prizes for guessing what I had), a short visit to Holywell then back to St Marys for a bit of Seawatching.  Not many photographs taken but a few birds seen including Whinchat, Yellow-browed Warbler, Brambling (heard only), Great Skua, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey and Golden Plover but the notable omission was the Bluethroat which I also dipped on Friday evening.

We also bumped into Brian B, Keith B (from the Big Waters Aerial Display Watching Team), Brian (ex blogger) from Killingworth who sealed the kiss of doom by bringing his camera to photograph the Bluethroat, Susan from Big Waters and many others too numerous to mention.  Anyway here is a couple of pictures from the day.

Bird of the Day
Great Skua, my first ever picture (once again I use the work picture loosely) of one

Well time to get back out birding again.  I spend too much time writing blogs and trying to identify Moths so I think I might create a new blog called "Moths I need ID'd So I can go Birding and Mothing" until I become as expert as identifying them as I am at identifying Birds (Stop Laughing Mr Johnston)

Friday, 27 September 2013

Early Morning Vist to the Tyne in Newcastle

Being tied up with work and unable to get down to the coast I went very early to work and stopped off on the Tyne after a tip off from Graeme B about Godwits at the Business Park.  Unfortunately when I arrived there you couldn't see across the Tyne for the fog/mist but I could see plenty of Gulls, a few Curlews, Mallards, several Teal and a couple of Redshank on the North side.  I took a couple of shots on the Tyne itself then a couple more "atmospheric" shots from the door of my office

 The next 2 were taken from the door of my office looking South over the Tyne

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Another Canny Weekend

Great morning at St Marys on Sunday as I popped down to look at the American Golden Plover again.  Still quite distant but great viewing through the scope.

Then up to Big Waters where Gadwall were up to 53 and Wigeon at 45 although there were only 3 Teal.  Other birds at Big Waters over the weekend included 5 Snipe, Jay, up to 4 Water Rail, only 1 Tufted was seen, 40+ Greylag, there were 6 Canada Geese the first ones for a few weeks, a couple of Goldcrest, 5 Pied Wagtail, a couple of Buzzard, Skylark and Meadow Pipit.   On Saturday there were quite a few Darters and Hawkers on view as the weather improved.  

We stood trying to count a small family part of Long-tailed Tits but could only get up to 4 as they kept changing direction and going back on themselves.

In the feeding station all went quiet as a Magpie sat on one of the main perches with a somewhat familiar blurry shape behind it

A quick change of focus and the situation became clearer

Eventually the Magpie scarpered and the Sparrowhawk sat alone for a few minutes.

Finally a short video of the Sparrowhawk surveying its empire

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Ignorance is Their Excuse for Non Compliance (as well as being Stupid B******s")

I thought the Riding Set all went to University
If they can't read how did they pass the entrance exam ?

Picture taken at Big Waters 22 September 2013

Saturday, 21 September 2013


A couple of weeks ago a Hobby was seen at Big Waters but unfortunately the bird below was found by Alan J whilst doing some work on the Reserve this week.  It appears to be a Juvenile which seems to be malnourished.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Belated Reports from Last Weekend

Sorry about the gap between Blogs but I have a little thing called work which is seriously interfering with my social life, also one of the Grandkids (he is 26) is staying (and staying and staying).  On with the wildlife then.........
At the weekend I managed to fit in a couple of trips to Big Waters and even with the bad weather on Sunday a couple of hours in the hide was quite entertaining and we had some good views of Hawkers and Darters which I thought were probably going to be the last of the year until I saw the weather forecast for this weekend coming, although nowadays I take the word "Weather Forecast" and the phrase "Fairy Tale" to mean the same until I open the door each morning, look out and check that the Met Office is still only batting .28 on average.  The Water Rails were also showing well with at least 4 being seen and one of them came into the Feeding Station and doing a couple of tours round lasting about 30 mins, unfortunately there was no photographers there, only Alan J and myself witnessed this.  Otters were seen on both Saturday and Sunday also on Sunday a couple of us saw a Mink attempt to cross the dam in the channel, no wonder the birds on the pond were all over the place.   Here are a couple of pics from the weekend along with a nice video.

That horrible Mr Johnston gave me one of these berries and said they have quite a "unique" taste and he popped one into his mouth to demonstrate that they were OK but after a couple of seconds he turned away with such a contorted face (even worse than usual) that I decided to give it a miss as I had heard about his legendary taste receptors and olfactory perception (or lack of them) and I wanted to keep my tasting abilities as in my retirement I look forward to taking part in the UK version of the "Judgement of Paris" although I still haven't managed to get hold of a 73 Stags Leap Cabernet from Napa (yet).

Water Rail having a bit of a bath

Then sunning and preening itself

Taken from my back door at 06:30 on Sunday Morning

A Little Grebe with one of at least 10 fish I watched it catch in a 20 minute period

In a bit of a quandry, Otter to the North and Mink to the South

Water Rail on its 2nd lap of the feeding station

Finally a short video of a Water Rail preening
(For all you avid video fans (including you, Alan) a longer one will be published in a couple of days)

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Early Morning at St Mary's

Saturday with John A still not 100% I headed out to St Mary's for a couple of hours.  The tide was pushing so there was quite a few waders around but nothing too unusual.  It was a great couple of hours or so watching Sanderlings, Dunlin, Curlews, Ringed Plovers, Turnstones and lots of Golden Plovers along with a multitude of Gulls.  

I spotted a Coloured Ringed Turnstone which I first saw at St Marys on 24 Dec 2011.  It was ringed on 3 Feb 2000 as an immature (born in 1999 ring no SX83306) at St Marys by Robin Ward and has been seen 4 times in the last 3 years

Thursday, 12 September 2013

More From The Weekend

Early morning stillness at Shibdon on Sunday

Lots of Redshanks around

A great looking Greenshank came quite close

Didn't put in my full shifts at Big Waters this weekend as I headed to East Chevington after a short early morning visit on Saturday and on Sunday I had left phone in the hide and had to go back and retrieve it so didn't do the usual walk.  Nothing really new around but was pleasant to sit in the hide and just gaze around.  Another variation of one of my favorite subjects at my favorite place and a few more photos

Finally, in the back garden our first Speckled Woods arrived on Sunday

Monday, 9 September 2013

Nice Little Rump!

Nipped up to East Chevington on Saturday to see if I could get some decent views of the White-rumped Sandpiper as the last and only one I saw was a dot in the Saltholme area.  Sure enough great views through the scope and also a bonus of 3 Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stint and the Spotted Crake putting in a couple of fleeting appearances.  To save boring you with loads of photographs I have done an all in one picture.  I assure your the White-rumped and the Curlew Sandpipers are in this picture along with the Little Stint and possibly the Black Tern which I nipped back to see a bit later but didn't see on my first visit

A little bit of a closer view of some of them

Also dropped into Druridge where it was quite quiet although I did get a couple of snaps which I quite like

A Sparrowhawk was pursued across the pond by a Crow thought it
was something else at first but was soon put right by the 
"Howdon Blogger's What Do You Think of this Picture Scrutineers Committee"

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Travelling Alone

With John A not feeling too well I didn't get far this weekend, only visiting Big Waters,  Howdon Wetlands and an early morning drop in at Shibdon Pond.  At Big Waters on Saturday lots of Willow Warblers and Chiff Chaffs around with a couple of Yellowhammers keeping the photographers happy.  There was of course the Spotted Flycatcher which I previously reported also.  The odd couple of Water Rails were showing especially where the channel in front of the hide has been widened and a "dam" built to help those feathered friends walk across instead of having to expend energy by taking to the wing briefly.  Once again thanks to those who put in their valuable spare time to volunteer to do these jobs, you know who you are and so does everybody else, so give them a pat on the back when you see them.  In the Odonata stakes Migrant Hawker, Common Darter, Ruddy Darter, Southern Hawker and Emeralds are still knocking around with the Migrant showing well in the new channel.

I have been neglecting Howdon of late and haven't been for a couple of weeks.  There are plenty of Speckled Wood around with Common Darters showing aplenty as well.  Don't get a chance to look for the birds in the Feeding Station as by the time I have put some Fat Balls out and filled the feeders with Colin's seed they have all scarpered.  From the hide you always manage to get a view of the Kestrel which is nearly always around.  The site is now getting a bit overgrown but you can still see plenty including Tufted, the odd Gadwall, Shelduck, Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank, Moorhen, Mute Swans and a variety of Gulls and the odd few Stock Dove.  The Kittiwakes and Terns have stopped visiting now but hopefull they will return next year.  The Grey Herons are still around in quite good numbers and in one of the pictures below you can see seven of them. 

Back in the house, resting after a hard days working, the shout of Sparrowhawk comes from the Garden, so grabbing my camera and shooting through the window, it quickly took off from the top of the house opposite where it had been eyeing things up, so only a blurred pic was obtained.  An hour later a shout from downstairs alerted me to the fact that it was back and was sitting on the grass in the Back Garden with its kill.  I snapped off a couple of pictures through the window then went downstairs but as soon as I opened the back door it was offski.

Sunday morning and half an hour in Shibdon as I didn't fancy walking round Big Waters in the bloody awful wind.  A Ruff was feeding in front of the hide and a Greenshank was asleep in front of the hide for all of the time I was there apart from about 10 seconds when it did a good wing stretch then went back to sleep again.  For once I had the camera in my hand but it was a bit of a distance away from the hide

At Big Waters I met up with Alan and Ian and we decided to play safe and head for the hides as the wind was really getting strong now.   We managed to see a Pintail and there once again was a fair movement of Gulls North West which we noticed last weekend also.  Wonder if they are going around in a big circle continuously in order to fox the sad people who take notice of such movements !!  The Emirates flight came in and it came across the lake in a very different flight path than normal due to the wind.  If I had been a bit quicker I would have got it directly over the island

The island is now  practically Gulls only with the the Lesser Black Blacks joining the Black-headed and the odd Common Gull.

Otter is still showing

Well a quiet but nice weekend rounded off by an amazing Sunday Dinner cooked by my BFA then on Monday back to the thrills of Database Testing - Oh Bags of Joy,

Couldn't get to Big Waters this afternoon, Tuesday, even though Alan J was reporting a Bar Tailed Godwit on the scrape (sob, sob) and then had some stuff to do at the house, now I am sitting here quite full after dinner and  can't be bothered to head up there.  Hope some of the others got to see it.