Sunday, 6 December 2015

4th Time lucky!

Since it arrived three weeks or so ago the Long-billed Dowitcher at Cresswell has been staying well out of camera range.  On my previous three visits it was either on the West shore or not there at all.  However on Friday there were good numbers of Dunlin, Redshank and Lapwing on the sand in front of the hide.  The Dowitcher was mainly hanging around with the Snipe close into the reeds to the right of the hide and out of site, although it did venture out onto the sand a couple of times, allowing me to grab a few record shots in fairly good light.  

There was also good numbers of Teal and Wigeon on the pond with the odd Shoveler, Goldeneye and Tuftie.  A Kingfisher and a Water Rail also showed briefly before a Jack Snipe appeared out of nowhere and bobbed its way across the cut reed area and disappeared into the reeds on the right of the cleared area.   

A cracking mornings birding at Cresswell!!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Round Up

I've been really busy at work the last couple of months so haven't had time for blogging.  Here is a quick round-up of what I've been up to.

We spent the last week of August on holiday in Aviemore and we've never been at this time of year before so wasn't really sure what to expect.  We had planned on walking up Cairngorm on our first full day there, but the wind was gusting 85mph at the top so we decided just to get the train up instead.  From the cafe there was a flock of about twenty Snow Bunting feeding on the path just outside, which included an unusual looking leucistic bird which really stood out in the flock.  The only Ptarmigan seen that day was a very distant bird, so I was a little disappointed with that.

During the week we had a few walks around various forests on Speyside and all of these produced Crested Tit but the most Crestie's we saw that week was on a walk around Glenmore.  By the end of the week the wind had dropped a bit so we decided to walk up Cairngorm, which gave us good views of Ptarmigan a lot lower than I was expecting them.

On our last day we decided to go to Chanonry Point to see if we could keep our 100% record of  seeing Dolphins and they didn't disappoint. 

During September I managed to get up to Druridge a few times, luckily catching up with the Red-footed Falcon but not a lot else.  I did get some nice shots of a Greenshank at Druridge Pools though.

 I managed to catch up with the Shore Lark at Blyth a couple of times and this was a cracking little bird to spend a bit time with. 

A recent trip to Holy Island didn't produce as much as I was hoping, just Yellow-browed Warbler and Brambling of any note.  Although it was nice to watch four, possibly five, Short-eared Owls hunting the fields around Straight Lonnen.
On the way home I stopped off at Stag Rock to photograph Purple Sandpiper.  I got so focused on the Purple Sands that I forgot about the White-rumped Sandpiper that had been seen there. I was putting my gear back into the car when I noticed a small pale wader on the rocks below, hanging around with two Knot.  I quickly got my camera out of the car and hurried back down to the rocks.  The tide was coming in quickly so I grabbed a few quick shots before the waves flushed them further along the rocks.  As I got close to where they had landed I could see the White-rump looked quite settled so I crept closer and crouched down.  

I got a few shots in very difficult low sunlight and as I went to change the settings on my camera a big wave flushed the two Knot and off went the White-rump with them into the wader roost and out of sight. Hopefully it will hang around so I can have another go at improving on this shot.

A couple of none birding events over the last couple of months have been the closure of RAF Boulmer, which means we will never see the big yellow Sea kings again.  Very sad!!

Also the last remaining airworthy Vulcan bomber will be grounded at the end of this month. It was very nice to see her do a circuit at Newcastle Airport on her farewell tour.

A wonderful sight and sound hopefully to be seen and heard again sometime in the future.


Sunday, 2 August 2015

RSP Bee-eaters

I had a trip to Brampton with my family today to see the Bee-eaters.  We arrived at about noon and decided to have our picnic in the car before walking to the view point.  This turned out to be a good plan as I spotted a Bee-eater flying quite close to the car park, then land in a tree half way up the bank.  It gave good scope views perching in the trees and then on the fence at the top of the hill.

After lunch we had a walk around to the view point but didn't actually see any Bee-eaters from there.  With a bit of watching from the car park I was able to work out where a favoured feeding area was.  So a short walk managed to get us far better views than we could get from the RSPB view point.  

                              A half decent record shot.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Night, night.

Last night I headed out into the wilds of South Northumberland to try and see Nightjar.  I arrived at the sight around 9:30pm and after putting on lots of Midge repellent I had a slow walk into the forest.  Then at 10:20pm, with quite a bit brightness still in the sky, the first Nightjars started flying around.  At one point I had two flying around over my head wing-clapping.  There was also a supporting cast of Woodcock and Tawny Owl as well as the sound of Snipe, Curlew and Golden Plover calling from the moors.  On the walk back to the car I saw another two Nightjar, making probably five or six individuals seen.   Then on the way home I came across a badger strolling down the road.  He wasn't really bothered that I was sitting in the car with him lit up in my main beam while he had a sniff around.  He then just strolled off into the long grass at the side of the road and disappeared into the darkness.  What a superb night!!!!

Monday, 1 June 2015

East Anglian Springwatch

I have just returned from a family holiday in East Anglia.  We stayed in a small village near Thetford called East Harling, I chose this location because it's central and all the main birding sites in Norfolk and Suffolk are easily reached.
Even though it was a family holiday I still managed to do quite a bit of birding.  Thanks to my fantastic wife and very patient 8 year old daughter!
On 24th May we went to Choseley drying barns where we got Dottrel and Corn Bunting.

We spent the 25th May at Minsmere, the highlights were Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Bearded Tit, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Avocet and Red-Necked Phalarope.  Before heading back to the cottage we had a walk around Dunwich Heath where we had at least four singing male Dartford Warblers. 

On 26th May we started at Lakenheath Fen where despite listening to the Little Bittern calling for over an hour it just wouldn't show itself.  At one point I looked up and the sky was full of Hobby's, there were at least 30 all hawking insects.  Other birds seen were Bearded Tit, Reed Warbler, Marsh Harrier, Cuckoo and Common Crane.

Because the light wasn't very good when we were at Dunwich I wasn't able to get any photos of Dartford Warbler, so on the 28th May we headed back to Dunwich.  A circular walk around the heath produced 9 Dartford Warblers including one that posed for a photo.  Other birds seen on the walk were Red Kite, Hobby, Stonechat and Green Woodpecker.  A Nightingale was also heard singing.

Next we had a walk across Westleton Heath where I had a brief view of a Nightingale as it flew from one bush to another, with at least another 2 heard singing.  We then headed down to Minsmere where we watched a Bittern have an aerial battle with a Marsh Harrier from the Bittern hide. 

Unfortunately Spineless Simon had gone missing presumed eaten, but I did get a shot of his replacement, 'Frisky Phil'.

On the way back to the cottage we called in at Middle Harling Heath to have a look to see what was there and despite hearing Woodlark all I could find were Skylarks.

The weather forecast for the 29th May was for a band of rain to pass through during the middle of the day, so we started with a walk around Middle Harling Heath before the rain started.  This time we had better luck than the previous day finding a nice Woodlark feeding with the Skylarks.  Unfortunately as I crept up on the Woodlark for a photo, one of the Skylarks chased it off, so no photos.  In the afternoon after the rain had stopped we tried a few sights where I had seen Turtle Dove in the past but with no luck, though at Great Ryburgh we did see a Little Owl and 4 Egyptian Geese.

On our way home on the 30th May we tried a couple more locations for Turtle Dove but unfortunately we just coudn't find any.  So after a bacon sandwich at Titchwell we started the long journey home.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Into the Valley

Not the superb song by the Skids, but a trip up to Harthope Valley.  Starting at Hawsen Burn it wasn't long before I was watching my main target Ring Ousel, a male and female flew from the path up into a tree.  Also seen along the burn, Stonechat, Whinchat and Red Grouse.

A walk along Harthope Burn beyond Langleeford House only produced a single Redstart, Nuthatch and a superb Adder desperately trying to soak up heat from the occasional sunny spells by flattening its body out.  

A couple of places on the way back out of the valley produced Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Spotted Flycatcher, Common Sandpiper and a couple of recently fledged Treecreepers being fed by one of the adults. The only bird I missed was Cuckoo, I heard two or three but just couldn't get on to them.  

I'm off to Norfolk next week so hopefully my next post will be a trip report with some good birds in it.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

A tale of two Allens

Last week I had a trip to Allen Banks with my family and a walk along to Plankey Mill and back which produced most of the expected woodland species, Blackcap, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Dipper, Grey Wagtail and eventually a single Wood Warbler.  Unfortunately due to the poor light I didn't manage any photos worth publishing. 

On the way home we decided to take a detour to Allendale
to look for Black Grouse.  My usual spot only produced Red Grouse and Pheasant, so we headed for another site where I had seen them in the past.  A quick scan produced four Black Cock sitting on a wall and a rather beaten up looking bird sheltering behind the wall preening. 

And to finish a nice day, out came the sun.

With all the hype about the new Nikon P900 bridge camera, I was considering trading my SX50 in for one.  But then yesterday whilst up around Druridge my trusty SX50 produced these shots.

Now I'm back to thinking why do I need to change my camera and have to learn all new techniques again?  So I think I'll just plod on with my SX50, for now. 

Monday, 30 March 2015

Pigeons Beware!!

It's about time that Newcastle joined (what seems like) every other city in the UK by having a breeding pair of Peregrine Falcons in the City Centre.  Newcastle's population of feral pigeons won''t know whats hit them.  Literally!

If the wind hadn't been so bl***y cold today I could have watched these for hours, but I had to leave when I lost all feeling in my hands.  I will have to go back on a less windy day, so I will actually be able to hold the camera still.  Although I am quite pleased with this shot, despite the difficult conditions.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Bright and even more Breezy

Out again this morning and I started at Horton Burn, where it was a bit surreal seeing two Little Egrets flying around a housing estate.  Also seen here was a very nice Kingfisher but it disappeared down the burn as soon as it saw me.  A quick look at West Hartford failed to produce the Great Grey Shrike, but not surprising in that wind.

My next stop was Cambios were after a few brief sightings of the Snow Bunting flock, eventually five or six did settle to feed under the wind turbine.

I then headed to Seaton Sluice where a sift through the Pink-feet flock did eventually turn up the Tundra Bean Goose.  Unfortunately this happened just after Brian Bullough had left after his third failure to find the Bean Goose.  A tip for finding this bird is to look for the most drap looking bird in the flock.  Not a bad couple of days birding, a good start to the 2015 year list.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Bright and Breezy

I drove up to East Chevington this morning via West Chevington in the hope of a Hen Harrier on route, but had no luck.  On the North pool were Long-tailed Duck, Black-necked Grebe and lots of Goldeneye.  Just as I was about to leave, a flock of geese flew in from the North.  As they were flying in I could see two Bar-headed Geese, a few Pink-footed and a White-fronted Goose in amongst the Grey-lags.  Once they had settled on the pool I could see that the White-front was very small and it had a definite eye ring.  So it was a little disappointing that it was the Lesser White-fronted Goose of uncertain origin rather than a pucker White-front.

I then headed to Widdrington Moor where I spent the next hour with still no signs of the Hen Harrier.  Next stop was Druridge Pools where I picked up the Green-winged Teal almost straight away, doing what they do best, sleeping.  

I had a look at Creswell pond but the water level was very high, so I headed back to Widdrington Moor where the ringtail Harrier was hunting at the North side of the lake.  A nice end to a good mornings birding.