Thursday, 27 December 2012

Skyfall ?

Male at Killingworth Lakes.
Called past Killy yesterday on the way to St. Marys' for thirty minutes but just hung out around the car park on the larger lake. A kerfuffle ensued as three ladies laden with large paper sacks started scattering feed. Swans, Canadas, Greylags, Coot, Mallards and gulls, mainly Black-headed, suddenly morphed into some sort of bird storm with the "wilder" species of duck keeping a safe distance.  In excess of twenty Goldeneye were more interested in each other anyway as one group of six males cavorted in front of a solitary female while another group, seven males and four females, were all trying to put their necks out. Marvellous to watch. Between forty and fifty Tufted Duck kept to the periphery initially before drifting in and seemingly diving for sunken booty and a dozen or so Pochard lingered with three juveniles looking rather smart.

 Nothing exceptional at the coast although it was pleasant enough. Dramatic skies on arrival with clouds ranging from white to light grey to an almost angry black, all stacked high on a clear blue background. That didn't last too long before the blue disappeared and the now ubiquitous rain started. Belting down, as it seems to these days.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Can i have a latte and a waxwing, please ?

"Certainly sir. Here is your latte, if you just procede up the ramp over there you will find your Waxwings. You have a choice of around fifty. Have a nice day." replied the nice uniformed fast food outlet employee.
Killingworth Waxwing doing a poor impersonation of an upturned vehicle near Dinnington.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Twelve, twelve, twelve.

In flight sequence of Great White Egret in Cumbria.
A very elegant bird viewed at a distance of around 100 metres on the saltmarsh in the vicinity of Cardurnock Flatts in the Solway Firth.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Druridge to Hauxley and back.

Rock Pipit      on the wrack.
Lack of posts recently due to lack of birding. The Blogger from Howdon has been much in demand for his photographic and video filming skills so i haven't been out with him for a couple of weekends and i've been tied up midweek. I had the car on Sunday so thought that i would park up at Druridge Bay and do the walk up to Hauxley that i've done a couple of times recently. On the way there the first bird of the day was a Kestrel directly overhead while travelling up the A19 closely followed by a Barn Owl hunting over fields close by Lynemouth Power Station. I pulled over hoping for further views while i finished off my Maclatte but sadly the bird had disappeared from view. I knew it was parky but the fifteen minutes i had spent hoping to relocate the Barn Owl had made me realise that it was , in fact, perishing cold.
On arrival at Druridge Pools i had kinda changed my mind about walking up to Hauxley and had contemplated using the car as a base to warm up in at various points along the route and taking shorter walks. I headed out to the Oddie Hide only to find 4 female Tufted Ducks on the water. A walk to the end of the banked area brought me 116 Curlew and i had a single Grey Heron, numerous Mallard and a few Wigeon from the hide overlooking the Budge Fields. I got back to the car with boots thickly coated in mud and the thought of changing footwear to drive elsewhere convinced me the the single walk would be the better option. It was bright enough but the wind did have a chill.
It was quiet on the way up to East Chevington with a nervous Finch flock the highlight. Numbering in the region of 200 i reckon 80% were Goldfinches and the rest Linnets. The North Pool at Chevy had the usual assortment and while there a couple of birders i talked to alerting me to the fact that they had heard the Bearded Tit/ s near the South Pool and while doing so had views of a Bittern lifting and dropping back to the reed beds. I gave the South Pool a "good listening" on the return leg but in much windier conditions expected and heard nothing. Low Hauxley held little of interest when i arrived  and i only visited the Tern Hide, having my bait while there, a male Goldeneye looking resplendent in the winter sun caught the eye.

Purple Sandpiper checking out the 'weed.
I always drop down to the beach near the outfall from Hauxley and ended up spending a very enjoyable hour or so watching at least a dozen Rock Pipits and a couple of Pied Wagtails flycatching while up to forty Turnstones scrutinised the seaweed. Some Redshanks flew in and landed but spotted me and lifted immediately. Hidden behind the dunes and out of the wind i decided to pull up a rock and have a coffee while enjoying the birdlife. Having initially thought i had only Turnstones probing the seeweed i was pleased to see a Purple Sandpiper emerge from behind one of the larger rocks on the shoreline before another two joined it. Fittingly, last bird of the day was another Kestrel hovering as i changed footwear on returning to the car.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Who's a pretty boy then ?

There are loads of "pretty" bird species about but i do have a soft spot for Rooks. There mugs are full of character to my (tiny) mind and all very different. When i call by Killy Lakes i always walk up to the roundabout before the shopping centre to see if there are any knocking about.  This fella was captured at Gretna while JOHN and i waited for a murmuration.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Lapwings in flight

You wouldn't have believed that Howdon Blogger and i were heading north with lattes in hand driving through driving rain earlier in the day judging by the images.

 Images captured next to the River Coquet last Saturday

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Thursday, 15 November 2012

By popular demand

I've been inundated by requests from my legions of fans for more Waxwing images. You can't have too much of a good thing so here is a solitary bird.
Eyecatcher.......not a Flycatcher

Monday, 12 November 2012

Blaydon Burn Bombycillidae beauties berrying.

Two of the flock of over two hundred that Howdon Blogger and i had where the burn joins the Tyne next to the railway lines on Saturday. We could actually claim Waxwings in Durham and Northumberland at the same time as, on a couple of occasions some of the birds drifted over the river to perch high in trees at Newburn before returning after a few minutes. At one time in particular some of the birds dropped into the bushes beside us and were too close to focus on ! While in Seaburn later on a single Waxwing flew past while we were at the Bee-eater site but that bird had gone missing for ten minutes and as i recall the Waxer passed through at that time so we are unable to claim having both birds in view together.
Yesterday a 14km. walk from Druridge to Hauxley was very pleasant if not overly exciting on the bird front. Merlin and Kestrel were notable birds of prey while heading north along with a Short-eared Owl on the return leg. There was very little wind which gave rise to possibly hearing, if not seeing any Bearded Tits at East Chevington but drew a blank as i passed through as did the other nine birders i encountered in that vicinity. I also drew a blank hoping for a possible November dragonfly  at the educational dipping pond and nearby southern corner of Druridge Country Park despite some nice warmth in the sun and there being reasonable numbers of insects on the wing. (There were sightings in the south yesterday on BDS)

Saturday, 10 November 2012


Yes BEEFEATER !! want a Bee-eater ???

There y go, a Bee-eater.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Supporting cast.

It was busy, busy, busy at the polis station the other day. The pair of Rowan trees were not just the target of the Waxwings many Blackbirds, Robins and Tits came and went and looked just as stunning in the early morning autumn sun.
The berries were going fast.
Classic Robin pose.
Obvious star of the show, however...........
...this female Blackbird came a very close second.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Multi coloured cop shop.

Allo, allo, allo, what have we here then ??

One of the sixteen Waxwings enjoying Rowan berries at Ashington Police Station.

Friday, 19 October 2012


A very heavily cropped image of Barn Owls interacting on Holy Island a couple of weeks ago. Obviously the quality is poor but i loved the pose of the top owl, if only it had been 30 metres closer. Again, i know that the image is spilling over into the border but worth the mess.
To try to make up for it here is an image also from Holy Island of a Long-eared Owl along Straight Lonnen not 50 metres from where the Barnies were observed but 14 days earlier as i recollect.
It's been quiet on the birding front for the last week or so and the camera hasn't been out of the bag much. I called past Prestwick Carr yesterday and had a first for me there with the sighting of a Kingfisher by the ditch up by the first sentry box. Heavy showers and occasional sunny spells accompanied me while there and i had a few sightings of Common Darters and Hawkers sp. as their wings glistened whilst airborne and the temperatures rose briefly in those sunny spells. Sparrowhawk, Redwing, Curlew and Goldcrest some of the highlights before heading along the bumpy road which was a lot quieter. The spotting of 2 Noctule Bats over The Carr as the light was fading and shortly before leaving by THE WANDERER OF PRESTWICK CARR ended a pleasant visit. Peter captured some nice moody images tonight. 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

St. Marys and Lindisfarne

I've cobbled together a few images from the last week or so. I visited St. Marys Island last week, as did many others, and found it difficult to compose a post as every bird seen had been reported on and felt like i was just repeating.. I was out with John, Howdon Blogger on Saturday and spent a fine days birding with this gentleman but again found it hard to post as he had covered just about everything we saw.
This little fella was lying close by the causeway at St. Marys.

I had a brief view of the Arctic Warbler on Saturday but a Long-eared Owl along The Crooked Lonnen in a hawthorn looked stunning in the morning light and huge numbers of mainly Barnacle and Brent Geese originally on the sands north of the causeway and east of Beal Point which later lifted and flew past us as we sat in the hide at Lowmoor Point were impressive sights. They came through, wave after wave, for some fifteen minutes. Thirty minutes or so with a couple of Spotted Flycatchers, Robins and Thrushes all around on the ground was super in fine sunshine and slightly sheltered from the jostling wind in the Priory grounds.
Priory posers.
Lindisfarne Castle fly by.
Straight Lonnen views.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

A few more images from Wednesday.

Red-throated Diver

Juvenile Guillemot
Sandwich Tern 
.........and a few more Gannet images
The Red-throated Diver was seen as i returned to the car having walked 16.7 km from Druridge Pools to Low Hauxley and back with a small detour out to Chibburn Ponds with sightings of numerous Common Darters and a single male Southern Hawker. Quite a few juvenile Guillemots were seen on the North Sea and a smattering of Sandwich Terns, all very vocal, at a few points along the way. A Wheatear and 2 Rock Pipits seen together on seaweed on the beach with 2 male Long-tailed Ducks a little distantly out to sea nice diversions but the juvenile Gannets attending what looked like a diving class just off the beach stole the show.
Found large numbers of Common Darters as expected at my usual stopping off point at the educational dipping pond at East Chevington, many of which were enjoying the reflective heat of the timber posts and rails heading towards Druridge Country Park

Thursday, 20 September 2012


With Mr. Cheviot lost in France, well on holiday there i went out for a walk on my own. The plan was to park up at Druridge and head up to Hauxley. Before that i called in at Cresswell for 25 minutes to see what was about. Three smart Yellow Wagtails in the field playing footsie with a couple of sheep seemed to be a good omen but although there were plenty birds about a few Black-tailed Godwits were the highlight. The birds lifted on numerous occasions but it was never apparent why.
I haven't looked through all of the images i captured but in between Druridge Country Park and the car park at Hadston Carrs i had over fifty juvenile Gannets plunge diving very close to the beach. As you can imagine i was sidetracked for some time............
Nice little sequence by this pair.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

I know what this is........BUT DO YOU ???

A couple of heavily cropped images of a common bug you can see any day you venture close to water. They were taken at Big Waters yesterday while the Grim Reapers set about the task of  producing more mud for the mass influx of waders to be viewed from the hide in the coming weeks. The Blogger from Howdon helped out by pushing some grass about with a rake while the stars of the show did some hard graft. I was in the hide initially but felt soooooo guilty that i had to leave as i couldn't watch further.
Anyway...........what is it ?
More common than you think. Approx. 2cm long.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Kent Odonata

I visited Kent last week and spent the majority of the time with my grandchildren but i was allowed out for one foray. Stodmarsh was the choice and here are three images i captured.

 The weather was beautiful all week and dragonflies were on the wing everywhere we went. On my day at Stodmarsh i didn't see any damselflies at all and the only day i did was when we had a trip to Bedgebury Forest which is almost on the border with Sussex. It is run by the Forestry Commission and one of the main reasons we all went was so my son could take his bike on the very challenging mountain bike trail. While he did this i sloped off for a couple of hours to explore the Pinetum and the ponds. I did see a damselfly this day and what a corker it was...........the image i captured WASN'T however. My longer lens seemed to struggle and i only had my 50mm lens and not my 100mm macro in addition and the subject would not let me get close. So my only encounter thus far with this species ended up with a shocking photograph.