Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Here's looking at you, kid.

Taking in the early afternoon warmth.

I was up at the Rising Sun at 7 yesterday morning on what turned out to be a beautiful day for February. As i passed the Station Road ditches ripples could be seen as my first frogs of the year dived deeper and out of sight. It wasn't exactly the dawn chorus but there was a lot of song in the air which got more pronounced as the morning wore on. A few bubbles coming up from the small dipping ponds by the plantation first thing but on my way home around 1p.m. there were at least a dozen frogs adopting the floating position. Away from the birds i had my first butterfly, a Red Admiral and first Common Wasp. That must have been a queen. Although looking like any other wasp it definitely looked larger, in particular longer. I also had my second Bee, my first passed the kitchen window one day last week.

In conversation with a couple of the lads that frequent the Rising Sun one bird mentioned that had not been noted was Yellowhammer. I did a full circuit whilst there, taking in Scaffold Hill Farm and Hadrian Pond. Not a sniff of a bird near the farm, a Little Grebe the highlight on Hadrian Pond with Swallow Pond holding 5 it transpired later but no Yellowhammers. Grey Partridge noted on two separate occasions made up of a single and a brace and the sad sight of a young fox dead in some undergrowth not far from the A19. Again in conversation with a few of the lads in the hide when i arrived there one of the guys said he saw the poor beast the previous day laying there alive but only just. Rumours of a few foxes being persecuted in the area with poisoning the favoured method.
"Red" the male Red Deer was seen by myself for the first time in a while. Looking lean but with a full set of antlers which will no doubt be shed very soon.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Get Knotted

While out with John, the Blogger from Howdon, on Saturday we came across some nice birds. Cowpen Bewley brought us Tree Sparrows, a stonking male Greenfinch, vocal Mistle Thrushes and a female Smew amongst others. The part of Saltholme we visited held an airborne Bittern and a showy (well, showy for the species) Water Rail. Johns lunch brought in a well trained Med.Gull. I almost had it sitting up and begging !! The highlight of the day for me was standing down some back street staring through gates at a roof. That roof did have a 1st. year Glaucous Gull alongside a juvenile Greater Black-backed Gull for brilliant size comparison. The bird was not reported so this is my best ever self find, i don't know about John. We had hoped for a sighting of the Kumliens Gull but the choice of birds was awesome at one stage as a couple of fishing boats arrived to land their catches. I must admit that gulls had not inspired me until last week and my Iceland encounter at North Shields.
Great Black-backed and Glaucous juveniles.
In between Newburn Bridge and Hartlepool Fish Quay we spent some time around the Headland with a fine flock of Knot stealing the show from the other waders.
.........and more Knot
Telt y t get Knotted.
here's another.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

High as a Kite.

Wing tag 43          SWIFT  female
Wing tag 15    RED PHILIP  male
These are the two Red Kites i saw last week and going through some high ISO images i found a couple showing their wing tags.

Information courtesy of Friends of Red Kites

Wing tag 15 Red Philip born 2004 Chilterns.
In spring 2005 he set up a first year territory with Wing tag 16 Flag born 2004 Chilterns but did not breed.
He paired up with WT 16 Flag again. They successfully built a nest, laid eggs and in late May 2006 hatched the first Red Kite chicks born in North East England for nearly 200 years. One chick was successfully raised and has since been named Geordie.
Red Philip and Flag bred again in spring 2007 and two chicks were raised and fledged in mid July both chicks tagged as Wing tag A3 and A4.
Successful a third time in spring 2008 again two chicks Wing tags B7 and B8 which fledged in July 2008.
One of their chicks from 2007 bred successfully at one year old in spring 2008. Wing tag A4 Farra Flame was seen displaying with Wing tag 71 Sky Dancer and they went on to have two chicks one of which fledged in July 2008 and fitted with Wing tag B9. This made Red Phil and Flag grandparents at 4 years old!
During 2009 they hatched two eggs but failed to raise them.
Red Philip was seen in the winter roost in Snipes Dene and in March he and Flag started to refurbish their old nest but this was abandoned and Flag took up with Wing tag 42 Thunderbird but neither raised chicks that season.
In the winter of 2010/11 Red Phil was seen at the pre-roost  at Hollinside Manor or on his territory on occasions with Wing tag 43 Swift.
In 2011 Swift was confirmed as his new partner and they built a new nest in the Derwent Country Park. They fledged three chicks two of which were tagged E8 and E9 the third bird being too small to tag.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Blogging made easy......................... Brian Birding Bernicia and Cain Holywell Birding listing the birds i saw at St Marys yesterday. Brians' observations covered the area next to the North Bay and Cains' at the south end stairs area of the Promenade.
A couple of images just to plump out the posting.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Paddock Woods/ Far Pastures/ Thornley Woods.

Met up with my regular walking partner Mr. Cheviot for a rare birding afternoon with him in Gateshead. The idea was to try to capture the Firecrest at Far Pastures. We didn't, but did have numerous sightings of Goldcrest. Long-tailed Tits were absolutely everywhere and a flock of over 50 Pied Wagtails kept lifting from the nearby water treatment plant. A big shock came for us when we saw 7, yes 7 birds from the hide!!!!!!!!! One being a Teal. Far pastures was visited after we had met up at Thornley Woods where i had large numbers of Tits with Coal Tits and a Willow Tit in particular catching the eye. Mr. Cheviot had a romantic valentine liason arranged and left me to wander off into Paddock Wood with the idea of dropping down to the Nine Arches Viaduct for possibly one of my last chances of seeing numbers of Red Kite coming into roost before they start pairing up and nesting. I didn't get as far as the Arches as i had Kites circling and mewing overhead as i approached the chainsaw carving area. I found a spot looking down on the Arches and settled on a log in the bracken listening to the vociferous and eerie calls of the birds. I had noted an area above the Arches on the Visitor Centre side where a number of Kites were collected last time i was there and this i thought was close to my left where i had chosen. I was rewarded as two Red Kites landed in the trees in that area quite close by but my view was partially obscured by branches. Having observed the birds interacting for some twenty minutes i moved slightly to get an image but as the light was fading i used a high ISO.
Red Kites in Paddock Woods.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Ambling around Amble harbour.........

.....this brute alighted atop the mast of a small fishing vessel tied up and surveyed the scene. Looking down indignantly on hundreds of Black-headed Gulls squabbling and fighting over chip scraps thrown for them by the clients of the local fish 'n chip emporium.
Great Black-backed Gull, Amble Harbour.
Amble turned out to be our most northerly stop on a brilliant days birding with John. HOWDON BLOGGER
Sightings included Jack Snipe and Red Breasted Mergansers at Cresswell, over 1,500 Pink-feet close to Druridge, East Chevington brought us the Slavonian Grebe fairly close before it lifted and disappeared for a while before returning and landing distantly over by the large island. A bonus came in the form of a Bittern which i initially spotted while i was checking out fence posts for Short-eared Owls over towards the coastal path. No Shorties but the Bittern rose briefly from the reeds before disappearing almost immediately. I was the only one to see it at this time but was happy when it lifted again some five minutes later and all present had a view.
What a beaut !
Amble not only held the ubiquitous gulls but the expected Eider Ducks. John and i spent a brill. thirty minutes observing 24 of them in an enclosed area where the 12 male and 12 females courted and cavorted. Fascinating to watch this interaction at close quarters with the climax (sorry) being a female laying full length on the water and a male mounting her. A Bar-tailed Godwit probed the mud at a distance and another highlight being the three separate flights of Snipe which came in independently off the North Sea. Thoughts of the Vismig talk we attended the previous night sprung to mind. We left Amble and the Eiders still doing their Frankie Howard impersonations..................and the Great Black-back
any excuse to show another image
and headed back down the coast. We were the first at Cresswell earlier and had the hide to ourselves for well over an hour but all the time we were there the Jack Snipe was tucked up. We were going to call back but there were plenty of cars parked as we passed and made do with a Shortie by the side of the road. The Brunswick Village area beside the A1 gave us nice sightings of a Starling gathering which ended a great day. THANK YOU HOWDON BLOGGER.
Nearly sight of the day was the look on Johns face when his missus rang him and descibed what turned out to be Waxwings in his garden. This is the young lady who also rang him and described what turned out to be the White Stork that flew over her head in Wallsend a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

As the sun sets over the Carr

By 4.20 p.m. yesterday i was left standing alone at Prestwick Carr. The last photographer decided to leave because "the light had gone"
depends on what you want to capture, i suppose.
It was getting bitterly cold very quickly and a number of Blue and Great Tits, Robins and Dunnocks were frantically tucking into some bird feed that had been left on one of the posts in the area of the Owls roosts.
 It was hard to tell, but earlier at least 6-8 Shorties were on show over a large area on both sides of the Bumpy Road with lots of interaction taking place. Not much else around in the hedgerows at that time apart from a single male Bullfinch belting out a little tune atop of some large trees by the side of the road.
As i slowly made my way back to the car at Mayfair Cottage a Pheasant burst up close by making a change of undies essential and i noticed 8 flights of Starlings passing through heading to roost over a period of twenty minutes. All of the flocks, which varied between 30 and 400, appeared over the woods in the danger zone and traveled south east ish towards Dinnington. Approximately 800 birds in total.
On Tuesday i popped down to North Shields Fish Quay mid afternoon and although no Icelands were reported on that day i did have one on the shed roof briefly.

A posting on Northumberland and Tyneside Bird Club by RWM tells of a Starling roost on the overhead cables beside the A1 at Brunswick. When he passed at 4.50p.m. on 8th Feb. it was performing very nicely.
Ties in well with my Starling sighting.
Having witnessed the murmuration at Gretna recently and seeing the birds there as they came in to join the others i could tell these birds were focused in the same way. It was as if they were on a mission something i also said to Howden Blogger at Gretna.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

If you go down to the woods today, or any other.......'re sure of a pleasant surprise.
I visited the Red Kite roost from the Nine Arches Viaduct a couple of weeks ago and was treated to 27 of the birds in view at the same time. Fabulous. That, along with the sunset over the Derwent Valley was splendid. There was a nice bonus in the shape of some wood sculptures as i followed the yellow trail away from the Thornley Woodlands visitors centre then down to the viaduct. They were carved by a gentleman from Durham from tree stumps that he left while thinning out the trees in that area of the woods. If you happen to decide to go down to see the Red Kites in the near future park up at Thornley and follow the markers.
Here is just one of the carvings taken from a few angles. I'll post some more in the future.
The main tools used were a chain saw and a blow torch.