Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Avocet success and other stuff at Cresswell.

It was great to hear that six of the seven Avocet chicks that hatched at Cresswell Pond were flourishing. I'm not sure if it still is but not long ago it was the most northerly breeding site in England. It's not surprising they do relatively well when the parents are feisty enough to see off even a juvenile Peregrine. Overhead threats come all the same to our Avocets. Even the arrival of a MEGA at Cresswell in the form of a Red Kite didn't stop our belligerent parents going up on an intercept course. That and some attentive corvids meant that the Kite was around for a matter of moments, sadly.
Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Common Sandpiper and Greenshank in recent weeks have made the  birding superb. On another occasion i enjoyed the spectacle of a Stoat appearing from the reeds then have a "daft" ten minutes, something you would be more used to seeing your cat do. It was brilliant. From rolling about on its back and jumping up to grabbing the reeds by wrapping its front legs around them then hurtling off, stopping, turning and returning to do the same again with the same clump of reeds. It did this three times. A Little Egret that was coming into land on the sand bar spotted the action and "buzzed" the Stoat before touching down. The Stoat stopped in its tracks and sat for a second before whizzing over to the bird as it landed and returning the favour by "buzzing" the Egret which lifted briefly out of the mustelids reach. A Water Rail appeared into view before having to race off out of view down one of the "rides" at the back of the pond chased by the mammalian killer which reappeared moments later Rail less. I did take some images but it was out of range for my 300mm lens and i was left thinking that if THE Howdon Blogger had been videoing this that he might have captured some vintage footage.
Another apparent success story in the Druridge area are the number of Little Egrets these days. They have apparently bred in the Bay area for the last three years and i had a nice surprise when i had eight at  Cresswell the other week. I have heard of a report since of 14 !!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Dragon surprise.

I decided to call in at Prestwick Carr for around 90 minutes before heading along the road to Banks Pond to do some Dragonhunting. It was a beautiful morning which had started rather chilly after the clear overnight skies. I heard more birds than i saw with a Willow Warbler giving me the only half chance of an image as it fed and called in the treetops. With foliage often restricting views i gave up trying to capture it but the best photographic opportunity was yet to come. Ironically that opportunity came if the form of a Dragonfly !
This Southern Hawker appearing around the side of the hedge line and landed in front of me. "Brilliant" i thought but less than thirty seconds later a second Southern Hawker appeared and landed around 80 centimetres to the right of the first.
Prestwicks Buzzards were very vocal most of the time i was there. A couple of Kestrels seemed to be communicating with each other and Willow Tits made their presence known. Over fifty Barn Swallows were feeding and making plenty of noise just before Mayfair Cottage as i returned to the car.
Banks Pond was a wee bit disappointing to be honest. A distinct lack of Hawkers while i visited but decent numbers of Emerald Damselflies and Common Darters. A few Common Blue & Blue-tailed Damsels and a couple of Black Darters was about it. This mature male Black was the highlight along with a fresh Common as i left.