Sunday, 30 August 2009

Looking back

on the week it is clear that most of the local Swallows and House Martins have departed. There was frenzied feeding behind my house on Wednesday morning and then the wind whipped up and I thought they had moved nearer woodland to feed but the silence around the place today is obvious and the Sparrowhawk can get a free run into the garden! Saturday mornings Prestwick Carr count struggled up to a measly thirty five with only a couple of Willow Warblers to be found. Four Buzzards used the breeze to soar over the woodland but no real highlights so in the afternoon headed up to hotspot Cresswell.

Photographers were camped at the end of the causeway so something was about which I was told by a passing birder on family duty was a Wood Sandpiper. Unable to get any sort of view in the howling gale headed for the hide which was blessed by numerous Black Tailed Godwit and a few Bar tailed. Loads of Dunlin and one Curlew Sandpiper, one Ruff, Curlew with numerous ducks and gulls. Took some shots but struggling with my larger lens got no good results. GB and colleagues called in on the hunt for a Whimbrel but no joy so headed down to the causeway to prospect the Wood Sand which GB located pretty smartly before they headed off on their search. Waited a while and the bird finally came to the near shore but the light conditions were all over the place so just a couple of half decent efforts.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


There are numerous Buzzards in the area at the moment, a result of a good breeding season at Blagdon I presume. A few weeks ago there were family parties at Bellasis Bridge and Prestwick Carr but these seem to have split up now and birds can be found all over the place. There's generally at least one over the woods on the Carr and in a break in the rain today at 11.30 there were three. Last week there were five in the air together over the plantation behind Horton Grange.

The pictures were taken last night opposite Horton Grange where the bird was keeping an eye out from atop the bale then jumping down to the gound when it spotted anything. Seemed to be feeding well and quite relaxed with rush hour traffic just fifty meters away. A very white chested individual which I have seen around often as it is visible from about half a mile when perched facing you! It's fun didn't last long though. By the time I returned from Cramlington just half an hour later the bale had been set on fire and the stubble was being ploughed in . There's just no resting time with modern agriculture.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

A long tale

And a long week started on Monday as they do when you switch on the computer to send the weekends work to your clients and publish a new blog post. Could not start windows and after attempting every method under the sun of crashing in and going into a panic resulting in getting advice from colleagues who knew less than me. I resigned myself to the inevitable. If you see that flash of blue screen as it tries to boot.....just stop. It's the screen of death. After finally finding out how to read the blue screen got the message unmountable boot drive which I had seen before.....the hard drives gone Argggggggggggh. Anyway rang round a load of charlatans before finding someone who gave good advice and delivered computer to Bedlington Station with trepidation. To cut a long three days short, they recovered everything, got rid of the culprit (Norton Security which I had just renewed) cleaned it up and now it's running like Usain Bolt. All honour, credit and a boat load of thanks to AB Computer Services, Park Avenue, Bedlington Station.

Of course being at Bedlington Station and very depressed, I headed up to Cresswell Pond for the Little Stint that morphed into Semi Palmated Sandpiper on Wednesday. Got some decent shots but you'll have seen plenty by know. Barely any work for three days meant the end of the week was chaos plus I've taken so many shots it's a bugger to sort them all. Not much sleep therefore compounded by a Little Owl that has taken to calling from the telegraph pole outside my bedroom windowat 4.30am or so. In better times I would have appreciated the visits!

Out yesterday on Prestwick Carr where the count was 42 species helped by the re-appearance of Long tailed Tit, Bullfinch plus Willow Tit which I've found every time I've been out recently. Last weekend was the nadir in counting where I only found 34 species so better times ahead in bird watching terms rather than weather. Blackberries are ready to pick matching the reports in the press of conkers being months early. Mainly large Whites, tatty Green veined and lovely Peacocks flying plus this Tortoishell of which I don't seem to have seen many this year. Common Hawker graced my garden on Thursday and Greenfinches are in abudance indicating better breeding after last years disease possibly. Oh well, I wonder what this week can throw at me.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

It's catching

Spotted Flycatching that is. Went up to Whittle Dene this afternoon and found three or more of these wonderful little birds on the bridleway to the west. They were quite vocal and took turns so it seemed using the best hunting branch.
I also noticed that the Common Terns had gone, sadly without fledging any young, but better luck next year hopefully. Whittle Denes star attraction put in some fleeting appearances with an amusing bird who didn't like the Swallows hunting over the field and kept chasing them as they swooped for flies. Only managed shots of the field so unfortunately the only Yellow Wagtail I photographed was through the car windscreen at Moot Law.

As I headed out on my sojourn today I stopped off at Banks Pond where some catching of a more sexual nature was going on.

Wish they would hold still when they're at it!

Sadly the Banks Pond killer has removed all of the Little Grebe young and just one of the Moorhen young remains. Wish I knew what did this. I've always put it down to Herons but haven't seen many around recently.

On Saturday spent the day up the coast in hides trying to expand my range of wader pics but had a bit of a bad camera day and didn't really get a shot of note. Even a very nice juvenile Cormorant in front of the hide at Cresswell was messed up due to the harsh sunlight and the birds very white breast. Never mind, consoled myself with getting Curlew Sandpiper off the year list.

On Prestwick Carr itself things are quiet although this mornings count brought in 43 species with a nice group of Lesser Redpoll up the range track. Have seen Willow Tit for four days running now so numbers must be good for these elusive little chaps. Signs of Autumn though, first count without Swift for a while.

Monday, 3 August 2009

More young

Was up on Boulmer Birders patch at Cullernose Point on Saturday and it seems Kittiwake breeding has been good with many juveniles in the air and still quite a few at the nest. Lovely watching them practice flying and what a feeling it must be to just hang in the air on the updraft.

There's at least eleven juveniles on this small section of cliff which seems to be their street corner hangout.

Good news at Banks Pond too. On Saturday the pair of Little Grebe showed up with four new young. This is their third brood of the year, the first being two and one young therefore it seems that on these occasions the female must have gone straight back to lay a new clutch leaving the male to feed the young. I assume that lack of predation by other birds feeding young has led to better success with the final brood.
This morning went down to get this shot and also present in the reeds were a Moorhen pair with four new young. The first time they only produced one young which was lost immediately so again hoping for a better outcome. Having said that, as I got to the pond a large dog fox was just creeping away toward the shooting ground.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

New kit

and wanted to test it to the full but ended up mainly avoiding getting it wet and seeing how far up the iso scale I needed to go to get a picture! These are the first shots taken with intent of a young robbo arrived to fill some of the gap by the one departed.

Eventually the weather broke and I was up and down the coast shooting madly at all things that I didn't do when film was money. Ended up back on Prestwick Carr of course and the Buzzard family were still calling, two Willow Tits moved alontg the lane with a mixed flock of other tits, the young Fox played hide and seek and two Bog Hawkers patrolled as the sun shone late into the evening. Nice day in the end.