Sunday, 27 June 2010

Chasing the Dragons

Strangely come 4.30 this afternoon after a day out hunting images and having endured further torment in front of the tv screen, I felt like shooting something. Rather than wait for two dozen plonkers and an Iyti to fly past I headed up to Banks pond, set the camera to Gatling setting and turned the handle.

Please be assured non of the dragonflies were harmed during this outburst although one took to the water. I'm sure this was for reproductive rather than digestive purposes. Meanwhile the four spotted chasers were not living up to their name but I suppose shimmering is just as good.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Song flush

Joy of joys a family of Song Thrushes visiting my garden today as I packed the car for a day away. I had noticed the adults a week or so ago, carrying food at the converted chapel along the road and now they have brought the offspring to feast on the snails in my front jungle. At least two young with both parents popped over the fence into the cover provided by an overgrown Berberis.

The birds must be under some strain as they have lost nearly all fear refusing to move from the step to my front door when I approached. Maybe the bird was trying to guard young secreted in the undergrowth to the left or the food hoard behind the drainpipe to the right.

This was a poor shot from last night as the adult cracked open a snail using the drain cover as an anvil. Shot taken standing on my bedroom window cill which may have amused the passing traffic.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Ruffing it

22nd June is a day of ups and downs for me and things were no different yesterday with the final up being this splendid Ruff at Druridge Pools.
After a brief lie in first up was a Song Thrush in my garden for the first time in ages then down when I found a young House Sparrow dead on the back roof with its belly ripped open by Magpie or someother. The Jackdaws benefitted from the meal and I set out for the day.
Up at Bellasis where the Banded Demoiselles were in abundance and flying with another which I'm not sure about as I haven't found a precise match in my guide yet. Down though as no Quail singing yet this year.
Up to East Chevington where I joined the gathered throng waiting in unbridled desire for a Bridled Tern which was not to be found but on the up a Little Tern, two Little Gulls and a Black Tailed Godwit in breeding plumage were some compensation.
The Ruff had been mentioned along with many other topics chatting to TT and Birding Sometimes whilst waiting for the Tern which I notice is now pictured on Birdguides. I'm sure I recognise that very stone from yesterdays peering into the distance. Anyway, turned up to find the Ruff present but hiding behind vegetation then briefly feeding before going to sleep behind a rock.....typical. Northumbrian Birding and I waited and eventually it started to feed again. The light was stong and the contrast difficult so many shots were wasted trying to get that purple sheen in the dark ruff of the bird. Eventually it preened just as a Black headed Gull walked past and we both missed the best shot of the day as the ruff was flared.
Eventually however patience was rewarded and the bird preened again appearing headless in amongst the feathers. A good up before the return down home.

I wonder whether today will be an up or a down.......................answer around 4.45pm methinks?

Monday, 21 June 2010

Midsummer madness

My obsession at the moment is to try and get a decent image of a Swallow drinking but it looks like it could be a long hot summer. These are the best so far. Plenty of character but no clarity.

Funny how some birds are better than others at the process. The top bird just did it like a skimmer whilst the bottom one went for a bigger splash.

I feel a Hockney moment coming on so maybe I'll convert to painting rather than spend thousands on a new lens. My 10,000th visitor can have first refusal on the artwork!

Saturday, 19 June 2010


Prestwick Carr was alive with one of my favourite birds in the strong sun on Friday evening. The chattering bush was replaced by the churring parent and young as, walking up the bumpy road, I passed through at least four Whitethroat territories where young birds were secreted in the hedgerows or parents were feeding young in the nest.

This bird was particularly attentive to my presence whilst its mate fed a nest close to the fence. After a while staring back at me another bird further up the lane noticed and launched into a song flight unceremoniously dive bombing the perched bird sending it into the undergrowth.

Of course there are strong sunlight can be a help to the photographer and also a hindrance as many shots were wrecked by shadows from the fence, not that I'm any Hosking. Just shooting for the fun of it although I am a bit addicted to taking photographs and hate days (like today, Saturday) where it is obvious the weather is going to curtail any action.

Speaking of which number 99 on my Prestwick Carr list was calling near the sentry box on Thursday evening. For the second year running Nuthatch has graced the area for which I am very grateful as I thought the listing had ground to a halt. I reflect on birds I have missed so far being Whooper Swan, Common Sandpiper, Ring Ouzel, Black Tailed Godwit and apparently from reports yet to be published, Whimbrel.

Oh well, more time out on the range needed.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Littler Grebes

On my way out of the village checked on Banks Pond expecting some Dragonfly action. Sure enough Four spotted chaser overhead and what looked like two Ruddy Darter over the pond. As the Moorhen family moved away I popped the fence to try and get some pics but then noticed the Little Grebe at its usual station. Raised the camera and realised it had one on board!

On closer inspection the one turned out to be two and I retreated with haste lest I disturb the happy family. I presume the other adult is still in the reeds either with young or waiting for more hatching.

The Moorhens looked on with their four young about a week old still in attendance whilst one adult Oytercatcher remained on the far bank with two young almost ready to fly judging by the stretching and flapping.

Buoyed by the fine start to my day called in at Bellasis where at least four males and one female Banded Demoiselle were flying.

Also trapped in the pool on the other side of the bridge about twenty young fish which I asssume are Brown Trout. Felt I should catch them and return them to the main stream before the pool drys out but will try to contact the Seaton Burn fishing club who have the rights first.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Work and play

Up at Sparrow fart (that's even before they start singing) to get some sensible work done before having to attend an ongoing nightmare of a job at Ashington. Even the young Collared Dove looked a bit bleary eyed but then he's only been in the big wide world a couple of days and still wants to hang round his tree where amazingly his mum is back on eggs.

Got to Ashington by 8.30 and by 10.00 had a hour or so to wait for materials to arrive so there was a choice. Go back home to check the post or.......Red backed Shrike just up the road. A few minutes later at Low Buston I identified the hill top posted on Birdguides earlier in the morning by the birder in the field with bins a scanning. Early hopes were dashed with tales of no sighting so wandered down the road to where more telescopes seemed to be purposefully directed. A possible sighting twenty minutes ago but nothing conclusive other than positive I D of JSB/EC and AA. Later I was to find out another bird club member and blogger was also present. Some good crack was had but no RBS.
Anyway, called it a (no Shrike) day and with still an hour or so left before I must return to Ashington nipped up to drop some webs counts in at JAR's and spent some time at Cullernose Poimt with the Kittiwakes, Fulmars and a good few walkers.

I could have set up a stall and made some cash by calling their attention to this bird close to the path with two young tucked underneath. Ahs ensued along with the customary 'bit stinky round here' comment. Not taking affront to their comments on my personal hygiene I continued to snap away with limited success at the splendid Fulmars

Back to work though and then home to find that I may have slipped under the Blogger Life list of Wild up North. Was TS amongst the gathered throng at Buston and did he miss the opportunity to snap the PC Wanderer?

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Up the coast yesterday found a pair of Ringed Plover at a fairly well know location who had an excellent nest site in a small fenced enclosure paved in pebbles with plenty of cover if a little unconventional. One bird stands guard on the seawall and if you approach he calls and is joined from the nest area by the other. They both watch, calling but not in alarm, till you pass by. Anybody getting too close prompts one bird to drop down onto the beach and the other to circle around presumably re-entering the enclosure from the other side for if another person comes by the whole process is repeated.

I scanned for young in the area but couldn't see them although given the adult behaviour was fairly sure they were there. Interesting that the pair seemed so unconcerned and confident in the secrity of their well chosen nest site.

Further along the road a Meadow Pipit watched me as I passed his nest site, again in a secure restricted area only troubled by infrequent freight trains.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Home and away

At home the Collared Doves fledged and left the nest yesterday only to return to the roost last night.

Meanwhile a young Blackbird lower in the same tree looked on whilst it waited for mum.

and I escaped for a moment only to hear another Blackbird call from this little tyke.

Most entertaining he was to. The only other Marsh Warblers I've seen were flashing glimpses at Cambois and St Marys but this chap almost played to the crowd. Shame the crowd were so heavy footed.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Pipit on/in/at the post

Another dull day beckons and my mood is not lightened by having left Druridge only minutes before the Marsh Warbler was found and been unable to get back. Note to self. Remember to empty your text messages more frequently. Thanks for the effort anyway Crammy birder.

Memories of sunny days with a Rock Pipit at North Blyth on Sunday

and Meadow Pipit at Prestwick Carr.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Around the Temple of Mammon

Did an Atlas tetrad around the Metro Centre early Sunday morning and its amazing what a rich habitat surrounds this edifice to greed. When the car parks are empty and there are no shoppers it's a pleasure so if you're stuck there with the other half you could always sneak off........for Ringed Plover and young just 100m from Marks and Spencer.

Beats me how they have survived with two young given the number of gulls and corvids around. When I did the first visit Plovers , Oystercatchers and Lapwing were all in the air driving off Jackdaws and Magpies. Ideally camouflaged site though unlike the Herring and Lesser Black backs on Vickers over the river out on the open roof with fluffy young just becoming visible.

Or try down on the Derwent where I had an interesting chat with George S whilst a female Mallard with eight new young paddled upstream. Went back for the photo later but the birds were hiding from a gull under the bridges hence no light and duff picture. Grey and Pied Wagtail put in an appearance with the usual Mute Swans wanting some feed.

Meanwhile nearer Costco the Lapwings were behaving like they had young but non were showing. Blackcap, Chiff chaff, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackbird, Greenfinch and Song Thrush were all in good voice though and expect some broods of Shelduck to emerge shortly.

Also found Bullfinches aplenty around the southern car parks, a House Sparrow colony in the storage area between Staples and Asda and way too many Pigeons for comfort. Thats the problem with steel bridges, perfect nest sites for the flying rat or am I being unkind.