Friday, 30 July 2010


A dull end to Thursday was enlightened by a trip to that Mediterranean resort of Newbiggin where eight birds in various plumage were lingering on the beach. I gather numbers have been as high as 23 but why Newbiggin?

Kids holidays, lots of disturbance and a jet ski in the harbour didn't worry them in the least. In fact it probably aided the photographers task as you could virtually walk right up to them.


Monday, 26 July 2010

Big bird 747 and a Dragon

No don't worry the Prestwick Carr list hasn't suddenly lept to such impossible figures. To mark the 75th anniversary of Newcastle Airport the morning shuttle was a 747 and carried some VIP's who toured the airport watching an emergency fire display and then went to the top of the control tower as a De Havilland Dragon Rapide landed at noon to mark the exact time the airport opened.

Now for those scared of flying look away. Compare the two pictures below as the jumbo landed and notice the amount of flex in the wings.....spectacular.

Apparently it's when the wings don't flex you need to worry. You only realise how small Newcastle Airport is when these monsters visit as they can hardly get their outer engines over the runway. Anyway, after an inspection of the Rapide the Vips and passengers boarded the jumbo for a trip back to the smoke.

The Emirates 777 (?) also tried to get in on the action. You could drive your car through those engines.

Saturday, 24 July 2010


Like City Birding I too trawled the Reeth Pond this week in search of Dragons but despite it looking perfect and some strong sunshine with shade from the breeze, I found Just a few Damsels. The fish though were very active. Not sure of I.D. so any help appreciated. I think above is Chubb but they were big, about 18 inches which the book says is too big so maybe Barbel but I don't see any (barbels that is). Had trouble getting my fixed zoom far enough away to get the whole fish in but these chaps below were smaller with the red fins and eye suggesting Roach but if I'm Rudd y wrong then so be it. Sorry about the picture quality but you never have a polarising filter with you when you need one.

Hundreds of small fry basking on one of the platforms as well. Safe from bigger fish but I'm sure the Kingfisher will be in amongst them. Had one staked out on the Tyne nearby but failed spectacularly to get any shots and haven't managed to find the Little Egret that's supposed to be frequenting the area upstream from Ryton Willows.

I see the Health and Efficiency (or is that Safety) brigade have been trying to block off the riverside path near Moor Court. It requires a small degree of balance to stay safe but nothing too bad assuming your not a young kid or a blind bat. They obviously didn't wander up river where you can walk straight from the bridleway due south over a thirty foot cliff created by river erosion. No doubt we'll have some naked inspectors down there post haste.

Monday, 19 July 2010


Well the summer deluge appears to have started so I'm stuck here in front of the computator instead of my usual early evening sojourn to the wilds. Managed half an hour at Banks Pond this morning where two Emperors were flying, one of which had the good grace to land occasionally. Its wings appear worn but it certainly didn't effect the flight performance as it saw off it's rival.

Other dragons present were Common Darter (two coupled), Four Spotted Chaser and many damsels especially Emerald which I was attempting to photograph when I noticed a dark form perched on a reed. As I focused a Bluet flew past revealing the dark form to be Banded Demoiselle. My first at Banks but after that I couldn't re-locate it.

Called in at Killingworth Lake on my way to the post office where along with 135 Mute Swans a Crow had adopted a vulture hair cut.

Speaking of adoption does anybody recognise this Pigeon. It must have run out of puff in last weeks winds and possibly has an injury but has made itself at home on my next door neighbours roof.

Obviously well used to being handled, it comes down into their garden to be fed a variety of goodies and seems to use the local Jackdaws as a safety indicator. As a non homing bird it has written its own death warrant if returned to the true owner but I'm sure it will be well looked after next door as long as it can avoid the cats and Sparrowhawk!

Sunday, 18 July 2010


After an uneventful visit to East Chevington yesterday I hid myself in the Ponteland hide at Hauxley and watched for an hour as this Common Tern hovered, dived and fed its youngster for over an hour. Out of twenty to thirty dives it was successful about 75% of the time and in the end it was just throwing the fish down at the feet of the juvenile who was in danger of being too fat to fly if it received any more.

Loads of shots taken of which I managed a few keepers.

I was quite happy with the results until I saw Graham Catleys blog today......................oh well

Friday, 16 July 2010

Back in black

Was on my travels yesterday and noted a flock of Black headed gulls sheltering from the wind on Briar Dene car park. Turned the car around for a quick check and there was our old chum standing on the edge of the flock resplendent in summer plummage. This Med Gull has been noted wintering here for the last two years but must now be an adopted geordie and I assume followed the Black headed gulls to their breeding grounds in search of a similar mate. I posted a winter picture in January (begging for Bread) and was last noted at Briar Dene by Birdguides in March, it's probably the same bird found at Swallow Pond on the 11th of this month.
Good news from Whittle Dene where two Common Terns have fledged from the raft. After last years debacle when all six chicks were lost it's nice to see results from this man made encouragement.

Come on son this is how you do it.

O.K. Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad.........

Plenty of juvenile Pied Wagtails showing off in front of the hide but no sign of the Great Crested Grebes breeding.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Party in the Park

Not feeling remotely like working, I started the day at Prestwick Carr where Skylark, Yellowhammer and Blackcap were all singing. A female Pheasant with three young was interesting but disappeared into the long grass as soon as camera was raised. I returned home picking up the post and my mood lightened. Two letters with hand written addresses. That and two cheques were duly pocketed. After checking Birdguides and my e mail I headed for Ponteland to deposit said monies. The bank being next to the park and with the weather brightening I decided take advantage of my bounty by having an hour in the park.
Fortunately not many dog walkers and no brats so young Tits, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Goldcrest calls were all audible. A male Blackbird was still feeding one juvenile and a Chiffchaff was giving it what for from the top of a tree. As I tried to get sight of the blighter my attention was drawn to some sharp chuck, chucks coming from a dead tree surrounded by dense bushes. The noise was from a male Blackcap feeding three youngsters lined up along the branches.

The youngsters were not at all camera shy and almost inquisitive.

Clearly the new feathers were itching and much preening was being carried out.

But the male continued to scold me and offered just the one opportunity for a pic eventually moving the family into some denser bushes nearer the river.

Monday, 12 July 2010

One week on

Well its a week since I last attended the altar of blog and I guess I could say I have been to exotic foreign climes photographing rare and wonderful species or watching some of the dullest football matches ever staged in South Africa or playing hunt the nutter around the Cheviot hills. No none of those are correct. I've been stuck at home working, getting more and more depressed as the wind blew and excursions, never mind photographic ones, were few and far between. Even the weekend was sacrificed to getting the job done although thankfully the job was at Ashington so when things finished it was off up the coast. More depression though as I missed the three Spoonbills on both days and most other birds of note. Some good momments were had from the limited time possible such as young Swallows at Alnmouth.

The Partridge family starred at Boulmer

Backed up by Eider families aplenty at Boulmer Steel. Looks like it's been a good season for them.

Sand Martins feeding in the teeth of a gale at Druridge Pools

And a nice Common Sandpiper just dropped by to say hello.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Hobby hunt

On the basis of a Birdguides report yesterday morning I took a hike up the bridlepath from New Hartley to Holywell Pond in the hope of picking up a Hobby that had been reported. Little did I know that it was Crammy Birder who had been in on the action and that I'd left the house before a later report of three Little Egret came through. It was hot and there was plenty of aerial action in the form of planes on final approach to the airport and families of Swallows but no Hobby.

Hard work photographing birds when a cyclist zooms past every minute or so. I didn't realise it would be so busy but the birds just flew off and returned to wait for a feed. Further up the track at a patch of gorse a male Linnet was singing away. I've been trying for weeks to get a picture of a Prestwick Carr Linnet but they're just too flighty. The Holywell birds are obviously made of sterner stuff as he posed for some time while I buggered around with settings.

Perhaps he just couldn't believe how inept I was. Proceeded to the NWT hide where some crack was had with the incumbents regarding Hobby, Egrets, Common Honey Buzzards and the ID of a dragonfly in front of the hide. (Black tailed Skimmer was the conclusion). Now I had the return walk but visited the public hide where a Moorhen created some amusement by dashing a full twenty yards with a morsel for one of three young feeding on the mud.

A pleasant afternoon but subbuteo was scoreless and I regret no egretta.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Dene Tern

Managed to have a look around Whittle Dene on my way to a meeting yesterday. A very obliging Common Tern posed for me next to the road although I was in danger of being run over by some old geezer who insisted on parking where I was standing. Notice the bird is ringed but unfortunately my digital image is not so clear as to read it although the join is facing you so doubt I could have even with a super clear shot.

Plenty of Black headed gulls around too, one with a family of three youngsters in tow. Only one pair of Common Terns has nested this year with two quite well developed young on the raft yesterday although the diary in the hide tells tales of attacks by Heron, Sparrowhawk and an Otter with pups. The adult terns must be pretty good at repelling boarders and I notice not averse at having a go at Hadrians Wall walkers.

Spent some time attempting that Swallow shot again and noticed a pair feeding a nest under a bridge.

Eventually caught one in the act at Banks Pond later in the day but missed dozens. Anybody want pictures of splashes?