Thursday, 30 June 2011

Winging it

I was up at Whittle Dene the other day drinking in the peace and quiet and trying to get some shots of Swallows in the sunlight. Then a I started as a loud mew was heard and looked up to see a Buzzard hovered menacingtly above me.

Then some man made interruption as the 'mushroom' climbed out westward whilst doing circuits around the airport. No peace for the wicked I thought.

So I headed for the hide where not much was doing. Four Common Terns seemed very dozy on their raft and no sign of youngsters. I checked the diary which is more like vistors book for people walking the Wall some of whom had obviously taken advantage of the hide for overnight or rainstorm shelter. As I hunted the book for the pen normally trapped amongst the pages I found this moth in the year diary at the back. I've searched the moth site for Calendar or Diary Moth but no joy. Good job I hadn't slammed the book shut! It started to awake and after a minute or so disappeared up behind one of the wall posters.

The main activity was a Sedge Warbler feeding a number of young distributed in the field next to the hide. There were plenty of flies and moths so I think they were being well catered for.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Lesser & Four Spot

Having checked Banks Pond for Dragonflies just about daily for the last two weeks without success todays searing heat finally brought out three male Four Spotted Chasers. Looking at the damage to the wings of this one he's not exactly a youngster himself. Mesmerising to watch and a challenge when in flight. No Emperors yet but I live in hope.

Also singing nearby was this Lesser Whitethroat. This territory has been held for a number of years on the junction of Prestwick Carr Road and Horton Grange Road and I have always wondered why the bird prefers this fairly busy spot when there are many other quieter locations nearby.

Also on the wing numerous Bluetail and Bluet Damsels, more Meadow Browns than could be counted and a few Ringlets. Nice..................

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Little at Cresswell

Not strictly true as there was quite a bit about when I visited yesterday lunchtime. Loads of geese both Canada and Greylag, 8 Grey Heron, Shelduck with plenty of young (one a creche of 22), Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard and Tufted Duck in good numbers, Coot and Moorhen also with young, Oystercatcher, Redshank a couple of Dunlin and the usual loafing Black headed Gulls, Sandwich Tern but best of all four Little Gulls. I was suprised the Avocets had gone but got down to some observation of the Gulls especially this individual coming into full plumage.

Unfortunately they spent most of the time sleeping until there was a commotion as an Oystercatcher on the far side of the pond fell prey to a female Peregrine who proceeded to have lunch on the bankside. I watched with the others in the hide for just under half an hour until she left with the alarm calls from the remaining Oystercatchers sending the gulls now numbering six Littles up and away.

Oh well, off up to Drurdige where there were no Spoonbills but a Grasshopper Warbler reeling at the entrance to the hide path showed for a brief moment.

Not much other than some juvenile Black Headed Gulls in front of the hide so after a quick check on Hauxley and East Chevington where I could find no Roseates although another Little Gull was present but too distant to bother raising the camera so back to Cresswell.

Four Little Gulls again but all distant until after two had left one started to fly closer to the hide and I managed a few shots capable of enlargement. I had been joined by Vee who likely got some better results despite having some problems with her equipment.

We spent a good hour soaking in the atmosphere and discussing why Cresswell and East Chevington attract so many 1st winter Little Gulls but so few adults. How, I ask do birds in their first full season know this is the place to come or is it on some Little Gull super highway from the breeding grounds to their feeding sites

Whatever it's very nice to see them.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Newburn Friday

After a mornings work the sun was out so the weekend started early and I headed down to the Tyne at Newburn to see what was about. Started at the Reeth Pond which unfortunately was Dragonflyless with only a couple of Blue Damsels putting on a show. Plenty of young Mallards and the Kingfisher did its usual flypast as I was caught behind the trees. Despite waiting fifteen minutes it didn't return. Sad to see the vandals have demolished one of the fishing platforms but nice to find a young Robin being fed by its parent in the undergrowth.

A questioning look from the parent as I passed by back to Blayney Row where two young Blackcaps flew up from the pathside vegetation. Young birds are nice when they are so inquisitive and a blessing for the photographer even in dim light. One of the youngsters seems to have some blood around its beak but hopefully nothing serious.

Then a walk up the banks of the Tyne halfway to Wylam. The tide was falling and the rocks becoming exposed for various Gulls (all five common species present) to languish the afternoon away along with Mallard, Heron and Cormorant. No Goosander which is unusual for this location but a good twenty -thirty Sand Martins chasing in family groups near their colony perilously built in the one sand bank that is collapsing. Must be the softer sand is their preferrence.

On the return a Ringlet fluttered down onto a nearby flower. One of only three butterflies seen the others being Small White and Meadow Brown. Also a moth was disturbed as I returned over grassland to the car but then landed for the photo. Dare I suggest (after not so diligent research) Shaded Broad Bar.

I can almost feel the incoming comments to correct me.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Young Willow Warbler

The innocence of youth

Mid summer

Ah! the nights are drawing in. Photo looking North from Dinnington 2am on 22nd June (not my most favourite day for reasons I will not disclose). Shot taken ISO 6400 0.5sec F4.0. Loads of light! The glow on the horizon is Morpeth but far better than looking south which is 50% light pollution from the Airport and Newcastle.

Monday, 20 June 2011

The problem with new feathers

Is for this young Dunnock that they itch

Missed some!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Big and small

I had to venture south of the Tyne yesterday and after appointments in Hebburn and Shields I headed for Marsden Bay where the Kittiwakes looked like they were having a good seaon many pairs with chicks.

A few Fulmars drifted past but I could only see a couple of nests. Plenty of young Cormorants and nesting Herring Gulls on top of the stacks and a few Razorbills lower down. This has always puzzled me as this bird is easy to find here but just three miles up the coast you hardly see a bird and its like that till the Farnes.

Ended up at Prestwick Carr of course and was astonished to have about 20 calling Crossbills fly west over me which I was beginning to question my call ID until I saw Richard Dunns blog which confirmed the fact. Got some decent Whitethroat shots but this little critter captured my attention.

No idea which fly it is but I love the colour and when the light catches it right the sun shines out of, no just a reflection.

On a different thread here's some bobbins for you

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Buff in the kitchen

No not the naked chef but a Buff Ermine that has spent the day on my kitchen wall. Yesterday had a meeting at Acklington so took the advantage to return via the coast. Whilst chatting to TC on the path to the Budge screen at Druridge we saw this moth with long antennae which I tentatively suggest is male Adela croesella. (actually Nemophora degeerella. thanks Rob and Tim)

The reason I say tentatively is that I'm crap at moth ID. I've recently taken to photographing all bugs and creatures on my patch and now I have a library of pictures that need an ID. Why did I make this rod for my back I ask myself.

Slightly better at birds although this wet House Martin at Hauxley could have been tricky if it hadn't spent the previous ten minutes preening.

Spent a pleasant ten minutes watching this beauty with BG and his good lady then a further half hour trying to find a rare Tern in amongst the throng on the North Pool. 2nd summer Little Gull was the best I could manage.

One birder I met later said the farmer had been cutting grass the previous day and the bird had been following the tractor! What a photo opportunity missed as was that related by the Trust Warden who described the same bird struggling to carry a rabbit.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A bit of sun

A nice summers evening after the turmoil of the day. The Meadow Pipits seem to have started a second round of display.

The Redstart is still feeding his young but has yet to give me a close up photo opportunity although Bill tells me (with the benefit of his all seing Leicas) that the male bird is ringed. That suggests it's possibly one of last years juveniles as I'm sure there was a ringing study here then ( 20 plus nest boxes don't just disappear over a year!) Unfortunately I don't know who carried it out.

Small Butterfly activity with one Skipper

and a few Coppers but no Green Hairstreak that I've been searching for since I heard RN found one on June 3rd last year.

Plenty of Small Coppers at St Marys' Island this afternoon where a couple of Blues drifted across the overgrown wetland as I chatted to BR.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Tasty damsel

Up at 5.00am for my webs count on the Tyne which was less than spectacular although very pleasant in the early morning sun. Most birds are still away breeding so only a handful of Redshank, and Curlew but nice to see Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher up river. The Shelducks now have young with two broods of seven and one of five. Plenty of Lesser Black Back Gulls and nice to see the Common Terns are back.

Once completed at the 7.30 I picked up the papers and headed up to Banks Pond where the Canada Goose still has five rapidly growing youngsters although her mate hasn't been around for weeks now. Female Mallard with three young, Moorhen and Oystercatcher but no sign of the Little Grebe this year which is a shame as they've bred there for the previous three years.

This splendid female Reed Bunting very kindly posed in all positions before heading off to her nest with the damsel breakfast.

Then up to Bellasis where it was heaving with cyclists so headed up to check for Quail at the top of the hill. Straight out of the car and a bird was singing in a Barley field just yards up the road. This spot has been a favourite for the last few years although last year was poor probably due to the amount of rape planted. This year there is only one field of Barley and that's where they are and quite close to the road at that.

Sorry about the background noise. I forgot to turn off the image stabiliser. All this kit and no clue how to use it!

Meanwhile at Prestwick Carr this turned up early on Saturday morning ending months of speculation regarding the purpose of the works being carried out by the Wildlife Trust. I had been betting on a viewing platform but now its access all areas.

Not sure what they're expecting down the bumpy road but I think the army could drive a tank over that. The locals probably will!

Shame the operatives couldn't show an example and take their crap home which has been lying for two weeks now.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Green day

Look who pitched up in my garden this morning. The Ponteland Parakeet on tour in Dinnington. It headed off east so watch out Big Waters specialisters. Nice addition to the garden list joining Budgerigar on the exotics!

Can you spot the bobby dazzler? After unsuccesfully chasing Spotted Flycatcher and Yellow Wagtail around Whittle Dene yesterday afternoon I returned to Prestwick Carr and ventured up the range bridleway. Not much doing other than Bill and numerous Swallows getting out of the wind behind the hedges. Then as I returned a flash, or should it be a start, and there he was collecting insects off the ground and returning to the hedge where joy of joys young were calling. I managed to get sight of the pair but couldn't count the young as the family kept a healthy twenty yard distance away.

One shot before they disappeared up the field hedge line to the west. The adult was actually in the tree above this juvenile but wouldn't come down and oblige my lens so eventually the youngster flew up and away with Dad.

On benefit of young birds being around is that Whitethroat are now easier photographic targets as they face you off.

Of course the sun always disappears when you get a good opportunity and shooting on settings previously set up for speeding Swallows didn't help.

But then I wouldn't have got this which when I took it was a sitting bird. Shame the quality is so low. Anybody want to give me a Mk1.4 with a super dooper lens?