Sunday, 30 October 2011

Night owls

A Merry Christmas to all my....................oh not quite yet but may as well be. The dark days of winter have arrived and my exposure (photographically speaking) has been greatly reduced. Poor light levels, flocks of skitty birds and owls that refuse to break cover before dark.

Many who have come to see over the last week have left disappointed but if you wait till after six the Shorties will oblige although given the light available you have to take it on trust they are shorties. Last night one hunted briefly at 5.45 then disappeared before at 6.05 one then two then five all appeared out of the grass and perched on a fence before flying up high circling each other. Eventually six birds passed over our heads (two valliant individuals stayed for the bounty) and headed off North whilst two remained to hunt round the pond. Five minutes later they all re-appeared to the west and a bit more flying for fun seemed to be going on prior to individual birds heading off to hunt.

Tonight six becomes five and I doubt I can get back in time for the show although perhaps the owls may not have put their clocks back. More chance of daytime views in future I hope.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Bloggerfest for Firecrest

It was a bloggers gathering for the Firecrest at St Marys yesterday. So many so that I can't be assed to give them all links but they know who they are and likely got better results than I did with the spritely Firecrest. Or was it two?
What a little beauty if somewhat difficult to get focus on

The sun went behind a cloud as I arrived and using my large lens with manual focus the results were less than satisfactory although auto focus wasn't that much of an aid for this flighty character amongst the branches.

I got six head on shots like this and not one in focus. Rats............. even more so when my car refused to start on heading home! Good job for the hill at Links Road. A jump start using the incline did the trick.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A sad end

There are times when things seem settled and pleasant that fate just sets up a situation to remind you of mortality and the pain of life. Last night standing at the new bridge watching the autumn colours on a balmy (what should have been summer) evening such a situation was about to occur. A chap I had met watching the owls arrived and we chatted. No doubt by the copious amounts of guff I was churning out he unmasked me as the PC Wanderer, introduced himself as Harry, then went on his way in search of said owls. I later followed him up the road to find him with binoculars trained, staring into the ditch. He pointed out the terrible subject of his curiosity. A Fox hung upside down in the wire mesh fence Its brush was clearly visible as was the damaged remains of its rear leg. Worse still, Harrys attention had been drawn by it thrashing about and after a few moments of watching the poor beast again moved. It bit the timber fence post and no doubt had taken a similar gruesome option on its trapped leg as the foot was missing. We phoned around trying to get the number for the RSPCA which Harry eventually did (0300 1234999). After an age on hold which must have cost Harry a few bob they eventually answered and the situation explained. They thankfully said they would attend and we waited, Harry returning to the crossroads to direct them.

I stood in the fading gloom with the still silent Fox a dozen yards away and thought of famous rescues and a three legged Fox but in reality knew this was not the going to be the outcome. The Short eared Owls had appeared as they had for the last four nights on the stroke of 18.15 being too dark for even a decent sighting never mind photograph. Now in total dark illuminated only by the glow of Newcastle and its Airport, Ducks flew in to the pond, Redwing tseeped overhead and Little owl and Buzzard also called.

After what seemed an age Harry and the RSPCA lady made their way up the bumpy road and we located the stricken animal with the torches they had brought. Edging along the ditch we got close and the Fox started to struggle ar the torchlight fell upon it. I feared it would tear the leg away from the fence and disappear off into the night to die a lingering death but it was stuck fast and clearly had been for some time. The body however was free to pivot and with the fence there was no way to cover its head. We managed to wedge it against the cage which had been brought in hope and the RSPCA lady succeeded getting hold of the animal and administered the lethal dose. The young dog Fox however was full of life and adrenalin and still resisted strongly clamping its teeth to the fence wire. I clumsily took the wire cutters to the fence and after what seemed an age the animal was released but the drugs had taken their course and it had slipped into the oblivion that awaits us all.
Thankfully it suffered no more and was saved from a night, and possibly longer given its energy, of torment. Harry, the RSPCA lady and I thanked each other and I returned gloomily home along the bumpy road. The stars were out and if I was clever I maybe could have found the constellation of the Fox but all I saw was a fuzzy Jupiter rising in the East.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Pipits Rock

but only occasionally stand still.
Must be the breeze at Newbiggin.

or the thought of a Hen Harrier overhead

That'll make you move.

Myself. I never saw the Harrier but did find the Jack Snipe at Cresswell

Is that called showing? Never mind it has the glory of shot number 20,012 for my 500D. Twice round the clock. I hope the car does the same!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Back to chat

Last night on a cool breezy Carr I joined John and his mate from Cumbria waiting for some Owls to show. As the previous night and in fact for the last week a Whinchat was flycatching from the fenceline. I put the scope onto what I thought was the bird and blow me a Stonechat was on view. After the debacle of the last two winters this is the first of the year and No 108 on the PC list.
Great to see and craptastic record shot was taken as was one of the white chested Buzzard.

Closer to the lens I managed a nice male Bullfinch.

This morning my count struggled up to 40 species but included Golden Plover, Treecreeper, Crossbill and two perched Long-eared Owls in their favourite spot. More disturbing was the other type of chat. Now I know Prestwick Carr suffers noise from the airport but far more annoying to me is folk bawling as they pass through. It's normally cyclists or horse riders but this morning it was two power walking women who just couldn't shut up about their crap birthday night out and an old geezer shouting down his mobile phone, both audible from almost 100 yards away. Makes me feel like the Blue Tit above looks.

Scotland was cold and windy but a nice trip (thanks Kevin). Not many photo opportunities although had I been quicker I could have had numerous roadside Buzzards. This Turnstone just about sums up the weather!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

O'er the border

Off to the even bleaker and no doubt colder north for a couple of days. Doing bit of business and hopefully some good sightings along the way.

Assuming the Crows don't scare the subject (unless they're Hooded of course).

Sunday, 16 October 2011


Spent Saturday morning trying to photograph Mr & Mrs Big bird but was foiled by tosspots trying to catch the local deer. After a brief spot of business headed up country where Hauxley was devoid of life but Druridge had a flock of Whoopers (Howdon blogger take note of spelling).

The moment I lifted the camera off they went
Reports of a White fronted Goose at East Chev. Oh for pitys sake. That sort of weekend....

Friday, 14 October 2011

360 degrees

peek a boo

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Chak and seee

This morning standing at the back window talking on the phone a flock of thirty or so Fieldfare headed west over the Carr. Later on at a meeting in Gosforth more Fieldfare and dozens of Redwing calling overhead, a situation repeated when I checked for Turtle Dove at Brunswick on the way home. There have been two other records of Turtle Dove this year in Northumberland. Priors Park Tynemouth on 11th May and Killingworth on 15th June. If you draw a straight line between these two locations and extend it through Brunswick, Prestwick Carr could be next. Come on down for a patch tick you beauty.
I caught up with the bird again at last night and conclude that the period between 3.30 and 4.30 seems the most likely to catch it, possibly due to a lull in airport activity or just forced out to feed prior to roosting. Met a nice chap there from Southport who wanted to find Prestwick Carr. No problem follow me I said and off we set. As we approached the best spot two Shorties were already in the air as the landowner was in the fields preparing to shoot. We watched as three to four birds hunted around him and his dogs. Meanwhile two Long eared owls were just visible at their roost. The lad left with some reasonable images I hope but the quest for pictures has brought shame upon the photographic community. I chatted to the landowner who said barbed wire had been ripped down and an area trampled up the side of the field. His comment was that should he catch those responsible he would remove their dangly bits until the coppers arrived. I assumed he meant bins, cameras, scopes etc but was not entirely confident about which bits he would be grabbing!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Duff ducks

Not the qulaity of the duck mind you but of the images obtained. Poor light, backlighting, over reflective water, whatever conspired a less than successful attempt at the Lesser Scaup. It's nice when they do something or appear alongside a comparision species but painfull when the result isn't sharp.Oh well, apparently Foghorn sends his birds to sleep. I remember that problem but not with ducks! Couldn't resist a shot at the Mandarin which kept under the canopy of a tree and avoided standard Oriental poses in favour of flapping about.

Preenings always a good one to stop any photogenius.

Meanwhile back at the Lesser Scaup TRD's dog just looked on in bemusement.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Many of the folk out for the Owl fest last evening mentioned a nice Wheatear at the first gate on the Carr. I have to admit I totally missed it but these are from Briar Dene car park the at weekend when I was out with Crammy birder.

The bird ran along the edge of the kerb and found a number of angles to keep a good eye out for us
and in so doing provided a number of photo opportunities.
I always love it when birds give you eye contact

Yesterday morning was spent hunting the Turtle Dove which of course appeared once the rain had ceased. Not as daft as this observer then. Here's Northumbrian Birding (right) just before the tree grabbed his cap and Wild up North (left) just before he successfully raided my patch.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Wren will I see you again

Well, not wishing to give you the third degree, probably tomorrow

Plenty calling over the weekend along with numerous Goldcrest

Great little birds

Also 136 Redwing over on Saturday morning in groups numbering 5 to 32 aided by the clear moonlit Friday night. Winter approaches.

Tonights owl count.......Bo Derek!