Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Extra day

Just had to post on a day that only occurs every four years. Trouble is work has meant I haven't got many new images so its same old stuff. Owls still present, at least eight last night and the Shrike remains.
I was up early to try and catch up with my paperwork but the first thing I heard when I opened the back door was the plaitiff call of the Curlew. Ah! just so nice and so very tempting to take the extra day off!! The flock has built to 40 and spring is well and trully on its way, then I looked at my garden and realised everything is growing. Bugger, I don't have time to tidy the house never mind the garden. The 'benefits' of being solo. I suppose I could spend the day on a street corner and hope that a passing millionairess drops onto her knees in front of me. Then again no. It might cramp my birding and other activities I can engage in without reproach.

Speaking of clandestine activities some bastard has dumped his crap on the Carr. Another house clearance specialist without any decency or morals. Scum bag.

I wonder how long it would take to shove those bottles where the sun don't shine. Fly tippers deserve nothing less.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Slimbridge wanderers

Managed to get a few hours yesterday and headed up country passing the new Maiden Hall lake on the way. Loads of Pinkfeet, Whitefronts and I assume Bean Geese although everything was so far away I didn't check. I did however come across the two Bewicks Swans quite close to the Red Row Road, that's pronounced Reed Rah Rurd locally.
Quite content they were grazing away sometimes standing, sometimes sitting.
Nice looking bird. Wonder if anyone from Slimbridge has given him / her a name.

Also visited East Chevington where AC pointed out an interloper in the Pinkfoot flock. Can you find it!

Snow Goose easy to see on the ground but strangely very difficult to spot when the flock was in flight.

P.S. Apparently it's a Ross's Goose. Thanks John

Friday, 24 February 2012

Taking stock

What a week! Broadband connection disappeared on Tuesday morning and after two days of diagnostics which involves taking the pc, monitor etc etc into the bedroom to connect with the master switch which was placed there in the days before it was even considered conceivable that you may need to connect anything other than a telephone to the line, I eventually re-joined the internet community late yesterday. Its amazing how much you rely on the wretched thing and of course clients who can't contact you whinge and whine like Wenger. I thought I'd enjoy the break but now I've got tasks up to my armpits and the weekend is lost. Couldn't even take advantage and get out and about. I may just get out later today to look for the Shrike that has apparently re-appeared and check the owls who are still about although not so active in the windy conditions. No Stock Doves on the Carr as yet but a nice one in Big Waters feeding Station last week.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Mr & Mrs

Out jogging on a sunny Sunday morning

who's this at the gate then?

Don't like the way he's pointing that thing at us

Run away (in good old Monty Pyhon fashion)Bellasis Bridge, 28 species in two hundred yards, glorious sunshine, no wind and two more Whoopers to boot. Juvenile and adult with the resident Mute Swans.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Turned out nice

I groaned when I looked out of the window this morning as the rain pattered on the kitchen roof and the outlook for birding was poor. Heavy rain and showers it forecast on the news so after filling the feeders and watching my two garden Robins facing off, I settled down at the other PC to work.
Nine fifteen and I suddenly realised it was sunny, if breezy, outside. I looked at the long list of things to do and it must have been at least five seconds before I decided to head off out. Well, I might miss something good!
First thing I noticed as I walked down the road was numerous calling Skylarks and one in full song. It reminded me of Wednesday when I had the scope on a flock of Pink footed Geese in the horses fields trying to find a Bean or Whitefront when a bird flashed through the view. A Peregrine just missed a Skylark which flew over my head in bright chirpy song. It also flushed me an unseen Oystercatcher so the list progressed to 61 for the year. Later the Peregrine headed off toward the airport after a second attack on the Starling flock returning to Brunswick.

The two Whoopers still remain today with the Pinkfoots and a handfull of Greylags. A pair of Willow Tit looked like they were nest prospecting near the golf course, five Buzzard played in the wind over the edge of the wood and a Curlew called reminding me they would soon arrive en masse. A very pleasant walk notched up 40 species with the obligatory Shortie for good measure.

Still eight or more present. I wonder when they will depart to their breeding grounds. There has been some nice display in the last few weeks with communal soaring and wing claps observed on a number of occasions.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Duck walk

A cancelled meeting meant I had some spare time at lunch so dropped in to Big Waters to see what was about. Given the mild temperature I was surprised the lake near the hide was still frozen and the melt water near the shore was obviously excellent for dabbling in. That meant a walk over the ice for the ducks. I took a few shots hoping for a comedy moment but they all waddled across quite easily.
Mr Wigeon closely followed by

a tentative Mrs Wigeon and then

Mr & Mrs T in close marching order

Meanwhile Mr & Mrs Mallard went against the floe and used it as an opportunity to preen.

Monday, 13 February 2012


If only it lived up to its name but the sabbath was dull and overcast and even the few shots I did take were obscured by twigs. Anyway I shouldn't complain as it was an interesting webs count down on the Tyne. I started at Elswick Wharf where the pair of Muscovy Duck are still paddling around. Not sure how they came to be there but it certainly puzzles some of the passing cyclists. The count was fairly normal with good numbers of Teal and more Common Gulls than I normally encounter. The Shelduck have returned in force with 25 centred on the Costco area although when I put this number into the database it always queries my faculties.

Further on at Scotswood a small flock of Lapwing was joined by 88 Dunlin which is one of the largest counts of this species I've had. I notice Crammy birder also found good numbers so perhaps something has driven them in from the coast. Then to the second part of my count where I park briefly on double yellow lines on the bridge to Newburn Riverside park. I was a bit concerned as the place was crawling with police but they showed no interest. It was clear from the five police cars, ambulance, paramedic, fire engine and water fire rescue boat that something was afoot. Apparently a body had been found on the mud flats next to the boat yard.

Then further up river to the corner where the river turns north briefly and a large flock of Siskin fed on catkins. I reckoned 70 at the time but my photgraph of flock in flight numbers 126.

I mean 126 birds and I couldn't get on decent shot. I must admit I was torn between the Siskins the webs count and checking the gulls on the other side of the river for Icelands or the like.
Returning back across the wasteland that will unfortunately one day be business park I counted the Curlew flock three times and concluded 73, slightly down on last month which was over a hundred.
Count complete I headed home through Throckley where a Jackdaw feeding at the roadside caught my eye. I slammed on the brakes and grabbed the camera as the bird flew up into a tree. Just the one shot but enough white collar for Nordic Jackdaw or as I will write in the bulletin 'showing the characteristics of monedula sp.' Quite eventful really.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Whoop whoop

Not exactly steaming on the patch at the moment, in fact more photographers than birds and an exposure of unusual numbers given the lack of activity. Two Whoopers graced the horse paddocks along with a single Greylag that has been there a few days and I fear is injured. I really did try to turn them into Bewicks but even my eyesight couldn't be that bad.
Owls still aplenty with 5 flying before a ringing excursion flushed another five! The birds are now very widespread and equally likely to be hunting the road verges (assuming they're not clogged up with camouflaged snappers) as open fields. I hope we get some good returns from the results. I was amazed when I researched that the longest lived ringed Short-eared owl in the UK was just 6 years 7 months and 21 days. Other owl species recorded are from 10 to 21 years and the general consensus is that Short-eareds should live to 13. It is perhaps notable that the longest lived SEO was recovered shot so whilst recovery of the species once dead may be difficult is not the low life expectancy more down to man?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Another reality skating programme?

Tits on ice................could be great, or blue or long.........

Monday, 6 February 2012


Who needs a zoom when Robin is prepared to sit at arms length

I would love to know what it's thinking

Or is it just cupboard love. The top shot is tilted because I took it one handed as the bird was sitting on my other.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

How to keep your feet warm

Hm I'm not amused.

Baa me idea if you ask me.

Yes it's a might cold and this mornings walk produced little else of note although there was a fair amount of birdsong. Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Coal Tit and the never ending Great Tit were all giving it large and during the week I've been listening to a wonderful Bullfinch whose mixture of rounded notes and trills is a real pleasure. I shot some video but can't seem to edit it down to a sensible upload. God... computers send you grey before your time (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it after all I had a full dark head of hair before the pc made its appearance in my life!)

Speaking of which Morgan sent me these

Grey Tit at Wallington

Hope the faded uniform hasn't given it the blues.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Getting lighter

Yes the days are stretching out giving more SEO time. A nice burst of sunshine yesterday afternoon saw at least six out hunting but after grabbing a couple of shots the cloud rolled in from the east and the birds perched up.
I don't know whether its to adjust their vision but they currently have a habit of hunting early afternoon and then as the sun sets they perch up for half an hour or so before beginning the evening shift.

As you may gather I never get tired of watching them.

The birds also seem to disperse in pairs so I think there is some bonding going on although it's difficult to tell whether the occasional altercations and frequent calling are food fights or come on games. Last night I watched two battleing over prey high up before a Kestrel joined in hoping for an easy dinner.

I wonder if they are really as grumpy as they look or maybe it's just pesky birdwatchers and photographers.

The Shrike hasn't been seen for a week so after ten and a half weeks it headed off home. Nothing added to the list for a week now but am looking forward to some arrivals. Check out Wanstead Birder for a Wheatear countdown.