Saturday, 29 September 2012

Bonx seat

Sitting in the hide at Cresswell trying to avoid the wind things were looking a bit bleak when a dark shadow passed overhead. The Bonxie hovered briefly over the panicing Coot in front of the hide before side slipping away.
A couple of circuits of the pond being hassled by Crows and putting most things to flight it eventually returned and made a reasonably close fly by.
 Settling briefly to have a drink
 before skipping off back to the spit where it huddled up against the wind for the next half hour.
An unusual visitor now present for two weeks although the gentleman next to me said it had a swollen right eye perhaps making it stay for the easy Coot pickings. Good job all my shots were from the left.
Also present 50+ Barnacle Geese which didn't land, 4 Grey Plover, Greenshank, Little Stint (dodgy pic above) Long tailed Duck and a Peregrine fly by. Nice.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

A bad grass day

After retuning the folks TV for what seems the umpteenth time a quick meeting at Blyth and as I returned down the coast the weather was set fair so St Mary's lighthouse beckoned me after yesterdays Birdguides reports. 
I arrived to find John hopping about the place and the bushes were clealy lifting with migrant birds. Redstart and Goldcrest aplenty.
Spotted Flycatcher not so obvious as it kept to quieter areas of which there were few due to the number of birders present.
The wait for the Yellow browed Warbler was worth it as after hearing it call and numerous Robin and Chiffchaff false alarms it appeared low down in one bush
 To be shortly followed in the same location by a Pied Flycatcher.
Higher up in the same bush a Reed Warbler fed silently.
Have you noticed the theme? Apart from all slightly dodgy long range shots there's always a bit of grass across the subject. I was wanting a Red brested Flycatcher but even after a trip to Tynemouth later it evaded quite a splendid day list.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Bridges too far

Bellasis Bridge last night as the River Blyth took a shortcut across the Corncrake field and others.
The River Pont yesterday lunch time as the defences were breeched and Callerton Lane was flooded before the Fire Brigade pumped the water back. As a comparison to the 2008 flood when Ponteland escaped by a whisker, not even close. On that occasion  the water rose to within nine inches of the top of the flood wall! so all that greenery and the seat would be under water.
It may be that the water has been allowed to flood the Carr to save Ponteland and access was a bit tricky yesterday unless you had a 4 by 4.
The trusts new Cattle crush filled up nicely and the infamous hole which is just to the left in this shot didn't open up.
The dog walkers in Ponteland congregated on the footbridge all in a fluster as they couldn't get into the park to do their business.

and Waitrose car park was saved by a kerb. More so than a couple of my clients who live on Mitford Road in Morpeth. Beautiful bungalow, surroundings and view with Kingfishers and Herons as the neighbours but all lost again for the second time in four years. You've got to feel for them. Hopefully they had a bit more warning this time although I'm sure it doesn't make things that much better. Meanwhile the Environment Agency and the Council procrastinate.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

and now White(s) Pheasant

On Sunday morning before the deluge began it was a clear sunny morning at Bellasis Bridge and seven Skylarks were having their own little singing competition when a white shape appeared in the distance. My heart jumped as I thought the long awaited appearance of Little Egret close to patch had occured however even my dodgy bins could identify an all white Pheasant. Scanning around there were forty plus Pheasant mainly on freshly sown land which included another two white birds.
Somewhere in my memory banks I remember being told it was unlucky to shoot a white Pheasant but now it seems they are an estate fashion accessory and a quick check on Google found many farms that actually specialise in breeding them. A quandry for the shooter perhaps....I doubt it!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Finch fest

Robins and Redpolls were most obvious on my Saturday morning count with 15 or more singing Robins and a flock of 30+ Redpolls active around the small pines at the peat diggings. Also nearby 50-100 Goldfinch fed on thistle heads whilst smaller numbers of Siskin (6), Greenfinch (4), Bullfinch (6) and Chaffinch (5) also flew overhead or were feeding in the hedgerows. Unusually I couldn't find any Linnets but the range was active preventing me from getting to their favoured bushes.
The Redpoll flock was flighty though and offered up limited opportunities for photos, in fact the birds are so small and adept at hiding I often walked past them before they flushed from the hawthorn.
The fine weather has meant the crops have largely been gathered and stubble is being ploughed back in with what I often think is undue haste. This of course offers up a temporary bounty for gulls and the occasional Heron......
but the Sparrow and Starling flocks at Prestwick Mill were making best use of the remaining stubble before it got turned in although to be fair to most of the local farmers there still seems to be some reasonably sized headlands being left for the wildlife.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Hiding in wait

Sparrows banging on the patio doors normally means only one thing. Hawk in the garden. I was one the phone at the time and arrived at the back window to find said bird on the kitchen roof loking a bit wet and bedraggled having a biref preen. I finished the call and struggled to extract the camera from its bag and as I lifted it to my eye.........the bird flew down into the jungle that is my garden. There it waited...........
In line with current blogs its a 'Spot the Sprawk' competition. Over the last few months visits have been few as the Swallows normally give advance warning of the birds approach but shortly it will only be the Jackdaws on guard and they have a habit of leaving en masse to do what they do communally. Eventualy I opened the window and it flew to a nearby tree where after a brief wait it resumed the chase encouraged by a couple of squabbling Meadow Pipits that flew by.
Also in the garden a Chiffchaff was fly catching. I would normally call warblers in my garden Willow as they are the predominant bird in the area by over 10:1 however given the time of year and that I had the benefit of a bird singing earlier in the week I concluded this was a Chiff the darker legs tending to support that assumption.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


After an unusually productive morning I headed up to Cresswell to see if the Bonxie was about. Morgan was in the hide with three others. No mate no sign of the Skua ....should have been here yesterday.......hovering in front of hide..........Oh well. Not to waste a visit I managed to track down the Long tailed Duck and waited as wader numbers increased with the rising tide. Checking Birdguides I was frustrated to read 'Great Skua Holywell Pond 14.30'. Wrong choice again and I had driven past there on the way up. Peaking at 3  Barwits, 1 Knot, 22 Dunlin, 20+ Curlew, 3 Snipe and 5 or more Redshank, things went quiet and I headed home.
Upon arrival at chez dump Birdguides was announcing 'Great Skua Cresswell Pond 14.50' Hang on mate I was there and so were others. Where was the Skua and how did presumably the same bird get from Holywell to Cresswell in 20 minutes? Possible I suppose but is someone having a larf?

Sunday, 16 September 2012

When red eye is good

Following a tip off from Allan I ventured down the lane to Big Waters yesterday where a Black necked Grebe was quite obliging but never close enough for that eye shot. Present in and around the hide were a meandering manic howdon sedge warbler and two cheery reapers. The usual banter was had whilst spotting whatever there was to spot and engaging in a bit of blindfold aeroplane ID.
A juvenile Water Rail edged out into the recently cleared channel on two occasions the second of which it stayed sunbathing where it remained even when we put the shutters down and left the hide. I hope it kept a wary eye out for the Sparrowhawk that visited the feeding station along with a pleasant Pheasant.
Later back on Prestwick Carr it was nice to meet Si and his brother again who were up from the grim south for the Great North Run. Unfortunately the Shorties that had promised earlier in the week failed to show and the most interesting sighting was a flock of 70+ Golden Plover overhead. Anyhoo, more banter was had including tales of Ballion Crake and Chicken Pasta. Hope the run went ok and the curry tonight is due reward!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Carr update

I have spent a good few hours on't patch since the weekend with some interesting sightings but few photographs. Last night saw two Whinchat (no 108 on PC2012) flycatching just far enough away to be frustrating. Other passage has seen returning Wheatears on Saturday and my first 30 south bound Pink footed Geese on Monday. There is still a flock of 20 Curlew with Snipe also in good numbers and Meadow Pipit notably active.
In the hedgerows Bullfinch, Willow Tit and a few remaining Willow Warblers can be picked up by contact calls with a singing Chiffchaff near Mayfair Cottage simplifying any ID problems. Large flocks of Starling feed in the horse fields and local ploughing means good numbers of Black headed and Common Gulls passing through.
Bill had two Short eared Owls on Friday and Saturday, annoyingly just after I had departed the scene and since then a couple of hours each evening has seen no more till last night just after spotting the Whinchats a lone bird hunted in the distance before disappearing from sight not to be re-seen. The wind hasn't helped and I doubt they will be particularly visible till nearer the equinox assuming they stay at all.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A speckling of woods

A walk along the banks of the Tyne from Newburn to Wylam this afternoon found half a dozen or so Speckled Woods in the woodland glades between Close House Reserve and George Stephensons Cottage.
Taking advantage of some shelter from the blustery wind they seemed to prefer nettles but would fly up 10 or 20 feet across the face of the adjacent trees if disturbed.
The local dog and child walkers seemed to find it amusing me taking photographs of the ground but I managed to enlighten a couple of them.
A good few Dragonflies also took advantage of the conditions but not many birds other than a couple of tribes of mixed Tits.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Wrong day

I thought with a bit of good light and incoming tide I'd spend some time on the beach rather than in a hide. Wrong choice! Hoards of folk, dogs and the occasional microlight enjoying the indian summer but flushing the numerous Sanderlings and Ringed Plovers every time I got close to a shot. One Bar tailed Godwit was more persistent.
 as were a couple of nice Wheatears
but even the Herons had taken to hiding inland amongst the bales for a quick preen!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Trick shot

Sorting through old shots trying to free up space on the old hard disc I came across this taken on 2nd June at the north end of Cresswell Pond. On first glance it appears to show a Meadow Pipit being taken by a raptor whose head is lost in the blur of action........but hang on. I would have remembered that when I got home the same batch of shots also having Marsh Harrier images and I can't recall any raptor that has black and white outer tail feathers.
Racking the old tired grey matter the only bird I could come up with is Skylark. Even worse headline........... MEADOW PIPIT KILLED BY GIANT SKYLARK.
So the conclusion. It can only be that the two birds paths crossed as I took the shot and the seemingly killer bite is just a trick of distance but why is the Skylarks head blurred when it's closer than the Pipit and the rest of the bird is in focus? Anybody out there have another theory other than me being an old blind git.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Transylvanian Swallow?

No not a new species, just a youngster who was a tad annoyed that I disturbed it from getting a feed.
That's more like it, Mum'll be along presently.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Back at Hauxley

If it's Saturday then another trip to the coast in search of passage waders as there are non other than an unseen calling Greenshank on my patch.
I spent an hour in the Ponteland hide watching Redshank, Greenshank and Common Sandpiper in intermittent sunshine being joined by BL and SC a fellow photographer minus his camera which, along with his bins and car keys, he had just locked in his car.
The RAC had estimated an hour to come and help him but after that time came and went they were estimating a further three hours with no guarentee of getting into the said vehicle so it was a quick detour to pick up his spare set of keys, returning at high tide for a few shots of Sanderling on the beach.