Saturday, 29 December 2012

Murder mystery

Out briefly yesterday afternoon but wind and rain had put paid to any decent birding. Walking along the bumpy road I found evidence of a earlier killing and being so white was in fear that something had got a Barn Owl, a species I haven't seen on the patch since February 2010. Closer inspection indicated the feathers were mainly breast and down being fine mottled grey gaining brown and amber bands as they got larger.
These continued down the edge of the road for some fifty yards getting bigger as they went before ending next to a hole on the fence line.
Ah Monsieur le little grey cells must spring into action. The victim was clearly taken unawares and shaken to near death but carried or dragged along the road edge before the whole corpse was taken off for Christmas lunch hence the lack of flight feathers on the roadside. The pale mottled down merging into brown may suggest Partridge being a festive favourite but I suspect the killer was struggling with something larger and a Pheasant is more likely. The murderer, he must be Reynard the fox who has left his mark at the site of the kill and may have taken the victim as an offering to his lady who he will currently be courting.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Cut off

The disadvantage of having an ISP through my business is that they choose to do vital maintenance during public holidays so between visits to the folks and shops, I've had little opportunity to drivel on. What's worse I've hardly taken a handful of photographs since the middle of the month and long for a day when the light level gets above gloom.
Now for a rant. Over the last few weeks my printer has been showing signs of age. Well it's two for pitys sake and also the second I've had in the last five years when I switched to A3 printing following the shock of a year when my print costs exceeded £1500 for large format stuff. As an Architect it gets fairly heavy use but you would expect machines from reputable makers like Epson to last a bit longer. I know that the problem is only the print head but they won't let their dealers repair them! You have to send them back to the factory. They arrange all the delivery etc costing a splendid £158 before any repairs or exceptionals. This printer cost about £300 which wasn't the cheapest but had good ink performance and costs. When I say good I mean better than attrocious and in researching what to buy over the years various nasties other than the extortionate rip off cost of ink have come to light. Such as
the cartridges supplied with new machines are specials and only partially full
every time you switch the machine on it charges all the ink jets so you use colour ink even if you do very little colour printing
cleaning the ink jet head is done by blowing a significant amount of ink through the thing using more ink and likley to cause a further blockage
So I approached the shops with the trepidation of a further sting on the bank balance and was pleasantly amazed. On offer A3 printer smaller, faster, neater than my current and with cheaper ink all for £139. How can they make them for that! The ink alone (assuming the cartridges are full) should cost £72.50. Apparently its reduced from £260 as Canon have brought out a new model which the assistant said is almost identical. Unable to resist such an offer I have switched makes and was pleased to see it has a detachable print head but in two years time or less I will no doubt be cursing Canon rather than Epson. What annoys me the most though is the staggering waste for such a trivial and repairable fault.
Oh yes, birding wise I went to Whittle Dene after Staples but the hide was somewhat inaccessible although there wasn't much around to see anyway. Anybody fancy a picnic in a wet suit?

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Still waiting

Saturday dawned with the thought 'aw crap, I'm still here'. What's worse it's chucking it down and no hope of getting out. I reflected on Fridays promised doom and how so many people seemed to want to spend their last mortal moments in a supermarket.
Sunday promised better things with sunshine forecast but I must have missed the bit about a howling gale. This is now the second time I've written this, the first being curtailed by the usual power cut. Dinnington! may as well be the back of beyond cut off from the world cut off by power failures, flooding and roadworks although I notice they have cleared most away for the Christmas break however they have also given up all pretence of trying to deal with the water run off from fields. Looking back through my photo's from this year the Carr has been flooded since the last week in April with major top ups in June, September and December. Only one other keen birder out this morning, somewhat of a contrast to last year!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The end of the world is nigh

So put your head between your legs and kiss your **** goodbye although to be honest I doubt they'll have got the date correct.
The current speculation is that tomorrow is the end of the world as fortold by the Mayan calendar which gives 21.12.12 as the end of the 5th sun. This unfortunately assumes we knew when the first sun was born and have counted accurately ever since. Given that the calendar has developed from before Egypt through the Romans to the current day with Popes moving days and Roman Emperors adding days having originally fouled up by not starting at zero (see this link for a summary) then the chances of anything happening tomorrow seems slight and most commentators speculate that the meaning of 'end' has been misinterpreted.
Given that though, the first four Mayan suns representing fire, air, water and earth (as in most civilizations) generally concluded in flood and fire so I look out of the window at the pouring rain and wonder. Oh bugger it, at least I won't have to buy any presents!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Eye on the gold

What turned out to be frustrating weekend started with such hope as 123 on the Prestwick Carr 2012 list being Green Sandpiper was feeding in the flooded horse fields with a dozen Lapwing. The water levels have been topped up again but the dank weather has seen little else of interest and certainly made photography that much more challenging.
After that it was hunt the Bearded Tit at East Chevington and hunt the Bittern at East Chevington then Cresswell where the only joy was was the male Long tailed Duck and hunting Barn Owl. Sunday was a pretty average Webs count then off to Whittle Dene.
Finally some sunshine illuminated six male Goldeneye trying to catch the attention of four females. Nice to see these winter ducks back on our waters.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Blue light

Working away this morning I was stirred by the dee dah of emergency vehicles on the road outside my house. Not unusual here being next to the airport and the police doing training runs up and down the road, alarms are a regular occurence. However as I stood at the back window talking on the phone there in the distance was a collection of blue lights on the Horton Grange Road. For the second time this week the back road was blocked due to an acccident.
I've lost count of the number of accidents on this road over the years but they seem to be getting more frequent. It's not like it should be surprise as the road bends all over the place, has poor visibility, poor surfacing and this morning was obviously icy.
Anyway some poor soul was carted away in a blood waggon and the upturned remains were in Dougies field (he'll be livid if they have to go in to recover it). I was impressed that despite being upturned the vehicles lights were still working. Looked like a sporty Peugot but I'm no expert especially when they're upside down and crumpled.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Little big one

As life would have it work took me north today only half a mile from Bothal Pond where I had struggled with the light on Saturday. Today....beautiful sharp, clear light and where was the diver? About as far away as it could get. As Simon P and I sorted through the Canada Geese a Wren chastised us from nearby in the hedgerow.
These pictures were taken Saturday on the Carr where no less than four of the little mites were having a bit of a battle. Lots of threatening calls, glaring and staring round corners but fortunately no feathers flew.
In my half century and a bit of existence I've noticed that attitude often comes in small packages in both the bird and human world.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Grainy Northern Diver

Saturday dawned and after a goose count on the Carr I re-charged batteries and headed up to Bothal Pond to catch up with the Great Northern Diver. Stopped off just west of the pond as Stef M and another chap were set up wth camera and scope looking at the Canada Geese flock. I joined them and they guided me to the four or was it more, Todds species. Quite different when you get the salient features but they seem to disappear into the flock with ease. The light was good and I thought I spotted the diver near the road so drove through the flood to observe. No diver to be seen therefore off for a bite and quick look at Cresswell where the wind was bleak so headed home stopping once again at Bothal.

This time the bird was showing well and got reasonably close but the light had gone so I ended up with shots that look like black and white even though they were shot in full colour......honest. That's one serious beak its got though.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Carry on Crow

Returning from a walk along the pier at Tynemouth the other day I came across this Crow devouring a Feral Pigeon on the roof of the sailing club building.
It noticed me watching
and proceeded to do a little jig before continuing with its meal
I wonder what got the Pigeon in the first place, Peregrine most like although I've never seen one there before and not a likely spot for it to take a kill but anybody familiar with the quays at Tynemouth and Blyth will know how many pigeons are available though.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

A woody a day

is always nice to see and at the moment I'm getting daily visits with Sunday seeing a record three as a pair and this male squabbled over the nuts. In fact with the turn in the weather the garden is lifting with the regular species of Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Starling, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Collared Dove, Robin, Dunnock, Woodpigeon and Magpie being joined by regular visits from Coal Tit, Tree Sparrow, Wren and less frequently Reed Bunting, Bullfinch, Pied Wagtail, Rook and the inevitable Sparrowhawk.
No thrushes yet though and the dream of a Waxwing looks to be fading.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Nice Willows

An amazingly restrained title considering what I could have said but I'm not one to pander for hits although am intrigued by what titles attract. For instance 'Cheating' got an increased number of viewings from Columbia, United States and Canada. I doubt they got what they wanted.
Things like putting Hattie Jacques name in the title worked well and SEO meaning Short eared-Owl but also search engine optimisation was an accidental bonus but I'm puzzled why 'Post after post' attracted over 1500 hits from Ukraine. I can only suspect it accidentally got caught up in european football..................of course Goal post! Duh!
Anyway I love my tits and the Carr is always a good place for a view but even Big Waters now has them although they have to put leg irons on them and keep them caged!