Sunday, 29 December 2013

See duck

Upon reading a report of Black throated Diver at Druridge Pools I headed up there in my only time remaining between appointments on Saturday afternoon. Fat chance of it likely to be sitting in front of the Oddie hide but I opened the shutters carefully so as not to disturb the ...... zero birds nearby. Oh well, I settled down and ID'd  a far distant Long tailed duck and pair of Red breasted Merganser. Then from my right appeared the long staying Common Scoter.
A nice paddle past ensued allowing good views of this bird normally seen in a raft among it's relatives out at sea.
She headed purposefully off to see her other sea bird mates and they had a brief conflab, presumably discussing the better weather conditions before the two ducks stayed and the Mergansers flew back out to sea.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013


Looks like I've acquired a bleak midwinter rather than a Merry Christmas. All the best to all of you.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Hover boys

The recent winds have made hunting for the three to four Kestrels around the Carr that much easier of late. Nice horizontal balanced position and the odd flap to keep balance and station in comparison to still days where the position is more vertical and lots of flapping is required.
On my many trips to Cramlington recently there's also been a geo stationary Buzzard on the Horton Grange Road using the updraught from the wind hitting the berm that surrounds the open cast site. I've tried to get the pic but I've either had another car up my tail end or the bird has moved off the moment I pulled up.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Looking down their beak

Maybe I'm getting an inferiority complex but even the thrushes are looking down on me. 
Difficult not too if you're in the top of a tree but it's the attitude.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas is coming

and the geese have a slight look of concern in their eyes
but not half as much as their domestic cousins.

Saturday, 14 December 2013


This Blue Tit looks how I feel after a day flogging a quiet (I'm just spoilt) windy patch. Now why's the spell checker telling me I spelt spoilt wrong, and spelt. A quick check in the dictionary tells me I'm correct or at least partly so as unusually the yanks prefer spoiled and spelled. Oh how very posh. Gave me something to write about anyway and just for good measure ......colour. Bloody heathens!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Look at all those berries

many blown off in the recent winds but some good fare still remains.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Sitting pretty

Magpies are doing well but Christmas is looming
Will they shoot skyward like a gun or drop to the ground and play among the cats?

Friday, 6 December 2013

That's high

The unusual sight of the Pilot boat at Blyth last night steaming past level with the quayside as high tide reached the boardwalk level.
As I watched it eventually topped pavement level and started flooding the road. This was about five minutes before high tide.
The Pilot headed off upstream with the water now breaching the gaps on the quayside left for mooring bollards.
Followed by his escort fortunately at dead slow for a wake would have inundated the quayside. Just as the vessel passed hide tide was reached and the water started to recede.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Full fare

Trees heaving with Fieldfare preparing to roost on the Carr last night
and as soon as you approached for a photograph off they went.

Monday, 2 December 2013


An excellent weekend on the patch although the Pipits and Snipe needed to keep their head down! Saturday saw a large singing flock of Fieldfare, Redwing and Starlings up the Bridle track numbering between 800-1000. A walk in the woods flushed two Woodcock twice (can I count that as four?) which brought up 107 on the PC list and I found my first pair of wintering Stonechat since the freezing winters of a few years ago wiped them from inland localities. Tonight was duller and unfortunately calmer although a large female Sparrowhawk was making repeated sorties down the bumpy road.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

It's oh so quiet

Just a Kestrel, a Buzzard and a hundred or so Fieldfare last night. I wish I had his patience.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Sharmed I'm sure

Saturday afternoon in the Ponteland hide at Hauxley and a Water Rail crept out below the hide. I started taking a few shots but the bird reacted to the shutter noise and darted back into the undergrowth only to return and give me a decidedly down beak glare before continuing off up the bank. It was the only shot taken without grass or major focus issues.
A Little Grebe paddled past giving a similar disdainful look probably depressed by the murk.
Whilst the Redshank just shook it off like water off a waders back.

Friday, 22 November 2013

More Vikings?

Also at Killingworth last week whilst stuffing curry and chips in my face a wonderfully marked Nordic style Jackdaw wandered up to the Carr. Of course I missed the shot whilst trying to retrieve the camera with messy digits but afterwards whilst looking for the bird I found at least two others with the start of sub species Cm monedula white collars.
I wonder whether these are the progeny of the other bird which has been around the lake for at least three years.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Flying norseman

Black headed gull J8Y6 which I spotted among a throng of ringed Coot at Killingworth Lake on 15th November is but one of many. I submitted the sighting to Morten, a researcher in Norway with  whom I have had previous contact on Friday at 6.00pm and within an hour had a response back! The bird was ringed near Oslo as an adult male (3 yr old+) in 2012 and was spotted by GB at Killingworth in November last year.
This seems to be a typical picture for Black headed Gulls in the north east of England returning to their birth place in Scandinavia to breed in April. J72J is a well recorded bird probably living off fish and chips at Amble and recorded since 2005 but all the records are in winter months until last year when he was recorded at Vinge-Velvang in Norway in April. Presumably he switches to Rollmops when back home. Another bird J9CE was ringed at Malledammen in Norway in 2012 but has wintered at St Mary's Island for the last two years and SV 106967 has moved between St Mary's Island / Holywell Pond and Utterslev in Denmark for the last two years.
So records from four birds but I wonder how many of the hundreds I see on the coast and rivers each year in winter are returning to Scandinavia in Spring.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


Pitched up at Hauxley on Saturday and immediately this lady took to the air in front of the hide. 
Wish I'd had some warning to get the camera somewhere near the right settings! Don't often get close up to Scaup (or is it a blagging tufty? Doubt flooded in for some reason when I enlarged the images)

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Late on the gate

A Red Admiral on the gate to the Ponteland hide at Hauxley. The bar was lifted carefully so as not to disturb it but the movement made it close its wings.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Just a thought

For what seems the umpteenth time in recent months I had to delve into my field guide of Birds of North America to get the low down on a Birdguides report of Thayers Gull this morning then I remembered taking a shot of a Herring Gull just the other day as it stomped up worms from the grass behind Blyth Harbour Quayside. You know Blyth is almost on the way to Norfolk on a great circle type route. Anyhow just a dark mantled winter adult Herring Gull was the result as Thayers would have a dark iris to the eye. One lives in hope of a mega.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Thrice Bittern, Reedling shy

After an early start produced a null count on the Goose front I headed up to East Chevington for the second time this week on the news the Bearded Tit had been seen again. On arrival Howdon Blogger and Sedgedunum Warbler who were just leaving in search of Snow Buntings informed me that the Beardy had not been seen since 8.00 but that a Bittern had just flown into the reeds west of the hide. I set up for the long stand as NZ271982 left for warmth and I was joined by John and we waited half an hour without sign. Then he called Bittern and a couple of hurried shots were taken as it headed down to the other end of the pool. No sooner had the bird crashed into the reeds we were joined by Roger who was devastated when he found out he'd missed the Bittern by a minute. We chatted a while and then he asked where exactly the Bittern had landed. Just in front of the farthest green hide I said and no sooner had he focused the scope than he saw the bird posing in the sun on the reed edge and as Andy added was even visible to the naked eye. The bird then took flight going west along the reeds till it dived into them again. 
The task resumed of waiting for the Bearded Tit and the odd ping from the reeds raised the hopes of the now gathered throng but no joy was to be had other than the Bittern flying back to where it had been originally. Three good views of Bittern some compensation for the lack of the reedling.
 Long tailed Tits on the Carr are far easier especially when they form a road block.
Further success on the way home as reasonable views of Black necked Grebe at Cresswell Pond were had. Shame I couldn't get a decent photo.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Rise and fall

Around 10th October this fungus (Golden Scalycap?) sprouted from the top of a dead tree on the bumpy road. Before 2000 this tree had an excellent north facing hole used as a nest site by Willow Tit but the floods around the turn of the century brought it down onto the road and it was truncated, the 12 ft stump returning to it's original vertical form. The fungus last night had run its course and the weather had improved!

Saturday, 2 November 2013


Out sharp with the weather cold dull and very calm considering the weather report said gales. Three Lesser Redpoll were in with the Goldfinches but not much else of note with only a smattering of Redwing and Fieldfare.
I disturbed this Deer at breakfast
Last night I was stood on Bills balcony (as the bridge next to the flagpole has been re-named) watching Hen Harriers and Short eared Owls (in my dreams) when there was a plop into the ditch behind me. Hopeful of a Water Vole I waited and after some squeaking a Vole appeared but way too small to be Ratty. Nice to know they can swim although if they couldn't they'd be in deep do, do on the Carr.