Sunday, 31 March 2013

aristotel is in Blyth harbour

On the way back down the coast on Saturday I called in at Blyth South Harbour on the off chance of a Snow Bunting. No buntings but a diving bird near the harbour masters office attracted my attention. There is a well known Shag roost on the north pier but I've never actually found one fishing in the harbour although the Cormorants often do.
Noticably smaller and without the white skin near the lower mandible adults are easily distinguished especially close to breeding. They also have a different diving style to Cormorant jumping further out of the water in a true dive rather than sliding under. I tried for an age to get the bird wholly out of the water but my reactions on the shutter button were just not fast enough this being the best I managed. The majority just had tail and legs showing.
Also distinctive is the crest on the head. No doubt the bird was sick of battling the weather out at sea and found the harbour a pleasant respite. Thoughts should soon be turning to heading for the breeding colony.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

The good, the bad and the ugly

Up the coast yesterday to witness the return of big beauties
 the loss of so many comic cuties
and quite a bit of jetsam from the east.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

A ray of sunshine..

..and out come the birds of the night! After sorting two jobs in Morpeth I headed up to Cresswell where I spent an hour in the hide. Lots of Wigeon and Redshank, a few Dunlin, six Gadwall, two female Goldeneye, the long staying male Long tailed Duck staying out of camera range as usual and two sleeping Red breasted Mergansers. The last fifteen minutes in the hide was enlivened by bright sunshine for what seems the first time in years. I then braced myself for the walk back down the lane into the easterly chill and as I approached the car I noticed the local Barn Owl just feet away from the bonnet and two other birders in a car nearby getting stunning views
It proceeded to hunt the roadside all the way up to the deserted cafe halting cars as they noticed the bird nearby. One group in a people carrier followed it up the road whilst MSH, no doubt on his way home from twitching the returning Marsh Harrier at East Chev, stopped at the roadside whereby the bird perched on a fence post just yards away. I wonder whether he had his camera in the car?
Anyway, after a possible kill in the dunes the bird eventually returned to the car park area and proceeded on another run up the roadside presenting some excellent views. Typically the shot is always on the skyline....
 ...and with the east wind the bird was always hunting away from me.
 One bird that will always bring brightness into a world of gloom and doom.

Monday, 25 March 2013

It's so gold

This little chap is spending a lot of time in the bushes near Mayfair Cottage. Constant feeding the only way to survive the current freeze
He looks just how I feel

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Internet down again

Tail end of March
with easterly gale
ten degrees of chill
and face stinging hail

Gulls crest waves
of seething white seas
the beach is deserted
for spring equinox freeze

Snowdrops are stilted
Daffodils on hold
I fear for the early bird
should he be so bold

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


The man on the radio keeps telling me spring starts now but you wouldn't believe it looking outside. Yesterday, having spent the first hour trying to jump start my parents central heating swearing more oaths than the new Pope was doing on the TV! I finally got some heat into the radiators and headed up the coast in an effort to clear the depression but look at it. Bleak or what? I notice it doesn't stop the dog walkers though. As a public service I pass on the notice that the coast road between Lynemouth and Cresswell is closed for the next five days. Maybe we'll get some migrants on the flash before it is drained.
I missed a Peregrine at Cresswell arriving as ADMc and the gang of three were departing the hide. They seemed to have counted everything in sight so I settled down for a quiet half hour. Six Whoopers north was the only excitement although Mrs Moorhen was taking the huff at the old mans advances.
This morning dawned still bleak although I'd solved the heating problem. Outside the fields are all standing water and a pair of Lesser Black Gulls had returned to the patch pushing the list to 70. They were getting jiggy as well although I'm not sure what the discussion was about at the moment pictured above. 

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The waiting game

With buds ready but not bursting the trees await some warmer weather to produce leaf allowing easy counting of the many Rookeries in the area. Most nests appear complete with pairs just biding their time till spring finally sprungs. 
This male Tree Sparrow has been singing next to this hollow tree for the last two weeks so appears to have decided this is his pad which may upset the Willow Tit pair who bred successfully there last year. The Blue Tits in my garden are busy seeing off all other blue types and had a go at a pair of Willow Tits who visited briefly yesterday. It looks like kitchen nest box No1 is the choice of their abode for the third year running.
On the Carr this chap is notable for his solitude as the flock seems to have dispersed but I keep flushing him from the roadside although this is the first time in six I've managed to get a pic. Meanwhile the Curlews have finally started to arrive about one - two weeks late although one or two never really departed as the sodden ground remains. Fingers crossed it looks ideal for Spring wader passage.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Ups and downs

Busy week at work, busy week in the garden. As with most gardens this winter Siskins are a regular visitor and nice to see a pair hopefully ready for the season,
After a barren five years Tree Sparrows have returned to my garden peaking at seven with hopefully more to come. But then there is poor Robin
First noted about a month ago in my garden I thought it had a plumage aberration but being very skulking and chased by the other birds I never got a good view. On Sunday it finally came into the open but wasn't flying very well at all. The picture shows a disease, probably fungal, that has removed all head feathers leaving the skull exposed and the eyes restricted. On Monday I found the bird dead looking like it had been attacked by others and I suppose thankfully its suffering had been ended.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Paired in waiting

Early morning Jackdaws all perched in pairs ready for the day and the months ahead. The two at top right must have had a tiff.
Sundays webs count was in two halves. Well it normally is, the first part from Redheugh to Scotswood Bridge carried out in clear cold weather with Shelduck present in good numbers but Lapwing and Plover noticeable by their absence. Then, as I was counting the Herring Gull  colony on the roof of Roll Royce Engines the greyness that had been creeping up from the east turned into a white out. I retreated to the car and nipped up the road for a paper and pie. The next three quarters of an hour were spent reading the paper and watching the snow. Then, just as it came, it cleared and part two from Scotswood to Newburn was commenced. Very timely although quite a bit of snow had fallen the final roost of gulls at Newburn Riverside was counted in bright sun but with the ever present risk of snow the camera remained in the car.

Friday, 8 March 2013

The thwack of willow on Hawthorn

I'm lucky to have one of the rarer Northumbrian species as a regular on my patch. The Willow Tit is a declining species but seems to be doing well locally having bred consistently over the last ten years. Some confusion may be involved with the Marsh Tit whose stronghold is the area in the Wansbeck valley west of Morpeth. I had a discussion recently with a follower of this blog from Whitley Bay who had some doubts on ID especially after an encounter further north. Basically, the Willow Tit has a mat cap whilst the Marsh Tit is glossy. Regular sightings make the difference obvious as the cap of the Willow perches on the head rather than the Marsh which is more round but the best ID is the call. Willow Tit offers frequent contact calls but often re-inforced by the warning chur, normally threefold.
Marsh Tit gives a distinct per-chow call which I hope Richard may have on his records.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Road to nowhere

A week battling with my browser finally saw me give in and install Chrome which allows me seamless access to my blog so now I can unleash the frustrations of the previous few days. Saturday saw me travel up county looking for big birds displaying but all I got was windmills. Bemoaning  the visual destruction of a beautiful part of the world I carried on to Harwood.
This is how it should be. The view from Winters Gibbet although some bird action would have been nice. Not even a Crossbill to enliven the day and old winters head is still missing with a sorry homemade dummy in its place.
Yesterday it was another trip, this time on business but Druridge is almost on the way to West Thirston isn't it. Wellies on to negotiate the most useless (not to mention dangerous) piece of boardwalk in the area.
Then distant views of the Redhead on the southern pools. A Short eared Owl also put in an appearance but the cold eventually got to me and I returned home for a bacon sarnie. Now today they tell us more than one rasher of bacon a day is harmful. Precisely which planet are these people on..........thus far I've survived salmonella in eggs, CJD in beef, e-coli in beansprouts, horsemeat in burgers (not to mention whatever the employees of fast food outlets add for a joke) all washed down with anti-freeze laden wine so I think I'll take my chances with the mixed grill please.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Going grey

Taking time off from my scare crow duties I found a bird going grey just like me. Unfortunately in my case it is a decline in virility and in his an increase as breeding nears.
Cormorants are getting more common on patch with these four over flying my house on Saturday last. Probably Big Waters birds heading out to the new fishing ponds that have been created north of Ponteland.

I bet the anglers are pleased as the birds are dab hands at fishing!

Friday, 1 March 2013

let me in

After two days without internet access I got back on line only to find Google re-directing me in circles so I've resorted to the phone.
Finally caught up with the Glaucous Gull at Shields on Monday but after a couple of shots from the High Lights I descended to the Quayside and of course it had gone.