It being the season where the broadcasters beef out their feeble schedules with images that should never have left the cutting room floor let me join with that spirit and offer three images that would have been good if only focus had been achieved.
Or, having recently had to adopt glasses for reading is it just me?
No not Christmas.....Starling roost in the conifer trees next to my drive with consequent results. Numbers vary from 20 to 90 Starlings and thirty or so House Sparrows with two Collared Doves, Robin, Wren and Blackbirds as space permits.
Fine weather on Saturday but pretty average fare for the time of year. Most birds were sitting high up in trees with good numbers of Fieldfare, Starling and a smattering of Redwing up the bridle track. A flock of 100+ Golden Plovers was flushed from the fields of winter wheat to the North and a mother with two juvenile Mute Swans resided in the horse fields.
The Pheasant population have taken to roosting communally in recent weeks but eight Pheasant in a Hawthorn bush does not quite have the same Christmas ring as a Partridge in a Pear tree.
Out this morning in unusually warm weather which brought a November high count of 47 species in two hours with Cormorant, Long tailed Tit missed and a probable Jay which would have been the half century, a figure rarely achieved in such short time on the Carr outside passage season. It could have been the numerous shooters that had flushed everything for me so ducks and game were easily found along with flocks of winter thrushes, Lapwings, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin.
A pair of Stonechat remain flycatching in the reeds with numerous Bullfinch and Meadow Pipit also present. I'm still searching for Short eared-owls or a rough legged Buzzard which would be nice but I guess I'll have to settle for quantity till the weather turns.
Very much a typical autumn weekend with flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing flushed from the hedgerows as you walk about the place. A couple of nice Song Thrush and a solitary Mistle Thrush completed the set. Still two Stonechat atop the reed heads with good numbers of Reed Bunting, Goldfinch and Bullfinch present.
This morning two Goldcrest fed amongst a flock of Long tailed, Great and Blue Tits. The range was in action and to my frustration a flock of 8 Lesser Redpoll and 15 Siskin flew overhead to the woods which are out of bounds when shooting is in progress. Three Mute Swans have taken up residence on Pringles Pond whilst overhead a party of 6 Whooper Swans headed south east no doubt Norfolk bound.
Old grumpy the hand fed Robin has returned to his patch hopping directly into your eye line and giving you a healthy stare if you stop. He was even more grumpy today as I had no food to tempt him with, the weather being so mild but I'm sure he'll find plenty.
and a moth so faded it's hind wings were translucent. Not sure what either is although the feathered antennae of the moth suggest a name as does the split nature of the fungus cap but I will consider before going into print.
A dank still morning with precious little light to help the pursuit of photography. Birds were a bit quiet too although Wren numbers are high with 20 along the bumpy road alone counting aided by their propensity to sing or alarm call as you pass. Also singing was a male Stonechat and a few Dunnocks so territory claiming for the next season appears to be underway.
With no wind this Kestrel was saving energy and hunting from the comfort of a fence post whilst up the bridle track the largest flock of Fieldfare / Redwing this autumn and good numbers of finches mainly Goldfinch and Chaffinch with three Lesser Redpoll managing to evade my lens.
Four (honest, one had it's head down showing how easily they blend in) of a herd of six regulars on my webs count in an Industrial Estate just five miles from central Newcastle and if it was their desire they could walk along the riverside path to get there in half an hour. In the middle ground are four motor cyclists in fluorescent gear creating a huge racket with their scrambling activities but apparently the deer were less concerned about their activity than I.
Could be but the picture is deceiving as the Robin was sunbathing and the Wren was doing its level best to move it on. Just so happened it stopped to glare at me before continuing to hop around the Robin.
The warm weather has meant moths continue to be attracted to my light with Blairs shoulder knot and Feathered Thorn most frequent but this Mottled Umber hiding on the dash was nice.
To continue on the theme of photographic failure the Hauxley Kingfisher pitched up whilst I was watching the Long tailed Duck. It flew straight to the outfall calling but hidden from view for most of the time although briefly perched in a bush next to the hide directly between me and the sun!!!!
It was only when I 'enhanced' this in Photoshop that I realised it had eyeballed me
Sitting in the Ponteland hide at Hauxley on Saturday chatting to a nice bloke from the deep south (Wiltshire I think he said) I was giving him the dubious benefit of my knowledge on idiots burning down hides, creation of Saltmarsh at Hauxley and how to spot a Long tailed Duck that was as usual staying about as far away from any shoreline as possible. 'Difficult to get observers onto them as they are constantly diving' I said. Best time is to wait till they have a preen. 'Yes' he said 'it's doing that now' and shortly after 'and it's getting out of the pond'. I started as sea ducks don't on my experience get out but there it was initially bathing in the shallows and then fully out.
Apologies for the duff photos but proof is needed and as it preened it lost its balance two or three times indicating it was not used to being a land lubber. After a couple of minutes it returned to the middle of the pond and resumed diving mode.
I looked out of the window this morning and there the young Sparrowhawk that's adopted my garden was sitting in the sun overlooking the feeders. Most of the week it's been through the garden twice a day sometimes staying for hours.
I'm sure its not doing the health of other birds any good but it's saving me a fortune in feed although that may be changing as despite alarm calls from Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock and Wren pairs of Blue Tit, Great Tit and Coal Tit remained close by with occasional birds making a dash to the sunflower hearts right below the perched Sparrowhawk
It kept an eye on the birds at the feeder but made no attempt to attack them, possibly well fed or maybe just not so good at hunting yet.
Is that a death stare or a look of frustration / puzzlement?
Saturday morning and the unseasonably warm weather has not stopped the onward creep of winter with small flocks of Redwing arriving overnight and disturbed from their roosts in groups of three to forty as I walked up the bridleway. Unusually quiet with very little of their normal seep and kek contact calling but typically nervous for new arrivals with a approach distance of 30m the best before they took to the air and headed off south.
This pic is therefore from the archive the giveaway being the frost on the branches. One of the benefits of living on the edge of town is that despite the lack of frost the local mice (Wood not House) have decided to come indoors and having become lax over summer in replacing the lids on my bird feed I've now twice delved in only to find a nest being created. One particularly cocky individual took to sitting in front of the television whilst I watched of course making a hasty exit the moment I moved. Humane traps have been deployed and as usual I have not seen or heard a mouse since. A better benefit is that on four nights last week a very vocal female Tawny Owl has been hunting the paddock at the bottom of the garden being encourage by a hooting male on Thursday when the warm evening tempted me to do some mothing with two Angle Shades and a Pine Carpet recorded before the rain started. What do moths do when they get caught out in the rain?
sad old loner totally p****d off with life, work and modern society hence the propensity to head off into the wilds to escape.
Photos taken with Canon 500D and (from 14.06.13) Tamron 70-300 zoom following the demise of my Canon zoom.