Thursday, 27 February 2014

Double exposure

A regular visitor at the moment this Sparrowhawk just sits next to my feeders and often doesn't appear to be bothered by the Tits still feeding on them. On this occasion though the garden was empty and then I noticed why.
Another bird perched in the same bush. Unfortunately the camera couldn't cope with the variation in light and dark but if you strain top left and bottom right. I've never seen two Sparrowhawks together without being a pair or fighting each other so I assume these are 1st winter siblings. No wonder I see Sparrowhawks in my garden so often.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The long and short

Out last night just as the sun was setting thanks to meetings with late and lethargic clients. A party of three Long tailed Tits fed next to a spot where they have bred in previous years. Not too pleased I was about judging by the look I got. Then as I headed down the bumpy road a familiar shape sat on the abandoned trailer that became so familiar to all and sundry a couple of years ago.
There sat a Short eared Owl who, upon hearing the camera (for once I wasn't happy the wind had dropped) immediately flew off to the middle of the field. I re-located the bird perched in a bush and being hassled by a pair of Magpies who have started nesting just fifty yards away. I waited for the bird to be flushed and start hunting but after fifty minutes having studiously ignored the Magpies and kept a wary pair of eyes on me, the bird eventually stretched and took off into the now pretty much complete darkness.
This left me with a quandary as twice over the last two weeks I have seen an Asio species owl hunting after dark and had assumed due to the lack of daylight sightings it was likely to be a Long eared but maybe this shorty prefers the night.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Sounds of the season

Out this morning first thing to be greeted by the sound of Curlew first calling then singing as three emerged from the central flood and headed north. Another eight in the horse fields bathed whilst a sole Oystercatcher peeped no doubt waiting for a mate. Twelve Golden Plover called overhead but a flock of thirty Lapwing skulking in the grass remained silent.
I noticed last week at the coast that the Skylarks were in full song yet on the patch there is movement overhead birds calling but no outright song. Chaffinches and Dunnock were the most prevalent singers with three Linnet over being another addition to the year list now standing on 66.
Water levels have dropped 18 inches or so but the fields remain waterlogged and hope for the arrival of more waders and ducks is high. Two Wigeon were flushed near the horse paddocks and Water Rail are sharming from all areas. Perhaps the lack of dry grassland is putting the Skylarks off setting up a territory.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Wet patch

It's not hard to spot Prestwick Carr on the Environment Agency flood risk map!

Saturday, 15 February 2014


Thankfully not yet the problems of the south but Prestwick Carr is submerging slowly. Last Sunday a couple of chaps were clearing fallen trees out of the ditch heading north alongside the bridle track from Mayfair Cottage. Over the week they've (Environment Agency?) cleaned out the ditch just in time for Fridays deluge which has filled it, and all the other ditches up.
Last year in April they did the stretch north of the sentry box and west of the crossroads but by July it looked like this
and this morning like this.
Pretty much an endless task and no doubt similar to the problems of the Somerset levels. I checked Bellasis at lunchtime and the Rivers Blyth and Pont are both full so there's nowhere for the water from the Carr to go but upwards. I suppose it makes a change from it constantly falling down.

PS the drain cleaning was done by Landmarc the company that runs the Rifle Range. Nice work chaps and lady.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


Sitting in the traffic on Ponteland Bridge I noticed a Dipper on a rock downstream so turned into the Diamond car park for a closer look. By the time I got out of the car the bird had been joined by it's mate no doubt ready to kick the breeding season off.
If the weather had been less bleak I would have purchased a pint and made an afternoon of watching the bird hunt for food. The river was fast flowing and after diving in the little bird was swept away but seemed quite happy with the water ride eventually dipping below the surface....
and coming back up with a grub. At least somebody's happy with the river conditions although if it gets much higher I'm sure the birds will move to more peaceful tributaries. Why do Dipper photo opportunities always occur in crap light that's what I want to know.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

A ray of sunshine

January having been the most dismal start to a year I can recall with the patch list on just 53 and weather that depresses the hell out of everything it was wonderful to see February dawn clear and sunny. My usual count was still low with the exception of 30+ Pied Wagtails on the largely frozen flash water and 20+ Blackbirds finishing off the crop of Hawthorn berries. The total lack of Redwing and Fieldfare was notable but singing from Robins, Dunnocks, Great, Blue and Coal Tit was in full swing with one early Chaffinch joining the throng. Upon turning for home I cast my bins over the dozen or so Black headed Gulls in the horse field and low a Med Gull was present. Only my second on patch and first self found and photographed.
Later I headed up the coast and at Druridge couldn't find the Green winged Teal but four excellent Pintail were present. Unfortunately the weather had returned to bleak and the wind was howling so I decided to watch from the car and off to Amble where a small Fish and Chips was consumed whilst checking the Black headed Gulls. It's of note that many of Northumberlands Black headed Gulls and some of the Mute Swans associate a car window opening as a sign that food is present. I wonder how that will stack up in the long term development of the species. Gull J72J was still present and without feeding the scraps (well there wasn't any) I worked my way back down the coast toward home. Numerous reports were appearing on Birdguides for Little Gulls and at St Mary's Island I parked up and within ten minutes had a first winter just 20m offshore. The photo was taken through the windscreen but by the time I'd got out for a shot in focus the bird had moved on. A good gull day then.