Wednesday, 30 December 2015


Prestwick Carr like much of the north is flooded and looks like remaining so for the duration. As yet nothing unusual attracted although the fresh water tends to just see larger numbers of the resident birds with rarities requiring older more rank pools. Lapwing numbers are up over 500 with Golden Plover 300+ subject to tides. Many Black headed gulls with only a sprinkling of Common and Herring and despite a decent search no Meds yet. Pied Wagtails abound the edges of the flooded horse fields but few Pipits and only 20 or so Fieldfare and Redwing. The Short eared Owls remain and probably having an easy time of it as Mr Pringle reports many voles attracted to the high ground where he stores his feed for the ducks. As for ducks up to 8 Shelduck with Mallard and Teal in abundance but rarely seen as was a single male Wigeon which called from the flooded reeds yesterday but couldn't be spotted. That leaves the PC list on a measly 104 for 2015.
Wellies needed to get up the Bridle track with care to keep to the centre and if the wind is blowing waders would be better. Three Whooper Swans (2 adults with a juveniles) visited on Monday who steadfastly ignored the attentions of a resident male Mute until it got bored and flew off. One juvenile Mute remains no doubt enjoying it's own territory for a change.
Overhead 36 Pink footed Geese west on Monday lunchtime and on occasion the flocks of Lapwing, Golden Plover and Starlings would join them after being disturbed only to return to the flooded pastures the the unseen threat had passed. Must get a Peregrine through soon!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Blyth Spirits

Arrived at Blyth only to find 9 Waxwing had just flown off over the river but a half hour stand saw five return
Then six
then seven before bad light stopped play and they flew off into the industrial estate.
Happy Christmas

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Nowt about

Just memories of what used to be

Monday, 14 December 2015

Keeping an eye on Blackbirds

An influx of Blackbirds in the garden this morning, seven in all
all keeping a wary eye on me
six of them female / juvenile and just the one male
spoilt for choice

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Up the pier

Took a walk along the pier at Tynemouth on Tuesday. At the base 37 Linnets were sunning and preening in a tree with Rock Pipit, Pied and Grey Wagtail combing the rocks, Turnstone and Redshank roosting on the lower pier level.
Approaching the end the boundary between the muddy flood waters of the Tyne and the cold clear North Sea was very evident with many gulls feeding along the transition. I noticed three fins breach like a flywheel before disappearing into the depths. Hoping they were dolphin I waited,  and waited, and waited. Half an hour later the warm breeze that I left on land was now a searing chill gale even if was a southerly.
Eventually another breaching which from the stubby proportions I am advised is Harbour Porpoise.
Also feeding three Guillemot
and three Red throated Diver this one with a prize. A brief sighting of what I thought was a Great Northern Diver could not be repeated so another on that got away.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Inside Tyne Bridge Tower

Ever wondered what's inside the Tyne Bridge. Answer a mess of steel. A few years ago as part of a project for students at the University of Teesside I got the chance to have a look around. Above is a view looking down toward the doors.
and on the ground the usual pigeon crap. The tower is a stone clad steel framed box although it looks like M C Escher designed the frame as some sort of puzzle picture.
Not good architecture in todays terms as not honest to materials nor structure and the external appearance bears no relation to the internal form but who cares. It has become iconic and makes a good nesting platform for Kittiwakes assuming the madmen next door don't get their way.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Tyne in flood

With more rain expected the Tyne was already bursting its Banks between Hexham and Wylam today. Road from Ovingham to Bywell behind trees on left above flooded and closed with water up to the roadside at Stocksfield
The water level already up to the underside of the cutwaters at Bywell Bridge and raging through the arches
Water up to the walls of St Peters Church Bywell where a manic Cormorant sped down the river backwards and a Dipper made best of searching the flotsam for food
Corbridge where the bridge was closed and the flood barrier looked like it was going to be overtopped with severe consequences for people living between the river and station

Friday, 4 December 2015

Pictures would not be appropriate

An application has been made for bird deterrents on the Tyne bridge North Tower aimed at disturbing the resident breeding Kittiwake  nationally important colony in favour of some tourist twats at the adjacent hotel.
The current  response in opposition to this odious proposal has been excellent however some facts need to be imparted. The application is by I Khaliq of Gainsford Hotels ( Chester le Street) via an agent and not by Newcastle Council who have been served notice as owners. They have however  been consulted to the application and accepted it although the application appears flawed. I would request all my followers to object to the proposal on at tions

Friday, 27 November 2015


For the last two weeks whilst observing Short eared Owls on the Carr there has been a constant passage of Starlings overhead from west to east between 3.15 and 4.00pm. Flocks of 10 to 500 in various formations and at various heights totaling 2000+ subject to the weather. This has been a regular occurrence in recent years but having checked the roosts at Brunswick, Gosforth Park and on the pylons running alongside the A1 no joy till tonight with some spare time I decided to try and intercept the flocks mid way. Parking next to the airport inner marker on the road down to Big Waters there was the murmuration over Big Waters. I reckon 5-10,000 birds but always difficult to assess so some time spent watching the birds gather may give a better estimate and some decent weather wouldn't go amiss. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

A good crop

Prestwick Carr is flooded and good numbers of birds turning up. These shots were the two before the new header when the Owl flew past so close an enforced crop resulted. Worth it for the glint in the eye though. Two possibly three birds present but with all the land in their usual area under water they are generally hunting the large expanse north of the bumpy road.
On the horse fields Saturdays count was 102 Golden Plover, 74 Lapwing and 3 Dunlin flocked together in the middle till flushed by a Sparrowhawk also targeting the 20+Pied Wagtail feeding on the new shoreline.
Worse weather on Sunday saw limited owl activity but this monster breezed through on a G line to the wood.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Alle together

Half an hour at Hauxley this lunchtime saw 27 Little Auks pass by northwards in groups from one to six
The tide was in so birds were close inshore but the shot I missed was one which went over my head
Look at it though, bleak or what. You really wouldn't want to be out there. Tough little chaps

Thursday, 19 November 2015

More like it

Finally some sunshine and a SEO put in a high level appearance before heading down into the shade to hunt
The NWT platform may be needed to keep your feet dry soon
Seven Whoopers in the flooded fields having a wash and feather up before making their way to warmer climes

Monday, 16 November 2015

So far away

A good weekend for sightings but nothing close up and poor light to boot. Nice Peregrine near Belsay
Two Short eared Owls on the Carr but neither too keen on hunting
and a first Little Egret on my Blaydon Webs count at Lemington Gut

Friday, 13 November 2015

Now those are Christmas stamps

In the early seventies the Cook Islands issued stamps like these on a religious theme in mini sheets every year. Not every bodies taste but full marks for effort. Likely printed by De la Rue of Team Valley fame.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Christmas stamps

Another average offering in terms of design for the Christmas stamps issued last week but at least better than last years abysmal effort. Having collected First Day covers since the 66 World Cup I've seen a fair few attempts and conclude that despite the Post Offices desire to be non denominational, Christian religious themes still produce the best results although child drawn cartoon style runs a close second. Last four years shown above to illustrate.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Turning back

Out early taking advantage of my sleep rhythm unaltered by the requirements of the British system it was fine and sunny but as the morning wore on the cloud built and that winter greyness that flattens photographs was apparent. Good numbers of birds about with a smattering of Redwing and Fieldfare the seasonal newcomers. The weeks wind has seen the Hawthorn lose all leafs revealed precious few berries for them to feast probably the worst crop in recent years so not good for the harsh winter forecast. Dunnocks (11) were numerous along with 60+Goldfinch, 10 Skylark over south and 98 Teal kindly flushed off his pond by Mr Pringle.
Best find was this Grey Wagtail in untypical surroundings up the bridle track.
Further on a flock of 20 Lesser Redpoll fed in the ditch side but were a bit skittish so one pic only the result soft focus the result of underexposing the original.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Posh end of Gosforth

They like their houses big near the Town Moor in Gosforth. This nest, I assume wasps, was uncovered when a ceiling was removed. The timbers are 16 inches apart so its getting on for 2' by 1' 6" butted up against the warmth of a chimney stack.
In detail it would make a nice wallpaper

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Bet won or did I lose?

Earlier in the week I bet that the three Black tailed Godwit at Elswick wouldn't stay till my webs count. Due to the Tynemouth Book Fair tomorrow demanding my attendance and money, I did my webs count a day early and bingo the birds were still there. Other than that a fairly normal count with good numbers of Cormorant 55, Redshank 90, Lapwing 155 and Golden Plover 228 on the Dunston stretch. 
Also hauled out on the mud two seals. A young angler told me they had a pup last year which I find strange so far inland and not in any colony so possibly a fishermans tale.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

What a lark

Doing a bit of sea watching at North Blyth yesterday I noticed an unusual vessel coming toward the river and headed round to south harbour to get some pics as it ran against the incoming northerly at the mouth of the river. The ship was the Greatship Manisha, some sort of drilling vessel. but entrance was not spectacular as hoped. On leaving the small pier next to the concrete pill box and the blue containers a bird flew off the grass headland of little beach over the wall and down behind a pile road debris. I thought 'that's a late Wheatear' and edged round the pile only to find Shore Lark.
Rattling off a few record shots I retired to watch it and sent the news out having first checked I wasn't going daft. It briefly fed on the road before heading back into the grass dunes where I eventually I re-located it. Fifteen minutes later James walked up the beach obviously searching for the bird and I indicated the general area as couldn't see it at the time. He got it and we followed it as it moved around the area giving some excellent views as Brian joined us and we all got some good shots.
These two were when it moved into a fenced yard in the sun where it felt relaxed and safe although in general it was pretty bomb proof not moving for cars or humans and nearly landing on notso when he arrived half an hour later. Only clanging trucks flushed it but fortunately never very far.
I assumed it was just not aware of threat from everything but on reviewing my 55 shots it was looking into the camera on 12 of them so perhaps it was very well aware of our presence.