Friday, 30 January 2015

Bede passed this way

Returning from a meeting via South Shields where no Waxwing were found I stopped off at Jarrow and had a walk down the River Don to the junction with the Tyne where around 681 Bede would have passed after the founding of the monastery. Of course some concrete has been placed since then and the sight of thousands of coloured metal boxes (cars) on Nissans compound at Jarrow Slake would have perplexed him for sure.
Very cold but the Teal and Redshank were taking advantage of the strong sun.
and two pair of Shelduck squabbled over territory
On the north side of the river I'm not sure what was being discharged here, likely sewage, but there was a huge gathering of gulls on the water.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Seasonal ducks and a goose

Two female Scaup at Drudridge on Saturday
Nice male Goldeneye as well
Distant shot of the Pink footed flock taken at Hauxley on 17th picked up a Snow Goose tagging along, probably the bird that had been identified as Ross's over the last few days.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Getting familiar with Certhia

A pair of Treecreepers gave excellent views the other day as they worked their way along the bumpy road Hawthorn bushes. Better still when after the first few shots the sun came our and a dullish looking bird was transformed into a range of browns with a few greys and white highlights.
As I snapped away a Great Tit flew past alarm calling and the Treecreeper flattened itself to the trunk as indeed they do when the roost. This highlighted the stiff tail which pressed against the bark showed the two Rachis, the main shaft of the feather, which I presume are stiffer than in most birds. Also good views of the extended curved claws by which it climbs the tree.
Enigmatic little characters which will go unobserved when foliage returns to the bushes.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Site visit in Riding Mill this morning so Prudhoe was on the itinerary for the return trip. No problem finding the Rose coloured Starling but twenty distant silhouette shots later I gave up.
Just changing plumage the bird was a bit of a disappointment even through the scope. Evidence of the crest a blush chest at best and forever fanning its tatty tail feathers but wouldn't be tempted near the ground.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Here's hoping

A pair of Stonechat still over wintering on patch at a location where they have previously bred before being wiped out in the cold winters a few years ago.
I was full of optimism yesterday but looking at todays weather they've got a rough ride till breeding starts.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Play Mistle for me

Nothing but work at the moment so no trips out although still the odd opportunity to grasp a shot. 
An update on Black headed Gull J72J a regular at Amble since April 2005 making him / her at least 13 normally returning to Norway to breed but last year was found in Tayside during July. Waylaid on return or perhaps feels too old to breed and has got a retirement pad in bonny Scotland although judging by the desire to be fed Fish and Chips maybe its the Arbroath smokies that are the attraction!

Sunday, 11 January 2015


It's been the slowest start to any birding year I can remember. Tons of work and dodgy weather have made ventures out infrequent and my patch is desperately quiet. Sitting in a car park in Amble with a flat tyre yesterday my birding was done from the car avoiding that perishing wind. The Turnstone seemed to question my sanity
J72J still present although will be heading off to Norway in a month or so.
and another ringed Black headed Gull which wouldn't do the decent thing and present the side of the ring with the number on.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015


It seemed tardy not to join in on the fun at the Fish Quay

Couldn't find the Glauc's when I was there but will keep looking

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Half cocked

To the modern eye birding by shooting is somewhat inconsistent with the aims of the naturalist however the Victorians in their rush for knowledge had no such scruples and John Hancock (1808-1890) certainly went off fully cocked to shoot anything he found. I've often said that many of the species in the Hancock (now Great North) Museum were taken at Prestwick Carr but never really had the information to justify the claim. Rummaging the internet over Christmas I unearthed this link for a document by Richard House in 1899 recording the collection
The PC death list is as follows (starts well down the list as he or his suppliers didn't get any Hawks, Owls here)
73. Reed Bunting 1833.
78. Skylark. 1836
105. Mistle Thrush (Woolsington) 1899
110. Song Thrush (Woolsington) 1899
9. Golden Plover 1843
26. Curlew (at Woolsington) 1893 (not Hancock then!)
30. Black tailed Godwit 1831 & 1846
46. Little Stint 1837
47. Temmincks Stint 1832 & (at Berwick Hill) 1848
53. Ruff 1836 & 1841 
61. Spotted Redshank 1850
62. Redshank 1846
64. Wood Sandpiper 1853
66. Common Sandpiper (at Woolsington by accident!) 1895
69. Greenshank 1881
75. Moorhen (3 at Woolsington)
78. Coot 1835
89. Little Bittern (Blagdon) 1810
21. Pomarine Skua 1889
63. Bewicks Swan 1829
67. White fronted Goose 1845
68. Greylag Goose 1845 & 1855
87. Teal 1840
93. Pochard 1836
The species list indicate the nature of the area at the time as variable wetland with predominance of wading birds. The record for Wood Sandpiper is of interest as it was an adult from a nest of four eggs which were taken and recorded as the first breeding for this species in England. Perhaps also a reason why they didn't establish as a breeding species.

Thursday, 1 January 2015


Looking back at last year which from my point of view is best forgotten this moon on 30th December which due to sun angle picked up the shadows of craters and mountains on the terminator line extremely well with the crater Plato to the north, the Appenine Range of mountains arcing down to the crater Eratosthenes and the deep crater Tycho in the south above the Liebnitz Mountains and craters Maginus and Clavius. Not my knowledge by the way but a program called Lunar Phase pro.
A close encounter or missile shot from the Russians on the 29th.