Friday, 27 February 2015

and then there were three

well more likely four after some time observing dick and I eventually concluded two to south and two hunting to north of the bumpy road.
After two months of sighting one and occasionally two in the dark Wednesday saw the owls appear mid afternoon giving splendid views as they hunted in bright sunlight. It was out on Thursday then and the same again although why their habit has suddenly reverted to type is beyond me. Confidence in numbers perhaps.
Also reports of Great Grey Shrike (not found), Marsh Tit (are you sure) and Otter (reported by a nice couple who sadly missed out on the owls after a heavy rain storm). Things are looking good for the weekend and here's me up to my neck in work.........typical.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015


There is some pretty intense use of feeding stations currently and the ad hoc one next to the platform on the Carr is no exception with a regular triumvirate of Tits in attendance. Anybody who wants Willow Tit off their year list it's virtually guaranteed although take some seed in case supplies have been exhausted.
Numbers of birds of course means competition and threat displays like this are not uncommon however over the last week I've managed to photograph two or three of each species on the feeder at the same time with the exception of Blue Tit who always seem to prefer the position to themselves with one flying off the moment another arrives.
The boss is of course the Great Tit who on occasion will give the casual human a glare.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

High tide

At Hauxley yesterday the sand had disappeared below the waves which were crashing against a pile of seaweed built up against the head of the beach and a large flock of around 200+ Black headed gulls fed on the shoreline lifting as each breaker hit the wall of vegetation.
Whilst on the pile a mixed flock of Redshank, Turnstone and Sanderling 20 to 40 of each, fed on the many flies and ants among the weed and disgraceful quantity of rubbish.
Then, as the inevitable weekend walker passed by the two groups combined in the air to fly along the waters edge before circling back to land on the outfall and await the passing of the intruder before returning to feed at the same location.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Songster with a wink and a dip

A Dipper happily singing away under the bridge over the Whittle Burn at Ovingham on Monday but barely audible due to the babbling water.
Then a wink as perhaps he spotted something and got the protective lids in place.....
before the dip into the icy torrent.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Polling station

Not any of these on my patch so took the advantage of one visiting feeders at East Chevington on Saturday.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Mr & Mrs

Given the birds name the females are less impressive.
That's a cute bum you've got there dear.
118118...............both members of the pair have moustaches
and the commentators nemesis. The moment you say there's none (see the last post) hundreds turn up in the fields around the rifle range.

Friday, 13 February 2015


Not many of these on my patch at the moment but travel a few miles inland to the Stamfordham / Matfen area and some of the fields are lifting with them.
Also beginning to look smart coming into breeding plumage

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Tubular Bills

Always nice to watch the Fulmars. This one of eight at Cresswell.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

A nice way to end the day

Saturdays sojourn started on the Carr then to Alnwick (nice Nuthatch), Boulmer (good numbers of Sanderling, Dunlin and Shelduck), Amble (snack attack), Hauxley (flooded and all the Wigeon on the sea), Druridge (aborted due to invasion organised group) and finally Cresswell where the Barn Owl showed well between 4.20 and 4.40 before heading back into its barn.
Also at Cresswell Graeme B found the overwintering Ruff claimed in the bird race a few weeks ago feeding with Redshank, Oystercatcher and Turnstone in the fields to the north west of the pond.
A glowing Turnstone at Amble. Oh for more good light as the days stretch out.

Friday, 6 February 2015

You'll need to see one of these......

before you see one of these.....
Present on the patch since 23rd December at least two SEO's but almost never seen in the daylight. I spent the time between Christmas and New Year trying to justify some sightings by non-birders and saw or heard them but only after dark. Since then it's been the same pattern so unless you have night vision don't bother bringing a camera. This shot was the first time in a month I'd seen one perch and despite the daylight appearance it was almost dark 17.09 on the 4th (camera pushed to 12800 ISO 1/25th sec at f5.6 for those of a technical bent, more grain than Kelloggs even after some removal).
Why they haven't read the book and only hunt after dark is anybodies guess but I think food supply is so abundant they haven't been forced out in daylight, even by the bad weather.
Interestingly I was chatting to a lady recently returned form Deesside (Scotland) and she said the SEO's up there had developed the same nocturnal habit however due to vole shortage had taken to Dunlin as their staple diet!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015


At Grindon Lough yesterday the temperature still on zero at lunchtime and the wind whipping off the lying snow made for a chilling landscape.
Even bleaker for one duck having succumbed to the weather or a bird of prey. This Buzzard chased off two Crows and then started lunch.
Meanwhile just 50 yards away the remaining ducks gathered around the few areas of water remaining unfrozen. Mainly Wigeon and Teal with a handful of Tufted Duck and one male Mallard along with some Greylag Geese and a Great Black backed Gull. Canada Geese grazed the field behind but unfortunately no sign of any White fronts.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

A flurry of snow

Taking the cowards way out yesterday it was birdwatching from the car to avoid the pernicious wind. With news of Little Auk passing St Mary's I headed to North Blyth in the hope of a sighting plus the Snow Bunting flock.
When I arrived it was there was a parked car I recognised adjacent the testing station and 30ft or so away a pile of grain. RC had the place staked out already so I pulled up behind and waited. In due course the birds appeared on the frames inside the metal fence of the station and progressed to the fence where after a couple of false starts they descended onto the feed.
17-19 birds were counted and between flights as the wind disturbed their peace some excellent views had although they could disappear for 15 minutes or so only to return through the protection of the fenced area.
I don't know about protection but this razor wires bloody awkward to land on!
Lovely birds on the ground and in flight I'd love to see the male in breeding plumage being almost all white with just black tips to the outer and inner primary feathers and a v in the tail. No auks were seen in the course of the visit so I presume they were well out to sea.