Monday, 9 May 2011

*Insert Belated Blog Post Title Here*

Well I think I am going to give this blog writing another bash. I would like to be able to look back at old blog entries in years to come and remember each birding outing in as much detail as possible.

Admittedly I have not been out birding for a long time. At least a good 3 months and that was to go see the non-existent Starling roost at Carlisle. However, I have seen many birds during my lapse in blogging and one bird has spurred me on to blog once again.

I went up to the one and only Miles residence on Thursday 5th May and when I met him at Brampton golf course he said he had a surprise for me. I was excited to see what this 'surprise' was and with him being back from Mull I thought perhaps he had found a Golden Eagle feather or something along them lines. The surprise was better. We pulled up just before his house and he pointed out of his car, I looked and didn't have a clue what he was pointed out. Out we got and this is the bad boy of a bird he named LEO!!!!!!!

LEO, What a beauty.

So I will end this blog post like that. I will soon update about a great trip to Leighton Moss and some immense Lightning Storms


Wednesday, 16 June 2010

I Love my HOBBY!

Decided to go and give Digiscoping a blast today as the weather was sunny and low winds. I set off up into Chopwell Woods, walking around a couple of the fields on the way produced 2 Red Kites and 2 Common Buzzard and a female Pheasant with 4 chicks.

Moving into Chopwell Woods I pass around ten Cherry trees so I checked them for Hawfinch with no joy, no harm in looking. As I was walking along a Weasel ran across in front of me. I stopped and tried to squeak it out but it was gone! That technique never works for me.

I went up to what I will now call my Raptor Viewpoint. It overlooks part of the wood and also part of the Derwent Valley. While setting up the scope and camera I had an obliging Robin singing so I started to practice scoping on that with mixed results, most of my shots were over exposed though.

Robin singing away

There was also a Willow Warbler further down the plantation and I got some pictures of that as well.

Things got a bit quiet for a while so started faffing on with focusing on out really. Seen a small bird land miles away on top of one of the firs so a got one snap and then had a proper look through the scope. Spotted Flycatcher! It didn’t stay long and by the time I went to get another picture, it flew off up the valley.

One word...Mint!

A group of people came shortly afterwards and started bombarding me with questions about what I was doing. So, I kindly told them and carried on birding, I looked down the valley to see a hawk in the distance chasing Hirundines. I took the camera off the scope and picked up something I didn’t expect, a HOBBY! After the swallows evaded the bird it then had a direct flight path straight over my head, the barring and the rusty red undertail coverts in clear view looked the tits!

I headed down to the river to try and get some dipper shots and while I was there I found a Kestrel nest mid way up a pylon. The nest had 3 newly fledged young hopping about doing small flights.

Also down at the river I had nesting Chiffchaff, Willow Tit, Grey Wagtail and Bullfinch. I also found hundreds of tadpoles in the river, never seen so many in the small pool made by the river.

On my way back home I found a superb Nuthatch nest with the adult coming in, right on cue to feed the young and on the exit a faecal sac was carried away. At the bottom fields at Lintzford I had 3 Red Kites for company and found some Small Tortoiseshell Caterpillars.

Absolutely mint days birding and some great new patch ticks, just last week I was complaining about the lack of good birds on the patch. I take it all back!

Oh and later on I found this large moth sitting on a wall looking very camouflaged, any ideas???


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

A Little Bit Marshy

Well this is my first blog entry in a while but I have a good explanation. I was in a pretty bad car accident just outside Carlisle on the 16th April. I was on way home from a great day out at Bassenthwaite then the rest is history really. Tractor drivers who don't indicate and think they own the road need an old fashioned talking to! So the car is a write-off and I am very lucky to be alive. Loads of stitches later and 2 operations and am on the road to recovery.

My Poor Saxo...

Anyway I went out Birding properly since the accident. I went out with (Cain) Holywell Birder. We decided to go up and see the Nightjars near the Derwent Reservoir. I went up the week before on the 21st April and got 2 males and a female. We drove to the spot and I had the great idea of bringing some deck chairs to enjoy the show. after setting up the chairs and chilled with the Midges in Luxury we heard our first Nightjar of the night at around 22:00. About 2 minutes later we got a male Nightjar landed about 30 foot away from us in a tree calling, absolutely mint views of this fantastic species in decent light as well!

Nightjar from last year

We walked along a forest track and picked up 2 more males calling. over the whole night we had 3-4 males and one Female Nightjar. Also 3 Roding Woodcocks, Cuckoo and a Barking Roe Deer was a funny sound I have never heard before. Oh, and a young Red Fox scranning on a Badger carcass.

On the 8th June me and Cain headed out again, this time at stupid o'clock to go and try and mini twitch the Marsh Warbler which was found at Druridge Pools the day before. I arrived after my 40 minute drive at about 06:45. I was stunned to see a few dog walkers up at this early hour and I think I also seen Dusty Bins leaving?

A quick listen and a scan near the footbridge only produced a Sedge Warbler and some Reed Bunting. We headed up to the top hide and had a scan of the pond and after about 2 mins we picked up a ‘different’ warbler singing. Down to the footbridge we went and listened. Basically straight away we heard the Marsh Warbler. After a bit scanning and watching 2 Reed Warbler the Warbler in question sat on top of a reed giving great views of the bird. A Life tick for me, however it was basically impossible to tell apart. The song did have alarm calls of blue tit and blackbird as well as a swallow. many other bird calls were in the song and was great to listen to the mimicry.

To make the most of the day we stopped off at Chevington where not far away we had a Female Marsh Harrier spotted by Cain. Another great bird to add to my year list and we also had a Barn Owl for company. On the main pool at East Chevington we had 4 1st Summer Little Gulls in with the Sandwich Terns. Another long awaited life tick.

Feast your eyes on this beast of a shot!

We headed back down to Cresswell Pond for a quick scan to see if any late migrants were refuelling. Didn’t get much there apart from an obliging sedge warbler and a not so obliging Grasshopper Warbler at the front right of the hide. Got a snaparoo of the sedgie through my scope with my camera phone and am pretty impressed with it, for being a crappy 2 mega pixel camera that is.

Sedgie singing away...

Last stop was back to Cain’s for his Holywell Pond keys. It was the first time I have been to the pond and was well impressed with the set up and was treat like a King in the hide with some luxury seats! The normal Pond breeding birds were there and Cain did a count/record of the birds seen. In addition to the birding Cain told some great story's about the ups and downs of the pond, sometimes getting a bit agitated by some people hammering poles into the ground and disturbing breeding birds.

We then walked a big loop around part of the Deleval Estate where you go through so many different types of habitats which will definitely hold a rarity or two in years to come, and already have too.

A great couple days Birding and a couple new life ticks were definitely called for and I got them.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

In Search of a Firecrest

There has been a Firecrest caught and re-trapped 3 times in the past month down at Far Pasture. I thought I would head down and try and get a glimpse of the beauty. The bird has been trapped on 20th of February and the 14th and 15th of February. The reports don’t specify the sex nor are there any photos of the bird in question. I am not saying there lying but I am sceptical about it.

Anyway I headed down to the car park where a few other birders were searching for it…without luck. I was down there from 11:30 – 14:30 and all I got was half a dozen Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit. One of the birders at around decided to call it a day and headed off but sharp came back and said no one will be going anywhere anytime soon?!?! The birder said that a lorry had come off the track and is blocking anyone getting through. Fantastic, how am I meant to get to work?

Well as you can see the Lorry driver mad an absolute hash of going down the road, Numpty! The lorry had 8000 litres of Caustic Soda on board and if that spilt there would be big problems. So a recovery truck was ordered to tow the plonker out…that didn’t work so they ordered an offroad forklift ruck to empty the goods and then tow it out like that.

I didn’t have time to wait so I had to get a lift to work. When I went back to the car park the other birders just put a cherry on top of the cake! “The Firecrest has just been showing.” Ahh Feck, I had to get walking home so didn’t see it.

I went down again today in search and spent 2 ½ hours down there. Still no joy today however I did get a photo or two of some wildlife that was kicking about most of the time I was there. Bird of the day would at best be a Female Sparrowhawk or the singing Reed Buntings on the pond.

One of Four Bank Voles

Willow Tit

Female Chaffinch

Rocky Robin

Oh, and the mystery bird answer for the photo a couple of weeks ago was of a Male Pheasant.

Friday, 5 March 2010

A Trip Up the Coast was not Disappointing!

Organised a day trip up the North East coast with Ewan "The Useless" Miles to go see some birdies. Ewan has gained this nickname as he is absolutely pants at organising. I mean he couldn't organise flies to fly round dog doo!

Anyway set off mine at around 11am and headed for Longhirst Flash in hope of a lingering Bewick’s Swan. Arrived to find 36 Whooper Swan on the fields behind the flash and in the foreground a Magpie and a Carrion Crow were tucking into Brunch! Ewan also had a Sparrowhawk over the pond.

Bit of Brunch for the Boy's

We then moved further up the coast stopping off at Hauxley NR. We moved into the main building after getting Tree Sparrow in the car park. On the pond there were a pair of Red-breasted Merganser, a few Goldeneye, Gadwall, Shelduck, Wigeon and Teal. We then proceeded to the far right hide looking onto the pond with the outlet to the see at the back. A few Wigeon were scranning the grass and 2 Greaylags were honking all seemed pretty normal and quiet…then Ewan shouted “Weasel no Stoat chasing a Rabbit got about a 8 second view of it chasing the rabbit effortlessly to the left of the hide, then they both ran into the tree scrub never to be seen again. Real British Wildlife in action there just like on Nature’s Great Events!

Phone Scoped shot of a Greylag Goose

We headed further north up towards Alnmouth where a couple of Bewick’s Swan were reported earlier. We pulled up in a lay-by opposite a group of Whooper and Mute Swans were. Got out the car and spotted one Bewick’s Swan just before moving into a dip in the field. Walked further along the road and got some better views of it and got a video or two of the little beauties. A long awaited Lifer for me and was well happy with the birds. After scanning a bit longer another appeared with the Mute swans to make 3 altogether.

One of 3 Bewick's!

Short clip of the Swans

We then trundled back in 5th gear through Warkworth looking for a cafĂ© for some grub as we were both Hank Marvin. No joy so ended up going to East Chevington to look at the Geese there in hope of a Tundra Bean Goose or two but it wasn’t meant to be. So, a swift move to Newbiggin-by-the-Sea was the next stop. A quick stoparoo to a bakers and couple of pasties and a healthy wholemeal bread bun later and we sat in the coastal car park. Mediterranean Gulls were defiantly on the cards and a few crumbs later we had an Adult winter Med Gull and a 2nd Winter Med Gull feet away from us! I love these Gulls and are a favourite of mine. Reeled a couple of Dodgyscoped shots off and here are the results.

1st Winter Med Gull…Yawn

Final stop was Rowlands Gill to a Red Kite roost site. Got 3 red kites in the trees and one Common Buzzard.

A great day out all in all and a few year ticks and lifers on the side with a good pal!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

It's All (mostly) about the Waxwings!

Well I am in the middle of writing a 2009 round up of my best birds. So just a short post for now about my trip to Ashington.
Well I noticed there was a mini invasion of Waxwings 10 minutes away from work so I left a bit earlier to go check the 36 strong flock out. I arrived at the Cemetery around 15:30 to find 4 blokes with massive lenses pointing up a tree, so I thought that's probably where they were as they weren't there when I showed up.....Bugger man! I started work at 4 so was hoping they would turn up soon. I was told by Birding Sometimes and PC Wanderings
that they had been feeding in the Gardens nearby and heading back to the tree next to the cemetery to digest their food. When I went over to speak to these Bloggers I found it funny that they both introduced themselves by their Blog names and the funniest thing is, I did the same!!!

Anyway, 10 Waxwings came and perched above me not long after, giving great views in the bright winter light. The rest of the flock were still feeding over in the gardens. I only had my Bins with me so couldn't get a decent picture of the birds but I got a few with the camera phone and Bins for the Blog. Always thinking!

Click the photo for a even worse look at these Beauties!

I had to leave sharpish to get to work and swiped in bang on 4 o'clock, Result!

Rowlands Gill related birding news: I seen 3 Red Kites displaying down from my house on Sunday, hopefully they will nest nearby.

Thought I would leave you a Mystery Bird Photo for you to check out. The bird in question was near Lamesley Water Meadows in someones front garden, Good Luck!


Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Shibdon Pond & Thornley Woods


Started off my half a days birding by heading over to Shibdon Pond. I have been meaning to go here for some time, but the Pale-bellied Brent Goose that has been there since the 10th of January was the final kick up the backside to head down.
So I walked down towards the "feeding area" and came across the Goose straight away feeding with a flock of Moorhen on the short grass. I always find it funny seeing Moorhen so tame here, their not their usual self.

Pale-bellied Brent Goose and Moorhen . . . 2 Year Ticks

I then tried my best at getting some shots of the numerous gulls flying about the pond, mostly Black-headed, Herring and Common Gull. Got a few snap shots but when I looked at them on the computer, it looks like the lens needs cleaning as there are a few dark spots in the photos, Bugger!

Adult Winter Black-headed Gull

1st Winter Black-headed Gull

The two images above are good to compare the age differences in the 2 separate birds. The adult bird can be told staright away by the pure white tail and lacks the 1st winter black tail band. Also, the 1st winter bird has a paler bill and the Secondaries have a black trailing edge. As well as the Carpal Bar still being the colour of a Juvenille bird, a Gingerey Rufous colour.

I took a few other pics of some birds at the pond and I am happy with the photo below. The colour of the water reflected the
Canada Goose well.

Canada Goose

Female Mallard

I moved on from Shibdon and headed back home calling into Thornley Woodlands Centre for an hour. On the way back there was a Red Kite flying over swalwell roundabout. Thornley Woods is a great set up and they always have plenty of feed out for the birds. Just I arrived a man in the hide said I had just missed a Female Sparrowhawk bathing in front of the hide, bugger! I sat down and scanned about and found this bird preening itself in the tree.

Giving itself a good preen!

I had plenty of the common species here but my main aim was to get Willow Tit onto my yearlist. After sitting about for half an hour or so, it appeared and kept going back and forth collecting seed from the table.

Poor photo but a Willow Tit all in all

The people who manage the reserve put flower basket over the seed to stop the ever growing population of Grey Squirrel getting to the seed. I will let you be the judge of whether it is working or not.


As I was about to leave I heard the quiet but distinctive call 'phew'. A Group of 3 Bullfinch, 2 male and one female. I love these birds and even the coffee colour of the female is great to look at.
Male Bullfinch

A short post with little writing but took me ages to do, bloody blogger acting up not letting me put photos on!