Saturday, 29 December 2012

Seahouses Harbour 28/12/12 EIDERS!

I spent the majority of yesterday morning watching Eider ducks in Seahouses harbour, I've always enjoyed watching them especially when good views of them on land are to be had.
Yesterday morning started with a Rock pipit flying right in front of me and dropping onto the sand and almost posing for the camera before flying off to join a Pied wagtail that was also frequenting the beach, the tide was out but a few Turnstones still scavenged along the shore.
I was stood for some time watching them and the Eiders that were floating around in the background and then something caught my eye, a large brown bird dropped over the inner harbour wall and skimmed the water about 10 yards in front of me, I soon realised  it was a Woodcock and it was an excellent view too.
It flew into some long grasses at the harbour edge before lifting and flying away inland, I can only presume it had just came in from the continent.
A short walk around the harbour brought the usual, Curlew, Oyster catcher, Turnstone and several species of  Gull, A lone Grey plover kept with the Turnstones and 4 Bar-tailed Godwits wondered around foraging for food in the mud.
I returned to the beach end of the harbour and spent a few hours photographing the Eiders, with some excellent views.
A family then came and began feeding the birds although I think one of the kids would probably think again from doing this after being pecked and bitten by one of the Eiders.
The highlight of the morning was defiantly the Woodcock but the Eiders weren't bad either!
Rock pipit

Common Eider

Common Eider - Female

Common Eider

Starling

Starling

Dunnock

Common Eider

Common Eider - Female

Common Eider - Male

Common Eider - Male

"Get orrfff my land!"


I also saw a strange looking duck in the harbour floating around with the Eiders, I soon realised it was a Spectacled Eider...

"Spectacled Eider"



Sunday, 2 December 2012

Red, Grey and Cryptic: Gosforth park

A walk around Gosforth Park nature reserve today provided some good views of some unexpected animals today, my main target was to at least see one of the Bitterns, and did so pretty quickly as I caught sight of one of the Birds flying on the other side of the pond, and after a while of sitting in the hide we moved to the next and from there had distant views of 3 different Bitterns, a great sight and even better for me as Bittern is one of my "Top 10" birds and are always great to see, its especially nice to see them doing so well during the winter in the North east!
Moving through the woodlands, Robin, Blue tit and Great spotted woodpecker flew above and as Brian and myself stopped to admire a Great spotted woodpecker above I thought I caught sight of something running across the path in front of us, I've seen grey squirrel in that exact stop before so I didn't really think about it to much, but as we moved on I looked above and found a Squirrel in the tree above, A quick look reveled it to be a Red squirrel an unexpected addition to the days list. As I'm sure many reading this will know it is becoming increasingly hard to see Red squirrel in Gosforth park because of the take-over from the Grey squirrel, It was nice to see that at least some of the population (Even if it was just that one!) is still living in Gosforth park, for how long I don't know but it was encouraging to see that this particular Squirrel was fully fit and was quite easily finding food as it leapt from tree to tree.
In nearly the exact same place last time I saw a Grey scurry up a tree very quickly after caching its food in the ground, It is such a shame to see the decline in the Red squirrel and it is hard to see where, when or If it will stop, I have not seen one in Killingworth for some time now and they did once occupy area near the lake but again I have not seen one for some time.
I have had great views of the creatures at our caravan near Dumfries where they come for a daily feed and hopefully it will be some time before they make it into areas like this.
After watching and Photographing the squirrel for a while we moved on to find the small family of Roe deer making their way slowly through the wood.
A quick stop in the feeding station brought us views of more Great spotted woodpecker, Magpie, Robin and the other common birds that come into the feeding station after this we made a brief stop to write down our sightings of the day, I took a quick look at the posters on the wall and found on the "Collins: British Garden Birds" poster that Great crested grebe was apparently listed as a Garden Bird, I'm not quite sure what type of gardens the people at Collins have but apparently ones with large expanses of water and reeds in them! And I can't ever recall having a Grebe of any description on my feeders in the garden!

Frosty start

Moorhen

Red squirrel

Great spotted woodpecker

Magpie







Sunday, 28 October 2012

A Shortie story

Just a quick post with a picture from yesterday, Brian and myself (Brian has a full write-up about the day on his blog, HERE) had permission to put posters up in the Northumberland wildlife trust's hides at Big Waters NR and Holywell pond for our upcoming talk and walk on the 10th November at Prestwick Carr, so we headed to big waters to put the poster up and whilst there I had a brief view of a Bittern flying from the west end of the water into the reeds on the far side of the water opposite the hide.
After a short time of freezing in the fridg.. sorry hide we moved to Holywell where we were greeted by a Woodpecker and a few rats under the feeding station next to the members hide, a peregrine a few buzzards also circled above, a Hawker of some description flew near-by.
A quick look in the fields found 2 Short-eared owls showing from the normal spot, after a little bit of a wait and moving around slightly we had 2 short-eareds hunting right in front of us! These birds really performed in the fantastic evening light!
This year has defiantly been the year of the Short-eared owl!




Sunday, 14 October 2012

A morning on the sand (erling)

Here are a few pictures from another trip to St.mary's island in an attempt to get some more shots of waders,  
We spent quite a bit of the morning watching the birds, I ended up covered in sand after crawling along the beach slowly to get near enough to photograpg them, but I feel my effort was rewarded by managing to see these brilliant little birds quite close-up, there were quite a few waders around including Lapwing, Curlew, Knot, Golden plover, Oystercatcher and more, but the main birds I was after were the Sanderlings, a large group, around 80 strong stood on the rocks constantly trying to avoid the incoming tide, a few turnstones also gave good views as they fed in amongst the seaweed. We walked up to the wetland to find a large gathering of people watching the hedges for a Blyth's reed warbler, we never saw it but I've been told it did reappear after we left, nevermind!
It was a good day for me with a first for me in the form of a Brent goose (Pale-bellied) and a few "patch" ticks in Killingworth, the most impressive being a red kite that had a breif scrap with a Buzzard before disappearing into the fields nearby. Other patch ticks included the Buzzard, A fieldfare, 3 grey partridges and a small group of Lesser Redpoll and a few linnets that were nearby, we also had Kestrel and Female sparrowhawk flying in the area. 
We may have missed the Blyth's but a Red kite on patch makes up for that in my opinion! 
If you would like a more detailed report of the day visit Brian's (Killy Birders) blog for a full day's report. 

Starling

Starling in flight

Lapwing

Curlew

Commorant

A Male Eider duck with Blyth in the background,
possible new subspecies...Blyth's Eider?

Kestrel

On the look out

Turnstone

Turnstone

Sanderling


Sanderling

Sanderling

A view down the Wagonway

Not taken on Saturday but one of my most recent pictures
from Bellymack feeding station







Sunday, 30 September 2012

Back to birds! : St.marys

As I have mentioned before my blog has been a little neglected recently due to mainly schoolwork and generally just being busy, its not that I haven't been out in fact since the start of the summer holidays right up until now I have been out more than ever really, its just again having lots of schoolwork/homework most of which is maths, which is bad considering its probably my worst subject, but anyway! I have been trying to catch up on the blog so will be keeping it more up to date.
The day begun early on Saturday morning when I got up at around 6:30 and headed out into the cool morning air to Killingworth lake, having spent a fair bit of time there recently and being up early the weekend before where there had been a shroud of mist and a beautiful morning light which seem to spill out over the lake giving the place a real nice winter atmosphere, so I was a little disappointed to realise that this time around although it was cold and the sky clear that it was fairly windy so not much chance of any mist.
 Still I had a quick look around finding the now grown-up family of Great crested grebes fishing and A "pair" of grey wagtails, not much else of note apart from growing numbers of tufted duck and a male little grebe fishing near the "floating" reed bed which really isn't much of a reed bed more of an eyesore. I was met by Brian who was trying out his new tripod, It was a shame that the light was rather dull compared to the light I had experienced last weekend  although I do believe Brian got some nice shots. Moving to the top of the lake, the only things of note really were the large (normal) numbers of swans and a larger than normal amount of Canada geese joined by the family of Greylags. The Gooseander which has "summered" is still about and it wont be long til he is joined by larger numbers of Gooseanders and Goldeneyes.
A few pictures from last weekend at Killingworth lake


Female Reed Bunting - St.marys last weekend

Tufted Duck - Killingworth lake



Later on in the day after warming up from the cold early morning start, Brian and myself headed to St.Marys island,  I was really after waders and we got them, Lapwing, Curlew, Ringed plover, Golden plover, Sanderling and more, I think out of these the one I enjoy watching the most are the Sanderlings running back and forward along the incoming tide. After around 15 minutes or so of me basically lying flat along the beach getting gradually closer to the Sanderlings provided me with some good views of them along with a few Turnstones and Ringed plovers.
We then moved on to the wetlands where we found a group of birders stood around one of the bushes with all the lenses and telescopes pointed towards this one bush, it was one of the Yellow-browed warblers they were watching and as it showed itself a burst of camera shutters could be heard, looking through the binoculars I turned to Brian and I think my words to him were something along the lines of  "Is that it!?" I wasn't that Impressed with the bird.
 We moved on in search of the Spotted flycatcher,  Brian had seen in the previous week, we found it bouncing on one of the branches and occasionally flying off, Brian walked off to try and see if there was anything else and as he did so I heard a call in the trees as 2 Goldcrests (A bird I have wanted good views of for a while now)they  flew down and landed right in front of us, Perfect! I was far more impressed by the Goldcrest and far happier to have this on my list than the yellow-brow.
Moving on to Seaton sluice, Brian picked up on 2 Red-throated divers, one in nearly full summer plumage, another lifer for me! It was a struggle to decide whether my bird of the day was going to be the Goldcrest or the Divers but I finally decided it was the Goldcrest. I also thought I had another lifer as I thought I picked up on a little auk, which I thought unusual so early on,  I told Brian and we both looked and looked to try and relocate it, It turns out what I thought was a Little auk was actually a piece of rubbish on the water, It could be worse, I accidently said a Wren was a Spotted flycatcher last weekend in front of quite a few birders until I suddenly realised it was far to small to be a spotted flycatcher! "Well done sam!" anyway I don't think my I.Ding skills are usually that bad!
A walk up through Holywell dene to the pond we saw very little apart from a Hawker dragonfly of some description,  heading straight for the "owl" fields at Holywell, we waited to see if the Short-eared owls would appear and they did, putting up a good show for a little while as they have done on many previous visits recently.
As we stood talking to another birder whilst looking out into the fields, I spotted a bird of prey flying quite quickly across the ground, it slowed down and dived onto the ground only to bounce back up and fly off, it was flying like a Merlin but in fact a closer view through the binoculars showed it was in fact a Peregrine and this time I hadn't miss I.D'd I knew what  it was, Confirmed by Brian that it was a Peregrine!
Just after this 23 Pink-foot geese flew above our heads against the orange light of the evening sky, not a bad way to end a good day! It was a good way to test out my new Binoculars!
Turnstone

Sanderling 

Sanderling

Sanderling

Spotted flycatcher

Goldcrest

Goldcrest

Goldcrest

Starling - St.marys

Short-eared owl hunting


Short-eared owl from last week

Short-eared owl from last week