Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Toadtastic Geltsdale

Stepping foot out of the house at 4:45 on Sunday morning in the thick fog for a long day out at RSPB Geltsdale with the main attraction being the Black grouse Lek. On arrival at 6ish we were rather early as the walk was not scheduled to begin until 6:30, we hoped the fog would lift a little and it did to a point but not in the valley unfortunately, we were told it would be at "Photographable Distance" it soon appeared it wasn't! being half a mile away from the birds isn't really photographable unless you have a 3 or 4 thousand millimetre lens, but I do understand why we were at such a distance so not disturb the birds. Me, my dad and Brian all got good views through the scope. Other birds including Snipe, Red-legged partridge and Pheasant could be heard, Meadow pipits flew and so did the displaying Lapwing,
A few minutes later not long before leaving I caught sight of a bird flying over the stone walling below, I initially thought Wheater and got one quick look before it disappeared not to return. After having a cup of tea at the cottages we went in search of the dipper which we were told about, unfortunately none appeared and only the odd Wren and Stonechat appeared, on our way back we saw not 1 toad but I believe well above 10 or 15 if not more, spending abit of time photographing them I feel happy with the results.
 Moving on to the moors near Plenmillar we searched for red grouse and although we had a very close encouter with one stood on a post at the side of the road, after that there was only distant views to be had.
 A stop at whittle dean reservoir produced Goldeneye, Great crested grebe, Grey wagtail and a few frogs and that was about it. I also had a quick look down lake the other day too, so I have added pictures from there too, so overall the day at Geltsdale was very good and warm and I'm happy with seeing the Black grouse although it would have been very nice to photograph them!
Can I also say thank you to all involved in the NWT (Northumberland Wildlife Trust) Photography competition for giving me second place in the 13-18 section and I was very happy as there was some very good entries too, I will be entering again next year!

The fog eventually cleared


55mm lens cap showing size of these toads

Du' think they can see us?

A splendid looking great crested grebe

Touch down

House spuggy

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Holywell spring and a warble or two

With Tuesday off from work experience myself and Brian headed out for Holywell. On arrival at the pond there was very little of interest apart from a few Mute Swans, the odd little Grebe, some Gulls and an odd looking Canada x Greylag goose hanging about, so we moved on to the Dene, on the way we heard a Skylark singing and saw many Pied wagtails in the fields being ploughed.
In the Dene we sat and waited for the Dipper with no luck apart from a quick glimpse flying up stream, the Grey wagtails appeared and gave a good views but unfortunatly this part of the Dene gets little light if any. After a little walk along the Dene and only a few Wren, Robin, Great tit and Blue tit to keep us company Brian spotted two Great spotted woodpecker in the trees but I was unable to see them.
A few landscape shots later we were back to the Dippers and one appeared, Treecreeper and Chaffinch were the other birds about as well as two Redwings having some water from the Dene, we watched 4 Great spotted woodpeckers having a heated territorial dispute during the middle of this I stood forward and a pheasant loudly erupted upwards while a Chiffchaff happily song across the Dene, a very enjoyable day of Dipper watching.
I headed out on my own today to Killingworth lake and before even arriving I had two peacock butterfly's fluttering around the long grasses and moving to the small lake I found a Great crested grebe feeding while the other one was on the nest. The sun shone down on the Swans preening and the Mallards flying and a walk through the woodlands brought Blue tits building there nest, Chaffinch's singing, two Song thrush sitting above in the canopy and the "chiffchaff chiffchaff" of the er', well... Chiffchaff!, I at first could not locate it exactly but a little patience and keeping an eye above me brought it and as I slowly followed behind it as it moved from one bit of the wood to the next, I was very happy to manage a photo of this beautiful quick, very quick little bird. On my walk home I heard several more I believe up to 5 to 6 more Chiffchaffs, all in all a very spring like warm day!
Grey Wagtail

Looking up the Dene

Singing Robin

Close up Robin



Oystercatcher in flight

Oystercatcher in flight



Chiffchaff chiffchaff

Looking comfortable there?

Monday, 19 March 2012

The past few days in Killingworth and Gosforth park

 I have recently been spending alot more time at my local "patch" Killingworth lake, with spring approaching very quickly there has been a lot of activity in Killingworth. With the large numbers of Gooseander and Goldeneye leaving for the summer territories and the Great Crested grebes arriving it does seem spring is very close, infact I feel it is already here and has been for some time, I have seen a large increase of insects and bees recently and saw my first butterfly of the year on Saturday to my suprise  (Peacock butterfly).
 A look around the lake the other night brought the usual including a few Goldeneye and two Oystercatchers. on Saturday morning I spent an hour, hour and a half following the Grebes, I followed the bigger of the two which I suspect is the male as he hunted for fish quite successfully too, he came very close to side as there was not many people about although the female called very loudly and he was soon over to the nest sight. They have made quick work of nesting and mating. During my time watching them since they have returned I have seen them display and mate many times, with there seemingly being only 1 grebe on the big lake (although I have seen two on the big lake of recent) I feel they will not breed due to the dead "Reedbed" having no protection and no merit to using it at all, which is a shame as this side always gave good views of the birds nest fairly close-up. I will be keeping a close eye on all of the grebes this year and hope they have success in raising at least one brood.
On Sunday Brian and I headed out for a look around Killingworth and Gosforth park, starting at the lake we soon saw 3 Oystercatchers flying over head, this being an increase over the past few days. We watched the grebes again displaying before moving away with birdsong in the air and the distant sound of the White goose honking away on the other side of the lake, a few Goldeneye still floated about on the lake and a Pied wagtail made a close appearance and a Grey wagtail made a fleeting appearance over head.
Moving onto the Village and a Robin which I filmed a while ago made a welcome appearance and a nice picture, a Mistle Thrush sat in a field not far away and a bit further around the distinct sound of Chiffchaff filled the air, the first of the year for me. At Gosforth park, the feeding station was quieter than usual with no Woodpeckers but Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Reed bunting appeared, We looked but could not find the Green woodpecker but did find lots more Treecreeper and at the lake a heron flew, commorant sat and snipe were flushed from somewhere, sadly no bittern but you can't ask for everything.
A very good and enjoyable week and thanks again for the day out on sunday Brian!
A touch of Spring (Ice follies daffodils)

Another touch of spring (Carlton daffodil)

A large patch of spring

Great crested grebe

Great crested grebe

Great crested grebe

Great crested grebe

Great crested grebe

Great crested grebe

Walking on water! 

Walking on water! He was getting chased by one of the grebes

I'm outta here!

Oystercatcher in flight

Taken a month or two ago, not had chance to put it on
Female Goldeneye 

Drake Goldeneye 

Yet another touch of spring

Nuthatch (Gosforth park NR)

Treecreeper (Gosforth park NR)

Blue tit (Gosforth park NR)

Song thrush

Mr. F. Frog AKA Freddy

Grey Heron