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!




Spotted flycatcher




Starling - St.marys

Short-eared owl hunting

Short-eared owl from last week

Short-eared owl from last week

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Seeing Red (Arrows)

On Sunday I had the privilege of being a guest at the airport to watch the Red arrows come-in and depart to display to the thousands of crowds at the Great North Run, here are selection of pictures from Sunday, being able to photograph the aircraft flying, landing, being maintained and take-off was different to the traditional display pictures you would get at an airshow! and it wasn't just the Reds that would keep me occupied while I was there a surprise visit by a UH-1H Iroquois or as it is better known as the "Huey" was entertaining as I had never seen one, so being able to hear its Lycoming engine and rotors making the distinctive "thump" "thump" coming down the runway was brilliant, even better again being able to sit in the aircraft! So thank you to the owner! The aircraft painted in the colours of the 129th Aviation Company of the U.S Army and carrying two deactivated M-60 Machine guns, served in Vietnam between 1972-1973 amassing over 500 combat hours as a troop carrier, it even has the "patches" on the floor from where the aircraft has been fixed after being hit by small arms fire, most likely AK-47 rounds, Two Bulldogs also came in on returning from RAF Leuchars airshow.
But the main reason I was there was for the Red arrows (I should add I didn't know the other aircraft were coming in) put on a great show as they do every year and I think it would be strange not to see the Red, White and Blue smoke flying across the Tyne bridge every year!

The Red arrows taxing off the runway

"Red 8"

UH-1 "Huey" 

The Huey's M-60 Machine gun and A red arrow Taxing
onto the runway for take-off



A view from one of the

Ohh and one more picture....
Not often you will see me putting a picture of
Myself up! (Me in a Huey!)

I would also just like to apologies again for the lack of posts recently, school work, being on holiday and generally just not having the time to process any of the hundreds of pictures I've taken over the last 8 or so weeks means I haven't been able to get any up although of recent I have spent quite a lot of time in Dumfries & Galloway at places like Bellymack feeding station, while I was up there I also got some very close encounters with red squirrels too. I also have tones of picture from Belgium & France, Sunderland airshow (In the airport) and many other pictures that I will try and catch up on soon!