Monday, 2 December 2013

A Kingfisher, A few Swans and a few more Swans

I can't believe I haven't 'blogged' since September, since then I have been out trying to fit in as much Photography and Birding as I could between School work and Homework!
I will start off with an image of a Kingfisher, if you read Brian (Killy Birder's) Blog you may recall some Images of Kingfishers a little while ago. After coming back from Dumfries in September I decided to try and put in some hours in the hide in Gosforth park to try and get some Photographs of Kingfishers. As it turned out it took just over 40 Hours (Non-consecutively I must add!)  before I saw the electric blue and turquoise of a Kingfisher appear in front of the hide, well over 20 minutes were spent admiring and photographing the Male that begun fishing in front of the hide, it was well worth the wait as it was without a doubt my best ever sighting of a Kingfisher.


After successfully managing to photograph a Kingfisher, I spent a few early mornings around Killingworth lake,  I always find it a very different place early in the Morning with less people, less noise and less traffic it makes the area feel a lot more 'wild'. The lake has been productive recently with Goldeneye's and Gooseanders numbering around 19-20 being present a few weeks ago as the winter began to draw closer, A single Great-Crested Grebe still remains on the lake after a successful summer, with 6 young raised successfully.

Swan Sunrise

Feral Goose

Mute Swan

Tufted Ducks

At the start of October I was again away from Home, this time on a Geography field trip to Cumbria.
A walk through Kendal on the first day provided some excellent views of a Dipper about 15 feet away, before I had time to reach for my camera it was away. At the time we were being taught about flood control measures that were in place on the river, I must admit I was paying more attention to the Dipper, so hopefully no question will come up on the exam about that particular part of the river! If it does I can at least draw the Exam board a good picture of a Dipper! 

High Borrans Tarn

The end of October saw me visit Lindisfarne, one of my favourite places on the North east coast. 
Crossing the causeway I found myself looking at a lone merlin sitting atop a post. Walking towards St. Cuthberts Island the sound of wildfowl and Waders filled the air, with Brent geese seeming to be all around us. In total over 3000 Brent Geese were seen, a small part of Whooper Swans were also present on the mudflats, A flock of Golden plover filled the air and put on a great show as they wheeled around in the Sky above the flat and seemingly barren Mudflats that lay below. 
A little bit later I was to find myself watching what was to be my first Male Hen Harrier, it was a great privilege to watch as the silver-grey bird skilfully worked the air seemingly 'floating' above the ground with so little effort being made or needed to keep the bird aloft, a truly stunning Bird, a bird truly worth saving,  a bird that really does not only 'deserves' to be here but a bird that 'needs' to be here. It reminded me of the Ring-tail I saw earlier in the year whilst watching an Osprey nest, the 'Harrier' type flight is very hard to top! 


On the Sunday after the Lindisfarne trip I was on my way back to Scotland for my final trip of the year to Dumfries & Galloway. Similarly to my previous trip
I spent quite a lot of time volunteering with the National Trust for Scotland at their Threave reserve just outside Castle Douglas.
Threave is a brilliant reserve with Breeding Ospreys during the summer, and Wildfowl all over in the winter there is something to watch at any time of the year, being Scotland's only bat reserve it is also very good for Bats as the name would suggest!
My time was spent helping with interpretation work in the hides around the reserve, talking to visitors about Pink-Footed and White-fronted geese, with thousands of Pink-foots about and a flock of around 200+  White-fronted geese it was not hard to tell people about them! As well as the geese a Large amount of other Wildfowl including Pintail, Wigeon, Teal and around 15-18 Whoopers making themselves visible across the wetlands were also excellent to watch. As well as interpretation work I was also involved in the removal of the Cordgrass 'Spartina' and several other jobs around the estate, If your in the area it is well worth a visit!

NTS Threave Nature reserve

A visit to this area of the world in Autumn is complete without a trip to Caerlaverock or Mersehead, the sights and sounds of Barnacle geese and Whooper Swans have to be one of the Highlights of winter. 
Whooper Swans are by far my favourite species of Bird,  I think I owe this fascination with these birds down to when I begun photography and watching wildlife, watching Mute Swans on Killingworth and then hearing about the 'Wild' swan It was a bird I really wanted to see, finding a single Juvenile bird on Killingworth lake a few years ago in my opinion is what cemented my fascination with these birds! 
Caerlaverock as bustling with wildfowl, 50+ Whoopers were waiting to be fed and a lot of wigeon and tufted duck were also present, I also find it interesting to watch the behaviour of Swans, the greeting display when other Whoopers fly in is always quite fascinating as to is the amount of aggression at times between individuals from the same species or even Whoopers against Mutes. 
Mersehead similarly to Caerlaverock held large amounts of Wildfowl, I estimate that there was around 75-100 Male Pintails alone, watching the geese flying out for the evening roost is another one of winters highlights! 
Thanks for looking and I will try and keep the Blog a little bit more updated in future!

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan


  1. A blog well worth waiting for and with all your activities packed in it's not really surprising that you don't have much time on your hands to write it up.:-) Great stuff and the usual great images. Brian.