Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year

Just simply want to wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Despite the ice and snow and rain

We had a bit of a quick session before lunchtime with a stop at Newcastle Business Park to see Dunlin, Shelduck, Teal, Redshank, Curlew, Black-backed Gull, Cormorant, Black headed Gull, then after we saw that Shibdon Pond was fully frozen these beauties were grazing next to the road.
There were loads of these Canada Geese-

Two of these Barnacle Geese -

and one of these ?????? a cross between ?? and ?? , with pink feet, any ideas?

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Following my previous post we had about five days where there was not a bird to be seen in the back garden but we were then pleased to see a newly arrived female Blackbird take up residence. A further surprise was the arrival of a second pair of Blackbirds.
Today they were all feeding well together with Robin, Long-tailed Tits, Starling.

I think Dunnock must have been another Sparrowhawk casualty.
As soon as I lifted the ice chunk out and refilled the water bath, the Robin and Blackbirds were straight in.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Help or Hindrance?

I just cannot convince myself that my back garden feeder station is of help to the few birds we have in our area.
The local Sparrowhawk has had another successful hit.

Unfortunately this time it was the female Blackbird which I had, in my last post, said was improving nicely after being in poor condition.
After the last Sparrowhawk kill I had restricted table feeding to the front garden where the feeder is almost totally enclosed by twiggy bushes, but restarted the back garden feeder when the weather recently turned poor.
I know that the view is that the kill is what happens in the wild, but I'm now feeling that I was simply tipping the advantage toward the Sparrowhawk by attracting its prey into one predictable area.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

More Garden Crew

When the female Blackbird arrived on the scene about eight weeks ago she was in a bit of a state with an almost bald head and few feathers on her breast. She has been very secretive and scarce since then but has gradually got back into a much better condition. She is now seen on a more regular basis at the feeder.
The male regularly sits in the tree in the back garden often singing in the dark and also at other times sings in a very quiet and melodic manner. The bird may only be eight to ten feet away but its song is hardly audible.

Two very welcome guests

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Starling Spectacular

Its not until you get in close that you appreciate the striking markings of the Starling.

We are currently getting regular visits, into the garden, from a group of half a dozen. This mornings plan was to get down to St. Mary's Island by about 9.30am but got trapped waiting for the gas engineer to come and restart the boiler. As it happened, I managed to do the boiler business and was then presented with the opportunity to capture these beauties.
So it all worked out fine.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Garden Visitors

Recent garden activity has seen House Sparrow numbers improving with ten on the feeders this morning.

A pitiful total I know, but looking at the few houses which surround us, we can see many of the earlier nesting holes have been blocked up both in the eaves and around waste pipes. The same goes for Starlings which used to regularly use either one of two holes in brickwork which are now cemented up. It was good to see a few Starlings in the garden this morning. They always remind me of hooligan kids.
Currently we are also seeing Blue, Great and Coal Tit, Wren, Goldfinch, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Magpie and Wood Pigeon.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Corkscrew Curlew

Recently watched this Curlew investigating a discarded car tyre in the River Tyne mud.
It was amazing to watch how it turned and twisted to check out the inside of the tyre for grub.
Reminded me of when I used to do something similar when looking for soft shell peeler crab for fishing bait - with my hands - not my eyes.

I was surprised that it was not dizzy after the search

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Blue Tit in spring

Its currently proving to be a bit of a struggle to obtain some bird photos with a bit of sun on their backs for the blog. So watching a pair of Blue Tits feeding from a tree in the back garden gave me the idea of spiriting one of them into the near future and a springtime tree.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Killingworth and Rising Sun

A quick march around Killingworth large lake saw two pair of Goosander, Grey Wagtail, Canada and Greylag Geese out on the grass, and many many Tufted Duck, Coot, Black headed Gull, Mallard.

Over to Rising Sun, oh how we could have done with some, it was dark wet and windy.
About ten Pochard on the water and apart from some Tufted Duck, one Shoveler and Heron not a lot else. There was a diving duck near to the reeds at the South end of the main pond which I could not quite get a good enough sight to identify. Might try to get back there at weekend if the light is better.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

House Sparrow hooligans

What to do about Sparrows?

Have had, for a while now, about half a dozen sparrows on the sunflower seed feeder but what a mess.
For every seed they consume there must be ten scattered far and wide. They seem to be looking for something else or better?

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Gosforth Park Fungi

Wandered through the woodland in Gosforth Park on the west side of the golf driving range.
A good variety of fungi are now showing after some decent rainfall, there's always a bright side. So I'm told.
An Orange Peel Fungus, although edible and almost tasteless so I presume it could be decorative. Found only one patch of about six cups all around one tree which I was not able to identify.

I believe these to be Milk Cap but am unable to specify which. They were about 15cm in diameter.Put the phone down to give some scale to the pic.

Quite impressive specimen

A couple of very delicate cap and stem fungi

These puffballs were about the size of a small garden pea

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Elusive Wren

Have never yet managed to get a decent photo of the wren which visits our garden so will make do for the moment with a rough watercolour sketch of the busy bird.
It is constantly on the move from the wall ivy to the ground ferns and back again, - never stops.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

More Havannah Fungi

My midweek jaunt around Gosforth Park and Havannah produced quite a number of fungi so here is the second batch of images
I think this may be an Inkcap, but am a bit puzzled because it has opened so fully

One of the puffball variety

A colourful bracket fungus

One of the Milk Caps

From 40 yards I thought I had found a rare species!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Sled Lane Pond

Having seen a reference to Shovelers on Sled Lane Pond I visited yesterday because I don't have a decent photo of this bird, and if they are on this pond they are never far from the camera.
As you would expect - non to be seen.
However I was able to approach this Cormorant much closer than I ever have before

The pond did also hold Wigeon, Goosander(M), Little Grebe, Canada Goose, Coot, Mute Swan, Mallard, Black Headed Gull.
The pond is next to Bradley Garden Centre and gardens which holds lots of garden birds inside their walled garden as well as a very pleasant tea room in their greenhouse.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Grindon Lough

On the way back from Carlisle this afternoon I finally managed to visit Grindon Lough. It was our first visit so was not sure whether it would be holding any or no birds.
What a pleasant surprise.
It was absolutely chock full of birds. The whole perimeter held birds.
There is no access to the waters edge so all viewing has to be done from the roadside which is well above the water level. We arrived about 3.30pm just as the sun was going behind a dense cloudbank over Carlisle so the digiscoped shots are poor. Thats my excuse anyway.
However there was about 50 Canada Geese, 6 Greylag , hundreds of Golden Plover and Lapwing,and good numbers of Teal and Widgeon.
There will certainly be a return visit here.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Gosforth Park NR

Had a quick whizz around the perimeter of the pond to establish what fungi had been sparked into action with the recent rain. Also took the opportunity to drop into a couple of hides. There are good numbers of Teal on the water as well as Shovelers and a couple of Goosanders. Was also subject to that welcome - again -'You've just missed a.....Bittern'.
Pity 'cos I've yet to see one.
However coupled with a visit to Havannah I managed a large variety of fungi, a few of which I have posted below. There were good numbers of quite fragile looking specimens.
I believe that these are all Mycena species

As it was nearing the owling hour I drove over to Prestwick Carr and just as I was about to pack in a Short Eared Owl came into view with a quite close but brief sighting. Buzzards seem to be ever present in the area now.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Fungi finds

A couple of fungi specimen growing at the base of trees at the roadside.
I believe this to be Glistening Ink Cap

and this is in the Mycena group but am unable to specify which one. This one was in this pristine condition for no more than 24 hours, then decay set in.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Blackbirds Galore

Having read Farne Island blog that there has been a large influx of Blackbird, I went into Leazes Park this morning on my way to work.
Blackbirds have been few and far between recently, but as soon as I got into the park I could see things had changed. The park was chock full of Blackbirds, so could not resist a couple of welcoming pics.

As I understand it, this male below is likely to be in its first year, indicated by the brown wing feathers and the bill not yet having turned pure yellow.

There was also good numbers of Robin present. Managed to get a pic of sorts of a Goldcrest

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Shibdon Canada +1

Another grey afternoon saw me at Shibdon Pond, Blaydon.
About thirty Canada Geese flew overhead towards the pond and settled on the water

However it was not long before they made their way onto the green and started to get stuck into the grass

It was then I realised that a single Barnacle Goose was amongst them. Smart bird!

I was surprised how they were not at all bothered by the traffic not far away.
Brightened up the day no end