Wednesday, 31 March 2010

I like Gulls

I've grown to like gulls, particulary in flight.Only problem is I'm never certain what I'm looking at so I'm going to stick my neck out and I'm sure you'll keep me right.

Adult Herring Gull

We had the briefest of visits to the Fish Quay just before midday today and were lucky enough to catch the blue skies.

Herring Gull

Apart from two or three bait diggers on the beach it was quite quiet there this morning.

2nd winter Herring Gull

There were not many flying since the fish and chip consumption hadn't quite got underway

This huge ship, which I presume is an oil or gas support vessel entered the river while we were there

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Barn Owl

Got out for the last hour of daylight to Prestwick Carr.
It was not long before I caught sight of a Barn Owl hunting along the most southerly edge of the Carr. It twice pounced and was some time before it reappeared. After the third time I set the bins on the area to the north of the bumpy road only to be startled by a Barn Owl coming from behind and within ten feet of my right shoulder, then low over the overflowing ditch. I thought it had crossed back across the road but it reappeared from under the Hawthorn hedge, up over the top, and flew off North.
I am not totally sure but I think that I also caught a glimpse of a Short-eared Owl making its way to over Prestwick.
It was almost dark when I thought I would wander up the bridle path. I stood next to some Hawthorn to get some shelter from the chill wind when I saw two Heron flying my way. They obviously did not see me since they landed in a flooded grassed area, only about twenty feet away. However it was not long before one of them took flight, leaving the other calling and not sure whether to follow. Its just as well it did because within a few seconds a Fox approached the clearing. It was not long before it saw me and after a few furtive glances it scarpered also.
A flock of Curlew called most of the time I was there and a couple of Canada Geese returned from whence they came when they saw how little water was left in the once well flooded field.

Monday, 22 March 2010

I know I can't claim it..

Last Thursday afternoon we were visiting at Rowlands Gill and watching the many Red Kite over the village. We then spotted what I at first thought and said was a Heron flying North but away from us. However immediately we both said 'thats not a heron' -with its much flatter wings and soaring quite high but it was too far gone to get any more details.
Then the Common Crane sightings appeared. I'll never know.
But talking about it today with my mate he said that today he saw a pair, remarkably similar again over Rowlands Gill, heading north-west.

Thursday, 18 March 2010


Have recently seen a couple of pairs of Lesser Black-backed Gulls at Leazes Park lake and Big Waters

I trust I've got this ident correct

Monday, 15 March 2010

Garden mate

This female Blackbird is turning into a very confident soul. When I am out in the backgarden it seems to appear from nowhere and takes a keen interest in whatever I'm doing about the place. It's invariably first onto the feeder table when I top up.

Have begun to wonder if I can get close enough to see my outline refected in its eye. I can make out the kitchen and bedroom windows in the top shot.

Never to old...

Had a free couple of hours last night just as it was getting dark so back to Prestwick Carr in the hope of seeing more owl activity.
I opted for parking at the east end of the bumpy road since that was where my last sighting occurred. No action, but to add interest I could see figures about two -thirds of the way along the road watching something. I knew they were in the area where Short-eared owls frequent so I was in that, shall I -shan't I, quandary.

I decided to drive to the half way point and walk to remainder. Sure enough a Barn Owl had been under observation but was now unseen.
As previously as the light faded the airborne activity increased. First the calls and then the silhouetted birds in flight against the lighter parts of the sky. Numerous geese made their way into the flooded field.
On the last visit I heard, many times, a travelling call which I could neither identify nor locate as it passed me by.
I heard it again. Snipe, PCF advised me. Then I was pointed to a number of them flying swiftly over. Time and again small groups flew over.
In half an hour I saw more Snipe than in the rest of my life.
Thanks Peter.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Late stroll at Prestwick

Had a walk around Prestwick Carr this evening. First up the Bridle Path was very quiet with Yellow Hammer,Great Tit,Chaffinch, Long-tailed Tit and Wren flitting along the hedgerow as I walked. The flooded field held only Black-headed Gull with the setting sun breaking through the cloud strands now and again. I was interested to note that someone has been busy erecting bird box on the trees adjacent to the path.
Back down to the bumpy road and at the crossroads could see the flock of about 35 Pied Wagtail in the field. High in the hedge, a group of ten Redwing bathed in the last rays of the sun.
Walking east along the bumpy road, three Roe Deer made off in no great haste toward the wood. A couple of Canada Geese flew in and a group of about twenty Curlew lifted off a particularly wet field.
Then on the north side of the road - Barn Owl hunting over the rough ground. I was fortunate enough to be able to watch it for about fifteen minutes. Then a Short-eared Owl appeared from the direction of the wood, heading east, and then was gone out of sight.
As I reached the east end of the road the Barn Owl was still hunting and it crossed over the road into the adjacent field where the last I saw of it was when it pounced, so I presume successfully.
Almost dark by now so I headed back along the road. Its the first time I've walked along at this time of night and was surprised at all of the different sounds - bird calls, flapping, and scuttling. An owl called which I'm reasonably certain was from a Tawny.
About a dozen unidentified geese flew across the road, quite low, and over the wooded area. Heading away from the Carr I made one last stop at the last lay by before Prestwick and there were another dozen geese flew into the flooded field. I would have liked to have seen what they were because there was just enough reflected light on the water to see that there were different size geese out there.
So quite a bit of variation in the stroll and very enjoyable.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Ident help please

Following a trip as far as Alnmouth I stopped to look at the flash at the west side of railway embankment near Woodhorn. With the help of the scope could see a few geese which looked a bit different from the Greylag flock and but was unsure if these were White-fronted or not. Managed only these two dodgyscoped shots

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Cold, but worthwhile

We drove down to St. Mary's this afternoon in anticipation of some sunlight which did not materialise. In fact there was a real cutting cold breeze.
However on the way there we stopped at the flash just east of the Beehive pub. There were good numbers of Tufted Duck, Shelduck, Curlew, Grey Partridge and these Greylag Geese -

At St. Mary's wetland this Kestrel hunted and before heading along the south bay cliffs was joined by another.

Although we found it too cold to linger we did see Dunlin, Purple Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Turnstone, Golden Plover, all in small numbers by the waters edge
before we scarpered home.

Friday, 5 March 2010

I'll keep going

I'm on one of those runs where either the tide is not right (despite a link to tide tables), its too late in the afternoon, its too dark, we have left the camera at home,the pond is still frozen, etc, etc, etc.
But fortunately, we are too daft to give up.
It started early in the week with a trip to St. Mary's when I knew I was a bit late for the rising tide but when I got there it was right up with the birds I wanted to view on the island. Despite knowing this a detour to Blyth business park riverside had all the Goldeneye miles away in the very wide, top of the tide, river.
Yesterday a drive from Blanchland to Stanhope saw some cracking snow scenes. There is a stretch of about a mile of road which is deep rutted snow with only occasionally tarmac showing. We had cracking views of Red Grouse on pure white snowfield ten feet from the car - no camera. At this point the snow is three feet deep at the roadside. At Stanhope, Red Breasted Mergansers on the river fifteen feet away in good sunlight - still no camera. Not to mention Red Kite, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk all within camera range.
Today after yesterday's owl reports it was down to Prestwick Carr with bins, camera, scope, time but no owls, Its still a captivating spot - in my eyes anyway. So in the last vestiges of light -
Curlew looking for a roost

These two Canada's dropped into the reeds

and there was a cracking sunset

onward and upward!