Monday, 12 December 2011

Short and sweet

Its been a while since I was last out, so I was pleased to be able to catch the final  half  hour of today's sunshine at Prestwick Carr this afternoon.
Had a bit of luck when a Short-eared Owl perched on a tree top not far from a gate upon which I was leaning.

There were possibly five or six about before the sun went behind the cloud

Many Blackbirds were in the hedgerows including Fieldfare after a large flock flew over towards the wood

As I made my way back along the bumpy road I had a close but brief view of the Great Grey Shrike before it dived off its perch before disappearing in the reeds

Friday, 11 November 2011

Prestwick Carr trumps again

On wednesday evening PCF pointed out that there was a Great Grey Shrike on patch. Soon it was spotted in the distance and I managed to see a grey shape drop out of a bush and out of sight. At that time, it was so distant, I would have had difficulty identifying as a bird without having it pointed out first.
So this afternoon presented the first chance to have a search. First stop beside the gate on the top road did not produce anything and I could see the searchers on the bumpy road were not faring any better. I moved to the first gate on the way down to the cross roads and bingo there it was.

 Distant but clear views this time. Watched it for half an hour before it dropped out of sight

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Fieldfare and Redwing

This afternoon I walked up the bridlepath at Prestwick Carr and was fortunate to see a large flock of Fieldfare, Redwing and Thrushes. I was unable to get within 150 yards of them as they kept ahead of me.
Two or three set down for a drink from the path pools

There were also many Kestrel and Buzzards whose numbers seem to be growing rapidly.

As a footnote one of our family members dropped in to see us today and said that they had been watching Snow Bunting at the top of the beach at Hauxley a couple of days ago.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Sanderling - colour ringed from Iceland

Yesterday's visit to St. Mary's Island produced a nice flock of around 40 Sanderling on the South beach waterline. I managed to spot that one of them was colour ringed and took a few photos of it.

Last night I sent the images and details off to Jeroen Reneerkens who is heavily involved in the Sanderling ringing and sightings reporting.
Within an hour he replied and attached  the full log of 66 sightings of this particular bird.
It was first ringed at Sandgeroi - first beach, Iceland during May 2009,
and since then it has shown a remarkable consistant loyalty to its summer and wintering  locations
Sept 2009 St. Mary's Island
May 2010 Sandgeroi- first beach
Sept 2010 St. Mary's Island
May 2011 Sandgeroi- first beach

August 2011 St. Mary's Island
I noted from the log that I had seen and reported  this same bird in Jan 2010

Thursday, 20 October 2011

St. Mary's Brent

We took the opportunity this morning to go to St. Mary's Island just as the tide was dropping and just about clearing the walkway to the island. Lots of birds around including this Brent Goose which appeared to be all on its lonesome.

I understand that the lack of white neck patch, and the upper-wing coverts tipped with white, indicates that it is a juvenile

Friday, 14 October 2011

Dragons and others

An afternoon wander along the bumpy road and up the bridal path brought some surprise dragonfly sightings

a Golden-ringed Dragonfly which I was unable to photograph

Bullfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, and Buzzards were among some great bird sightings

Friday, 7 October 2011

Popular Prestwick

Had a couple of hours before the takeaway opened so another visit to Prestwick Carr. When I arrived Bill was all on his lonesome but before long carloads were arriving.
I managed to spot a distant perched owl, which I was unable to distinguish between Long or Short since there were no eyes to be seen.
However after many pairs of human eyes it seemed to be agreed as a Long-eared Owl.
Over the period we caught sight of three other perched Short-eared Owls but  it was soon time for me to head towards the Queen Vic and the New Bengal.
Not having seen an Owl in flight on this particular visit I thought I'd add this painting on which I'm still working.
Am trying to record my memory of watching them taking off to hunt, from their well used fenceposts.

Friday, 30 September 2011

A bit of variety

Just for a change this evening I wandered up the bridle path at Prestwick Carr. After a few yards beyond the x-roads I caught sight of three Tree Sparrows. The walk up to the second gate was quite uneventful as I noted that there has been a lot of grass cutting taking place.
At the second gate I watched a couple of Kestrel and a party of about ten Long-tailed Tits. Then in the gap between the north corner of the wood and the stand of dead trees a large bird hunted low and just above the vegetation. It was too far for me to identify but the upper wing colouring was rufous with the end primaries clearly black. It appeared a couple of times before I lost sight of it.
As the light was going, I headed back down the bridle path and was stopped at the sentry box by a couple of Emperor Dragonfly hunting back and forth under the trees. The evening was so quiet I could hear their wings clattering as they flew past
Back at the cross roads I could see that the Short-eared Owls had plenty of visitors so I wandered so far along the road and soon there were four of them heading my way and hunting  both sides of the road.
On returning a couple of bats flew just above my head beside the goat field.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Kestrel vs Owl

On a couple of recent visits to Prestwick Carr I have watched the Short-eared Owl display where they spiral upward in groups and drift away to the west. I was a bit annoyed the last time because I failed to watch where they drifted. So tonight's plan was to observe from the gate on the main road and if they spiral again I'd be into the car and give chase. You've  guessed   it - they did get into a five bird spiral just before seven pm, but it was over the wood and they went off north.
Still there's always tomorrow.
However I did get some good sightings when one landed onto a fencepost at the bottom of the slope in front of me.

As I watched it through the bins a Kestrel came into view directly beyond the Owl,  just above  reed height, low and fast, and heading straight for the perched Owl. It kept coming and actually hit the Owl knocking it off the fencepost.
The Kestrel perched on the post, looking pleased with itself, and the Owl took off at a rate of knots.
There are many Kestrels and Buzzards to be seen also.
One bizzare sight was of four female Pheasants high up in an elder picking berries.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Still more SEO

I was unable to spot any perched owls at Prestwick Carr tonight but by 6.30pm the SEO were up in force. Six in a group, spiralling up into the night sky and a couple hunting low. Another reported on a fenceline but unfortunately I was unable to spot it, but a good total anyway.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Still there

Went for a wander, around lunchtime today, along the bumpy road at Prestwick Carr. We managed to spot three Short-eared Owls and three Long-eared Owls.
The three LEO were all perched in different bushes and none of them gave a decent view - the tinkers!.
Two of the  SEO were perched together in the middle of the copse

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The eyes have it

Prestwick Carr came up trumps again. Up to six Short-eared Owls and three Long-eared Owls.
The three Long-eared Owls were perched in the same small bush, whilst one of them was quite photogenic.

The Short-eared Owls gave us, a quite magnificent aerial display

Another brilliant visit.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The long and the short

Title credit to PCF on whose patch at Prestwick Carr, I had another great couple of hours tonight
First stop was to view a single Short-eared Owl as it sat on a fencepost where they had recently taken up shelter when the strong westerlies were blowing.
Tonight was quite still with evening sunshine so I wondered if they might be on the other side of the tree line basking, so off I trotted to the next gate.
Set up the scope and started to scan the bushes and quickly spotted some familiar colouring but then the ticker accelerated as I spotted what I considered quite long ear tufts.
Now, not having seen a perched Long-eared Owl, ever, I was in a bit of a dilema. I new Peter and quite a few others were just along the road, watching the Short-eared Owl, so a quick call and he arrived to confirm what I believed I was looking at.
I was a bit chuffed to say the least.
Not a movement for two hours other than to give the occasional squint out of the characteristic orange eye.

I think Brian may have managed to get a better digiscope shot.
There were some good views to be had of a Short-eared Owl hunting, where there appeared to be three or four about tonight by the time I left.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Short-eared Owl bonanza

Thanks to PCF, and his persistence a few of us have benefited greatly at Prestwick Carr.
I arrived between 5.30 and 6.00pm this evening where Peter pointed out a single Short-eared Owl sitting on a fence post behind a protective tree line. It shuffled and preened for about twenty minutes then it was up and hunting. I find it surprising how a bird that looks short and stubby whilst perched, can have such long wings

Not much longer and there were another couple, possible three in the copse.
This was great.
Then it was clear when there were four as two pairs quartered the fields giving some great views. Then as they do, they seemed suddenly to vanish, so I wandered along the road to get a clearer view of the fenceline.
I nearly fell into the ditch in amazement - there were four perched owls.

It was not much longer before they were all hunting again and eventually we all caught sight of a total of eight in flight at one time.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Look into my eyes

This corker paid the garden a visit this morning.  I dont think more words are  necessary.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Prestwick Carr Owls

Friday and Saturday evening were spent in the company of PCF , loads of midges, and Short-eared Owls.
Friday had three owls showing well on the north side of the bumpy road as well as at least a couple more to the South. There must have been plenty of prey about since they had few wingbeats between dives

Saturday evening, most of Friday's crew arrived complete with assorted but numerous midge bites and it was proving a bit more difficult, but after enduring a spell of rain we had some horizontal rays of sunshine and soon enough there were four SEO perched along the same row of fencing posts.
Brilliant, just brilliant!

St. Mary's friday

After a spot of friday lunch at Castaways cafe Seaton Sluice which included carrot cake plus cream, we headed down to St. Mary's Island.
Tide was well up so the Golden Plover, Turnstone and Lapwings were all close to the promenade.
There were a couple of Bar-tailed Godwit on the rock ends and then this one appeared at the North bay

A lone Guillemot passed quite close

and I wasn't to sure about the light coloured giant amongst the Golden plover but I guess it is just a winter plumaged fluffed up 

Friday, 9 September 2011

Ident help request

First time out for quite a while today with a visit to St. Mary's at lunchtime and then an evening visit to Prestwick Carr.
But before all that however, on my way to Prestwick Carr I stopped at the elevated viewpoint and caught sight of this bird which I thought at the time was a Common Buzzard but now I'm not so sure, so I would appreciate any opinions.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

On the way back.

Following three or four weeks when the garden birds seemed to have taken flight, they have started to show once again. We had a party of Great, Blue, Coal and Long tailed tits spend ten minutes on the feeders, which was nice to see.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Newcastle Great Park

After securing all three points this afternoon, what a relief, I went for a wander around around Newcastle Great Park ponds. I'm not sure how these will end up once the park is fully developed but currently there are more than a dozen patches of open water. Not all of much size, since I understand that is a sore point with the airport. However they are sufficient to support a growing dragonfly and damselfly population.
The processing of surface water drainage from the development is providing an interesting situation. It appears that the, run off is gathered into reed filled ponds and then filtered into the Ouseburn. It appears to work well having seen a pair of Kingfisher, Dipper and Grey Wagtail in the Ouseburn immediately downstream of the collection from the run-off. Although I have not seen fish in the Ouseburn they are in the ponds.
There are some significant areas of mud around the water but have not seen any waders at all to date.
I have recorded Common Blue, Azure, Blue-tailed and Emerald Damselfly. Four spotted chaser, Emperor, Southern Hawker and Common Darter dragonfly.
Today there were no hawkers but quite a few Common Darters and was unable to resist a few more pics.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Clara Vale pond

Clara Vale pond held only Common Darter and what I believe to be a non stop Southern Hawker female.
Just managed to spot this teneral Common Darter which had good camouflage on top of a gatepost.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Big Waters & Great Park pond

A wander around Big Waters and Newcastle Great Park pond resulted in exactly the same sightings in both locations.
Common Darter male

Common Darter female

Emerald Damselfly

Monday, 25 July 2011

Its Question Time

Having a pint in the County the other night when one of the lads asks
"Why is it that Killy lake can be stuffed with swans and Big Waters rarely has more than one pair? "
I was unable to satisfy his curiosity.
I need a sound answer to this one, before I meet up with him again at the beginning of next week , 'cos my mate is not one to be fobbed off with any old rubbish.
Thanks in advance.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Newcastle Great Park

After three or four hours plumbing work earlier today I just had enough time left to wander around the pond whilst there was still heat in the sun
However the only dragonfly on show were Emperors

This female was wing beating so hard it created ripples radiating outward

After watching one male hawking up and down the edge of the reeds for about fifteen minutes it suddenly dived through a gap in the reeds and I guessed settled somewhere in that area. So I did my Ray Mears bit and circled around it so that I was between the sun and the presumed basking dragonfly. I edged forward to where I guessed it would be perched, scanning every possible spot. After ten minutes of inching forward I thought, enough, I'm off for tea. Took one step forward only to have both male and female rise a yard in front of me and hover a foot in front of my nose before heading off over the pond.
Still there's always next time.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Is summer finished?

Earlier today, St. Mary's Island, wind from the North, Sanderling, Knot, Turnstone, Golden Plover and Dunlin all present - it must be autumn. But no, they are all in their summer kit.
What a spectacle!