Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Temptation got the better of me.

For a while now a Desert Wheatear has been showing nicely on a beach up north, until today I had resisted the temptation to “Twitch” the bird. But the better half fancied visit to pastures further a field last night and on waking this morning she wasn’t well, so buggered off on me own.( well she wouldn’t like the wind conditions today anyway).
Once out of the car at Newbiggin a couple of familiar faces appeared…lads from a tad further south than me, nice to see Derek B. and Davy J. again and glad as they saved me a longer walk to the area favoured by the bird.

Less than a mile trek north along the beach a few folk where positioned as if praying….when I reached them it became apparent why!, the little beauty was feeding along the edge of the beach/grass here. Plus the wind conditions played a part in this.

After about half a hour I departed feeling very pleased about the whole experience of this little bird hopping around feeding within 12 feet away at times. Photo wise I got what I got.. just pleased any turned out with the wind conditions.

Dropped into Marden quarry for the Lesser Scaup again- still sticking to the centre of this pond area on this visit, so nee better photo's of it. 3 Goosanders present(2 males and a female) plus Stock doves males displaying.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

A couple of visits to the pier area.

A couple of dog walks around the local pier area the last couple of days have'nt been great for sightings but nice all the same. And not great for photo's either.

A few Razorbills off the pier most of the birds, never coming close in on these visits.

Couple of the Rock pipits showed better, these are a nice sight in Winter here looking for scraps along with a few semi-tame Turnstones.

And today I counted 34 Shags between the S/Shields pier and Trow, many of the birds in small groups. The condition of the sea here allowed a good view over this bay type area. Also 4 Red throated divers in this area, another 2 Red throats in the Tyne area between the Shields piers.

This "non-winter" converted Black headed gull has been on Marine park lake the last couple of days, along with the "almost" resident drake Mandarin and around 30 Tufties and 3 drake Pochards. Mute Swan numbers slighty increasing.

Yesterdays visit was at high tide and waders where rested up on the usual northern side on the pier. Around- 50 Dunlin, 20 Redshanks and 10 Oystercatchers, 3 Purple sandpipers on the approach to this point. 25 Ringed plover on the return leg almost on Sandhaven.

8 Sanderling on Sandhaven today, low count for this time of year.

And.........I had to look twice viewing this sight today. Ive seen this before here but its still a strange one especially from a distance!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Around the doors today

Started off this morning by visiting Whitburn with Max. The tide level was a couple of hours away from beeing at its highest and most of the waders where rested up on the favoured higher rock positions here. But the numbers of waders here for this time of year didn't seem anything like what they normally are, especially with Sanderling 25 being my best count on this visit. Sandhaven beach at South Shields has also had very few of these waders visit so far.
Only a few Golden plovers on what was left of the exposed rock area they like here, and none on the rifle range field!... strange I thought and never encountered the flock today dispite visiting a few sites.
A couple of Barwits and 4 Purple sandpipers with the other waders at Whitburn and a couple of Red throated divers just off. The beach area was very poor, I didn't even come across a Rock pipit!.

Dropped into Boldon flats next- No Geese present on this visit but Teal and Wigeon numbers on the increase here now. Also Lapwing and Redshank numbers on the up.

Newton garth farm- Quick look here as Ive not dropped in for a while, hundreds of Rooks and Jackdaws in one of the horses fields and a covey of 15 Grey Partridge along with the normal gulls.

Saxon way, Jarrow. First of two visits here today - Waxwings still present around this area and a few behind this street doing their flycatching act. I managed to count 63 birds as they where settled before a Sparrowhawk flew over and put every bird in the area up! (ending the count before I had finished) and the show was over as the Waxwings flew off high towards the Don valley.

On my second visit today to the Jarra hotspot for Waxwings(they had returned) a few more thrushes showed than on my first. At least 8 Redwings and 4 Fieldfares but fewer Mistle and Song thrushes now in this area. Noticed this ringed Waxwing on this visit.

Between the Waxwing encounters I visited Red barnes pond area(behind the Cock crow inn,Hebburn) not been here for a while. Keith Mc. posted on the CCG forum about this female Goosander being present here a few days back, so popped along to have a look today. She didn't disappoint coming to "sliced white" supplied by the locals duck feeding here. Nice sight in ST.!

8 Siskins showed on arrival here.

There's still a few berry days left in Jarra so we hope the show continues.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Make hay when the sun shines!

Off down to Marine park this late morning with Max in tow, small sections of the lake here frozen up as expected. 3 Drake Pochards along with around 30 Tufties and the "now" tame drake Mandarin avoiding the old sailors here.
Had wanted to venture along the pier but yet again on this walk the gate was locked!

But pleased to view the great work ST council are making in the dunes area here as Ive not visited for a few weeks. The sand dunes have been surrounded with fences and signs telling the public "no access". A "planting up" of the dunes with native species of dune type plants is well under way to preserve the sand dunes here. Seeds where collected from the Druridge bay area (with kind permission) and are now in the hands of expert growers.

I live in hope of a few terns or other bird species taking advantage of this enclosed area.

It was a case of the sunny side of the street in Saxon way today! The general view was about 60 Waxwings present today , but very difficult to pin down a exact number as they have been very flighty over the last few days, with loads of Mistle thrushes around. Plus any crow that flew over put the birds up!
This wintering female Blackcap joined in the berry feast today here, this area of Jarra is a well known one for wintering Blackcap.

This is the only Redwing Ive seen around these parts (today) very few spotted, plus 2 Fieldfares today.

On the dull side of the street(light wise)- a joy to witness.

And a bit better for photo's on the sunny side of the street when the birds dropped to feed here.

A local resident asked me to view a dead bird in his back garden today, a Waxwing which looked like it had flew into something sadly.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Slip sliding away.........

The dog needed a canny walk today so set off for Colliery woods, Boldon. I’ve not visited here this Autumn/Winter so far this year so a visit was well over due.
When I opened the car door after parking up on the trading est. opposite one of the southern approach paths here I heard an almighty racket. A few blokes had parked up to play with their remote controlled cars just off this approach path.
I skated around the “boys with toys” with the conditions under foot, whilst Max nearly dragged me down a few times (frightened by the din).
The noise obviously fell away as I walked/slid further towards Station burn. A couple of Redpolls flitted across the pathway but didn’t stick around.
Walked (shuffled) around to the outskirts of the Cotswolds est. to where I know a local resident has feeders out. This local here must have a canny garden “tick” list for ST.! It’s a regular spot for seeing Willow tit,Bullfinch and other “not so easy” birds to catch up with in ST. It didn’t disappoint this time either!, within minutes a whole host of birds got used to my presence here with Max, including Willow tit(s) and Bullies.
On the “slide” back managed to bump into around 40 Lesser Redpolls with about 30 Goldfinch’s for company…and a few tit sp. Jay heard but not seen.

Had a quick look at the Jarra Waxwing hotspot before returning home, Saxon way. Birds still present…poor light again but a pleasure to watch. Another watcher was present from Roker but left soon after I arrived.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Jarra delights!

There’s a certain housing estate in the centre of Jarrow(Saxon way/Queens road area) that is a magnet for thrushes this time of year. We should all thank South Tyneside council or the planners for this when the estate was first built, as some of the streets and garden areas have been planted with berry producing trees which attract the berry snatchers on mass at times.
The “Great Waxwing hunter” alerted me yesterday that 3 Waxwings had been spotted on the estate, he phoned me back (after purchasing his morning paper on the estate) a few minutes later to inform me that around 50 Waxwings where present!
I managed to get down there this morning and around 40 Waxwings showed nicely (as they do) but in poor conditions.

Around 30 Mistle thrush present also, myself and Dougie seen around 150 of these here one day a couple of years back.

More Songies here than you would see in a average day around the doors- maybe 20..or so. Plus large numbers of Blackbirds as you would expect, a few Fieldfares but did'nt see any Redwings.

This winter so far has'nt been a "Waxwing" one, Ive only seen two groups of 4 over the last week or so before this mini invasion at Jarra. I say "mini" as I have witnessed between 200-300 here before.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The best views ive ever had!

At Boldon flats this morning, Bean geese had been reported first thing. By the time many of us visited a little later,ONLY 17 White- fronted geese present...!

What a great sight! shite light wise but seeing these geese so close was excellent.

Great to view family groups and how the White-fronts mixed with the Greylags. Mainly behind the greylags but sometimes one or two young birds would venture closer.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

What a bird for ST.

At the end of a great few hours around the doors today, Mr Hogg got a phone call from Dennis.S. whilst we viewed the Brents just north of Souter. This call had a few of us getting down to the Whitburn lodge car park asp." Possible/probable " Nightingale picked up here.

After "hot" footing down here with Dougie (collected from the ringing hut) and Jan left with Max here. Dennis and a couple of other lads picked the bird up as me and Dougie left.!

But lady luck was our side as we returned to the car park, me and Dougie picked the bird up again in the original spot it was first seen... A strange one this,.behaviour wise .

What a cracking sight seeing Brents feeding along the leas.!(for the second day)

For the third year in a row ive managed to see Bewicks at Boldon....a first for Jan even after visiting Norfolk a few years back.

What an excellent few hours....thanks to all for the up dates.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Snow Bunts!

A couple of texts today alerted myself and others to a few Snow buntings around the Whitburn coastal park, 4 beeing the best reported. Great news! So headed down there to go in search after missing out last weekend after Neil F's. text last Sunday regarding 4 around the pier area, which I was pretty miffed off about whilst on the NT organised walk and never caught up with...(cheers Neil all the same)
But for once "lady luck" delt me a kind hand today.Popped down to the ringing hut and me and Davy G. went down to the area the birds had been in, met Mr Hogg here and before long a fly over Snow bunting was had...Mr Hogg was over the moon with this as a year tick, but better followed!. A further 11 birds flew up and landed close, at least two full adult males with them.

I know it will be a good cause .........but nee way! The lighthouse today had folk queuing to ascend and get down this way!

This one is from last weekend at Whitburn, thought I would include as I don't think ive seen 3/4 Herons here before?...

Light was bad this morning/lunch time but a pleasure to see and hear these belters.

This afternoon with Max in tow(had him all day) i walked the length of the Leas along the coastal path and the return journey along the Leas hedge. Some interesting Fungi. That was it!

Interesting at the ringing hut latter on...

Sunday, 30 October 2011

This weekend

Yesterday hardly any birding was had, except for looking in at The Whitburn cp after a certain trainee ringer let a few folk know about a Firecrest he had just rung and released. After a few abusive texts from the folk he let know I headed down there. Poor lad had been that excited beeing a first ringing wise for him. My luck was in as the bird was re-trapped in the short time period I was present so a couple of "birds in the hand" shots were had. As always a warm welcome at the ringing hut and plenty of banter.
Had a short walk with Jan on the outskirts of Shearwater later in the day and only picked up a pair of Blackcaps of note.

Myself and Jan dropped into Marine park after this....As I always say the place is a creche for Herring gulls. But this shot sorts of proves it! lol. The young gull wouldn't let any other bird near its dummy.

Another one from yesterday, lovely little bird. Only I think about the 5th Ive seen.

And today members of the Coastal Conservation Group helped out on a 7 mile walk organised by the National Trust. Unfortunately the wardens at Souter could'nt make the walk and our group was asked to step in and help out, which we did. So it was a ramblers "meets" wildlife watchers group today. This walk from a wildlife watchers front would have taken all day... but it was only advertised as a 3/4 hour walk and we had to press on. But everyone who attended seemed to really enjoy the walk and quite a few where really interested in the wildlife that was pointed out to them. Job done! and loved every minute of it!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Just love a all day visit up north.

A trip organised over the last few weeks came off yesterday with a fine mix of folk attending. First off we headed for Holy island and picked all the usual waders whilst crossing the causeway here and plenty of Pinkies on the move. A nice walk followed around the main part of the island and Davy F. picked out a Spotted Redshank on the small pond area just south of the Toilets. Nice start! Plenty thrush's along the straight Lonnen mainly Redwings and Blackbirds also Skylarks heard everywhere on the island, many in full flight song. We tried to turn Kestrel and Sparrowhawk into Merlin on the way around the dunes area....but it just wasn't happening.

Then a rest up beside the tower produced Red breasted Merganser,C.Scoter,Red throated divers and one of the lads picked up a Red necked grebe (Davy G.). A scan towards the mainland from here showed Brent geese in good numbers.

Another lovely visit to one of my favourite places with nice weather conditions too!. Even if nowt rearly rare showed.

Off down to East Chevington next- Wow the place is lifting at the moment with wildfowl!

Had to be at least 1500 Pinkies along with a good flock of Greylags and with them the 3 Bar-headed geese. Also a canny size flock of Barnacles flew in and landed in a field here. A pair of Pintails and a imm. Great crested grebe with the thousands of other commoner waterfowl here also. The water level here at the moment is excellent for waders and a good number where just infront of the southern hide area including Ruff's and Knots.

I also picked up a late Swallow going over the south pool here.

Cresswell was the next stop off- Not long after getting out the cars here 13 Whooper swans dropped into a field behind the pond and a large number of Pinkies present in around the same area here. As soon as we had entered the hide a lad here put us all onto 2 Jack snipe just infront of it. My best views and a few others present of this species( more used to "spooking" them whilst walking around). Excellent to watch the birds feeding whilst "bobbing" away, almost comical!. A family group of Whoopers present on the pond ( 3 juvs,2 adults) another R.B merganser and our only Dabchick on this trip. A group of Knots (40+) being the highlight wader wise here except for the snipe. And the only Stonechat encountered up north today was seen by the parking area here.

Clearest shot I got of the Jack snipe, it was'nt a great day for photo's but excellent all the same.

And our last stop off was Marden quarry on the way home..( no its not a spelling mistake this one is in Whitely bay). My first visit here along with just about everyone elses on the trip. Really nice place that I never knew existed.

It didn't take long before the star bird here was picked up across the other side of the flooded old quarry area. Only my second Lesser scaup and also another lads in our company in over 40 years of birding, along with being lifers for some. So this was a little special!

With the light going fast and the duck not wanting to approach closer than the middle of the lake here in the 30 minutes or so we where here, these are the best record shots I got.

A full day with excellent company to sites myself and others love to visit.

And thanks goes to a certain N/land. lad regards updates info. etc.