Friday, 28 January 2011

Picking up a bit!

The last week or so around the doors hasn’t been exceptionally inspiring to say the least! Countless visits to Marine park and the Pier area have been fruitless really with nowt out of the ordinary…even Shags seem to have departed Sandhaven bay area on most visits this week.
The feeders at Westoe cemetery continue to hammered! Between myself and Rob A. so far this year we have supplied over 80kg. Of wild bird seed this winter period along with countless fat balls and other food items…Also a few other locals have contributed here helping the birds out when they can.
But its all been worth it as the small feeding area and its surrounding area have attracted the best numbers of birds I’ve seen here in 4/5 years of visiting…Finch flocks have exceeded 120+ including 4 Brambling, long tailed tits early this year in excess of 30+ and the local population of House sparrows and Commoner birds have taken full advantage. Not bad for an old Cemetery in the centre of South Shields which is a basically a local dog walker site!
Anyway back on track with today’s findings…8 Pochards(6 males) in the South Marine Park. My best count so far this winter.
Pier area – Over 120 Dunlin, 30 odd Sanderling and 25 Ringed Plover rested up on Sandhaven rocks beside the pier. Turnstones along the pier after scraps off fishermen and 4 Purple sands picking at the rocks on the north side of the pier just past the first gate.
Marsden bay- (after viewing all the B.H.gulls along the leas…no Meds.!).. 5 Common Scoter on the sea along with 10 Razorbills, many a Fulmar on nest sites and also on the sea. Also 1 R.B.Merganser flew south.
Then I passed the parking area to visit the Academy which the field beside it held flood water..did a double take and turned back! Spotted a Wader here. Aye just as I thought and confirmed with better views…Off the coast Knot! Not as off the coast as the one I found last year at Herrington but canny all the same!.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Cem. surprise.

After feeling crap most of the weekend it was time for a walk out so headed down to the beach again. One of the Great crested grebes was still here working the length of the beach just passed the breakers. Smaller numbers of waders on the rocks here today…60+ Dunlin, 15+ Sanderling and the steady 30 Ringed plovers. And a Rock pipit appeared(not seen a one here for a while).
Went into Westoe cemetery this afternoon and wished I’d brought the camera! The place was buzzing. The feeders were busy with 20 Greenfinch, 15+ Goldfinch, 12 Chaffinch, 10+ Blue tits, 3-5 Great tits, 15+ Spuggies and 4 Brambling! 2 males. 15 Redwings and 2 Mistle thrush feeding on the grassed areas further into the cem.

And the photo’s are from Friday....... Orange fronted Dunlin.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Crest of a wave

Back down the local walk this morning this time with the camera after yesterdays missed chance of local shots of a Great Northern.! And the weather was slightly better.
As usual nowt out of the ordinary in Marine park and even the duck numbers were down here compared to yesterday, most of them must have fancied a fly about on my visit today.
Onto the big beach and I picked 2 birds up just pasted the breakwater as soon as I got passed the Dunes. Made a bee-line in their direction and once I got close enough viewed them again…Not a diver this time but a pair of Great crested grebes which had drifted a little further out by the time I had reached the waters edge. Watched the birds for a while and in this time they even did a bit pair bonding, mirrow image head movements whilst facing each other. Another canny find here!
30 Ringed plovers with 30+ Dunlin, 15+ Sanderling and a handful of Turnstones on the rocks at the north end of the beach.
Along the Pier 7 Purple Sandpipers posed nice and close as they feed on the north side of the Pier and 3 Red throated divers between the Pier and Trow.
Two Adult Med. Gulls along the Leas both birds are regulars here.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The dog's doing's

For weeks now I’ve walked the local sites of Marine park and Sandhaven beach with basically nowt much to show for my efforts apart from Woodcocks a few weeks ago. Which never posed for my camera despite many a effort and me trying out stealth mode!
So I dragged the dog down again living in hope of something half decent turning up like you do every time you venture out. Again I tried turning one of the handful of Tuties into a Ring necked duck and one of the many gulls into something special like I do every time in Marine park but again it didn’t work. But 7 Pochard today was the highest number I’ve seen this winter here.
So walked along the Dunes to the pier and scanned the sea area, again pants here!
Max was getting restless by now so thought I would give him a good run on the beach. About mid way along Sandhaven the daft mut was chasing every bit of seaweed in sight…and there wasn’t many! Clocked a few Cormorants and Shags on the sea and in flight so thought I would give the sea a once over from here. Just passed the breakers a bird got my attention and in-between it diving and the waves obscuring my view I managed great views of my first Great Northern diver here.
Moments like this make the dog walk and plodding the local area special and make you frightened not to visit in case you miss owt!
Roll on the late summer for the Terns to grace this beach…..the tent will be pitched!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

South Tyneside Winter Bird race 2011

This was my forth year in a row that I’ve taken part in this annual event and by far the hardest year yet for me trying to clock the birds up on home soil.
Our team started off by listening to the birds in Westoe cemetery waking up around the area where we provide food for them, straining our eyes to see them in the early morning light.
Then it was a pit stop at the outer fence area of South Marine park to clock Mute’s, Pochards and Tufties one of the only sites in our boro where all 3 can be encountered together.
The freezing cold cliffs of Whitburn were visited next as planned because of the tide, all the usual waders in the bag along with the only sighing of the day for us of Golden plovers which we managed to see just as we arrived as they took off heading north. Over 60 Wigeon were close in to shore and a few on the rocks here. A single Purple sandpiper was picked out which saved us a journey back along to Shields pier. Also the only Rock pipits for us seen here. We scoped the sea from here which produced Great crested grebe, Common Scoter, Eider and Red throated diver, the cold wind got the better of us and we retreated to the comfort of my mobile skip..(That’s right some things never change!).
Med. Gull at the north Grotto car park and Little Owl in Marsden old quarry (3 Fieldfares also) followed….two birds I was worried about dipping on!
Then a tea break at the Grotto car park and a bit more sea watching resulted in Guillemot, Fulmar and a small grebe sp. That was too far out flying north for any of us to poss. Id.
A quick walk around the south end of the Leas followed which produced nowt! This was when we knew after not seeing one or two expected waders at Whitburn and certain species here it was going to be a hard slog and lower than usual count for the bird race.
Academy pools next and Reed bunting, Coot, Grey partridge(8-10) and over 30 Fieldfares(heading west) were added to the list.
Boldon flats- Tree sparrows on the feeders, Yellowhammers, Pheasant and Stock doves(another species I was worried about).Also about 18 Pinkies went over.
Colliery woods- Cotswolds housing est. feeders –Willow tit,Bullfinch and Coal tit. Plantation area- A flock of over 100 finches…Gold and Polls which never settled for us to pick the bones out of! But 2 Siskins dropped to allow good views. Another covey of Partridge (9) east of here.
Environmental centre- Pants!
Jarrow Cemetery- Spotted woody and our first Long tailed tits! Also a Goldcrest amongst the tit flock on the northern edge of here.
Slake road Don area- Dabchick and Teal clocked up on the Don and Shelduck on the Tyne . A Fox curled up asleep in the Waterboards reserve on the north side(same place as last year when we seen it) along with a less than average count of Herons here. But Tufties lined the north side of the Tyne here some 100+ birds along with a couple of thousand BH and Common gulls.
Back to the Flats- Greylags had returned on this visit about 50 birds.

And last visit of the day was to Trow/mound area. This was to try and find Skylark or Meadow pipit which was fruitless and we found out it was the same for the other two teams along with Woodcock throughout the day.

So this years bird race was a 3 team event and many a species that we would expect to encounter we didn’t, some lads dipped on Little owl and Rock pipits whilst we dipped on Sparrowhawk and Song thrush to name a couple.

Some canny birds recorded were- Waxwings(3) in Westoe cem.(Dougie and Jasons team) with the help of Jan my better half who is kipping in a tent tonight!, Treecreeper ( Dougie and Jasons team.) in Jarrow cemetery.
Peregrine at Boldon flats(Mc brothers+ Dougies) , Merlin at Whitburn(Mc brothers).

Cracking day as always.

Low count species wise this year- 83 in total

75 Was the winning total on our team. As apposed to the total of 87 which has won the title (bar last year) since 2005.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Whole new ball game!

After messing on with Bird forum for years and reading some excellent blogs on here I thought I would create my own. Not the best with the pc so this may take some getting used too!