Friday, 18 March 2011

One of Durhams's finest....( off the coast)

A visit over the moors today for myself and Jan resulted in our best views of Black grouse to date!. We headed off this morning full of optimism in what turned out to be a lovely day out west in Teesdale and Weardale.
On reaching Landon beck (and getting little legs out for a walk) I only managed to see one Blackcock briefly in flight before he fell out of view behind a stone wall. So drove a little up the road to view the favoured fields from a higher position…..just as we were pulling into here a female Black grouse ran across the road giving excellent views!(a first for Jan with the female of this species) ..Window down and camera just about to be pointed- the bird gone!….. It’s a fact of life with any person who tries for wildlife shots from a car, you just have to curse under your breath or set your air bag off in frustration!
After the slow tour down to Cow green we returned back to the higher vantage point for refreshments, this time we clocked a Blackcock in a distant field and a one not far from the road we had driven up! Slow drive down to here resulted in our excellent views from the car and also a female showed further into the field before both birds flew off.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Music to my ears

First visit into Marsden bay for me and Max for a while this afternoon and it was a pleasure to be amongst our returned seabird colony again. The Kittiwakes have been hanging around since last week with a few of them visiting the cliffs and the rest rafting in the bay on most of my visits to the Grotto car park but today I was pleased to see the birds returned fully onto the nest ledges. Just fantastic to watch the greeting of paired Kits again here and the sight of one bird returning and regurgitates a little food for its mate on the nest….Don’t think our better halves would appreciate this mind!
There’s just something special about the call of the Kittiwake and this bay would be a sorry place without them.
Razorbills also seem to have returned here fully now also, with plenty of activity from them flying around and landing on ledges.
Here’s hoping this year (like I do every year) a pair of Guillimots will breed....or even Shags attempt again.
Also in the bay- pair of Eiders and a different Med. Gull to the usual car park one. Pretty sure it’s a one I’ve seen earlier in the year but will check the bill patterns out.

Friday, 11 March 2011

BIG WHITE pillows on the flats.

Its always a pleasure to see these birds dropping into our only large-ish fresh water site in the boro..on thier migration to and from breeding grounds to the north of us. Northumberland has wintering birds which most us south of the Tyne must envy,along with fantastic counts of wintering geese.

So we make the most of what we have....;-)

The sluice gate at the flats will be taken out tomorrow sadly but we have to be grateful to ST Council for it being positioned here in the first place for many years! Its Church owned land - leased to a farmer and then sub-leased for a few months of the year (to the tune of thousands of pounds) to ST council so it can be flooded and turned into a wildlife haven.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Just a great hour!

Its official! I’ve fallen in love with a duck! Not just any duck(and its not a M&S one) but one of Chinese origin which has been around this stretch of the Wear at Chester-le-street for a while going off reports. Seen the male here some months back but this is the first time I’ve seen a female Mandarin outside of the confines of the Washington collection. And boy did she show well here on our visit and give an excellent account of herself. She maybe small but every Mallard and other type of duck here along with Goosanders she came within contact with regarding food she seen them off! She even had a go at the Mute swans pecking at their ankles. One gutsy lass and a real looker! A absolute pleasure to watch in action so to speak, we seen who will be wearing the pants in her relationships!

Along with the female Mandarin here at the local duck feeding spot- the male Scaup now in full adult plumage, 6 Goosanders(one drake), hundreds of Mallards, Fewer Mutes than last visit and the Whooper swan further up the river.

Not bad for a visit to B&Q at Washington…;-)

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Hawthorne dene in a nut shell

Lovely bright sunny day and off down to Hawthorn dene we went, a site that both myself and Jan love. Not only is a nice walk but the attraction of the small feeding area here always is a draw, especially when Marsh tit are virtually guaranteed here and Yaffles just laugh at us looking for them!.
The woods were a little quite until we reached the feeding area and settled down to watch once we placed some seed down. Within seconds Blue,Great,Coal and Marsh tits were down! Along with Nuthatch’s, Blackies,Chaffies and Robins all within 10 feet away giving excellent views. At least 4 Marsh tits visited. Feeling the cold wind after 10 minutes here we pressed on further towards the sea…this is when we heard the Yaffle laughing, a sound we are used to often. Just before the steps that go down the steep valley here the green woody sounded again this time much closer!. We stopped and viewed the valley a few times before back tracking as it called again further from the direction we had came from.
And then I caught sight of the illusive bugger on a tree before it flew west up the valley allowing myself and Jan brief but good views in flight….
A first for Jan and only the second time I’ve seen a one in over 30 years!. a massive bogey has been picked out and flicked!..but we hope for better views next time.
Also seen here of note were Kestrel, Great spot.wood and 2 Woodcocks(a surprise find).
Tried Herrington cp. After the shopping trip to Dalton park on the way home… nowt out of the oridinary seen.
Boldon flats much the same as yesterday- except no Pinkie here on our visit today but at least 10 Snipe and a pair of Dunlin and a ST year tick of a male Gadwall not a common bird for us in our boro.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Nice to get out again.

Today was the first time I’ve been out for weeks! So headed off this morning on the local dog walk of the Pier and Marine park area. Pants again really, couple of Pochards with fewer Tufties on the lake and nowt in the way of waders etc. around the Pier.But the barge I helped bring into the Tyne left today with its cargo. Does’nt seem like 4 weeks back that we climbed aboard this a mile and a half off the piers from the pilot boat.
Checked out the local carpark Med.gull after this and it’s almost fully in summer plumage now and looking splendid. Looks like the Cormorant colony is going to choose Marsden rock again this year to breed as a few birds were displaying and looking interested in the old nests here. Also a few Kittiwakes around this area today.
Visited Boldon flats this afternoon whilst on route to Boldon Asda(Hate this place! But the cupboards were looking bare). Birds of note- 2 Shelduck,5 Shoveler(only 1 female), pair of Tufties, Greylags,Canada’s and a single Pinkie with them. Good numbers of Wigeon and Teal here today. On the return leg from Asda at least 50 Curlews on here.
Two visits to Westoe cem. Today and 3 Brambling still on show here.

See what tomorrow brings going out of the boro.!