Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Reeeeeeeeeeeeely great!

This Grasshopper warbler was showing brilliantly this morning on the Leas mound for a bird that is at times hard to see. His call could be heard half way across the Leas as I approached the mound...what a pleasure it is to hear a one back here again this year. Hope he sticks around! he should do as I seen another one not so easy to see on the other side of the mound..a Mrs Gropper probably.

OH my god its early! a cry from Robin Williams and I know how he felt this weekend! both days over the weekend a few of us have have been down to the Whitburn coastal park at 5.30am. to give support at the ringing station here. I eventually woke up properly at about 6.30ish after being in zombie mode after getting out of bed and turning up here. But the crac was good and the sight of a pair of Peregrines on Sunday really made the effort worth the experience of seeing birds up close. This Gropper(above) had been reeling around the ringing mound for a while before being caught.

The hut with a few late commers on Sunday morning, its a hard job standing around talking and drinking tea etc. Still yet to be offered a Bacon buttie.(been tea'd up to hilt mind on every visit) Even thro- I have helped re-paint the hut and secure the solar panel on the roof. A cook will be placed here come the Autumn I hope or a burger van with profits going to the Coastal Conservation Group..or helping John regards costs etc.

And this little bugger has shit all over my wing mirrow the last couple of visits to Safc's Academy parking area but I forgive him as he's got male problems at the moment.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Saves me a inland hunt!

Another alert this morning to male Ring Ouzel in Trow quarry from Ian(the bloke lives here) McAlpine had me, Jan and Max heading down there. We did plan to go up north but the weather sort of put us off and we were at a lose end until this alert. When we arrived Ian was still in the quarry and the bird showed well giving Jan her first good views of a male and my best for a few years. We did see a one on the Leas last year but she only got brief views of it and had't to take my word for it. Not bad at all a Male and a Female in the same week on local soil!..saves trying to find them inland. This afternoon had a trip down to the Coastal park to give Mr Brown a hand with ringing here, he'd had a canny tally this morning and it was interesting to see that Chiffs had come through the trapping area at a different time to Willow warblers. We only had 2/3 hours here this afternoon and 2 Willow warbs and a old ringed Blue tit were netted. Plus a dog damaged one of the nets when its owner opened up a section of area blocked of with cut down bushes etc. to allow it to run through..!When John challenged the owner, the owners reponse was" Well the dog wanted to go in"....Some dog owner eh! Drake Mandarin continues to grace Marine park lake with many a curious look from joe public in its direction.Not surpising really as all we are used to here normally are Mutes,Tufties,the odd few Pochards this time of year along with Mallard mixes and a few domestic types. Plus the hundreds of Herring gulls.
Had a look at the SAFC academy the other day and it was poor really but 30-40 Sand Martins were bombing the pools which give me another chance at trying for fast moving bird shots. A couple of keepers from plenty "right click deletes" a bit better light and the ratio might have been higher...I will be back..

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Duck feeding today on Marine park

A text this morning from Ian McAlpine alerted me to a duck I've never seen before on Marine park lake, so me and Max got down there as soon as we could to have a look. The Drake Mandarin was rested up on the island here on this visit and showing no signs of moving, so we headed around one of Max's regular walks...back of the Fair and the Pier area. Not as many Wheatears here today as yesterday but still managed to see 4 along with over 30 Carrion crows which in this number here is a unusal sight! A few Sandwich terns passed over the Pier and also fed off Sandhaven, too far off for the camera plus the Pier was closed today for maintenance. The drake was still rested up when we returned from the beach but had a canny rattle with the couple of Park Wardens who try to look after the sites.They clocked the Mandarin yesterday but were not sure about the ID a 100% and had googled last night for further info.
Jan on hearing of the bird still being around "Forced" me to revisit a couple of hours later and he was showing much better this time.
Many a visitor enjoyed viewing the bird today here and I hope he sticks around for more to view. The last one we had in South Tyneside also showed well at the Primrose LNR Jarrow about this time of year last year.
A few Chiffchaffs also in the park .
And this shot was taken on a section of Waskerley way on Sunday, whilst a lovely walk in fine weather our target species of Adder was not seen.

The day went from bad to worse!..visited Stanhope and the place was packed, only to be expected here on a nice day. Over the moors and every speed freak was out and about this day! constantly "buzzed" from behind whilst driving slow to try and view the wildlife. And then we arrived at Bollihope's parking area, OMG never seen nowt like it! packed to the brink with van's,car's and sellers trying to sell their wares. Only a Motor-cross event going off here today! Petrol heads using this lovely area to get a buzz, this really hacks me off when other sites can be turned over for this type of use without disturbing wildlife.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Thats a funny looking female Blackie.....she said and was right!

Not been down to the Shields Pier area for a couple of weeks but wandered down today not really expecting much and I was right regards waders. But a male Wheatear showed well (still in plumage change) and a pair of Linnets along with a few Meadow pipits.

A thrush flew along side the pier which didn't seem right the way it behaved to the normal odd Blackies and Songies we get here now and then, wings in a dropped posture, tail in a alert state ....etc. and the outer wing feathers seemed very pale. Because of the light I first thought of continental female Blackbird..But then she showed her true colours and the scaling in the feather details was noticed. Jan's first female Ring Ouzel.! Mind she didn't hang around for long and was off to patures new or revisited after we seen her.

The daft season has started with trying to photograph fast flying birds....but great trying and watching them.

Yesterday seen another first for me around the leas mound area in the form of a male budgie, dispite a few attempts at trying to capture him he escaped my grasp..I even crawled into a gorse bush and on a couple of occassions he was on my finger in here! but hopped off and escaped.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Out and about this week

At last the first signs of summer migrants! A walk along the Don last Sunday resulted in 5 Chiffchaffs not much else really mind. And on Friday my first Wheatear of the year in Trow quarry followed by 2 pairs here on Saturday in the second bay allowing excellent views. Myself and Max just sat on the grassy bank and watched the spectacle of the paired birds going about there business. A female even had a bath in front of us!......... Also on Friday seen my first Sand Martins, about 6 had returned to the nest site in Marsden bay. This visit here was brought about by having to meet the Shields Gazette photographer. The paper wants to run a story about the rescue of a Seal pup that Dougie and John carried out when Dougie found it wrapped up in a fishing net…a possible illegal one at that! Which a local expert thinks a poacher has been using. We thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight the dangers of fishing line and any other potential hazards to wildlife that is discarded by us humans. After the meeting myself and Dougie went on to collect a bag full of fishing line on Marsden beach which had been washed up. Clare Rawcliff from the South Tyneside country side team kindly give some of the members of the Coastal conservation group a demonstration and training with small mammal trapping this week. A classroom style lesson first and then off to place the traps in Whitburn coastal park un- triggered but baited.This allows the mammals to get used to the traps before capture. The 10 traps were baited 2 nights in a row and then set for capture on the 3rd night. Then we went around all the traps one at time on Sunday morning to inspect if we had been lucky and managed to capture anything. Yip we had 4 Wood mice and a Common shrew!....After careful extraction and sexing of the mammals they were released safely in the same area of capture. A fantastic experience and a one we hope to repeat in the future…..But £50 a piece for the traps is a tad steep! We will have to look into getting funding for these me thinks!. Ringing was also taking place on Sunday morning in the coastal park and I managed to see a Chiffchaff released here. Also Moth trapping…..not into moths myself but still nice to see different species. Visited Station burn in the afternoon and seen another 5 Chiffchaffs and a territorial battle between 2 of these. Also 3 male Bullfinch and 1 Willow tit, the latter two species were real rarities here when I was a lad plodding this patch 30 odd years back…