Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Sadness is starting to dawn.

This evenings walk along the pier patch was pants and the thought of the terns departing was really starting to hit home with only a couple of Common terns hunting just off the pier.

Its not been the best year for the terns gracing the patch this year with many a folk disappointed by the Roseate no's. here (especially after last years feast!). But I think most beaches along the NE coastline have recorded fewer numbers rested up at regular sites this year.

Fuller summary to come of my wanderings this season around the big beach(tern wise)........when it ends. :-(

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Up north for a hour or two.

Its was one of those "Where do fancy going" days today. Its been a while since me and Jan filled a flask and headed off for a few hours out of the area. So eventually we headed for Druridge and Cresswell.
Well the weather started to close in not long after we reached here and it was The Great North bike ride today also so great care had to be taken driving along certain stretches of the coastal roads. These riders had pedelled from Seahouses and finished at Tynemouth!..excellent effort and no doubt has raised alot of money for worthy causes.

Six Ruff at Cresswell on the exposed sand area in front of the hide along with a Common Sand and a few Dunlins.

Oddie hide at Druridge - not the best visit either but a couple of juv. Dabchicks kept us entertained. On the return leg from here to the car I spotted a area of grass flattened in the undergrowth which lead to the north pool area, this held Max's attention also with him almost vanishing from sight until I called him. Otter or Fox suspected for this path....the dog's shown no signs of being interested in Rabbits yet.

Not one of best visits to this area today bird wise, but always nice to get up here. Especially for a ice-cream from the Cresswell shop and sit at Snab point eating it whilst doing a bit sea watching.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Walk out tea time

The sight of young Tufties might not be too special for many folk, but to some of us locals this is a rare treat in our boro.!The couple of bairns which have survived on Marine park lake are now I think beyond the "Gulls" attention, judging by the size of them. Well done that Mam!

My .. how you have grown in less than a week!

This evening visit to the pier area was poor really regarding Terns. But I did witness the sight of 2 Roseates just off the pier which flew around here at a distance, the call of the birds alerted me to their presence here. What followed behaviour wise is something I have only seen on a couple of occasions. The birds called to each other constantly, circulling each other whilst climbing higher and higher gaining a great height before flying off south.

Wader wise was not too great either except for 4 Purple sandpipers and poser Turnstones.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Nice evening

Another nice warm evening visit to the local beach with the dog in tow. Again not loads of Terns around but a few more than I have seen in previous visits with a small group settled beside the pier.
A scan produced 20 odd Common terns and 4 Roseates, 3 of which where juveniles. But a few terns took off before I reached a safe viewing point so there was more in the area this evening especially with 3 Juv. Rosies being settled here.

Highlight wader wise tonight was 4 Sanderling...always nice to watch!.

And this Juvenile had me looking a few times at it, very small compared to all the other Juveniles here. A late offspring from Common terns to show here at this time of year, all others are well more advanced now.

Pleased to say the locally bred Tuftie young-uns (2) are looking bigger by the day and have done well to survive the Herring gulls.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Trow Quarry, don't ya just love the place.

A lie in this morning was interupted by my mobile phone going off, a text first and then a missed call. Jan my better half quickly made me aware of this..."Sounds like ya missing something" was her words as I opened my eyes. I quickerly got dressed and dashed out of the door after reading the text from Jason alerting me to Woodchat Shrike in Trow.!
Still half asleep and not really feeling my best I wandered into Trow on my usual route via the "Little Owl" tree and made my way around the cliff edges( a call from Dougie was had at this time but the conection was lost). The Shrike was sat on a outer branch of the Whitebeam tree as I rounded the bend into the main bowl area, camera out and clicked a few shots off..brilliant!.what a stunner I thought. Then I turned around to see a dozen or so lads viewing from the other side of the quarry,Oh shit! a quick retreat was made from the birds position towards the viewing folk....And thankfully the bird wasn't spooked as I would have been hung-drawn and quartered.

Ive been down here 3 times today and spent a canny few hours here, our lass enjoyed her first Woodchat and indeed her first Shrike!..

This shot was taken after the "Foghorn" left to go in search of Whinchats which where in the area earlier today. This view was the best many a folk had here of the bird after a few hours of waiting.. It showed really well in the open as it sat on a rock after going to ground for a canny while.

A view from the west end of the quarry today as it sat on top of a tree here with a Wheatear for company.
All in all, a fantasic experience viewing my second adult Woodchat and a pleasure to meet and rattle with folk local and others who have had their passports stamped.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Couple of visits local this week

A request for info. about Roseate terns in our area this week got me out of my scratcher early on Wednesday morning. I was down on Sandhaven at 6.15 am with just a few madder than me fishermen on the pier for company trying for Mackerel. This visit was totally fruitless regarding Terns except for a handfull of Common terns feeding just off the shore and none where rested up on the beach or rocks next to the pier.

But a wander into Marine park on the way back was a nice visit. After seeing Ian Mc's post on the CCG site the night before I thought I would have a peek to see if the Tufty young-uns where still around,and their were....Mother and 2 bairns doing well!. Fingers are crossed they manage to survive the Herring gull on-slaught unlike a couple of broods of Mallards this year here. Last year a single Tufty chick swam around without the company of its mother for a day or so..but was never seen again after this. How the question is where are the ducks nesting???

Pochard young have also been seen on this public, man- made lake buts its been a few years since I seen a duckling from this species here.

The drake Mandarin was on show also on this early morning visit and seems to be looking a little better plumage wise since I last seen him last...a few weeks back.

Early morning exercise with the handfull of Mutes on the lake, I think they thought I had food.

Yesterday I wandered down to the pier area again in the early evening with Max in tow. Again pants for Terns, nowt resting in the usual places, just a few off the shore feeding. But picked up on wader movement on the south side of the pier from Sandhaven(regular roost area around the high tide mark). By the time I parked me arse on the pier wall and viewed the waders it was evident a few "not so common" birds for here where present. This visit resulted in 3 Knots being seen in various plumage stages ..Turnstones numbers still high for here with numerous youngsters and some really nicely coloured adults. Along with Redshanks with juvs. Plus great to see 3 Purple Sandpipers , one very dark coloured bird(adult still in s.p) and a very light coloured one (juv. ??).

Its not been the best year for Terns so far here, and I haven't heard of "great numbers" at Whitburn either.( Spoilt rotten last year me thinks!).

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Happy days again.

First ventured out today back onto the Roker beach area about mid day, not many gulls at all here on this visit but nice walk all the same and had a quick look around Roker park. Didn't even know there is a lake in here!
Returned back along the coast via Lizard lane to view the field opposite the Whitburn lodge, again not many gulls here either but still a good number of Curlews present. Then I looked to the fields in the distance to the west of here and several hundred white shapes were following a tractor ploughing here....didn't even get the scope out for this view!.

A lazy Sunday afternoon followed and whilst watching another repeat of a Catherine Cookson classic on the tele. I got the urge to visit the pier area again, so me and Max ventured forth.

Dispite the hoards on the pier and beach this late afternoon about 50 Common terns rested on the rocks at the north end of Sandhaven...nowt else with them. I scanned the south side of the pier from here and picked up white shapes just after the pier's bend, off we went to investigate further.
Still loads of Guillemots around the pier area, sleepy juvs included.

I reached one of my favourite viewing points and got me arse onto the pier wall ( Max just sniffed about,he's used to this now). Sure enough my hopes developed into joy!. 10 Roseates terns settled here including 4 Juveniles. Also a good count of Turnstones for here with over 50 present and one Purple sandpiper of note.

It still amazes me how tolerant the Roseates especially are to a human presence on the side of the pier here, at times all the terns and waders took off together for no apparent reason but the Rosies always seem to settle first in just about the same spot they took off from.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Nowt great but nice fix all the same.

Not been down to the pier area all week! so needed a fix this evening. About 40 Common terns at the north end of Sandhaven settled on the rocks here on this visit...No other species of tern present unfortunately. But nice all the same just to sit and watch the Common terns for half a hour going about thier business. Only a handfull of waders about highlight being 3 Knots flying over the pier heading south.( first one's ive seen since winter).

This adult Med. gull was on the mid. section of the Leas this evening, theres been a few reported laterly especially as watchers are looking at gulls in our area hoping to pick up the Bonaparte's gull that favours the ploughed fields around Whitburn/Cleadon area and the Whitburn to Roker beaches.

Still no sign of the Marsden car park Med. gull that has wintered for a few years at this site.

And Max now needs another "bust" full size football, his favourite beach toy was last seen floating out on the out going tide just by the first gate from the pier. Thankfully the mut had the sense not to swim after it( too far) after being kicked into the sea from Little haven.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Second bite with the Bonaparte's.

A stroll along the cliffs at Whitburn early afternoon today (when the weather started to break) resulted in myself and Jan walking further than we first thought we were going to today.(Max liked this). A solitary lad with a scope informed us the Bonaparte's gull had been in this area but had flown off in the direction of Roker pier. Jan wanted to see the bird so we ventured across the South Tynside border and eventually ended up at the Cat and Dog beach area(never been here before myself!) Don't know how the small cafe here does any business with the stench of rotten sea weed here!. About 6 lads viewing from the walkway here with scopes soon put us onto the bird just off the shore here. A new bird for our lass like it had been for me a couple of days back.

The bird was disturbed here a few time by walkers on the beach when it came back onto the shore and eventually flew off onto Roker beach. So I wandered further south with Jan and Max watching me from a safe distance.

By the time me and another lad( from boro.) had almost reached the Roker pier the bird was settled on the beach here. It then flew around us and went over the pier giving fantasic views.

Its just a pity the light wasn't better for pic's.!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

At last a Bonny gull.

I had no idea that last nights beach watch was going to result in a outing to last till almost 8.30pm. The beach area was pants as it has been the last couple of visits with hardly any terns resting around the area on my visits( joe public is seeing to that!). So after sitting on the steps to the pier from Sandhaven with Max for about 30 minutes with nowt really showing, we headed back across the dunes. Then my phone went off...............
"Adult Bonaparte's gull on "Shorts" ploughed field"....was the callers message, I was off with a miffed looking dog in tow.
A couple of calls later and I arrived at the Lizard lane side of the field, the finder and "huge" list were still present...but the gull had escaped without anyone seeing it doing a one! (Thats what happens sometimes when you are trying to get folk informed). Take ya eye off the ball and ....gone. "Huge list" showed me his excellent video footage before he left, I was more miffed than the car bound dog at this stage.
About 30 minutes later and still watching the field without any sign of the bogey gull me phone went again...Mark the finder reporting Mr Bell had picked the bird up again at Whitburn steel.
Off again and this time my luck was in! the bird was just off the cliffs here feeding at around the high tide mark with BH gulls.
After last years experience of scanning the gulls up and down the ST coastline and not seeing this species here, I was chuffed to bits at these views yesterday.

The weather has put pay to a visit along here today really but hope to get back along tomorrow.

Visit to the Academy pools earlier in the week - parties of Martins,Swallows and a few Swifts skimming and splash bathing here, family groups of Reed, Chiffs and Sedge warblers.

Fulmar chicks now looking the business along our coastline now....nice and fat.

Still a few Cormorant young on nest sites, at least 3 active nests still on Jack rock(Lizard point).

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Back on the beach

Its been a busy weekend having spent most of it on the entrance to Whitburn coastal park helping to collecting funds towards the CCG's future projects. And then today I converted timber to form another 20 or so nest boxes/feeders. All thanks to the National trust who have supported our group from the beginning.

Only managed 3 visits down to Sandhaven since Saturday!..shocking I know!!

Nowt really to report the last couple of visits before today. (apart from the Mandarin spotted yesterday on Marine park watching the pedlo's go by whilst on the safety of the island).

But todays visit at noon was interesting, not only was it low tide but the northern end of the beach was empty. Jan and Max disbatched to little haven as usual at this time of day.

This juvenile (above pic) Common tern was just chilling out and not in the slighted bothered by my presence.( well I didn't push my luck too far).

Totals on this visit- 10 adult Arctic terns( most ive ever seen here together! no juvs. sadly), 15 Sandwich, and 40+ Common.

Always interesting to observe the different stages of plumage changes with juvenile birds here.

Not much smaller type food stuff being brought in whilst I was here, all about this size.