Sunday, 9 December 2012

Just a joy to see again.

 Its probably been about 6-7 years or longer since me and Jan clapped eyes on a Red Squirrel. Theres a disagreement going off still between us where was the last one we seen? I think the Lakes whilst on a camping trip, Jan thinks Thornley woods, Gateshead when there was Reds still around here and we witnessed a poor looking Red from the bird feeding hide here...This individual being the last one we seen here.

But what a joy today seeing these truly British Squirrels again after such a long time span especially only 20 miles up the A19!..

 When I lived in the Wansbeck area over 10 years ago I often seen them around the Sheepwash area on walks along the river here (pre- digi camera time), so after picking up on a few tip offs on the net we tried our luck at Woodhorn museum in Ashington.
 The £3 per-person admission charge was paid on the entrance approach road to this site and loads of Red Squirrel crossing notices encountered on the way in ...looking good we thought.!
 How good was it??? exceptional we thought!
One of the friendly staff/volunteers here has set feeders up (has had for 2 years apparently) beside the car parking area and the Reds along with countless birds etc. are benefiting from this locals endeavours. Hats off to the bloke! He even let me, Jan and Malcolm( pleasure to see you again) sit on the small train here to be more comfy to view the feeders.
 Three of the belters visited these feeders in about a hour we had here....Smiles all round with the viewing public. Three quid each well spent!

On a sadder note :  A Grey Squirrel was photographed earlier today here, the first the local lad who tends the feeders here has encountered. Trap set and lets hope its caught or taken out!

 Downed tired Heron on the Leas last weekend, harried by Jackdaws etc.
 Waxwings in Jarra ..(cheers Davy F.)  opposite St. Pauls in the Don valley last weekend, 2 first off and then built up to 7 during the week.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

More Snow buntings!

 The question this morning was where to have a wander.??? Well, the Leas area has still been producing canny birds and it also has the benefit for me of getting the dog a good run, so off I headed in this direction.
After about a hour around the mound area here, there was no Shorties hunting or showing and quite frankly nowt much else either. Sless and Scuzz appeared soon after my futile wander and we decided to try the section of the cliff tops just south of Frenchmans bay which has produced winter buntings over the years. We met Vivien returning from this patch who informed us that 4 Snow Bunting were in the area...nice!
After wandering along the cliff tops to Manhaven bay here with no sign of the blighters we were about to turn back, when a couple of these belters put up, followed by 2 more just by the steps here.
They flew back towards Frenchmans bay and after a few disturbances by passing traffic along this coastal path they settled to feed in the near by grass.

One of only 2 Skylarks encountered on this visit, its more than likely heading south.
Turning around on the Leas road is not the easiest of manoeuvres and its recommended to head to the Marsden mini-roundabout to do so. If nowt else you can check if the resident winter Med.gull is present in the car park here.( take some bread).

No luck Owl related on this visit but the banter was excellent with many a friendly face on show.
Theres been no privacy in our bathroom the last few weeks, this lass has become a lodger here for now.

Friday, 23 November 2012

The show continues!

 I hadn't planned on having a walk around the Leas mound area today on this local outing. But having pulled up in the car to check the gulls etc. on the Leas near here I spotted a couple of local lads with camera's having a leisurely stroll in this area, so thought why not, if nowt else the dog will have had a good run.
Glad I did!...Informed of two Short-eared Owls by G.Sless. and his companion when we met up for a natter here. These 2 birds had been seen earlier inter-acting but both had gone to ground since this view.

 And then whilst rattling one of the birds began hunting again, quartering the same areas and landing on the same watch-out points/post as the Owl I seen on my last visit did(Sunday gone).....More than likely the same bird I would say due to this behaviour, and its acquired local area hunting skills knowledge.

 Eventually (when Mr Scott and his good lady visited) the 2 birds put up together briefly at distance inter-acting...Fantasic viewing!
 The Shields Pier gate was locked again when we tried to have walkies along here earlier today. But Scuzz's magic shone for the first time today whilst enjoying the banter here earlier. In the years of wandering here Ive never seen a Red-throated Diver actually feeding on its capture.
 Shag just by the Groyne, not that many around here on this visit.
And this Purple Sandpiper feeding on the rocks here,great posers just love these birds.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

On ya bike mate...

 Being a Internet "dick-head" at times sure does pay off especially when these are seen on the door-step and posted on Face book by a local Shields lad...Nice one G.Sless!  Got my arse onto the Leas later today(with little legs) and enjoyed a fantastic views of this bird hunting around the mound area.
 The killing gear on show
 Coming at ya...
 Rested up and thinking about the next area to quarter.
 Finally after many hunting dives the shortie lifted with a kill as the light faded. (vole...). What a pleasure to watch a Short-eared Owl hunting here again on this stretch of our coastline... Up to 4 have been seen around here this week by none Internet users...( reliable sources).
 And aye.. I was right! the better half wanted to see the Bee-eater so joined the massive around the suburban area a couple of weeks back....Cracking views away from the streets and houses at times, when the bird settled in a near by tree!
 And....a few weeks back I ventured to Whitburn looking for wader action around the high tide mark. Plenty of action but short lived by ignorant folks wandering around here.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

The Seaburn stunner

 A mundane shopping spree in Wilkinsons down Shields today was rudely interrupted(thankfully!) when news of this Bee-eater reached my mobile whilst here. "Just GO" was the better halves words when I let on what the phone conversations were regrading, "no pet, lets finish the shopping first" my reply....(itching to get away). Twenty minutes or so later, the bins and camera were parked in the car and the better half dropped at home.

 After eventually finding the street in suburban Seaburn where the belter was hanging out, I joined the 20-30 aerial watchers assembled here at this time. What the locals must have thought is different matter, but a few of them pulled up and asked what all the fuss was about and were quite taken back once they sighted this colourful visitor to their neighbourhood.

The bird made the most of a nest of wasps in one of houses here and regularly returned to the same vantage point over looking this food source.

Needless to say this was a fantastic encounter just over the ST border and even sweeter as its a first for myself also. I bet Ive got to get the better half onto this bird tomorrow if its still around...

Friday, 26 October 2012

Highs and lows of the last week or so.

 Last Wednesday (17th)
This was the day when I seen my first sizable flock of winter thrushes coming in this Autumn . The action started as soon as I entered the Coastal park via the Shearwater est.,a flock mix of Fieldfares and Redwings numbering about 300 lifted from the higher trees and headed west. Another flock of about 100 came in a little later and soon departed heading inland.

 Obviously the Blackbird numbers were on the up also around these parts, and my first Autumn Ring Ouzel  for the year was sighted in the horse paddock behind the Whitburn lodge pub.
 Thursday (18th)
Stroll around the pier area on the dog walking duties: This was the last time I seen the 3 Snow Buntings on the pier and again they showed perfectly, feeding on the pier side. A couple of visits since and no obvious sign of them, but Ive never carried out a search either so they might still be around.?
My Mediterranean gull count along the Leas for the week peaked on this day with a different bird present. Two adults along the mid-Leas stretch as they have been for a canny while now and a 2nd winter bird in the Marsden carpark( no show of the regular bird here today). I was just starting to get out of the car to try for photo's of this bird ( new kids on the block needed documented) when a lovely lady threw a ball for her cute little dog right through the centre of the rested gulls here. Game over! Neither the Gull or the woman were seen again.

Sunday -

Duck stroking duties down at Chester-le-street riverside, as its a while since we have visited and a few browny points were in need of being gained. ( must have had a premonition of what was about to happen).
Plenty of the regular waterfowl here including 4 Goosanders. And a wier riding individual who seemed to enjoy this as it was watched at least 3 times sliding down here.

After last weekend the show really began.

After the disappointment of not getting to know in time to see the trapped Pallas's warbler at Whitburn on Monday  it got worse!
On the Tuesday I got a call to say a Dusky Warbler had been caught in the nets, I was quickly dressed and within 10 minutes I arrived at the ringing hut. Too late was the cry when I opened the car door, the bird had been released not long before I had parked up. Bugger!!!!
A little later another phone call alerted a few of us that a  Rustic bunting had been picked up near the Marsden hall area, the coastal park cleared. A small twitching crowd soon assembled around the last area the bird had been seen in.The bird had last been seen disappearing into the mist and despite a search by the many here now, alas it was not to be in these difficult weather conditions.

Up and out early this day heading for the Whitburn Coastal Park, more or less when the light conditions became slightly better. The low fog and drizzle conditions and the fact that the ringing hut wasn't manned this day must have played a part in why I only seen one birder the whole morning here!.Strange I thought as such a good find was encountered here the day before.
My luck finally changed this morning! The first hedge line I checked is the one known locally as Walters, which is just opposite the ringing hut to the west. At the very end of this row of shrubs etc. a darker backed warbler was sighted picking about the branches and leaves for about 10 seconds before it flew off into the big mound. I was pretty certain I had seen the Dusky Warbler with the views I had, made more certain when a Mr Cook rang to say he'd heard and seen it in the mound about 5-10 minutes later and it had then flown into the hedge line by the entrance gate.
After checking the Whitburn lodge gardens area I picked up my first Ring Ouzel of the day in the horse paddock behind this pub along with countless thrushes. On the way back along I checked the entrance hedgerow and within a couple of minutes the only bird flitting about here was the Dusky warb. which worked its way through the centre of these bushes, allowing better views this time. Back to the car for a rest bite from the how heavier drizzle and light refreshments after this second sighting. Texts went out to local lads etc. letting them know the bird was still about and I even contacted RBA ..something I very rarely do but on this occasion I felt it warranted.

The second Ring Ouzel of the day was sighted behind the ringing mound along with hundreds of thrushes feeding on the cut grass area here. Added bonus of being in this spot at this time was had when 3 Crossbills dropped in briefly before heading off into the mist. The 3rd Ring Ouzel was picked up on Jackies beach when me, Keith and his mate had a wander down. This one was seen the day before here also. A male Snow Bunting on the coastal path by the Obs. was picked up along the way and a welcomed distraction.
Great supporting cast of numerous Robins, Goldcrests and Blackbirds but very few finches and tits.
But the highlight of this day for me was seeing thousands of thrushes dropping out of the fog during the morning around the coastal park, this before the mist lifted slightly about dinner time.


Bit of a late start this day, but news of a Black Redstart whilst driving down to the coast was very welcomed. After a few attempts at trying to pick the bird up in the Souter lighthouse garden area, it eventually showed pretty well. The first one of the year for me.
Checked the bushes across the road from the lighthouse and the long-ish staying Barred warbler was still feeding on what was left of the Elderberries here, again it showed well but not well enough for the camera,mind I also had the dog with me this day which didn't help.

Massive thanks to all for the updates over this period.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Just leave me tea in the oven pet.

 These were my last words as I headed out of the door at about 4.30pm yesterday evening after learning of a Barred warbler showing well on the outskirts of the Whitburn coastal park. On arriving here, the finder (Mr Cook) and Mr Huge list were patiently waiting and scanning the last mound area the bird had been seen and heard in. After about 30 minutes of picking the bones out of various movements within this mound area which only resulted in numerous Goldcrests, a few Great tits and Blackbirds plus a Redwing, the camera went back into its holster as hope was beginning to fade.
Then as we looked across the outer garden sections of the Shearwater est. Mr Cook picked up movement in the dog roses here..There it is! he shouted. After a few brief views it then showed really well often coming out into the open allowing stunning views (to the now 5 persons present), the best Ive had in natural surroundings ever!. Managed to grab a few record shots out of the many naff ones taken due to the light conditions at this time.
Hugelists video tells a better story-

Thursday, 11 October 2012

A few from the pier wanders the last couple of days.

 The female Kestrel showed extremely well yesterday as she used the vantage points that overlook the dunes.
 The 3 Snow buntings are still around the pier and approachable as ever.
 The Shag numbers have crashed a little the last couple of days and there was more Cormorants about today.
 We still have the 5 Purple sandpipers on the pier sides.
 Still a canny number of Guillemots close into the pier and seem to be feeding well.
 A few fishermen at the end of the pier today which attracted this Rock pipit looking for scraps of fishing bait.,5/6 of these pips around here at the moment.
And a couple of these the last two days.