Saturday, 28 January 2012

Nice place, nice sights,but don't flash the headlights.

After another pretty fruitless visit this morning on the normal dog walk ( the highlight being showing a few folk the male Woody banging away in Marine park after they where wondering what the noise was). I treated Jan to a couple of hours or so in Boldon later on this afternoon... No not Asda this time! but a area just south west of here. She was so thrilled at this prospect she came equipped with a book, blanket and reading glasses as I had mentioned we maybe waiting here a while.

I left Jan in the car to her book when I parked up and wandered up the small road to view the fields here. After walking 50 yards or so away from the car I picked up a Short-eared owl doing the edges of a field to the west just before seeing a Peregrine flying off to the east. Walked back and found Brian S. viewing half way back to the car, nice to see Brian again!.. So we got Jan onto the bird and then another Shorty flew up with the first..great stuff!

A first happened for me soon afterwards, one of the Shorties was "buzzed" by a large female Peregrine which flew onto a pylon after this. She rested here for a few minutes before flying off east.(probs the same bird I had seen earlier). I say first because it adds to the list of raptors etc. Ive seen Pergs. "Buzz". - White-tailed and Golden eagles, Hen Harriers, Kestrels, Sparrowhawks and Buzzards that I can think of off hand.

No Shorties showed in the half hour we stayed after this event..not surprised!

So a canny couple of hours, 2 Shorties, 1 Perg., 6 G.Partridge, a dozen or so Fieldfares and countless Woodpigeons coming into roost. And!........ Same Red van seen passing 4/5 times, Blue van 3 times, black vw passed at least 6 times and numerous other dodgy looking folk. Our lass was "eye balled" by a copper passing as she sat reading, don't know what they would have thought to her.....

No stunners photo wise but great all the same.

Passed the flats on the way home and you could hardly get parked. Since the Eagle owl story has hit the media it's gathered a lot of interest.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Still living in hope!

After all the Iceland gulls sighted in our region( north and south of ST) I was hoping I would connect to a one on the normal dog walk in Marine park over the last couple of weeks. My luck so far hasn't been in. So earlier this week I was driven to view the Tyne from beside the S/Shields yacht club. Sure enough what looked like a adult Iceland gull was on the river and then did a fly about of the fish quay across the water.

This bird I believe was ID'ed as a "near" full adult...The lads(5/6 of them at the time) viewing from the fish quay here would have had far better views from their position here on the edge of quayside. But I was happy just seeing this one from my vantage point.

The best Ive come up with so far on checking the gulls in Marine park is a odd Common gull or two having a wash here.( not "that" common a sight here).. Unlike the Durham county recorder on a brief visit here a couple of Sundays back. The morning's park activities here resulted in a 2nd winter Iceland gull buggering off minutes before I arrived!!!.

Jan got me out of bed a few days back to view this canny garden tick and he returned the next day also. Excellent for a tiny garden near the centre of South Shields and the feeders have only been up 6 weeks or so since we moved here.

Oh.. and the Whitburn point development!- The major ground work has now been almost completed with hopefully only a few minor issues to be sorted regarding this. This poor shot was taken on Thursday afternoon showing the North pond (we have named them now ..North and South). Already its starting to fill up naturally over the last week.

I don't want to stop any one's enjoyment of getting out and about when they can....BUT! I hope it pisses down for a week or so to fill the ponds up!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Update on the works and Hawthorn dene today

The second pond area was lined out on Friday. This liner was heavier than the one used on the first pond in front of the wooden viewing screen so a few of the groups volunteers lent a hand with this process. It took seven people to unfold and position this liner, such was the weight of it.

On Saturday morning a few of the volunteers gathered to cut back a few branches from the trees and bushes around the ditch areas. This is to allow the contractor to be able to clear out the existing ditches which will help in filling the ponds naturally we hope. The net work of these ditches was originally put in place when the ponds where first positioned here many years ago.

We where just pleased to see water on this morning in the liner! Wait till the first bird uses the new ponds!!!

It was another morning of deciding where to venture for a hour or two today. After a few sites where mentioned we headed 18 miles down the A19 to one of Jan's favourites - Hawthorn dene. Armed with a small bag of bird food we(+ Max) slowly headed down the muddy path to the known feeding area after parking up. Once at the feeding area it was apparent that no food had been placed here today, but I was beeing watched as I walked into this area.! A tit flock gathered and within seconds of placing seed down they dived in.

A pleasure to watch the birds feeding here without some of the restrictions of a hide- at least 3/4 Marsh tits, 4/5 Nuthatches, hoardes of Great tits! along with blues and coals plus the odd other commoner birds.

Also seen in the area of note- 3/4 Great spotted woodies, 2 Jays, 2 Roe deer legging it across a field, 5/6 Redwings, another 2 Marsh tits, and only managed 1 Treecreeper with Derek C's help who we had a natter with here.

Lovely short walk, the better half is paying for it now and will be tomorrow!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Exciting times ahead we hope and a really sad phone call.

About noon today I received a phone call regarding this Hen Harrier female being found by a dog walker near to the A19. The bird had a damaged wing and unfortunately this injury resulted in the bird being put to sleep after the RSPCA collected the bird from the site and took it for veterinary treatment. A big "downer" this news today. But thanks Keith mc. for the info. and photo mate.

Shots from yesterday of the work being carried out at the Whitburn point LNR. Two pond areas are being "lined" which where originally formed many years ago but they did'nt hold water for long. So the Coastal Conservation Group has took the project on to try and transform this area of our coastline. This has been a huge undertaking with our small group and just shows whats possible when like minded people do something positive.

A grant from the lottery fund has been secured for this work which has taken over a year to be put in place. Plus all the time and effort many a folk have put into this project!..countless site visits with various contractors, unpaid time off work, holiday days taken, countless meetings, endless emails, red tape issues, planning permission and consultation with the NT and ST council (the two orgs. have been a massive help).

So this is the liner being positioned yesterday in front of the wooden viewing screen on the larger pond area. Behind the Shearwater housing est.

A view from the other end of pond/liner looking at the screen here.

Rear view of the wooden screen.

Second pond scrapped out yesterday, viewing from the south end of the project. Obs. to the left in the distance.

Our first major project, updates to follow.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

And here's the bairn

Another quick trip along to Sunderland harbour area today. The Adult Iceland Gull was still doing the rounds of the harbour area here dropping onto the water occasionally to feed with 2 Kittiwakes for company today.
Wandered around to the Marina area and picked up the Juvenile bird on the small beach just up river from here. This bird allowed stunning views once me and Max got down on the beach.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Nice White-winger!

Nipped down the coast today to visit the harbour mouth of Sunderland where a adult Iceland gull has been seen. As soon as I left the car it flew over my head and behind the apartment's here......bugger! But thankfully it returned. Mr Scott and his good lady where onto the bird as I arrived at the old pier here, the above shot shows what greeted me here.

After this the bird seemed to do a circuit every now and then of the habour mouth disappearing from sight at times only to reappear a little later.

Stunning views had at times as it flew very close.

This Kittiwake was in the harbour area today also.

Along with 5 Red throated divers, 2 of which where higher up the river than the marina.

And a Rock pipit for company also on the pier.

Monday, 9 January 2012

A few shots on the dog walk duties.

Its been not too bad the last week or so for waders around the S/Shields pier area whilst on dog walking duties.(my excuse...Max knows this patch as well as me now). 9 Purple sands has been my best count so far this winter here from a few days back.

This Common gull is becoming a regular sight here now, looking for scraps off the fishermen etc.

About 140 Pinkies flew over the end of the pier today as we where about at the second gate. Seems to be a bit movement of geese over the last few days.

On the rocks before the pier a few days back. Me and Max sat within 15 feet of the birds just enjoying the view.

This little bugger showed for 2 days before the bird race hanging out with a tit flock in North Marine park, no sign of it a day before or on the day of the race.

My best count of Sanderling this winter so far around the Pier/Sandhaven area. This was obtained a few days back with 17 here.

Yesterdays South Tyneside bird race

Our team (myself, Jason and Paul Dan.) kicked the day off at Trow quarry as the light was just dawning and hardly a bird was active yet. As predicted a “No” Little owl show on this visit but you have to try especially before it becomes too busy here.
A few commoner birds did start our list off here and the only Reed buntings we encountered today on the mound here. Shags flew into the bay from the south that had probably been roosting on Marsden rock not long after I said “ nee shags!”. And our only Red throated diver flew across Sandhaven bay.
North Marine park was on our hit list next- Normal wildfowl on the lake to be ticked off and the treed area produced tit flocks(including 2 Coal tits), Green and Chaffinch, plus our first Woody “heard” but not seen.(this counts on these races).
Along to Marsden car park…..hardly a gull in here so went into Marsden old quarry next. Again “No” show Little owl.
Quick look at Marsden bay followed with very little showing on the sea area but a group of gulls where on the rocks in the north of the bay which I know to be where the “car park Med. Gull” hangs out. Jason spotted someone starting to feed the gulls in the regular car park for this gull here and gulls where leaving the bay heading for the free meal. Feeding frenzy here but managed to pick the Med. Gull out in this before it flew off back into the bay.(just as well as it’s the only one to my knowledge around here at the moment).
Quick look at Whitburn old church followed but was fruitless.
Boldon flats next stop off- all the expected species plus a bonus of a Peregrine which Jason and Paul seen before I caught up to them.
We drove along the Newton Garth farm approach road to view a certain field here which produced our only Grey Partridge 5/6.
Colliery woods- Quick look around the older plantation here and our only Lesser Redpoll seen on the eastern side of here. And thanks goes again to a local resident of the Cotswolds housing est. for keeping their garden feeders going here. Bullfinch and Willow tit ticked off.
The “western Boldon” area produced nowt for our team but the other 2 teams did better!
A new site to include on the bird race followed- Cock crow inn pond area. Female Goosander, Siskin and Jay added to our list here.
Quick look in on Saxon way- couple of Mistle thrushes added to the list(we where struggling thrush wise).
Slake road area- A Little grebe (sorry I still like the word Dabchick, must be my age I’ve been told.) was between Old Jarra bridge and Church bank. Shelducks and Herons in the usual spot viewing from the Don’s mouth….and our first Eider flew down the Tyne.
Jarra cem. The thrush count was starting to “nag” on our minds (along with other dips) by this time so a nice group of Redwings here was a pleasant sight. Also a couple of Woody’s flew over.
A quick look at Harton cem. on the way back to the coast didn’t add to our tally…I had hoped for Song thrush, the situation was getting desperate!
Marsden old quarry (again) still nee Little owl…the writing was on the wall “it wasn’t to be this year” with this species and a canny few others found locally.
Whitburn area- Visited here around this time of day today because of the tide (2pm-ish). This was about an hour before high tide and the wader numbers seemed well down since my last visit especially with Dunlin , but Shields pier has a canny “rest up” number (50ish) along with other waders around high tide so this could explain this. A few more birds for the list picked up here including- a single Barwit, Sanderling, Purple sands and Dunlin. A single Golden plover flew off towards the range field (the only one we seen!) and 5 Scoters on the sea here. But no Ringed plover! Marched the lads along to Jackies beach with the promise of seeing a Ringed plover here……Not a one in sight when we reached here. So off we headed down to Shields pier to see a Ringed plover next (desperate measures!). Thankfully a few where rested up on the side of the pier otherwise I would have been in the Tyne I think!..Nowt else picked up here.

We decided to call it a day after this and head back to the meeting point and maybe catch some of the Sunderland match in the pub. The car park here produced our final tick as 120 or so Pinkies went north as we waited here. A pretty poor total of 72 species recorded by our team and the Mc. brothers team. The winning team Mr Browns( inc. Andy W., Walter and Peter) picked up 78 species. Total of 88 species seen between the 3 teams.

Glaring dips by our team- Sparrowhawk,Pheasant, Song thrush, Auks and Little Owl. Dips by the other teams include- Med.gull, Golden plover, Barwit, Little grebe and Shelduck.

A great day none the less and hopefully next year the birds (especially over the sea) will be more plentiful.

And today one of the first birds I seen entering Marine park was a…..Sparrowhawk gliding thro- the trees here. And 2 Guillemots beside the pier…. Typical!.