Tuesday, 29 May 2012

My first Rosy of the year.

 A mid-day visit down the pier and Sandhaven today was a excellent choice.(for me anyway). Its been a few days since I visited here last because of the weather mainly which obviously had folks in their droves down on our golden sands. So a walk out here today was in order and also helped to cool the lobster red sunburn I have. The first couple of canny birds seen for the patch by the pier where picked up within a few minutes of this visit, first a Wheatear (thought I had seen the last of them for now here) and then a Common Whitethroat near the pier itself. Not a migrant Ive seen here before on this patch hopping around the rocks.
A canny few Terns where rested up around the mid section of the beach, so our lass and Max where sent in the opposite direction to allow me to have a quick wander onto Sandhaven. The first Terns I came across where 2 Arctics then the main group included over 60 of Sandwich and Common terns, about a equal split.
And the first Roseatte of the year for me.

 Small numbers of Sanderling and Dunlin present here also today along with a few Ringed plovers.
I only had a very limited time wise stroll onto the sands(about 15 minutes) but excellent to see these waders still here in summer finery....and a Rosy.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Pleased to say they are doing well still.

 Only a couple of drop in's around the doors today,the first was to check on our inland nesting Kittiwakes. Its been a couple of months or so since Ive last visited this site, that was when the Kits where first returning to their long established nests here within ST on the banks of the Tyne.
 Obviously the heat was getting to the sitting birds with a lot of panting going off and my first count of nesting birds on this visit showed a slight increase from last year, 48 active nests - 3 more than my count last year. Another visit in a week or so to confirm the count and report it is on the cards.
I also met a bloke here who has tyres out for peeler crabs and pleased to hear he looks out for the Kits and has chased kids from this area in the past....only once he told me, so great on both fronts!
And Ive heard our "off the coastline" nesting Fulmars have the same count of nesting birds as last year- 8/9pairs. Hope to check on this one also soon.
 This Wood sandpiper showed well at Boldon flats today when we dropped in as we passed . The first one Ive seen here this year(resisting the twitching bug) and even better a new bird for the better half. Jan's comment on this one was classic... "It bobs like a Common sand. but nicer looking". Fair enough I thought.
 With the nice weather the "big beach" Sandhaven has obviously attracted families etc. down here in the last couple of days- great stuff!. I got my first taste of "Ars***les/ignorant gits" here yesterday for this season whilst watching the Common terns doing their thing. A very nice couple (not!) who where on the large side just totally ignored myself and another person observing the Terns and strolled
 straight passed us hand in hand putting the birds up. Most folk visiting here do have respect Ive found and are interested regards the birds...others just do this type of thing to get kicks in a immature way.
 Evidence of nest building in South Marine park..
The third fledgling group of Long-tailed tits Ive witnessed so far in Marine parks yesterday, this very young family where mingling with another older family in the North park.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Muggleswick- a short visit.

 Spur of the moment type trip out today to the Muggleswick area and nearly all the observations where made from the car on various stop offs.
Plenty of Lapwing families on the sides of the roads around this area and often we feared for the little-uns because of how close they where to danger.
 Also a few families of Red Grouse showing well just by the road side.These often went to ground as soon as the car pulled up or legged it though the heather with their parents watching.
I had planed on looking for these critters also and the first gorse bushes I investigated proved a good choice as about 9 Green Hairstreaks where in this area.... a first for the better half and a second for me. Plus loads of day flying small moths (that's another learning curve Ive not touched upon yet).
The Castleside- Muggleswick road was a tad disappointing for us with only a single male Pied Flycatcher and one male Redstart seen of note. The nature of the walking here makes venturing into the gorge areas a non starter for us.
We did have a short walk around the Pow Hill area at Derwent which was canny. Cuckoo, Siskin, Lesser repoll, Goldcrests, Willow warb., Chiffy, Blackcap,  GS Woody- etc.etc.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Suns out!

 A very enjoyable few outings today around the doors in the nice sunshine..that's right the stuff we had a couple of months back- Sunshine!
 It was down to the Academy pools first and not the best sightings wise this one, couple of Sedgies and Whitethroats along with the posing Reed bunts...not much to right home about. But a stop off at the Doctors garden after Mr Mc's alert started the ball rolling, I dipped the female Pied fly on this visit but latched onto this female Holly Blue butterfly. A species Ive not knowingly seen before!

 Second drop into the Dr's.garden and bingo! the pied fly showed...neck breaking views but canny all the same.
 Colliery woods was the destination next to see if any Dingy Skippers where out yet. We bumped into Matt Hawkins at the entrance to the favoured site here and conducted a joint search. It wasn't long before 4 showed in a area none of us have seen them before and then more as we ventured further along the track.
 After searching the set aside area here the total countered was 16. A figure neither of us have seen here before ( and I've never seen in my life before!) and firmly puts this site down as the best in ST for them.
And as expected plenty of Willow warbler around this site.
My first Wall brown of the year on Sunday from Gateshead. Also seen a few Damselflies here.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Park life (mainly).

 Most of this week my outings have been mainly spent around the South Marine Park and Pier area with the occasional venture a little further. All the usual stuff with a surprise or two thrown in. One of the male Chaffies sat just feet away at times belting out his song, a splendid looking chap!.
 This ringed Herring gull was on the lake edge earlier in the week, its not the one Ive been after details of but a second ringed which Ive never seen here before. The first one looks to have eluded me now as Ive seen no sign of it the last few days. Details sent off of the pictured bird.
 The first Long-tailed tit family showed in South Marine Park earlier this week with 4-5 fledglings and the challenge of getting better shots of these continues!
 Male Chiffy occasionally shows well, the Willow warbler is still singing but looks to be around the Bents park area now. A second male Blackcap has been on the scene the last couple of days and a first for me earlier in the week for this park..a Lesser Whitethroat! Unfortunately it was just a one dayer.
As expected very little in the way of waterfowl here now and no signs of evidence of breeding as yet.
 The odd Rat is still being seen here and Max has got the scent numerous times of them. Should be interesting when families start having picnics etc. on the grass here.!
 Wheatear numbers have been canny around the Dunes area, over 15 birds earlier in the week and about 6 on most visits the rest of the week...to date. About a dozen Linnets, 3-4 pair of Medpips and 1 pair of Rock pipits also in the area.
 Small numbers of Sandwich and Common terns on most visits here now. Popped up to Whitburn a couple of days back and a pair of Little terns where on the rocks, hopefully a few might grace Sandhaven again this year.
A Common Whitethroat was singing by the Littlehaven car park a couple of days back, another bird Ive not seen in this area. This shot was taken at the Whitburn ringing hut last weekend.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Bits from this week

 After the excitement of the Wryneck last Saturday it was back to normal (almost) around the doors this week, but still some highly enjoyable encounters.. Low tide on Monday saw us on the Marsden beach to watch the sea bird colony at close quarters, a place I love to visit and no doubt will over and over again in the coming months. Its just a fantastic site,sound and smell at times.
 Tuesday, I went along the old mineral line at Mount pleasant (across the road from Testoes pond) this site is usually great for warblers and today was no exception with all the commoner stuff and a Lesser whitethroat. But noYellowhammers sadly seen or heard.Ive watched the numbers falling here for the last few years, hopefully I might have missed one or two here on this visit. What did surprise me was this Jay doing a fly around, a bird not too easy to encounter in ST especially at this time of year.
 The Terns are starting to show well around the pier area with mostly Sandwich but a few Arctics have passed over and one was settled on the beach a couple of days back.(poxy dog ban! I couldn't get down).
 Common terns numbers building on each visit here now.
 On a visit to the pier on Wednesday we sat and watched over 150 Swallows passing over in a 15 minute period, only 2 House Martins with them. Up to 6 Wheatears have been seen on every visit to this area around the Sandhaven rocks, different birds passing through. And I added a new warbler to my South Marine park list on Wednesday when a Lesser Whitethroat was belting out its song with the resident male Blackcap singing close by also...marvellous mix of songsters! Unfortunately the Lesser white seems to have moved on now.
 Dropped into the Washington wwt later on Wednesday and seen 8 young Avocets ( 10 reported a day or two before). One older family with 4, this one above with 3 and one pair with one chick. Other chicks could well have been hidden and I haven't checked the site reports for this place lately.
 The Common terns where soon getting down to business.
And finaly ...A quick response from the wader ringing folk on this Sanderling. This photo was taken a couple of years back when I first reported the bird on Sandhaven, I submitted another report about the same bird in the same place last week. Its wintered mainly on the Northumberland beaches between St.Marys island and Whitely Bay and returned to its original ringing site on the southwest coast of Iceland in May each year. Ringed in 2009 and very well reported.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Wryneck twitch in ST

 After a late morning start and a short visit to Trow (which was shite really) I was heading in the direction of the Whitburn ringing hut early afternoon when a couple of text alerts had me driving beyond here to the outer boundary of ST. "Wryneck in Cornthwaite park" the messages read.
 After a short wait the bird showed really well on the bowling greens paths, often digging and feeding between the flag stones here.
Dropped in later today with the better half as she's never seen one, she dipped the Hetton Lyons one a few years back and also the Trow bird in the same year,no luck this time either! A few other folk had also dipped by the time we left the public park at Whitburn this evening, hopefully the bird showed after we left or will tomorrow.
Great to catch up with many a familiar face today. The banter was canny to say the least.!

My count of Sanderling numbers on Sandhaven peaked yesterday for this year/winter period with 120+ present and this colour ringed bird was a bonus. Always great to find out and help out regards the history of these ringed birds.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

All singing and dancing.

 After the small coastal invasion of Ring Ouzels a few days back around our area we thought we had seen the last of them for a while, a visit to Bollihope today blew that thought out of the water!. This site is a one Ive never had any luck seeing Ouzels in..(unbelievable I know but true!). The signs where good when we arrived at about 10 this morning as we had the place to ourselves, a rare treat indeed! so we headed off for a short walk. Nowt showed Ouzel wise and we headed back to the car..thats when it all changed. A pair of the birds dropped down to feed about 30- feet away from the car! as we approached they flew off a little further away.
 Once settled in the car with refreshments we waited................Sure enough the male bird came back and started to get closer and closer until he was about 15 feet away. You could have heard a pork pie crumb drop at this stage in our car, even the dog was transfixed. By far our best views ever of this species.
We called back after visiting the Langdon beck area (not one of our best trips here today) and 3-4 Ouzels showed but never as close. But we listened to one male singing, something Ive never heard before. Canny few Wheatears around here and a Cuckoo was calling to the east of here.
 Stanhope riverside produced Dippers and 2 male Goosanders of note, the Dippers where feeding 4 young.
 Pair of Treecreepers on the riverside walkway and a Nuthatch along with all the usual warblers etc.
 Canny number of Sanderling on Sandhaven yesterday with 98 birds here along with 30+ Turnstones, 6 Dunlin, 6 Ringed plover and 1 Purple sandpiper. Off the beach about 50+ Sandwich terns.
 More pasty snatchers and car dodgers on the way... Herring gulls collecting nesting material all over the place now.
Moorhen battle in Marine park...after (attempted/successful?) mating. The White wagtail showed for 3-4 days and 2 where here a few days back.