Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sandhaven stunners!

 Its been a few days since I last had a wander around the pier area, so off I went this morning in the hope that the Snow bunting seen here a couple of days back would still be around. Its wasn't looking good as I made my way across the flat area above the rocks on Sandhaven with only a few Pied Waggies showing. When we reached the side of the pier there was movement just about 10 feet in front of us...yes its still here!.Backsides were parked sharpish on the rocks and we enjoyed stunning views of this splendid bunting going about its business. Then it made a call and another Snow bunting flew in to join it!
 The second bird
 Theres always grass in the way but never mind a cracking 15 minutes or so watching these adorable birds.
 One of 3 Mediterranean gulls seen today along the coastal stretch. This ones the Marsden car park bird. And ever increasing numbers of Common gulls along the grassed areas here now.
 A wander around Marsden quarry this afternoon produced very little, but always nice to see a Little Owl.
Yesterday the new bird food container was installed in the Whitburn point LNR which is in readiness for when the winter feeding station gets under way,which shouldn't be long now. Max was on hand just in case the mix of concrete was too dry.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Don't ya just love a fall...

 Its been a while since we've seen a canny fall along our coastal stretch so when the weather broke for a short time yesterday it was time to get out and see whats about.Straight down to Trow first off. The first bird I seen as I approached the holy turf was a Snipe flying over the bowl area, canny start!. Then the first of a good number of Redstarts was encountered by the old owl tree.Once in the bowl area it was a case of were to start first as there appeared to be birds flitting about all over the place!. The most obvious birds  were thrush's and Song thrush was the most numerous species of these here, with just about every tree and bush around the area holding these.(probably the most ive seen in total all year). Followed by smaller numbers of Blackbirds. Redstarts flew around the cliff lines here and smaller jobbies including Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and a male Blackcap darted about the bushes and trees. In the eastern section of the Quarry a first for me here (I think?) in the form of... a Blue tit..yes its a mega for here!

Once on the mound area of the Leas more Redstarts and over 30 Wheatears feeding in this area, plus another unusual sighting for this area of about 30 Greenfinchs flying around also a charm of about 80 Goldfinch's. Supporting cast passing thro- of Meadow pipits, a few Skylarks, Swallows and House martins. 
The it was along to the Whitburn coastal park to try for the Rosefinch which I was told about. Once out of the car here and wet stuff started to fall again, after about 10 minutes in the last area it had been seen in, the white flag went up. The rain at this time was horizontal and my wet cold legs couldn't take anymore.(soft shite I know).
So this morning it was back down to the Rosefinch site again in better weather conditions, but its looks like the bugger had moved off as no one to my knowledge have seen it today. But never mind I did get to see my first Spotted flycatcher of the year(had almost given up on this one) around the back of the ringing mound.
Back down Trow again later today and most of the migrants were still around except for far fewer Songies and Wheatears. So I tried for a few record shots today ...record being the word, as the fog had rolled in by this time and the light was crap!
Chiffchaff, (Goldcrest first shot)

Willow Warbler (below)
 All the above shots were taken in a favourite spot in Trow, inside the tree cover here.
Male Blackcap
 These one's just outside of here, a few Siskin with a small charm of Goldfinchs.
 A merry dance was had by the Redstarts on the Leas mound, but added bonus of a Whinchat and Lesser Whitethroat on todays visit.

A few from the ringing hut today-
Redwing (my first this Autumn)
Great spotted Woodpecker

Garden Warbler (below)
 Whilst on a walk along side Shearwater est. I picked up a Yellow-browed Warbler, nice! as its a couple of years since ive seen one. Then the phone went.....sharpish around to the ringing hut again.
Its only a Pallas's Grasshopper warbler !!!! a mega rare for the british mainland. Not a bad way to end the day and this short post. More pic's hopefully to follow when I get them...thats the problem being a short arse in a crowded place.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Almost a full house of goodies.

After learning of a few goodies around the doors on Sunday ,whilst in deepest Northumberland on a sight seeing venture more or less. I had a try for a few of these goodies late Monday morning /early afternoon.
First port of call was Whitburn steel area looking for a certain french sounding gull as the tide level seemed about right for viewing. Hardly any gulls here on this visit...typical!. About 100 Teal around the area on this short drop in and a single Barwit being the highlight wader wise.
Boldon flats next : My first scan with the scope (yes it left the house today!) revealed next to nowt, then everything went up!( don't you just love how nervous Lapwings are at times.). This action proved a stroke of luck and flushed just about every bird in the area out of cover. When they settled again the Pectoral sandpiper was had in good scope views along with a Ruff and about 15 Snipe for about 20 minutes whilst I was here.
Next port of call . The Academy : The western approach path (from Moor lane) was quiet really until I reached the preferred entrance area to the pools from here. A small flock of tits in this area and a few warblers mixing with them, but after walking maybe 10 yards to the south of this entrance to the pools a warbler flew out from the opposite side of the hedgerow to this mixed flock here. The warm brown colouration to its back and tail as it flew away from me held my attention, when it landed I only had seconds view wise with the bins before it done a one through the dense cover here.(sharp call heard a couple of times) my first Cetti's warbler in South Tyneside.
After about 40 minutes wandering back and forth along this section of public right of way, and picking the bones out of a mixed flock here I never had the good fortune to encounter this bird again. But at least 5 Chiffs and 2 C.Whitethroats  kept me entertained along with over 80+ Meadow pipits and 30+ Reed buntings on the other side of the hedgerow. The grassed area between here and the ponds was alive!
Back down the steel again after the Academy visit for another look for the illusive Bona gull....still nee luck,again hardly a gull in the area. But 2 Barwits present on this visit.
Shorts ploughed field on the return leg home which held gulls, but nee luck here either.Consolation here of seeing about 500 Golden plovers rested here. Single Med. gull near the finishing line for the GNR being the only one I seen this day along our coastal stretch.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

They've just about gone now.

 Last Sunday morning I visited the Whitburn ringing hut briefly, as I was informed a couple of the lads would be present carrying out the excellent research work regards ringing birds here. A warm welcome as always here ..with Adrian and Andy manning this post today.
 In the time I was here this Lesser Whitethroat was processed.
 Now a bird in the hand doesn't appeal to every one photography wise, and I do share these sentiments at times also. We would all love to get great shots in natural habitat etc. but you cannot pass up a chance like this can you....?
Over the last week or so Wheatears have been sighted regularly mainly around the rocks on Sandhaven, 2-3 birds present on last nights visit.
Next to nowt flying about last night over the open water looking for food etc. But two white shapes on the south side of the pier confirmed that at least two terns were still present. Ones arse was positioned on the wall here when I reached a safe enough spot to view the small gathering of resting birds, and Max's lead was attached to the handrail here....he's a veteran to this now.
One adult and one juvenile Roseate tern as suspected, these being the only terns around on this visit plus a small number of common waders including 3 Purple sandpipers (again)
This evenings walk here only produced a couple of Common terns and Sandwich terns over.
Still a few Guillemots close into shore on the visits here but many more further out this evening as were large numbers of gulls etc.
Below is the scene from the pier on yesterday evenings wander looking towards Trow quarry. No idea what was going off but plenty blue lights flashing and a helicopter landed.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

I thought I might have spoken too soon.

 This afternoon I thought a wander along the Leas hedge was called for as Ive never ventured along here for a while. This nice walk was pants really regarding bird life with only a few Med. pips and a couple of Reed bunts showing along this stretch, but the dog enjoyed it.
Had a look at Shorts ploughed field next (opposite the Whitburn coastal park entrance) as a canny few gulls were resting up here.Nee luck with picking the Bonapartes up on this scan, heard its been knocking about over the ST border today towards the Roker pier.
Three Mediterranean gulls on the grassed stretch of the Leas on today's pass by, and I think the one below is a new kid on the block.This bird has far more hood pattern remaining than the ones Ive seen recently around here.This time of year obviously sees a movement of gulls passing through the area with a few of these Med. gulls over wintering around our area. The Marsden regular car park bird didn't show today for me.
Tried my luck down at Whitburn steel area as I was heading in this direction anyway. Nowt exceptional on this venture here today, except for seeing Snipe on the rocks here. At least 9 flew off as me and Max approached the viewing point over looking the rocks here at the higher tide levels. And at least another 6 remained on these rocks along with the commoner waders here. You don't see these birds here often like this.
Just one site remained on my list of viewing today... aye you guessed it,! that stretch of concrete that has had me so captivated of late. Well it would be rude not too as I was on the way back home and the tide level was right. As this was just a quick drop in ST council received my 40 pence(only change I had) via the pier car park meter for this visit.
Busy again around here on this visit, but as I reached the pier gates the call of a Roseate tern off Sandhaven made this visit worth while. This was followed by a juvenile sighted here also with this adult. A scan of the piers south at a distance produced two white shapes rested up, I wondered what these could be????...well maybe not. Sure enough another adult and juvenile Rosy rested up here.
A couple of (still best part summer plumaged) Bar-tailed godwits passed over going north as did a Knot ...
I think Max has had his quoter of exercise today.