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.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Highlights of the last few days.

 This was the view of a Tawny Owl that I had a few days in a public place (all fluffed up and resting), neck breaking to say the least but nice all the same. A congregation of decent local folks passed by whilst I was hurting me neck and after a while most of them could make out the grey-ish ball shape high up in the canopy, a first for a few of them here. 
 A visit to Colliery woods earlier the same day in the afternoon wasn't the best one Ive had to this area over the years but many thanks has to go again to the resident (s) of the Cotswold's est. who have feeders in their gardens on the western edge of this plantation. One section of this strip in particular has become the best known site in South Tyneside to see Willow Tit,
There was 5 Purple Sandpipers on the sides of the pier on Sunday and today, the most Ive seen here since the end of the breeding season.

Guillemots have continued to show well around the pier area and many more in the Sandhaven bay area and the Tynes mouth.

This Great crested grebe was in the bay area yesterday, but unfortunately it never ventured close enough to the pier for any better shots on this visit.

 Plenty Shags around this area at the moment also as expected this time of year. Also 2-3 Red-throated Divers the last few trips here.
 And the 3 charmers continue to give outstanding views to the delight of visitors to our pier.
Nice surprise today on a field in Moor lane, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits feeding on the roadside flood here.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Not 2 but 3 now!.

 After seeing 2 Snow Buntings a few days back around the Shields pier area I haven't seen any on the last couple of visits, until today.
 After wandering over the northern top section of Sandhaven (flat area above the rocks) today and seeing bugger all really except for a couple of Linnets I didn't hold out much hope of seeing much else on this visit.
That all changed when we approached the steps onto the pier near the gate, 2 Snow bunts flew onto the wall beside here...excellent we thought. Then once on the pier it became apparent we have a flock! (if 3 can be called a flock?).  
 Again these birds showed brilliantly, I sat on the edge of the pier and they edged closer and closer feeding on the sparse vegetation growing here and picking at the pier side.
 Then the only bird of prey Ive seen in this area for a while did a fly past, this female Kestrel. Shes been hanging around for nearly a week now and mainly seen hunting around the dunes, but today she flew along side the pier which obviously put the buntings up and they headed up the pier and out of sight.
Yesterday at least 7 Red-throated Divers in Sandhaven bay but today I only picked a couple up.
On Tuesday this week a flock of Twite passed over the dunes area heading south, estimated about 40-50 birds. I would have missed these if they hadn't been so vocal just as I was nearering the BMX/Skateboard park behind the fair, only the second time Ive seen these fly over here.

Nice to see my first white fluffly pillows of the Autumn on Boldon flats yesterday..

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Mud glorious mud.

Not the average post from myself this one as its not bird related, but it is concerning wildlife in our local area.
Yesterday a site meeting was held with a few local lads and an official from the local council, this was to look into certain areas along the river Don which could possibly be ear marked for improvement in the near future. A excellent step forward in the right direction everyone who attended thought.
Whilst on this walk-about a section of this small tidal river was inspected for signs of another mammal that's highly illusive sightings wise.
Plenty prints were found and also spraint (shit) all very fresh! high tide had been at 6am this day, so these were maybe only a few hours old. (mobile pic.). I was just pleased to see this evidence after learning of a dead Otter found some months back in the area.

 A scheme was set up a few years back to try and help any Otter/s on this stretch of river with man-made holts being positioned at un-disclosed locations.
These mammals have been sighted around the mouth of this river, were it enters the Tyne and as far up this small river/stream as the Testoes pond area in Boldon.(to the best of my knowledge) Plus a couple of garden ponds have been raided for the fish these contain, the owners didn't mind one bit once they found what was pinching their fish! in fact they welcomed this unusual visitor.(who wouldn't? unless your carp are worth thousands.).

Hopefully one day a sight like this might occur along the Don. ( a mother with off spring on the Wear this year).