Thursday, 26 December 2013

A few surprises today.

 Dropped into the SAFC academy area today for a quick once over as I've not viewed for a while. What a cracking visit this one turned out to be!. First off a canny few Redwings and Fieldfares along the Hawthorn lined western approach path to the ponds, along with lots of dodging of muddy areas by myself...Aye its a mucky trek now. ;-)
This female Goldeneye I thought was the going to be the highlight of this visit here today, which I was over the moon to capture any image of... this bird was flighty to say the least.

And then I wandered back towards Moor lane on the eastern side of the Academy. Large numbers of Meadow pipits (est. 80-100)  around this area which is always a stronghold, but not normally this time of year. Plus this sight here thats not common to say the least these days around the doors.

The spoil heaps to the northern side (by Moor lane) produced maybe the biggest surprise, when a local watcher to this patch informed me of 3 Rock pipits feeding here. Excellent stuff...Viewed well but too far off photo wise.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Couple of visits this week around the doors.

 A view from Whitburn cliff tops this afternoon, good numbers of Redshank's bracing themselves in the southerly wind. I had 't to admire their stance around the high tide mark on this visit.
 Now this is something I've not came across before. Whilst checking a stretch of the Don today for otter sign I came across this!. There's a spraint maybe a few days old and what looks to me like puke beside it on a regular marking spot on this river. Closer inspection revealed more or less what the spraint next to it  contained, except for more maybe stomach content ;-)....... I do wish I'd getting a better shot, tomorrow for seconds maybe?. Otter sign in another 2 regular spots along this stretch of the Don, roughly about the same ageing wise.Contact the Durham wildlife trust to take part in this years survey regarding otter sign and sightings', its changed my view on rocks etc. along the Don. So rewarding knowing we have these mammals within ST on a regular,permanent basis now.
Shields, Sandhaven rocks earlier this week.

There's no doubting this bird now. :-)  Marsden's very own resident winter Med. gull. returned for many a year.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Station burn today

 I had wanted to try for some action shots of waders this late morning at Whitburn, but as in a previous visit a few days back the place was packed with canines and not a single wader was in view. So this visit didn't last long! So decided to have a look at Station burn, with the hope of seeing Water vole and checking for otter sign. As with most of our area at the moment it was Blackbirds aplenty!with a few Song thrushes had also. plus Bullfinch heard and seen in 2 different locations here of note.
Came across 2 Lesser redpolls feeding on the Don's banks vegetation here and they showed really well. This made a change instead of neck breaking views of these birds at times in Colliery woods just up the path from here.
 Two groups of these little belters (about 20 in each) working their way through the trees.

 Yip its a Woodcock, my first this winter and the usual view you get when you've almost stood on it and its  given you a right fright!
Great otter sign here today (shite shot in 2 ways). Four locations found with many a spraint marking, some very fresh.

Had a quick look in at the Scotch est dene, and pleased to say the horses tethered here previously have now been removed. They might have done the site a favour by grazing here to re-generate the vegetation (which is just about none existent now) time will tell come next spring. Otter sign here also, just on one regular making rock/post.
Well Water vole was encountered at this site after all ! Just the arse end of one dropping into the water and a row of bubbles but better than nowt!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Oh you little belter!

 Well I had decided this morning to have a little wander around the Slake and St. Pauls area of the Don in Jarrow, on the local 'Jarra lad's' patch. After being here for about 20 minutes and seeing next to nowt one of these lads rang to say they where on Shields pier watching a Red-necked phalarope! just ironic I thought!
 So it was a quick return to the mobile skip and thankfully none of the local law enforcement officers where about with the drive to the Pier car park..;-)

The bird was a pleasure to view and later in the day I was informed its a Grey phalarope. This after many a birder had visited and said nowt different. ;-). Ive only ever seen 2 Phals. both Grey's the last one was 27 years ago in Wallsend gut. So this was special!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

First post for a while,a few of the last few weeks.

 I haven't really been out much over the last few weeks due to a few reasons. But here's a few selected shots. The above Snow bunting ; this shot was taken at Sandhaven on the 21st of last month only a single bird present on this visit,before good numbers started to show up along the eastern coastal areas.
 A Marsden car park Med. gull. I think this is the regular one we've had here for years outside of the breeding season, its certainly acting like as in previous years .ie coming to bread and hanging out at the same sites. The only difference is a change to the bill pattern, far more black and less yellowy colour now to the tip.
 I had a enjoyable 20 minutes at Whitburn steel beach not so long back, just sitting watching the wader action which was cut short by human activity. But hopefully I'll get back soon when its a little quieter.
 From Marsden car park again... What a scrap going off with these two Jackdaws here on this day. I had to stop my better half from wanting to step in! Both birds left looking ok, just a few feathers missing.
 And today.. I had a quick look around the Sandhaven/pier area after being told of around 20 of these delights here yesterday. Managed to pick up at least 10 in 3 different small gatherings, 5, 3 and 2. Could well be more in the Dunes area that is fenced off for good reason.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Couple from yesterday

 Dipped the Wryneck in the LNR after being tipped off about it the previous day, not surprising as the better half was in tow. (boggy bird for her,3 attempts at trying over the years to connect her to one).
The Red-backed Shrike has showed well over the last couple of days in the Whitburn point LNR for most folk visiting this area.
A couple of texts this morning regarding the warbler seen on the outskirts of Shearwater yesterday certainly blew the cobwebs away, Its now a Arctic warbler! Glad I persisted yesterday now with trying to see this illusive bird, it took 3 attempts to eventually see this warbler and only a few record shots were had.
Not what expect to be looking at in Whitburn...

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Canny day around the doors yesterday.

 Text alert from 'Pink Floyd' ( aka. a canny lad who lives in Shields) this morning regarding a few migrants along the coastal stretch. Me and the hound ventured forth heading towards the Leas hedge after been given this info. After several passes of the southern end of the hedge near Marsden bay, I managed about 5 seconds of the Red- backed Shrike out of cover, its not exactly what you call a stunner. But great to see never the less.!

After this it was an explore of this area, numerous warblers including White throats, Willow warbs. and about 6 or so Whinchats in the grassed areas. Little owl taking in the views from the usual perch overlooking Trow's 2nd bay.

A couple from the Whitburn ringing hut yesterday,firstly this Garden warbler. Whilst the lads where dropping the nets due to the wet weather on this afternoon, a few of these birds dropped in.
Nice surprise when this young Barred warbler was extracted from the nets.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

From Tuesday.

Playing catch up..
Again singles of adult Roseate and Juv. (not in this record shot)  picked up on this visit as the tide was about 3/4 quarters in ,viewed from the Pier walkway. On Sunday I managed see 2 adults and a single Juv. Rosy's here.
 On Tuesdays noon visit some of the bairns were landing on the pier wall, after being disturbed from their creche on Sandhaven rocks and what was left of the beach here with the tidal situation.  
 Tuesday's evening high tide visit was spent with the Common terns at close quarters on Sandhaven rocks.(dog- less)

Its a joy this time of year.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Readheads landing update.

 This was the sight that greeted me on a visit here last Thursday. I knew this fence was to be erected here, but not in such a short time span from it being made public which was very disappointing for many a visitor hoping for a last pilgrimage to this public right of way.  
The Kittiwakes have done amazing well this year under the circumstances ( nesting ledges boarded up etc.) and like I thought, they have used ANY available nesting ledges.(including a old ventilation outlet) to populate the area with 40 or so pairs nesting at this site. Cracking stuff only about 8 pairs down from last year!.

Still very sad to see this site almost lost.

Gazette article-

Saturday, 10 August 2013

One of them special moments.

 A low tide level visit to the pier at about noon today resulted in about the same number of Terns as in previous visits as I viewed from the pier walkway. An adult and Juv. Rosy present as per previous posts still, and about 40 Common terns.
Four adult Mediterranean gulls along the Leas on this pass today, 2 near the Trow quarry entrance road and 2 on the Blackberry hills grassed area. Also one of the ringed Herring gulls I've seen before in Marine park showed again today here.

Had a look at Whitburn steel area at around 5pm hoping to pick up the Bonaparte s gull but no luck on this visit. But an adult Arctic tern was rested here along with very few other terns, but great to see the wader numbers growing here again.

So I headed back down to the pier again after visiting Whitburn  for a change...It was! as Bob my canine companion had been left at home on this late afternoon outing on purpose.The reason?  To sit with the Terns on Sandhaven rocks.

 Careful walk over the rocks near the pier gate and one's arse was settled between two of the main groups of terns. Again only one Rosy chick on show here and one adult.

 The Common terns entertained as always, with adults feeding young and young chasing adults.
 And then something happened that I didn't expect to occur. I had been keeping a eye on the juvenile Roseate tern after watching a parent bird leave it to obviously go off on the hunt. I waited in anticipation for an adult to return whilst loving the experience of sitting with terns, as always.

When it came back, what did the juvenile do??? flew directly in front of me and landed closer! to collect the food . Over in the matter of seconds,  but memories are made of this.! (un cropped shot)

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The pier where else!

 After Tuesday's sighting of the two Roseates here my count hasn't increased as yet. Still one adult and a juvenile present on both these visits around the high tide mark. Yesterday the juvenile favoured the south side of the pier wall area, whilst today it mingled with about another 25-30 juveniles of the Common variety on Sandhaven rocks. (if its the same bird??? which I think it is).
Along with the mentioned Terns above also two juvenile Arctics showed on the visit today.
 These two record shots where taken from the pier. I've yet to properly set foot on Sandhaven 'so to speak' this post- breeding season at a lower tide level because the weather conditions has had this beach packed , as expected. One or two visits could be on the cards early doors me thinks soon.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Nice to see you's again!

 Well the anticipated first sighting of post-breeding Roseate tern around the pier and Sandhaven for me ended today. I was just by the gate, after checking out the rested Common terns on Sandhaven rocks, when the sound of a Juvenile calling was picked up......Bliss!  And sure enough an adult joined in, calling a little further out.
And then they both landed in a regular visited area of the pier for this species over the years. Just before the bend on the south side, the area the waders favour here at high tide to rest up. Speaking of which- first 2 Purple Sandpipers and 4 Dunlin for me at this time of year and also 4 Sanderling and 6 Turnstones.
Needless to say the Bob was tethered to the handrail whilst I sat on the pier side, something he'll get used to. 
 Sundays pier visit had a few small surprises. A few of the Common tern bairns where landing on the walkway in between the 'foot traffic' here at times, giving almost 'Farne' type experiences for the general public.
This Juvenile Rock pipit followed its parents 'lead' and hopped around the fishermen etc. here looking for scraps. Also an adult Mediterranean gull was hanging out with the Black-headed gulls on the sea at the base of the pier.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Meds. on the menu again.

 My 'numpty' value went though the roof today!.. Checked the high tide times and headed off for my place of worship this time of year, ' the pier' at around 1pm today. It wasn't until I had parked up and set foot on the pier with Bob that I remembered that the camera battery was on still on charge back home...Senile moment number....? (I've given up on counting now). Thankfully it was more or less the same count of Terns as yesterday with around 60 Common terns in the area, mainly on Sandhaven rocks. But today I counted 28 Juveniles here so many more adults will be out fishing.

Three adult Mediterranean gulls picked up on the drive along the Leas stretch of grassed areas,the small pockets of Black-headed gulls along here proved well worth a better look. Blackberry hills area provided 2 adults today , always a good place to check out.

 And the above and below shots is I believe to be the Marsden car park bird, its bill pattern looks a little different now but time will tell if it is this resident winter visitor.
 The bird certainly behaved in the same manner...
 This first winter Med. gull was on Blackberry hills grassed area yesterday, but no sign today on the Leas.

Couple of sibling's rested on the pier rocks yesterday. A few of their rarer cousins will hopefully be landing here soon....