Friday, 25 September 2015

This week's outings.

 A couple of canny hours today around the pier area late pm.- After not being able to venture forth yesterday and learning of a few reports locally, I thankfully had a bit time on my hands later today. Didn't have to wait long to see this Snow bunting - it hopped across the pier right in front of me by the old Brigade building as I walked up the pier. This one obviously is of the 'showy' type not too bothered by disturbance. Later picked it up again on the pier wall- the other side of the gate.
 About 18-20 Common terns around on this visit, some rested up on Sandhaven others taking advantage of a feeding frenzy taking place on the south side of the pier wall- sprats maybe??? jumping out of the water attracting the attention of  loads of gulls etc.
 Yip it's a Little gull (again) ! another one in the mix on the south side of the pier.
 Couple of Gannets also joined in and gradually edged in a bit closer.
 Only seen about 3- 1st.winter Common gulls here this year and still trying to get a canny shot.

On Wednesday's visit to the pier I witnessed something I've never seen before ..This Carrion crow was first seen to be picking up a couple of empty Fosters cans- then I figured out what the corvid was actually doing, tipping them up to get the dregs out! It's probably learned to do this from the empties left here during the Mackerel season, when the litter left here is at its highest. Clever bugger!
Little gull on the beach also on this visit. ;-)

 Monday -when the rain stopped for a short time I ventured into the Trow bowl- couple of Whinchats and a single Stonechat (not the photogenic types). Couple of Chiffchaffs in the treed area, Song thrush  and the odd Wheatear around the area. Six Red-throated divers on the sea from gun point was canny thro- group of 4 together (probs family).

 Last Sunday- After 2 failed attempts with trying to see this species in the same field at Whitburn over the years- finally it was third time lucky!  This after not being able to get here until later in the afternoon. Only my second one ever, so was slightly pleased also to even get a semi-decent shot. Oh and another Little gull here also ;-)

Saturday, 19 September 2015

New lifer despite being a daft lad (again!).

 After seeing a few reports and pic's of Black darter on twitter over the last week or so, I headed off to the old brickworks pond in Kibblesworth this morning when I got the chance. First time I've ventured here this year!...It really was a comedy of errors this visit- first off after wandering about a third of the way from the parking area to the pond my zippo dried-trip to a garage followed. Then I discovered the battery on the camera was on its last legs after deleting the memory card....I thought the writing was on the wall so to speak. after this!... Thankfully not.
It took me a while and a few 'stand' about moments before I picked up the first Black darter in the south end of the pond,behind the small plantation area. Well worth getting wet knees for!  after this picked up a second one in the same area, the first one landed on my shoulder a couple of times!!! (reached for the phone for a selfie but alas not to be.)
Met another interested bloke at the northern end of this pond, who I ve met before. (It just got mad after this!). 3-4 Black darters hovered around right in front of us, one landed on his foot. Then a female hawker landed on my boot and used it as a landing platform to get the next generation on their way.
Distant one, taken with the macro.

Crap one taken with my phone, the camera battery had died by now.

Absolutely fantastic couple of hours here despite the set backs- sheds loads of Common darters in various stages of breeding, hawkers aplenty also. 
Bird wise- 6 Siskins over calling, couple of Jays, GS woody, Buzzard, Spuggyhawk,Kestrel and the usual stuff calling from the treed areas.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Being a beach bum in August-tern wise.

 Yip I'm blogging again after a canny while. A few folk have asked how's the terns done this year around the Sandhaven area? so I've eventually put together a selection of shots taken here during August along with some of my observations of rested birds on Sandhaven.

Common tern - Pretty much as last year with no 3 figure numbers, best count being 40+ birds on a few occasions.
 Nowt like getting mugged on the beach.

 Sandwich tern- again pretty average number wise with between 10-25 birds on some visits during the month.

 But a visit on the last day of August produced my best count to date of Sandwich terns here- 106 counted at one point when I first arrived.This number slowly tailed off after little disturbance(for this public beach) and what I can only refer to as migratory behaviour. Small groups took off together calling noisily,birds seem to pair up and then circled gaining height before moving off. Something I've seen Roseates doing in the past here.

 Arctic tern- 18 was my best count here this year in the first week of this month and only 3 Juv's .

 Little tern- This is the only one I seen rested here on the first day of this month.
 Roseate tern- After only views from the pier on a couple of occasions this month,eventually on the 12th these two were had on Sandhaven. The only one's I've seen here this year.(but beats last years count..doubled ;-) ).

 And a special mention has to be made for Little gull sightings around this area in the last 6 weeks or so- Started late July and continued most of August.

Again these are my observations on this public beach when numbers can change here by the minute.

Friday, 24 July 2015

A few additions since the last post.

 The lure of the pier and Shields beach seems to have taken over again the last couple of weeks or so. No idea why? ;-). The tern action here on the visits I've had so far hasn't been exceptional to say the least,hopefully that will change in the near future if this area is blessed this year.
 Two Arctics on the beach on the 14th. only one's I've seen rested here so far.
 On the afternoon of the 15 th a bit of a northerly blew. A couple of Whimbrel circled the area calling and a canny bit passage from the end of the pier- Gannets,Auks and a few Scoter, also picked up a bonxie.
 After having enough of being windswept I ventured back down the pier to the usual haven of the steps overlooking Sandhaven. That's when 3 other dark shapes were picked up about to pass the pier head...typical!.

Last Saturday was my first sighting of a juvenile Sandwich tern this year here.

 Last Sunday- Chester-le-street roundabout. Two White-letter hairstreaks showed in blustery conditions in about a hour and a half here.
 This female Banded demoiselle also put in a show.
 On Tuesday this week my first Common tern juv.
 Med. gull/s now a regular sight along the Leas.

 And the late evening visit today found me in the good company of these waders. Single Bar-tailed Godwit and 6 Sanderling still with a nice bit of summer finery.
Another local lad reported 4 Purple sands and a couple of Little terns here about 2 weeks ago, right place at the right time. Hopefully the action is starting to pick up.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

This afternoons highlights.

 When the glimmer of fine weather broke this afternoon and I had time on my hands, I headed back down the Don (Scotch est. dene). As expected the water level here was a tad on the high side, which kind of made for some great entertainment.
 From the 3 main ovipositing places seen a few days back, only one had a small scrap of surface weed on show today- which obviously was a highly sort after bit of turf.
 My first Small copper of the year from the same place above.. tatty but great to see.

Dropped into Testoes pond in Boldon after visiting the Don. My first visit here for a while.
 The usual Dam's around here and about 6 larger Drags. near the matchbox building. Including this 4 spot chaser that defended its patch from a stick stuck in the mud here.
 I didn't really check this site too well last year, so was pleased to see this Black-tailed skimmer here today, first for me for 2 years here.
In the wheel..

Friday, 3 July 2015

A few from over the last week (non-feathered type).

 Apologies to anyone who reads this blog for the lack of content of late. Getting the time and weather to have a wander seems to be getting rarer as I get older -thought it would be the opposite!

Last Saturday saw me on Cleadon hills for the first time in a while, to see a big bird do a pass over...Whilst here picked my second Painted lady of the year up (this number increased during the week) and Chimney sweeper moths out in force. As also they can be a pain the butt to get a shot of.

 The last Vulcan in the sky, worth the effort to see this.

Last Saturday afternoon It was down to Bishop middleham quarry for the annual visit, it's just a fantastic site that has to be done !
 The tricky subject matter of separating Brown argus began again, a one I'm still not fully confident with.
 Been told all the shot's look ok for 'Northern'
 Still a learning curve with many butterflies.
 Also seen my first Ringlet of the year here.

Last Sunday I had a wander on the South Shields pier, didn't expect to see a great deal but that soon changed. Picked up a few fins breaking the surface a fair way out heading north from about half way along here. Continued to the pier end living in hope they'd pass closer for better views.
 The pod of about 10 Bottle nosed seem to split up when I reached the end of the pier and four of them did come in closer including calf.

 Common blue male
 Large skipper
 The only Dingy skipper I've seen this year taken at the Scotch est. dene Jarrow. (missed the boat last month). But good to know 8 were recorded at Boldon.

Scotch est. dene did provide my best count to date of Banded demoiselles earlier this week here, 18 at least picked up at 3 different spots here on this small section of the Don. Could well have been more! At one point I had 7 sat within a metre or so of each other.
  It's always a pleasure to watch these belters.Love watching their behaviour.
 And 3 Broad-bodied chaser around the pond (what's left of it waterwise) here. Another couple seen in the Boldon area.

Small skipper