Sunday, 31 August 2014

It's All Over

Well where did those six weeks go?

Must start ironing the shirts, making seating plans, getting up early .... OH NO!

Well I can't wait for next week?

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Quiet isn't all bad ...

The sand bank at Chevington provided a nice roosting area for a mixed gull/tern flock. However a rather lively dog wouldn't leave them alone.

Migration was clearly visible today. A constant stream of Hirundines headed South, mainly House Martins. Swallows, a few Sand Martins and five Swift.

In addition Meadow Pipits were on the move along with Tree Sparrows.

Wheatears and Whinchats were also along the coast.

IR mentioned a flock of waders on the Budge field and was interested in the smaller waders accompanying the Ruff. I eventually relocated them, a Dunlin and an LRP.

Little Ringed Plover got some close scrutiny but it was obviously not SPP. (Well you've got to check this time of year.)

Birds of the day were 2+ Black Terns at Chevington. Sadly they never came close as they were pushed to the North End by the Marsh Harrier and eventually flew into the bay.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Nearly ...

The village Hirundines are almost ready to set off for Africa. I'll wait until December for my trip.

The Oddie hide is one place (the only one) here you can get close to the birds. IR recommended this to the Dutch visitor (as I had ... but try spotting the entrance ...).

This rubbish photo was the only migrant at Druridge Pools this morning although there were some others which failed o show well enough to be identified positively.

A trip to Amble revealed another yellow ringed gull. So Caspian watchers beware. If the ring is on the left leg and it has a pale iris .. it's a Herring Gull.

Finally 'bird of the day'. Newbiggin, Ash Lagoon Banks (don't birders just love the daftest environments). A Pied Flycatcher, one of my favourites, along with a host of other elusive migrants. The most intriguing of which was a long-tailed Hippolais warbler with few obvious features other than a long bill and dull grey/green uniform plumage.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Not Quite ...




Met a tourist from the Netherlands today. He asked where he could go to get close to and photograph the birds. I couldn't think where to recommend. When you consider all of the hides on NWT reserves, they are too far away from the birds to allow casual visitors the opportunity to identify or photograph the birds.

As for the migration season, it hasn't happened in Northumberland yet. The weather conditions have been good but not quite right. Plenty of time though and with a Balearic Shearwater seen from Hauxley it hasn't been too bad a week. Holiday almost over ;-)  . 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Curlew Sandpiper .. photos

This very obliging Curlew Sandpiper was in front of the Ponteland Hide, Hauxlet NR.

Friday, 22 August 2014


Well this appears to be a Long-headed Fly. Argyra diaphana.
It is a dipteran one of the Dolichopodidae or Long-legged Flies most of which are predatory. Thanks to J and T Dean for the ID. I can still find very little info about this species.

.. and a little more.

Greenshank (above)Yellow Wagtail (below)

Mixed Bag 2

This I think is a Soldier Fly but I'm struggling to ID it. Will put it on twitter and hope someone can help out. These amazing flies (less than 10mm) appear to glow as they fly but the 'light' goes out when they land. This I believe is because they cover the abdomen with their wings.

Almost there ...

Episyrphus bateatus Marmalade Hoverfly

This also had me stumped for ID, but I think it is Eristalis intricarius the Comon Drone Fly.

And now for something ompletely different ... as they say.

H171 Cornelis Vrolijk FZN
This 115m Trawler's home port is Kingston-upon-Hull.

So what? Well it was interesting because it had 200+ Gannets folowing and no doubt a few other tasty seabirds. Sadly it was too far out to ID any of the interestng species. It is also interesting because with a quick google (I typed the code MLPC9 which was on the side) and I had all the info about the trawler.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Amazing Growth Rate ... nearly fledged.

What are you doing down there?

Tuesday, 19 August 2014


Well a thoroughly enjoyable day yesterday. Visited the Dinosaur display at Woodhorn (a little expensive when you add car park charge on top). The 'bairns enjoyed it and some of the museum features kept them amused (especially opening the 'netty' door).

Lunch followed by some 'rock-pooling' at St Marys Island and I was knackered so I packed them off home and cut the lawn.

The rest of the week it is back to the patch to see what has happened. In the middle of the bay sea-watching is not always productive, however today numerous Shearwaters were moving North with the Gannets. Manx and Sooty were identified but none of the bigger ones which passed Spurn earlier in the day.

A sudden fall of migrants included meadow pipits, stonechats and whinchats in good numbers. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Mixed Bag

Howick Hall Gardens

Branton Gravel Pits


Spotted Flycatcher

South Tyneside ;-)

Well a busy few days; trips out, entertaining, cooking, jam-making and still managing a bit of phone photography.

'Strawberry and Blackberry' Jam made.
'Blackcurrant and Apple' Jam made.
The remaining Blackberries will be made into Blackberry Chutney tomorrow.
ST brought me some Salmon and Beetroot. The Salmon was delicious with dill and lemon sauce, the beetroot was boiled and pickled .. aaah .. 'The Good.e. Life'.

South Tyneside have a super project where all the roundabouts and spare grass areas have been seeded with wildfowers. Look terrific and must be good for the Bees. NWT and NCC take note.

Finished Bradley Wiggins' book, great read. I read Lance Armstrong' book and had similar feelngs only to be disappinted by later revelations. This time I'm confident I've read about an athlete in it for the Sport and clean. 

Well tomorrow hunting for Dinosaurs with my Great Nieces and Great Nephew, how old am I? Well I bet they think I had a Pterodactyl as a pet?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Caspian Gull

Caspian Gull (above) Larus cachinnans
Herring Gull (elow) Larus argentatus

Caspian Gull (below)

Long slender bill (not when it is pointing towards or away from you)
Dark iris through the telescope this was obvious early morning.
Not a good comparison having a sub-adult Herring gull, should have chosen an adult bird
Caspian G apears to have some primaries not fully grown must try and get some more photos a week later if it hangs around.
Wing projection not that different from HG in picture but appears long winged when stretching wings in lower photo.
Long legs; seen easily when near a Herrin Gull.
Congratulations to the experts who identfy these birds .. would have passed me by! ;-)

Yellow ring PKCS made it vey easy to pick out and allow time to make comparisons.


Monday, 11 August 2014

Windy .. just a bit!

Wasn't expecting to post an entry today but these two birds deserved at least a quick note.

Naturally the very windy weather is not best for watching wildlife. Birds over the sea were blown away from the coast and therefore too far away to study. A hide, carefully positioned, would be good but Cresswell already had five cars parked there.

So quick visits to Druridge and DBCP and back to the house to catch up on chores.

The Little Egret (above) and Common Sandpiper were at Druridge. Wheatears were at Cresswell and Hadston. A Cuckoo battled the wind along the dunes before seeking refuge in the plantation at Druridge. So not a bad morning but now I better gets some jobs done ;-(

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Win Whin Situation

Well yes the awful headlines continue... cringe.

This time of year for 'birders' is one of anticipation. Migration has started and anything is possible. There are birds which are to be expected but it is no less special when they are seen.

Whinchats on the coast make a brief appearance in spring and autumn but can be easily missed. Their breeding grounds 20 miles inland mean you can always make a trip and be certain of seeing one but the excitement of finding one in the narrow window of passage on the coast can't compare.

Two patches (at Hadston and Chev) were alive with whitethroats, lesser whitethroats, willow warblers chiffchaffs and stonechats. 

A trip to Cresswell a little later and it was good to meet up with SS and JR. The Stilt Sandpiper is still around and another passage bird that can be easily missed flew overhead with the characteristic Hooeeet call making sure this one wasn't missed. How many birds make a call in autumn that sounds like Hooeeet?

Later in the day a return to Cresswell saw the Stilt Sandpiper at close quarters on the causeway pool (I wonder if it has a slight problem with its right wing? It flies OK but on landing seems to have a slight difficulty bending the wing.) and the rain started so back in the house and chores to be done. Busy week next week so less blogging (unless I find something to photograph). Can't believe the holidays are almost over ;-)