Thursday, 29 January 2015

A Few Hours on the Patch

The feeding station still failing to attract the Redpolls even though there were only a few metres away. There is obviously lots of food in the alder cones still.

The population of Pink-footed Geese has risen to over 5000 (in three different flocks). The Ross goose still remains but as always it is very distant.

Finally the one (two) that got away. The Fox below and today on a snowy background a White Stoat (Ermine) both evaded the camera.

Monday, 26 January 2015


These two tried to avoid the camera, the Little Owl being more successful than the Kestrel.

Once a bird has found some food, passing 'snappers' are no longer a threat. Hence a few nice close-ups.

Today, bright sunshine, relatively mild and light winds early morning meant the raptors were out. Wish I'd gone further inland, but 4 Buzzards together were very nice.

Yesterday I searched for the Ross' goose (found by DD and BD the previous afternoon) and was lucky to find it from the viewpoints at Chevington. Despite my best efforts it was impossible to get good views. It found the only field with no access. As you can see this is the best view most people are getting. The closest viewing point is from the East/West path to Chevington. Hopefully later in the week it may end up closer to the road.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Well at East Chevington today the mammals stole the show. First of all this wary Stoat, not quite Ermine but amazingly cute (for the vicious carnivore that it is).

Then this vole, shivering and looking a wee bit sick. However after it kindly allowed a few snaps it pulled itself to a nearby hole and disappeared underground.

Finally the Otters put on an excellent display. I watched one fishing distantly and almost gave up on getting a photo. Even when it did get close it was hidden by the reeds. A quick scan and I located a second otter even further away. So I checked the wildfowl; Long-tailed Duck, Black-necked Grebe added to an earlier Water Rail and Sparrowhawk meant it was  pretty good day.

Then as I looked out again the new Otter appeared in front of the hide (still a little too far for good pics ... thanks NWT). It entertained me for another 30 minutes.

It had caught a decent sized Eel. It attempted to climb on the ice to feast on the fish but the ice kept breaking so it headed for the island.

Finally secure on land it quickly polished off its lunch. All the while it was nervously watched by two Cormorants. 

What a great day!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Short Post

Three Scaup on Ladyburn lake, DBCP

Close-up of  Teal, Druridge Pools

Miserable weather, car in garage (fuel pressure problem) and most of the wildfowl deserting the frozen ponds. Otters have been showing well at Chevington and an Ermine ran along the reed edge (on the ice). I noticed JC has just reported another at Druridge today. Hopefully I'll get one close to the camera soon.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

North Shields and some more Oldies

Watching the weather forecast an I decided it might be a good idea to visit NSFQ.

Lots of boats in but only two Icelands on show.

Back to my clear out and I found this.

In 1983 I struggled to identify the birds in this booklet and never sent off an entry. I tried again and still made schoolboy errors. I think I would have solved the problem with today's internet at hand.

I assumed the pale wing bar/panel meant this was Willow Tit, but no it was in the solution as Marsh Tit. I must try and take more care when observing these in future.

In BB December 1984 this advert, £195 for a scope and one with 'Unalloyed Pleasure', not something Swarosvki seem to offer.

In the same issue there were photos of Slender-billed Curlew in Yemen. Interesting (see yesterday's post)!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Looking Back

About to throw out some old journals and came across a few interesting ones. Thought I'd better give them a scan before dumping them all. (I will post on Twitter when I'm getting rid of them in case someone wants them.)

With last year's decision to reverse the acceptance of this record it made interesting reading about the initial decision. I remember the bird well! I entered the Budge Hide unaware of how many people could get into that small space. I manage to make a complete nuisance of myself as there wasn't room for one more. The only person I remember in the hide was MPF. Someone kindly let me look through their scope and I tried to estimate its position in the field. The following photographs of coppicing are timely, as when I left the hide I was able to scan the field from the road (impossible now the vegetation has grown).

I managed to locate the bird, through my scope, really easily and my most vivid memory was that of the bird ducking down as a Curlew flew over calling. It was clearly  a very different bird. (pity it wasn't an adult like the cover photo on BB).


Two different looking Tufties

This Heron, on waste ground Hadston, got a second look because of the brown carpals. It didn't have any more brown and my thoughts of Great Blue quickly disappeared  ... got to try harder.

Aaaagh ... best thing at Hauxley today.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Beast Flushes Pinks

This morning was stunning at East Chevington. No wind, bright sunshine and calm water. The birds did not disappoint; Long-tailed Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Black-throated Diver and 100+ Goldeneye. 2+ Otters were messing about in the water and the rest of the wildfowl watched them closely.

Another Lichen
Xanthoria parietina
(I haven't ruled out the other Xanthria sp yet)

Then as the Pink-footed Geese grazed in the distance (2000+) I noticed the 'beast'. It came in off the sea, flying very low, approaching silently (yes really) into the wind and the whole flock took to the sky.

The 'beast'!

It is lunchtime now and it is grey, blustery and there are squally sleet showers. What a difference a few hours can make at this time of year.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Plenty of Interest

Hedge Sparrow aka Dunnock aka Hedge Accentor

Reed Bunting

Feeding stations around the bay are always a source of birds when the weather turns nasty. Nothing out of the ordinary though.

above, Opegrapha atra
below, Chladonia fimbriata

Tentative identification of the Chladonia sp

The last few days have been blowy (to say the least) so most birds tend to shelter (makes sense) hence my six attempts to find the Green-winged Teal have been unsuccessful. However I seem to see the Little Owl on almost every visit whilst others are struggling to connect.

This terrific (if a little blurred) Black-throated Diver found by JF & TF may be the same bird as last year. The very obvious white flank patch makes it an easy bird to ID.

Visits to Amble still haven't produced any white-winged gulls.

Long-tailed Tits

So active it was impossible to get a sharp photo .. but they still look brilliant I think.

Hopefully the wind strength will weaken so I can get inland for some raptors this week.

The road from Cresswell to Widdrington is going to be closed for most of the week so visits may be difficult. I was able to see Whooper Swan and Pintail this morning however.