Thursday, 30 April 2020

Getting Better

Thank you to everyone for your kind words and regular texts. I have felt uplifted by the support. Two weeks ago I could barely walk and if I  could, I only managed short walks in the Village. Fortunately I have a busy feeding station and some of the common local summer visitors have been enough to raise my spirits.

Today following careful planning I was able to complete a six mile walk from home, via Chevington and back. This shows how much improvement I have made. I still have a very swollen abdomen but I'm pain free.

Numerous Sedge Warblers on view. Great to see the Harriers and a few glimpses of Reed Warblers. On returning to Druridge I saw several Swifts.

Did not think this was still around so you can imagine my delight at catching up with it. At one stage it was out of sight but calling repetitively. This fine bird was found by AshingtonGary last Saturday. A great reward for all those long cycle journeys in all weathers.

This Ruddy Shelduck has been in the area for more than a month now.

One of the many released Red-legged Partridge.

To fill some time I have decided to try and ID Hoverflies. Armed with a new field guide I shall be posting more photos (but wont guarantee my ID is always correct).

This one is;
Eristalsis intricaria

(and to be smug, a female)

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Yesterday I managed my first long walk since being in Hospital. 4 Miles and by the time I got home I was very tired. Compare with two weeks ago when I averaged 7 miles daily and with energy to spare. Still, small steps, I do seem to be slowly improving.

My views on bird ringing are pretty well known so I will not whinge here.

In fact this is one of the more useful projects and has yielded many results.

This bird C:02

Ringed 28/06/2015 Coquet Island
Winter 2017 a regular at a Landfill site, Madrid
30/09/2018 nr Coquet Is
28/10/2018 Landfill site, Madrid
20/05/2019 Hauxley
Summer 2019 Coquet Is
28/04/2020 Druridge Pools

Initially I thought this egg was from a goose. However I was corrected on twitter as it is not large enough. It is a big egg but not sure of the source.

Interesting to see the plumage colours under different lighting. All photos take within 5 minutes, but angle of sun and reflection showing quite a range of grey shades.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Our Brilliant NHS

I'm not this will do it justice but here are a few thoughts from me!

What a Month!

It started with a quiet Birthday (and everyone who knows me would say that was perfect for me). Then amazed at my good fortune to do my daily exercise, on foot, from home to the best reserves in Northumberland (notably East Chevington, Druridge Pools, Cresswell and Widdrington Moor). Trying not to be smug on my tweets I happily plodded down the road every morning at 6am, rarely seeing another person.

Suddenly on Wednesday I was struck with some abdominal pains. My stomach was bloated and the pain excruciating. I asked the pharmacist for advice, they were most helpful so with a couple of mugs of Peppermint Tea down me I looked forward to a good nights rest. Oh no! Not a wink of sleep and I woke to find my belly swollen like a pregnant woman at full-term and in agony. Not wishing to burden the NHS I asked if I could have a telephone appointment. The GP noted my concern and organised a visit to A&E Cramlington. A hastily packed carrier bag and I was off in the ambulance hoping I was not heading there to waste their time. Everyone I met had the greatest concern for my well-being and with a multitude of blood tests, pressure readings and a CT scan I waited for the consultants. Very quickly they told me I was being admitted straight away and immediately set up drips and an infusion to thin the blood.

All around me Porters, Cleaners, Nurses, Doctors, Consultants etc., were very busy. My afternoon was filled with repeated tests and I then tried to sleep. Another sleepless night and a painful one so more tests and a diagnosis of something not commonly seen. Happy with the blood tests they decided an operation was not necessary and transferred me to the Wansbeck. Whilst there you got the full scale of the efforts made by the NHS. People moving in and out regularly. Each bed having to be stripped and cleaned. Alarms on cannulas going off in the middle of the night because of an accidental movement. Just when you expect a quiet period a buzzer for staff a patient has soiled himself. This was the most amazing sight of all, within 15 minutes they had him cleaned, dressed and the bed washed down. All the time the reassuring words that made the patient feel loved. It wasn’t his fault it, it wasn’t a problem and dealt with so calmly. Only minutes later a tube knocked out by a patient resulting in a trail of blood spurts. Quickly fixed, re clothed and the floor wiped clean. Bloody Amazing People.

This was the first time I had been admitted to Hospital, although I’ve always known it was a service I could rely on when needed, it was heart-warming to see it in action. There were a multitude of other examples of the professionalism and tenderness of the staff but it would take many more pages. Let us hope that the legacy of the current crisis is that when it is all over the extra staffing, resources and respect continue unchanged. Government are praising the NHS for their efforts now but it MUST continue like this crisis or no crisis long into the future.

Our NHS is Brilliant!

Monday, 13 April 2020

Holiday Weekend


Thought the Twite had all moved on, so it was a surprise to find 9 still at Druridge. This one gave a nice pose to show the details of its plumage.

5 Reeling birds so far and 3+ Sedge (one in full song).

Black-tailed Godwits

This morning it was bitterly cold and I wasn't dressed for the occasion. So I eventually found a sheltered spot and in a very small patch of grass I  found Yellow, White and Pied Wagtails along with dozens of Meadow Pipits.

Having not used the car for a couple of weeks and then only for shopping, I am finding the walk from my house more interesting than expected. My aim once this terrible pandemic is clear will be to continue this exercise route at least two days each week (weather permitting). I must have saved quite a bit of money by not buying petrol. I am also finding new birds. Today I heard a loud Huueet call, reminiscent of Chiffchaff. However, it was coming from a larger bird. When I got my binoculars focused on the bird it was a superb male Common Redstart. It then flew into the shelter belt and apart from hearing it call a few times I never got another view.

Today I want to go to the shops but feel I don't need to. (I may have to walk to Widdrington Station just for a few items but they are not essential.) I'll do a bigger shop later in the week.

Back in the house a welcome visitor to the Nyger feeder. Greenfinch. A rare garden bird but as I have mentioned before there is always one breeding pair nearby.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Last Few Days

This morning I shortened my walk and was back in the house by 09:00. I saw three cyclists and one dog owner who had driven to the beach to 'empty' her dogs. When I got home the traffic noise suggested many people were heading for some shopping so I'm glad I got out early.

Hoverfly in the garden. (Syrphidae sp?)

Blackcap singing and Swallow at the farm in the village but no sign of yesterdays House Martin. This week I saw my first Sandwich tern and a 'Commic' tern.

Photo through the fence explains the fuzzy areas.

This is probably the same bird found by JG and later by AP. It is gradually heading North. This morning there was a notable increase in Wheatear numbers (probably the light shower grounding them). In addition I saw three flocks of Meadow Pipits (30+ each) heading north.

The down side to early morning walks is the light can be poor. This Great Crested Grebe was stunning but the photos don't do it justice.

Common Carder Bee

(Bombus pascorum)

The flowers are a garden escape ...

Yellow Archangel
(Lamiastrum galeobdolon)

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Beautiful Day

Early morning walk from the house. First sighting 14 Fieldfare heading North calling loudly. This Roe Deer with the light behind it looked tremendous but I couldn't quite capture the moment. Its warm breath condensing in the cool morning air. Then I heard a singing Blackcap (the first of three this morning).

As the air warmed more singing birds. Chiffchaffs have been back a while now, but the Willow Warblers were new arrivals. I estimated 7+ on my walk.

Wheatears are daily sightings now but there is still a large fall to come. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits fill the air over the fields with song and magnificent aerial displays.

Midges now emerging in huge numbers but not a single Hirundine to be seen. I bet there are plenty this afternoon but I have had my one daily walk I'm permitted.

After a brief flight view last week it is good to know this Ruddy Shelduck is still in the area. Also Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits and Cetti's all put in an appearance. No Gropper yet (I've assigned my distant call last week to the bin.) and only the one Sedge Warbler heard a few days back. I have noticed in previous years Sedge Warblers can arrive and make very few calls in the first few days, then all of a sudden they're singing all over the place.

Several Small Tortoiseshell butterflies on the wing but only the slightly tatty one posed for a picture. Suddenly a call above me. I couldn't place it at first, it called again and finally I located it high above me. It was a Mediterranean Gull in full summer plumage, probably heading to Coquet Is..

On the return leg the Blackcap was singing and flycatching and even took time for a brief pose for the camera. All of these sightings made it a beautiful day and I also had a major rarity to add ... Nuthatch. 

I think Ill spend this afternoon making a list of all the birds I've seen this year. As I've mentioned many times before I don't see much point but with so much time on my hands I think it will be interesting to see how my list stands.

Photographing this Whooper (Still five in the area,the Twite have now gone.) I did not notice the bird on the right?

What will tomorrow bring? Well if it is half as good as today I'll be very happy!

Monday, 6 April 2020

Warming Up

Jackdaw nest building


Bearded Tit



Eventually Wheatears are arriving and my first Swallow has been recorded.. Still early days.

A few more...

Haven't been able to get to Hairdressers or Dentist