Saturday, 26 December 2009

Big Waters (well a tiny bit!)

Sorry about the lack of blogs, haven't been out much! Just arrive back from Big Waters. The pond is completely frozen apart from a tiny bit of water in the middle. There was a flock of fieldfare in the trees on ur way into the reserve which set us up for a good day birding. We made our way to the members hide after that. As we went in, Alan Johnson (the warden for Big Waters) told me to look at the top of a tree over in the corner of the pond and when I did, I saw that there was a female sparrowhawk sitting there! A good start. That would explain why there were no birds at the feeders. However, she soon left and the little birds returned in their numbers. There was 5 robins, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, blackbirds, a wren, chaffinches, greenfinches and goldfinches. As we sat and took many photos, the woodpecker dropped in. But very briefly. After that it went a bit quiet for a while until 2 nice surprises turned up. These were a male bullfinch and a male siskin. There was also 2 pheasants that strolled in towards the end just as we were leaving to watch Newcastle on the telly! A good day!
Robin Bullfinch Siskin Wren

Sunday, 22 November 2009

A nice surprise at Killingworth Lake

We went to Killingworth Lake and St. Mary's today. We went to look for the goosander at Killingworth and when we got there, we saw them straight away in all different places. As we were walking along to watch a male goosander at the other end of the lake, I was watching the ducks sitting on the bank next to the road and then a smaller duck left the bank and swam past us within 3 feet. I knew as soon as I saw it that it was a female mandarin duck. It was brilliant to watch it in the water then it climbed onto the bank again in front of us. After getting loads of photos of it, we went to see the goosander and then off to St. Mary's. The tide was nearly in at St. Mary's and there was very little rock but there was still quite a variety of waders. These included over 50 ringed plover, redshank, turnstone, curlew, oystercatcher and also 3 knot which were a little different. A nice end to the day!
Mandarin DuckGoosander Group of Waders: Top Left (Ringed Plover) Middle Top (Dunlin) Top Right (Redshank) Front (Knot)

Sunday, 15 November 2009

A life tick day!

Today we were looking for a life tick - snow goose. We started of the day at Holy Island for the bearded tit. We watched for about 30 minutes and after no luck we went back to the car to beat the tide. On the way back we saw 3 sparrowhawks, a kestrel and a peregrine which was lovely to see after no bearded tit! On the way off the island, we saw a baby seal lying in the sun on the sand really close to the causeway which was lovely to see. Next we headed to Budle Bay. Unfortunately, the tide was right in and everything was on the sandbanks miles away. That wasn't much good so we went onto the best place of all - Stag Rocks. First we went to the rock itself to see 60 purple sandpiper which was brilliant and very photogenic. Next we scanned the sea after being told there was 2 slavonian grebes. I scanned it with my scope and saw them straight away. Two birds birds which were slavonian grebes. While we were watching them, I saw a little black and white bird and when I showed my dad, we decided that was the black guillemot that had been around for a while. We also got told there was 3 red-throated divers. SO we looked for them and eventually I did see 1. And right at the end of the sea watch, I saw a duck with a black and white head flying in towards the shore and when it landed I identified it as my first long-tailed duck. A very good session of sea watching in a new spot! And on the way out we saw a Brent goose fly past the shore which was very close but I only saw it at the last minute so no photos but good purple sands! No snow goose but better!
167 - LT Duck
168 - Slavonian Grebe
Purple Sandpiper Grey Seal

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Saturday's Shields Sabine's

I went to North Shields Fish Quay in search of the juvenile Sabine's Gull. I had never seen one which gave me even more reason to go to see it! When we arrived we saw the group of birders looking around so we went and asked them and they pointed out my first ever Sabine's Gull. I took a few photos but unfortunately it didn't land but it was still great to see a new species and so close (about 10 feet away to be precise!)

166 - Sabine's Gull

Sabine's Gull

Friday, 30 October 2009

A Good Raptor Day

Today I went to Druridge Pools, Cresswell and St. Mary’s. Cresswell didn’t produce much except 20 redshank and some snipe. There were a few Canada geese on the pond but not much else. We left the hide only to be greeted by a female kestrel hovering outside but it flew off as soon as we got there but only as far as a tree near the car so we crept up and got some photos before it flew off once again. Then we headed up to Druridge. When we arrived in the Oddie Hide, there was very little to see except 2 greenshank. We stayed for 15 minutes with nothing showing so we were just leaving when a female merlin flew across the pond and through the trees. We ran out and into the other hide next to the Oddie hide and scanned the posts on the far side and eventually, we found it sitting on a post quite far away but still a brilliant sighting. A first for the year! St. Mary’s produced 300+ golden plover, 2 purple sandpiper and a woodcock which we flushed from the rocks accidently but none the less it is a life tick!! A good end to a good day!!
Kestrel Merlin
Golden Plover

Saturday, 17 October 2009

All Over The Place (Plus 1 Life Tick)

We have been all around Northumberland today looking for birds. We started very locally at St. Mary’s to see if we could find the firecrest. After looking around for 30 mins we decided to give up and start on the waders. The North Bay produced 3 oystercatchers, 3 dunlin, 2 turnstone, 1 curlew, 17 redshank and a bar-tailed godwit (now in its 3rd week at St. Mary’s). Just as we started to leave, a peregrine flew over getting all the waders to fly. It soon landed somewhere near Seaton Sluice and not quite out of view. We left after that. However, on our way out, we saw a short-eared owl fly over the south bay sending all the gulls up. Not bad so far!! Then we went to Holywell for the guided tour. We went to the members hide first which didn’t give us anything until a report came in about a pectoral sandpiper at the public hide so we all left and went there. Just before we got there, Bob Dack (a friend of Holywell Pond) came out and gave the dreadful words of ‘it’s just flown that way’. We couldn’t believe it, just our luck but we went in the hide and waited. We saw 5 snipe, loads of geese and gulls, 50+ lapwing and eventually after 40 minutes, a pectoral sandpiper! Hooray!! We then went to Druridge Pools to finish the day with a glossy ibis. When we arrived in the Oddie Hide, everybody was around the windows to the right of the hide. The Ibis was there feeding. We watched that for a while before a heron flew in landed very close to the hide. It produced brilliant views without chasing the ibis! There was an amazing amount of shoveler at Druridge today but only females. Just as we were leaving, a greenshank flew over and landed on the mud. A very successful day! 164 – Pectoral Sandpiper (another life tick!) Pectoral Sandpiper Grey Heron
Glossy Ibis Greenshank

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

A good hour of birding 6/10/09

Just come back from St. Mary’s. The tide was coming in fast so I just got 10 minutes but it was worth it. The North Bay contained a bar-tailed godwit, 2 curlews, 3 redshank, 24 sanderling, 9 turnstone, 3 ringed plover, 50 golden plover and a cormorant fishing. I tried to get photos of all of them in the short time that the tide let me have! I called into Briar Dene Car Park on the way back, no sign of med gull but there were 2 common gulls present. We also saw a grey wagtail fly over then land quite close to the car park down under the bridge in the little stream. As this was a first at St. Mary’s for me we went and got a few photos before moving on. After that we went to Tynemouth Boating Lake to see the barnacle goose. When we arrived there was only one goose there and it was the barnacle goose. Quite easy to spot! The wind picked up a bit while we were there but it soon settled letting me get some photos. A good hour of birding! Cormorant Curlew
Bar-Tailed GodwitRinged Plover Grey Wagtail
Common Gull
Barnacle Goose

Monday, 28 September 2009

A Glossy end to the day!

Yesterday, we decided to go on a big journey today with my new lens. It is a 70-200mm with a 1.7 converter. We started at Thornley Woods where there wasn’t much at all except stock doves, squirrels, coal tits and nuthatches! I was a bit disappointed with the outcome of Thornley. Next we went to Big Waters. We got there and went straight to the main hide. It was very busy so I just got a spot at the feeders although I still had a view of the main pond. After watching the goldfinches, blue tits, great tits and greenfinches for a while, I saw 3 snipe out of the window. They were a bit far off for photos but within 10 minutes they were right underneath the window. I got some great photos of birds that I have never seen that close before! We left soon after that to go to Cresswell to see the Glossy Ibis via St. Mary’s. We arrived at St. Mary’s and sat in the North Bay for half an hour on the rocks. It was fantastic sitting watching the waders feed around us, the dunlin came especially close. They we within 7 feet of us producing great views and photos. There was a curlew that came very close as well and I got a photo of that too. After sitting for 30 minutes we went to Cresswell. When we got there, there were loads of people in the car park but they told us that we had just missed the ibis my 15 minutes. After a while, someone got a call to say it was near Bell’s Pool. The car park cleared within 2 minutes. Everyone went to Bell’s Pool. We followed everyone and when we got there, we immediately saw mine and my dad’s first Glossy Ibis. It was in the field just beyond the pool but it soon flew onto the pool giving us great views. A glossy end to the day!!
Goldfinch Redshank Curlew Dunlin
Glossy Ibis