Friday, 27 February 2009

Short-Eared Owl 27/2/09

Yesterday we were driving past the fields between Backworth and Killingworth when we saw a brown bird hunting in the field at 5-30pm. We guessed it was a short-eared owl but we didn't have time to stop because we had to get to Killingworth for 5-45. So today we went back a couple of hours ago (5pm) and sure enough it was there hunting over the field in the same place. It flew off to a different field and that is when we took the chance. We got out the car and went down the track and hid behind some bushes. 10 minutes later, it was back in our field and it was flying towards us. We thought it would see us but it didn't until I took a photo of it when it was level with us flying 10 metres away! It then went back to the centre of the field and starting hunting again. Some lovely views of it on a lovely night! Short-Eared Owl

Monday, 23 February 2009

A variety of birds all over Northumberland 20-22/2/09

As the end of the holidays drew closer, we decided to take a family trip out to Gibside on Friday. We were expecting to see kites straight away and sure enough a red kite flew over as we were getting ready. After that we walked to the feeding station but when we went in there was nothing there at all. However, 5 minutes later it improved. 4 treecreepers, 10+ coal tits, 4 blue tits, a great tit and nuthatch were all there. Satisfied, we left the hide and on the way back, we saw 2 more kites flying over. A good day out there! On Saturday, I promised to take my friend out birding. First we went to the Briar Dene Carpark to show him the Med Gull. It was there as usual. Then off to the lighthouse. When we got there, we had a look on the fresh water lagoon, loads of mallard, teal, wigeon and 4 gadwall which was quite good. Next, down to the north bay for the water pipit. We got there and the usual waders were kicking around: sanderling (100+), dunlin (40+), knot (15+), a redshank and a purple sandpiper. We moved on to see the water pipit. We did see it flash off to the north of the bay so we moved to there. On our way we flushed out the grey wagtail that hangs around there too. We tried to get closer to the pipit but it flew up to the cliffs where we lost sight of it. So another good day!
Just yesterday, we went to look for the mandarin at Killingworth Lake but no sign of it. We did get a good view of some goosander while we were there but not as good a day as the other two.
Med Gull
Redshank Treecreeper Rock Pipit Goosander Goosander arguing with a coot!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Holywell Pond 18/2/09

We went to Holywell Pond really to make a bird box but when the area to make them was full, we went to the hide to see what was in the feeding station and on the pond. In the feeding station there was just the normal stuff: greenfinches, robin, blue tits and a wren appeared. On the pond, after a few minutes watching mute swans, teal, wigeon and canada goose, 2 great-crested grebes came out of the reeds and swam to the other side of the pond. A lovely view of them!

WrenGreat-Crested Grebes

Monday, 16 February 2009

Lakes and The Sea 15/2/09

In the morning, we decided that we would go to Colt Crag to view the male smew that was there. On the way there, we were scanning the fields for fieldfare as I was dying to see some. I hadn't seen any before so I was pleased when we got to a field very close to Colt Crag and we saw a group of them. After that, we headed to Clot Crag but didn't see it as the ducks were miles away. So we went to Bolam Lake and on our way there, we saw a little roe deer watching us just at the side of the road which was nice to see. When we got to Bolam, we saw a feeding station just in front of us with a nuthatch hanging off a feeder right in front of our eyes. We went to the lakeside but no sign of the smew so we starting making our way around the lake. When we got to the far side, we saw it in the middle of the pond through the scope. It was a female but we thought it was near to the other bank so we ran around just to see that it was in the middle and it was the same distance away! After seeing it, we left and when we got to the car, 2 long-tailed tits were at the feeding station which was good before we left. After that we went to St. Mary's for the Water Pipit and we saw it as soon as we walked onto the bay but we saw something else next to it on the bank which was identified later as a female stonechat, I got a photo of both which just topped of the day! Stonechat
Water Pipit
Long-Tailed Tit Nuthatch
Roe Deer

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

A Canny Weekend! 7/2/09

After seeing the bird north east blog with an Iceland gull at QE2, we decided to try there on our way to Linton Ponds to look for the one gull I have been dying to see. The Glaucous Gull. When we arrived there must have been 200 gulls there and half of them were black-headed gulls. As we pulled up into the car park we saw a wigeon grazing right in front of the car but because of the bad weather conditions, I didn't get any great shots but they weren't bad. We scanned the gulls on the frozen pond but no sign of it so we left for Linton. When we got there, we opened the window and we saw 1000+ gulls on the pond. I have never seen so many in my life. We had no chance of seeing the glauc here but we did see some ducks. A female pochard was just in front of the hide diving and 5 shoveler crossed the pond in front of the hide also which was a nice sight. After that we decided that Cresswell was our next plan so we moved to there. As soon as we got in, a little grebe greeted us in front of the hide and the barn owl 5 minutes later. If we had arrived 5 minutes later, we would have seen it sitting on the wall next to the cars but still a nice view. Later on a flock of 50+ teal flew in and I scanned them for anything rare and there was 4 pintail in the middle of them which was a new one for me. Also, speaking of ducks there was 2 scaup in the middle of the pond and 3 shelduck on the far bank. Later on, a bittern was spotted in the reeds on the bend halfway over the pond. Nothing else though, so we went to the Briar Dene car park on our way home to see the med gull and we saw it but it didn't come close enough for a photo. There was some starlings having a bath and a redshank on the golf course so not bad, eh?!
Starlings Barn Owl
Little Grebe Shoveler Wigeon

Sunday, 1 February 2009

31/1/09 White Winged Gulls at last!

Today, we finally said we are going to find the Mediterranean and Iceland gulls. So off to Briar Dene Car park which is 400 yards from where we live. As soon as we arrived we saw a gull sitting by itself and we knew it was the med gull. It was too far away for a photo but we threw some bread out and it soon came over. I love the flight shot I got! Anyway, next onto Blyth to see if we could find the Iceland gull. When we got there we had a look over the side and couldn't see it. So we asked someone who said there were 2 around and took us back to the place we were standing and we looked over further and there it was! However, no sign of the other one but I was delighted to see both types of gull. We still had a lot of time so we went to Holywell Ponds. When we got into the hide, everyone was looking out with binoculars and there was a female brambling. But then everything flew away and a sparrowhawk flew across the water. To finish we went to St. Mary's for the water pipit but no sign of it today.
Iceland Gull, Blyth Harbour
Common Gull, Briar Dene
Med Gull, Briar Dene Sparrowhawk, Holywell