Tuesday, 30 October 2012


A splendid sunset on the Carr last night but upsetting as it was only 4.45pm
A Robin got in on the act again. The one I pictured last post against the moon is a bit of a mimic and can do Blue Tit and Swallow alarm calls. Twice I've spun round expecting to see a Swallow only to find the little chap atop his bush. Of course I waited with camera on movie mode ready to record said event and he just reverted to whistful singing.
Just after dark at 5.00pm a familiar silhouette drifted across the road stretching the limits of a crepuscular hunter.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Another moonshot

Under a waning moon Robin showed for a few moments before dropping down to roost last night. Little poser.
I have spent some time over the last few days trying to find an unusual Redpoll amongst the flock still present. This one looked a bit paler than normal but size wise was no bigger than normal and a chunky beak to boot.
Friday night and a plane avoids flying into the gathering tumult to the East which brought snowfall overnight. People now seem to remark that this is early snow but when ah was a lad I remember there was nearly always a flurry before bonna night and I remember a couple where there was snow on the ground.
Redwings and Fieldfares present in good numbers although still flighty with around 20m being their comfort zone. When the weather harshens that will drop significantly and hopefully better pictures will be had.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Changing colours

Some autumn colours on the Carr in two brief moments of sunshine yesterday
Unfortunately just fifteen minutes after taking these picturee it was back to grey and I was getting soaked.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Well that was poor advice as the moment I wrote the last blog the cloud came in and it's been greyness ever since.
This specimen of Greylag was at Hauxley over the weekend. Slightly larger and lighter than the other Greylags with Whitefront features but Greylag beak. Presumably a mixed race.
Whoopers found the stubble attractive
and Pinkfoots passed through.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

rambling with a B?

Another in a long line of crap photo's but worth it. Taken yesterday morning as I was trying to find an unusual looking Redpoll I spotted this bird and on instinct rattled off a couple of shots. Bugger......I had underexposed the camera settings for taking shots of the Redpoll atop a bush in the strong sunlight and now shooting into the bush a black mess but for some reason I kept the shot. Back home and some Photoshop enhancement and blow me if it isn't a female Brambling or is it just a Spuggie? Number 119 going by the mottling to the side of the breast and the small wing bars.
For those star gazers amongst you my handy Meteor shower App tells me to look out for the Orionids radiating from within the constellation of Orion in the north sky tonight and tomorrow night as we pass through the dusty tail of Halleys Comet. Should be 20-30 yellow and green meteors at up to 20 per hour assuming the sky is clear and I'm not too pissed!

Friday, 19 October 2012

It's that time of year

and the creatures of the night are awake quite early to get in a bit of fly catching before the sun goes down. The last two nights have seen Bats flying over the water on the Carr. Initially last night I thought I had a Swallow in view but the wing shape and flight were quite obviously a Bat and being big and crepuscular almost certainly a Noctule.
Tonight three hunted over the flash water north of Mayfair Cottage and I managed some 'better than last night' photos. I think the wedge tail and size are diagnostic.
They appear most years but its the first time I've seen more than one and certainly the best photo op. According to the book they will hibernate any time now so may not even see Halloween. The Little Gull was still present and hundreds of finches which have attracted the attention of a pair of Sparrowhawks who were pretty actively hunting them and the Snipe last night.
And so the sun sets on another day. I hope it's not so foggy tomorrow morning which would cramp the start of another birding day................I really should get some work done though

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

A bad ID day

Having spent Saturday morning thinking four Mute Swans were Whoopers (thanks Alan I'm sure when I first saw them in the early morning sun there was no black around the eyes but the likelyhood of four juvenile Whoopers flying off and four similarly plumaged Mutes returning is close to nil!), I compounded the idiocy in the afternoon at Cresswell Pond convincing myself the bird with the white cheeks was the long staying Long tailed Duck.
The photograph proves it to be a Common Scoter although the cheek is whiter than I normally associate with this species. Oh well. Age and blindness has finally got to me.
No how can I turn this into a purple Heron? Tinted glasses perhaps
Just to confuse me further, Rock Pipit in Meadow Pipit habitat or is it a..................oh never mind.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Out sharp for a Goose count but the only Icelandic birds were four immature Whooper Swans who flew off North when I arrived only to make a circuit of the Carr and return half an hour later where they were joined by two Mute Swans who didn't like the foriegn invaders but failed to shift them from their patch. Probably siblings now making their own way in the world. The goose count amounted to 19 Canada Geese and two Greylags over north.
Whilst I counted non existent geese two Kingfishers squabbled, chasing each other up and down the bridlepath. Too fast for me as I only managed to catch the backside of one. The afternoon was spent up the coast of which more later but I missed Blyths Reed Warbler as indeed it did by about four miles!
End of the weekend after Sunday morning webs and the Little Gull was still about easily found as most of the Black headed Gull had gone although way too far off for a decent photograph.
I was in stealth mode and not even the Deer could hear me coming although they listened intently.....
and the Shortie slept through my entire visit although I suspect that's all it does as I've yet to see any concerted hunting.

Friday, 12 October 2012

A small fall

A quick check at lunchtime found the first Redwing of the season in small parties overhead and flushed from the hedgerows. The overnight fall had also topped up the flood and a flock of 46 Teal swam in a long line till flushed revealling a handful of Wigeon in amongst their number. The Little Gull remains, generally feeding along the fence line in the middle of the horse fields although what it's eating is open to debate as I would imagine few flies are about in the stiff breeze and decidedly colder wind. A Buzzard played in the leading edge of the woodland as it did last night when the aerial count was 86 Redpoll, 158 Lapwing, 8 Snipe,13 Golden Plover and a Kestrel.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Unusually large flocks of Redpoll still remain on Prestwick Carr. Groups of thirty to fifty birds can be found at various locations and have been for over two weeks now which compares to my usual record of half a dozen flushed from a roadside one morning. I can't explain the reason. Possibly a good breeding season or a continental influx. I've tried to find a Mealy or Arctic without success although getting close is an issue as they are pretty flighty.
The 2 Ruff and the Little Gull remain being found most mornings and evenings currently preferring the fence lines in the middle of the horse paddocks north of Mayfair Cottage. Sunday saw a small flock of 16 Barnacle Geese circle and land only to depart leaving one of their party to overnight. Monday evening saw a large movement of Pink footed Geese over with four of five skeins totaling 250+ birds all moving south west. A small Greylag flock of 100 spend the nights on what remains of the flood before flying back to Big Waters for their day job and the up to 150 Lapwings and 26 Curlew provide the soundtrack.
The garden is also busy with numerous finches and tits joined on Monday by this nice male Blackcap and a couple of Tree Sparrows. I keep checking my Collared Doves for signs of turning Turtle as it was a year tomorrow that one showed up at Big Waters therefore you may find me skulking in the Brunswick sports field car park over the next few days!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Little beauty

My back having siezed for some unknown reason on Friday, Saturdays walk and count was taken at an unusually delicate pace and all the better as the weather was fine the Skylarks called overhead and water levels had dropped to a level allowing full access along the bumpy road for the first time in a week and a half. The Redpolls, Robins and Bullfinches were all active in the hedgerows and a single Chiffchaff called. A lone Whooper Swan flew off the flood with a Black tailed Godwit, 2 Ruff, 24 Curlew and 150 Lapwing remaining along with scores of Gulls. The return stagger found two Stonechat feeding, No 116 on the year list. I was joined by GB who also found a Whinchat indicating the birds were on passage which is sad as Stonechat bred here regularly till the recent bad winters. Then STH and PJA called by and we chatted about the relative differences between our patches which are only 5-6km apart noting that Little Gull, recorded at Arcot / West Hartford was missing from my list. Two Buzzards called overhead and three Jay flew from the wood as we made our separate ways.
After an abortive afternoon on the coast I returned to have a final look before the Saturday evening televisual torture. As I set off from the car ADMc rode alongside on his new bike and we chatted as we made our way up the road. Now Andys bike list is close or may now exceed my Northumberland list and as we met AB at the goats we had barely turned the corner when Andy called Little Gull and there was the little treasure and No117 to boot.
I of course snapped away whilst the bird circled and fed with unusually for shots of Little Gull, looking through the hedgerow being a major problem.
Not to mention the light levels which started at overcast and ended in bright sun. That's my excuse for not making better of the splendid opportunity.
Anyway some excellent views were had along with comparison shots alongside Black headed Gulls. The markings indicate a second calendar year bird and it's call was quite distinct being much sharper and harsher the Black headed.
I never managed to get that action shot I wanted as it danced dived and danced over the water although comic stunt shots were achieved. Eventually with some unheard call all the birds headed off east at around 18.00. I returned this morning and the bird was back again at the same place but after ten or so minutes on the water it started ranging quite widely round the Carr. Later on whilst checking the Godwit and Curlew up the range track it again flew in front of me to be followed at a lower height and more direct pace by a Kingfisher! No118 Splendid!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

When a Little means a lot

Another addition to the PC list tonight. I'm too happy for words!

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Quiet on the Carr the last few nights so the camera got pointed on the flood.
I say quiet but the backing track is one of squabbling Black headed Gulls, mewing Lapwings, mournful Curlews and the occasional Golden Plover and Snipe.
The last day has seen the watre level begin to drop in earnest however it's still too deep to get up the range bridleway which stopped Graeme and I getting close up to a Bar tailed Godwit that seems to be moving with the Curlew flock.
Two Ruff and a Black tailed Godwit remain but it looks like we're past the peak of wader passage and additions look unlikely although the flocks of Lapwing, Plover and Geese are likely to grow. Swallows are still around but mainly passage birds and I await the first winter Thrush on one of these chilly mornings.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Flooding in

Prestwick Carr is at its best when flooded and water levels after last Tuesdays deluge certainly haven't subsided quickly which means the list has had a boost. Having added Long eared Owl a couple of weeks ago the floods brought in four Ruff and a couple of Yellow Wagtail which brought the tally to 111 equalling last years efforts with three months left. Friday evening saw Stock Dove added but Saturday was lost due to other commitments so Sunday I was down first thing. A flock of 56 Pink footed Geese must have spent the night and in amongst them was a single Barnacle Goose a species new to the PC list. Nearby a flock of 30 or so Wigeon fed and 50 Lapwing had two Ruff feeding alongside as the Geese flew off west. I was just leaving to check the top fields when Graeme arrived and as I headed up the lane he texted me to say he had three Pintail in view so I returned to add them to my list, the last this species was seen here being 2006 but not by me. As we watched all the birds lifted and a Peregrine shot over our heads allowing Graeme to spot two Gadwall flying with the Pintails. He was on a roll as he then turned up Black tailed Godwit and a Med Gull in amongst the hundreds of Black heads! I have long checked the many gulls for this bird and finally its now on the list which stands at 115 for the year and I keep missing a Grey Plover which Bill and Allan have seen a few times toward the end of last week.
Spot the Barnacle Goose. Last night I counted 46 Pied Wagtail leaving the horse paddocks to roost and today the three Pintail and two Ruff remain, the Lapwing flock has risen over 100 and 30 Golden Plover have joined them along with 80 or so Greylag Geese but scanning the Black headed Gulls I couldn't refind the Med.