Wednesday, 29 January 2014


It's pretty dreary when the most interesting photo I've taken in the last few days is a Canada Goose with dodgy markings at Killy Lake. I would have some nice shots of Goldeneye displaying if some dimwit hadn't got there seconds before me and flushed them back out into the middle of the lake.
No doubt the folk of Canada would blame this white face on consuming Irn Bru and Marmite.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Making foxes

There I was chatting to Richard about the lack of merit in the English Planning system when he noticed two foxes playing in the field west of the wood. Unusual for them to be playing at that age I thought and then took a closer look as he mentioned he'd seen them mating recently. Fortunately given their exposed location the tie didn't last long. Fifty plus days and the patter of tiny paws on peat can be expected.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Hawk eyes

A strange effect in the eyes of Mrs Sparrowhawk this morning as she looked directly at me. Strangely the other birds in the garden continued feeding while she sat there watching them for a good five minutes and only panicked when she took to the air. 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


In among the Greylag geese at East Chevington yesterday JM spotted the long staying Lesser White Fronted Goose as well as the Green winged Teal presumably on a day out from Druridge. Unfortunately the goose cannot go on the lifer list as much suspicion has been cast upon it's credentials. Firstly it turned up at Cresswell Pond in late June and with Greylags not the usual carrier species. Further detail study has also not only cast doubt on it's origin but also it's parenthood as it's too large for a real LWF so is likely a cross Eurasian WF and LWF. Quite a dainty thing compared with the Greylags above it.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Time exposed

Trips up to Hauxley the last two weeks have produced little on the birding front however walking back along the beach the impact of the recent surge tides on the dunes is pretty evident. Along the whole stretch about one meter of dune has collapsed leaving the coal seam below exposed as a shelf sitting on its plinth of boulder clay.
Large clumps of grass lie on top of the coal shelf and rabbit holes are exposed to view. Any Sand Martin colony nest site will have been completely lost as had been anticipated by the NWT at Hauxley when they built their artificial colony.
The coal seam varies from nil to almost 2ft and I presume is the Bondicar seam. This is near the northernmost limit of the Northumbrian coalfield at Amble hence the seam being so close to the surface and of poor quality coal.
Indeed near the headland there are whole stumps and trunks of ancient trees poking out of the seam. I wonder how long it was since this tree was in leaf.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

It's so very quiet

Just sitting around waiting for the season to start. 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Starling attraction

A day up the coast on Saturday saw a couple of Long tailed Ducks at Druridge Pool, a nice fly by Red throated Diver at Hauxley but little else of note. A shooting party at Hauxley meant all the ducks were sitting on the sea so with little close by I headed to East Chevington to end the day. Little of note there when I arrived other than eight or more Goldeneye. I settled down to scan the north pool Bittern and Bearded Tit more a hope than likely. As I stood next to the tin box I heard lots of car doors slamming and noticed people, obviously not all birders, walking down to the hide looking at me in puzzlement for not making use of the facility. One asked about Otters and then about the Starlings which I must admit I had totally forgotten about. TB joined me wondering what was about as there were lots of cars parked on the road. At 3.40 three Starlings appeared over the pool and we chuckled at the lack of numbers. Five minutes late fifty more and a Sparrowhawk flew across the north pool hunting the eastern reeds before perching on a fence post. As I watched through my bins a shape appeared from the north and the Sparrowhawk attacked it. As the shape rose it was clearly much bigger and a Peregrine was identified flying off south just as five hundred or so Starlings appeared over the pool. Hmm dinner may be about to be served.
A thousand or more Starlings wheeled over the north pool at 4.00 and the numbers kept building as groups of twenty to two hundred joined the throng. Then a large flock of thousands higher up merged into the main flock and the spectacle was complete. It was not the fastest or most dynamic I've seen but they moved back and forth between the two pools possibly deciding if it was safe to land. Eventually at 4.15 the south bank of the south pool seemed to be the preference and as they passed low over the reeds at the inlet groups started raining into the reeds on every pass until 4.20 and it was all over. Nice to see so many folk interested and amusing to see that tablets as well as phones and cameras were being used to take photographs. A bit unwieldy but the results seemed ok.

Friday, 10 January 2014

A bright spot among the dullness

It's been a dire week not helped by unending dullness and a lack of birds. This afternoon gave up all hope of achieving any, let alone a successful outcome at work so I headed out where the highlights were two Willow Tit feeding of food put on a fence post and two Lesser Redpoll making their way along the hedgerow. Numerous photographs were taken but the light level and incessant movement of the birds meant no decent shots were had.
The lack of birds even had me photographing reflections in puddles which somehow have more character than just looking up at the tree.

Monday, 6 January 2014


After a brisk start to the year the weekend was a complete damp squib and much effort only scratched the pc list up to 50. This weather whilst warm seems to be suppressing everything. My patch should be busy given the flooding. Anyhow a flock of 159 Greylag Geese fed in fields near Horton Grange this afternoon and were searched fruitlessly for White fronts.
Further up the road yesterday the strange sight of a Buzzard hovering over the opencast berm with grass, leaves and or wire dangling from its leg making it look just like a kite (the one on a string). Hopefully it could get rid of its hangers on. Yes, I stopped for the shot but it flew away before camera could be aimed.

Friday, 3 January 2014

A good start

New Years day being a bit of a wash out the 2014 count started in earnest yesterday. I soon ticked off the usual suspects although thrush numbers have declined dramatically over the last few days. I wonder if they've headed inland now the berries are largely finished or back home? Close to best was a Jack Snipe flushed from behind the top sentry box on the range Bridleway and not far behind that a Peregrine again flushed off a Woodpigeon kill near the wood.
The count for the day ended at 45 as a Sparrowhawk briefly visited the garden but most remembered was fifteen minutes watching three Red Squirrels chasing each other up and down a tree.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Flying into the New Year

Well that's that all over. I'm afraid I hate New Year and disappear into my pit till it's safe to emerge when folk begin acting normally again. This years snooze into 2014 was rudely interrupted by neighbours setting off fireworks which seems to be gaining prevalence over the traditional Bonfire night celebrations. The recent english habit of adopting other nations traditions over their own really gets on my tits. 
The Prestwick Carr list ended on 108 with Peregrine being the final addition although I missed out on Merlin and Goshawk that passed through on Monday. A final walk yesterday turned up a nice but evasive Goldcrest.
a Ladybird that I assume is hibernating in the top of this fence post
and the usual culprits of Kestrel and Willow Tit still pleasantly prevalent on the patch. Now to get on with 2014.