Sunday, March 01, 2015

Amble Harbour.

Today's weather turned out a lot better than expected. The forecast on Thursday said it would be raining all day and blowing a gale. It was windy, but the sun shone brightly most of the time.

I met up with John and we covered the Coquet Estuary area from Warkworth road bridge down to the harbour. Bird-wise it was all a bit same-old same-old so we just pottered around getting some nice photographs in bright sunshine.

This Turnstone on one of the trawlers in the harbour came out well. It is almost a full image, with only a very slight crop to balance it out.

Its not often I wish I hadn't left my small lens in the car, but this young Great black backed Gull was way too close for my 300! It spent the whole time pulling bits of flattie from the net, followed by an entourage of Turnstones cleaning up after it.

Wigeon are usually the most wary of wildfowl but here, half a dozen birds were pushed up by the rising tide to a point they were used to people wandering around the prom. The drakes are stunning in the sunshine, one to be appreciated when the opportunity presents itself.

They were accompanied by a nice adult Med Gull loafing just offshore...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Stumpy lugs and Barnie....

An afternoon at Warkworth watching three Short-eared Owls on the dunes. Always flighty, they were still nice to see having become ever more scarce in recent years. 


On the way back to the car park at dusk a poor Barn Owl was being kleptoparasitised ( I think?)  by a Carrion Crow, determined to take its vole...

Monday, February 23, 2015

Some Tree Sparrows...

A few from the garden today....

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Its Black....

Black Scoter quick notes, you get the idea....

A flexi day off work today saw us heading off to Holy Island to do a recce for the Alnwick Wildlife Group field trip on Saturday. The day was overcast and windy at first making the birding difficult. As with Sunday's Iceland Gull, today's first bird was one of the highlights, heard as we got out of the car at the Chare Ends - a Raven! The first I've seen on Holy Island, it continued south along the shore mobbed by two Carrion Crows. When we came back to the car there were two Ravens flying up and down, feeding in the same field.

From here we checked the heugh for grebes and divers with out success, then tried the rocket fields. 6 Black tailed Godwits, hundreds of Pale bellied Brent Geese ( 1 Dark bellied), a pair of Shoveler and a good scattering of Teal were noted.

As it was quiet we decided to leave the island and pay a visit to Cheswick only a few miles north, to see if the drake Black Scoter was still around. After half an hour of scanning, up he popped, the closest duck to us, with 100+ Common Scoter, 20+ Red breasted Merganser, 3+ Long tailed Duck, 1 Slavonian and 1 Great crested Grebe scattered in broken groups across the sea.

It was interesting to note that he behaved the same as the Bamburgh bird in charging around, bill open, calling ( unheard) whilst the Commons, seemed quite non plussed...

This site proved to be the best of the day, the afternoon being spent 'gulling' around the very quiet Coquet Estuary. Best here were 35 Grey Plover at Birling Carrs, 50+ Knot and a young Roe buck.

Back to work to end a short week tomorrow...

Raven, centre, with two Carrion Crows.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Grey Wagtail, Beal Bank, Warkworth.

Not a bad weekend for weather, with yesterday being the better of the two days. Today is dull and overcast with some mist all day.

On Saturday I had a short seawatch at Craster with little to show for it other than a few Shelduck N and 3 Red throated Divers on the sea with a dozen Gannets distantly. From here a short wander around produced the hoped for Willow Tits in the area with two birds calling and one seen well.

Today I've been down to see John at the Coquet Estuary.

Remarkably my very first bird of the day seen in the half light of dawn was from the moving car when a fw Iceland Gull was a shining beacon of white on the river above the weir at Warkworth. Much rarer than Glaucous Gull here, it was a surprise indeed. After hastily swinging the car into the layby and calling John who was waiting for me at the marina, we watched the gull bathe for 10 minutes or so before flying off down river where we couldn't relocate it.

The rest of the morning was spent covering the Warkworth Gut and North pier areas, but there was not much else of note. There were plenty of gulls, waders and wildfowl though, so we enjoyed checking through them....

Above - poor quality images of Iceland Gull, due to the low light levels...

  93.Willow Tit

Monday, February 09, 2015

Purple Sandpipers.

After some success photographing the Purple Sandpipers in Craster Harbour yesterday I thought I would give them half an hour this morning in some nice sunshine. 5 birds showed well with a few Turnstones. I am really pleased with the way these have turned out. Purps are a regular feature on our piece of coastline in winter, with Craster being a favoured site from August through to May.

Its nice to fluke some interesting features not normally noticed in the field. In pic 3 the bill tip opens up like a spoon to help catch on to slippery invertebrates, very strange.

Still no Dunlin though....

Please do not use the images without permission. Thanks.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

A day of two halves... use a football analogy.

This morning was another sharp, crystal clear day for a wander down the coastal section of my patch.

We started at the Howick burn mouth where things were pretty much the same as usual. A Kingfisher called and flew upstream, unseen, while  the first of 2 Shelducks flew north. A perusal of the gulls revealed nothing but the locals, but offshore there was a steady passage of Herring Gulls all going north along the breakers at a rate of about 100+ per hour.

The view north from the Rumbling Kern, a geological feature on the shoreline.

Herring Gulls moving north.
 Back up at the farm, 130+ Golden Plover, 2 Grey Partridges, a few Skylarks were in the coast fields, while a Rock Pipit was a bit unusual forsaking its usual pelagic habitations in favour of a roadside muck heap.

Golden Plover in sheep pasture.

A muck heap loving Rock Pipit.
Next stop was to the far northern end of the patch where we drank tea and ate biscuits without a great deal of ornithological disturbance. I did get embarrassingly carried away with a glimpse of a Collared Dove dropping into a garden and out of sight.

The sunshine was lovely in the harbour so a few minutes were spent checking out what was lurking in there.

Craster Harbour


Purple Sandpiper

Another Purple Sandpiper

Redshank with a third Purple Sandpiper.
So, with a few Purps in the bag it was time to call it a day as I had be get home to be ready for another 'first' for me...
St James's Park, Newcastle.
 This first is not surprising really. We had a chance to of two season tickets to see Newcastle play Stoke ( thanks to Lady Howick) at home. Anyone who knows me, will now be shocked, as there is not a less sporty person on the planet, but its always good to try a new experience. I really enjoyed the afternoon out and from here we tried out a new restaurant in the city centre before getting the train back away from 'civilisation'...

Oh, the score was one each....I hope on the match of the day highlights they show the Grey Wagtail running around outside the dug outs. It put on a better performance than the Toon thats for sure!

92. Collared Dove