Sunday, 26 April 2009

Loads of Linnets

Yesterday saw Mike and myself drive to Cresswell for a look around and some photo's. Not much at Lynemouth Flash, a few Redshank dotted around, loads of Jackdaws and a couple of Shelduck, hardly surprising with the decreasing water level.
The first carpark at Cresswell was a bit more interesting despite the mist over the sea Mike was off doing his 'faffing about' with his camera while my eyes were glued to the binoculars. Plenty of Gulls flying by and a Cormorant but with loads of people down on the rocks I gave up and headed to towards the hedgerow and got my

first tick of the day. I consulted my bird book while trying to grab Mikes attention by waveing my arms around and realised I was looking at a beautiful male Linnet. We managed to get a decent shot and then the female turned up and I was delighted whe she hung around for a photo. We stopped a for a while just to watch and realised there was loads of them dotting in and out of the hedge, obviously a good nesting spot and the bird song was a delight.
We headed off towards the ponds and saw 2 lovely Swallows perched on the telephone wire along the road, really nice but the camera was in the boot, we also spotted a few Lapwing and and a Pied Wagtail which was nice.
There was some very experienced birders at Cresswell Pond hide who had some cracking equipment and were able to spot some Wheatear in a distant field, I could see the filed but that was all, never mind I did see some Shelduck, Tufted Ducks, Cormorants, Redshank, Lapwing, Mute Swans and a male and female Pheasant . There was apparently some Garganey Ducks on the far bank but I didn't see them. On the way back to the car I spotted what loked like a sparrow on the bush but on closer inspection and again a quick consult with my book I realised it was a Reed Bunting, another tick and very exciting. We headed back home for some lunch after a really interesting day, I had expected to see more seabirds or ducks, instead I managed to get 2 quite different birds equally nice and a first so all in all a cracking morning.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

From my window ( 10 minutes)

I was sitting looking out of my front window this afternoon when a flash of colour caught my eye. I ran for my binoculars only to find the bird I was interested in had flown away by the time I had found them and my bird guide. I sat a few minutes and was quite amazed at the variety of birds flying about the street. First of all, I have been watching a pair of Sparrows nesting in the gutter of the house opposite so armed with my binoculars I managed to watch the pair come and go for quite a while.
Next on the scene was a Collared Dove who perched on the arial soon to be chased away by a Male Blackbird who was obviously trying to attract the attention of the female on the other roof. I caught sight of a Dunnock who sat for a while on the fence and then that was soon followed by a Goldfinch. Stunning little bird I must say and a tick, it perched on the roof for long enough for me to identify it so I was very pleased. Starlings have been seen flitting here and there very active in the street at the moment and a constant visitor to my garden. The female Blackbird decided that she wasn't interested in the Male and flew down to the tree, I was just about to get up when a greenfinch made an appreance, so all in all not bad for 10 minutes watching. The House Martins who normally nest in out street haven't turned up yet and wonder if they will as the field that they normally get their mud has been drained and houses has started to go up, bloody shame if you ask me the field was a haven for many birds and animals soon it will be another housing estate.
I hope my neighbours don't think I'm stalking them!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Squabbling Gadwall

I had a couple of spare hours this afternoon whilst my larger and smaller greater spotted teenagers were chilling infront of their computers so I popped down to Linton Ponds. I was hoping to see some Wigeon or Teal but no such luck. I did however get some nice shots using my hubby's camera. I got my eye on a couple of Gadwall swimming close to the hide. I thought they were Mallards at first then noticed the white patch on their rump. They were bobbing along quite nicely when another wanted in on the action and ended up in quite a squabble. I managed to get a couple of nice shots so that made my day. Not bad results for a beginner who just points and shoots. Also spotted today were Coot and Tuffted Duck which were quite happy swimming and feeding quite close to the hide. I managed to spot some Swallows or at least I think they were, this is how I came to the conclusion.........whilst consulting my bird book.....and trying to focus them in my binoculars.....
My first impresson was ' by george what was that little blighter' but soon saw them again and I thought that they were swifts but they didn't have the large sickle shaped wings and they had a blue tinge to them and a pale underside so I ruled it out.....
My next thought was they could be House Martins but I didn't see any white on the rump so I ruled them out as well. Also we always have them nesting in our steet but they haven't turned up yet so I didn't think it likely.....
Could they be Sand wrong colour....(remember I'm an amateur)....
So after ruling everything else out I can pretty much say they were Swallows which is another tick which is very exciting. I tried to get some photo's but the blighters were far to agile and quick.
Two very territorial Canada Geese had claimed one of the islands and got agitated everytime something landed on their island. There was a very nice selection of Gulls swimming, flying and joseling for position out of the wind, I did see a couple of Great Black Backed Gulls and Herring Gulls, probably much more but I'm not that fond of Gulls really. It turned out to be quite a nice way to spend and hour or so and I will definately be investing in my own camera, and new gear very soon so I can take photos whilst my other half does his thing.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Help Needed

Monday was a very busy day at Wallington Hall and I was pleased we visited the wildlife hide early. It was a very busy feeding station with Red Squirrels foraging on the ground and a lot of different birds using the hanging feeders. I need someone to identify a bird I saw and managed to photograph. At first I thought it was a Greenfinch and maybe it is but the photo shows what I think to be a Greenfinch at the back of the feeder so I was confused. Despite looking through my bird guides I am no further forward. Please leave a comment if you can identify the 3 birds on the feeder, and have a laugh at my poor identification skills hehehe. Other sightings included Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch and Bullfinch. A pheasant hung around for while pecking below the feeders before heading off into the trees. On our walk around the grounds I managed to spot a Grey Wagtail which is a tick for me so I was very excited, unfortunately it was to far away for a clear photo. Robins were spotted along with Mallard Ducks, a lone Canada Goose and Moorhen which were on the ponds. I heard a Woodpecker but despite searching for it my daughter and I were not lucky enough to spot it, mybe next time, we did get a glimpse of a Nuthatch which is another one of my favourites. Bank Holidays is not a good time to watch birds in popular places ... too many people and screaming kids or maybe I'm just getting old!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

My Lost Hour - Seal Watching

I popped down to Newbiggin Beach which seems to be turning into my local patch and the Seal turned up again. haven't seen it since Boxing day but as the tide was coming in it popped it's head up and hung around for a short time. the photo is of the seal looking up just before it disapearaed. I had a super time watching it as Mike did his usual faffing about taking photos. Check out hisflickr site ( see what he gets up to while I'm bird watching. Other sightings included Oystercatchers, Redshank and Gulls. I'm not a gull expert but I did spot a couple of Black Backed Gulls on the rocks which were huge. These ones didn't bat an eyelid as the waves were crashing all around them. A cormorant flew by and started feeding just of the shore which was nice and the Heron was back perched on the rocks where the gulls were resting. Further along the beach we came across some very friendly Turnstone who were happy to get their photo taken, like this friendly chap on the right who stood for ages while Mike got his lens changed. Cute or what. Further along towards church point there was a couple of Eider Ducks bobbing along on the surf quite happily feeding and putting on a nice show, too far out for a photo but the binoculars were behaving thank goodness. All in all a very nice way to lose an hour even if it was just at Newbiggin.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Cracking Cragside

Thursday took us to Cragside where I was lucky enough to get 2 ticks. Down by the stream running below the house I got my first glimpse of a Dipper. While it was feeding and swimming amongst the rocks we stood quiet just watching this lovely little bird. Couldn't get a clear picture of the white breast as it was frantically trying to get some lunch, So that was tick number 1. As we walked around the grounds bird song was all around us and it was delightful. Robins and Blackbirds were spotted darting to and fro and during the estate drive we spotted Chaffinch. We stopped at the Blackburn car park and started a circular walk and was delighted to see a Buzzard soaring high over the site of Blackburn Lake, tick number 2. It was around for only a short time but the distinctive pale underside confirmed my theory of the bird to be a Buzzard after consulting my bird guide. What a day this was turning out to be. I was surprised at the lack of ducks and birds at Nelly's Moss north and south lakes where there was a couple of Golden Eyes and thats about it. It was a lovely day and we plan on returning during the summer. I will try and be quicker at updating my blog as I'm a couple of days behind, but it's the holidays and I'm on a wind down.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Wednesday's walk

We decided to burn some calories on Wednesday after tea, and headed down to the QE11 Country Park for a walk around the lake. As soon as we got there we spotted a pair of Great
Crested Grebes bobbing about near the reeds. My daughter and I stood for quite a while watching them whilst my husband was trying his best to get a good photo. This is a tick for me so I was thrilled and we all enjoyed watcing them. It was a bit nippy so we headed off around the lake where we saw a few Coots and Moorhens along with the resident Mute Swans. Near the fishing areas that have just been finished there was a few Tufted Ducks and Mallards, I saw what I think was a few Golden Eyes bobbing about asleep so not a definate on that one. In the woods we saw a few Chaffinch, Rooks, Great Tit and a Wren. There was plenty of birds singing but just not showing themselves. We headed back to the car park and was quite suprised at the lack of Canada Geese, there was loads last time and I only counted 4 today. There was the usual gulls and Jackdoors about so all in all a very productive trip.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Just out for a wander

Since the weather was nice yesterday we decided to go for a wander around the estate to get some exercise and fresh air. I have never noticed the vast amount of different species in the area before or maybe I was just not looking, and they have always been there. As soon as I left my garden we saw a Dunnock under the fuschia bush, I didn't even know there was such a bird as a Dunnock until a few months ago and they are everywhere and one of my favorite garden visitors now. On our walk we saw a Kestrel hovering near the spine road, a couple of Wood pigeons next to the park, 2 Great Tits chasing each other in and out of the hedge, Robins, Dunnocks and a Greenfinch perched on a house ariel. Blackbirds and Starlings were out in abundance and plenty of gulls on top of the lamp posts. The bird song was a delight to listen to and with the sun going down it was pleasant way to finish off a dull day at work.
Will do my best to go to West Hartford at the weekend to try and spot the Avocet. It may of moved away by then but it's on my 'to see list' and I will attempt to see it come rain or shine, shame I'm at work till then.