Thursday, 27 August 2009

Cresswell Surprise

We popped down to Cresswell tonight for a quick walk along the beach which turned out to be a fabulous night for bird watching. I didn't expect to see a great deal so I had left my camera at home but armed with my binoculars we set off. The evening was extremely pleasant and I soon spotted some Ringed Plovers by the waters edge and some Oyster Catchers further along. The Terns were in abundance and although I'm not too good at spotting the difference between Arctic and Common I'm sure there was some Sandwich terns with the black beaks amongst the group.
Not long into the walk we spotted a dark bird with a white flash on under side of wings and also the tail feathers had a some long pretruding feathers, but what caught my attention was that it was chasing other birds, out came my bird book and I safely identified a Skua. The guide suggested it would be an Arctic Skua as these apparently are the most common on our coast but I was just delighted to get a tick. It came by a few times and the Terns gave back as much as they were given, the arial display was marvelous as it was trying to rob other birds of their catch. It was very exciting and a first for me.
Off the coast there was a large number of Eider Ducks bobbing on the calm sea along with a couple of Cormorants. A few Swallows were spotted swooping along the shore and it was lovely to see 5 Curlew fly by.
Mike was just about screaming at me for the binoculars when he spotted a Gannet just off the shore and to our delight he was right, the long pointed wings and white body with black wing tips was unmistakable. It is a stately bird with a grace and power that just makes you stare. We saw it dive a couple of times and it was spectacular. We saw Gannets when we visited the Farne Islands but they were quite far away from our boat so to see one this close was great.
There was plenty of Gulls dotted about and some juvenile Black Headed Gulls were identified but just as we were about to leave 2 Heron passed us heading out to sea, and then quicky turned back to shore, Mike suggested the birds were a pair and he commented that the female bird had took the wrong turn at the beach and the male bird was saying...'I told you to turn left at the water, but you didn't listen' hehehe
A fabulous evening for bird watching and a tick...what more could you ask for... I didn't even complain when the rain started.

Sunday, 23 August 2009


Last weekend I popped down to Newbiggin to see what was on the rocks at low tide. Lots of Gulls were spending time resting and Black Headed Gulls and a few Black Backed Gulls were spotted. Just off the shore a couple of Cormorants were fishing and a family of Eider Ducks were spotted resting on the rocks. Amongst the Eider Ducks I spotted something I couldn't identify and thought I would post a photo. It was far out and the picture isn't that good but I can confirm it had an orange head with a pale grey or white chest and grey back. I can't even guess what this duck is but it was with the Eider Ducks. Any suggestions welcome.
I was really pleased to see a large flock of Dunlin dotted around the rocks and shore line. I personally love these birds and they looked stunning in their summer plumage. It was a challenge to get a decent shot as they were quite camera shy. I perservered and managed to get a couple worth posting.

Other sightings were Oystercatcher, Redshank and Curlew. Everytime I go to Newbiggin I spot a Seal and was delighted when I saw it around the corner from Church Point, it obviously likes it here and yet again Lesser spotted teenager missed it.....

While peering through my binoculars I saw what I think was a Sandpiper but it was on the far rocks and I am probably wrong it was a shame it didn't come closer. Quite a few people were out and about and what I really could of done with was a nice quiet afternoon birdwatching...alas not to be, barking dogs and yelling kids don't make a good birdwatching environment.

I was really pleased to see Turnstones and Ringed Plovers dotted here and there and luckily enough to get a decent shot. The Turnstones were still looking lovely with their copper backs and stunning black and white heads and chest a really nice bird. Despite the annoying people and yappy dogs it was a nice afteroon and amazing what you can see if you sit and wait, at first glance you see Gulls but a closer look reaveals some stunning birds, I am soo pleased I bought a decent pair of binoculars.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Flying Nightmare

We decided to visit Dunstanburgh Castle today and try and get a glimpse of some interesting birds along the way. We walked along the beach from Embleton and spotted what I think is a female Wheatear, also the second photo shows what I think is a young Stonechat. Mike seems to think it is also a Wheatear, if anyone can clear this up then please leave a comment. I don't mind being wrong as I often am.

Other interesting things along the way included Cormorant fishing off the shore, Turnstones on the exposed rocks and a couple of Oystercachers. As we headed further towards the castle it became apparent Kittiwakes were still resident. I really like these birds and I decided to try and get a shot of one flying.......what a nightmare. On the cliffs I was poised with camera in hand as they flew past quite close and I must of shot over 30 or so of them hoping to get a decent one to post. The best one is below along with a Fulmar family which were perched a bit higher up the cliff.

I was wondering why Mike wasn't taking any of his 'Faffy shots' he kept saying the lights not right. As I don't know alot about camera lighting and stuff I just shrugged and took some more shots of the Kittiwakes I soon found out what he was on about when I got back and downloaded my photo's, the white birds and a bright sunny day do not mix. A lot of the photo's were' burnt out' another technical term for 'too bright'. Anyway a good day out and some cracking birds.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Inverness delight

I have just returned from a weeks fabulous holiday in Inverness where I have seen some wonderful things.

Ticks included Red Kite - wow what a fab bird, we were north of Inverness on the way to the West Coast when this wonderful bird was spotted over a farmers field. An emergency stop was in order and out came the binoculrs. Two were seen in the distance and one close up, what a treat and a special tick.

Then came the Whinchat - same day as the Redkite, Mike stopped for some photos and Lesser spotted teenager and I kept out of the gale force wind in the car when this delightful bird perched for quite a while on the fence post, lots of searching through my bird guide but a definate tick.
Next came Hooded Crow - Mike saw them quite a few times at the side of the road and I missed them most times but finally got a glimpse.

Next we stopped off at the Osprey centre near Aviemore and saw this years chicks which was a real treat. I did see one at Spey Bay east of Inverness which was getting mobbed by the resident gulls and had no idea there was cameras and birders watching a fabulous agility display.

As we were going home there was a field with 6 or so Whimbrel, definately not Curlew and a nice end to a lovely holiday. Instant tick and a sense of pride knowing the difference.

We had a super time and as usual we stopped by Chanory Point to see some Dolphin action and we were not disapointed. check out the photo. Will try and get a few bird pictures sorted soon from my visit to Dunrobin Castle falcony centre where my favorite was the Golden Eagle, what a magnificent bird, just a shame I didn't see it in the wild.