Sunday, 30 March 2014

Two for the Price of One

The gloom which descended upon the northeast overnight wasn't really conducive to good birding today, the fog and mist didn't even look like lifting all the time we were out this morning, so luckily the crack (ie piss-taking) was better than the weather.
We didn't even bother getting out of the Birdmobile at Burdon Moor, the Lamesley area held a brief LRP and 3 Sandmartins, and a Kittiwake on the Tyne at Costco would have been new for my yearlist had I been keeping one ;-) 

So to our last stop at Shibdon Pond, where a passage LRP just in front of the hide was the bird of the day, joined soon afterwards by the resident Ruff for a nice photo opportunity. 

Today's star birds - little ringed plover and ruff
 That was our day in a nutshell, and it gives me another excuse to wheel out a couple more of me favourite cartoons to brighten up the mood, both of which appeared in BBC Wildlife Magazine c2009: 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Things You See when you Haven't Got Your Camera . . .

Managed an hour or so down Far Pasture late morning (with a couple of sprogs in tow). Lovely bright morning and from the hide there were Kingfisher, Grey Heron and Water Rail all out in the open in close proximity, just asking to be photographed, except my bag was full of drinks and crisps so there was no room for my camera, just typical :-(

Great to see all the same, as were a few mating toads and singing chiffchaffs. Disappointingly no sand martins here yet (though I did get the first of the year at Shibdon Pond on Friday) but with southerlies forecast tomorrow it shouldn't be long.

Treat of the day was the raptor activity from the access road, stunning views of up to 5 red kites (3 of them especially putting on a show for the photographers), 4 buzzards, sparrowhawk and kestrel. Could have stayed a lot longer but not easy with impatient sprogs getting restless.

A short detour to Lockhaugh Farm raptor watchpoint only gave distant views of kites, buzzards and sparrowhawk (mobbing buzzard) with the highlight being a hooting tawny owl.

We just got back home when there was a brief hailstorm, yet bizarrely the sun was still shining. Most enjoyable little session though, and for once the kids didn't spoil it by fighting all the while :-)

Not long now 'til the first damsels emerge. Ponds and ditches looking good . . . .


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Six of the Best and One of the Other

Or was it ? . . . . .

Been an interesting couple of days. Yesterday went on a Goshawk watch at probably County Durham's most well known site. A glorious day with no less than seven sightings of at least three birds, including one perched up for a while and another mobbed by a Peregrine.

Other raptors seen were 5-6 common buzzards, 3-4 Sparrowhawks, 2 kestrel sightings of possibly the same bird and 2 sightings of the Peregrine. Numerous Red Kites on the way to and from brought the raptor count to SIX species, equalling my personal best for a single day.

The supporting cast of other birds at the site included Tawny Owl and Green Woodpecker (both heard but not seen) many a curlew, a massive flock of golden plover, singing skylarks and meadow pipits, song and mistle thrush, goldcrest, and what looked like a loose flock of red grouse flying up from the moors towards the woodland, possibly put up by the peregrine (?)
White-tailed bumble bees and a single unidentified butterfly were also noted in a cracking session in the beautiful spring sunshine.

Today started well, when the kids went off to school shortly before 9am there was a chiffchaff singing from the trees over the road. But better still, shortly afterwards I looked out the side-bedroom window and saw this beauty perched up in the conifers next to from where the chiffy had been singing.

A male in his 10th year

Suddenly mobbed by a Magpie.

Then an uneasy truce . . .

 . . . . before letting out a call of defiance.

Now where's that magpie gone ?
"It's behind you!"
"Oh no it isn't!"
"Oi ! No pictures !"

Quite pleased with those, taken through double-glazing at 18x zoom, just shows what a glorious spring day it was again today, but just think of the pictures a proper photographer might have got :-O

 Footnote : After scrutinising photos of a few of the birds we had down as Goshawks on Monday it looks like they were in fact displaying sparrowhawks, a common mistake at this time of year (especially if you're not familiar with the species) as the sparrowhawks' jizz changes altogether when displaying and even the small male can look an impressive size at distance.
Confused now and I'm not sure if I actually did see any Goshawks; gutted but hey. the experience will stand me in good stead for next time.
PS It is definitely a Red Kite though :-O