Tuesday, 7 October 2014

New Star Attraction at Far Pasture

News of a very showy Jack Snipe at Far Pasture on Sunday had me chomping at the bit to get down there to check it out, the last one I had here was 7 or 8 years ago and took over 10 hours of watching in 5 visits to finally pin it down, and then only a short mid-distance view, but as it was my first I remember it well.
Last year I went flushing them at Newburn with the former birdman of gateshead. We had over a dozen in flight, some decent views but to get one showing well at my local patch is what it's all about.

So this morning (anticipating a lengthy stakeout) I set off, sun shining but the air not fully warmed up so no dragonflies en route, and as I entered the hide, one of the many watchers already there announced the Jack Snipe was already showing, and it was too, giving as good a view as you could possibly want for this elusive little wader, less than 10 feet from the hide, right out in the open on the mud. Excellent!

Jack Snipe at Far Pasture
not the best collection of photos but a rare treat to get one out
in the open like this 
After filling my boots with photos and binocular views I sighted a water rail weaving through the reedmace and a bit later, two of these cracking little birds showed well as they fought noisily further up.

Great to see Water Rails too - one of my favourite birds.
Lucky to get this one as it set off like a roadrunner just as I was about
to snap it. 

I counted 23 common Snipe basking in the sunshine, a pied wagtail showed well, a grey heron stood sentry-like on the far island, a single dabchick seen, and there was a good presence of moorhen, teal and BH gulls. A pleasant surprise was 2 passing swallows dipping in for a drink, brief but nice to see.

Back outside there were plenty of common passerines including willow tit, and in a short space of time I had 5 tit species and a chiffchaff foraging the oak tree by the gate. A couple of red kites and a buzzard were airborne highlights.
Dragonflies were starting to appear now too, all common darters, some individual, some tandem pairs, and I took the opportunity of photographing this copulating pair on the fence.

It always amazes me at this time of year that despite a period of cold and
wet weather, as soon as the sun shines the dragonflies are back out
in force, good numbers at Far Pasture still. 
Prof Pochard turned up just as I was about to leave (I'd txted him about the Jacky and he said he'd get down at lunchtime) so I walked back along the hide for another look.
It was standing room only now, as well as the birders and photographers the Volunteers had turned up to do some work so the car park was chocker as well, but it was like This is Your Life as just about everyone local I knew was out today. Needless to say my trip turned into a two and a half hour session, but I'm not complaining.
Early afternoon now and the dragonflies were showing well too, plenty of tandem pairs of common darters on the pond, and a couple of migrant hawkers and a southern hawker arrived before I left.

Good session, nice to see some old faces, and very nice to see little Jacky knocking the Kingfishers off their perch (not literally) as the new star attraction. :-) 



  1. Whatever did become of that Birdman blokie ??
    You could have had some stonking images there Alan !!!!!!!

  2. Happy with record shots John just to prove 'I seen it' as even though Gateshead doesn't have an official records committee, the general rule is that if you didn't get a photograph then you didn't see it :-O
    Likewise the birdman nowadays ;-)

  3. Im still alive well just ;) woman, drink and golf is what im upto these days lol i'll be back around the doors one day maybe not soon as the girlfiend is mostly off the same days as me. My hols in 3 weeks so you might not see me at all as its west africa im off to :0 lol

    1. Not many golf courses over there :-O