Saturday, 3 April 2010

Michael Barrymore?

When he was not allegedly involved in dubious party behaviour, MB was prone to repeatedly saying, Al- wight, Al-wight, Al-wight!  Indeed, how prophetic, as this week has been an all white (spot the link!) one, with the eagle on Wednesday and the Egret this morning.

After some sterling directions, Warkworth Lane was duly located just after 7:00 am, but no GWE.  I bumped into a guy at Kielder last week, as successful at finding big Sparrowhawks as I am, and I met him again this morning.  We decided to split up, I took Druridge Pools and he Cresswell, both without success.  However, en route, I ticked a Little Owl, and at the Budge, THREE adult, summer plumaged Med Gulls.

And as I left, a strangely behaving man behind the wheel of a black C1, waving his arms like Magnus Pike, attracted my attention, beckoning me to follow his car.  If this has been Arcot, I would have declined (Honest, Officer!!) but on this occasion, it was an Italian Job-like 'chase' to East Chevington in pursuit of the recently spotted GWE.  And after 20 or so minutes, like a well emulsioned heron, it rose from the reeds on the east side of the south end of the South Pool and glided over to the opposite side where it quickly concealed itself.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

What a great pair...................

.............of orange eyes!

There are some birds I never get tired of watching.  I guess it's partly because, as an avid bird book collector in my increasingly distant youth, some were then just a two dimensional image of something I never thought, 30 or more years on, I would ever see.  Redstart, Green Woodpecker and Long-eared Owl are but three.  So tonight, as the sun was setting, I went for a walk in the Arcot Lane area and had a few minutes of bliss.  Not the same type of bliss the three blokes near the entrance to the lake were trying not to have (who 'p*sses' within feet of two other blokes, in the open, with page three of The Sun strategically positioned on a nearby bush, adorned in 'soiled' tissues?). 

Anyway, my first LEO of 2010 was located, and at one stage, it sat in a sapling, only ten yards away, and looked straight down my scope for what seemed like an age.  An absolutely stunning bird, with the orangiest (is that a word?) eyes I have ever seen.  Quite superb!

Nice Ride Out

Took a coastal route today up to East Chev. and back.  NBTS was quietish; a few gulls (no Meds), waders and Gannets moving north.  Next, Cresswell, with quantity not quality.  A sizeable flack of Redshank with the odd Knot and Dunlin within on the SW shore, and Tree Sparrows along the path with an odd Yellowhammer.  Plenty of Wheatears about on the west side.  Two Stock Dove were on the south field (to the W of the access path).  The Pools, or The Oceans as they should be renamed, had hods of gulls (BH and C), the usual ducks, Canada and Greylag Geese and Chiffchaffs calling.  A single, snoozing GC Grebe was on the main pool, along with Tufties, a solitary Heron and an equally lonely Goldeneye.  East Chev. broke my hirundine virginity with one House Martin westwards, and loads of Tufties, Goldeneye, Pink-footed Geese and Shovelers a plenty.  So in four relaxing, if not very chilly, hours, 54 species and four year ticks.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

I was there

No photo.  No tale of suspense, surprise, tenacity nor divine intervention.  Just one man (surrounded by many others) and a feckin' big but beautiful bird (and I don't mean Nigella Lawson).

Ready For Noah

With the alleged onset of very poor weather today, I resigned myself to dealing with some work-related, indoors activity.  My charitable deed was to tell Davy Tee of the Whitley Bay cemetery Black Redstart as I knew he had dipped the Druridge one last weekend.

The weather failed to get nasty, my work became tedious, and the thought of a few miles to see another BR got too much, so at 2:00 pm, off I went.

I met another guy outside the place, both of us apprehensive about entering somewhere where there was a sizeable funeral concluding.  There's something not quite right about getting excited when others there are grieving.

Anyway, as we entered, Alan Jack was leaving, three short bursts of BR in 30 minutes his 'tally'.  We entered and began a search.  Forty minutes later, and one other birder added to the duo, it was 1 - 0 to the BR.

But then a stunning male started to show in the SE corner, and after ten minutes of following him, a female showed too.  They had clearly gathered as a twosome in anticipation of an ark arriving as a response to the meteorological mayhem that was on its way.

And here are the expected shitty-shotties.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Great Grey Shrike

Had The Good Lord not interviened, the title to this page would have been Hate Grey Shrike.  In fact, the 150 or so minutes I stood motionless, on the south edge of Tutehill Moss, in the rain, then snow, then rain, then sleet, then rain and so on, oh, and the wind, gave me time to imagine the GGS landing where I was told it was yesterday, with numerous rodents to eat or store, and whilst having these pre-hypothermic dillusions, I tried to think up moderately humourous titles for yet another blog entry where I travelled and saw bot all!

And then The Big Man Upstairs took pity on this weather-beaten mortal below.  A sound like no other in my modest experience - like a Jay squawking, but not as harsh nor loud.  It drew my eyes and ears to the right, to the saplings on the east side of the Moss, where one taller tree was adorned by a white tip.  And after drying the scope's lens, well feck me, a picture of Lanius excellence. 

And after several short views, punctuated by trying to contact by phone Messrs McLevy/Bradley/Cowell who were watching from a point to the north, and too far away to see my twitch (oooo-errrr!), the Lord, having giveth, did take away, as an unladen log artic drove north and put the bird to flight.

In the remaining hour and a half before I left, KB had a glimpse in the shorter conifers to the north of the saplings, and AMc had the bird flying south from one set of tall conifers to another a little more south.  Only AC left to see it, I hope he did so, the all of the Musketeers would get home cold, wet but very happy.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Swanning Around

Tired of endless drives to see very little, thought I would stay local this afternoon.  Dropped in at Arcot at 2.00 pm and was pleasantly surprised by to find 25 Whooper Swans.

Also noted was a drake Shoveler, four Tufties, several Coots, a few Mallards, three Grey Herons and some crackin' views of  Common Buzzard, with very pale underwings and a liking for flying into the woods at head height, somewhat Goshawk-like, as those who have seen one this year tell me!  I did not see Crammy's female Goosander tho'.

Chiffchaffs were calling to the east, west and north, two Long-tailed Tits moved through the hawthorns, and I watched a Kestrel drop like a stone into the SE field where the small flash is.  A Snipe flew up and the Kestrel retreated to a nearby bush.  Would a Kestrel dine on a Snipe?  Or are they a little too gamy!?!

I was very disappointed to see MSD building on the wetland they used to use to give local schools a taste of Mother Nature.