Saturday, 13 November 2010

Not Pied-billed....................

....................but equally spectacular!

Successfully told myself that I could not justify the time or money or carbon footprint of travelling to Rochdale, but unsuccessfully tried to avoid Hartlepool.  And pleased I did.

You cannot whack getting to a new location and first time and finding a birder already there and so seeing the quarry without delay.  Today was one of those days, with the Red-necked Grebe at Hartlepool Marina.

And the weather was breezy and sunny and clear and the views outstanding.  And what a spectacular place too!  Eight Red-breasted Mergansers on the water as well - which was nice!

And now the shitty-shotties:

Thursday, 11 November 2010


Thought I would spend some of a pre-booked annual leave day today 'up north'.  Despite the weather forecast being poor, my mentality is, 'you've gotta be in it to win it' so off via Maccy Dees to the Tin Church at Newton to see if one of the two Pallas's was willing to show itself.

Damp and windy on arrival, and not much better when I left, the birding tally was Blue, Great and Coal Tits, Robins and Wrens, and a Goldcrest.  I got the back end of a large Bullfinch but never saw it again (heard it one more time), and a multitude of other calls but no birds seen.  In fact, that was the peculiar aspect of the time I was there - noisy but nothing!  Almost as if the Ghost of Gary/Spectre of Stringer was playing games.

Anyway, second planned stop was Doddington for the Ross's Goose.  By comparison, pretty straight forward, a large flock of geese distant and in flight as I scanned the fields from the lay-by just before entering the village had me thinking I might of just been a few minutes too late.  Thankfully, not one of that group was white.  And scanning on the ground located another flock but too far away and in part shielded by trees.

Into the village in an attempt to get a better view, I saw Drovers' Lane and recalling Birdguides yesterday, drove to the end as the flighty geese were landing again.

Not surprisingly, the Ross's was easy to pick out from those on the ground, the views were superb as the light was momentarily good.

Monday, 8 November 2010

'The Early Worm Catches The Bird' or 'Tales Of The Riverbank'

Well, dear Reader, here we are again with another tale of another species and what a belter!

Reading yesterday of the Squacco Heron at Morpeth, it was first-light trip (yes, up at 05:45, cleansed, dog walked and on the metal bridge for 06:50).  It was dark, but time was of the essence.

After a few jaunts back and forth on the bank to the rear of Morrisons Filling Station, I was joined by some first class company, in every sense of the term, in the form of Messrs McLevy and Dack jnr.

The next half hour or so was spent to the town side of the 'elbow' where the river runs parallel with Whorral Bank.  And nothing but improving daylight to report.

The Dynamic Duo had some 'sinister' business to transact, some package to exchange from car to car in a Miami Vice-like manner, and so I proceeded back towards the Bank and then towards the des-res block that was the Old Mill, I believe.  By this time, Crockett (AMcL) was back with me and Tubbs had left for work.

A Grey Heron was on sentry duty in the middle of the river and as we approached, it took off low and northwards.

And then, dear Reader, like an angelic vision, flying low and south, a small, bright white, Little Egret-like bird that kindly landed not too far down stream.  Possibly spooked/flushed by its bigger, darker cousin, or by The Good Lord who determined that my endeavours merited reward, the wee birdie started to assess the shoreline as it wandered townward.  And then another short flight and more meandering in and out of the bankside foliage.

Joined by another birder (Stephen Trotter?), we both made attempts to do the bird justice, and me safe in the knowledge that my scope was a mile away at the end of Goose Hill/Bennett's Walk.

'Subscribers' to my e-ramblings will know of my dubious photographic prowess, so with that in mind, I am quite proud(ish) of the following:

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Generally Pleasant

Had a stroll this pm around Newburn Riverside (from the rear of the One NE building down to the pickle factory and back).

Great weather; warmish, clear and dry,but not much to see.  The land in the centre of the circuit was flooded and covered in BHG with the odd CG too.

On the river (two hours short of high tide) was a solitary Cormorant, a large fish jumped out (18" long, slim, silvery below and bronzy above) and the biggest surprise was a seal!

Not many other birds to be honest, Goldfinches a plenty and on the roof of the Stannah building a nice gathering of gulls - GBBG and HG (no white-wingers, more's the pity).

Back in time to see the locals beat the Cockneys 1 - 0 and my lot beat the other Cockneys 2 - 0.

All'n'all, not a bad day and weekend.

18:40 hrs - I take it all back!!!!  Squacco Heron seen in Morpeth this afternoon (and yesterday) 400m east of the town centre near the foot bridge!!