Monday, 24 December 2012

Last One of The Year (Probably)

Not a long a rambling summary of this year's personal highs and lows, just an air of realism that the chance to get out and about AND see something noteworthy in what remains of 2012 is slim.

Nonetheless, this ebbing year has had some notable ticks, and some misses, and all made better or bearable by the blogs of the great and good. 

I should not single any one out, they are all superb, but I have found the Howdon Blogger and his Wallsendian side-kick a good giggle.

Thanks to one and all, and here's to a tickfull 2013.

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Big Dipper

Off work this week whilst a new kitchen is fitted.  What confusion having the heart ripped out of your house causes; I didn't realise we had so much 'stuff'!

So off for a wee stroll with the derg at lunch time after a morning of 'supervising' the fitter and acting as his 'fag'!

Horton Burn was in reasonable flow, and as me and my four-legged chum wandered lonely as a cloud, a 'rat' was swimming across the burn (I have seen a few of late) between the western-most Horton Drive bridge and the bridge at the park.

And then the 'rat' got out of the water and became a 'blackbird'.  And then the realisation that the black bird was a Dipper!  No camera nor bins, but a few covert steps thanks to the burnside vegetation and closer views confirmed it was, indeed a Dipper.  And a very rare sight for urban Cramlington to boot.

Dog walk curtailed (slightly) and back out with camera and bins and quarry located further east.  Camera was retrieved from son, who had fecked up some of the settings so the first few record shots have been re-tinkered.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

When he was 'just' David

Reading Killy Birder's post about Sir David Attenborough reminded me of one of my treasured possessions.  As a younger (yes, and slimmer and more hirsute) man I had delusions of being a wildlife photographer (if I'd known then what I know now!!).  I wrote to Mr A as he was then over 30 years ago and actually got a handwritten response.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Bohemian Rhapsody

They have unique red tips to some of the wing feathers where the shafts extend beyond the barbs; in the Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its common name (Holloway 2003).

So to today's flock on Langdale Drive in any bush with berries on it, and down to five or so feet at times.  Superb!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Hat Trick!

Even with Phil 'The Wryneck', dipped the Little Bunting again at Lambton today between 11:00/1:30pm.  Time to wheel out the secret weapon if it appears over the weekend - Mrs Liverbirder!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

(Un)lucky Dip or Double Dip

In short, 07:30 to 10:00 am today, and it's Little Bunting 2 - 0 up!  Drat, drat and double drat!!

Did have 29 Waxwings (and at least one other close by - heard but not seen) in a tree at the north end of Heswall Road at 12:10pm today - which was nice!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Sea Bee Bee's

I was about to say what a great day today was, the Bee-eater at Seaburn was a belter.

And then over to Elba Park to look for the Little Bunting.  A second Lifer on one day?  Too good to be true.


Found the place easily, and was guided to the location from yesterday by a very helpful dog-walker.  Two has been there longer than me, but no joy.  It was foggy, damp, cold and visibility poor.  Scrutinised the hedge, no joy.  Off further into the park to watch the area near the pond.  Plenty of Reedies but nothing more (apart from a load of ground-feeding Linnets). 

And then back to location A - others there now, joined by the guy who found the bird a few days ago.  I had, by now, been out since 10.15, and so nearing four hours of freedom, the domestic conscience kicked-in, and at 2:30pm I re-entered Chez Liverbirder.

And then, imagine my surprise when BirdGuides has it in Location A at 2:00 pm!

Great day?  Bollocks!!

Anyway, a few shots from when I had more of a smile and less of a frown......

Sunday, 28 October 2012

All Quiet

Had a flat, boring, almost bird-less weekend, not helped by the sudden death of my Blackberry, so no web access nor texting nor anything else from an e-communication front.  'Welcome to the old days', some will be saying.

Sallying forth to the local beauty spots on both days yielded little.  Arcot remains awash with ducks - but all are either Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall or Mallard.  Quantity far outweighs quality.

Wessie H is dead.  A dozen Mipits and a Fox were Saturday's highlights, and nowt today.  Not a sniff of an SEO nor anything else to justify the diesel.

A week off starting 5/11, so time to chase a Water Rail, Waxwing and Brambling to move past last year's total.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A Bit Of A Rant

Forgive me, I need to release pent up ornithemotion! 

With thoughts of Black-throated Thrush and Pallas's Warbler (both Lifers) staying for a second day at Hoolie Island, and noting the crossing times for today, the plan was to get in to work for 0600, do my bit to protect the public from harm and then travel, as/when/if BirdGuides mentioned their presence.  I would have loved to take a day off and go on the off chance, but my commitment and social conscience would not allow.

The best laid plans.........

Instead, as the day developed, Radde's, Little Bunting and Olive-backed Pipit, all Lifers and Red-breasted Flycatcher (County Lifer) yet all on the bleedin' Farnes (swimming is not a talent of mine), Rustic Bunting (Lifer) at South Shields seen and not seen again and then later, Richard's Pipit (Lifer) and another wee bunt at Cleveland.

Still, I can rest safe in the knowledge that I have well and truly earned the day's corn.

Thank you for reading this Beadnell Birder-like rant.  I am off for a lie down............

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Grine From 'Ere to 'Ere

Not been out locally for two weeks, last week's St Mary's warbler 'twitch' being the only optic-fest in a fortnight.

So for a couple of hours around noon, a wee trip-ette to local beauty spots, first one being Arcot.  Very busy it was too, with 20 or so pairs of Gadwall (never seen so many) and 60 Wigeon.  Three Cormorants was another 'record', along with the usual Coots, Moorhens and Little Grebe to accompany a Mute Swan pair and hods of Teal.

Next stop, the sodden and barren wasteland that is West Hartford, with not a bird on the water and only a Mipit and a Jay heard as the larger flash was approached.

En route back to the car, a quick look-in on the three small flashes to the east of the sub-station.  At one time the 'home' of a wader or two, today it was Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard.

So a quick scan of the pylons running east towards East Hartford and a female Kestrel was atop the third (200 metres away), watching the fields below for a spot of luncheon.  Off she flew south and low and I lost sight of her.

But no, she had returned by an unknown route and was sitting on the horizontal part of the same pylon, half way up.

Or had she..........

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Rice at Whitley Bay

Got a text from The Guv this morning - Paddyfield at St Mary's!  I knew we'd had a load of rain and thought that was a very enterprising thing to do, use the excess precipitation to grow oriental cereal crops.  Genius!

And so off to see this phenomenon, and within 15 minutes, I was there.  With half a dozen or so other oryzaphiles, we waited, and waited.

The quarry had been seen just before I got there.  And we waited some more and then voila, a 'Paddyfield Warbler' (note the quotation marks').  Life tick!

And like the Sermon on the Mount, still they came, and soon the numbers had swelled to over 40.  And then the bird was re-spotted.  And Sir Sometimes and Duke Dunn, both of Cramlington, had images.  And the Lord said, 'Study the photos, for it may be that the Paddyfield is a Blyth's Reed.'

And as I type, the questions is: Paddyfield or Blyth's or Paddyfield and Blyth's?  All I know is whatever Mr Malloy captured using the medium of megabits is what I will list, and at this point it's a Blyth's.

So come on Sometimes, post the photos!!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

A Long Wait or Third Time Lucky

After yesterday's Winnie the Pooh-like blustery day on Hoolie Island (crackin' joke, Gromit"!), news at 11:30am of a Long-billed Dowitcher at Cresswell meant a curtailed walk for the pooch and a wee dash north.  I missed last year's at Chevington and spent several hours at Saltholme earlier earlier this year waiting for one to appear out of a ditch.  And it was doubtful it was even there; it must have been the birding equivalent of watching paint dry!

Anyway, the hide's occupant numbers appeared to be far fewer than the parked cars suggested, so a quick view through Sir Alan of North Tyneside's scope, and then back for my own.  I was hoping for a photograph to rival those of Lord Dunn of Cramlington, a damn good award-winner, but the bird and its Dunlin 'minders' lifted as the Bonxie came in, and after a few more trips to various shores, it settled with a hod of Snipe at the south end of the spit and out of view due to the reeds (only viewable when the wind blew them).  Little Stint present too.

Arcot on the way back, and its name should change to Arcoot!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Arctic Roll

It was short and sweet.  It was windy and frustrating.  The birds moved, the leaves moved.  Time was of the essence as the tide was in at 12:20pm and we arrived on Holy Island at 10:00am.  The crowd at the Lindisfarne Hotel helped as the quarry was identified and ticked and talk of Wryneck had us off elsewhere on the island.  But it was not located, and the frustration continued as BirdGuides had a Common Rosefinch (remaining a lifer) on the strawberry field at noon.  Lunch at The Ship at Newton was good; it was packed and the blonde beer was great.  One of those days where a life tick was nice to have BUT getting it involved a lot of travel, the views were brief and hurried and to be honest, the satisfaction limited.  But at least I have now seen one.  Onwards and upwards!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Stop The Badger Cull

We, the undersigned, call on the government to stop the planned cull of badgers on the following grounds:
· Over 70% of the badger population in large areas of the country will be killed, many of them healthy.
· The method of free-shooting badgers could cause severe suffering to many thousands of badgers.
· Independent scientific studies have shown that culling would be of little help in reducing bovine TB, and even suggest that it could make things worse in some areas.

We urge the government to stop the cull and implement the more sustainable and humane solution of both a vaccination programme for badgers and cattle, along with improved testing and biosecurity.

PLEASE sign it here.  It takes less than a minute.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Pretty Green

Followed Birding Sometimes' lead from yesterday evening and went owl-hunting at a spectacular Wessie H from 6:20pm.  The lone Greylag remains (ahhh!), the fields are alive with Swallows and House Martins.  'Spectacular' refers to the sky, often gun-metal grey, then the tangerine-coloured sun peers through the clouds, then a shower, and a rainbow.

A mixed gull flock left as I arrived, and 30 or so Mallard in three groups flew west overhead.

At 6:54 pm, light fading quickly, two large House Martins flew in from the east and landed on the SW shore of the larger Flash.  Of course, they were Green Sandpipers and remained when I left 20 minutes later.

And for good measure, an SEO rose from the brick house field and was quartering the area to the west of the Flash, albeit the wind was strong and often rain-laden so not ideal hunting conditions.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Chatty Man

First trip to Arcot for a fortnight or so.  Little has changed.  a couple of hundred Teal, half a dozen each of Wigeon and Gadwall, a similar number of Little Grebe and BHG, two Mutes, one Heron, several dozen Coot and Moorhen, and 13 (a baker's dozen) Mistle Thrush.  The odd Swallow and Sand Martin flew west.

Wessie H was more like Windie H, with a steady stream of Hirundines west, a flock of up to 40 gulls on the Flash (mainly BHG but with a soupcon of Herring and a dash of Common).  And then this beauty just north of the dead bath:

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Eastern Algarve Birding - 30/8 to 6/9 - Part 7 - The Finale

Some of the photos from the last two days.  At Ilha da Tavira, we met a Glaswegian birder called Kenny, a thoroughly decent chap who put us onto the location of 60 of these.  Whilst we missed 52, the eight we did see were belters:
 Iberian Chiffchaff:
Grey Heron, Little Egrets and White Stork:
A nice trio:
And now for something completely different - a few dragons.  The upper ones are, I believe, Red-veined Darters, the lower, a Lesser Emperor:

Eastern Algarve Birding - 30/8 to 6/9 - Part 6

It's now 4th September, only two more days of being 47, and off west to Quinta do Lago, right in the middle of the Algarvian golf cartel, and where there's golf, there's money.

Home of the Purple Swamp-hen, and with bird hides too (luxury), it's a great place, as I hope you'll agree.

Here goes with the days images.  First off, more Crested Larks:
The view from the two-storey, non-metallic, non-graffitied hide:
 Porphyrio porphyrio looking grand:
Also present were Coot, Moorhen, Shoveler, Gadwall, Pochard, Black-headed Weaver, Great-crested Grebe and a very quick -fly-by by a marsh tern (not i/d'd).

The highlights were firstly a Glossy Ibis rising from on clump of vegetation and across the pond to another.  But the undoubted star of the show, was this beauty:
 And there's more:

Monday, 10 September 2012

Baird Watching

We interrupt the Algarve updates to report on an hour with a Baird's Sandpiper at Seaton Snook this afternoon.  It was north of the sand works at the end of Zinc Works Road, on the shoreline with three Sanderlings:
 Normal Portuguese-based service will resume shortly.