Monday, 31 January 2011

Has it sprung?

Well if it hasn't, it soon will judging by the audible increase in bird song, breeding plumage and nest site inspections.

Stock Dove taking up residence in Marden Quarry

Tufted Duck with a belting 'Mohican'

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Bolam Lake

An unproductive trip to Harwood Forest was made up for a visit to Bolam Lake on the way back. The birds here are so tame in the winter months as visitors leave seed around the visitors centre.


Coal Tit

Friday, 28 January 2011

Redpolls at Rainton Meadows

The Coues's Artic Redpoll was still at Rainton today, in fact it's thought that there have been up to 5 individuals here this winter. While we did connect with one individual there were many pale mealies that could have been mistaken without proper scrutiny. Tom Tams, who came with me, managed a shot of the Artic but I missed it amongst the flock of a hundred or more finches.


Thursday, 27 January 2011

Pond spring clean

Tynemouth Boating Lake

Inspired by the restoration work being carried out at Tynemouth boating lake I decided that after 4 years of letting my garden pond 'mature' it was time to give it a clean; remove silt, re-pot plants etc. To keep the task simple I thought a pump of some sort could be used to pump the silt out of the deeper part of the pond so I went in search of one at a local garden centre. I was shown a pond vacuum - only £250!!

Needless to say I didn't part with a penny and instead combined a pond pump, some hose and a large water butt and pumped the pond empty. Had I gone down the pump/hoover route it would have turned out to be a big mistake as in the bottom of the pond were no less than 10 frogs - just the right size to get stuck in a hoover! I wonder what happens to frogs dredged from Tynemouth Boating Lake?!

Pond is now sorted ready for spring and frog spawn (25th march last year).

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Red-necked Grebe Blyth South Harbour

Red-necked Grebe

This Red-necked Grebe at Blyth Harbour has been there for a couple of days now but is sadly camera shy getting as far away as possible as soon as you take your lens cap off.

Snow Buntings are still around.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Bare feathered fish fight

Fish blood turned the ebbing tide red at North Shields Fish Quay this afternoon as Greater Black-backed and Herring Gulls took on the Cormorants. The prizes consisted of Flounder and the occasional Whiting.

A successful dive 


Some you win

Some you lose

In the audience a P.c.sinensis ? Reference

Saturday, 15 January 2011

An Ashintun Gander

A late visit this afternoon to Ashington was very productive. In the brassica field opposite the QEII Country Park there's been a large flock of Mute Swans for a few weeks.

On closer inspection, late this afternoon, there were also 2 Barnacle Geese and 4 Whooper Swans.

Barnacle Goose

Whooper Swan

There was also an impressive flock of Pied Wagtails numbering about 100. Certainly the biggest flock I've ever stumbled upon.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Holywell Dene & Pond

I parked up at Holywell village and headed east towards the Dene and then took a turn northwards towards the Obelisk eventually heading back to Holywell going along the south of Holywell Pond. A mild and sunny day meant a chance of taking some photos with some light to work with and without getting hypothermia, again!

On reaching the Dene a flock of Blue, Great and Coal Tits were feeding when a single male Bullfinch flew in to view.


Then a heron flew up from the Dene into the field above.

Grey Heron

Heading north a flock of 8 Linnet and 15 Yellowhammer were feeding in the stubble field.

Yellowhammers take cover in the hedge

Along the south of Holywell Pond a new path is under construction

Great Spotted Woodpecker by the hide at Holywell 

And on the pond ..... a few Tufties, couple of Gadwall, a Mallard and a pair of Mute Swan.

Mute Swan

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Winter Moth

Just got back from a moth hunt along the country lanes near Earsdon with Tom Tams and we found half a dozen Winter Moths. I've got one settling down in the fridge and I'll have it's photo posted on here in the morn.

Winter Moth (Very worn)

There are two species of winter moths; Winter and Northern Winter. In both species the female is wingless and the adults contain anti-freeze that enables them to survive sub-zero temperatures. It's likely there was a female wafting her pheromones into the night air that drew in the numbers we found this evening.

Blue Tits time their breeding to coincide with the emergence of Winter Moth caterpillars in the spring.

If you are out driving tonight keep and eye out for these small whitish moths.


The last few years has seen the Sparrow colony in our garden florish.  Hopefully in part to the constant supply of seed and the Ivy and Clematis strategically planted to provide nest sites and cover from the aerial attacks of Sparrowhawks.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

St Mary's - Duck Central

A very distant Long-tailed Duck in the North bay at St Mary's

A second Long-tailed Duck was with a group of Goldeneye also in the North Bay. The tide was out and there were a few waders.

Redshank snoozing

Ringed Plover

On the Wetland were Teal, Mallard, Gadwall and a single Shoveler.

The low winter sun lit up the head of the drake Mallard beautifully.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Widdy Redpoll

Went to Widdrington to see the Artic Redpoll but without success. Several birders who had been there for a couple of hours hadn't connected either.

Plenty of finches, hundreds in fact.

Alder festooned with finches

Mealy Redpoll

Widdrington is one noisy place!