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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.