Tuesday 29 December 2009

Whitley Tails

A wander up to St Marys (yesterday) was rewarded with a handsome male Pintail on the ice at the wetland.

Plenty of wagtails along the cliffs; Grey, 1st winter female Pied and male Pied.

Unfortunately my camera was zipped away when a couple of  'jackasses' came past on their bikes, along the promenade and straight onto sheet ice. Ouch!

Saturday 26 December 2009

Ducking Christmas

I managed to 'duck' the stress of Christmas and impending kitchen disasters with an early(ish) walk along Whitley beach. There was a lone Gadwall flying in from the south and landing in the surf at the north end of the beach. It swam along the shore, calling all the while, and then every 5 minutes or so it would take to the air for a lap of the beach only to return.

On the wetland was a beautiful pair of Wigeon along with a large number of teal.

The Water Pipit is still present at the north end of the beach.

Along the links were a sprinkling of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Redshank, Oystercatchers, Golden Plover, Pied Wagtail and a single Grey Wagtail. Also, a single Purple Sandpiper on the exposed rocks off the beach.

Seasons Greetings

Monday 21 December 2009

Skylarks on the move

It was a wintry Whitley Bay beach this morning with a snow flurry to boot. Of note were Skylarks flying south along the surf line. I spotted 2, then another party of 8, and then another 8. I looked for the reported adult Med Gull, and thought I had found it, until closer inspection showed it to be a Black-headed Gull in summer plumage. Rock pipits were numerous, with several taking to the steets on Whitley Bay in search of food. I guess the cold weather has reduced the supply of insects along the beach.

Saturday 19 December 2009

Nesting birds in the rain forest

Arrived back from Bali to snow on Thursday, brrrrrrrrrrr. Now sorting
through video and here's a couple of vids of nesting birds filmed from
our bungalow at the Saribuana Eco Lodge, in the rain forest on Mount

Orange-breasted Flowerpecker

Oriental White-eye

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker (Dendrocopus macei)

Filmed, just after sunrise from the balcony of our bungalow at the Sarinbuana Eco-Lodge, on the slopes of
Mount Batukaru in Bali.

Sunday 13 December 2009

"Come quick. Snake eating frog!"

.... called my Balinese guide in stacato pigeon english.

"A frog that eats snakes?", I asked. "No. Snake eating frog!"

Sure enough there, in the paddy field, was a small snake (Green Vine) with a frog in it's mouth - still croaking (the frog, not the snake).

And I got it on video. Click here to view.

Friday 4 December 2009

Checking out the birds down by the pool

There are two ways to go birding abroad. Firstly there's the hardcore approach where you don as much karki as possible, slap on the factor 1000, on any visible skin left, pull up the white socks, fasten the brasher boots and go chasing 500 species from first light to well after dark. This is not fun near the equator. Indeed I have seen grown men reduced to tears, on organised bird tours, ridiculed for not being able to keep up with the group. That's why I don't go with 'Tickseekers'. I just go with the missus, a pair of flip flops, a dangermouse tee shirt and some shades. For the first couple of days I like to checkout the birds down by the pool.:) You can also pick up some great local knowledge off the bar keep. And if not, well the bitang beer is very good.

The commonest birds poolside, here in bali, are Yellow-vented Bulbuls. The have a very melodious call. This one (pic above) was in the palm above my sunlounger. Other birds of note include lesser frigate birds passing overhead, spotted dove, olive backed prinia, common tailor bird, grey and purple herons, savanah nightjar, tree sparrows (everywhere) and java munias. Tan is coming on a treat by the way.

Click here for Video of Yellow-vented Bulbul.

Monday 30 November 2009

Bali here we come............

As the hail rattles down my chimney I can't help but feeling rather smug that in 48 hours I will be in Bali, sea watching from my hotel balcony, watching my first white-tailed tropic bird, and supping my first bottle of Bintang. Bonza! Rest assured I will keep you updated on how my tan is coming on :)

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Where there's water, there's a Water Pipit

If you venture out to see the Water Pipit at St Mary's, then here's a tip - take your wellies! From the Seaton Sluice end the paths are flooded, and that of course is where I started my pipit hunt. Once I got to the farthest point from where I parked, i.e. the north end of Whitley Bay beach, there was the pipit. Managed to get some video despite it being very flighty. Click here to view

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Short-eared Owl at Prestwick Carr

The sun was set by the time I found a couple of Short-eared owls at Prestwick Carr this evening. I managed to get a little video of one being hassled by a crow. Click here to view.

Bill 'the bike' told me that there are at least four, possibly six, short-eared owls at present, best seen from the goat pen on the bumpy road. And, as a bonus, there's a good chance of a barn owl or two. My advice is get there at 3.30pm for a 4pm start. Two young Buzzards still present in the field seen from the sentry point and another was seen flying.

Not every Woodcock makes it

This poor fellow was found on Whitley Bay seafront being dined on by crows. Thankfully there are plenty more that made it including one that flew through my garden yesterday. A garden tick!

Otter - Gone Fishing

I was fishing a lake near Longtown in Cumbria a couple of weeks ago when this Otter decided to join me. I hope it had better luck than I did. Click here to see the video.

Sunday 15 November 2009

Ready, Aim, Fire! (Videoscoping at Beadnell Bay)

My intention today was to video short eared owl, but no such luck. I walked along Beadnell Bay, to the Long Nanny and climbed one of the dunes to get a good vantage point. No owls, but I found several Roe Deer about a mile away and wondered if I could videoscope them at such a distance. No problem - click here to see the result.

Still no owls but I came across a large circle of Fungi in the Dunes. Dunno what it is so it looks like I'm gonna have to invest in yet another field guide.

Not much else to report other than a large Common Gull Roost on the beach, oh and a flock of Twite I videoscoped - click here to view

Saturday 14 November 2009

A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush

Whenever I'm in Goa there's just one guide I use, Lloyd Fernandes; he catches birds with his hat! He sent me this pic a couple of weeks ago of him holding an Indian Pitta. It has taken up residence in his garden this winter and has become rather tame. Lloyd's other tricks include hypnotising nightjars in the Western Ghats with a spotlight. Here's the video to prove it - click here.

Seriously though folks, if you are going to Goa, get in touch and I'll give you Lloyd's contact details. He's the real deal.

The Invaders Have Arrived

This wee critter was seen in a Tynemouth garden on 28th Oct 2009 . Thanks to the clever people at the Harlequin Survey HQ (http://www.harlequin-survey.org), it has been confirmed as a Harlequin Ladybird -'a dark version of the 'succinea' colour form. Late-emerging ones are often dark and heavily-spotted'.

Starlings are totally gorgeous

Starlings might just be one of most beautiful birds there are. In spring plumage they are quite stunning and, in the winter, their aerobatics are mesmerising. I captured some video of a flock coming together to roost just west of Haydon Bridge, Northumberland - click here to view.

Prestwick Carr

Went to Prestwick Carr at about 1pm and parked up by the house and walked up to the sentry point on the public bridleway. There were good flocks of Fieldfare with a few Redwing and Mistle Thrushes mixed in. There was a single Brambling amongst a small flock of Chaffinches - click here for video.

There were a couple of kestels and 3 buzzards (2 juveniles and 1 adult bird). I managed to videoscope a couple of them - click here for video.

Also caught a Willow Tit on video - click here for video.

Sunday 1 November 2009

Goa Vids Sorted at Last!

I've finally got round to sorting through video tapes from birding trips to Goa. So far I've digitised about 80 clips and stuck them on youtube. You can check them out at http://www.youtube.com/upnorthandwild

The picture is of Lloyd Fernandes, our guide. He does a great breakfast!