Saturday 25 December 2010

Christmas Day in and around Whitley Bay

A mid morning visit to St Mary's and the Skylarks and up to 8 Snow Bunting were still present, occasionally spooked by a Kestrel.

A flock of 17 knot were joined by a couple of Purple Sandpiper

Next stop was Marden Quarry to see what the feeding station has attracted:

Blue Tit

Great Tit

Chaffinch (male)

Chaffinch (female)

Plenty of Rats

Friday 24 December 2010

Bunting & Lark Fest

Can you spot the Buntings & Larks?

Thanks to a constant supply of seed from local birders, St Mary's is still pulling in Skylarks, Snow Buntings, Lapland Buntings, Reed Buntings and Twite. And the Black Redstart is still on the beach at Hartley just north of St Mary's Island.

Heads down for the feast

Skylarks are less confiding now they have a good energy source

Seasons Greetings

Thursday 23 December 2010

Seal Pup visits Whitley

Grey Seal pup on Whitley Bay beach this morning.

The one morning I leave my camera in the house this fellow turns up on the beach. Mobile phone to the rescue.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Northumberland Park

Northumberland Park

30 mins in Northumberland Park, next to Tynemouth golf course was very productive this afternoon:

Woodcock, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Wren, Mallard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Tree Creeper, Coal Tit, Blue Tit , Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Sparrowhawk, Chaffinch, Black-header Gull, Tawny Owl.

Almost forgot - Firecrest :)

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Lapland Bunting at St Mary's

The seed is drawing quite a crowd at St Mary's and that's just the birding papparazi. The Skylark numbers have swelled along with Reed Buntings, Redshank, Turnstone, Snow Bunting and a very confiding Lapland Bunting.

Lapland Bunting

Lapland Bunting

Reed Bunting

Snow Bunting


Sunday 5 December 2010

Snow Buntings & Larks

Went to Blyth first thing to find John (Howdon Blogger) photographing Snow Buntings. Seven birds in all including a cracking male. Then it was onto St Mary's where the Skylarks were feeding on the seed that was put down on Friday, a Black Redstart was feeding at the base of the cliffs at Hartley and a procession of Song Thrushes moved south. Enough words, here's some pics:

Male Snow Bunting

Female Snow Bunting

Sky Lark

Rock Pipit

Rock Pipit

Ten Grey Partridge in the fields at St Mary's

Icicles adorn the cliffs at Hartley

Friday 3 December 2010

St Mary's - Skylarks in the snow

St Mary's in the snow at -3 deg C all day

I went to St Mary's with Tom to photograph and feed the Skylarks that have arrived overnight in large numbers. Here's some pictures.

Wader wise there were a couple Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Golden Plover and Lapwing. Ducks on the sea included Gadwall, Goldeneye and Wigeon.

Pink-foot Geese heading south

A Robin worked it's way along the stream at St Mary's

Reed Buntings in my garden!

Reed Bunting - garden tick :)

You know it's exceptionally cold when these fellas turn up on your garden feeders. Two appeared this morning.

Skylarks Head South

It was -7.5 deg C here in Whitley Bay at dawn and several hundred Skylarks moved south. A single Song Thrush was on the sea front, presumably a new arrival.


Saturday 27 November 2010

If you've had enough of snow pics...........'s a video instead :)

Blizzard in Whitley Bay  .. and it's still raging!

Whitley Panoramic

Another snow storm approaches. Quite a charged storm which had my wife's hair standing on end, literally.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

End of the road for Waxwing

My mate Paul was walking the streets of Whitley Bay today (he's a postman) and he saw a 'colourful bird get attacked by crows'. Here's a picture he took on his phone.

The harsh reality of the wild

Monday 22 November 2010

A menace to science

If there's one thing I hate it's charlatans. And just now there's one on our TV screens every evening, thankfully destroying her credibility while she appears on 'I'm a celebrity get me outta here'. Her name is 'Dr' Gillian McKeith.

Ben Goldacre (a real Doctor) has written an excellent article 'What's wrong with Gillian McKeith '.

Here's a hilarious excerpt :

'She talks endlessly about chlorophyll, for example: how it's "high in oxygen" and will "oxygenate your blood" - but chlorophyll will only make oxygen in the presence of light. It's dark in your intestines, and even if you stuck a searchlight up your bum to prove a point, you probably wouldn't absorb much oxygen in there, because you don't have gills in your gut. In fact, neither do fish. In fact, forgive me, but I don't think you really want oxygen up there, because methane fart gas mixed with oxygen is a potentially explosive combination.'

You can read the full article here.

If you are prone to believing in Homeopathy, Crystal Healing and other bullshit then go get a copy of Ben's book called Bad Science and learn how not to be a dumb ass.

Bay Watch 22/11

Waggonway today
Autumn is rapidly turning to winter with the temperatures forecast to plummet later this week. A walk round the patch today saw 32 bird species. Of note were two thousand plus lapwings passing over St Mary's.

Holywell Dene
In Holywell Dene large flocks of Blue, Great, Long-tailed and Coal Tits were interspersed with Goldcrests.

Heading home along Whitley Bay promenade was bracing to say the least.  A strong easterly wind brought hefty horizontal showers and waves breaking at high tide soaked me and Dill.


Sunday 21 November 2010

Caption Competition

No prizes, just a few laughs. See if you can come up with a caption for the following pic that has North East birder Alan Tilmouth (left) talking to the controversial Lee Evans.

Lee visited the North East last Tuesday burning £170 on petrol to see the Desert Wheatear - gone, the Ross's Goose - gone, and the Squacco Heron which he found deceased. Not wanting to go home empty handed he returned to Essex with the heron in his boot, allegedly.

 "Will you swap the Squacco for a Lady Amherst?"

No big white winged gulls, yet.

Herring Gull - (first winter, 1CY) at Tynemouth boating lake
A quick look around Tynemouth and North Shields Fish Quay drew a blank for big white winged gulls. Still a bit early but, with a cold blast from the Arctic on the way, next week could be a different matter.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Plucked for Free!

Crime Scene

A smart male Sparrowhawk took out a pigeon by my office window today and I watched as it plucked and feasted on the carcass. Unfortunately my camera was in the car. When I eventually retrieved it these two opportunist Magpies had arrived.

The only birds of prey I usually see here are Harris Hawks employed by the local business park to scare the pigeons away. Save your money!

Wednesday 17 November 2010

RIP Squacco

Just heard that the Squacco Heron at Morpeth has died. No news as to the circumstances yet.

At least the Ghost of Stringer will be able to add it to his 'afterlife list'.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

What's For Desert?

The report of a Desert Wheatear came through at midday so, after a couple of phone calls, the Quattro was fired up and pointed in the direction of Seahouses taking me Tom and Joe to see a cracking visitor to Northumberland.

Seahouses - harbour on the right, Desert Wheatear on the left, Farne Islands straight ahead.

The Wheatear was reported 400 yards north of the harbour on the beach. Someone's got long legs! The bird was on the beach at the end of the rocks (where the houses come to an end), more like 800 yards.

Desert Wheatear

Ross's Goose - it's there somewhere with a few thousand Pink-footed Geese