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

Sunday 14 November 2010

Northern Loon

The sun was shining this morning so off to East Chevington I went with Tom Tams to see if the Cetti's Warbler was being vocal. By the time we arrived it was overcast and bloody freezing (6 deg C). After half an hour of freezing our nuts off a loud burst of notes came from the phragmites to our right - the Cetti's :) A first for Northumberland!

Slavonian Grebe was another quality bird at Chevington.

With hypothermia setting in it was time to move on so off to Cresswell to see our 5th Heron of the week, the Bittern. And within 10 minutes of arriving up the Bittern popped and flew a short distance. Other birds included the resident Barn Owl, Long-tailed Duck and Green-winged Teal (drake which we didn't see).

Next it was onto Blyth to see the Great Northern Diver and Snow Buntings. No snowies but the diver was showing well at distance.

Great Northern Diver - Blyth

St Mary's Lighthouse as seen from Blyth

Friday 12 November 2010

Squacco Heron, Great White & Little Egret in 30 mins

Having dipped on the Squacco earlier this week I decided to try again today. Not only was the Squacco showing well in Morpeth but a Great White Egret was reported in Alnwick. So off we went and right under the bridge by the castle there it was. And flying over - a Little Egret!

Squacco Heron
Great White Egret

Little Egret

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Black Grouse - Co. Durham

A foray south into Co. Durham resulted in excellent views of Black Grouse. It was also well worth the trip to chat with the local hill farmer who has educated me as to where old sheep end up. After a night on the ale the local Kebab shop will be given a wide berth in future!

Black Grouse