Friday, 28 June 2013

Upton Warren Yet Again!

Following on from the previous post, we knew that the Little Ringed Plover chicks were due any time and as the weather looked good for Wednesday and we had nothing else to get in the way, we planned to pop down to Upton that evening and just see if nature had taken it's course.

I saw on Tuesday on Birds Forum that it had so off we went..  When we got to the Avocet Hide, one LRP chick was out and showing well. We did learn that there had been two chicks but a Black Headed  Gull had taken the other. So bearing in mind that this is tiny and a distance away, here are a couple of snaps..

So mission accomplished, but there was always more to see in the evening sunshine, the Oystercatcher chicks were showing well as well:

And you can never have too many photos of Avocets, I took loads and have picked two at random to put here, if you want to see more have a look at the Upton Warren 2013 link in the 'Gallery' page.

We had some Goldfinch thinking that they are waders!
We did try and pick up the Little Owls over at the farm, we had been told where to look and through the bins we could say a small lump sitting on top of a tree, but it was just to far to make out, I had taken the scope, but that wasn't much use either... we need to buy a decent one! I tried a photo and pulled it in, you could tell there was something there but you couldn't see what, so we know it was a Little Owl as we talked to some others in the car park later, but we aren't claiming that we saw it.

So off to the Moors.....................
We had a nice chat in the Moors Car Park where a nice couple showed us there pics of the Owl (they had managed to get closer), then off to the concrete for 20 minutes and a cuppa, before home and tea!

The light was getting very low now, so the photo's aren't great, but a nice Tufted Duck family came past the hide:

and a Pochard give a little stretch:

So a very pleasant couple of hours was had. Lots's to see, a Gorgeous Wife to sit with, nice people to chat to and a sunny evening, wish we could do it every day.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Upton Warren (for a change!)

Although time was limited the weekend, we were keen to get a couple of hours at Upton on Sunday, mainly to see how the chicks are progressing. The last time we visited was on the 20th May and the first few fluffy Avocet and Black Headed Gull chicks were about, what a difference those weeks have made.

The hundreds of BHG chicks are getting nearer adult size bit still look like youngsters and the Avocets are have only a trace now of the brown plumage:

In addition it was nice to see a a pair of Oystercatchers with 2 chicks:

Having spoken to John (one of the Volunteer Wardens) he told us that the Little Ringed Plovers are due to hatch at anytime, so it will be well worth going back soon to have a look.

We spent a short while at the Flashes for this, picking up a Green Sandpiper whilst there (our first of 2013)

So after finishing our Coffee and watching the antics of all the youngsters, we headed over to the Moors and the Lapwing hide for another briefish stay. As we settled in, we were told we had just missed a Peregrine but luckily he cam back to frighten the Black Headed Gulls and give us a distant view as he headed back over towards the flashes.

We then spotted the Kingfisher performing in front of the Concrete Hide over the other side of the pools, which was nice although much to far for a photo. The Swifts, Sand Martins and House Martins were putting on a good show, but we didn't see any Swallows which was surprising.

The Coot chicks were being cute and entertaining as they were being fed by their parents, Tina then spotted a Lapwing chick on its own in the reeds to the left of the hide. She always finds things before me! Best spotter in the business!

So having had a pleasant half hour we had to head back home. As we were walking down the lane back to the car park, the Peregrine flew right over us scaring a Jay as he went, this time I managed to get some grainy photos (it was very dull at this time), but this one is probably the best:

So for a brief visit:
The Flashes:
Avocet (60), Little Ringed Plover (2), Green Sandpiper, Goldfinch (3), Reed Bunting (2), Shelduck (4),
Tufted Duck, Mallard, Canada Geese, Black Headed Gulls (100s), Oystercatcher (2+2), Coot, Sand Martin, House Martin. Heard a Sedge Warbler & Chiffchaff on the paths.

The Moors:
Black Headed Gulls, Tufted Duck, Shelduck(2), Coot, Moorhen, Lapwing, Teal, Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Cormorant(1), Grey Heron(2), Oystercatcher, Mallard, Canada Geese, Lesser Black Backed Gull(1), Kingfisher(1), Peregrine(1), Robin, Blackbird, House Martin, Sand Martin, Swift, Jay, Woodpigeon

Friday, 21 June 2013

North Berwick and Bass Rock

Well the final post for our week away.

As I said we went up to Edinburgh to stay with our daughter for the weekend instead of heading south. Whilst driving up the A1 we had a brain wave, as Sunday was Fathers day then surely I could choose what we did, so we popped into the Seabird Centre at North Berwick, checked the boat times and put it to Jen and Jono when we got there, happily they were up for it, so after a great meal out at Tom Kitchin's Gastro Pub (just 5 minutes walk from their flat) on the Saturday night, we had a lie in, a great breakfast, some lovely prezzies then headed out for the 2pm boat trip around the islands. We thought we had left plenty of time, but roadworks delayed us (they weren't there the day before!) and after some frantic driving and phone calls to the Seabird Centre we made it (Luckily the boat was delayed anyway, otherwise we would have missed it!)

So after calming down, go to the loo, grabbing a coffee to take on board we set off in lovely sunshine, first out to Craigleith, where the Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Puffins and Shag were in abundance, plus the odd Razorbill, not so many as on the Farnes and of course the predators, Great Black Back and Herring Gulls.
Just a few snaps for the record, as very much Farnish:

We made a circuit of the Craigleith Island before heading out to the star of the show Bass Rock, it was just amazing, we had seen Gannets close up before at Bempton Cliffs but this was in another league, the Gannets were everywhere, the sky was full of them and there didn't to be a square inch of rock left for any of them to land (the smell from both Islands was a bit special too!)

So I hope this small selection of photos, gives you some idea of what it was like (as usual I will put more up in the gallery):

Then it was back to North Berwick and our final treat, Half a Lobster and Chips with a nice glass of White from the Lobster Shack in the harbour.

More Photos

I have to thank our daughter for putting up with the birding! But we are worth it!

Blackheath seems a bit quiet after all that (Though had a Bullfinch in the garden this morning!)

Til the next post.....
Tom & Tina

Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Northumbrian Odyssey - Part 3 - Here and There

So how can you follow the Farne Islands, well the answer to that will be the next blog after this........
But for now you will have to wait and put up with Tuesday to Friday.

Whilst yesterday was a real birding day (plus a boat trip!) the following days are about getting out and about and around the coast.

The weather didn't look so great for Tuesday so we went National Trusting to Cragside near Rothbury. We did have a major disaster! Once we got there we missed the Car Park that I wanted to use and ended up on a circular drive around the estate (which is huge!) so we decided to stop at a nice scenic spot and have a coffee... This is the disaster bit. My rucksack with the three flasks wasn't there, it was still sitting nice and cosy back in the shack at Seahouses. So we got back in the car legged it around the rest of the drive straight to the Tea Rooms and ordered 2 Americanos!

Anyway enough of that, there are some fantastic walks at Cragside through the pines and so on. There are Red Squirrels there, but this was our third visit and no sign! Birdlife was pretty sparse too! We saw plenty of Finches and Corvids, Robin, Tits and Pied Wagtail, but the highlight was a Grey Wagtail. I haven't told Tina yet but having read a post on the Northumbrian Birding forum (Birds Forum) somebody saw Crossbills there the same time we were there.... ahhhhhh!

Beadnell & Long Nanny Reserve
We decided to leave the car parked up on Wednesday and take a 'little' walk from Seahouses to the Long Nanny National Trust reserve to see the Little Terns, and anything else on the way.

The bad news was the wind was up today and blowing in our faces all the way, especially when walking along the beach at Beadnell Bay. On the way we picked up the usual shoreline birds, Eider, Oystercatcher, nesting Kittiwakes on some of the 'Cliffier' (is that a word?) stretches Shelduck and some large Starling flocks:

On approaching the reserve, you could see a cloud of Terns over the dunes and Beach.

As we got closer the river revealed a host of Arctic Terns and one Little Tern. We stopped for Coffee at this point (yes had the flasks today!) and just watched, picking up some Ringed Plover.  Suitably refreshed we carried on to the Wardens Hut and using their scope managed to find one more Little Tern. Apparently numbers are well down only 15 pairs this year. The aforementioned LT was to far away for a photo, but I took one anyway, for the record!
Yes its on top of the crate! The Little Tern nests have been raised as a spring tide is expected towards the end of the month.

So off to find another perch for lunch and then trek back. We didn't go along the beach this time but cut behind the dunes back to Beadnell and on to Seahouses. Got some interesting Linnet shots on the way:

We stopped for a rest at Beadnell and did a bit of Sea Watching, was surprised to see a Greylag fly past and some Gannetts a distance out. We then walked through the NWT Annstead Dunes Reserve heading back to Seahouses Golf Club before dropping back down to the beach, Plenty of Linnet and Pipit about, then to our surprise a Canada Goose flew by! Back on the beach we saw our first Dunlin of the trip:

So there ends Wednesday.

Hauxley & Cresswell NR
After a lateish start we drove down to Hauxley as we didn't want to do much walking today and fancied the idea of sitting on our backsides a bit.
We have been to Hauxley before and like it, some of the local birders though seem to be put off by all the Geese (Canada & Greylags - There are a lot it has to be said) But at this time of year its a bit of a Gosling fest, which is alright with us.
There was a flotilla of gosling, sailing by!

There is much more to Hauxley than that though, the Wardens were very friendly and there was a good range of other birds with chicks:

The Oystercatcher had a thing going with the female Mallard, every where they went she went too! Very strange.

Other highlights, were the Herons, Tree Sparrow, Willow Warbler, Lapwings, Dunlin, Redshank, Shelduck, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Coal Tit, Pheasant and a Knot:

So after an enjoyable few hours here we missed out Druridge and East Chevington and drove through to one of our favourite spots, Creswell, but what a shock! The water levels were really high and it appears they have lost all the Avocet nests (3), good job we are on the ball at Upton! There was nothing for waders. What a difference to our visit here last year. We did pick up some other ducks for the visit (Wigeon and Pochard) plus some Shelduck with chicks

Craster to Howick
So our last day and another walk, shorter this time. Just from Craster to Howick and back, last time we did this a couple of years ago we saw some Yellowhammer, but our hopes were dashed. We did however pick up a life first, one of those not rare birds that has eluded us a Lesser Whitethroat, so we were well chuffed. Sadly it was hopping about so much the two shots I manged were just a blur! We also picked up some 'common' Whitethroat, which I did get a decent photo of:
The walk also provide a great view of some Sand Martins nesting in a shoreline sandy cliff, we sat and watched for quite a while:

A Kestrel came to watch as well:
On the way back a Linnet showed quite well:

So that's Northumberland until next year, as Arnie would say, "We'll be back!"

What next....
Well the trip wasn't finished, we headed up to Edinburgh for the rest of the weekend to see our daughter with the bonus that she could spoil me for Fathers Day, then drive back Monday. But Fathers day is worth another post to the blog, so read the next one!

More Part 3 Photos