Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Post Coast to Coast Post

Following a weekend away riding the Coast to Coast, which incidentally gave great views of Golden Plover and Curlew on breeding territory, I had a little walk around the patch this evening.

Whitethroat and Blackcap singing in the picnic site scrub, Reed Bunting in the reeds on the edge of the small pond and Reed Warbler heard from the main Old Water reed bed, loudly singing.

There were 3 Little Egrets on the Old Water pools and a further bird in the main estuary, 4 in total. Waders on the main estuary are slowly increasing in numbers now, Lapwing and Curlew now up to 30+ each and 12 or so Redshank, no sign of any Dunlin or any other small waders though.

A wander around the car park I photographed some wonderful flowers, ostensibly prickly in nature, Dog Rose and Bramble have fabulous flowers..


View north from the picnic site

Monday, 22 June 2015

Tragedy and Tapestry

The Coquet Estuary has a very mid summer feel at the moment, the Old Water scrub, reed beds and Picnic Site car park is alive with 1st broods of Robin, Dunnock, Chiff Chaff, Goldfinch, Blackcap, Mistle Thrush and noisy groups of young Starling patrol the saltmarsh and golf course.

Young Chiff Chaff
The estuary is very different, but interesting. There are very few birds on the estuary, it seems to be dominated by groups of Eider and Shelduck chicks being marshaled around by the odd attentive adult. 
Conversation over tea got me thinking, today there were a few waders that we thought were returning breeding birds from, probably, local upland areas, small numbers, less than 10, of Lapwing, Redshank and Curlew. This seemed an excellent time to start taking real notice of the waders present on the estuary. A count perhaps during each visit, this would provide an great record of arrivals and movements from now until the end of the autumn period, and, while I'm counting and looking through birds there is always the chance of finding something exciting or different. Anyway, enough of plans that I probably wont fulfill.

Stewart and I walked the track down the Old Water first thing this morning. A small Gull was picked out in a group of Black Headed Gulls, Little Gull?, we wondered and then the bird was spotted flying up the old water, a very young Black Headed Gull, a first flight by the looks of things, it settled nicely on the water.
After walking a little further we heard a bit of a noisy commotion behind us, Black Headed Gulls were mobbing a Carrion Crow. The Crow was sitting on the bridge that crosses to the caravan site and was watching the young swimming Gull.
No interest to a Crow a bird of that size we thought, we were wrong. The young Gull lifted from the water and flew, it made an error though, it flew over the saltmarsh. The Carrion Crow grabbed the Gull in flight and they both dropped to the ground. We, wrongly perhaps, rushed over to the scene, the young Gull slipped away in Stewart's hands. We left it and the Carrion Crow quickly returned to its meal, hopefully for young of its own..  

Young Black Headed Gull, top, and Carrion Crow
A slow ponderous wander through the dunes followed, fabulous wildflowers to enjoy, photograph and try to name.

Viper's Bugloss

Maiden Pink
I must do a good search through of these dunes and try and get some good identifications and photographs for a post later.

Wildflowers of a somewhat more cultivated nature provided the final flourish of the morning. We parked up along the track at Birling and the field right nest to where we parked had been sown with Barley and a mix of wildflower seeds. Quite a sight, wish we could have more areas like this each year.


Monday, 15 June 2015

Cold and dark

This morning made a start at Warkworth Picnic Site 07:00. In truth we didn't surface from the tea supping until an hour later, very cold, breezy and wet. I'm trying out lenses, following a trial with Stewart's 300mm converter set up I had a 100-400 to play with courtesy of Darryn Wade. A cold and dark morning wasn't what I needed.

Anyway, desperate to have a go, I slid the car window open and snapped a Song Thrush, not only was the morning light poor but the bird was under a thick canopy of bushes.

Song Thrush
It was clear this wasn't going to be a morning for summer delights so we decided to check out the Old Water Pools, not straying too far from cover.
A lovely pair of Avocet were feeding away, just about the only birds on the pools, we grabbed our cameras and headed down to get a little closer.

A quick check of the car park and bushes before heading off to look at the estuary. Very quiet, family parties of Eider and Shelduck from the harbour, we decided to try a seawatch, goodness knows why, I could see what this was going to be like.
Never mind, a very enjoyable, if cold, session scoping the sea huddled in the lea of Cliff House, Terns and Puffins were swarming all over the sea between our position and Coquet Island, Roseate Terns could be seen including one very close bird. Arctic Tern, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Puffin, Kittiwake, Black Headed Gull and Gannet also seen.
Back to the car and got the heater going as quick as I could, hands and feet were now freezing.

Young Mistle Thrush
A few more images taken this morning, definitely worth a look out even if it did feel like winter..in June

Sunday, 14 June 2015

House Martin Survey

First visits this year participating in this two year national study and survey of House Martins. 
I have been allocated three 1km squares to check out. Two visits to each square, one in June and one in July.
I had to work this morning which was unexpected so found myself free this afternoon..
Interesting looking at buildings. I look at buildings every day, its my job. Today though I was looking at them from the perspective of this lovely little Hirundine.

Not many traditional Northumbrian buildings are suited to the nesting habits of this bird and many modern or developed properties which would have a soffit or boarded eaves have been altered and covered with dreadful upvc. The birds cant adhere the mud to this material.

There were no nesting House Martins in the two squares I visited today.

I know some progress has been made with developers and house builders by providing nest sites for Swift and House Sparrow, hopefully the same can be done for House Martins and perhaps the data gathered from this survey can help.