In Dusk We Trust - Some Owling in Co.Durham, North East England, Great Britain
Leo food-pass image copyright Michael Brady, Newcastle.


Sunday, 28 February 2010

28 Feb - wet end to wet weekend

1pm Sunday & it was looking like a bird-free weekend . . .

wasnt so bothered having managed to see this "belter" during the week

3rd winter Bittern
(another edit of an endless supply of crap pics & worse jokes)

but, seeing as skin's water-proof - it was plenty skins on & off out rambling.
Standing water everywhere - "see how many puddles we can jump in dad" set the tone for the afternoon.

Surprised to see the burn at the edge of the estate had dropped a foot or so & along with the flotsam & jetsom were plenty of tracks & trails. Moorhen, Heron, Mallard, Horse, Stoat & Rat.
Not very productive for birds but we saw Dipper, Stock Dove, Heron, Kestrel by the 3km half way point - thought he'd be getting fed up by now, but none of it.

A Ket shop stop, a couple of chocolate frogs & tins of pop scoffed in the cover of the bus stop & off again.

We cut across a few rough fields as the weather closed in, noting pairs of Lapwing on territory, kicked up a pair of partridge & headed onto the reserve.
Jack was intruiged by remains of a goose, picked clean by the scavengers, he inspected the bones with his stick, trying to work out which bit was which. We put the skull back together, but he seemed quite unconcerned about its demise "its gone in heaven".

Its a sh@te hide, absolutely sh@te - no door, no shutters.
"The Freezer" as its affectionately known - the photog lads go outside to get a warm when theyre doing a big sit !
But this afternoon it was very welcome bit of cover & we saw more here in a half, than in the previous 2 hours.

13 Goldeneye, 1 of the drakes had a flotilla of 10 fems with him & he wasnt letting the other 2 in on the act, no matter how much they displayed.
3 drake Pochard added colour, as did 20 or so Oystercatcher, a Redshank & 30 Lapwing. 80 odd Curlew were field feeding next door.

Picked up a white flash
another Ermine hunting the rough grass on the bank - it dashed about wildly then bounded back into view carrying its vole prey.
This had some colour coming back through, and the 2nd different white Toast me & the bairn have seen this week & 2 consecutive winters we've watched one with prey.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

25 Feb - Keep on your patch & off the road

Nipped down Farnless to collect grain
With Corn Bunts in mind i detoured on the way (Dham City area) & picked up 2singing males competing against a chorus of Skylarks & loads of singing Yellowhammers. Along the lane 3pr Partridge, 2prStock Dove & single Little Owl.

Stoneybeck was indeed a Lake - hasnt had this much water in for a good while
Not many birds on, but a fair selection

3 Pintail, ad LBBGull, 6 Pochard, Oystercatcher, Snipe, Curlew

Regular LO in the Oak with another singing Corn Bunting

Had bother getting out of the farmyard . . .



A while since i visted the DBC Castle Lake Reserve
Called in & was surprised at discovering the location for the new wader scrape

New wader scrape already attracting birds :- Grey Wagtail, plus a Moorhen in with 2 calves in byer.

Loads of water, several years since ive seen it topped up like this
& loads of birds

The hide retains its new smell
4Stock Doves feeding close outside - generally a very wary species.
Seems it doesnt matter how high the water rises theres always scope for waders here, with 2Ruff & a Green Sandpiper, 40Golden Plover, 21Redshank, 12Curlew & 5Oystercatcher.








Over 600 ducks too
Good count of 36Pochard, 275Teal, 190Wigeon, 8Gadwall, 3Shoveler,2Goldeneye, 150Mallard, 1Little Grebe, 5Shelduck, 10Tufted Duck, 2Cormorant

Popped into a rarely visited backwater & hit on lucky




managed to get a couple onto it before it evaporated into cover - no doubt for a lie down to digest the huge vole it grabbed & scoffed in a one-r


other profile

So, i guess the moral of the story is
Stop driving around in cars going to see someone elses birds
Flog your patch into submission instead !

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

24 Feb - Cheek by jowl

Topped up the feed, over the hill
Very very encouraging, 4 Corn Bunts with 1 singing briefly.
Close by another landowner has signed up to help produce buntings too
& here was us thinking our relict pocket of birds was being overlooked in favour of the Bish Midd stronghold.

Difficult to count the rest, Yellowhammers, Reed Bunts & Skylarks mixed together, continually up & down in dribs & drabs
Couple of Stock & Partridge & a Song Thrush looking a bit lost amongst the arable fields. Couple of Skyks up aloft but only limited bursts of song.

Gave the gulls a good grilling for at least 5 minutes
A couple of new species discovered including the wrestlers favourite:
an immature Half-Nelson Gull

Half Nelson ?


& an good example of the equally unheard of :-
asian sub-species, the Curry Headed Gull



otherwise ad LBB was the only thing of note, but many BHGs now getting their dark chocolate hoods.


After yesterdays haul of half a dozen, brief Photo assignment to try to capture a decent LO.
Pleased with this one

i moved on without it seeing me.

I still reckon it the most numerous owl species in Co.Durham.

Back at home, a pair of Tawnies sat cheek by jowl

Tried to get a close up through scope, but wouldnt quite focus on face


A couple of local Barnies at 2 locs, out hunting at @ 16:30

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

23 Feb - Pastures Old

WARNING
This entry contains information relating to the propulsion of a person in a motor vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine.


How easy is that.
"Birding" with a car.

Had a drive out to have a look at a few old haunts this afternoon (keeping one eye shut & a hand tied firmly behind my back)

Snow & cold, yes winters still here
But the days are slowly lengthening & the sun is shining warmer
Signs of Spring today:-
a kettle of 6 Buzzard, numerous species singing including my first cock Stonechat of the year, others included Bullfinch, Treecreeper & Willow Tit.
A Dipper inspecting a nesting cavity & speculative scope scan for Red Kite netted a male Goshawk displaying - a real scoop & something we've speculated on for some time.

There are though, some definate signs that the cold & snow is pegging some activity back.
For EG,
Only 2 Skylarks in full song, yet 2 fields away a winter flock of 100+birds in stubble/set-a-side. At home some of the Rooks building, but way behind last year & were still waiting for the Dabchicks to return. Havnt seen/heard of tumbling Lapwings yet.

Anyway, bizarre how after returning to an area after a good few years some things never change, yet others are un-recognisable.
Plenty Little owl activity, half a dozen out (of the wind) this aftnoon



It took me ages to remember where that tree hole was - last time i looked there was probably pre 1997 !



The only down side to the visit was the numerous piles of sloppy red gunk on one pathside - must be feeding their hounds on Chappy mixed with powdered house bricks.

Other odds & ends included Brambling (yrtick) Grey Partridge, Snipe, Stock Dove, Goosander, LBBGull, Siskin & one of the last, a Green Woodpecker having a good laugh at me as it remained concealed.

23 Feb - Birds - ‘a miner’s canary for the natural world’

Cut & Pasted :-

‘A global chorus on the relationship between human beings and birds’

‘Studying the life of another living creature is a way of engaging all of your faculties. In short it’s a way of being intensely alive and recognizing that you are so. Everything is connected to everything else’ explained Mark Cocker in the moving portrayal of his intense and ongoing study of the corvid (the rook to the carrion crow) in his book, Crow Country.

Mark Cocker is a natural scientist, environmentalist, cultural anthropologist and author with eight books under his ‘wing’ including Birders: Tales of a Tribe and Birds Britannica, a study on the cultural importance of birds in this country. His Crow Country was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnston Prize for Non–Fiction within which his descriptions of ‘ornithological fishing’ describing the many days seeing nothing paling into insignificance when a significant encounter is experienced, will resonate with many a ‘twitcher’.

For his new work Birds and People, Mark Cocker comes to Newcastle on what is to all intents and purposes a typical book tour, but untypically Birds and People isn’t yet available; Mark is taking the opportunity to explain why it is viewed as a groundbreaking collaboration between the publishers Random House and BirdLife International. To say it is something of an experiment in publishing terms, is an understatement.

Birds and People will survey and document, worldwide, the cultural significance of birds but will only be complete when comments and contributions from all over the world are compiled and sufficiently signify that the work is complete. It has been estimated that the book will have been 10 years in the making. Mark’s lecture is a ‘call’ to explain and encourage participants to visit and contribute through an already active dedicated website www.birdsandpeople.org.

So far people in 54 countries have contributed (as far away as Mongolia, Iran and Vietnam); some are celebrated authors like novelists Margaret Atwood and Jim Crace, nature writer Richard Maybey and local poet Katrina Porteos as well the back garden bird spotter. There is even a contribution from a prisoner serving a life sentence in a USA state penitentiary.

Mark describes birds as ‘a miner’s canary for the natural world’ and wants to enthuse others on their cultural significance. Significantly in this, the Year of Biodiversity, Birds and People awareness will highlight how a decline in species inflicts ‘parallel losses upon the very fabric of human cultures’ he says.

The book’s photography comprises of almost 400 ‘spectacular’ (says Mark) images of birds by celebrated wildlife photographer David Tipling (a former winner of the documentary award for The European Nature Photographer of the Year for his work on Emperor Penguins) with research by Jonathan Elphick, a natural history author and editor for over 50 years.

The lecture ‘Birds and People’

Date: Wednesday 10 March 2010

Time: 5.15 for 6pm start (seats allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.)

Place: Life Conference and Banqueting, Times Square, Newcastle NE1 4EP

Price: £2 (payable on the door)

Ends:

The Birds and People lecture is part of the world-wide celebrations of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. The diversity of life on earth is crucial for human well-being and now is the time to act to preserve it. For information on events, initiatives and exhibitions across the UK visit www.biodiversityislife.net

For further press information: Vicky Pepys/Nicola McIntosh Tel: 0191 243 8209 vicky.pepys@life.org.uk/nicola.mcintosh@life.org.uk

www.life.org.uk

22 Feb - Warm as a Toast

WARNING
This entry contains information relating to the propulsion of persons in a motor vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine.

The school was shut today - one of those Insect days where the teachers get down to the nitty gritty
Re-writing politically correct versions of nursery rhymes & vote on what to ban next in the school yard . . . conkers, snowballs etc.
I dont know about them, they were probably working flat out after the rollocking Ofstead gave 'em, but we certainly had fun during the day.

Towards the end of it, we drove ( !!! ) out into the countryside, to one of our 5-owl sites (NZ24)

We found a nice vantage point, sat the little down on rucksack on a perfect log-seat, wrapping him in a fleece blanket.


Warm as a Toast

Fieldfares we coming in to roost after a day of feding on the sunny, south facing slopes of autumn sown crops & Partridge called & chased all around us.

Still snow where the sun hadnt managed to get to & a bit of it appeared to move . .
We squeaked it in so far, but the breeze was ahind & it dropped off the radar as quickly as it had appeared. This looked to be a different individual, with a few brown flecks showing through.

Jacks seen plenty of Stoats & white Ermine twice before, we even had one disappear down a hole carrying a vole within 10 feet.
We call them Toasts
( after "someone" called out "theres a Toast" - as one ran over the road in front of us! )

Distant, but naked eye views Barn & Shorty wheeling about & 2 Hares chasing - well one was doing the chasing anyway.

Just as the light was going a male Long-eared began to hoot, then he flew up to perch openly against a snowy backdrop.
He went out to hunt straight off, some Fieldfares scattered, but couldnt see him trying for anything, so we packed up failing to get a close view of any owl.

Jack pointed up at the half moon, then later walking back spyed another one - obviouslythe other half.

It amazes me that he'll walk off ahead not bothered about the very low lighting, but doesnt like the light off in the house.


Jack leads the way - camera wasnt quick enough to catch the owl !

We were half way back when a Leo went past silhouetted against the top of the slope.
We stopped & he barked a note of disapproval
" think i can hear a dog " - in fact his was a very good description.
Despite the warning note, a female could be heard calling every 6 seconds or so - she must have seen him coming returning - the females call more rapidly when their mates are coming back - maybe she thought he was returning with their supper ?

Closer to the car (while spotting the missing half of moon), little 'un stopped again
"think i can hear a amblance dad"
then the siren went again
"no its a police" he reassured me as he continued walking on ahead.

We do it sparingly & wouldnt like to think i would brain wash the little fella
he wont be 5 for a couple of months yet - but im sure he'll grow to appreciate the natural world around him & have an affinity with it.

If you have an interest in nature then surely you can never be bored.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

20th Feb - Sounds like Spring

Sounds like Spring, doesnt feel like it
Vast majority of the residents now recorded in song
Corn Bunting & Treecreeper tuning up today.
Reed Bunt being one thats yet to sing.


Rms this morning with Jack to meet Waxy & collect some Pfly & Rstart boxes he'd knocked up.
Superb bright day, but quiet.
Bumped into Stewie - thats twice already this year
Tawny remains in the prone position, 10 Oiks in, 2m1f Goosander, 2pr Geye, half doz Snipe, 120+Redpoll, singing Willow Tits.

Couple of Leo sites early this evening.
A gadge with couple of dogs was in wrong place at wrong time, but Barnie over the back and delayed appearance from 2 male Long-eared at dusk interacting with one another, chasing & wing clapping.
The "additional" male being persued back to one of his song posts (small Hawthorn) whilst wing clapping low over the ground.
Another location producing a static female calling 2-3 times a minute from a nest area - picked this calling up from @200m away.
I hear female / male vocalisations on a ratio of about 10:1.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

17 Feb - Happy Clappers

Freezing fog & zero vis winter at home this am
Flat calm & a bright warm spring day a few hours later

W##k nr Fulforth Dene area, Witton Gilbert: Green Woodpecker yaffling, singing Skylark way up in a perfect clear sky, pair of Bullfinch watched taking buds from a garden Cherry Plum for at least an hour.

Later, after w##k, managed The Five in a new time of 37 mins; although Little owl was unseen.3M singing & clapping, 1F calling from likely nest copse. A male flew off to sing from different tree after a Short came in to land close to him (the Seo must have gone to roost as it didnt move for 30mins {17:30-18:00})

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

16 Feb - Four Letter Word

F@@@ C@@@
F@@@ C@@@ W@@@ S@@@

No, none of these but :-
W O R K !!!

What could be worse
No chance of any birding this week
or is there . . .

Yesterday saw us at Sunlund,
a GSW chipping away as soon as we parked up.
2 skeins of noisy Pinks went over, a dead Blacky ( "can we count dead birds" LOL ) , a Brambling over & 2 cock Greenfinch in display flights.

Today just outside Durham City,
pair of Siskin in garden, the cock singing. Green Woodpecker yaffling on & off through day, a mixed flock of House & Tree Sparrows, with a Sparrowhawk whizzing close past. A decent vantage point produced, Greylags north, Cormorant over & a Peregrine over north heading for Durham.

Home, packed away & back out for 5 with the "her".
Good job a fetched her along 'cos she picked the location & also picked up white Ermine hunting & another very special white one floating about, much to the delight of another JW - his 1st of the year !
Moved on & a male Leo appeared bang on 17:30 & we had un-interupted scope views of him as he began singing from a low perch. Decent hunting action with the whiteone in the back ground at the same time.

Four Letter Word ......... - NICE.

Monday, 15 February 2010

15 Feb - Winter Owlympics - New Record !

Sporadic net access over past couple of days leaves lots & lots of catching up.
Also lots & lots of owl activity at present with Bo & Leo info in from sev areas.

- what better time then to commence The Winter Owlympics.

A late entry on Saturday aftnoon, i thought i'd be working hard to catch the rest of the field.
4pm & i was off, but not another competitor in sight.
Out of nowhere, a Barn,
only 10' away, then circling round to come back again.
At the same time a distinctive muffled tapping, 5 mins later Leo was back wing clapping across the horizon.
Short was easy,going high to avoid corvids. Tarty Tawny, but failed to yield Little except on call.
Finishing time for The 5 Owls = 1hour 45 mins.


That was a good finish, but could we make a push to break the magical 1 hour barrier . . .

Sunday afternoon was almost a non starter.
Late getting out of the blocks - left home at 5.
17:05 - first a Little, then they all fell perfectly - turning through 180 as the light was going & we nabbed a Barnie ghosting towards us at 17:40

# # A NEW OWLYMIC RECORD - The 5 species seen in 37 mins. # #

My dreams of Owlympic GOLD have been dashed for the time being, as a young pretender has seemingly set that bar at 20 minutes !
Surely impossible ?


Owling at Pensha Park - " Its Mint Dad "

Thursday, 11 February 2010

11 Feb 2010 - 2 Little 2 Late



Didnt get far today, but stopped to have a look at 2 pair of Little on the way back from delivering Castle Lake keys & DBC Hats.



Coming closer to home, ran out of time, so didnt manage our first returning GCG of the year
not to worry you might think . . .
another one to catch up with later at leisure ?

Possibly not.
Theyre dropped like flies over the past few years - cannot guarentee 'em as a breeder on the patch now.

Bit of a mystery & realy quite strange that these fish eaters have bombed when the likes of Cormorants & Herons have boomed . . .

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

1 Feb 2010 - Trip down Monkey Hinger land & The Smog Marshes

Picked the right day to head down the A19.
Barely use a motor & the one day i do the main road is grid locked.

Did a bit survey on the edge of H'Pool
First impressions were of arable wasteland, but picked up a few bits & bobs in spite of "adverse" weather including Treecreeper, GSW, Tree Sparrow, Fieldfare etc & signs of water voles.

Set out to find DC, thought he may be able to fill in a few gaps . . .
Found him guiding beginners around at Cowpen - What a star - He insisted on showing me the ducks


North American Tufted Duck

After a natter & a blizzard i managed, after 20mins to find one of the owls, though i had been told there were 3 . . . ?
Lots of pleasant chatty birders here, a nice little set up with Tree Spugs on tap !

Moved away from the shelter of CB CPk &
. . .
. . .
. . .

1 of 3 zzzed gulls today - surprisingly this one wasnt asleep

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

9th Feb 2010 - Waxwing / Cee-Bee s

We keep an eye out walking round the school & hit on lucky with a single Waxwing this morning.
Heard the distinctive trilling & looked up to see a flock of about 30 . . . Starlings . . with the W-wing tagging along.
Had some here last winter, they resorted to eating Crab apples in the end.

Reading from the UK 4,000 site, it appears there have been @ 20 birds recorded today from Orkney down to Suffolk.

Guess we have been lucky with that one
Even more so when we heard him again at @5pm when he looked to be going to roost.

Looking forward to tomorrow morning - will be taking some bins this time !

Another bit good news,
just found out one of our local farms has signed to one of these new schemes were they get paid for producing birds - well its something like that anyhow.

We have a relict Corn Bunt population with 4 or 5 males - after seeing the set up down Bish Midd at Farnless, the futures got to be a bit more rosy.

Disclosure of territorial Cettis Warbler in NE

Is it appropriate for "bird information services" to be openly broadcasting news of singing male Cettis Warblers in the region ?


Whilst its obviously not the breeding season, the species regularly proclaims territory at this time of year.

Given that this is a Schedule 1 breeding species which is yet to become established in our area, i would have thought that none disclosure of information would be the best policy.

I think the people taking these desicions ought to be reminded to think on a bit.

Consider if you will, the lack of respect shown to other rare warblers that may have been prospecting likely breeding sites
eg. Marsh Warblers "trampled" at Herrington CPk (info on these 3 territorial birds was broadcast onto "bird information services" despite discussion & requests to keep it under wraps) & another unfortunate singing Marsh Warbler which was tape lured at Safc Academy Pools over the course of several days.


Theres far too many clueless arse#@?@s "birding" nowadays to allow info like this into the public domain.

At the end of the day, these "bird information services" are businesses in it for a profit - are they realy in the best position to deceide what info gets put out to all & sundry . . .

Monday, 8 February 2010

Mon 8th Feb 2010 - those pratts with cameras & noisy fones . .

On the whole an uneventful day, saved by a chance encounter



Sunbathing . . . blissfully unaware

THEN


Put your mobile fone on discreet you noisy #@$*>£^~ muppet !

Why does the fone allways ring at the worst times



One more. (as those birding paparazzi types say)
I moved on quickly, leaving it to soak up a few more rays

Heres my best attempt at one i had went to attempt to get a look at :-


A few Willow Tits singing today
vis mig of Skylarks & Mipits north
Days highlight was my years first singing cock Yellowhammer.


Found these feathers:-



possibly from Woodcock ?

found this about painting with a Woodcocks feather ! :-

http://www.wildart.co.uk/index.cfm/E89F6CFC-3048-2B65-C01F670CBB7CE0A9/nav/WoodcockPaintings

plus some interesting Woodcock stuff on Roy Denis website.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

6th Feb 2010 - New set of bins

One of our regular routines, especially on a damp weekend, involves searching out the blackest, clartiest tracks & trails.
The Black Trod, The Bogs, The not so Sandy Lonnen and the wellington swollowing Chilton Mire all fit the bill - but none can beat Sludgeletch.
Its a shit tip at the best of times, but the thaw coupled with a couple of crossers has resulted in paradise for a little boy with new goretex boots.
They are well & truly wraxed in now.

We dont play "Pooh sticks" here, its "Cider bottles" & i was in the lead heading towards the scrapyard, when my green torpedo became captured by the long arm of a Salix fragilis . . . his Purple was first to the tunnel, an obvious result.

Over the railings a vast assortment of freshly disguarded items wallowed in the Burn including a rugby ball, an exhausts back box & a large blue wheelie bin . . .


The old line at Sedgeletch. Bored - waiting to jump down.

Over the old rail lines & looking down thuther side & there was the bin again - had it set sail & beat us under the embankment while we were going over ?
No, we were mistaken this was a matching pair - well almost a match.

The difference was clear to hear.

The Dipper belting out his song from this huge new blue plastic rock ! - a thoughless piece of habitat creation ! Watched the pair prospecting nest sites - theyre never succesful this far up.

Found a new Ket shop & headed past Morton House.
Thick mist meant we couldnt see the other side of the field, nevermind the far bottom corner we wanted, so off we headed on what we thought was the bee-line.
After 50 yard we cut back in to the field edge due to raucous shouts from a couple of figures heading our way which were gradually appearing out of the murk.
Imediate impression were false as the shooting has come to an end.
All came clear with a piercing whistle & a black flash low across the ground.
We stood & watched a good while, 2 Black Labs being trained up - amazing watching them go back 50 yards the oppisite way to retrieve a couple of bags that had been dropped "blind".

Cutting back home after 5km mostly in the clarts, we guessed whether it would be a bike or a shopping trolley dumped over the footbridge . . . ?
- just like the bottles, the little won again . . . 3 trolleys it was.

Friday, 5 February 2010

5th Feb 2010 - Chrimbo decs finally down

The Pintail was a new one for the small pool down the back of Colliery Row, the 2nd wint Zzzzzed Gull was there again too. The drakes a stunner & wary as hell, the first to get his head up, as he fed with Mallard & Teal in ice free water underneath Hawthorn trees.
They went up when a dog-emptier approached, over towards Joes where the over zealous inept kack handed systematically mis-managed Countrypark style management regime on the Nature reserve there has removed the vast majority of overhanging waterside veg there meaning its just about iced solid.
While im venting steam the latest recipient of the birder retard award goes to the PILLOCK standing clapping the bottom of the pole box - i scoped him from the hilltop & couldnt find the t#at by the time i got down.

Thankfully, that happy clapper doesnt seem to have put the Tawny off shes still lying down

Tobox

Otherwise poor th'day. 2 singing Willow Tit, a Redshank was back on the big pool, 11Snipe busy feeding, 1,600gulls - novelty waring off again though the YLG was there again - would have liked a pic of this but the camera is intermittant at present, 60 disappearing redpoll over , prGadwall back up top - where theyre going for their brief journeys when its froze is uncertain, Kes pr mating again

,
Gadabouts


So a lot of old bollox realy - might go to work again soon think ive come on this extended holiday by mistake.

Yes,
the last 2 days have been so uneventful that i even resorted to taking down our outdoor decorations . . .
this is my record latest ever date, but am also hoping for an early re-arrival date possibly around mid November time.

Yesterday mornings freezing fog & zero visibilty resulted in procedings being abandoned & i came home limping.
I doubled back due to weather & dropped down into the old cemy.
A handful of Mags were scolding something & i thought i might find a Tawny in the ivy - only problem was the whole place is festooned with the stuff.
Cursory glances at some of the ages on the stones revealing how harsh life was back a hundred year or so.

Drawing a big fat blank here, a move to a section of exposed Limestone.
Had looked at this only briefly with the bairn a while back (he found a beaut fresh BO pellet which made us look up).

So plenty splash & a few fresh pellets - but half way between 2 breeding pairs it surely cant be another nest site . . . ?
Thinking id have a better idea of what was what if i got higher up, i climbed the first section no probs, but could see other crevises close by.
Jumping down, (getting too old for this malarky) i stumbled on landing & hurt my achilles.
Still unsure on this one - next time its either a dusk steakout in this creepy old graveyard OR a fetch a set of ladders . . .

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

3rd Feb 2010 - Five out of Five.

The bright warm sun encouraging more song today.
Willow Tit the latest to tune up.

Looked through 1,000's of gulls - wasnt 100% on this one . . .

Redpolls prominant today with several flocks of up to 60

but only a single Siskin - theyve being reported as "bad to get" since last Autumn.

Bumped into Davy @~#%>$ing J.
He'd been on the nite shift & was off home to top up his Torretts tablets

Several hard frosts since Friday night resulting in majority of pools being iced up, drake Pintail & 2Wigeon remain, but the Gadwall have moved out again. Both adult Herons seen today appeared to be hunting for voles.


The pole TO would appear to be incubating .
. .
found its mate tucked well away.


Tawny pellet

A few checks to see whats what


beneath a Leo roost.
(amazing how these birds manage to cough the pound coins up seperately)

Caught up with The Heron, we finished off with a couple of special birds.
All 5 seen to be present & correct round Hoton today.

One to ponder on :-

Monday, 1 February 2010

1 Feb 2010 - Stickin' the Coot In part 2

Some Sun & song today.
A few species feeling the warmth from the strengthening rays & beginning to tune up, whilst the thrushes & commoner tits have ben at it for a while, a big difference today with 6 or 7 different Chaffinch vocal & nice to see 3 different cock Bullfinch singing too.



This is the best time of year to hear the latter.
Their song is a quiet & feeble collection of scratchy warbling notes - they get drowned out over the next month by their noisier neighbours.


We've also had a sprinkling of Shelducks into inland waters & an Oystercatcher at Joes Pond today - sporting his white winter neck band as he laid claim to his nest island in the ice & snow !


# 100 for the OFFH 2010 List

Rooks building at home, as are the odd pair of Maggies.
Next couple i'll be looking out for are returning LBBGulls, Skylarks on territory (havnt come back in any great nos since New Year exodus), & roding Woodcock (usually displaying mid Jan onwards).


Stunner

Several species feeding on post tops at the kissing gate, where visitors have been leaving seed & hearts; inc Willow Tits & Reed Bunting, 10+Bullfinch & half a dozen Robin - 1 being hand tame.

Eventually managed a Per. Number 101 on the list.
Picked it up well off motoring south & attacking "birds" high above the site.
The Tawny again in the Kestrels box - visibly P'd off.
1,432Herring Gulls on the ice , a few of us looked thro' 1,000s today & not a sausage.

Sat in the Freezer with CW/JW & the one time arch enemy of Shirley Crabtree.
An absolutely horrific episode from a Coot - JB has some shots, ill try to add one later.




Forget Lions, Hyenas & all that lot - this Coot should have had 18 holer Martins on . . .

Pics from John JBEE

the poor coont (the bird, not John)


Poorly Coot

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Poorlier Coot

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Poor Coont - both its eyes picked out (& eaten) but its still alive !