In Dusk We Trust - Some Owling in Co.Durham, North East England, Great Britain
Leucistic Little Owl image copyright Hilary Chambers, Durham.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Holiday afternoon

Went up Charlaw, to visit the farm for the first time

A nice little place with Tree Spugs zipping around the car park, while the adventure trail area wood, with its zip slides / ropes etc produced singing male Redstart, which was a pleasing surprise given that it was 95+% Scots Pine.
Others included Siskin, Treecreeper, GSW, Coal Tit etc

Moved off to have a look at the Tawny stick nest

It wasnt looking good, evenyually trailed the family through nettles, bracken & brambles to find an empty nest . . .

No sooner had i said we need to look out for some fluffy white balls up the trees, when Jack shouted (from ontop of my shoulders) "i can see an owl"

& there it was :-

The smile says it all, Yes no doubting he found it !

& no doubt one of many more to come . . .

pretending it didnt exist

Junior Foto Ninja
(the school camera is filling up with owl images quite nicely)

Interesting tree right over top of footpath on the adventure trail - remind us not to go back on a windy day

a pleasant afternoon

bugs on declining Scots Pine - cockchafers ?

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Rape Warbler / Lowls

6AM - The Heron texted from an Oil seed Rape field at the edge of the houses

a reed/marsh . . . but not close enough to get a good look at it

popped down with scope & we came to conclusion that it was a Reed Warbler
It doing a bit mimickry, especially of Sedgie & a bright orange gape when singing.
Suppose it was the Habo throwing us the most . . .

Thought i heard one, a Reed that is, in Rape nr S.Pond a fortnight back.

After breakfast, we joined JWa to inspect Little Owl boxes,

Its been Three weeks since the last checks & we were expecting chicks

But the 2 we looked at both still had incubating birds.

Continued on to re-erect another LO box ( a Pat Martin production ) which had been damaged & which Jimmy had repaired.
Nice to see lots of Tree Spugs buzzing about & into boxes - 5 year ago there was only a single pair - the boxes were an instant success.

Called it a morning there, as we had one of our youngest helpers with us.

No young, but Jack was happy, laughing after getting a photo of the "monkeys bot" on his school camera.

An interesting tree

This fault showing just how strong a wood Oak is - its been holding on like this for a good few year now.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Bambi video

just tried to edit previous post to add this link, but it stripped out all the other images . . .

hope this works

We're guessing at only a couple of days old ?

back down into the grass, the doe lying flat on her side to keep hidden, the fawn disappearing alltogether, presumably suckling.
The Does ears like radar constantly attentive, twitching in all directions.

must get a real camera instead of hand-holding this little £50 jobby against the telescope eyepiece.

Black tailed Godwit returned:-

The Spug-wit returns

Along Long Edge

Long Edge area

fem greenland Wheatear,
2Tree Sparrow,
mRedstart singing from fence at small plantation
sev Goldcrest & Coal Tit - unaffected by the winter snow under the shelter of the 60-70' Spruces.
mLong-eared Owl in reg loc - trees 60' plus - No chance of an image under dark canopy

Pleasing to find min of 4m2f Tree Pipit,

not much song or display, the males all busy collecting food, seemed to be mostly caterpillars

male with food

100m further on had to cut across to avoid a boggy area, another male showed

& chanced upon a nest, as i paused by a large stump to scan for Nightjar (again)

Back into cover of the woods as rain & hail came . . .

Tawny Owl - 2 juvs at stick nest in Scots Pine.

Chick in nest - at first glance through bins, i thought the feathers sticking up belonged to the head of a female Long-eard....

Tawny in stick nest in Scots Pine
NB: Looks like the bottom of the nest is gonna fall through at any moment !

out & about

This is the best chance ive had to see Tawny using a stick nest, as more often than not theyre tucked out of sight.
Not sure, but i think its a "multiple" pigeon nests, rather than a corvids ?

As i retreated the young both began to beg for food - this was 2:30 in the afternoon.
Im pretty sure many Tawnies can hunt at any time - would have stayed to see if an adult came in, but it tipped it down with hail stones, so i headed back.

signs close to the male Long-eared Owl's roost

Another babe in the woods . . . the things you find if you go down to the woods . . .

Segiston Heugh

Another old stomping ground

A long area of wood on a steep slope stretching for @4 linear Km

Parts dominated by Oak, with a good diversity of birdlife

Heugh area:

Tawny cavity

Tawny owl & young in Oak cavity -

she was fully visible, but id noticed the cavity too late & she slunk back to hide, revealing at least one large youngster.

The female ever so slowly peeked out with one eye to check if i was still there

- crafty old so & so.

Down a deer track i bumped into the male, he had been watching, flying off into cover only to be mobbed by the smaller woodland residents, plus a Jay - who in turn was mobbed after the owl moved back towards his family.

Quite blustery on the woodland edge, but a fair selection nevertheless:-

Treecreeper & GSW both with fledged young,

2mGarden Warbler, 2mRedstart, 1Spotted Flycatcher, 1mLesser Whitethroat,
singing Cuckoo.

A large exposed rootplate

Had a Woodcock come in at dusk on several consecutive nights to roost on these exposed roots. It was winter 92 i think - W
e had a lot of deep snow & the bird had presumably been field / ditch feeding by day, before returning to this safe roost (out of reach of the Fox) by dusk.

Green Woodpecker bounding across & male Lesser Redpoll in display flight at former Charlaw coll'y site.

The woodland edge ajoins the reclaimed pit heap here -

The Sycamores on the RHS are stag-headed & in decline, this being due to their root plates being damaged / suffocated by change in ground level during reclaimation.
The closest tree shows signs of mechanical damage, presumably from excavator etc.

The young Scots Pines LHS on the shaley pit heap provide excellent habitat for ants -
This coupled with the declining Sycamoes make this, as are many of the former Durham City area colliery sites, superb areas for the Green Woodpecker.

Another patch yr tick on the way back - a rain & hail shower had just died off so called in on an of chance.
a firey red adult Black tailed Godwit circled Spuggys Flash, before continuing north.
Right place right time, it did off towards The Gate.

Pleased i didnt go hunting the rare on the coast.

cant remember the name of this ? Copper? Heath? dunno?

Never mind the Bullocks

Evening check of a few pools yielded little

Bullocks found this hodgeheg & were fascinated

Looked like they were gonna trample it, so it lifted it onto the safe side of the wire

Can we have our Ball back please . . .


Went down the bridge

Talk about "Out of habo"

The Pinky doing his Dipper impression, feeding amongst algae & weed in rapids !

Also drake Goosander swan underneath moulting out of breeding plumage, 4 broods of Mallard, 1Dipper fledgling, distant view of Otter downstream at 21:30.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Roe Doe & Fawn

Went up the Brown Knee Valley for a look out with the missus

Delightful through there, plenty of birds & hit on lucky finding a Doe & her fawn out in the open in a hay meadow.

A very good selection of woodland species, some of which we're more likely to find , especially nowadays further West in our upland Oakwoods.

We didnt get through till mid morning, so perhaps could have added to the list had we been through 5 or 6 hours earlier !

Those seen included 3m Redstart, 1Spotted Flycatcher, best being a male Wood Warbler singing just above our heads -stunning bird & one which has declined (plummeted !) in Durham over the last decade.

Treecreepers were all around with 3 family parties of consisting of @20 birds, GSW, Nuthatch, Dipper, 2m Stock Dove, Kingfisher, Garden Warbler, Kestrel, 3m Goldcrest, etc.

Wrens in a tight crotch

Anxious Doe


Now we realise why . . .

Roe Doe & Fawn


Take it down & put it on the fire ? - pair of Blue Tits feeding young in this battered box - the gaping holes courtesy of Mr Great Spot.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Gavsterly Forest

Went up Cragg's Wood for a mooch about late on.

Right eyefull of Little, Barn Owl & Curlew with young along the roadside between Crook & W'ham on way up were a good start.

So peaceful & quiet up there, only passed 1 car after leaving W'ham.

displaying Tree Pipit & a fine Roe Buck greeeted my arrival.

2 Woodcock feeding on woodland path at 21:00 allowed close inspection & continued the positive theme.

several roding Woodcock, with a distinctive bird with feather missing on RHS wing - interesting to be able to identify him on his various circuits.

Tawny Owl calling all around, 1 flew past below me only 15' away & perched up at close range.
He flew into cover & began a duet with his mate.

Another Roe Buck seen - 1 barking close to & putting the wind up me (neither of us knew the other was there !), with 2-3 more barking in the distance.

Cuckoo singing in the dark up to 23:00.

No sign of Nightjar - not even a contact call, although the night was cool - only 2 degrees by i got back to the motor.

Theres always summick to see on the way back with the full beam on.
A roadside Long-eared at Hedleyhope was nice, with a Little across between Quebec & L'Park.

Not so nice was the body laid prone across the road at Nettlesworth - if the oncoming Taxi hadnt flashed me, id have probly gone straight over it . . .

Rang it in & took a look, covered him in a big coat & waited till the amblance got through.

Would have got home 20 mins quicker if id had a 4x4 with decent ground clearance - i could'a just kept on going ;-)