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

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Ar nuther tic

Well thats another very enjoyable year on the local patch birding.

A real flourish over the final 4-5 weeks with resulting in a personal total of 165species seen on the patch, with good views of 2 of our Arctic Redpolls today.

Of these, 161 being "OFFH"  - On Foot From Home.

with 178 species OFFH resulting from 1 visit to coast..... on our local 'bird race' - this being a 24hr, 42km walk in mid May !

Lots of highlights, all 5 owls seen on New Years Day, 10 new local patch ticks for me during the year, a late winter record of all 5 owl species seen in 37 minutes.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Cure for Xmas Cabin Fever !

What a scummy morning, a good thaw has set in after 4 weeks snow.

Tell tale tide mark shows where yesterdays run-off raised the beck (sorry, burn)

( i have a mental block with Burn & cant get into the jist of using the word...
It was "Loup ower tha Beck" when i was a lad, none of this Burn malarky )

A bit fresh air was long overdue, we went along the Beck (Burn) to see what tracks & signs we could find & follow before the snow goes...

could hear the Kingfisher as we crossed the field & followed pheasant, horse & rabbit tracks

no encouragement necessary ;-)

Lots of fresh Mallard & Moorhen prints kept Jack amused by the waterside - he drew every different print in the snow untill his gloves were soaked (allways have spares).

Loads of vole/mice runs visible, snaking about & a few small prints every now & then

perhaps Wood Mouse having been respondsible for the Xmas decs on this old finch nest

Fun all the way, it was amazing how many strange tracks i missed, yet had to track back to "look what ive found dad".
Lots of places where little mice had been dancing, a pheasant & even prints from a giant moorhen that eats people ........ small artistic fingers getting colder all the while ......

The temperate was up a few degrees, but a very damp murky morning resulting in tiny beads of water of the spider webs

Frog pic while i tried to get the spiders handiwork in focus....

Plenty bird activity, with Heron, Grey & Pied Wag, Kingfisher, Fieldfare, Redpoll species ( perm any one of 3 !!! ), Water Rail feeding openly at the S'letch outlet, nice to hear a few tuning up too, but we couldnt add Dipper to the list today.

An odd bug caught our attention -

maybe its a young Ladybird ? -
J sat engrossed on the kitchen floor when we were back thumbing through a couple of books looking for " it".

Another view of the Kingflasher as we admired the "Golden Weeping Willowtree"

Away from the main path we saw were Mr Fox & Mr Deer had been, loads of rabbit activity - lots of saplings & branches stripped of bark & Stoat following them & hunting along the banksides.

After 3 hours we were at the end of the street & even then he was still keeping his eyes peeled...

"look what this is dad !"

thats an easy one son - its a Moorhens back foot thats came off with all the frost

Thursday, 23 December 2010

NB: Christmas Panto Cancelled / Two more for the OFFH List !

The Christmas panto "Jack and the Beanstalk" has been cancelled in the following towns:-

Bedford, Birmingham, Blackburn, Bradford, Burnley, Coventry, Leeds, Leicester, Luton,

Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wolverhampton.

The giant couldn't smell the blood of an Englishman!


Set out into the frozen night or was it morning at @06:30

Early doors - optics icing over today
 headed down Cox Green, in the Wear valley near Washington Duck Zoo to have a look at a young male Long Tailed Duck reported yesterday.

A Mars Bar, bottle of Water, 11 miles & 2 OFFH yearticks later i was off (picked up at the roadside with no chance of a coffee or dry socks...)  to shove a trolley round Tescos.

Some great birds along the way - Little & Barn owl very early on, later on a couple of day hunting Tawny inc 1 with a Blackbird.

Nice surprise with a Lesser Black Backed Gull on the Wear at Fatfield, -

ive seen more of Yellow legged Gull over the last few winters,

whilst i was watching it a Kingfisher flew up into view,

saw 2 maybe 3 here, with 2 on the Burn at Sedgeletch on the return leg.

5Sparrowhawk seen including 1 repeatedly hunting Lapwing & Redshank at the Washington swg wks outlet - this bird seemed to repeatedly harassing one weakened Lapwing, eventually the hawk got hold of it only to recieve a good whallop from a second Sparrowhawk ! - they flew off chasing, the plover return again to the waters edge.

2Waxwing over, 5Roe, 5Goldeneye, 5Heron, 5Cormorant, 60Teal, only 2 Dabchick, 7Goosander, 1Gadwall, 5Redshank, just about had my fill of looking at Woodcocks now - 4 watched on the ground in wet ditches / stream in one wood although the Snipe with them was seriously out of habo.

One of the Woodcocks must have had a good nights feed, as he was roosting in a small stream bed by 08:30


Woodland species well represented with small nos of Nuthatch, GSW, Treecreeper & Goldcrests in the estate Yews. Surprised to hear a handful of both Great & Coal Tits singing, but a Marsh Tit was the one that caught my eye - a new one for the On Foot From Home yearlist.
Must have walked past the Long Tailed Duck,
so i continued on to WWWT,

but found it tucked in on the bank with the 'menagerie' at Cox Green as i walked back,

although it quickly followed 2 fem Tufteds onto the water where they dived togther.

young female LTDuck

On the return leg, (slightly more hurried as i had an appointment with a Tesco trolly) a patch of ice free water seeping from the railway embankment at Lambton held an unusual assortment of feeding birds with 13 Grey Partridge, 2 Fieldfare, a Robin, 2 Blackbird, a Pheasant, a Wren with singles of Woodcock & Common Snipe.

Down at Sedgeletch the snow closed in again, as i passed a bunch of terrier men digging away, i could hear a rich bubbling song - a Dipper singing full tilt, blending in superbly on the snow covered stones.

Half a dozen Siskin fed & 3 Redshank flew only a short way, 2 each of Heron & Kingfisher on this stretch where i glimpsed a Water Rail dash into cover.

About 11 mile round trip, lots of birds, but didnt see Mistle Thrush & singles only of Grey & Pied Wagtail.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The irish euro Bail Out / Snowy Owl

The irish euro Bail Out

It is a slow day in a damp little Irish town. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt and everybody lives on credit

On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the town, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night. The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher

The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer

The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel
The guy at the Farmers' Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the pub
The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him "services" on credit

The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note

The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything

At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the· €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money and leaves town. No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the bailout package works.


It took me a while to see what they were looking at...............

Who's that coming over the hill.....
its a Monster !!!!
(iPhone-scoped from a good way off)

found that today - nearly had a heart attack !

it was a fair way off at first, not doing much - i took nearly 2 hours to get closer as i didnt want to spook it.

Couldnt see legs or tail, wing edges because of way it was sat in snow.

I presumed it was the real deal . . .

this evening i have found out an aviary a few mile away has lost Snowy Owl due to snow damage to an aviary roof.

If i wasnt so careful i might have got a better insight as to how it reacted to my presence - rather than being a clever-shite photo-ninja crawling through the snow !

So looking like escape - but an excellent experience all the same !

A good while later, after stalking through the drifts & crawling on belly through the snow - thats me not the owl....
(iPhone-scoped from a good bit closer)
Amazingly exciting, though it appears our monster owl is a wire-hopper


Rules for Online Dating:-

RULE # 1

Allways ask for a photo :-

RULE # 2

Allways ask for a second photo :-

The Future's rosy