Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Look i'm Out!

Out the house by 8.15am, I felt like Nelson Mandela it's been that long since I did any birding, well except there weren't any cameras or crowds and my house is probably a tad nicer than his prison was.
I had planned to go straight to Bothal as there is a good flock of Common Gull that I had noticed one morning a few days previously. There were about 15 that had beat me to it when I arrived but over the next forty minutes the flock built up to about 400 with approx 100 Black-headed Gulls keeping them company. They are feeding in earthworm rich, sheep filled fields to the east and west of the pond, alternating between feeding and bathing at about 20-30 minute cycles.
They arrived in groups of 50-60 from the south east, perhaps having roosted at the mouth of the Wansbeck.
Also here were two Gadwall, two Goldeneye and sixteen Pochard.
I headed a little north past Longhirst Flash which was quiet toward Linton, I thought I would check if there were any geese toward Linton roundabout first and sure enough c300 Pink-footed Geese fed in the stubble on the south side of the road, a bonus was five Waxwing in a small tree halfway along the hedge which I thought were a nice find till I logged in and found out SS had been crawling all over them with his lens yesterday.
I parked near the railway line and headed along the old line toward the tip where a couple of thousand gulls were present, although I couldn't find anything unusual amongst the Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gulls and Black Headed Gulls.
A change of tack saw me wander through Ashington Community Woodland, an almost bird-less sterile environment. I did manage seven Lesser Redpoll and single Siskin and male Bullfinch so It wasn't a complete waste.
Running out of time I headed to the Spital Burn end of Newbiggin for a quick scan on the sea, fifteen female Common Scoter bobbed in the swell with a couple of Eiders and three Red Breasted Merganser nearby. A short scan to the North revealed two Med Gull in the centre of the beach at Newbiggin.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The Grouch. (A Christmas Tale)

High up in the Northumbrian hills in an Eyre on Bizzle Crag something moved amongst the bones and pile of furs, a wizened hairy face peered out into the morning gloom, it was the creature known as the Grouch.
He whirled his telescope, that had once been state of the art, on the tripod and focused it on the ripple of lights far in the distance on the village of LongWHOton. There he knew lived the Tuwhoos, a happy go lucky people who lived their lives simply, feeding the birds and caring for the animals.
Once he too had been a Tuwhoo, long ago when all the world was young, even Mclevy Tuwhoo oldest and wisest of all the Tuwhoo clan. The Grouch remembered a time when he was little and he too fed and watched over the birds before he had wandered off into the wilderness.
It was close to Christmas and The Grouch hated Christmas, every year he watched as the Tuwhoos had a great feast sat round a big table full of food provided by the mayor CadwallenWHO and the mayoress Lady MuWho.
Suddenly the Grouch heard a noise below his Eyre, he looked down into the misty moor and saw three figures approaching, three Whos. The Grouch looked through his lens and blinked, "it couldn't be" he thought, he blinked again.
He grabbed the scope and swung the zoom lens to 60x to look closer, sure enough it was SteWho from BWhoulmer with his wife and dog Buntwho. He watched green with envy as they took photos of the mosses and lichens and sat down to eat a Ploughman's whilst Stewho sketched a drumming Snipe with his left hand.
He remembered Stewho from Art Schwool, he had always made it look so easy, his birds so lifelike, his sketches sublime. The Grouch grew green with envy, so green he looked like his cousin The Grinch.
There and then he decided, enough was enough, he would make all those Tuwhoos pay this year, especially that uber-talented artmeister Tuwho Stewho.
The following night, Christmas Eve, he sneaked out from his eyrie and crept across the fields to LongWHoton. Just as he was about to enter the village hall from nowhere he heard a nasal twang "Mmmm seen anything?" the voice called out the traditional greeting of the Tuwhos.
The Grouch, coughed and replied "No" and hurried on.
He crept into the village hall where they had all being celebrating the start of Christmas. There as all the Tuwhoos lay asleep he began to collect the presents and place them inside a large bag. One by one he lifted all the copies of Whos Who into the bag, then the Swarvoskwho telescopes and finally the new leather bound notebWhooks.
Just as he was about to leave, he heard a growl, the Grouch turned slowly and facing him was BuntWho the little BWhorder terrier. The Grouch backed away and in doing so tripped over the outstretched leg of one of the sleeping Tuwhos, a strange looking plump one with a dirty T-shirt that proclaimed "Druridge PWHools Warden". As he fell back the bag flipped into the air and all the presents tumbled out, thankfully none of them broken. The noise woke the Tuwhoos, they all looked at The Grouch, he became afraid, "What would they say? what would they do?" his mind raced. It was SteWho that stepped forward and offered his hand,
"Welcome back TilmWhouth" he said offering an outstretched hand.
The Grouch looked around, and all the faces on the Tuwhoos were smiling, he too smiled, he felt at home.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Christmas Special, Snowy Owl.

Just as I'm getting over the disappointment of being passed over for the "Tom & Mu" Christmas special and the sudden realisation on receiving my 2007 Birds in Northumbria that I didn't find the time to send in a single record during that year and have probably replicated that feat this year. (I still have time to put that right even if last night's Barn Owl is the only noteworthy bird I've seen this month. The guilt of being a bad birder has weighed heavy on my shoulders.)
Anyway just as I'm beginning to feel good again I nearly blow it all this morning with another brief moment of madness. Like many I suspect I've been looking enviously at Cornwall's first Snowy Owl in a lifetime, perhaps it has seeped into my subconscious. No matter how many times it happens it catches you momentarily unawares, there I am driving north with the sky Waxwing pink from the sunrise and just as I get near to the entrance of DBCP, there up in a large pine, it's white, it's owl shaped, it could be, it is, it's another bloody carrier bag. The only consolation was that this time I didn't spend twenty minutes with full optical kit trained on it before realising.
At least with the Snowy Owl I can console myself with pictures, where's the pictures or the video footage from the Tom & Mu Christmas Special, surely I'm not the only one that wants to see it?

Monday, 22 December 2008

Post Hopping, Roadside Hunting...

Barn Owl at Widdrington Roundabout 18.15hrs tonight, oblivious to the traffic.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Gulls on Film

Trying to compare a couple of gull species and find video footage of them a few weeks back I got frustrated that it wasn't as easy as it should have been. So I set about doing something about it. Still a work in progress but with enough content (ten species and 59 videos at the last count) I'm ready to let others see it now so this announces, denaaaaaa (that's a fanfare) Gulls on Film, a blog dedicated to pulling together in one space all the on line videos I can find of all the gull species of the world. Search able by species to make life easy.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Ode to Lost Friends

From Boulmer Birder I have been banished,
My name, my links, all have vanished.
Druridge too I’m cast adfrift
The owners of these blogs are miffed.
Lost and lonely, no Christmas cheer,
Condemned to roam the blogosphere.
Sturdy and stout these birders be,
Friend they once considered me.
What you ask was my great crime?
Four blogs, three kids, one job, no time.
Perhaps in time there’ll come a day
When once again they’ll look my way.
Welcomed back into the fold,
We’ll laugh and drink like days of old.
For now I leave you with some words
No grudge, may you always find good birds.