Sunday, November 26, 2006

More from Scaling Dam

The "other" Long-tailed Duck finally gave itself up today - mostly due to me covering the Yorkshire end with some care - as opposed to a cursory glance which has been more usual of late. The male was also present, way out in the middle and consorting with the usual 3 Goldeneye. In fact both birds were visible from the Northumbrian Water building but this one required a bit of imagination. Why do they not associate? To my knowledge they have never been seen together.

I'm always interested in the jizz thing. Goldeneye have a very distinctive dive - they way they leave the surface, quite different from Tufted Duck, which at Scaling is the main confusion species at range. Long-tailed Duck also "goes under" in a very distinctive manner. Interesting how 1/4 of a duck disappearing beneagth the waves is identifiable at considerable range with at least 99% accuracy. That combination of details that is distinctive. Posted by Picasa

Scaling feeders

On the feeder today, Willow Tit. A snap from the hide. A lso around the car park at least 2 Bullfinches, a Redwing and quite a few (10ish) Blackbirds.

This Willow Tit shows the wing panel quite clearly. A few miles down the road at home we have Marsh Tit (well had, they've become elusive of late). Last autumn and winter there were at least 4 visiting us regularly. There are claims of Marsh Tit at Scaling ..... but I've not seen or heard them there. Around the village Marsh Tit are quite common and although there is suitable habitat for Willow Tit I'm yet to find them here. Amazing really how late these two species were split as the calls (at least) are pretty distinctive - not that the occasional embarrasing error has not been made .... Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 20, 2006

Back to the past

Kestrel in Withens Clough on Sunday. Little else about apart from Bramblings in the Beech woods on the north side. I saw/heard about 20 Brambling early in the afternoon. In the past this species has had a roost or pre-roost in the clough in big numbers (1000+) and had I hung about I suspect that more might have appeared. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Seawatching (over bath)

"You'll be in with t' mermaids in a minute Piglet."
"At least in here I could keep the scope out of the wind and rain. If I had one."
"Where's me bins that's a Bonxie! Ooooops just that plastic pterodactyl again."
Much thrashing around in the water as the Mako (plastic) finally engulfs Piglet.
"Ba," said Tigger, "I'm going for a bounce." Posted by Picasa

Garden pecker

Great spot on the feeder from the kitchen window. Not much else seen from the garden today. Scaling still had the LTDuck - beggared if I can find a second one - but the Whoopers had gone. Posted by Picasa

Sandsend seas

6 grey geese, most likely Pink-feet were going high west as we arrived over the crest of the hill. The Peregrine was doing mad hunting over the sea - but no Little Auks in its sights this time. Also single Eider, Common Scoter, Red-th Diver. Ellen had a narrow escape from a good soaking as she went splat in the sand with serious wave approaching and everyone got wave in wellie. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Scaling today

5 Whooper Swans and a Long-tailed Duck were the highlights but 7 Bullfinch, 5 Fieldfare and at least 16 Goldeneye were the supporting cast from 8:30 to 10:30. The Whoopers and LT Duck were miles away, these Bullfinch were the best I could manage. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Scaling Dam record

Two entries for Scaling Dam on Birdguides today - and neither of them mine. The L-t Duck is still there, I saw it on Sunday and it was still present on Tuesday morning when I popped in on the way to Northallerton. Adult Med Gull in the roost and Whooper Swans complete the current line up.

A very quick drop in to the golf course ravine this morning produced a Scoter, 6 Shags and what was very likely Mr Bigfeet disappearing into the distance rocket powered - got onto him toooooooo late unfortunately - too interested in looking along the breaker edge for Little Auks, none of course. I really should have added LA to the site list last week - lack of dynamic imperative (lazing around in bed til 7 and cooking the family porridge). However, this weekend is looking posible.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Low effort - high quality

A beach trip to Sandsend produced 2 Bonxies heading down and a couple of divers offshore. 1 was a Red-throat but the other was elusive and I hadn't taken my scope but showed some features of Black-throat. There was at least one Brambling in the garden on our return. Scaling Dam for the last hour or so of light (+scope) produced a rather smart (if distant) Long-tailed Duck, 12 Goldeneye and a tick for me at this site 6 Goosander. Otherwise duck numbers were down and the gull roost was a pitiful 1,500 or so. However, a good selection for the day in a bit of a blustery old breeze.

Apology, risk assessment required

It has been pointed out to me that a risk assessment is required for yesterdays recipe hint.
1. Risk: high of being significantly savaged by Geeb. Control measure: lecture Geeb re apprpriate behaviour whilst being prepared for the plate.
2. Risk: high of burning whilst poking Geeb with stick to judge readiness for plate. Control measure; avoid use of fire - try a microwave instead, alternatively eat raw but see 1. above.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Straight to the burning fires for these boyos

"For this crime thou shalt suffer hotly. (Well it won't be nice anyway)" Recipe hint - drop Geeb in clay and coat thoroughly, wrap in silver foil and place in hottest part of fire until it stops baying, then poke with a stick and extract. Serve thinly sliced on buttered toast with a slice of lemon - best taken with strong alcoholic beverage. Follow link to find out more.

Little Auks past Kettleness Point

51 Little Auks went west past Kettleness in 3 hours from 07:10 this morning. 1 reprobate went east but that was probably included in the count as some were not moving strongly. I found the first as I checked for waders over the exposed rocks and it flew just a few metres offshore. The next two were only found when I noticed the local Peregrine hunting low over the sea, after three or four passes it gave up and two Little Auks popped up and continued on their way. During the first hour most birds were singles or pairs close inshore and checking with the scope produced nothing but in the final hour or so most were distant with flocks of 15, 5, 8, 3 and 4 - no doubt I missed a few. The wind increased dramatically during the watch, so much so I was almost blown off my feet as I climbed up the cliff to leave. The strong wind made some species look odd - change of jizz. Thus the 17 grey geese that were not too far out but too far to get detail - I couldn't see head well or the tail - looked uncharacteristically heavy and slow for Pink-feet (which they surely were). It also made x45 hard work buffeting the scope. Other highlights were Goldeneye 6 and a Red-breasted Merg - Mr Bigfeet didn't show. On land there was more Starling movement with 250 west in 30 mins - I can't quite figure out if this is just local movement though, a few Goldcrest were in the point bushes and there was a constant trickle of Skylarks heading west or south west. A good morning.

Friday, November 03, 2006


For those of you who have not used Birdtrack i've put a link in the links section of the Blog. I really like this it gives local patch workers a real incentive as everything goes to the national database and it produces nice graphs and stats for the patch (Once you've used it a bit.)

It looked like the Starlings were still moving today as one flock went past the playground during early morning duty. Louise reported more Fieldfares at home as she walked the children to school this morning, she had a good few yesterday. Looking forward to tomorrow a.m. when a Kettleness early start is planned, hoping for a remnant Little Auk and one, other or both (or even all three) of the larger divers are called for - come on Mr BigFeet flyby me.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Why no comments?

Apologies to those who have tried to comment - should be able to now IThink I've sorted the settings .... well maybe.

The North Wind doth blow

A good old blow which began late Tuesday a.m. settled to a more gentle north westerly but it was still showery this morning. Hopes of Little Auks driven into the bay were dashed (but they would be hard to see on a lowish tide and a huge sea) but there was compensation. Driving down two large flocks of Starlings crossed my path going west, a 1,000 and a 1,500 possibly. From 07:00 Starlings were moving over the ravine and along the beach. In an hour nearly 340 went west in small parties and these were still going at 09:00 when two parties went past the playground. New birds for the patch were Snipe, 1 high SW, and Goldeneye, 2M and 2F went west. Also on the move were single Grey Heron and Brambling, a sprinkling of Mepits and 3 Skylarks - all SW or west. A Sparrowhawk also put in an appearance and Blackbird numbers were high with at least 20 in the lane alone. By 09:00 the sun was coming through and the morning was brightening. No doubt it will be bright for the weekend but a search for Little Auks on calmer seas in the bays may bring rewards.