Saturday, 31 October 2015

Grey phalarope, slavonian grebe & short eared owl in Hartlepool area

A day out birding with Chris and as usual he had a plan for the day. We headed north east and soon reached South Gare. Here we joined other birders along the shore looking at a grey phalarope, which was fairly close to the shore.

When I see the phalarope next to a gull it reminds me how small these birds are and yet they will winter in the South Atlantic or Pacific, a long way for a small bird. It is surprising how much wildlife can be found in this area when the scene is dominated by industry.

Chris then took us on a circular walk on the other side of the gare. Here we saw a red breasted merganser and a slavonian grebe. They were both a fair distance away, so my photo of the grebe is not brilliant.
   A little further along the walk we spotted a warbler in a bush but it was very flighty and we only got short views of it. We thought that it could have been a chiffchaff as we could not see much of an eye stripe. After several minutes a bird appeared at the top of the bush and after taking a couple of photos I realised it was a dunnock I was looking at and not the warbler!
We continued our walk and a stonechat kept flying up in front of us, eventually it stopped long enough for us to get some photos of the male and female.

As we approached the seaward end of the gare a couple of ships were heading for the harbour.
They made quite a wash which we think disturbed a ed throated diver which we had hoped to see. Several cormorants were having a rest .
 As we back towards the car we could see a couple of male eiders some distance away. A seal appeared and after a few minutes it was swimming near the eiders which caused one of the eiders to fly towards us, giving us a closer look.
We then decided to visit RSPB  Saltholme where we soon doubled the number of birds on our day list and took us closer to the target of 40 birds that Chris had set us for the day. Phil Stead hide was very quiet so we went into the visitor centre where we added goldeneye and other birds to the list. We decided to walk to the wildlife watch point and on the way saw these dragonflies near the pond dipping station.

  From the wildlife watch point we were able to see several birds at the feeder. A water rail showed briefly.

 Newburn Bridge was our next stop where Chris soon found a med.gull.
A small flock of oystercatchers flew onto the shore.

The road leading to North Gare was our last stop of the day where we parked not far from this sign.

This area is good for wildlife, with lots of ducks and gulls flying around and we hoped to see a short eared owl and were not disappointed. The owl was a fair distance away and was often flying towards the setting sun.

 The owl was then attacked by a crow.

The crow flew off and the owl continued to hunt.

A perfect end to a great days birding, thanks to Chris.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Illuminating York

It is that time of year again when various buildings in the city are light up. This a few of the pictures I took before heading to the light show in the national railway museum.

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