A nice afternoon and nothing special about nearby so I decided that it might be nice to photograph the white-tailed lapwing in the sunshine on what I think was its 71st day at Blacktoft. Took me a while to find it hiding behind one of the small ephemeral islands at Xerox.
A black-tailed godwit was enjoying the sunshine too...
...and a marsh harrier added to my afternoon's entertainment.
November 8th: Flamborough and Hornsea
The plan was amazingly simple: Flamborough South Landing for a red-flanked bluetail and then on to Hornsea Mere for a couple of less common grebes. The plan worked out almost perfectly apart from one small hiccup which I managed to solve [if you can solve a hiccup].
I was able to park in the small YWT section of the car park at South Landing [so I didn't have to pay] and I strolled down to the picnic area. Probably about a dozen birders present well spaced out as they watched a small area of the woodland. I saw the bird almost straightaway in the darkest area of all. It's amazing what the 7D with the zoom lens and ISO 1000 in RAW can achieve. These photos looked like this when I downloaded them:
RAW gives you so much control it's almost as if you can go back and try again. Here's the photo processed: it may not be great but it's not bad at all.
Here's a few more of the photos taken in very poor light and then enhanced at home:
Eventually the bluetail appeared on the woodland edge in good light. A pity about the branch of a young ash tree but otherwise I was pleased with my efforts.
I headed south for Hornsea Mere. A red-throated and a slavonian grebe had both been present for a few days. On arrival I found the gates to the mere car park and access to Kirkholme Point closed. Perhaps they always are on Mondays. I headed for the Hull road as it runs south of fields overlooking the mere. I took the path some way into the field and set up the scope. After a few minutes I was joined by a birder I've met a few times over the years. In fact I remember some years back watching a phalarope with him at the end of Kirkholme Point as the bird span like a top a couple of feet from us.
This time he greeted me with ''Hello, young man!'' although he's at least 20 years younger than I. I found a sleeping grebe and got my birding friend on to it. Eventually it stirred and we had a slavonian grebe. The birder wanted only two birds to get to 200 for the year. However he'd already seen a slav grebe. A few seconds later I picked up another grebe very close to the first bird. So close the birder said ''It's the slav again'' I panned and found the slav a bit further right and assured the birder I had got them both. He panned around and said '' They're almost next to each other!'' So he had his year tick and I had 3 for the day.
Sandhaven Beach from South Shields pier
I knew South Shields pier and the challenging car park machine from previous visits. So no trouble this time. The snow buntings flew past me as I walked down the pier.
So here they are. I saw 10 but I think there are more in the area.
An eider was chewing on a small crab...
...a small flock of teal were on the sea...
...and a brute of a GBB was watching for an easy meal.
An iceland gull was reported at North Shields fish quay so I headed there. In pandemic mode you no longer pay when you go through the Tyne tunnels; you now have to pay online later. Suited me very well as I don't pick up small change like I used to. Another pandemic effect.
No iceland gull: it had been a very brief visit. I spent some time looking and hoping for a return but to no avail. I snapped this drake eider in the oily waters of the fish dock.
Strange how without going further north than Hartlepool for many months, two days later I was back. This time a trip to Whitburn to look for a pied wheatear on the cliff. Thanks to my tablet and the OS maps I found the entrance to a footpath leading from a housing estate out on to the cliff just south of the rifle ranges. Then I had to walk 200 metres. I could see a huddle of birders peering over the cliff as soon as I set off across the grassy clifftop. Here's the bird - a female or first winter.
The bird flew off round the outcrop so I moved south a few metres.
Then back south to Seaton Snook hoping for some twite. The sun was shining and the sky was blue with broken cloud.
The twite duly appeared but didn't hang about and never landed in the samphire flying off across the river towards South Gare. Here's a couple of flight shots.
Another big bird came over shortly after.
Here's a photo that got overlooked a few weeks ago - a monkey from Hartlepool Marina. [18th October]
The plan was to see a long-tailed duck. Unfortunately they failed to show although [of course] they were seen the day before and again the following day! Several of us were looking. Golden plover were wonderful and as I watched them a red-breasted merganser surprised me by flying upstream under the road bridge and kept going until out of sight. More mergansers were seen out at Seal Sands. My only year tick that day.
Twite at Greatham too - one locally colour ringed bird visible in this shot.
Zoomed in: top centre bird - pink ring.
Barnacle geese near Seal Sands roundabout...
...and eiders at the Fish Dock
Heading south I pulled into the layby by Saltholme East and spotted a number of pintails. Lovely birds.
I drove to Redcar to Majuba Road to look for long-tailed ducks there. No sign but red-throated divers and common scoter seen.
Fun on Redcar sands!
Stop press: lots of action on our garden feeders this morning [27/11] with tits and chaffinches. I was thrilled to suddenly spot a brambling in with the goldfinches, greenfinches and chaffinches. First one in the garden for some years. Just shows it's worth a good look when the weather's really bleak! [38 species in the garden this year so far]