I went up to Hartlepool with one especial target in mind coupled with a general day's birding. I had a good day...
Phil Stead hide at Saltholme was very busy and the yellowlegs [already seen a few times] was miles away. A ruff came close.
Two roe deer woke everyone up.
Lifeboat Station was a bird free zone.
But snapdragon still flowering nicely in late October.
I walked out to Seaton Snook hoping to run into some twite. This happened quite soon after starting my dune walk.
Quit a few birds bear coloured rings.
Purple sandpipers, turnstones, sanderling and redshank on the Headland shoreline.
Back at the car I saw a kestrel up but a long way off.
It landed on a fence post so I set off along the path parallel to the golf course. I could get nearer without disturbing the bird, I hoped.
I was watching when it took off. This gave the camera a chance to show off...
I tried to keep track until it disappeared.
Cowpen Bewley for a sit down on a log. Brambling seen briefly along with great-spotted woodpecker. Jay was my highlight.
The weather was kind during my drive up the A19 and through the Tyne Tunnel. The 'pay online' system is good and means you don't have to worry about having the right change with you. A small number of birders and artists were on the beach by the Maritime Centre. A couple of Hartlepool birders said hello in the car park and told me the bird was showing well.
It was. Grey phalarope.
Although the bird went for a fly round the bay a couple of times it always returned to the same general area. Even a walker with two little dogs [and very bright Wellington boots] didn't disturb the phalarope.
A Mediterranean gull and common gull were also seen on the beach.
I headed back South to the Zinc Works Road bushes where a small crowd of birders were standing silently watching the base of a bush. Somewhere in the dead brash a firecrest was allegedly hiding. I saw it twice but couldn't get a lock for a photo. Across the road from the Saltholme electricity sub-station were 3 Egyptian geese. Quite a way off but I managed these shots.
I got some new kit so I've been seeing just what it can do. I can't say I'm entirely comfortable with it yet but I am impressed with some of the results. We'll see if it grows on me. Part of me wants to be back with the 7D but this new little box of tricks has a lot going for it.
September 27th: Saltholme
Quick trip North to see if the nightjar was still present.
October 1st: Beacon Ponds, Kilnsea
Barred warbler in the long hedge near the Listening Dish [and reed bunting, wagtail].
October 8th: North Cave
I settled down for a while in South hide hoping for a kingfisher. One flew past but didn't land on any of the perches. I photographed cormorant, tufted duck, shoveler, ruddy shelduck, great black-backed gull, reed bunting and a few mute swans.
From Dryham Lane.
A few Autumn fruits...not sure what the first one is [a kind of cornus?], rowan and sloe.
October 10th: Tophill Low
First visit for a long time. Reserve is partly open. Basically the North end is closed off for now as is the Watton section. Still I saw the redhead smew in my scope on D reservoir and took a few photos in very poor light in South Marsh. Much cropped too. Green sandpiper, snipe and curlew.
I spent a while photographing little grebe [and mallard] in the second North Marsh lagoon.
October 12th: Saltholme
Phil Stead hide for the Yellowlegs. Ruff first, then the yellowlegs.
Walk down Greenabella but no sign of the long-tailed duck. Whoopers and a few flowers including a fascinating, very large prostrate cotoneaster. Good job one of the whoopers was awake!
October 13th: Hay-a-Park Lake
It's like a concentration camp for ducks. Fencing and warning signs everywhere. I remember years ago walking around freely. Anyone who got close-up views of the red-necked grebe almost certainly trespassed. I didn't but I found from the OS map a public footpath that gave views over the lake. Bull and geese discouraged me from going further so I photographed the bird from an extremely long way away.
First picture is the original photo before cropping.
Birding seemed rather quiet and it was the day before the NYMR Autumn Steam Gala. I decided to spend a day watching the trains go by. Thursday was the first day so I wasn't sure just how much I would see...
I drove to Levisham Station. If you've never been there then the drive from the main Whitby road through Lockton is quite a rollercoaster. It looked so simple on the map! However I reached the delightful station at Levisham mid-morning.
The old and new! Ancient oil lamp converted to run modern light bulbs. The first train I saw was a Southern region Schools class loco 'Repton' heading to Pickering.
Almost tempted - a little trespass would only cost me £2!
Next stop was Fen Bog - a place I've often visited for butterflies. I knew it would be a nice spot to photograph trains from either direction. First train past was Lucie, a Belgian tramway engine owned by P. Middleton [known as Piglet from the Channel 5 TV series]
It approached very quietly and caught me by surprise. Lucie was just towing a guard's van.
Then a Standard class 5 loco charged into view.
I headed back to Levisham for the afternoon which turned out to be a good decision. Lucie was shunting goods wagons and 'Piglet' Middleton, who owns Lucie, was on hand on the platform to watch proceedings.
A train came through - wooden panelled coaches -with a girl leaning from the window taking photos. Everyone had a camera.
I found a spot on the North side of the station and waited. Eventually a distant wisp of tell-tale smoke appeared and everyone readied themselves for the next train.
Why the blue text? No good reason but Sir Nigel Gresley was supposed to appear in blue but they didn't have time for the full paint job so we just got a matt black version. Or so I was told...
Sir Nigel Gresley, A4 class. As schoolboys we called them Streaks.
I'm still birding! UK 207 2022
Marshland, Blacktoft - just about the only part of the reserve with a decent amount of water - apparently. I spent my whole visit in Marshland hide. Watching curlew sandpipers. 3 present along with spotshanks, ruff, godwits, woodsand, dunlins and supporting wildfowl. Reed warbler seen too. Here are the curlew sands.
Camera settings went wrong at one point and ruined some yellow wagtail shots. I rescued this one...
Sunday 11th September - a day at Borough Hall
Have you noticed how if anyone is providing information on tv or radio these days they seem to always begin with the word 'so'?
So I drove up to Hartlepool heading straight for the Headland. I sensed some good birds were going to be there. I began with a spotted flycatcher. In the gloom of heavy shade. [Photo brightened as much as I dare]
I could see a group of birders on the Putting Green. I went to see what was there.
Garden warblers - 2 of them. Not a bird I find easy to spot and, in fact, one I had never photographed. I went back several times to get these photos.
A sparrowhawk flew overhead and the birds all went into deep cover.
A false alarm sent everyone [me included] rushing off to the Heugh Pier to see a red-breasted flycatcher but it was a case of misidentification. A wheatear graced the rocks.
Later I went back to Borough Hall to one particular line of trees that had pied flycatcher, lesser whitethroat and yellow-browed warbler. I managed a better view of a spotfly.
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