Monday, 10 March 2008

A Trip to my parents

Today's Quiz - a packet of smarties if anyone knows where this is;

Just got back from my 900 miles in 5 day trip to the North East. But what the heck, my parents fed us well!! During the journey up on Wednesday, we had 14, yes 14 Kestrels alongside the motorway. Given that it was 14 Kestrel in 315 miles this is one every 22.5 miles along Britain's Motorways.

I usually drive the journey in one go, but making good time, we made a stop at Osmotherly for lunch. So after I treated Thelma to a pickled egg and half a pint of Hambleton's Nightmare real ale, the drive over the North York Moors let us feel the wind in our hair and a brace of Red Grouse (106).

Ford near Osmotherly, scene of a self inflicted breakdown 26 years ago while Border Reiver tried to do an "Italian Job" style photo shoot with his mate who was at art college!! Happy days.

The following day, popped to Boldon Flats LNR, one of my old stomping ground and picked out 5 Tree Sparrows (107) with Yellowhammer, Greenfinch and House Sparrows at the feeders there. Later we had a walk at Whitburn Scars, (or as I was told, stop looking at those bloomin birds I'm freezing). From the cliff path, Turnstone, Sanderling (108), Knot, Dunlin, Purple Sandpiper (109), Oystercatcher, Curlew and Bar Tailed Godwit (110), plus a smattering of usual smaller gulls which swarmed over the car as we devoured a Minchella's bacon and cheese panini to warm up. Lovely.

And can you believe later in the afternoon I passed the entrance to Jarrow Cemetery and didn't go and see the Yellow Browed Warbler which has been resident there for weeks. Call me a proper birder?? No call me sensible!! When I mentioned going for a walk around the graveyard, her indoors gave me a funny old-fashioned look which said " do not take me to a cemetery for a day out or else". Wimmin, they never understand what makes a man glad to be alive.

Fulmar and Jackdaw don't make good neighbours (above) and noisy Cormorant displaying (below)

Mind you I have to be kind to Thelma, she let me go and see the Red Kites (111) in the Derwent Valley the next day. At first light before anyone was up I nipped to Marsden Rock, a bird colony viewed from carparks. Still early in the year, but Shag and Cormorant nest building, and Fulmar (112) pairing up. Skylark singing too. Watched one unfortunate Jackdaw being "spat at" by this relative of Petrels. Home for breakfast, then only had to spend 5 hours in the Metro Centre before seeing the Kites. Can anyone explain to me how I can spend 12 hours in the field and feel as fresh as a daisy, whereas 5 hours shopping I feel like I've been run over by a lorry and need counselling?

Anyway we drove up past Whickam to see if we could spot one of the 90+ released birds as part of the Northern Kite Project. Thelma had just said, how big are these birds, when she said is that one? Literally next to the car one was flying low over a farm, so we stopped in a gateway and had stunning views for 5 minutes before it left. We then saw another 4 at Gibside, 3 in one field and one so low over me that with the bins, I could watch its eyes searching the ground. Even Thelma said she was impressed with Red Kites, they must be good.

The next day we all went to Kielder, Europe's largest man made forest. Weather was dreadful, gales and rain, clearing to just gales, but still got Goldeneye, good numbers of Crossbill (113), Chaffinch, Siskin and a Hooded Crow (114). In the distance from "Raptor viewpoint" I did spy a big raptor, which could have been a Goshawk, but that was just wishful thinking on my part. (I know where they are in Dorset, so will hopefully get my tick there).

Driving back yesterday stopped at Slimbridge and have finally bought my digi-kit, so one day the standard of the photos below will be a distant memory. I hope!!

The evening entertainment - we actually beat the computer!!
"Tame" Chaffinches at Kielder
Rock patterns at Keilder (above) and after the rain (below)

Crossbill Country.... they were everywhere here in the treetops


  1. Hi Border Reiver.

    I`ve never been, but i think this is Souter lighthouse.

    Is the tube of smarties a big one, like you get at christmas :)

  2. No smarties for me..sob! Sounds like you had a great trip. Loved the pictures and those rocks are very interesting.

  3. It is Souter point, once spent an incredibly frustarting afternoon chasing an Icterine Warbler round a Hawthorn there. Could have done with the Smarties. Was the Hooded Crow in Northumberland or over the Border?

  4. Yes it is Souter Point.. well done Dean and Rare Visitor - Correct, virtual smarties on the way :-)

    RB the Hooded Crow was inside Northumberland just, without a map not exactly sure how far the border is away but v near Kielder Village, couple of intermediate Hooded x C Crow too.

    OC - the lichen patterning on the walls are amazing, as the air is so clear out there