14th Dec. And yeah, sorry but there will be more to come. :-) If my maths is correct this is blog number 500 from Killy Birder. It was the 4th April 2009 that I wrote my first blog following a walk I led in Jesmond Dene for the RSPB Local Group at the time I led the group. My role in the group is far more tenuous these days, although I still lead walks, usually now co led with Samuel Hood. My role changed, as too I hope the style of my blog has changed, especially from the photographic angle. Cain Scrimgeour (hasn’t he done well? :-)) encouraged me to begin the blog, so you can blame him for it all along with Alan Tilmouth who at the time managed the site for North East blogs. My all weather birding exploits with Tom Middleton ensured that the blog kept going. Three of the many decent guys I’ve met via bird watching in recent years.
I’m afraid because of difficult circumstances beyond my control, opportunities to get out into the field have been very restricted of late, but I was very pleased to get out today with Sam. For various reasons we called off the plan to walk the coast and Holywell route and instead returned to Gosforth Park Nature Reserve and Prestwick Carr. Both areas offer great habitat. Whilst temperatures weren’t that low the cutting wind made it feel as though they were, especially when it blew over the open areas of the carr.
Gosforth Park N R was quiet and the Bittern Magnetism didn’t work this week, although I’m told three Bitterns had been seen today. Quiet or not I always enjoy the walk through the reserve and today two Roe Deer ran across our path. The feeding station attracted the usual regular woodland birds and the pond held Shoveller, Gadwall, Wigeon and Teal along with the regular Mute Swans and Moorhens. Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard and Kestrel were all seen and Water Rail was heard calling. The sun shone at times giving a perfect winter light to admire the pond, reed-bed and surrounds. A flock of a dozen Redwing were seen perched and then flying high over the trees and Jays called as they moved through the woodland. It will be a great shame upon the local authorities if future planning decisions do not take into account the needs of this city reserve. By the time we set off for Prestwick Carr it looked as though a storm was brewing, but the build up of thunderous cloud soon passed and by the time we were at the White Swan Pub the sun was again breaking through.
We walked along the bumpy road and past the sentry box as the wind gained strength. Seeing some interesting highlights and finding our target birds along the way made the walk worthwhile. Fieldfares were around in numbers with fewer Redwings. We chatted to a few people along the way including SP and PF. It was almost dark when we arrived back in Killingworth.
I did manage to find time to attend a meeting this week concerning the Skydancer Project to which Sam and I are now signed up to as volunteers. I thought the meeting might last half an hour but in fact we where there over two and a half hours and picked up much information. (We enjoyed our dinner in Newcastle afterwards) Although this project is half way through completion it has given us both something practical and very worthwhile to get our teeth into. Sam hopes to take this forward via Sixth Form College and we also have our first presentation already agreed (and remain open to requests for more so if you happen to know of any interested community groups please let us know). This is something we will be giving high priority to in 2014. Sadly, having read the Newcastle Evening Chronicle tonight I was reminded once again of the carnage caused by illegal persecution of raptors in the UK and especially in northern England. We feel very positive towards the Skydancer Project aims and despite the bad news this year concerning Hen Harrier breeding failure we intend to remain positive in our outlook. Sadly I have read comments at times about the Skydancer Project which seem to indicate that the impossible is expected of it. Perhaps in some cases a full grasp of what the project is about is required. If it simply raises an awareness of Hen Harriers then I think that in itself is a job well done within the UK where so many people in my opinion are unlikely to have seen a Hen Harrier or even know what it is!
The Genuine article, Samuel Hood at Prestwick Carr.
I think blog 500 should include a few images so I will include a few favourites from 2013. I have always written my blog for my own pleasure and needs, but I’m happy that a few others folk seem to enjoy it. My thanks go to all who read it. I dedicate this one to Samuel Hood a loyal and trusted friend (not always easy to come by) who has never once let me down. I reckon Sam has a great future and I feel sure you’ll be hearing more of him in years to come. Keep the passion for photography, wildlife and conservation going Sam and keep soaking up the knowledge and be your own man…oh and keep making me laugh.:-) Thanks to an OGG. :-)