I very much began my own birdwatching in ‘urban settings’ such as Leazes Park in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne and Walker Riverside Park along the River Tyne. As my interest evolved my ‘birding days out’ took me to a wider variety of habitats, including scenic coastal shores, vast forests and woodlands and an extensive portfolio of natures reserves. I recently wrote an interactive guide to Birdwatching Sites – North of the Tyne and the Wall. This includes Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside and Northumberland.
The conservation of our natural world, has always been close to my heart and I have always been a great supporter of initiatives that help protect this. One such project is ‘Kittiwakes upon the Tyne‘. With others I’m helping to safeguard the local breeding colonies of Kittiwakes that share our ‘big river’ during the spring/summer months.
This website is a journal for my ‘birding days out’ and my journeys outdoors with my camera. I’m very much an amateur photographer and every day I’m still learning. This website also shares my wildlife photography via a variety of online albums. There are also some useful links for local organisations I support and some of my favourite books and resources.
My journal entries are short and at times, not very frequent as my daily life is often very busy and I instead focus on key themes. I have an ambition to expand my experiences beyond birdwatching, returning to my childhood days, where I was very much a young naturalist.
Finally I have designed this website myself. I have a passion for web design and this site incorporates a combination of WordPress, handwritten code and a flexible theme. This helps me personalise this even more and just as the words and photographs that feature on this site, I can express myself more. I sometimes think a professional, flashy site may look better, but my heart loves to use the web design ‘wand of flexibility’; which simply is not available with these other sites.
Cormorants; a bird that is common along the river tyne and the north east coast of england. At Marsden Rock they raise their young every year on the very top, high above. These prehistoric looking birds are always great to watch.
I spread my wings today and ventured to the south of the River Tyne. My adventure featured an outing to the seaside down at Marsden and South Shields. The steps to the beach are pretty steep there, but my ankle was ok. Great place for a beer, down below with the sealife
A Geordie Magpie from todays riverside walk along the Tyne. So many colours on display if you look closely. Usually Magpies don’t let you come very close, but this one was very brave and friendly.
Todays Magpie danced for me, showing off its lush tail. It distracted my view from the river for a while. I was also very pleased to hear Greenfinches calling today, near the Newcastle Business Park which is where this Magpie was. A Woodpigeon was also exploring nearby.
Final photo from todays encounter with a Magpie. I’m not finding them close to my garden much at the moment, but there is plenty around elsewhere.
Whilst enjoying the delights of a pair of visiting Pied Wagtails, I was lucky to discover a pair of Grey Wagtails also. Both behaved in a very similar manor. One is very much black and white, whilst the other not only has a slightly different shape, but also boasts brighter shades of yellow and grey. They were easy to tell apart.
Both pairs preferred to stand close to the waters edge, and as people walked past, they moved along, but always returned to the waters edge.
Just a couple of Herring Gulls enjoying Exhibition Park this afternoon. Peacefully walking on the grass looking for worms. Every so often stopping to listen, to dance, to look over their shoulder at the public using the park. As well as cleaning up leftovers from those of us that use the park, they also have a ready made larder of worms etc.
A Teal having fun in the mud along the tyne, close to Newcastle Business Park. For over a month this small group of Teal has remained committed to the same patch. and.. they come pretty close to the public walking past.
So, whilst on my riverside walk along the River Tyne yesterday; a couple stopped me to talk about a bird that was larger than a duck, and closer to the size of a goose they felt. I knew straight away, its our ‘SHELDUCKS’. A duck that is so big, it attracts the attention of non-birders. We are lucky to get them regularly feeding in the mud, about 15 minutes walk from the Tyne Kittiwakes as you travel more inland.
The photos below show one of the Shelduck’s from yesterday. Up to half a dozen were feeding close to the Newcastle Business Park. They are present most days at the moment.
Master of the sky…… Not a gull, not a tern….. a petrel seabird. This Fulmar, just wanted to say hello to me today… They don’t talk to me like the Kittiwakes do, but they impress me with their soaring flight displays. The flight dance of the Fulmar.
A Lesser Black-backed Gull from my exercise walk along Newcastle Quayside yesterday. Long yellow legs, large strong yellow bill, with pink spot. Dark black wings. Another of the Lesser Black-backed Gull 3 present, standing high, watching the Kittiwakes also. Those legs are canny long like. the wings there look like it’s wearing a coat. was nippy out.
Whilst checking on the Tyne Kittiwakes in North Shields and Tynemouth, I encountered some very friendly Carrion Crows and Jackdaws. Lots of us have been eating outside more often due to the recent lockdowns. This has regularly left some leftovers from many for local scavengers such as Crows and Gulls. Some of the Crows also nest nearby and were busy building their nests again.
So three Turnstones were enjoying the bounty of Tynemouth Lake on Friday. This one only had one leg. but.. it didn’t let that stop him and it was just as active as the other two. So I nicknamed it Jack Sparrow. All three were canny brave also. Apparently according to a local birder, they have been around the lake for a while.
Teal feeding in the mud along the River Tyne. The mud flats around ‘Newcastle Business Park’ are filled with wildlife. A great exercise walk. With everything closed pretty much, riverside walks, are a bonus. This group of Teal seems to hang out regularly in this area and can be easily viewed without much effort.
Below is a Coot. A member of the rail family with lots of personality. I particularly love their feet. Over the past two decades I have seen many species start to vanish from our natural world; however I continue to record Coots in good numbers and over a wide variety of sites. I have also found them to become a lot more tamer and they are becoming more accustomed to our urban wildlife habitats.
Killingworth Lake is filled with so many different species of bird. It has evolved far from a man-made lake into a fully fledged nature reserve. This is largely due to the extensive efforts to make it more ‘wildlife friendly’. The installation of large areas of reed beds and islands certainly makes it look more natural and welcoming.
A couple more from my Christmas Day walk; a Goldeneye and a Pochard. The Goldeneye’s do amazing dramatic displays with their heads to each other, whilst the Pochards’s keep disappearing under the water, diving to feed. I almost fell in the lake, trying to watch the visiting Goosanders lol, which were busy catching lots of tasty fish.
There continues to be good numbers of Mute Swans at Killingworth Lake. They are popular with visitors, many coming to feed them and interact more closely with them. Numbers have fallen over recent years, however over seventy are often present.
I was planning on resting indoors today, finishing off rewatching Game of Thrones before new series starts on Monday. But when I heard a Fudge Duck; aka a Ferruginous Duck was a short drive away, I sneaked out for a quick look. Great bird, looks nice on my year list.
The tallest Coot. From Exhibition Park, in the centre of Newcastle. Another Geordie Bird. It is amazing how many are in the Black and White club. Exhibition Park is one of my favourite birding sites, close to Leazes Park and Newcastle Town Moor.