Saturday, 29 May 2010

Friday, 28 May 2010


Well, the end of another extremely tiring and stressfull week at work. Its been so busy that I've only actually had one day where I've managed to have a lunch break. The other days I've just worked through. So the local lunchtime patch has been a bit neglected this week. I did though get a new patch tick, HOUSE MARTIN. That takes the total upto 25! About 4 or 5 were seemingly playing with the local SWIFTS. Its fantastic to watch. Other than that, it was nice to once again watch adult birds feeding their young. STARLINGS, GREENFINCH, LONG TAILED TIT, BLUE TIT and GREAT TIT were all seen feeding, and I saw a SONG THRUSH with food in its bill but didnt see where the nest was. I'm still surprised at the lack of Warblers in the park. The only one I've had so far is a CHIFFCHAFF, and that was only once. I thought there'd be a few more. The butterflies were also enjoying the sun. No new species but plenty of the usual mob. Still SPECKLED WOOD the most abundant. I did see my first mammal of the park, a RABBIT. I'm sure I'll keep discovering more in the weeks to come.

Of course the one thing thats been keeping me going this week is the knowledge that at the end of it I'd be on a plane heading off to another exotic destination. This time round its Jamaica. It'll be my fourth country in the caribbean I've been to - after previous visits to Tobago, Trinidad and Cancun. Maria absolutely adores the caribbean. If she had her way she'd visit every single island! So on Sunday we'll be making the 9 hour trip (yippee!). Dont miss me too much while I'm away.

Sunday, 23 May 2010


Every once in a while, its nice to have a quiet relaxing weekend doing absolutely nothing. A chance to recharge the battery. Especially after a really crappy week at work. (Lately, EVERY week is a crappy week at work!!!). So thats exactly what I had this weekend, a nice quiet relaxing two days. I watched a bit of footy (well done Blackpool and Inter Milan) and cricket (Twenty20 is a brilliant invention), did a bit of reading (mainly Jamaican field guides), and did a bit of catching up in the garden. After doing the boring stuff, you know - mowing the lawns + weeding etc, I got the chance to play in MY bit of the garden. Allow me to explain..............

Last year, Maria very kindly allowed me to have a small section of her precious garden to do exactly what I wanted. Now I have to point out, she ADORES her garden, so for her to do this was a huge thing. So obviously my thoughts immediately raced towards a wildlife garden. But seeing as it was getting toward winter, it would be pretty pointless doing any planting. But what I COULD do was build a pond. So I did! Over a long weekend last October, me and my dad made a pond from scratch. I did all the digging, got it to the shape I wanted, gave it a couple of different sized shelves (basically a deep end, middle bit and a shallow end) then the two of us filled it with sand, carpet and the lining. Filling it with water was the last and definately the easy part! And then I waited. A looooong time! As we all know winter was long and hard. I waited till the back end of march before I started to put plants in the pond. A couple of weeks went by with nothing happening then about two weeks ago the pond seemed to explode into life! It was absolutely brilliant. First the plants started to grow. Then the insects appeared. A couple of water boatmen were first, then I noticed a water spider, and then the snails. Just a few at first, but now theres loads of them! And the thing I want to know is, where on earth did the water snails come from? Seriously, how did they get into my pond? Surely they couldnt have crawled from a nearby pond. If anyone knows the answer feel free to let me know! Anyway, about two weeks ago I came home from work, had a little check of the pond and was greeted by the wonderful sight of frog spawn. And quite a lot as well! I was so excited. I knew there was a decent chance of it happening cos I'd often seen a frog or two on the rocks. But I honestly didnt think it would happen so soon. So every day since then I have been going to the pond to see how they were doing. And every day the spawn has been getting smaller and smaller. And I'm pretty sure the reason is they have been set upon by the snails. The snails have always been in the vicinity of the spawn, so I'm sure they've been filling their boots. Or shells! Again, if anyone knows this to be true please let me know. There's now only a couple of clumps of spawn left, and I'm not very hopeful of them lasting long enough to hatch. But as we all know, thats nature!

The evil Water Snail

Friday, 21 May 2010


After 7 years working in the Nook area of South Shields, last week I was told about a park 2 minutes away from my work that I didnt even know existed!!! (Thanks, Sir Douglas). Its a lovely little park, tucked out of the way, and a perfect escape from the evils of work - at least for the lunch hour I get. In the 2 weeks I've been visiting, the bird list has crept up to a modest little 23. Yes, I know, hardly's earth shattering, but that doesnt matter. I simply enjoy watching whats there. For instance, today I enjoyed watching adult Starlings, Long Tailed Tits and Greenfinches all feeding their young ones in the hot sun. And yesterday, I sat watching a Great Spotted Woodpecker having his lunch while I had mine. Its this kind of thing that puts a smile on my face. It also helps me face the rest of the day at work!!!The park is called The Dell. But dont be going there, its mine!
Long Tailed Tit

Thursday, 20 May 2010


Well, just over a week to go now for our second attempt at going to Jamaica! Hopefully that Icelandic volcano will behave itself this time! Now, although this is of course a lovely romantic relaxing two weeks with my beautiful wife (just incase she reads this!!!), I will no doubt still be able to sneak away and see as much wildlife as I possibly can. Of the 28 endemic bird species, I've got a decent chance of seeing maybe 23 of them. The others are on the other (east) side of the island, and I doubt I'll be heading that way. There are other caribbean birds available to boost my lifers total as well. The worst part of our initial trip being cancelled in April was the fact that I'm going to miss out on quite a lot of migrating american Warblers. But hey, its not the end of the world is it! Seeing as my World List currently stands at 772, I'll be more than happy to get 28 new birds to take me to the 800 mark. I dont think 800 different species in 6 years of birding isnt too bad is it?


Saw my first COMMON BLUE BUTTERFLY of the year today at The Dell park. Lots of butterflies out enjoying the sunshine, especially SPECKLED WOODS.

Speckled Wood