Wallington Hall Estate ~ Oct 2020 ~ part 2

There are a few ponds/lakes nestled in the woodlands of the estate, and our favourite is the one with the boathouse.

boathouse pond.

As always, there are ducks.

quacks

The glass house is set in a formal garden so we had a wander around there first.

It was nice to see some flowers still going strong.

flower pot

The glass house is on a tier above the garden

glass house

and there’s a nice view when you get up there.

England’s green and pleasant land.

Inside the glass house there were plenty of blooms and leaves,

fuchsia magellanica white & pink
fuchsia magellanica pink & purple
chinese-lantern (abutilon pictum)
lotsa leaves

The glass house is being propped up with wooden buttresses as it’s very old and rickety, hopefully the National Trust will spend a few bob to repair it. You can just see them through the window here.

window scenery

Our last stop was at the bird hide, where we were excited to see a couple of deer, though I couldn’t get the head of the deer at the back.

2 deer.

And of course took some photo’s of birds

Blue tit
coal tit
robin

and that’s the end of our visit to Wallington in 2020.

all pictures are embiggenable by clickeration.

A few more pictures can be found HERE

Bolam Lake ~ Oct 2021 ~ part 2

Following on from part 1, we’re still photographing swans, because , well you can’t have enough magnificent swan pictures really. 🙂

The familiar pose with neck curved back and wings half raised, known as busking, is a threat display. Both feet are paddled in unison during this display, resulting in a more jerky movement. The swans may also use the busking posture for wind-assisted transportation over several hundred meters, so-called windsurfing.

windsurfer

The mute swan is one of the heaviest flying birds. In several studies from Great Britain, males (known as cobs) were found to average from about 10.6 to 11.87 kg (23.4 to 26.2 lb), with a weight range of 9.2–14.3 kg (20–32 lb) while the slightly smaller females (known as pens) averaged about 8.5 to 9.67 kg (18.7 to 21.3 lb), with a weight range of 7.6–10.6 kg (17–23 lb). The most familiar sound associated with mute swans is the vibrant throbbing of the wings in flight which is unique to the species, and can be heard from a range of 1 to 2 km (0.6 to 1 mi), indicating its value as a contact sound between birds in flight.

lift off

We often come across other people walking around the lake and now and again I can sneak in a people picture, in this case a little people picture’

girls

and two couples, people and swans,

two pairs

but rarely do we come across people in or on the lake, so this lot gave us a nice surprise.

The Paddle Family

they were having a grand time!

there’s always one

and swans are not the only birds at the lake though these are in a dead tree.

Dead Tree Birds

And that’s about it for Bolam Lake. Next time we’re popping around the corner to revisit St.Andrews Church so stay tooned for that!

Bolam Lake ~ October 2021~ part 1

Sophie and I were making the best of Autumn and so the weekend after visiting Belsay, we went off to look for more Autumnal colour and to see the swans et al at Bolam Lake. We last visited 4 years ago in September 2017 – ah, the good old pre-plague days! Looking back at those photo’s there was more autumn colours in September 17 than there was in Oct 21 🤷‍♀️.

Bolam lake was constructed c.1817 for Lord Decies of Bolam. John Dobson was commissioned to lay out the grounds in 1816, including the 25-acre artificial lake and woodland. Northumberland County Council purchased the lake and some of the surrounding woodland in 1972 for use as a Country Park.

Bolam Lake

The weather was a bit pants, but the swans didn’t seem to care. Bolam has a herd of Mute Swans, though they are not entirely mute, as they’ll hiss or snort if feeling threatened. But they are quiet in comparison with other types of swans, and in spite of that are quite beligerent with the male swans highly territorial. They will threaten intruders, striking an aggressive pose with wings arched over their back, before charging at them to chase them off. 

these two were quite friendly..we had birdseed 😊

There are many collective nouns for a group of swans, they can be a bevy, a gaggle, a whiteness, or a wedge, but only when in flight. Herd is OK too which suits me fine.

a bevy/gaggle/whiteness herd.

Since the 12th century, the Queen has had the right to claim ownership to all unmarked mute swans in the country swimming in open waters, and there is a traditional swan upping ceremony, an annual ceremony that has taken place for hundreds of years and takes five days. It’s held every July on the river Thames at Caversham. In the ceremony, a flotilla of Thames rowing skiffs, manned by “Swan Uppers” make their way along the river led by The Queen’s Swan Marker, David Barber. The cygnets are marked as being either part of the Vintners or the Dyers livery companies. This is determined by their parentage. All Crown birds are left unmarked. Although it’s a tradition it also helps with conservation. Anyway, it only happens on the Thames and the rest of the country’s Mute swans can go about their business unaware that they are Royal swans, although they always look regal, so maybe they are.

passing by

There is more to see than swans though, so let’s move on. The ground was damp, and shady so we came across a few mushrooms and fungi, I love finding ones I haven’t seen before.

not sure which type of mushroom this is, think it’s one of the Grisettes, didn’t munch on it just in case.
Orange grisette
Trametes versicolor (turkey tail )
Fomes fomentarius (Hoof fungus, Tinder bracket)
Evernia prunastri – Oakmoss Lichen

my last photo today is of a dear little dog, a collie I think, who was undergoing some training with her owner. I hope it’s a girl dog!

Dog in pink.

That’s it for this week. As you read this I’ll be driving 250 miles down south, takes about 5 hours, to visit with my son and grandson, so will be late answering comments today.

Stay tooned for next time, there’s more to see at the lake 🙂 .

all photos are embiggenable by clickeration.

365~ January 4th ~ 10th

The prompt for Day 4 was ‘Breakfast’. Well you can’t beat a boiled chucky~egg with toasty soldiers can you?

Breakfast

Day 5’s prompt was ‘Relinquish’. I’ll let you make your own interpretation of what I was relinquishing!

Relinquish

Day 6 was ‘Letters’. I chose an old calligraphy artwork I did back in the 90’s, a poem written in 1941 called High Flight by John Gillespie McGee Jr, an American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force. It’s my favourite piece of work that I did.

Letters

Day 7 ~ Open. (This one’s for Kim 😘) A good book can open the heart and the mind.

Open

Day 8 ~ Home ~where I stand. This one had to include your feet, good excuse to get out the posh boots 😊

Home

Day 9 ~ Fascinating. This will be a quarterly challenge, taking a picture from the same place in different seasons, and adding each one to the previous shot, so a diptych, then triptych finishing the series as a quadtych. This is the wildlife sanctuary down the road from me, usually full of water birds, but frozen over today.

Season 1

Day 10 ~ Feathers. “Take us on a trip and show us what feathered friends are native in your neck of the woods. ” Ya got to be joking- no unecessary journies also the weather is pants here today so I trained my camera on the happy eater tree and waited a couple of hours until some birdies showed up. Luckily the bunch of long tailed tits arrived. Thay are doughty little birds and probably my favourites.

Long Tailed Tits

First full week over, onwards ever onwards…!

Washington Wetland Center – October 2019

After we’d visited NELSAM we still had a couple of hours of daylight so decided to visit WWT Washington Wetland Centre as it was only up the road from the museum and is always good for birds and otters.

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust started out in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, and was set up by Sir Peter Scott, (son of Scott of the Antarctic).  Peter became an Olympic sailing medallist and a well-known painter and broadcaster. He created the IUCN red list which measures whether species are threatened or endangered. He was the founding chair of WWF – and even drew their famous panda logo.

The Trust is all about conservation of endangered species, and their mission is to save critically endangered species from extinction, work with communities around the world who depend on wetlands and inspire people to take care of nature.

There are 9 WWT’s across the UK and we are lucky enough to have one near Sunderland. I’ve done a few posts on this blog from the WWT but there’s always something new to see.

I think this is Purplepore Bracket (Trichaptum abietinum) fungus.

There is a pair of Black Swans at Washington, they have white wing tips and red bills with a white stripe on them.

Black Swan

Fun guys

We were very excited to see a kingfisher, as neither off us had seen one in the flesh before

Kingfisher

Kingfisher with fish catch

Further up in that part of the lake a heron was also fishing

We went to see the asian short clawed otters at feeding time

It is a member of the otter subfamily (Lutrinae) of the weasel family (Mustelidae), and is the smallest otter species in the world. Its paws are a distinctive feature; its claws do not extend beyond the fleshy end pads of its partially webbed fingers and toes. This gives it a high degree of manual dexterity so that it can use its paws to feed on molluscs, crabs and other small aquatic animals. The Asian small-clawed otter inhabits mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands in South and Southeast Asia. It lives in extended family groups with only the alpha pair breeding; offspring from previous years help to raise the young. Due to ongoing habitat loss, pollution, and hunting in some areas, it is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

The breeding programme at Washington is very successful and when the litters of the main pair grow up they are sent to other wetlands to diversify the gene pool.

Then we went to see the flamingos, my faves, but walked past the geese first,

telling off, & not listening 🙂

Mr.Pink

Beady Eye

The weather was deteriorating at this point so that was the end of our day out, but stay tooned to see where we end up next time!

all pics are clickable to embiggen.

Full album HERE

Killingworth Boat Lake ~ February 2019

In 1964, a 15 acre lake was created to help drain the ground for Killingworth New Town, and almost straight away a boating clubhouse was built which is alongside a public car park. Several different groups still use this clubhouse and more use the lake and park, which is run by North Tyneside Council.  A bunch of retired chaps interested in building, racing and sailing model boats formed a sailing group, which is now affiliated to the MYA (Model Yacht Association).

Sophie and I stopped off here on our way back from somewhere as I knew there were swans on the lake, and the racing was in full swing.

and they’re off!

Surrounded

Remote control

No remote control

Come in No.48

Precision Landing

The Swans win.

Wallington ~October 2018 ~ part 2

part 1 HERE

After wandering around the walled garden (see part 1) we then went into the large conservatory and took some photos of the flowers and bits and bobs.

large purple plant

 

large purple plants flowers.

there were a few different types of Fuschia

 

 

the glass house is definitely full of flowery goodness

 

Basking.

A nice detail set into the wall

“When wearied and overwrought by study or affairs of business, repair to these haunts and refresh your mind by a stroll amidst the flowers”

We left the glass-house and had a wander up to the bird feeding station

a lucky day!

 

 

It was nearing lunchtime for us too, so we walked back up to the house, past the lake and boat shed

 

A heron took flight out of the reeds whilst we were shooting and I managed a half decent shot

 

Stay tooned for when we visit inside the house!

Farne Islands~July 2018~Part 3~ The Others

Part 1 HERE. Part 2 HERE

As well as Puffins, various other sea birds breed and nest on the Farne Islands. Here are a few of them.

Kittiwakes are one of the most abundant birds around the Farne Islands. They make a nest of mud and straw which often has to be rebuilt as they are easily washed from the rocks by either torrential rain or heavy seas.

Living on the edge

 

finding a moment of solitude

The Arctic tern is famous for its migration; it flies from its Arctic breeding grounds to the Antarctic and back again each year, the shortest distance between these areas being 19,000 km (12,000 mi). The long journey ensures that this bird sees two summers per year and more daylight than any other creature on the planet. One example of this bird’s remarkable long-distance flying abilities involves an Arctic tern ringed as an unfledged chick on the Farne Islands, Northumberland, UK, in the northern summer of 1982, which reached Melbourne, Australia in October 1982, just three months from fledging — a journey of over 22,000 km (14,000 mi).

They also have very sharp beaks, and dive bomb people arriving on the Islands to keep them from their chicks and eggs, which they stupidly lay right next to the path we all have to walk up!

bogie at 1 o’clock!

The shag bears a close resemblance to the cormorant~ so much so that it often causes it to be mis-identified as the latter. When seen alongside each other, the differences can be more readily seen. The shag is a dark bottle green colour and is approximately three quarters the size of the cormorant. During the early part of the breeding season, the shag has a crest on the top of its head which drops back down when it has mated.

yep, my crest is definitely down!

 

Guillemots, like the puffins and the very similar looking relation the razorbill are members of the auk family of seabirds. They don’t build a nest, instead they lay a pear-shaped egg on the bare surface of the rock, which, if kicked or bumped will spin in a circle and not be knocked off. A few weeks after the guillemot chick hatches it will jump from the rock, still unable to fly, into the water where it will feed for the first time, being taught by its parents. Many of the guillemot chicks do not survive this transition and in late June of 2004, thousands of chicks died due to poor weather conditions. Approximately 3% of the guillemot population at the Islands are “bridled”, these birds have a white ring around each eye with a white streak leading to the back of their heads, which almost makes them look as if they are wearing spectacles.

Perfect eyesight here thanks.

The razorbill is very similar in shape and size to the Guillemot, the main visible differences being that the razorbill is a much more blackish colour compared to the dark brown of the guillemot. It also has a much squarer shaped bill with a white diagonal streak on the end and a white line leading back to the eyes.

No I’m not a ruddy Guillemot see? White lines!

Lots of different types of gulls too, Lesser Black Backed (try saying that after a sherbert or two!) Great Black-Backed, Herring, Black Headed, but I didn’t catch all of them

yes I’m a Black Backed, not sure if Greater or Lesser though, but I think I’m great!

 

Black Headed Gull. (I know, I know, it’s got a brown head, whoever named them was a knob with poor eyesight).

And of course, the Island is also populated with photographers at this time of year

Camouflage guy, so the birds can’t see him I guess 🙂

 

Mrs Orange taking a picture of….

 

Mr.Orange

 

Mr. Serious Ornithologist.

So that’s the end of our day out on the Farne Islands.  Stay tooned for next time when we are going back in time, to several wars!

All pictures embiggenable and full album HERE

Farne Island – July 2018- Part 2- Puffin-fest

Puffins!!  This is the main reason we go to the Farne Islands, to see the huge colony of  puffins that come here to breed and we try to get some in-flight shots, which are SO difficult because the buggers fly at supersonic speed! There are 3 types of Puffins but here in the UK we get the Atlantic Puffins.

Puffins form long-term pair bonds or relationships. The female lays a single egg, and both parents incubate the egg and feed the chick (or “puffling”).

kisses ❤

The Dads dig out the nests, or use rabbit burrows if there are any about. 
Puffins eat both fish and zooplankton but feed their chicks primarily with small marine fish several times a day. The prey species of the Atlantic puffin include sandeel, herring and capelin. They also have the ability to hold several (sometimes over a dozen) small fish at a time, crosswise in their bill, rather than regurgitating swallowed fish. This allows them to forage far wider than your bog-standard one-fish-at-a-time sea bird, as they bring back much more food in one go. And I think it’s much more pleasant than vomitting up into your chicks gob!

Now’s not the time to ask a question.

Puffins are hunted for eggs, feathers and meat. Atlantic puffin populations drastically declined due to habitat destruction and exploitation during the 19th century and early 20th century. They continue to be hunted in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. In fact  the Atlantic puffin forms part of the national diet in Iceland, where the species does not have legal protection. Puffins are hunted by a technique called “sky fishing”, which involves catching the puffins in a big net as they dive into the sea. 
Their meat is commonly featured on hotel menus. The fresh heart of a puffin is eaten raw as a traditional Icelandic delicacy- seriously guys??   On the small Icelandic island of Grimsey as many as 200 puffins can be caught in a single morning

Lads I think we’d best cancel that holiday to Iceland!

Puffin populations are in decline.  Puffin records on the Northumberland coast archipelago date back to 1939 when 3,000 breeding pairs were recorded, and every census until 2008 showed a steady increase in pairs. But in 2008 numbers fell by a third, from 55,674 to 36,835. This is thought largely due to the impacts of climate change.

gonna be lonely on Farne

Erpur Snær Hansen, director of ecological research at the South Iceland Nature Centre, says  if surface sea temperatures remain at current levels or higher, the entire puffin population of south and west Iceland will disappear in the next 10 to 20 years.  Maybe if they didn’t eat so many…

landing gear down

Although the puffins are noisy and shouty at their breeding colonies, they are silent at sea. They fly relatively high above the water, typically 10 m (33 ft) as compared with the 1.6 m (5.2 ft) of other birds.

silent running

Next time we’ll look at some of the other inhabitants on Inner Farne, but here’s a few more puffin pictures until then..

fasten your seatbelts and prepare for lift off
Make sure you’re home by 10, this isn’t a bloody hotel you know!

Patience