Sunday, 29 March 2015


This morning Chris and I did a bit of whoosh netting for rock pipits. 

Despite plenty of pipits being present yesterday, this morning they seemed pretty thin on the ground and we only managed to ring 2 birds.

1st summer littoralis rock pipit

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Breezy !

I only made it out for a quick visit to the patch today.

I decided to check the beach for rock pipits, but it was a howling sandstorm and I came away with eyes full of grit !

At least 3 littoralis pipits present today....

Rock Pipits....

Friday, 27 March 2015

More Nocturnal Doings.....

I've been out again this week doing some more night sky photography......

Aurora Borealis and airglow over the Fame Islands last night

Milky way over Dunstanburgh
Star trail at Seahouses
Aurora Borealis and milky way over Budle Bay on Monday night
And here's a short time lapse of the earth's rotation. It would have been longer but my lens got all dewed up after about an hour. I'm off to make lens heater.....

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Spring is here !!........ Sort of.......

It felt like spring this morning, the sun had a bit of heat in it, the odd bumble bee was buzzing about, a couple of chiffchaffs were singing down at the pool.......

A quick check of a few spots around at Low Newton today produced a mixture of spring and winter. There were at least 4 littoralis rock pipits on the beach and a couple of chiffs were quite vocal, but on the scrapes a small flock of pinkfeet included a singe European white-fronted goose.


I'm sure things will soon be accelerating towards the summer, but today there was still quite a wintery chill when you stepped out of the suns rays.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Time Lapse......

I was out again last night trying to photograph the milky way.

I thought I'd try a time lapse to catch the earth's movement. I had no idea how to do it so I just guessed, but it seemed to work ok. I managed to catch a bit of aurora too, just a shame the bloody cloud rolled in again !

Friday, 20 March 2015

Fog !!

On Wednesday night it looked like views of the aurora might still be possible, but everywhere locally was too foggy.

I decided to take a drive and look for clear skies. The only open patch I found was out the back of Alnwick heading towards Rothbury. The aurora was visible but it was not as strong as the previous night and bit hazy through the murk. 

Foggy Aurora from the Alnwick - Rothbury road
After driving around a bit more and failing to locate any more clear sky I decided to head off to Stag Rocks again to try and photograph the lighthouse beams.

I couldn't resist getting in on this shot with my torch !

Bewick's Swan

The birding highlight for me this week was a vocal flyover Bewick's swan down at Low Newton on Tuesday, presumably the same bird that was around a few weeks ago ?
By the time I'd scrambled the camera out of my bag the swan was heading away allowing me to secure a cracking shot of its arse !!
I've been checking the shore at Low Newton for littoralis rock pipits this week but no joy. Still plenty of wintering waders around including 40+ purple sandpipers

On Wednesday I had my first sniff of spring with a calling (not singing) chiffchaff at Newton Pool. Things are slowly starting to move then.....

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

It's Twitching Jim.......

......... but not as we know it !

With a mental aurora going on last night I just couldn't bring myself to sit in Beadnell in the thick fog and cloud. In a moment of complete madness I jumped in the car, picked up a mate and drove towards the nearest point that looked clear of cloud on the forecast maps.

Two hours later we arrived at the Solway Firth !!..... and it was cloudy..... ARSE !!

There was nothing for it (in for a penny and all that) we just kept heading west. When we arrived at Silloth we had our first glimpse of the aurora through the clouds and low mist.

Aurora showing through the murk at Grune Point. 14mm, F2.8, 5000 ISO, 15 sec
We waited for the clouds to clear for about an hour, but it just seemed to get worse so we headed off south to the next town, Maryport.

At Maryport we still struggled with low cloud on the horizon but the aurora was still clearly visible above this bank of cloud.

Aurora at Maryport Harbour mouth. 14mm, F2.8, 3200 ISO, 15 secs

Aurora at Maryport Harbour mouth. 24mm, F2.8, 3200 ISO, 10secs
Time was going on and the aurora had died off a little so we decided to head home. I eventually walked back through the front door at around 3am.

A couple of my mates think I was completely bonkers for going on this little mission but I really enjoyed it !

Looks like there might be a chance of aurora again tonight, just need to find a cloud free area and take a look.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015


This is probably the best ovation map I have ever seen and it is happening right now !

Even if this dies down a bit by this evening then it should still be good enough for the aurora to be visible across northern England, if it stays the same (which is unlikely) it could stretch as far as the south coast.

All sounds very exciting but there is one MASSIVE spanner in the works - CLOUD. The forecast here is for cloud all night and looking out the window it looks like a combination of fog and cloud. Feckin typical ! This will of course totally knacker the job.

Anyway, just flagging this up, if you are inclined to look for it and you can find a gap in the clouds then you could have a chance of seeing it tonight.  

I'm off to pray to the cloud god now to see if I can negotiate a gap over Beadnell/Seahouses area.....