Neil Pont
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Prespa (Greece and Albania)

Posted on 6 August, 2018 at 6:50 Comments comments (0)

This entry is a bit out of order - but never mind...

In June 2018 Julia and I visited Greece and Albania, the region known as Prespa.  The tour was organised by a company we met at Birdfair 2017 called Balkan Tracks.  We had a personalised tour just for us and our friends Chris and Anne Newman.



Our guide, Iannis Theodoropoulos was outstanding.



We saw about 115 bird species - including some 'lifers'.  On our first day we had great views of a Lesser Kestrel.  And it went on and on... Olivaceous Warbler, Long-legged Buzzard, Roller, Bee-eater, Rosy Starling and lots of Nightingales - one of which we could actually see instead of just hearing!

Prespa Lake is the meeting place for 3 countries, Greece, Albania and Macedonia.  There has been 30 years of dispute over the name of Macedonia - you may have noticed at the Olympics it features as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).  The arguments are founded on the fact that a large part of Greece is also known as Macedonia (Thessaloniki is the capital of that region).  While we were there, there was a momentous meeting of Prime Ministers (at Lake Prespa) to agree a new name for the country - the Republic of North Macedonia.  Our travel plans were interrupted and Chinook helicopters and police were seen in abundance!





One of the attractions of the trip was to see Albania - a country that was closed for so long.  The country is one of the poorest in Europe with a simple agrarian economy.



But it does have good bird life. As the tour continued we saw Rock Nuthatch, Blue Rock Thrush, Golden Oriole, Little Bittern, Alpine Swift, Short-toed Eagle, Cirl Bunting, Penduline Tit, Turtle Dove, Woodchat Shrike and so on and so on.
There are galleries of birds and other wildlife elsewhere on the website.

But here are a few to finish with - Great Egret, Red-backed Shrike and female Bearded Reedling.












Short break in Scotland

Posted on 29 July, 2018 at 8:30 Comments comments (0)

July 29th 2018 - we have just returned from a short break in Scotland, staying at the wonderful Grant Arms Hotel.  Good old fashioned hospitality and everything geared up for birdwatching too.  This time we had a DIY visit without any local guiding.  We now know a lot of the best places to visit - and we found some new ones too.

On the first morning we were very lucky to find Black and Red Throated Divers in full breeding plumage.  We had a close up view of a Red Grouse family plus we saw the lovely Crested Tit.  Over 50 other species followed - including Crossbill.  Other highlights were Spotted Flycatcher and the fantastic Ospreys at Loch Insh.  I have created a new page especially for the Ospreys on the website.  Here are few of the photos taken...

Red Grouse


Crossbill


Juvenile Robin




Spotted Flycatcher

Willow Warbler

Roe Deer


Big Waters Posing Perch

Posted on 29 January, 2018 at 3:15 Comments comments (2)

A visit to Big Waters when everything was frozen meant that there was not much action on the lake - but there were plenty of visitors to the feeding station.  Eight different species posed on the same perch for me over a period of an hour or so.  Very obliging!



1. Blue Tit

2. Chaffinch


3. Dunnock



4. Great Tit


5. Reed Bunting


6. Robin


7. Willow Tit


8. Yellowhammer








Happy New Year - slightly late...

Posted on 10 January, 2018 at 10:40 Comments comments (0)

The first post of 2018.  I'm not sure if I am making a determined effort for 200 UK birds this year - but I might as well count them anyway.
January 10th and I'm on 63.
I went to Wallington NT yesterday to the hide and feeding station hoping to see Brambling.  That's where I had good views last year - good enough for this bonny bird to appear in Calendar 2018.
Not lucky this time - but still plenty going on.  Mostly tits and finches - but also a Field Vole (I think) and a mole hill erupting like Vesuvius in front of me (but no sight of Moley).

I was pleased to snap Sparrowhawk, Marsh Tit and Goldcrest.  Though it was incredibly dark - so to get pictuures at f5.6, 1/400 I had to boost the ISO to 12,800.  Hence a horrible lot of 'noise' in these pictures.  But never mind, it was still a good morning...









November News

Posted on 18 November, 2017 at 3:30 Comments comments (0)

I can't believe it is 4 months since I posted on this Blog! No wonder no-one follows it... Excuse? I've been posting pictures to my Facebook page (and had forgotten about this page if I'm honest).  But for all 'non-Facebookers' here are some November pictures.

A Grey Phalarope stayed next to South Shields pier for quite a while; Snow Buntings were also there (which was handy); I had good views of a group of 5 Snipe at Shibdon Pond; a male Sparrowhawk (unsuccessfully) dropped into the feeding station at Big Waters: and the Willow Tit the Sparrowhawk was trying to catch!
















Lindisfarne Lepidoptera - part two

Posted on 14 July, 2017 at 5:35 Comments comments (0)

Also seen:

Dark Green Fritillary
Small Tortoiseshell
Six-spot Burnet Moth
Red Admiral








Lindisfarne Lepidoptera

Posted on 14 July, 2017 at 5:20 Comments comments (0)

Gosh - can't believe it is April since I posted here.  Back in May we visited the Holy Island of Lindisfarne with our bird-watching group.  I got a picture of a 'woolly bear' - the caterpillar of the Garden Tiger Moth.  Last weekend Julia and I were back on the island with our choir as we were singing in the island's music festival.  We made time for a walk around the island as well.  We saw a Garden Tiger Moth in exactly the same place as we saw the caterpillar.  Coincidence - or not?  We also saw quite a few other moths and butterflies...


Mellow Yellow

Posted on 25 April, 2017 at 10:50 Comments comments (0)

First day of the bird watching class's summer course today.  Summer? There was a whistling North wind that made 'long johns' the order of the day. However we were rewared for our persistence.  Lots of Avocets on Cresswell Pond with a really bright Yellowhammer on the boardwalk as we approached the hide.

Near the causeway were the first Wheatears of the season and from the hide at Druridge Pools we saw a vagrant Green-winged Teal.  All the usual suspects were there too - including: Shoveler, Red-breasted Merganser, Snipe, Pintail, Gadwall and 5 Little Egrets.

The real bonus was a very good view of a Yellow Wagtail.

Julia and I lingered a bit after the class dismissed and saw Sand Martins and a Common Swift.  A pair of Reed Buntings also posed for the camera.








Down in Durham

Posted on 13 April, 2017 at 11:40 Comments comments (0)

I took a trip to Rainton Meadows in Durham today - haven't been there for ages.  Totally dead - apart from Mallard, Mute Swan, Coot etc.  I came back via Washington WWT which was a bit of a mistake because a LEGO event meant that it was overrun by CHILDREN!!

However the Avocets are a delight.  There was also a good group of Godwits - which I am struggling to identify.  After much perusal I've gone for Black-tailed (until someone tells me I'm wrong).  

I also heard a strong song which I thought I recognised - Blackcap I thought... And blow me down, I was right!







Beautiful Barney

Posted on 11 April, 2017 at 6:25 Comments comments (0)

As mentioned in the previous posting I had wonderful views of the Barn Owl at Cresswell.  Here is just one picture - to encourage you to look at the gallery elsewhere on this site..




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