Neil Pont
Wildlife Photography

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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..

Closing in on 150

Posted on 11 April, 2017 at 6:15 Comments comments (0)

I've been to East Chevington/Druridge Pools/Cresswell a few times recently and have been able to add to my year list with some unexpected birds - particularly Water Pipit and Spoonbill.  I have also had good views of the breeding Marsh Harriers and a spectacular sighting of the Cresswell farm Barn Owl (he gets a whole page to himself elsewhere on the site).

These pics are definitely 'record shots' - they do what it says on the tin - record that I DID see the bird... (146 this year now)

Riverside Falconry

Posted on 6 April, 2017 at 0:10 Comments comments (0)

John James, the owner of Riverside Falconry at Newburn, kindly offered a day's photography with his birds of prey via his Facebook page.  All you had to do was nominate someone who you thought would enjoy this experience and he would pick the winner at random.  My friend Chris Bland nominated me - and I won!

So, on Monday 3rd April, I went down to see him and his beautiful birds.

Here is a shot of each of the birds we used:

Harris Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Barn Owl

Brown Wood Owl

American Kestrel

Bengal Eagle Owl

A good day out - by rail..

Posted on 3 April, 2017 at 3:10 Comments comments (0)

Recently Julia and I visited friends at Raughton Head, near Carlisle.  We took the opportunity to call in at Caerlaverock WWT.  As expected we saw a good variety of birds - 45 species.  There was the normal huge flock of Barnacle Geese and still some Whooper Swans in attendance.  All the ducks were in lovely breeding plumage - and it was goood to see Yellowhammers too.

The best bird was, however, a Water Rail.  As the light was starting to go we headed back to the car park and just had time to call in to the Peter Scott Walk which is near the entrance.  Another birder, who was just leaving, told us that he had seen a Water Rail quite clearly by the small pond.  We hurried down the path and were rewarded by our best ever views of this somewhat enigmatic bird - often heard but seldom seen.

What a Wally

Posted on 17 March, 2017 at 5:30 Comments comments (0)

Until my friend Chris Newman told me about Bramblings he had seen at Wallington National Trust, I didn't even realise that there was an excellent wildlife watching hide there.  I've been to Wallington many times - but have always been to the east end of the site where the walled gardens are.  When I visted yesterday I went west - discovering the ponds and woodland walks - and the hide.

I found the Bramblings easily - and a lot more besides as you can see...

Highland highlights

Posted on 13 March, 2017 at 11:50 Comments comments (0)

We have just returned from 3 excellent days in the Highlands of Scoland.  We stayed at the famous Grant Arms Hotel in Granton-on-Spey, which is set up for birders. There are always guides on hand and there is lots of information and help regarding where to go and what to see.

We took the train direct from Newcastle to Aviemore and then hired a car; which we used for a day's birding with John Poyner from 'Highland Nature'. The next day we went on the morning walk with the hotel's guide in Aganach Woods and then, in the afternoon, drove to the Findhorn Valley to meet the same guide - Richard Thaxton.

On Saturday we found our own way - following the suggestions of the hotel guide for the day.  He suggested a good site for otters - and we found one!  We watched it feed for about 30 minutes before we moved along the coast seeking divers and sea ducks.

We had good views of some iconic species - especially Crested Tit, Peregrine and Golden Eagle. We also saw a Parrot Crossbill - though fleetingly.  Hawfinch was an unexpected bonus. We had good views of Mountain Hare and one evening visited a hide deep in the forest where Pine Martens and Badgers come regularly to feed.  A Badger arrived - but no Martens...

When I completed my Bird Journal this morning I discovered that my count has now reached 130 species for the year.

Holywell - a great find...

Posted on 3 March, 2017 at 5:35 Comments comments (0)
I visited Holywell Pond yesterday - on a search for Scaup, which had been reported.  A lot of the usual suspects were on view - Coot, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Wigeon, Mallard + some very bonny Pochard.  I did find the Scaup but he was too distant to photograph.  I carrried on walking - following my nose. I stumbled in to Holywell Dene.  It is a very lovely spot which I realised I had never been to before.  Lots of woodland birds and very good views of Dipper.

100 UP!!!

Posted on 22 February, 2017 at 3:00 Comments comments (2)

February 21st at Boulmer saw me able to add my 100th tick in my quest for 200 species in 2017.  It was a day when all the expected/possible waders were on view: Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Sanderling, Curlew, Redshank and (fanfare) number 100 - Knot.  Actually, by the end of the day the count had reached 105.  Roll on the next 100.  I am 'twitching' in anticipation already....

A drop more Madeira please

Posted on 21 February, 2017 at 18:10 Comments comments (2)

Altough the Firecrests were the highlight for me, we did see some other good birds on Madeira:  the endemic (sub-species) Chaffinch; Bertholet's Pipit (which we have seen before on Fuerteventura); Atlantic Canary (a serin species); and a vagrant American Wigeon.