Sunday, 3 October 2010

South Shields

For a change of scenery, I thought I would visit the coast on the south side of the Tyne at South Shields, particularly at a place called Trow Quarry.  This ex quarry and landfill site is resident to Little Owls a bird I’ve been keen to photograph, without success so far.  It seems an unlikely place to see owls in daylight due to the amount of people walking around, but these small owls are known to be tolerant of people and I have regularly read reports of people seeing them perched during the day in full public view.

From what I have read, it’s a bit of ‘pot luck’ as to whether I would see one or not and as I walked the length of the quarry side I could see why, there were plenty of places where an 8 inch high owl could hide. Some parts of the cliff sides where covered in bushes and trees, others just rocks.  Lots of holes and crevasses where they could hide out, but I walked one end to the other scanning for sights or sign but without any luck so I decided to stop off at the top of the quarry and have something to eat and watched a few others who were clearly also looking for something – perhaps the Little Owls too – so I thought I would just sit and let them hopefully find something.  They too went from one end to the other but clearly having no better luck than me – not just me then.  I sometimes wonder if you have to accustom your sight to see some animals, signs and tracks, once you have seen them a few times, you can then see them much more easily.

A good few hours spent in the quarry resulted in no sightings.  I would probably have to regularly visit this location to have any success and maybe learn their favoured spots and maybe visit dawn or dusk when they are more likely to be active.


Trow Quarry panoramic view (click for larger view)


Rather than waste the day I decided to walk down to the nearby beach.  Looking northwards, across the north and south Tyne piers , I could see St. Marys Lighthouse, one of my regular haunts, just beyond that Blyth and then the Northumberland coastline.

Little photographic opportunity other than the crashing waves against some rock outcrops from the incoming tide.  I tried some different effects – long exposures, short exposures and got in close.  Mental note to self.  Looking through your camera viewfinder with a wide angle lens on, makes oncoming, crashing waves seem further away than they actually are and therefore not a good idea!


While drying off I decided to have my lunch, and as I tucked into my sandwich I had the uneasy feeling of being watched.  To my left, like something out of a Hitchcock film there were a number of Crows on a cliff ledge just watching me eating.  Soon a couple of them did a fly past and one of them continued to watched from the other side.  I finished my food and left once more for the quarry.


Another visit from one end to the other of Trow Quarry still came up with not Little Owls, just a few Rabbits basking in the Autumn sunlight.  Although obviously disappointing in turning up nothing for a five hour visit I think it will certainly be worth future visits, maybe closer to sunrise/set.


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