Sunday, 28 April 2013


The birds not the weather tell us it is spring this year, plenty of pairings and some nest building, not all welcome! The not so welcome are the swans at Killy lake they chose a great crested grebes nest with eggs in as a platform to start their nest off. Little grebes at Big waters are building a reed platform but it might just be for mating on.

Goodbye grebes your gazumped

Friday, 26 April 2013

The Twitcher

 Tuesday night at The Cumberland Arms, I was there to see a folk band called Baltic Crossing they were fantastic. Fast fiddle tunes from Finland  Denmark and England performed with passion by 2 fins a dane and 2 local lads. The brew on sale was a golden ale from Whitley Bay called The Twitcher and apart from getting me pissed it recalled distant memories of the days when I chased rare birds around the country. One day saw me start at DBCP and end up at Spurn ticking 5 lifers on the way. Another day I was on the Farnes for a rare bunting after chartering a boat , wanting to kill half the twats that had sailed with me. My time chasing the rarities did not last long and was mostly unsatisfying, not cos of the birds but the tits all around me. I find it better to wait till a new bird turns up on patch or explore abroad for new thrills. But everybody to their own.  
Baltic crossing

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Mellow Yellow

Saturday at Big Waters and my first Swallow and Common tern of the year also Goosander. An afternoon on Prestwick carr and pipits and wagtails galore at the pools in the horse fields near the golf course. The stars were 2 Yellow wags but the supporting cast of at least 10 White wags were very welcome. A male Wheatear showed briefly and a few Pied wags flitted about. The most nunerous birds around were Meadow pipits.

A Tawney owl was back to its spring roost sight but remained out of autofocus

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Hotter and Otters

Sunday at Big waters was warm but very windy KB saw the first Swallow of the year and as soon as we got to see the lake 2 Otters showed in the distance. A short walk was order of the day cos of our wish to see the toon thrash the makems, the highlight a few singing Willow warblers. Back home a pair of Siskin graced the Niger seed feeder.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Killy lake and Big waters

On Saturday I went to Killingworth lake to see the Great crested grebes, they have a nest with eggs on the small lake. Also on the lake were a smart pair of Shoveler  lots of Tufties and Goldeneye plus the usual suspects.

 At Big waters a few fine Cormorants a drake Goosander and male Shoveler at least 2 pair of Mute swan nest building and Frogspawn in the dipping pond.

Cock Pheasant with part of his harem 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Wansbeck and the coast

Last weekend I went to one of my favorite bits of river the Wansbeck at Mitford church. Watched a pair of Dippers nest building and saw a couple of Grey wagtail but little else. Then on Sunday went Down the coast from Amble to Newbiggin by the sea . 4 Grey plover at Hauxley and the long staying Long tailed duck at Cresswell the highlights but the fish and chips at Newbiggin were good.

Fishing very successfully at Cresswell 

Monday, 8 April 2013

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Good Curry Recipie

This method of making curry was passed to me by my brother who was shown it by an Indian friend . It feeds 20 people approx. I buy my spice's from an Asian store its much cheaper than the supermarket and they have a better range. Allow about 6 hours to do it properly and for the meat to get tender enough. You will need the following to make 3 different curries from the same base.

  •  Cumin seeds 1 heaped teaspoon                    
  • Coriander seeds as above
  • Fennel seeds as above
  • Mustard seeds as above
  • Dill seeds as above
  • Fenegreek seeds as above 
  • Black cardamoms x 10
  • Green cardamoms x 10
  • Cloves x 5
  • Curry leaves 1/2 a hand full
  • Peppercorns 1 heaped teaspoon                                           

   Place the above in a large pan with with a little oil (healthy) or a lot of ghee(authentic) and heat gently to infuse the oil while you chop onions.
Make sure you have plenty Tomatoes
Infuse the oil with spice

  •  Onions enough to fill a large pan 
  • Tomatoes 8 x tins (or use passata)
  • Coconut milk 3 x tins
  • Red Chillies at least 10
  • Garam masala 200g
  • Mild curry powder 200g
  • Garlic paste 800g
  • Ginger paste 800g
  •  Coriander powder 1 x heaped tablespoon
  • Cumin powder 1 x tablespoon
  • Green Chillies 20-30
  • Bananas 3-4
  • Turmeric 2 x dessertspoon
  • Spinach puree 1 800g tin
  • Mutton 3kg (sheep meat off the bone in the halal butchers)
  • Chicken breast or boneless thigh 3kg
  • King Prawn (raw shell on) 2kg
  • Mango chutney 1/2 a jar  
  • Paprika 2 heaped tablespoons
Lamb seasoning to coat Mutton for extra flavor 

Fry onions till golden
Remove spices from oil or ghee with a sieve and fill the pan with finely chopped onions, fry until golden stirring regularly. These reduce right down but it takes a while. Add the Red chilli, 700g of the Garlic and 600g of the ginger and cook for 10 mins further with the onions.To the same pan add the tomatoes until the pan is almost full. Season with salt and pepper and heat till toms are bubbling, then add about half the curry powder and garam masala. Stirring regularly for 10 mins it should look like the pot full below.
The base for your 3 curries
Next take a ladle and split the base curry into 3 (or 4 if you want to make a lentil one ). Put all 3 large pans on a low heat and take a slurp of cold beer, its hot work. Peel the now defrosted King prawns and put them in the fridge, keep the shells to flavor the sauce. Do this by boiling them in water for about 10 mins then remove the shells and reduce the water down and add to the pan for the Prawn curry. To the same pan add the rest of the ginger and a tin of coconut milk and some extra chillies.
To the pan for the chicken add the bananas a tin and 1/2 of coconut milk 3/4 of the turmeric powder remember to keep stirring and have another swig of cold beer, you deserve it.
3 curries taking shape
For the mutton add the cumin, paprika,spinach puree and mango chutney and a hand full of green chilli  chopped, seeds the lot. As with the other curries stir and stir again take another gargle and relax, now the fun starts. Put the spare garlic into the mutton also and a bit of the coriander powder. The remaining turmeric should be put in the prawn. Taste each curry after 10 mins and see where they need to be adjusted, add the 1/2 tin of coconut milk to the mutton that you forgot to put in earlier. You now have left over masala, curry powder, coriander powder and if your spice rack has bits and pieces in it, other spices. Add these to taste for example spinach likes nutmeg put a little in the mutton pot if you like. I normally find powdered spices vary in strength as do chillis so how much to add to get it right will vary also.
When you have the sauces tasting how you like (hopefully all different) add the mutton (or lamb, beef, horse or pork) to the pot with the spinach and stuff in. Add the chicken to the pot with the bananas in but keep the prawns in the fridge.
Chillies for the  mutton dressed as lamb

Curry mmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!
Take a slurp of beer and stir until tender, for mutton this may take 3or 4 hours, they only need to be stirred every 10 mins or so. Leave overnight, take to the family and friends and reheat, at this point add the prawns the the pot and cook for a few mins depending on size. When cooked  add a handful of freshly chopped coriander and serve. Remember you can make many styles of curry from the same base add more garlic or chilli if you want its up to you. The seeds used to infuse the oil at the start can be ground down to make your own powder (not the ones used these will be oily).
Make your own 
You must like curry if you are still reading give it a try its worth the effort.

 enjoy in good company

Monday, 1 April 2013

Prestwick Carr plus a Big Waters flasher

A Saturday visit to the carr and the Willow tits showed well as they came down to seed placed on fence posts by Peter and Bill. There were also a few Curlew and Meadow pipit around. The Sunday walk around Big Waters produced a Chiff chaff some bonnie Cormorants, 4 fine Roe Deer, 2 Shelduck and a few Grey Heron, one of which showed its bits to the world without shame.  

The dirty little flasher