Sunday, 28 September 2014

Petrel Patience

With conditions looking good for a seawatch I headed to Church Point, Newbiggin with GB last sunday. Early on we heard that a Fea's Petrel- Lifer, was being tracked up the coast in yorkshire so with nothing else planned we diceded to stick it out all day on the off chance that the Petrel made its way further north.

The first out was hard work due to the sun but a steady stream of Gannets and a few Manx Shearwater was a good sign.  Wildfowl were present all day mainly small groups of Wigeon heading north but a few Brent Geese, Common Scoter, Goosander, Red Breasted Merganser and a Velvet Scoter were also noted. I heard but never saw Pink Footed Geese and a Tree Sparrow came in off the sea. 

Now used to seeing Med Gulls at Newbiggin it still looked strange seeing them on the sea, some were quite a way out to. 20+ Sooty Shearwaters passed during our time watching the sea including some very close birds. As more time passed and more reports of the petrel surfaced, more birders appeared. Somebody picked out a Sabine's Gull amongst a feeding flock of Kittiwakes. It stayed for around half an hour before heading north. 

By the time the Fea's had reached Whitburn the sun had vanished and fog had set in. The tension was unbearable by the end as it headed past St.Marys but we all managed to get onto it as it appeared from the fog. What a bird! My best ever seawatch and best ever sea bird, a day that will stay long in my memory. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Good enough for me

After failing to locate the Blue-winged Teal- lifer, at Castle Island during our WEBS count on Sunday morning I went back on Monday afternoon.

A large gathering of Ruff were on the mud under Stakeford Bridge on both days accompanied by 2 late Common Sandpiper on Sunday and a Spotted Redshank on Monday. Two Greenshank and another Common Sandpiper were further up river past Castle Island on Sunday and were replaced by three Little Egret on Monday. I saw a Little Egret in the same place on both days, on the Sleekburn at low tide.

Groups of Teal were scattered across the river and after scanning them all with no luck I got a text from Birding Sometimes saying it was coming down river towards the rowing club. As I looked across I could see it swimming near to the bank albeit distantly. By the time I got around to the other side of the river I saw it fly off back to where I had been. At least I was able to appreciate its name as it flew low over the river.

To my untrained eye I see nothing wrong with it and would like to hear an explanation as to why it is being touted as a hybrid. I'll leave that one to the experts.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Little Redwood

After news of the Woodchat Shrike at Prestwick Carr broke on monday, myself and Cain went straight up for it. He got good views as it hunted its way along the hedgerow west of the viewing platform. It was nice to see a Woodchat Shrike in good plumage compared to the last one I saw a few years ago in Hartlepool.

We were also out for a few hours yesterday afternoon starting at Cresswell Pond. A Little Egret was fishing,  Little Ringed Plover on the mud north of the causeway and a Little Stint followed a flighty flock of Dunlin around the north end of the pond.
Druridge Pools was quiet, the highlight was a Weasel that ran in front of us as we drove along the road. Again quiet on the bird front at Hauxley but busy on the mammal front with a Stoat running around the main car park and surprisingly a Red Squirrel sitting feeding on a nut feeder in the car park.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

3000

Had my first trip to West Hartford in a while tonight and was very pleasantly surprised. The sound of Swallows filled the air as I approached the site and as I got nearer to the pools I could hear more and more gathering over ever expanding reed bed. As the sun faded more came until around 2500-3000 birds were swarming the sky. They spiraled downwards and went to roost in the reeds in small groups until they all went down on mass and the "running water" sound could be heard. Truly an amazing spectacle and probably one of the best sightings on my own patch.

Plenty of bats including a Noctule were over swooping over the pools where a Greenshank and 2 Ruff were also present. As I was leaving I saw a Fox scurry accross the road near the entrance in the glow of the street light.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Done more than I can remember

Completely forgot to mention in my last post that I spend a week on Mull last month with Ciara L, Andrew D and Ewan M. Anyway a good week was had by all. Eagles and butterflies were the main highlights along with some good walks.

Last tuesday I headed up to Amble with Graeme B in search of the Caspian Gull. To our surprise instead of having to scan through the gull flock at the harbour we pulled up and saw Jack B and co staring at the chippy roof. It was there and stayed there for the next hour and a bit only moving occasionally to scrap for chips with the other gulls. In flight its wing moult could be seen.

On saturday I traveling down south with Cain, Heather D and Ciara L to Bird Fair. It was the first time any of us had been and we enjoyed some good talks and visited some good stalls. Camping overnight meant that we had plenty of time to do some birding from the multiple hides on site. Distant views of Ospreys were had from the visitor centre and a stack of waders including Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper and Black Tailed Godwit occupied the mud. From one of the hides as it was getting dark we had brief views of a Badger and three cubs that ran through the long grass under the hide! Also a Long Eared Owl began hunting around the hide and flew straight past along with many bats.

Just remembered that I went to the Hen Harrier Day as well which was good despite the rain!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

300!

My 300 bird species in Britain finally arrived on Monay afternoon in the from of the Collard Pratincole at Castle Island. A great bird to mark this birding landmark and fittingly at a location where I have spent many hours helping do webs counts.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Wet but worth it

I was out in the rain this morning with SH and DM for WEBS. Castle Island was alive with wildfowl families of various ages but little else was on offer.
Despite the persisting rain we headed north to Druridge Pools. From the Budge Hide only a single Little Egret flew past. Cresswell Pond held one feeding Spoonbill but we did go into the hide.
Before headign back to Cramlington we called in at Newbiggin to count the returning Med Gulls. As we watched a smart adult med on the beach Dee noticed a Dolphin in the bay. Over the next ten minutes we spotted a total of 9 White-Beaked Dolphins and a single Harbour Porpoise very close in just off the Couple statue in the south bay. The Dolphins swam around and breached a few times giving me my best ever cetacean views in Northumberland. They were still there as we left and looked as settled as cetaceans can, well worth a look if in the area.