Up early for a trip to Harthope Valley yesterday with Steve Holliday and Dee McKeown.
I had never been to Harthope before and was told it is probably the best upland site in the county, I agree.
Before we got to Harthope we did a Webs count at Castle Island, not much out of the ordinary there apart from a pair of Wigeon and a Juv RB Merganser.
Just out side of Wooler a Red Legged Partridge was standing in a field, a bird I had previously only seen dead in the county.
In the Valley we checked the trees around river, the lack of leaves on the trees made viewing slightly easier. Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler and 2 Redstart were calling. We had a brief view of one of the Redstart in the top of a tree before it flew off.
A Green Woodpecker was also calling and I just managed to see one as it flew from tree to tree over the river.
Siskin and Redpoll were overhead and a family party of Long Tailed Tits were also in the trees around the river.
Before we set off on the main walk, we saw 2 Whinchat, 2 Cuckoo, another R L Partridge, another Green Woodpecker, Buzzard and a Red Grouse on the track near the river.
Birds I was surprised not to see were Meadow pipit, Skylark and Raven or any corvids at all.
As we headed back to the car after the walk a Tree pipit- Lifer, called from, a tree!
We had good views as it flew up in the air before dropping back onto the branches like a small paper ball, well that’s what their flight looks like to me.
Next we headed off to Long Nanny.
As we approached the dunes next to the Tern Hut the noise of the huge colony hit us.
We watched the Terns from the Hut and the women there told us there were around 650 Arctic terns. Amongst them on the beach were there smaller cousins, three Little Terns- Lifer.
After heading south we stopped at the Coquet Island viewpoint near Hauxley where two Puffins- Lifer, were on the water off the island. There were probably many more but they were too distant to pick out, I’m planning on going to the Farnes during the summer so I should get better views there.
We called into Druridge pools to try for the Wood Sandpiper but were instead surprised to see a Spoonbill on the Budge field.
The Spoonbill I saw at Cresswell last year was almost all white but this one had a yellow ring around its neck and yellow parts on its crest, which it showed well as it, scratched its head with its foot.
A BH Gull mobbed the Spoonbill and it flew off and circled the plantation before landing again.
A Drake Garganey swan across the water before disappearing into the tall grass. No sign of the Wood sand or any other waders so off to the mound at Newbiggin.We gave it an optimistic 15 minutes but nothing. There was also nothing at Arcot, are last stop of the day.