Monday, 31 August 2009

WH Dun

Out of the hundreds of Dunlin I must have seen this year the one I saw at West Hartford this morning has been the best.
I was unable to get to West Hartford when the action was happening yesterday. 5 Whinchat, LRP, Golden Plover and Dunlin were all present.

When I got to West Hartford this morning and saw a family out walking their dog I thought there was no chance of any Waders staying but thanks to their dog chasing the Gull flock I managed to see the Dunlin – Patch Tick, fly across the pool and land on the largest island of mud along with the LRP which has been hear for 4 days now.
I checked all of the fence posts and trees around the back of the smaller pool but no sign of any Whinchat, it’s a good job I saw that one at WH back in May.

Yesterday I had a Sparrowhawk over my garden for the first time this year.

106- Dunlin

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Evening at Cresswell

I was out yesterday evening with Steve H for an hour at Creswell Pond from the hide.
I forgot my notebook so I haven’t got the exact numbers but there were roughly 120 Dunlin on the sandbar with 2 Curlew Sandpipers and a Ruff amongst them.

Ringed Plover and Redshank were on the sand bordering the reeds. 2 Moorhen were doing good Spotted Crake impressions just inside the reeds, as was a Water Rail which zig zagged its way across the reed bed.

3 Greenshank were flying around and calling as they landed in various parts of the mud but remained unsettled. The Stoat on the edge of the reeds could have had something to do with this.

On the way back we checked Woodhorn Flash from the roadside. A second year Med Gull landed on the water before taking off again and flying back towards Newbiggin.

Friday, 28 August 2009


I got a call from Steve H this afternoon saying there was a Little Ringed Plover and 2 Green Sandpipers at West Hartford. I have had both on the patch already this year but I went for another look anyway.
There was no sign of the green Sands but an adult LRP was on a small mud island just off the near shore towards the right of the main pool.

No really, there is an LPR in this picture

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Common Patch Tick

I had another early afternoon visit to West Hartford today. At first it looked as if only the Gulls, Lapwings and Pied Wagtails were on the mud.
Two Teal were on the near shoreline before flying to the back of the pool where they joined another four.
By the time I had checked the smaller pool the Teal were flying off along with two Common Sandpipers- Patch Tick, which I heard call before finally spotting them flying off south west.

105- Common Sandpiper

Sunday, 23 August 2009

2 Hartfords 1 Patch Tick

I went to West Hartford early afternoon today to see if anything had dropped onto the pool.
As I was approaching I could see there was a lot more exposed mud than the last time I was there last week.
50+ Gulls, mostly BH and Herring were on the water and 20 Lapwing were on the mud.
I searched through the group of Lapwing but only two Pied Wagtail were amongst them.

As I was heading to the smaller pool I noticed a small wader on top of one of the metal posts sticking out of the mud, it was a Green Sandpiper- Patch Tick.
After seeing me it flew off and circled the pool before heading off high south, calling loudly as it went.

Instead of going home straightaway I went to the marshy field near East Hartford, somewhere I haven’t been since winter.
This sight is better in winter as it is less overgrown and the birds are forced out onto the ice on the small pools.
Apart from two Swallows there was nothing else in or around the field. Then I noticed something strange at the far side of the biggest pool.
All of the reeds in the centre and around the outside of the pool had been cut down and laid around the waters edge.
Also a strange half circle shaped structure has been put up. It was made from three fence posts with wire fencing wrapped around it and the cut reeds woven through the fencing.I think it was a shooting range.

104- Green Sandpiper

Friday, 21 August 2009

A good Morning

I was out with SH and MH this morning. After the variety of waders seen at Castle Island on Sunday we stopped there first.
There weren’t as many on the island this morning, instead all of the action was on the near shore where there were 3 Greenshank and 4 Common Sandpipers.

Instead of heading straight to the coast we made a worthwhile detour to Bothal pond and Longhirst Flash.
At Bothal a Juv Spotted Redshank and Green Sandpiper were in the long grass on the right bank. The Spotted Redshank made a positive run along the bank towards us and my waiting camera but at the last minute decided to fly off across the pond.
A Yellow Wagtail was flying over the horse field behind the pond.

At first it looked as if there was nothing at Longhirst Flash but just after a Green Woodpecker flew over from the woodland, two Juv type Garganey came out of the reeds at the bottom left corner of the flash.

With the Semipalmated Sandpiper on the beach at Cresswell we went to the hide instead.
A single Ruff was on the sandbar and 61 Gadwall landed on the left bank.
11 Black tailed Godwit flew from the causeway over the hide before landing again.
A Water Rail was screeching from the small patch of reeds in front of the hide and it wasn’t long before I could see it head poking out from a pile of cut reeds.
It walked on top of the cut reeds before running into deeper cover.

We decided to have a second look at the Semi P and watched it at close range on the rocks on the beach. It was amongst a group of Sanderling, Dunlin and Knot. A Whimbrel flew past calling and a pale phase Arctic Skua was mobbed by Terns over head.

Spot the Ruff

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Cresswell Semipalmated

Early evening today saw me head out to Cresswell Pond with SH, DMcK and MH in search of the Semipalmated Sandpiper.
When we arrived at the car park next to the causeway we were amazed to see only a handful of birders on the causeway.
This made us think that the bird had flown off and when we got to the causeway we found out that it had but fortunately only to the sandbar in front of the hide.
We went to the hide to get a good view, as it was hard from the causeway in the wind.
It didn’t take much scanning through the Dunlin flock until we found the Semipalmated Sandpiper- Lifer, asleep on the back of the sandbar.
It was a lot smaller in comparison to the Dunlins surrounding it and it was being blown around like a treetop as it tried to sleep on one leg.
All the birds on the sand soon flew off and the Dunlin flock landed north of the causeway again.
As we were leaving the hide a female Sparrowhawk flew from the edge of the hide, this had been the bird, which had scared the waders onto the sandbar in the first place.
When we got back to the causeway we could see the Semipalmated Sandpiper wading through the mud on the shoreline.
As it moved its feet from the mud brief glimpses of the palmation on its feet could be seen, apparently.
Also a Spotted Redshank was on the edge of the spit on the far bank.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Wader Challenge

Whilst out with Steve H and D McK this morning we decided to try and count as many species of waders as we could. The record to beat was 23 in one day.

We started the day at Castle Island doing the WEBS count. Most of the Island was showing and soon we were onto are first wader species:
3 Common Sandpipers, Redshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, 6 Dunlin, 5 Snipe, Lapwing, Oystercatcher and 3 Ruff.

The surprise bird of the day was a stunning summer plumage Grey Plover which was amongst the Lapwing, the second bird we have seen hear this year.
As well as the waders and the other resident Island species, 2 female Goosander were swimming together further up the river.

At Cresswell Pond we thought things were going to get easier as the sand bar in front of the hide was exposed but only 30+ Dunlin, Redshank and Lapwing were on it.

At Hauxley a Greenshank was running along the shore in front of the visitors centre.
The Tern hide held a good number of roosting Turnstone as well as 12 Dunlin.
6 Black Tailed Godwit were on the water but like Monday they flew off after a couple of minutes.
From the Ponteland hide a Greenshank and a group of Dunlin were almost within touching distance.
3 Pied Wagtail and a Grey Wagtail were in the channel to the left of the hide with two Common Sandpipers.

We then went to the Blyth Estuary were we added Whimbrel, Bar Tailed Godwit and Ringed Plover to the wader list as well as a good count of 134 Curlew.
A female Red Breasted Merganser was asleep amongst the Curlew.

With no sign of Curlew Sandpiper or Little Stint at Cresswell or Hauxley we knew that today was not the day for the record to be broken, but it was still fun trying.

Are last stop of the day was at Seaton Sluice. We scanned the rocks to the left of the sea-watching hide and soon found 12 Roseate Terns – Lifer.
At first I couldn’t make out the differences between the Roseate and Arctic but this was mainly because there was a lot more red showing on the bill than I imagined.
I then noticed its other key feature such as its distinctive call, shorter Orangey-Red legs, more white body and longer tail.
5 Knot and a Kittiwake were amongst the Roseates and Sandwich Terns. Young Terns of both types were also on the rocks.
A Gannet was flying around and there were 20+ Common Scoter on the Sea.

At the end of the day the Wader table looked like this:
Common Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
Grey Plover
Black tailed Godwit
Bar Tailed Godwit
Ringed Plover

Friday, 14 August 2009

Heard but not seen

On Wednesday evening I went with Steve H to Bellasis Bridge to listen for Quail.
We stopped just before a crossroad about a mile north of the bridge, which was surrounded by Wheat fields.
It only took us five minutes before the first and only bird of the evening sang.
It stopped and we waited fifteen minutes more but it didn’t sing again.

We checked Arcot Pond on the way home but there wasn’t much apart from a lone Canada Goose and a noisy Common Tern.
Yesterday I was at the fire station end of the Horton Burn looking for the Kingfisher, which was seen at the weekend. I waited half an hour and walked up and down the burn but there was no sign.
I went to Arcot Pond last night and again it was quiet. Two Roe Deer were wading through the reeds near the southwest corner and four Common Terns were on the dead wood in the middle of the pond.

Monday, 10 August 2009

1 of 2

After seeing that waders were starting to appear on the coast over the weekend, I had the chance to have a look this morning.
We stopped at Hauxley first where I went to the Tern hide, I think? A band of mud was exposed on the island in front of the hide.
7 Dunlin, some still with black patches, were running along the mud. I noticed a Dunlin sized wader to the left of the 7, which had a more orange head. I then noticed the white v shape on its back, it was a Little Stint.
A Juv Arctic Tern was hiding amongst a group of BH Gulls and 3 Snipe were on the bank in front of the hide.
Wading through the water in front of the mud was a Redshank and two Black Tailed Godwit, which flew off and landed again a few times.
As well as the resident Canada and greylag Geese 27 scruffy Mallard and a few Tufted Duck were on the water, most still looked as if they were in the eclipse stage.

After seeing the report that a Curlew Sandpiper was at Cresswell Pond still this morning, that was the next stop.
The causeway at Cresswell has changed since the last time I was there and the first thing I saw was the pointless square of concrete and wood opposite the car park.
Also I can’t remember there being a fence along one side of the causeway. I’m glad it was there today as the cows, which usually stay further up the field, were very inquisitive today; one was trying to put its head through the fence.
There was no sign of the Curlew sand or the Dunlin flock it was amongst.
The little Egret was on the far bank along with a Whimbrel.
As we were driving off I noticed a wader in the channel, which joins onto the beach opposite the pond. It turned out to be a Common Sandpiper.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

LEO at Last

Last night I went with Steve H to an undisclosed site to look for Long Eared Owls. As soon as we started scanning a field for the side of the road we could hear a young LEO calling.
We waited for around fifteen minutes for it to appear but it just kept calling for the same area.
It was getting dark quickly so we went closer to the area where the bird was calling and soon an adult Long Eared Owl- Lifer, appeared.
It was still light enough to see it properly as it flew around us before going overhead a few times.
As it went past I could see its ear tufts, which looked a lot darker in comparison to the rest of the bird.
The young bird was still calling and eventually came into view on the edge of a tree. It was a well-developed bird, which I am sure was capable of flying.
We decided to leave the birds in peace and headed off. As we did so another adult LEO flew across the path in front of us and landed in a tree.
In total we think there were four different birds calling at one point but we only saw the three.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

New Garden Tick

I’ve had quite a bit of activity around my garden over the last few days. Last week I noticed four young Blackbirds on the lawn and they have been around on and off since.
Yesterday I found a leg, handful of light brown feathers and a lot of blood on the patio.
A cat’s footprint was in the centre of the blood and bloody footprints went towards the fence.
The feathers look as if they are from one of the young Blackbirds, every year I find at least one (or part), of a young bird usually taken by a cat.
In the afternoon I noticed one of the two young Magpies, which have also been around for a week or so, on the fence with a young Blackbird in its beak.
When I went up to the window to get a photos it flew off and dropped the blackbird on the grass.
Whilst examined the corpse I found that it had no head and it had both its legs, meaning that two of the young had now been killed.
The two young magpies have been emptying the feeders everyday, but obviously this wasn’t enough.

Today I was watching a pair of Collard Doves on the feeders when I heard an unfamiliar garden sound.
I checked the Plum tree (bird magnet), and saw three young Willow Warblers- garden tick, on the front branches. They were just passing through and after a few minutes were in the willow trees around the pond in the school field.
As they went through the trees they flushed two Long Tailed Tits, the first in the garden since winter.
A young Dunnock has been following an adult around for three days now and is being regularly fed.

Sunday, 2 August 2009


I went to Kielder yesterday with Steve H and D McK. Now that the Osprey chicks have fledged we planned to try different vantage points around Kielder.

On the way we stopped at Ridley Stokoe to look for Mandarins. The river was flowing a lot faster than usual so there wasn’t anything on the water.

We stopped at the raptor viewpoint at Bakethin. We only stayed ten minutes as the trees were blocking most of the view and we were being attacked by insects.
Five Crossbill were around the viewpoint including a male, which showed well in a tree opposite the viewpoint.

Are next stop was the viaduct at Bakethin Reservoir. As well as the Ospreys we were still keeping an eye out for Mandarins but only found Tufted and Mallard.
9 Cormorants were flying around before landing on the water and a Little Grebe was diving.
Willow Warbler and Goldcrest were calling from the trees around the viaduct, as was a Yaffling Green Woodpecker.

We then tried to park at the area where other birders had said to park, but in the last week the car park has been closed for the summer.
Instead we parked at Otterstone Viewpoint car park at Bull Crag, somewhere none of us had been.
After following the access track out of the car park we stopped on the side of a sloping meadow next to some stone benches.
From here a good view of the open water and forest on its banks is given, the perfect place to see an Osprey and other Raptors.

A slight breeze was starting to pick up and the first Buzzards of the day began appearing over the treetops.
I took my eye off the ball for a second and Steve had an Osprey just dropping out of sight behind a clearing in the trees.
Whilst waiting for it to reappear 3 Crossbill and 2 Siskins flew overhead along with a very vocal Lesser Redpoll - Lifer.
A Raven flew east along the treetops and three Buzzards were dropping in and out of view. Not long after this a distant Raptor appeared in the same area. As it turned in the air I could see its body was all white and it hand slightly rounded wings pointing to it being an Osprey.It stayed in the air for a few minutes before disappearing again.