Friday, 31 December 2010

2010

Once again what a year! I didn’t think anything could top last years birding but 2010 has done just that.
There are too many highlights for me to list but day trips to Teesside, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire for the Oriental Pratincole have been some of the best highlights.
Also helping out Holywell Birder both in Cumbria and with the scouts at Holywell were good days.

But most of all I have enjoyed birding on the patch. Best birds seen on the patch this year have been Temminck’s Stint, Hobby, Quail and Little Stint.
Some birders never see three Quail during their lifetime but I have been lucky enough to see three on my patch this year, it doesn’t get better than that.

I am pleased to say that I have finished on my highest ever total on the patch this year of 119, if only I had got that Willow Tit at Arcot during the week I would be on 120, but going for 120 is a good aim to have.

Favourite bird seen in 2010: A tie between Rough Legged Buzzard and Squacco Heron.

Thank you to everybody who had helped me throughout this year and read the blog, birding is the only thing that keeps me sane at times.

Happy new year!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas Creeper

I had a walk to West Hartford this morning to clear my head, I didn't see much on the way there or at WH. All the bushes and trees were birdless and both pools at Hartford were still frozen.

I was about to go when I could hear a high pitched call coming from the small row of trees between the metal fence and the pools. It sounded like a Goldcrest, then Robin and then Wren. I waited about 5 minutes as I couldn't make my mind up on the call.
Eventually I saw some movement on the underside of the branches, bins lifted, it was a Treecreeper-a first for West Hartford!
Not only is it a new bird for WH it is also my 100th species seen at WH and the first new species I have found, what a christmas present.

Patch Birding doesn't get much better.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Things to do when your bored in Blyth

Throw fireworks into a reedbed! Whilst helping LMcD do his WEBS count at Blyth yesterday we checked Baites Filtration Pools. 6 Teal and 4 Gadwall flew from the largest area of water at the pools when some idiots started throwing fireworks in the reeds. Has nobody told them water and fire dont mix.

The river Blyth was only frozen around the edges so quite a gathering of wildfowl were on the water. 80+ Teal and 60+ Mallard were along the shoreline with groups of Redshank, Curlew and Dunlin.
3 RB Mergansers, 3 Eider and 20 Goldeneye were diving around a group of Tufted Duck which held a drake Pochard.
A Fox was bounding through the snow covered fields on the far side of the river and as we left to check the Quayside a Jack Snip flew down river before turning back and landing on the far shore. We think it had been resting on the near shore and flew off as we passed.

In the car park at the Quayside a Turnstone feeding amongst a group of Feral Pigeon was a strange site. On the river 6 Coot (a Blyth Mega apparently) were feeding amongst the gulls.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Goldfinch Drama

Been filling up the feeders in the garden and watching closely again over the last few days. A male Brambling visited the sunflower seed feeder on the fence yesterday morning.
Whilst playing football on Bluestar training pitch this morning a Waxwing was trilling from the trees on the wasteland behind Northburn community centre.
On my way back a male Reed Bunting was amongst the House Sparrow flock in the hedgerow leading down to the road.

Whilst watching the feeders at lunchtime, a female Bullfinch joined the now resident Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Coal and Blue Tits.
As I was leaving the room I heard a thump against the window, which is never a good sign. When I checked I found a Goldfinch on its back with its wings flapping franticly.

I went straight outside to check it and by the time I had got there it had stopped moving. I picked it up and flipped it over on my hand and suddenly opened its eyes and stretched its neck up to the sky.
I thought it might have damaged its neck but seemed alright after a few scratches with its feet. I checked the Goldfinches wings, which seemed ok and after 5 minutes sitting in my hand it hopped onto the patio. I stayed with it for a while longer before it flew off into the trees in the school field.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Garden does it again

After tuesdays success with the Bramblings in my garden, today I was doing work in front of the window on the off chance they reappeared.
It got to 3:00 and nothing significant had visited the garden. Then I noticed 4 sparrow sized birds land in the lone silver birch bodering the neighbours garden.

Once I got my bins on them I nearly fell off my seat, 4 Lesser Redpoll - Patch and Garden Tick, were stripping the buds from the tree.
They stayed for around 10 minutes before something spooked them and they flew off into the school field calling as they went.
15 Minutes later 6 appeared in my neighbours garden, 3 of them landed on their patio and fed on the spilt seed along with a few Chaffinch.
5 of the Redpoll flew off but one stayed in our garden for a further 20 minutes. I checked them as they were doing some acrobatics in the trees but they all seemed to be Lessers. One bird was Whiter than the others and had more noticable White wing bars but was roughly the same size as the others.

119 - Lesser Redpoll

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

After all that...

After the race to get to SH's garden for my first Cramlington Brambling on Sunday, today 4 turn up in my garden. Off for christmas now and whilst having my lunch looking out the window a flock of finches landed in the tree tops along the fence.
Bins found, I got onto the flock and amongst the Chaffinch and Greenfinch were 2 male and 2 female Brambling, a long overdue garden tick.

The flock soon disappeared but the Brambling stayed for a while before calling and flying off into the school field.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Garden Tick, not exactly

I went out foar couple of hours with SH this morning. First we went to Newbiggin for a brief sea watch. The sea looked good but was very quiet only a couple of Divers and Eiders were seen.

Instead of going north we headed back to Cramlington and checked East Cramlington Nature reserve. Despite walking around most of the reserve it was quiet. A few Siskin and LT Tits were calling from the plantations but no much else.

I have never seen Brambling in Cramlington before so next we checked the bushes and trees around the hall but nothing.

Steve dropped me off at West Hartford which has now almost fully thawed. A Redshank was the only bird on the pools and a couple of Siskin and a Mistle Thrush were in the entrance plantation.

As I was leaving I got a call from Steve saying that he had a Brambling in his garden. I managed to get a lift over to his house and after waiting for a while the Brambling- Patch Tick, reappeared amongst a group of Chaffinch and Greenfinch.

118 - Brambling

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Blagdon

When LMcD asked me if I wanted to help with do a couple of tetrads around the Blagdon area I was very keen to go as despite the public footpaths I still hadn’t been before.

We started the first square at the Milkhope centre before walking along the road for a mile or so to the centre of the Blagdon estate.
All sounds were drowned out by passing lorries from the open cast as we walked along the roadside so once we entered the estate it was much easier to hear and see the birds.

Almost the first bird of the estate square was a Juv Peregrine, which flew over one of the fields opposite the entrance cottages before diving over a group of crows, which were standing in the snow covered field. As the Peregrine disappeared over the woodland to the west, 3 Buzzards appeared and began soaring.

We had just passed a farm in the centre of the estate when we could hear a large flock of birds calling from a hedgerow leading down to the woodland.
Under the hedgerow was a large amount of seed which by now had attracted over 40 Chaffinch, 20+ Yellowhammer, a few Reed Bunting and 30+ Tree and House Sparrows.

I was impressed by the amount of well-stocked feeders on nearly every house and farm on the estate. We watched one set of feeders at the central farm cottages and in 5 minutes 12 Long Tailed Tit, 10 Tree Sparrow, Chaffinches and a GS Woodpecker came to the feeders.

Access to the pond is ''strictly prohibited'' so instead we watched from a distance. The pond was 90% frozen but on the small amount of open water were 4 Mute Swan, 3 Greylag Geese, Teal and Mallard.

Once in the centre of the west plantation we found two feeders full with seed. We watched the feeders and surrounding trees for a while and saw Wren, Great, Blue and Coal Tit as well as Siskin and 2 Lesser Redpoll come to feed. The 2 Redpoll then flew into a bare tree next to us where they fed on the few buds left on the branches.

A few Mistle and Song Thrushes were amongst the flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing, which seemed to occupy every hedgerow on the estate. 7 GS Woodpeckers were recorded in total but surprising absentees were Starling and Dunnock.

Once the two hours were up and we had walked in a 3 mile circle we were pleased with what we had found and were more pleased that so many birds had survived round one of winter.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Three Targets

After reading Stewarts latest post on http://boulmerbirder.blogspot.com/, it made me think about my county list and other birding aims.

Last year I decided that I had three targets I wanted to achieve during my lifetime:

1. Find a first for Northumberland - A lot harder than I first thought when I saw what has already been found.

2. See 350+ in Northumberland- could be achieved( I'm currently on 233) but it all depends on me staying in the county, which is unlikely when I only 7% of jobs in the area I am going into are in the north east.

3. See 120+ at West Hartford- Currently I'm on 99 and this seems like the most achievable but again it depends on me staying in the area and WH not being built over.


Friday was the only day I managed to get out last week. I went for a walk to WH but went back when I sank up to my knees in snow. Highlights of the walk were 20+ Siskin which flew over the roundabout in front of WH and a Woodcock which was circling the fire station.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Using my ears

On my way to crammy train station yesterday morning I could hear plenty of birds but didn't see many. I am always trying to improve my bird call ID so yesterdays journey acted as a test of calls I already know.
First was a GS Woodpecker and a flock of Siskin which flew over the woodland on Crowhall lane and a mixed flock of Fieldfare, Redwing and Song Thrush were in the bushes surrounding the horse fields at Nelson.

Just before passing the post office I heard the unmistakable trilling of a single Waxwing, which was in the trees in the middle of the allotments.
Whilst waiting for the trian which was delayed by 10 minutes, a GS Woodpecker worked its way along the trees lining the platform.
More Siskin this time in groups of 1-2 flew over and whilst listening to the mixed tit flock near the platform I could hear a pair of Bullfinch.

Not hard calls to ID I know but this time a few years ago I wouldn't have been able to ID any of them, well maybe the Woodpecker.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

S-No-W Bunting

I was suprised by the amount of snowfall when I got home from uni the other day, there was only a light covering in Middlesbrough.
On my way back from Crammy train station it began to snow and as I passed the bus stop at the top of my street a Woodcock flew low overhead.

On friday morning I sorted out the feeders in the garden and put out some more seed, nuts and fruit. The birds around the estate are the most picky I have ever known and on friday snubbed the food on offer.
I got a message on friday from JM saying that a Snow Bunting had been at the east end of West Hartford. With only 20 minutes of light left I went over with LMcD to investigate.

11 Siskin along with a few Goldfinch were stripping the buds from the only non snow covered tree at the far west end of the entrance plantation.
Althougt the pools were frozen, a few Teal, Lapwing and Snipe were at the back of the bigger pool.
A group of 8 Meadow Pipit were along the edges of the smaller pool as was a male Stonechat which at one point in Treecreeper style, crept up the side of a dead tree trunk before dropping down onto the ice, behaviour I have never seen from a Stonechat before.

With no sign of the Snow Bunting, which would be hard enough to find when the ground is clear never mind in the snow, we headed back.
In the near darkness groups of Redwing, Fieldare and Skylark flew over, no sign of any owls.

Since friday the garden birds have become less picky and today the feeders were alive with activity. House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Coal Tit and a record 12 Blue Tit have been in the bushes behind the feeders for most of the day.
Other more unusual garden visitors today were a Jackdaw and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
I have been hearing this GS Woodpecker every sunday morning for the last 5 weeks and last weekend was the first time I managed to see it.
After doing some acrobatics on the neighbours fence it flew onto the feeders and chased of the Starling which mobbed it.
30 Pink Footed Geese went south yesterday and 60+ seemed to land over WH yesterday afternoon.
Also I got a call from DMcK this morning telling me that he was watching a Peregrine over Valley Park. Its a good job I have already seen Peregrine on the patch this year, I didn't fancy going to the other side of town in this weather.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

One will do

Out for WEBS with SH and DMcK this morning. Water level was very high at Castle Island so most of the activity was on the water.
When we first arrived the light was poor and there was a slight mist over the river. Amongst the murk the first bird we saw was a female Scaup. A group of 8 Goldeneye and 8 Little Grebe were the other highlights.

We went to Morpeth for another look at the Squacco Heron afer WEBS. The Heron hadn't been seen all morning and we were starting to give up hope until a group of birders on the bridge waved us over.
The Squacco had flown over the town centre being chased by gulls before landing on the bankside. The sun was now at its brightest and made the Heron look even better than it did yesterday.

Whilst watching the Heron a Kingfisher flew up stream and a Willow Tit called from the bushes next to the allotments before flying accross the river.

Next we went up to Alnwick for the Great White Egret. We walked along the riverside up to the wier but there was no sign. 20+ Tufted Duck were swimming upstream with a few Goldeneye. Also a Dipper was heard but not seen near the wier.

On the way back we called into Hulne Park. No Hawfinch but good views of Treecreeper and Nuthatch in the trees near the entrance.
As we were leaving 6 Waxwings landed in the trees further down the road from the entrance before flying back towards the town centre.

I got a message from JM on the way back saying that 20 Waxwings were in Sainsbury's car park but they were gone by the time we drove past.
As we passed the roadside just past the turnoff for Nelson I at last saw a single Waxwing- Patch Tick, in the tree tops.

117- Waxwing

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Calmed Down

After having a day to calm down I had the chance to go back to Morpeth this morning.
We didn't have long to spend so it was a good job the Squacco Heron - Lifer, was standing on the shingle bank next to the blue bridge when we got there.

During the 20 minutes we watched it, the Squacco crept along the side of the grassy islands in the river, fished and scratched itself before flying further down the river twice.

Like many birds I have see I was suprised by the small size of the Heron, roughly the same size as the nearby Mallards.
Its easy to see why it has been missed as it is so well camoflagued amongst the riverside vegetation.

After elegantly flying down the river the Squacco would then land on the bank side and clumsily run along the shoreline.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Bad day

Last night I had it all worked out. I was going to go get the train straight from Middlesbrough to Morpeth, get off and see the Squacco Heron. The reality was much different.

After the lecture this morning went past 11 for the first time this year, I had 5 minutes to run to the train station.
After just making it onto the train as it was pulling away I then nearly got kicked off after an argument with the driver, lets just say I was close to doing a Joey Barton.

Half way through the journey I got a text from the Liver Birder saying that the Waxwings he was watching had now flown over my house!
I don’t know what more I can do to get them in the garden or to see them on the patch this year.
If I had got off the train at Cramlington I might have seen them but instead I got off at Morpeth.
After getting directions from SH and Birding Sometimes I finally found the Blue bridge.
Despite searching up and down the river I and a few other birders couldn’t find the Heron which hadn’t been seen since this morning.
Whilst searching a group of local pissheads started throwing things at me from the bushes next to the allotments. Things just get better.

So in what has been an all round crap week for me for a number of different reasons, I now have a book report to look forward to and now doubt more Waxwings will be seen and the Heron will return. Will I see them, probably not.
At least the weather was kind to me today.

Maybe I should take up a relaxing student hobby such as rioting.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Hide and seek

Since I got back on thursday afternoon I have been playing a game of hide and seek with the Waxwings which are all over Cramlington.
First I checked Sainsbury's car park then Aldi car park and the berry bushes around the youth centre and finally Blagon beer garden and the bushes around the old village square. no sign.

Friday morning I went to the reported sights on Birdguides but again no sign despite arriving only half an hour later.

Saturday morning I was out with some friends and spent about an hour driving around the estate but again nothing.

Sunday morning went to the area JM (Birding Sometimes) has been seeing them and guess what...nothing.

I put out three different types of apples in the seed tray on friday but this has only attracted Starlings.
Waxwings have been top of my garden wishlist for years now and with the apples doing nothing and Blackbirds picking off the few berries in the garden it's not looking good again.

I remember the morning two years ago when I had three seperate groups in the space of 45 minutes when walking to school.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Interesting Behaviour

I was waiting to cross Newport Road in Middlesbrough this morning when I spotted a Sparrowhawk perched on the edge of a building, a small flock of Feral Pigeons were feeding on the pavement below the building.

The backlog of traffic had passed so I crossed the road just in time to see the Sparrowhawk fly form the building and chase the pigeons. The pigeons obviously had no idea it was on the building above so the Sparrowhawk had the advantage of a suprise attack from above, but instead it dived over the pigeons forcing them into the air before coming back around and chasing the flock accross the road in front of oncoming buses and cars.
All the pigeons managed to escape (just), and the Sparrowhawk disappeared over the roof tops still giving chase.

What interests me is that I noticed the Sparrowhawk about five minutes before it attacked the flock so it knew the pigeons were there. It had plenty of chances to use the element of suprise but instead risked its own life to force the flock in front of live traffic.
Was this just a coinsidence or had the Sparrowhwak been watching the traffic, noticed it had stopped and waited until it moved again before trying to use the traffic as a way of killing its prey?

Has anybody seen hunting methods like this before from any bird of prey or was this just coinsidental?
I have heard of Sparrowhawks forcing birds into windows before and was wondering if this was an advance on that technique which comes from the bird living in the city centre.
The same sort of thing as Peregrines using lights at night to hunt in city centres

Also I got a text from DMcK yesterday saying that he had some Waxwings on the roundabout near his house. This morning I see somebody has seen 60 in Sainbury's car park. I was walking past there last week and spotted a few good beery trees.
I hope they stick around until Thursday at least, I haven't seen any on the patch this year.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Rough Buzz

I haven’t been able to get out much at weekends lately due to uni work, but after managing to get ahead I went out yesterday morning with SH, DMcK and MH. We went to Sleddale on the Cleveland/Yorkshire border to see the Rough-Legged Buzzards that have been around for a few weeks.
When we arrived next to the chevrons only one other car was parked there, the Buzzards are proving very popular as by the time we left around 20 cars were parked on the roadside.
We could distantly see a Rough-Legged Buzzard – Lifer, straight away as well as a Great Grey Shrike, which was on top of a pine tree in the valley to the left.
As we watched the Buzzard hovering like a Kestrel over the heather it began to get closer. Another Rough-Legged now appeared and the pair got even closer before landing on a pile of boulders about 150m away from the roadside.

The Great Grey Shrike hunted from various different rocks, fence posts and trees during the time we were there. The Buzzards often flew from the boulders onto the heather before taking to the sky again.
We thought the views couldn’t get any better but as the Buzzards hovered they got closer, so close at one point that I could see all the details of its wings, tail and head through the scope. The paler of the two was particularly good to look at, I don’t think I have ever seen a Common Buzzard as well as we saw the Rough-Legged yesterday, an experience I will never forget.

Also I have never seen as many Red Grouse as yesterday, every time we scanned the heather groups of Grouse could be seen flying across, they even flew low over our heads at one point before one crash landed into a fence.
A Peregrine was mobbing the Buzzards for a while before it was itself mobbed by a Sparrowhawk. A Common Buzzard was the only other raptor seen as Corvids chased it off.
It's amazing that with miles of heather and moorland to choose from the Buzzard decide to hunt so close to the roadside.

On the way back we took a detour to Far Pastures NR in search of Red Kites. Only a single bird showed over the treetops with a Common Buzzard.
An unexpected bonus for the day was in the car park at Far Pastures were we watched the ringing group ring the birds they had just taken from the nets.
A male Bullfinch was amongst the highlights as were 4 Treecreepers and a Goldcrest. I was aloud to release two of the Treecreepers, which didn’t stay in the hand for very long.
Also we got close views of a singing Willow Tit in the car park.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Trill

I have once again started a train list in order to pass the time on the journey from home to Middlesbrough.
Not many species added today, I will post the new list once I update it. The highlight of this mornings journey was the stunning sunrise over the sea between Sunderland and Seaham.

As I left the train station and entered Linthorpe Road I could hear the trilling of Waxwings overhead.
I just got a glimpse of at least four as they flew NE, I think there were probably more but I can't be sure.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Leaving it late...again

Over the last two years I have had a good success rate with seeing rare birds on Teesside, but I usually end up leaving it late to see them. I saw the Glaucous Winged Gull a week into its stay, the Whiskered Tern four weeks after it had first been seen and now the Woodchat Shrike at Hartlepool Headland three weeks since it was found.

I got an early lift down to Teesside yesterday so called into Hartlepool on the way. After finding Croft Garden/Park, I was greeted by two birders who were searching the bushes at the north end of the Garden. The Shrike had been seen five minutes earlier in a tree in the NW corner but had since disappeared.
The wind had picked up and the Shrike was apparently seen earlier on the ground and lower bushes when it was windy so I checked there first. All I found were a couple of Blackbirds but whilst checking its other favoured spot, the Woodchat Shrike – Lifer, was found back in the same tree in the NW corner.
Much last like my last two lifers I got a minute or so long close up view of the Shrike before it hopped onto the ground and then back into the lower bushes and didn’t return.

On my way back to the car I found a Goldcrest sheltering in a plant pot in someone’s front garden.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Red and Blue finish

Back out today with SH, DMcK and Ifo to do the WEBS count at Castle Island. When we drove past CI yesterday the river had been drained making for a promising count. When we got there today the water level was back to normal so instead made for a quick and uneventful count.

Next we went down to St.Mary’s wetland as the Red Flanked Bluetail – Lifer, had been seen again. We were at the back of the queue of birders over the second stile at the wetland when we arrived and I could just see the area of fence and post where it had been seen half an hour earlier. Whilst waiting for it to reappear Ifo refound it on the fence to the left where it was being chased by a pair of Robins.
The RFB was only out in the open for a minute or so but I managed to get very good views as it landed on the fence post and then a bush where it turned its back so I could see the pale blue in its tail.

Next we went back to Tynemouth so that Dee could see the Dusky Warbler (a lifer for him as well).
Again the Dusky showed much like it had done yesterday, briefly across the bushes at the base of the pier.
There was no sign of the Great Grey Shrike around Prior’s Park but Ifo did find a Red Breasted Flycatcher in a tree backing onto some gardens. By the time we got to the tree it had gone but a Brambling was showing well.
I now see that a Shorelark was also at Tynemouth this afternoon, I think I'll see a few Shorelarks before my next Red Flanked Bluetail, I hope.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Dusky Start

I was back at Teesside University this week so was glad to get out and do some birding with SH this morning.
Tynemouth was our first stop and we had just gotten out of the car when a Great Grey Shrike hovered above us before disappearing around the monument, a good start.
It soon got better when the Dusky Warbler – Lifer, showed at the base of the pier.
The Dusky worked its way across the bushes before landing in the hedgerow at ground level.
It was off to Newbiggin next as news of a Red Flanked Bluetail came through.
Despite spending the best part of three hours at Newbiggin up and down the Ash Bank lagoon side we ended up missing the bird.
During our time at Newbiggin large numbers of Siskin, Robin, Goldcrest, Brambling, Redwing and Skylark were around the Ash Bank and flying over the golf course.

Also I had a Stonechat- Patch Tick, along with a Whinchat in the SE corner field at Arcot last Sunday, which puts me on 116 on the patch.

116 – Stonechat

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Back again

After the success I had three weeks ago with Holywell Birder I went back to check for migrants at Seaton Sluice this afternoon.
There were 8+ Robins in the harbour alone along with Dunnock, Blackbird and Meadow Pipit, much like yesterday.
A Redstart was flicking around the bushes next to the sluice bridge as I crossed onto Rocky Island. I searches all the same areas I had searched three weeks ago but instead of Warblers and a Wryneck all I could find were more Robins and Wrens.
4 Stonechat were tacking from the tops of the bushes leading down to the harbour and a Grey Wagtail flew down the sluice and onto the beach.
After thrashing through half a mile of dunes on the way back to the car all I flushed was a single Wheatear.

More Robins, Wrens, Dunnock and Blackbirds have appeared in my garden over night along with a couple of Redwing.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Woodhorn Warbler

With some promising weather conditions I was feeling optimistic when I headed to Newbiggin with SH this morning. We stopped at Woodhorn Church yard first and thoroughly checked the hedgerow between the church yard and the train track.

Within a few minutes 20+ Song Thrush worked their way along the hedgerow along with high numbers of Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin, Goldcrest and a single Redwing. A few warblers were tacking and calling from the deepest cover and whilst listening Steve picked up the call and song of a bird I have been meaning to catch up with for a while, a Yellow Browed Warbler- Lifer. It showed well on and off climbing up the bare area of the hedgerow picking off berries as it went. Once the YB Warbler had got to the top of the hedge it flew into the trees nearer the train tracks before flying towards the church yard.

The Mound was fairly quiet with a Spotted Flycatcher being the only bird of note. After the Mound we gave the Golf course a thrash. The bushes around the side of the Ash Lagoon held only a Whitethroat and a Garden Warbler and we could only find a Goldcrest and a Redstart which were both hiding in the bushes alongside the small stream running through the course.

When we started looking around the bushes at Cambois the drizzle had stopped and the birds had started to get quieter, but we did manage to find a couple more Goldcrest, Redwing and a Spotted Flycatcher.

On the way home we checked West Hartford where 3 Dunlin- Patch Tick, were amongst the Lapwing and Gulls. Also a Goldcrest was in the hedgerow behind the substation plantation.

115 - Dunlin

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Sharp Tailed Sand

After arranging to go down to Teesside with JM (Birding Sometimes) last night, provided that the Sharp Tailed Sandpiper was still there, we were both pleased when positive news came through this morning.
After getting to Greatham Creek in good time by avoiding the worst of the traffic, we were glad that we hadn’t seen the news that the STS had flown from the tidal pool until we had seen a line of birders scanning the mud bank on the other side of the bridge.
They had refound it and after getting to a better vantage point we could see the Sharp Tailed Sandpiper – Lifer, along side a Dunlin for comparison.
During our time watching this Pec Sand looking wader, it wandered around the bank probing the mud and occasionally wandering off to the waters edge where at one point it was in a line with a Curlew, Dunlin and a Redshank.
A much better looking wader than I was expecting even if the views were quite distant.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Record Beaten!

Out for the WEBS Count with SH and DMcK this morning at Castle Island. Despite the persisting rain the count was a good one with large number of Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 late Common Sandpiper, 21 Dunlin and a record count of 88 Snipe.

Next we walked from the car park at Newbiggin to Beacon Point and back across the Golf Course. A few Med Gulls were amongst the BH Gulls on the beach and 2 Bar-Tailed Godwits were on the Golf Course.
We failed to find any Lapland Buntings at Beacon Point or any migrants on our search of the Golf Course.

After checking a quiet West Hartford we got a message from GB on our way to Arcot that he was watching a Black- Tailed Godwit- Patch Tick. When we arrived it was still at the back of the pond behind the island.

I finished on 113 on the patch last year and have now beaten that record with Redpoll and Willow Tit still possibilities.

114 – Black-Tailed Godwit

Monday, 13 September 2010

Blog Link

I had completely forgotten about this link SH gave me a while ago; http://naturalandalus.blogspot.com/
Some good Honey Buzzard pictures are on there now. I think it will be a good read during the dark winter months and it might give some hope and prove that some good birds are just around the corner as spring approaches.

Friday, 10 September 2010

West Hartford does it again

Whilst out on Newbiggin golf course with SH this morning, we were talking about the lack of Quail seen during September migration. Its funny how things work out.
Despite last nights rain we only managed to find a few Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat and Garden Warbler in the scrub surrounding the golf course.

At Cresswell the water level was so high all the waders (5 Ruff and a Dunlin), were wandering around the grass north of the causeway.

With Low Newton currently having the best waders scrapes in the county at the moment, we decided to go, in my opinion, the second best wader area in the county, West Hartford.
Our decision paid off as when the mixed flock of Lapwing and Gulls flew off 2 smaller waders were seen amongst them. We just presumed they were Dunlin but after checking them closer once they had landed back on the main pool, we saw that they were Little Stint- Patch Tick!
A Crammy mega, which was made even better when another two moved out of the grass and joined them. As if 4 Little Stints weren’t good enough, a Quail (spooky) flew out of the grass next to us whilst calling.
We saw it again in flight a few times in the field next to the fire station.
Patch Birding really doesn’t get any better than this.

113 - Little Stint

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Migrants!

After seeing that migrants were appearing up and down the country, apart from Northumberland this morning, me and Cain (Holywell Birder), went out mid afternoon to find some ourselves.
We started at Blyth Links Cemetery, which was quiet. In the stubble field next to the cemetery was a covey of 11 Grey Partridge, (7 Juv, 4 Adult), which ran across the field once they had seen us.
Next we stopped at Seaton Sluice, which was relatively sheltered from the wind. After parking we walked under the main bridge were the first migrants that greeted us were a Whitethroat and a male Blackcap in a small patch of bushes.
Next we scanned the bushes on the other side of the harbour were a stunning male Redstart was perched on the top. It soon moved from its perch and flew over the sluice and our head and landed in the bushes behind us before flying back.

Most of the activity seemed to be in the bushes on the sluice side of Rocky Island so that’s were we headed.
On the more exposed Rocky Island the first birds we found were a Linnet and Wheatear followed by a Warbler sp. that dived for cover in the centre of a nettle patch.
We waited for it to show itself again and over a half an hour period it showed on and off in different nettle patches and bushes. Cain managed to get some record shots (expect them to be posted on his blog in the next 3-6 months :).
The warbler preferred to keep low down in the vegetation but was very flighty.
It could just turn out to be a Willow Warbler but it just didn’t look like one.
It seemed to have a longer bill, was a darker plain brown on its back, have an olive tinge to its under parts, pale supercilium and a dark edge to its primaries.

Our final view of it was as it flew into the thicker cover next to the house. Whilst waiting for it to come out other birds were starting to appear as they came in off the sea.
These included a Kingfisher, which flew around the harbour and back out to sea, 2 Whinchat and 3 Redstart.
Also 15 Golden Plover, 5 Sanderling and other wader sp. flew over.
The best bird of the day though was a Wryneck- Lifer, which flew out of the bushes the warbler had disappeared into and into the harbour.
After searching for it again we had a few brief views as it flew across the harbour into the bushes on the other side before flying off into the dunes.

I’m glad I spent the afternoon looking for birds myself rather than waiting for news to come out on Birdguides and going after second hand birds.
Also we saw the Curlew Sandpiper on Beehive Flash on the way back.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Last night and this morning

I spent the last hour of light at West Hartford last night. A Greenshank and Green Sandpiper where the only birds on the pools, I have checked WH a few times during the week but it has been quiet.
I was sitting on the ground scanning the edges of the main pool when a Peregrine- Patch Tick, flew over the fire station and headed west. As it went 1000+ Gulls lifted from the factory roof tops in panic and mobbed it. I scanned the sky for a while after but it did not return.
In the darkness I could hear Grey Partridge calling to each other from the back fields and a Woodcock flew over the entrance plantation.

This morning I went to the Blyth Estuary with SH which we had planned to do before the Greenish Warbler had been seen on Tuesday.
The Estuary was quiet so we checked Baites Filtration Pools instead. A GS Woodpecker was calling from the trees near the pools before it flew over the River.

We could hear a Water Rail screeching from the middle of the reed bed as we approached but it never showed itself.
A late Sedge Warbler was doing it best to make us think it was an Aquatic Warbler when it showed on and off in the reeds. Whilst waiting for it to show a Reed Warbler climbed up and down a reed stem.

Before heading up to Cresswell we stopped at Cambois and checked the scrubland around the old train tracks. No rare migrants were found but there were 2 Blackcap, 4 Whitethroat and a Willow Tit, which called.
The area is so dense there probably is something rare lurking in there.

At Cresswell the tide was rising so the sand bar only held a few waders. Amongst the group of Canada Geese was a single Pink Footed and 3 Pintail were also on the pond.
At one point all the birds on the pond lifted as a Peregrine swooped down. It chased the Lapwing flock in front of the hide but didn’t catch anything and flew off.
During the confusion of everything moving around 5 Goosander landed on the pond and 2 Curlew Sandpiper joined the waders on the sand bar.

112 – Peregrine Falcon

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Greenish

I went to St.Mary’s yesterday morning with SH to look for the Greenish Warbler, which had just been reported.
With the combined effort of a few birders it didn’t take long until the Greenish Warbler – Lifer, was spotted in the willows next to the dipping pool.
It didn’t show as well as the Willow Warbler, which was in the same tree but I did manage to get good enough views. It went missing for a few minutes before being relocated in willows further left.
This is where I got the best views as it caught insects near the treetops in the sunlight.

Whilst watching the Greenish somebody mentioned a Barred Warbler, which they had found in the bushes on a mound further up the costal path.
We checked the area for over half an hour but there wasn’t a single bird to be seen never mind a Barred Warbler.

Instead of going to Blyth which was the original plan we crossed the river and went to Whitburn Steel as the Bonaparte’s Gull had been around all morning.
When we arrived there had been no sign for over an hour and after scanning through all the gulls on the beach with no success we left.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Busy Weekend

Yesterday I went up to Low Newton with SH. Whilst looking for the Pectoral Sandpiper on the scrapes a Spotted Redshank landed. The digger had not yet started work and the Pect soon appeared, a Juv Yellow Wagtail was also on the scrape.

We had a quick stop at a quiet Hauxley where the highlight was a Juv Cuckoo, which flew from one side of the reserve to the other.

At Cresswell there were 12 Ruff, Greenshank and a Spotted Redshank amongst the usual waders. A quick look at West Hartford on the way home produced a Juv Wheatear on the fence posts behind the smaller pool. 6 Greenshank were the only waders at Arcot.

Today I went to Saltholme with JM (Birding Sometimes), MB and JB.
On the way we stopped at Shibdon Pond where we just managed to fit into the packed hide. The Spotted Crake was showing distantly against the reeds with three Water Rails around it for comparison.
At Saltholme it didn’t take us long to spot the Whiskered Tern – Lifer at last, sitting on the causeway on West Saltholme Pool. After preening for a while the Tern flew off and hunted over the water where it was mobbed by the local Lapwing.
A Spotted Redshank and Ruff were also on the causeway and 10 Little Egret were on East Salthome as was the Black Necked Grebe amongst a group of Coot.

Good company, good birds and a good breakfast at the visitor s centre, all is forgiven Teesside.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

It's official - I have a name tag

Today on one of my last day of volunteering at Washington Wildfowl Park this year, I received my official name tag, no more ducking under the counter to avoid paying for me.
The breeding season for the Chilean Flamingos is nearly over and soon they will start to moult, so again another unsuccessful breeding year for Flamingos at Washington.
The Moorhens were making the most out of the artificial nest on the island as they filled it with sticks and feathers.

The Wader Lake has been flooded recently so all the islands and muddy margins are gone, so instead I went to the Woodland Hide on my lunch break.
Amongst the family parties of Great, Coal and Blue Tit was a single Willow Tit hanging on a peanut feeder. A pair of Nuthatch and a GS Woodpecker were the other birds of note.

I went to West Hartford when I got back where there was no sign of last nights Whinchats. I checked all the fence post and walked through the fields behind the smaller pool but the only bird I saw was a Grasshopper Warbler.
Both Pools were quiet apart from 1 Greenshank and 1 Green Sandpiper which flew off and landed near the River Blyth.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Whin but no Stone

As my search for a Stonechat for this years patch list continues, I thought I was in luck tonight when I checked the fence line west of the smaller pool.
As I got closer I could see that there were no Stonechat but instead 4 Juv Whinchat.
A Green Sandpiper flew over calling before landing out of sight and a pair of Greenshank were on the main pool.
By far the best bird tonight was a scruffy female Tufted Duck- a WH rarity, which landed on the main pool, for a few minutes before flying off following the river Blyth.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Good end to a frustrating day

After a frustrating day on Teesside where I missed the Whiskered Tern I was glad to get a phone call and lift from SH last night to see the Syke’s Warbler- Lifer.
I had reasonable to good views of the Warbler as it flitted around the bottom of a bush in the dunes. It occasionally climbed up the branch stem before dropping back down.
It was nice to be talked to yesterday at Hadston by a number of friendly Northumberland birders, which I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the last few years.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

3+1

I checked both West Hartford and Arcot Pond yesterday. WH was quiet apart from 1 Greenshank on the smaller pool which I also saw in the same place on saturday night.
Before going to Arcot I walked up and down Beacon Lane to try and see or hear the Willow Tit which had been heard in the morning.

Not much was on the pond apart from a group of Greylags which were sitting on the island. 3 Greenshank were standing on the dead wood in the middle of the pond before flying to the island.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Staying Local

I was out with SH this morning, with there not being much to get excited about in the county we just checked a few local sights starting with Arcot Pond.

Apart from 8 Grey Heron, a few geese and gulls the pond was quiet until a Kingfisher – Patch Tick, flew across the pond whilst calling and landed on a post in the SE corner.
It stayed for about ten minutes; caught a few fish and bashed their heads against the post before eating them.
It’s a good thing I saw the Kingfisher as when I was on holiday I missed a Cuckoo and Whimbrel on the patch

Next we checked the low tide at Cambois. Not much on the estuary but 6, including 1 juvenile, Roseate Tern were amongst a large group of Common Terns on the beach.

The Blyth Estuary had a bit more to offer with 3 Whimbrel amongst the Curlew and Oystercatchers. Also 2 Water Rail were squealing from the reeds at Baites Filtration Pools.

On the way back we checked West Hartford and were surprised to see that work on the fire station is almost complete. The water level has risen slightly but the only thing on the main pool was 5 Juv Shelduck.

111- Kingfisher

Thursday, 5 August 2010

South Stack
































































Click on the images to make them bigger. There are 2 Chough on the last photo, honestly

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Celtic Tour

Back from my holidays visiting family in Wales and Ireland. We stayed with family in Wrexham, North Wales first.

24th July 2010
I took the dog for a walk around the heather covered hillside at Llangollen a few miles outside of Wrexham. The first bird I saw was a GS Woodpecker which flew from the heather, not exactly typical habitat. As we reached the top of the hill four Ravens flew over. Two disappeared over the other side of the hill whilst the other pair landed on top of a pile of rocks which marks the hilltop. Unlike the Ravens I have seen in the past these Ravens are used to people and so they stayed on the rocks until we were within a few metres. From this distance I could appreciate the size of Ravens especially their beaks. Once we had reached the rocks they flew off and mobbed a circling Buzzard before ‘’gronking’’ loudly overhead. It was great just sitting on top of the rocks, looking over the Cheshire plain with the Ravens circling over the Llangollen valley. On the way back down I could hear but not see a flock of Crossbill. And a Tawny Owl gave a quick call from the plantation.
In the evening we were coming back from a takeaway in Wrexham city centre past the police station tower when I noticed a juv Peregrine Falcon which had just flown from the tower roof. It was then joined by a pair of adult Peregrines and the three flew around the tower before bolting off NE. I had tried to see the Peregrines which have been nesting on the police station since 2003 in the past, but had always failed. They are one of my favourite birds and to see them in such an urban environment makes it even better.

28th July 2010
Conwy RSPB
I was dropped off at Conwy RSPB on the banks of the Conwy estuary. Due to the constant rain I spent the whole day from the Car...something welsh hide which has the best views anyway. When I arrived the tide was quite low so all the waders where on the estuary but as the tide got higher they pushes further up before landing on the reserves main pool. In total I counted 80+ Oystercatcher, 50+ Redshank, 50+ Curlew, 30+ Black Tailed Godwit, Dunlin, and 2 Common Sandpiper. There were at least 8 Little Egrets in the heronry and 6 dotted around the main pool and its islands including one lurking amongst a group of Curlew.
A Great Crested grebe was feeding 2 young chicks fish on the pool and there was a full winged non ringed Black Swan.

29th July 2010
South Stack RSPB
On our way to Holyhead, Anglesey, to catch the ferry to Ireland we had a spare hour which we spent at South Stack RSPB. Once on the cliff next to the visitors centre it didn’t take long until 4 Choughs – Lifer, flew overhead calling before landing on the rocks next to the costal path. They then flew off and landed on the cliff face. Also 2 Ravens flew over.
On the ferry to Ireland I had an hours sea watch from the deck. Over 200 Manx Shearwater were flying past and around the boat. I saw around the same number of Guillemot, most were sitting on the water and a lot of them were juv birds with adults. The sea was surprisingly quiet during the rest of the time and I only saw 5 Gannet, 5 Fulmar, 1 Puffin and 1 Sooty Shearwater. A Black Guillemot flew past the ferry as we came into Dublin Harbour and 2 Hooded Crows landed on the grass in front of the National Museum of Ireland whilst we were stuck in traffic.

Monday, 19 July 2010

This weekend

I went to Blacktoft Sands RSPB in Yorkshire on saturday with SH and DMcK. After checking the reception hide and seeing that there were plenty of good birds to be seen around the reserve we started at the Xerox hide.

A Common Sandpiper, 2 Little Ringed Plover and 2 Ruff were the highlight of the waders on the islands. It didn’t take until the first of many Marsh Harriers rose from the reeds. At one point five birds were in the air over the reeds.

The Marshland hide was were most of the days action took place. Groups of waders were dotted around the different island and mud shore, most of them were asleep. 4 Avocets, 32 Black Tailed Godwits, 10 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper and 8 Ruff were the waders on the islands. At least 2 of the Spotted Redshanks were in almost full summer plumage, the Ruff also impressed with their various patterns and plumages.
2 Barn Owls chicks were standing in the entrance to their box and a couple of juv Yellow Wagtails were feeding on the mud. Whilst scanning through the waders we spotted a juv Bearded Tit jumping around the bottom of the reed stems and then onto the mud. It was joined by another two juvs and we had prolonged views of them as they hopped their way across the mud and into the reeds. Later on another two Bearded Tits flew in front of the hide.
The waders which had all been fairly settled all took off at one point just as a Hobby swooped down low over the pool before disappearing as it got higher into the sky.

From the Singleton hide we got more close views of Marsh Harriers as they soared over reeds. Three Little Egrets were fishing in the channels and a Cuckoo flew across before landing in the hedgerow.

Yesterday morning I was out doing the webs count with SH at Castle Island where the highlights were a Greenshank amongst the Redshank and a Little Ringed Plover.

Next we had a quick trip to Hauxley were a Scaup was swimming next to a Tufted Duck. Also a Barnacle Goose was amongst the Greylags and Canadas on the main Island.

Our last stop was Arcot Pond were a Green Sandpiper was in the mud behind the island with a Common Sandpiper – Patch Tick.

This afternoon I got a call saying that Fridays Hobby had returned to West Hartford but this time it was sitting in a tree! When I arrived at WH the Hobby- Patch Tick, was still on its perch and I had over half an hours on and off views as it sat on various trees and flew around the dried out main pool.
Thats three Hobbys in two weeks for me!!!

109- Common Sandpiper
110- Hobby

Thursday, 15 July 2010

A bit of history

I got a copy of the below sheets a few weeks ago from SH. I love reading through old papers and books about Northumberland and seeing how it has changed over the years.
The sheets are from a two-year ringing study in the sixties on Arcot Golf Course and the old Arcot Pond.
I have highlighted the records, which are the most interesting. Sorry about the quality it is a photocopy of a photocopy.
Click on the images to read the details




















2. Mallard – they definitely breed on Arcot Pond these days but this information is from the sixties and old Arcot Pond, which is much smaller.

3. Kestrel – Good numbers as they breed near by. I wonder which toxic spray was used?

4. Partridge (presumably Grey) – like everywhere in the country numbers are down although there is a decent sized covey on Beacon Lane.

10. Woodcock – I’m sure more than two pairs breed at Arcot now as there is plenty of suitable habitat around the golf course. This winter the golf course held record numbers.

17. Stock Dove – Still not common in Cramlington but with them breeding not to far away they are fairly regular over the pond and at West Hartford.
The furthest I have seen one in Cramlington was a bird on a field between Nelson Hill and Argos.
19. Cuckoo- The last one heard in Cramlington was a one day bird in 2003 near Nelson Hill that sums it up really. Will it ever breed in Cramlington again?

22. Great Spotted Woodpecker – Definitely breeds now and is common throughout Cramlington.
29. Jay- Common once again and always heard or seen on the golf course.

31. Coal and Marsh Tit- Coal Tits are just as common around Arcot as they are everywhere these days. I am only aware of one other record of Marsh Tit in Cramlington.

34. Willow Tit – sporadic to say the least and never common.





















36. Wren – Glad to see they have recovered.

39. Song Thrush – I doubt 19 would be ringed over the next two years.

41. Redstart – A Cramlington Mega

46. Willow Warbler – still common but 64 still seems good.

49. Lesser Whitethroat – Much more common in Northumberland today.
50. Chiffchaff - ? Autumn only

52. Spotted Flycatcher – Also declined significantly with none now breeding anywhere in Cramlington.

54. Tree Pipit- seems they were having problems even back then.

58. Goldfinch – Not any more.

60. Redpoll – you’re lucky if you hear more than five during the year now. 198!!!

65. Tree Sparrow- also considered a Cramlington mega

Heron sp.- Again I can only presume it has not as common because old Arcot Pond in much smaller.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Honey King

I went south to Yorkshire with SH, ADMC and JM, (Birding Sometimes) yesterday. Our first stop was Wykeham Forest where after only ten minutes a distant Honey Buzzard- Lifer, was spotted on the other side of the valley. Although the views were distant we could still see it displaying and wing clapping like a butterfly.
We saw no more Honey Buzzards but a Tree Pipit was in the trees in front of us.

Next we went down to Filey where an immature drake King Eider – Lifer, was just off the brigg along with a female Eider for comparison.
The sea was choppy and the Eider kept diving so views were also brief but a lot closer.
Three summer plumage Knots were on rocks off the brigg but like us they had to leave as the tide was fast approaching.

On the way back we checked Crimdon Dene which was Dotterel-less today but the Little Terns were nice to see again.
Once again another lifer filled weekend out of the county. A change of scenery from time to time is well worth it.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Spot the Dot

I went down to Crimdon Dene with SH this morning to see if the female Dotterel was still around.
When we got there it didn’t take us long to find the Dotterel – Lifer, sitting amongst the shingle on the beach where it was camouflaged. I doubt I’ll see one as good as that again.
It stood on one leg and yawned before closing its eyes, it looked fairly settled until a group of photographers got to close and flushed it further down the beach. Why do they need to be so close?
Little Terns were calling overhead and from the colony as they brought fish back to their nests. There must have been 100+ Little Terns with a few Arctic’s amongst them.
Many of the Terns stood together on the beach giving a good size comparison.

After doing my duties at Washington yesterday I went down to the wader lake where 6 Black Tailed Godwits in the water around the middle island along with a Dunlin.

Click for a closer look

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

So far

This is how the 2010 patch list is looking just after the half way point of the year:
Species are in order of what I saw first.

Blackbird
House Sparrow
Starling
Collard Dove
Greenfinch
Dunnock
Black Headed Gull
Chaffinch
Carrion Crow
Robin
Long Tailed Tit
Blue Tit
Pink Footed geese
Herring Gull
Wood Pigeon
Great Tit
Jackdaw
Sparrowhawk
Goldfinch
Song Thrush
Coal Tit
Wren
Common Gull
Bullfinch
Snipe
Fieldfare
Redwing
Goldeneye
Reed Bunting
Greylag Geese
Water Rail
Kestrel
Teal
Mallard
Gadwall
Grey Heron
Coot
Shellduck
Feral Pigeon
Rook
Grey Wagtail
Moorhen
Short Eared Owl
Meadow Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Goldcrest
Lapwing
Mute Swan
Jack Snipe
Skylark
Jay
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Pochard
Wigeon
Buzzard
Oystercatcher
Goosander
Tufted Duck
Shoveler
Siskin
Crossbill
Mistle Thrush
Pheasant
Yellowhammer
Golden Plover
Grey Partridge
Curlew
Canada Geese
Chiffchaff
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Whooper Swan
Great Crested Grebe
Little Grebe
Undisclosed
Sand Martin
Green Woodpecker
Woodcock
Linnet
Blackcap
Redshank
Willow Warbler
Stock Dove
Swallow
Nuthatch
Treecreeper
Grasshopper Warbler
Wheatear
Whinchat
Green Sandpiper
Whitethroat
Greenshank
Sedge Warbler
Swift
Wood Sandpiper
House Martin
Barn Owl
Common Tern
Garden Warbler
Ringed Plover
Barnacle Geese
Garganey
Lesser Whitethroat
Temminck’s Stint
Red Legged Partridge
Quail
Cormorant
Reed Warbler
Little Egret

108 so far, still on course to beat last year 113 total. Redpoll, Dipper, Common Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Tree Sparrow and a few more are the targets now.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Little 3 Great White 2

I got an inevitable call from LMcD this afternoon about a Little Egret – Patch Tick, at Arcot Pond. After being lucky enough to see the three at Holywell yesterday I thought that one would turn up at Arcot or another local pond.
I checked the ever expanding island in the North West Corner when I got to the pond and could just see the Egret half hidden in a clump of reeds. It wasn’t long until it was forced out of hiding by one of the local Herons.
There are five records of Egrets in Cramlington, (3 Little, 2 Great White) and all have been since May last year. I have managed to see all three Little but none of the Great Whites. I still think it is strange that all the records have come from Arcot rather than the just as suitable habitat of West Hartford.

108 – Little Egret

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Helping at Holywell

I was at Holywell Pond today to help Cain (Holywell Birder), with his planned scout event. My job was to help the scouts with bird and plant identification starting at the members hide and ending at the north pool whilst BM (Killy Birder), and the other leaders took the second group of scouts through and around Holywell Dene.

When the group got to the hide I had an initial scan where a drake Wigeon was the only highlight. I started looking more carefully at a group of Swifts, which appeared over the obelisk before getting closer to the pond.
MF soon spotted a raptor in the same area and it was identified as a 1st summer Hobby. Although it was close to the swifts it never made a real attempt to chase them and after hanging over the pond for a while disappeared towards the dene.

After walking down to the public hide and then down to the north pool we stopped for lunch before swapping groups. During the lunch break I walked down to the public hide, as there was plenty of exposed mud in front of it.
Half way down the track to the hide I looked left through the gap in the hedgerow and saw two Little Egret flying east before dropping down near the members hide.
I was then told that three Little Egrets had just dropped in front of the hide and had flown off.
Before going to check from the members hide I saw a pair of Common Sandpipers running along the shore of the small island.

There was no sign of any Egrets from the members hide when I got there but I did have a good chat with one of my old teachers from high school who has recently found the joys of birding since retiring. As I was about to leave he spotted one of the Egrets tucked away in the reeds just out of sight form where I had been sitting. It then took off and flew over the pond heading west.

I really enjoyed today and seeing the pleasure birding and nature in general can bring to people of every age is what made the day for me, along with the good birds and good weather of course. I was also pleased to see the genuine enthusiasm and willing to learn more about nature from some of the young scouts.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Puffin Cruise

I spent some more time volunteering to watch the Chilean Flamingos at Washington Wildfowl Park yesterday. Just as last week the Flamingos put in another lazy performance, but still the research is all in a good cause.
I went to look for the Egyptian Goose once I had finished but there was no sign on the ‘reservoir’. A female Tufted Duck with a brood of 8 chicks were swimming across the water.
From the woodland hide 7 different Bullfinch including 2 young birds were on the feeders along with 2 Jay and 1 GS Woodpecker.

Today I was out with SH to go on the Puffin Cruise, which had been cancelled earlier in the week. First we stopped at a quiet Cresswell Pond where the highlight was a female Marsh Harrier which flew over briefly.

When we got to East Chevington the Spoonbill was showing well at the far side of the south pool.
A Hobby had been seen earlier in the morning but there was no sign. On the North pool 2 Black Tailed Godwits were amongst the flock of terns.

We arrived at Amble harbour earlier than we expected so got on the earlier boat. The sea was flat as we set off and stayed this way throughout the trip.
Just as we had left Amble Harbour we could see a few Puffins on the water and as we approached Coquet Island we started to see more and more as the flew past and over the boat. The boat stopped in front of the Island and we were surrounded by rafts of Puffin.
Grey Seals were popping their heads out of the water near the boat and at least 25 Roseate Terns were on the Tern boxes.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Rough Sketch

Yesterday I had planned to go on the puffin cruise around Coquet Island with SH and DMcK but it was cancelled due to a large sea swell.
Instead we started off the day with an hours sea watch from Church Point. A few Great Skuas went passed but without a scope they were hard to see. I did manage to see 2 Manx Shearwater heading north and a flock of Teal.
On the beach from the car park I spotted a single Med Gull lurking amongst the gull flock.

We went inland next to Beacon Hill. A few family parties of tits were flicking around the treetops as were a family of Nuthatch. Also a juv Spotted Flycatcher was being fed insects by an adult.
A cuckoo was resting on the lower branches of a tree on the moor viewed from the gate.

We then headed back to the coast were the highlight of the day was a stunning summer plumage Ruff feeding on the shoreline right in front of the Oddie Hide.
Now that I have a bit more time on my hands I intend on doing a few more bird drawings, instead of taking crap photos.

Out last stop was Arcot Pond were the water level is lowering nicely. An Arcot mega was calling from the reeds in the northeast corner, a Reed Warbler- Patch tick.
For some reason they only turn up at Arcot every couple of years and Valley Park has become more reliable for them in resent years.

107 - Reed Warbler


Thursday, 17 June 2010

First Flamingo watch

I did my second day of volunteering at Washington Wildfowl Park today. First duty was to spend two hours watching the 42 Chilean Flamingos and filling in the ethogram.
The time flew by as I observed their behaviour on a five-minute basis. On the whole I have learnt that Chilean Flamingos are amazing, graceful and very lazy birds.
They spent the majority of the two hours asleep in the grass whilst a few preened and gathered more mud for their nests.
Occasionally they fed and waded through the water before pecking at each other and wing flapped whenever the sun disappeared behind the clouds.
Although the shed in the flamingo enclosure is designed for the flamingos to sleep in, it belongs to a pair of Oystercatchers, which have young near it, and dive-bombed any flamingos which got too close.

After I had done my other duties I had a look at the wader lake where I soon spotted the pair of Avocet and their now well-developed young, avoiding passing Terns.
I spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sunshine and looking at the Crane enclosure and watching a Little Egret hunt insects on feet away. Also I checked the American Lake and the diving duck and other wildfowl on it.






































Drake Buffelhead

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Marsh Squirrel and Hedge Quail?

I served my first day as a volunteer at Washington Wildfowl Park yesterday. I was straight in at the deep end (literally in the pond), helping catch 5 Philippine Duck chicks in a net. It felt momentarily cruel taking the week or so old chicks away from their mother and walking off with them in a bucket but they wouldn’t have survived long if we hadn’t.
A Jay was looking at them from the treetops and the local gulls and magpies had already taken other chicks around the reserve this week.
By the time we had taken the Philippine ducklings back to the centre they had started to use teamwork to try and escape the bucket by climbing on each other’s backs.

After spending some time becoming more familiar with the site I went home only to step in the front door and get a call from JM about Quail at West Hartford, yet another crammy first I have failed to find. I was planning to go down to the massive newly planted cereal field near East Cramlington some time during the week to check for Quail.

I was short on time so only stayed at WH for about 15 minutes and in that time the potential 4 birds had gone quiet only to start singing again when I had left, typical.

So this morning I was at WH just after 7 where I met Liver birder and Howden Blogger who had heard no Quail so far.
Although it was colder and more overcast than yesterday Sedge and Grasshopper Warbler were still singing so there was always a chance of the Quail starting.
I decided to walk around the outside of the marshy field (being careful not to trample through the long grass), to the brick building and see I could hear anything from there.
On my way I saw the back of what I thought was a Stoat but as it bounded closer towards me through the tufts of grass I could see that it had a bushy tail.
I thought it was a Fox cub and followed it around the other side of a small grassy hill where I met the amazed Howden Blogger who just got a record shot of the mystery creature as it came around the corner. It was a Red Squirrel!
Now I didn’t see that coming especially in a marsh covered field. I searched again for it but it had gone, I didn’t realise how fast they can move. I presume it was overshoot from either the Arcot or Plessey Woods population.

By the time I had got to the brick building without hearing a Quail I had given up hope until whilst walking from the building to the hedgerow two Quail – Lifer, flew from a tuft of grass I nearly accidentally stood on and landed near the hedgerow.
One of the birds landed in the hedge for a few seconds before dropping to the ground and out of sight.
And in case anybody is wondering I didn’t deliberately flush the birds it was pure luck, I didn’t even know they were there as they were silent anyway. So please no comments about how what a sensitive issue it is I don’t want to get involved in a Quail row like the one, which broke out on birdforum last year.

Talking to the Liver Birder later on he told me that AC had two Quail earlier further down the field.
Also a Cormorant flew over the river Blyth and the Barn Owl that showed briefly was nice to see.

105- Quail
106 – Cormorant

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Marsh Mimicry

Do you ever get the feeling that when you step out of the front door that today is going to be a bit different?
I did on Monday when I went out with SH, there was a hint of thunder in the air combined with the previous day showers and a slight easterly wind which where all good signs.

Whilst driving to the bay a Merlin flew in front of the car whilst we crossed over the river Wansbeck, a failed breeder?
Things got better at Cresswell when a Grasshopper Warbler was acting strangely to the left of the hide. It seemed confused as it kept flying up and down the path towards the hide and perched on fence posts before reeling weakly.
Steve thought that from its behaviour that it had probably arrived over night meaning that something else was out there to be found.
A Little Gull, which landed on the sand bar in front of the hide, was the highlight on the pond itself.

We were going to check Druridge Polls from both hides but whilst walking up towards them we both stopped and listened to what sounded like a false House Sparrow calling from the trees to our right.
As we listened the House Sparrow suddenly changed into Blue Tit with a few Warbler type notes in between.

Carefully we went further into the long grass to listen and whilst we did the song which we now thought was coming from a Marsh Warbler, mimicked a Blue Tit again, Blackbird, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, House Martin and a strange Little Grebe style trill.
It seemed to be calling from the same area of trees and only once flew into the reed bed were we could see its head as it sang its olive head and white throat poking out from between reed stems.
After making sure we were happy with the identity without actually seeing all of the bird we sent a few texts and as birders arrived so did the rain, which stopped the Warbler signing.
Eventually it started signing again and we left happier with what we had heard rather than seen.

Friday, 28 May 2010

So Close

I had a walk around the fields surrounding Cramlington Windmill today.
I was going to have a look at the Merck Sharp and Dohme pond and reed bed but access has been blocked off so I'll have to rethink that one.
The highlight of the walk was only the second record of Red Legged Partridge (to my knowledge), in Cramlington.
I found a dead RLP in 2006 in a tree next to the horse fields at Nelson and only know of one record of a live bird which was also seen near the Windmill a few years ago.

The RLP was nearly flattened by a car as it flew from one side of the road to the other before disappearing into the hedgerow.

104 - Red Legged Partridge

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

One of those Days

After the rain this afternoon I was going to go to West Hartford but I kept putting it off.
Had I gone earlier then I would have probably found the Temminck's Stint- Patch Tick, at WH and have a crammy first to my name.
Oh well I didn't but at least I got the bird along with 2 Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper and Barn Owl.
After watching the mobile wader for a few minutes I saw it fly off high calling, I checked the other pool but there was no sign.
There will be another chance for me to get a Crammy first I'm sure with Quail, Curlew Sandpiper,Grey Plover, Black Redstart,Bean Goose and a few others my predictions for the next first.

103 - Temminck's Stint

Monday, 24 May 2010

Tetrad 2 - Big and Little Waters

I went out with LMcD this morning to do the tetrad around Little and Big Waters which also includes part of Seaton burn.
The best bird of the day was seen early on when I saw a Cuckoo fly over a field between the main road through Seaton Burn and the track to Little Waters. Nothing much was on or around little Waters or around Seaton burn.

At Big Waters we checked the scrub behind the playing field, checked the reeds and bushes around the channel and scanned the water from both hides and the feeding station.
A few Blackcap and Sedge Warbler were heard and 8 Common Tern were flying around and on the island.
Apart from a pair of Shoveler there was a lack of birds on the water. No Coot, Grey Heron or Tufted Duck were seen, I feel another controversial Otter rant coming on.....

The feeding station was full of Tree Sparrows as usual, many of which are occupying the nest boxes around the feeding station.

On the way back we quickly checked the Drift Inn flash which had a Greenshank on it last night but there was no sign of any waders this morning.
We also gave Arcot a quick look, a Lesser Whitethroat - Patch Tick, was calling from the hedgerow leading down to the metal gate.

Last night I went down to the Beehive Flash with SH and DMcK were a Temminck's Stint was creeping through the long grass at the waters edge on the far side of the flash.

102 - Lesser Whitethroat

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Long overdue

With news of a pair of long overdue Garganey at West Hartford this morning I was there by 9.
After scannig the NW corner of the main pool with no luck I was about to check the smaller pool when I saw the female Garganey - Patch Tick, feeding in the long grass at the NE corner.
She was soon followed by the male and the pair swam around the NE corner feeding in the mud.

Also a Whitethroat was singing from the top of the dead trees between the pools and a 50+ House Martins had landed on the edge of the mud to drink.
I though that the Garganey were a first for WH but I just remembered that LMcD had a drake over 20 years ago when there was a pond near the farm.

101 - Garganey

Saturday, 22 May 2010

From Penrith to West Hartford

On Tuesday night I went over to Penrith with Cain, (Holywell Birder) to help him with his Tetrad squares.
I was given a quick tour of the Penrith University campus by Cain when we arrived.
Being used to studying at an urban city centre campus at Teesside, I was really impressed by the rural campus and the wildlife within it.
Just by walking around the campus and doing the Tetrad squares I noticed some subtle changes between species found in Cumbria and Northumberland. In Cumbria Stock Doves seem to have replaced Wood Pigeon, Yellowhammer replaced Reed Bunting and Red Legged Partridge replaced Grey Partridge.

On Wednesday morning we started the first square at Newton Reigny just outside Penrith with the help of Steve (awildlifephotographerjournal.blogspot.com).
As soon as we got out of the car a pair of Dipper flew down stream from a small river in the village.
Although we had good counts of common species on the first Tetrad the highlight was a Spotted Flycatcher at newton Moss.

Later on in the afternoon we went to Bassenthwaite Lake. We stopped at Powter Howe on the opposite side of the lake first and from the car park we could hear a Wood Warbler- Lifer, calling.
Only 300m or so into the woods we heard 3 Wood Warbler and after a few minutes one appeared in the tree tops. 3 Garden Warbler and a female Redstart were also nearby.

From the hide at Bassenthwaite a Cuckoo called briefly.2 Common Sandpipers were bobbing on some rocks and a pair of Red Breasted Merganser were swimming and diving.

On Thursday we completed the other two tetrad squares the highlight this time being a yaffling Green Woodpecker although for Cain I'm sure the highlight was seeing me being chased by a herd of cows.

Last night I had a walk down to West Hartford from 7 until 8:30. With more exposed mud it was no suprise that two Ringed Plover - Patch Tick, were feeding at the back of the main pool. A Greenshank also appeared out of nowhere (probably out of the long grass behind the pool).
The Barn Owl put in a quick appearence and most suprising of all were two Barnacle Geese - Patch Tick, which flew low over the main pool calling.
A great way to end a brilliant week.

99 - Ringed Plover
100- Barnacle Geese

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Garden Walk

After being woken up by the school fields grass cutter at 7:00 this morning I decided to get up earlier and have a walk around the estate.

I officially finished my first year at Teesside University last week and term starts again on 4th October so I will try to have a walk around the patch most day, well I've got to do something for the next 5 months :)

I started at the Brockwell scrubland which was alive with song. 4 Chiffchaff, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap, a distant Grasshopper Warbler and a displaying Skylark were all within a few hundred yards of each other.
This morning was also the first time I remember being out and feeling hot in the sun this year.

I then checked the roundabout and other bushes around Nelson Hill which again held Chiffchaff and Blackcap. It was more of the same at the trees around the outskirts of the industrial estate.

Finally I checked the West Hartford roundabout where a pair of Garden Warblers - Patch Tick, were in full song out in the open. As soon as I got close they dived further into cover but I could still hear them singing.

98 - Garden Warbler

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Oriental

After writing this post twice and it failing due to the worlds worst Internet server TalkTalk Broadband, I can no longer be bothered to to write in detail.
If you want to read about yesterdays trip then go to Birding Sometimes.
Yesterdays highlights were Corn Bunting, Little Gull, Little Egret, Wood Sandpiper,Little Ringed Plover, Garganey and of course the Oriental Pratincole - Lifer!

As for Potteric Carr, I want the people who are getting such good views of the Iberian Chiffchaff to come to the Mound Newbiggin as they seem to have the power to be able to see through thick tree tops and find rare birds with x ray vision. Showing Well- my arse.

All in all a brilliant day out, I suppose to mega rare lifers in one day would be greedy.

Thanks again John

Friday, 14 May 2010

Tetrad 1: Stannington

I was out early with LMcD to help with his Tetrad square around Stannington. The square covers all of Stannington Village, part of the river and some of the surrounding fields.

We started at the river where the Sand Martin colony had abandoned. The surrounding fields were also pretty poor with only a couple of Lapwing and a lot of Jackdaw.
It was a draw between Wood Pigeon and Jackdaw for most common bird.

Three different GS Woodpeckers in the village were one of the highlights as was the large number of Dunnocks. The only raptors were a Kestrel and a fly over Buzzard.
I was pleased to see a Red Squirrle behind the church.

On the way back we stopped at Arcot Pond were two Common Terns- Patch Tick, were on the dead wood in the middle of the pond.

We also stopped at Valley Park briefly which had a few Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and a Sedge Warbler singing from the reed bed.

97 - Common Tern















The gateway into Stannington Church yard

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Mission Accomplished

This evening I spent a few hours at West Hartford with only one target bird in mind, Wood Sandpiper.

As I arrived Liver Birder told me he had a Green Sandpiper and another wader which he thought was the Redshnak but hadn't been able to get a good look at due to the sun glare.

I pick up the wader straight away and as soon as the sun was covered by cloud I could see it a little bit better as it waded at the back of the main pool.
Soon it flew off and out of sight but during flight and the rest of the time it was there it never called. I also couldn't see any white in the wings but could see a lot of white underneath.

It landed on the smaller pool a few minutes before going back to the main pool. Soon after Birding Sometimes appeared and with a slightly better angle on the bird we were able to see it was a Wood Sandpiper - Patch Tick.
Whilst watching it flew onto the near shaw before flying to the back of the pool again.

Amongst the many Swallow hawking over the pool was a House Martin - Patch Tick, and just before we left a Barn Owl - Patch Tick, flew along the fence line being mobbed by Magpies.

94 - Wood Sandpiper
95 - House Martin
96 - Barn Owl

Monday, 10 May 2010

Beach Walk

I was out with SH this morning on Blyth beach looking for dead birds as part of a survey scheme.
We scanned the area of beach from the car park near the harbour up to Meggies Burn.
Although it was not as windy as the other morning there was still as strong freezing cold breeze, just what you expect in may in northumberland.

Almost as soon as we started we found the head of a Shag. There was a fresh tideline from last night so we would be first to find anyhting that had been washed up but in the end we didn't find much, which is good really.
Apart from various parts of Feral Pigeons we found a good conditioned wing of an Auk, probably a Guillemot.
The best find was an almost complete Golden Plover which was also in good condition.

Apart from the dead birds, Sanderling were running along the shoreline and a few Reed Bunting were singing in the dunes.

This afternoon after a quick hail/rain shower I saw a Swift - Patch Tick, fly over head whilst I was out.

93 - Swift

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Windy Morning

Was out with SH yesterday morning. The wind was stronger than we expected, not the best conditions to go birding in.

We started at Arcot were I could just hear a Sedge Warbler - Patch Tick, over the wind.
A pair of Shoveler were on the pond and a pair of Shellduck flew over.

After a quick and unsuccessful stop at the Snowy Owl feeding station where LMcD had a Tree Sparrow the other morning, we headed to Beacon Hill to see if any Spotted Flycatchers or Redstart had arrived.
As soon as we got out of the car a Marsh Tit was calling and showing well in the trees opposite.
I had my best ever views of a Treecreeper as it stopped in a tree next to us before preening, something I have never seen them do.
A Garden Warbler and Nuthatch were the only other birds of interest.

Next we headed to the even windier Druridge Pools where despite the good amount of mud no waders were to be seen.
A few Wheatear were in the fields next to Bell's farm. We kept scanning through the nearby flocks of Corvids incase the Hooded Crow Steve had found the other day was amongst them.

Instead of going to Cresswell we headed to Snab Point for a quick sea watch. A steady flow of Gannets were moving north as were Kittiwakes and Auks. Plenty of Fulmars we flying very close in as they struggled against the wind.

92 - Sedge Warbler

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Armchair Detective

After seeing that Liver Birder had a Greenshank an hour before I was at West Hartford the other day it made me think more about what I had seen.
At first I though that I had just seen the Redshank which has been hanging around for a while but when I looked at it I couldn't see any red in the bill or legs and it seemed lighter at the front than a Redshank.
I just though that it's legs and bill were covered in mud from probing, if it had called the matter would have been sorted earlier.
I only checked the pool quickly as I was in a hurry but really I should pay more attention.

91 - Greenshank

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Whitethroat

Apart from the Redshank and Curlew on the main pool, all was quiet at West Hartford tonight. A Whitethroat was singing in the plantation right of the entrance.

90- Whitethroat

Saturday, 1 May 2010

May Day Morning

Once the rain had stopped this morning I went to see if anything had landed at West Hartford.
A flock of 50+ Starlings are doing there best to clean up the mess left by the workers at the new fire station entrance.

Plenty of Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Sand Martins were around as well as the Linnet flock which has reappeared.
2 Wheatear - Patch Tick, flew from the rubbish pile at the end of the road to the pile nearer the main pool.
The water level is slowly lowering on the main pool and on the now visible mud bank at the back was a Green Sandpiper- Path Tick, amongst the Lapwing and Oystercatchers. A Redshank was wading through the smaller pool with a pair of Shellduck.

I had a final look at the main pool and whilst I did, something flew in front of me and landed on a fence post to the left of the pool, it was a stunning male Whinchat - Patch Tick.
Instead of flying off after a few seconds it got even closer and flew onto the gate post infront of me, what an amazing and underated bird.

On my way back into my street two Linnets were feeding on the path next to my neighbours house. I ran onto my drive so that I could add them to my garden list. They then flew into a tree on my neighbours drive before landing on their grass.

87- Wheatear
88- Whichat
89- Green Sandpiper

Friday, 30 April 2010

Garden Drama

When I got back from Teesside last weekend I heard young birds calling from the bush between the shed and the bins.
I watched the bush for a while and saw that a pair of Blackbirds were visiting it regularly with mouthfuls of worms. I saw them up until thursday digging up worms on the lawn before flying around the corner, this is where the drama began.

Wednesday 7:00pm
The male Blackbird was in the bird bath whilst I was watching TV, suddenly it flew off faster than I have ever seen a Blackbird fly. This was because a male Sparrowhawk landed in the bird bath a few seconds later before it also flew off.

Wednesday 11:30pm
Usually the Blackbirds stop calling at around 10 in the garden but again whilst watching TV I could hear the pair getting louder and louder.
I went to the window and saw that the neighbours outside light was on, this is only ever triggered by cats.
The female Blackbird was on my neighbours lawn hopping up and down calling frantically. I noticed what I first though was a frog on the lawn behind her but once I got my bins on it I saw that it was on of the fledgling Blackbirds. I could also see three cats lurking in the shadows which the female could not see.

It was time for action, me and my dad armed with stones went to the fence where two of the cats ran off straight away but the other, which was hiding behind a plant pot was getting closer.
The fledgling bird didn't help matters when it ran towards the cat.
In the next five seconds the cat began running for the fledgling, the female dive bombed the cat, we both started throwing stones, and the neighbours came out.
This resulted in the cat jumping over the fence, the fledgling disappearing and the neighbours looking very confused.
After this there was an awful noise which I have only heard a few times before which was a bird being killed. Another cat them jumped over the fence.
I checked the nest which was now empty and went to bed fearing the worst.

Thursday 8:30am
On his way to work my dad had found one of the fledglings alive in the plant pot next to the front door. I watched for a while and saw the parents feed it worms until it was gone less than an hour later.

Thursday 1:15
On my way out I heard the same terrible noise as last night. One of the cats ran from under the car with a fledgling in its mouth. A combination of my throwing a football and the parents dive bombing it made the cat drop the fledgling which ran onto the middle of the lawn.
I left hoping that it wasn't injured and the parents could protect it for a while longer.

Thursday 6:00pm
Both parents are now flying into another bush with worms, I can only hope the fledgling got into this bush and will stay there.

Also whilst in the garden two Sand Martins - Garden tick, flew over and a Buzzard flew over being mobbed by Carrion Crows, only the second time I have had one over the house.

The birds would stand a better chance if the cat's owners would lock them in the house at night instead of letting them run around willy nilly pissing in the bushes, shitting on the lawn, scratching the car and killing birds.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Lightening strikes twice

First of all, I was out with SH, DMcK and LMcD yesterday for a trip to Teesside.
We checked west Saltholme pool first for the American Wigeon without any luck. Two Little Ringed Plovers were on the small flashes between West and Back Saltholme.

At Dorman's Pool two Cetti's Warblers were singing in the scrub between the pool and the car park along with Reed and Sedge Warblers which were in the reeds.

Next we went to Greatham Creek were 16 Avocets were on the gravel island with a LRP. On the way to the hide 5 Wheatear flew around the rough ground and a White Wagtail was on the edge of the pool.
Plenty of Seals were swimming up and down the river and on the sand banks. Also a few Black Tailed Godwits were on the sand.

We then had a walk around the whole of the Salthome reserve. Although it was fairly quiet we did get excellent views of 6 or more Yellow Wagtail.

News then came through saying the American Wigeon- Lifer, was on Reclemation Pond. It took a while to find but it was there with a pair of Eurasian Wigeon.

On the way back we stopped at Arcot. 5+ Swallows were flying around Arcot Hall and a Nuthatch and Treecreeper were calling in the woods.
The pond was quiet, a pair of Canada Geese were on a nest amongst the reeds and three Stock Doves landed on the dead trees.
A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling next to the railway bridge near Beaconhill on the way back.


This morning I got a text from SH saying that a Great White Egret had flown NW over Arcot Pond!!!
A year ago to the day since the GWE landed on Arcot and just like last year I had missed it.
I went straight to West Hartford on the off chance it had dropped in but no. Only 7 Canada Geese had dropped in and 2 Grasshopper Warblers were reeling away.

Also I found out that I have missed Whinchat, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and 20 Whimbrel (I have my doubts about that one) this morning on the patch.
What is it with this day last year I missed the GWE and a Ring Ouzel but at least I had a consolation Drake Garganey.

82 - Stock Dove
83 - Swallow
84 - Nuthatch
85 - Treecreeper
86- Grasshopper Warbler

Saturday, 17 April 2010

WH WW

I was up early to West Hartford this morning. The sun was shinning when I set off but it soon turned cloudy and quite cold.
The highlight on the way was a singing male Blackcap in the bushes at the end of Horton Burn.
I checked the small flashes in the fields overlooking East Hartford, right of the substation first. Only Lapwings were on the muddy margins.

On the main pool 6 Greylags were calling loudly before flying off. Also 4 Shellduck and a pair of Gadwall were on the pool.
Whilst scannign the bushes behind the substation 4 Sand Martins flew over and a Willow Warbler - Patch Tick, started singing.

81 - Willow Warbler