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.

House Sparrow
Collard Dove
Black Headed Gull
Carrion Crow
Long Tailed Tit
Blue Tit
Pink Footed geese
Herring Gull
Wood Pigeon
Great Tit
Song Thrush
Coal Tit
Common Gull
Reed Bunting
Greylag Geese
Water Rail
Grey Heron
Feral Pigeon
Grey Wagtail
Short Eared Owl
Meadow Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Mute Swan
Jack Snipe
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Tufted Duck
Mistle Thrush
Golden Plover
Grey Partridge
Canada Geese
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Whooper Swan
Great Crested Grebe
Little Grebe
Sand Martin
Green Woodpecker
Willow Warbler
Stock Dove
Grasshopper Warbler
Green Sandpiper
Sedge Warbler
Wood Sandpiper
House Martin
Barn Owl
Common Tern
Garden Warbler
Ringed Plover
Barnacle Geese
Lesser Whitethroat
Temminck’s Stint
Red Legged Partridge
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.