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


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.