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


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