Saturday, 31 December 2011

One King

Checked Horton Burn on Boxing day and flushed one kingfisher at the old fire station end.
Checked WH yesterday, no sign of any Jack Snipe just 15 common.
Other highlights included 8 Wren, 6 of which were together at the base of a tree, 10 seperate Bullfinch sightings and a single Lesser Redpoll amongst a flock of Goldfinch behind the substation.

Thanks again to anybody who has helped me increase my birding knowledge this year. The definate highlight of the year was the trip to Norfolk and Suffolk.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Two Kings

On saturday afternoon I went to count the Cormorants in Blyth Harbour with SH. A good count of Cormornats and a few colour ringed Shags.
The newly arrived trawlers ahd attracted a lot of gulls but nothing interesting amongst them. 30+ Eider were also in the harbour, probably brought in by the cold weather.
The highlight though was a Kingfisher which was perched on a post near the boat yard before flying under the pier. 200 Pink Footed Geese flew south over the harbour as we were leaving.

On sunday I was out again with SH, DMcK and GB for Webs count at Castle Island. The highlight of the count here was also a Kingfisher on the near shore. It stayed perched on an over hanging branch for most of the count.

After the count we went to East Chevington were it was almost an exact repeat of the week before with the GN Diver, Scaup and LT Duck all occasionally showing. No sign of the GW Teal again but a redhead Smew was nice to see.

Also we checked the new pool at West Chevington/Maiden's Hall Lake whatever it is called.
Around 200 Eurasian WF Geese were in the field to the left but no sign of any Beans just Greylags. Apart from gulls a drake Goosander was on the Lake/pool itself.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Great(er) mornings birding

I was out with SH and IFo this morning. After another look at the much obliging Desert Wheatear just north of Beacon Point we headed off to East Chevington.

The GW Teal didn't show itself on the south pool but a lot of the Teal were just on the edge of the reeds and it could be easily hidden. A Water Rail was calling form somewhere on the south pool.

This was probably my best ever visit to East Chevington, a site where I haven't had much luck in the past.
The norht pool was lifting with birds the highlights being 3 drake pintail, 1 Long Tailed Duck, 2 female type Scaup, an Otter and a Great Northern Diver.
This was the first time I had ever seen a GN Diver and LT Duck away from the sea, but it was still hard to spot them at times as the disappeared under the water for long periods of time.
Also a semi Ermine Stoat ran accroos the field over looking the south pool.

Ladyburn Lake was our next stop were an impressive 27 Pochard and 6 Red Breasted Mergansers were diving.
Amonst the Mallard, Moorhen and Tufted Duck near the waters edge was a single female Pintail.

On our way down to Cresswell Pond, 2 Waxwings were spotted in the tree tops near the turn off for West Chevington.

We stopped at the roadside overlooking the flash north of Bell's Pond on the way as well. The Greater Yellowlegs was feeding alongside 2 Curlew near the fenceline right of the flash. An useasonal Black Tailed Gotwit was also on the flash and 2 Whooper Swan flew north.

Oppossite the the car park at the south end of Cresswell Pond were a pair of Stonechat, the first I have seen for some time.
54 Whooper Swans (most of which flew off towards Warkworth Lane), were on the pond along with 450+ Wigeon.
Not long before we left a group of waders circled the pond a few times looking for the now hidden sand bar before landing on the western spit.
The group contained 20 Turnstone and 4 Purple Sandpiper, both rarities and my first at Cresswell Pond.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

December desert

I went to Arcot golfcourse in search of Willow Tit with SH this morning. In the end we saw more mammals than birds: 2 Roe Deer, 1 Fox and most worryingly a Grey Squirrel!
This was my first sighting of a grey in Northumberland. WH was also quiet with 20+ Snipe and 3 Redshank being the highlights.

This afternoon we went up to Beacon Point after news of the Desert Wheatear - Lifer, broke.
It didn't take us long to locate it and it showed well only metres away for 5 minutes or so before flying off over the golfcourse.
Also a Snow Bunting was on the path near the point. No sign of the Little Auk off Church Point but 3 Puffin flying north required a second look.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Swans on the pond

Whilst on my way back from Middlesbrough on the train this morning, I got a text from SH about 2 Bewick’s Swans on Arcot Pond.
Luckily I was getting picked up from the station and passing Arcot so called in and spotted the 2 Bewick’s Swans on the near side of the dead hedgerow in the water.

The Bewick’s are a long overdue first for Cramlington. Bean Goose will surely be the next first, I hope.

Also on Sunday I helped SH and LR with the Lindisfarne low tide count. We were counting the section between Fenham and the causeway in very strong winds.
The highlights were a Peregrine, a flock of Twite and 2 Little Egrets.

125 - Bewick's Swan

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A few things

I helped LMcD with his WEBS count on the River Blyth the other day at low tide.
Nothing much of note, 3 mobile Snow Buntings in Blyth Harbour was the highlight of the day.

With Geese everywhere but Cramlington we went for a look at the 8 Euro White Fronts at Swallow Pond. They were easily found in the field east of the pond. Excellent views of the 7 adults and 1 juv feeding in the field only metres away.

When we got to Prestwick Carr on the way back we were told that the 13 Bean Geese had flew off, but we got brief views of a couple of Short Eared Owl sheltering from the wind.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Suprisingly Ruff

Birding of late for me had been frustrating. One assignment handed in means that I am off this week, so yesterday I had a walk over to West Hartford.
Apart from the usual Lapwings and Gulls, 2 Ruff were feeding on the near shore of the main flash.

Also I have been enjoying watching the GS Woodpecker which has been visiting my garden over the last few days, couldn't find the Waxwings on Horton Drive.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Great(eeeer)

I wont bore you with details about how I saw the Greater Yellowlegs – Lifer, At East Chevington on Saturday, (Liver Birder) was put it much better than I could.

Apart from Saturday I couldn’t get out to do any other birding this weekend but 3 Waxwings nearly made it onto my garden list.
On my way back from Morrison’s I spotted 3 in the tree tops on Glazebury Way, I ran back home and looked from the window but the trees were just obscured by the roof of a house opposite. When I went back out for another look they had flew off.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

County and Patch

I was out for a few hours with SH this morning. Our first stop was Woodhorn churchyard. The highlight there was a Crossbill flying over.
Next we went up to Hemscott Hill Links. Whilst watching a mixed flock of around 100 Golf, Green and Chaffinch, Linnet and Twite, 10 Snow Buntings flew around in a group.
Also a Little Owl flew from a stack of hay bales near the roadside and landed on a fence post amongst the dunes, it must have been sunning itself on the reflective surface of the plastic covering the bales.
A few skeins of Pink Feet went over south and 8 Whooper Swans were on Cresswell Pond as we passed. Another Snow Bunting was calling from near the causeway.

Whilst driving back through Cresswell Village I noticed a bird hopping around the guttering of the new house at the south end of the village opposite the 30 mile an hour road sign and the green bin. When we stopped I saw that it was a first winter Black Redstart. We stayed and watched it for about 10 minutes as it flew from the roof to the garden catching insects as it went.
BR is a long overdue county tick for me and only my third ever bird after the pair I saw at Hartlepool last winter.

Not much at West Hartford on the way back but 2 Fieldfare in the trees next to the main flash was my last easy patch tick. Also more Pink Feet moved south. A Stoat was running along the track between the pools as well, stopping and looking back at me as it stood up.

124 – Fieldfare
A Comma in Woodhorn Churchyard enjoying the unseasonal weather.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Holy Island to the patch

Last Friday I went up to Holy Island with SH. We spent a few hours checking a large part of the island with very little to show for it.

The highlights were; a pair of Stonechat and a Lapland Bunting at Chare Ends, a Brambling around the vicar’s garden and a Black Tailed Godwit on the harbour pool. A few thrushes were on the island including Redwing feeding on the lawns in the village.

Next we went further north to Goswick Sands. With the tide coming in quicker than we thought we didn’t stay that long and amongst the close in raft of Scoter we couldn’t pick anything out. 4 Long Tailed Duck were also near the raft.

Budle Bay was also quiet with the highlight being a sleeping Little Gull. It was the same at Stag Rocks and East Chevington, nothing out of the ordinary. Our final stop was St. Mary’s but we were too late and there was no further sign of the Richard’s Pipit.

Yesterday I got a call from GM saying that there was a Marsh Harrier over Northburn First School which backs onto my garden! I went straight into the garden but nothing; I was then told it was going west so I ran to the top of Nelson Hill.
Nelson Hill is Cramlington’s best vantage point so I spent an hour scanning from West Hartford over the industrial estate over to Northumberlandia. At one point all the gulls and Lapwings lifted from WH but I couldn’t see what caused them to get up.
During the hour on the hill 3 female Crossbill, 1 Great Black Backed Gull and 1 Grey Wagtail flew over south. I plan to spend more time scanning from the hill in the future.

A few hours later I got a call from SH saying there was a Snow Bunting at West Hartford! A short while later myself, LMcD and JM were watching a female Snow Bunting feeding in front of us on the path leading to the waste ground before the larger flash. It stayed until dusk not bothered by us in the slightest, happily feeding on the edge of the path and long grass.
This makes up for missing the male SB at WH last December when myself and LMcD failed to find the bird in the snow, it was well camouflaged I suppose.
Also at WH were 3 hunting Short Eared Owls and a female Goosander flew west over the substation and the larger flash.

122 – Snow Bunting

123 – Goosander

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Owls and Harrier

On Thursday evening I spent an hour watching 3 Short Eared Owls at West Hartford with JM. From the brick building we could see one of the owls being mobbed by crows before gaining height and dropping back into the centre of the field. The other two hunted along the fencerow nearer the farm.

Yesterday we went down to Dorman’s Pool for the Pallid Harrier – Lifer 270. During the two or so hours we spent it showed briefly twice.
The first time was when it flew out from the triangle of scrub next to the pool; this was our closet view as it weaved its way through the trees and out of sight.

Ten minutes later it reappeared at the opposite end of the pool, high above the reeds before going down to tree height and out of sight again near the Long Drag.

It’s a shame it didn’t show for longer but still it was good seeing it so close.
Also 2 Water Rails were calling from the reed bed and a fly over drake Pintail and Little Egret went past.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Blyth Riverside

After coming back from the vets in Blyth this morning we stopped and had a walk along the river Blyth. It was low tide and as a result Bar Tailed Godwit, Redshank and Ringed Plover gave close views.
A Grey Wagtail was flying up and down the small stream between the factories as we walked to the Kitty Brewster end.
Walking along the new path behind the riverside workshops I noticed two waders on the edge of the shore. When I got my bins on them I could see that they were two winter plumage Spotted Redshank. I watched them for about ten minutes as they preened and waded through the river.

There was no sign of the Little Egrets under the road bridge but a single juvenile Whooper Swan was swimming west along the river near the widest part of the estuary.

A quick stop at WH on the way back and I could only manage a Buzzard being mobbed by crows. About 150 gulls, mostly BH and Herring were on the main flash.

Friday, 14 October 2011

xbill

Whilst rushing around in the garden before taking my rabbit to the vets yeaterday afternoon, 8 Crossbill went over SW, ''chipping'' as they went, shame I have already had one on the patch this year, but still a good garden tick.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Patience

After arriving in Middlesbrough on monday I soon found out that a Lesser Scaup had been found on Tynemouth Boating Lake.
Trying to put it to the back of mind I got on with my work and after coming home last night I was able to get a lift down to Marden Quarry this morning.
After talking to JM he soon pointed out the Lesser Scaup - Lifer, which was behind a group of Tufted Duck near some willows. It stayed in the same area occasionally diving but not associating with the tufties.

On my way to Marden Quarry a group of 5 Redwing flew west over and there were at least 12 Blackbirds in the garden this morning. I'll have to keep an eye out for Fieldfare on the patch now.
Also a Merlin was hunting along side the train just outside of Seaham yesterday on my way back.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Geese, Parrots, Ducks and Turtle

I went out with PF this morning for a half university work half birding trip. After seeing what I needed to in a few villages in north Tyneside we ended up at St.Mary’s.
400+ Golden Plover flew high above the wetland and 90+ Barnacle Geese flew over in separate skeins.
Also a nice female Wheatear preformed well next to the car in the Briar Dene car park before flying onto the golf course.
28 Teal flew from the sea to the wetland where they joined the Wigeon and Gadwall.
Next stop was Prior’s Park. No sign of the Yellow Browed Warbler despite seeing a few different tit flocks including a tribe of 13 Long Tailed Tit.
On our way back to the car from the allotments we heard the Orange Winged Parrot calling from the trees above the haven car park.

We then stopped at Northumberland Park where the drake Mandarin swam from behind the reeds and began preening amongst the Mallards, one of which took a swipe at it.
A very confiding bird, which unfortunately never came into the light for Peter to get some clearer photos.
Whilst we watched the Mandarin a Parrot/Parakeet sp. was calling from the trees behind us but never showed itself.

Whilst looking for the mystery bird I got a text from SH about a Turtle Dove at Big Waters! We were there within 10 minutes to see this county mega but there was no sign when we arrived.
Ourselves and the other birders present spread around the first car park where it had been seen as some seed was put down.
Soon Collard Dove after Collard Dove appeared and it wasn’t long until the Turtle Dove (an excellent county tick), joined them feeing on the ground opposite the car park next to the radio mast.
Every time a plane flew over the flock got spooked and landed in the trees before feeding in the field further down the road.

Not at all what I was expecting to see today but well worth the trip out.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Beaten

My all time patch total that is. After getting a text from SH saying he had 20 Barnacle Geese fly over Seaton Burn this morning, I went to Arcot Pond on the off chance.
I had scanned all of the pond and the mud islands and banks then the flock of the gulls on the island at the back took off revealing a lone Barnacle Goose. It seemed to be holding out its left wing which looked bent and was drooping, it could be around for a while.
2 Roe Deer were crashing through the reeds in the SW corner so nothing else was around apart from a lot of Teal.

So thats 120 on the patch with still a few more birds to see potentially.

120 - Barnacle Goose

Monday, 3 October 2011

Wild and Fowl

When I arranged to meet someone in Duns regarding my university work a couple of week ago, I had planned to go by myself but it worked out even better as I was able to stay with friends who live in Jedburgh so had a few days in the borders at the end of last week.

I didn’t do much birding up there but on the way we quickly passed Monk’s House Pool where 2 Ross’s Geese were with 8 Barnacle Geese behind the pool. Although I can’t tick them yet it was still nice to see them even if it was a little strange seeing geese in the unseasonal warmth. I was suprised at how small the Ross’s Geese were, I’m sure the ones I looked after during my volunteering days at Washington WFP weren’t that small.
A few times they disappeared behind small tufts of grass surrounding the pool but never strayed far from the Barnacles.

I got a text on my way to Scotland about the Sandhill Crane over Newbiggin so I kept a close eye on any fields on my way home on Saturday, I even stopped at Catcleugh and Colt Crag Res as we were passing, I didn’t know it was in Lincolnshire at the time.

Yesterday SH had to drop his wife off somewhere in Durham so whilst in the area we spent the morning at a wet and deserted Saltholme.
Despite spending the best part of an hour in the rain looking for the Blue Winged Teal on the Allotment Pool (which is very hard work), it never showed itself. 2 Water Rails amongst the Moorhen on the pool were the highlight.
No sign of Pectoral Sandpiper on Back Saltholme from the hide just a Black Tailed Godwit and some Dunlin and a Little Egret.

Today is my first day back at university and I nearly fell out of my seat when I saw that a Blyth’s Pipit was seen earlier in Middlesbrough!!! WTF I don’t know the area where it was seen and it headed off SW.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Level Best

I went to Arcot Pond yesterday afternoon since I hadn’t been there in a while. Amongst the increasing number of Mallard and Teal at the back of the pond were two Wigeon.
I had been standing at the front of the pond for about a minute watching the pond when a Cormorant surfaced, its amazing how long they can be hidden under water for.

I then went to the back of the pond and checked the hedgerows bordering the golf course. Despite Great, Blue and Coal Tit calling I couldn’t find any Willow Tit, if I had then I would have reached the magic total of 120 on the patch. There is still time and a few birds I need to catch up with so hopefully I will reach this target.

Also yesterday I had a fly over garden tick as I was going through the front door, 30 Canada Geese flew west.

Below is a photo of the Wryneck myself and LMcD had at West Hartford in April; I have been meaning to upload it for months now.

118 – Cormorant

119 – Wigeon



Monday, 19 September 2011

Sunday

Strated off with the Webs count at Castle Island, not much there to note apart from 4 Goosander and a Cormorant on the middle island with probably the worst injury I have ever seen to a bird.
one of its wings was hanging off with the bone sticking out at an angle, I think both the gulls and Otters will be keeping a close eye on it.

On our way down the track to the hide at Cresswell Pond we were told that a Yellow Browed Warbler was in the trees to the left of the track. It soon appeared along with a Reed Warbler. The Warbler called a few times from different areas of the trees before climbing up the bare branches at the back.
There wasn't much on the pond either apart from 2 Ruff and a lone Pale Bellied Brent Goose.
Back at West Hartford a juvenile and an adult GBB Gull were amongst the flock on the main flash.

Early evening I went back to Prestwick Carr with Cain and a few others. 7 Short Eared Owls showed and at least one Long Eared Owl.

Friday, 16 September 2011

SEO and LEO

I went along to Prestwick Carr with Holywell Birder last night for a look at the Short Eared Owls. After locating the crowd PF pointed out a juvenile SEO sitting on a fence post in the field in front of us. It sat there preening for the whole time we were there, go to Cain’s blog to see a video of it doing just that.

Whilst another group of birders checked the field to out right, a pair of very noisy Willow Tit chased each other up and down the hedgerow. A few Bullfinch were also moving down the hedge.
Not long after we were signalled to come down to the next field. Thinking that a hunting SEO had been spotted, I was surprised to look through ADMc scope and see a Long Eared Owl well camouflaged in tree.
When I looked away from the scope I was expecting the LEO to be deep in cover and almost impossible to see with the naked eye, like the birds at Saltholme in the winter, but instead its was quite easy to pick out once you got onto it. The orange eyes gave it away really.

It was a shame we had to leave before the owls began hunting but at least now I can say I have seen both SEO and LEO together.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Ruff Revisited

''On our way back we called into West Hartford. 3 Snipe and a Greenshank were on the main pool and another unidentified wader flew through. I’m sure from what I briefly saw of it that it was a Ruff but like the probable Osprey earlier in the week, I will have to just forget about it.
As we were heading back a flock of 30 Redpoll flew south towards the industrial estate''.

Shortly after writing the above on saturday I got a call from DMcK saying that he had a Ruff at WH.
I arrived a short time after with LMcD just in time to see it fly off.


117 - Ruff

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Great and Green

I hadn’t planned to do any birding today but when I got a call from DMcK and offered a lift by LMcD to Arcot Pond , it seemed rude not to.

As soon as we arrived at the pond our target bird, a juvenile Great Crested Grebe was showing well in the middle of the pond with some Tufted Duck.
Soon after a Green Woodpecker began yaffling from the trees near the SW corner of the pond.

On our way back we called into West Hartford. 3 Snipe and a Greenshank were on the main pool and another unidentified wader flew through. I’m sure from what I briefly saw of it that it was a Ruff but like the probable Osprey earlier in the week, I will have to just forget about it.
As we were heading back a flock of 30 Redpoll flew south towards the industrial estate.

115 – Great Crested Grebe

116 – Green Woodpecker

Friday, 2 September 2011

Grey Start

This morning I set off early for West Hartford and arrived there by 6:30. On my way I had been listening out for the Green Woodpecker GM had on the Northburn estate yesterday morning at a similar time, but no sign this morning.

Yesterday I went to WH in search of the Little Gull GB had found. When I arrived there were no gulls on either of the pools. It was probably the same Little Gull myself and SH had fly over nearly two weeks ago.
As I was leaving LMcD arrived and after watching 4 Buzzards soaring over the fields in the distance I noticed another raptor heading towards us. It headed down the river but as we watched the sun distorted its appearance and we couldn’t pick out any colour.
Its appearance fitted that of an Osprey especially when it hovered over the river but we just didn’t see enough key features to clinch an ID so left it at a probable.

As I arrived at the entrance of West Hartford this morning, a Grey Wagtail flew over calling. Nothing was on the main pool but on the smaller one there were 40 sleeping Mallard and 2 Teal.
I spent the next hour checking all the rows of bushes and scrub behind and around the substation; in total I found 6 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Whitethroat and 1 Goldcrest.

Instead of going back the usual way I went through the fields leading to East Hartford. As I was approaching East Hartford village a Grey Wagtail flew over in the direction of the Horton Burn.
I walked back following the burn and just west of the main road bridge over the burn I ended up flushing 4 Grey wags. They landed on some rocks in the burn a few meters away and were then joined by another. Before today the most I have seen together on the burn was 3.

114 – Grey Wagtail

Friday, 26 August 2011

Green...ish

On Tuesday I went up to Beacon Point with SH when news broke of a Greenish Warbler. Unsure where exactly it was at Beacon Point, we met GB who pointed it out to us.
It was in an area of vegetation bordering Beacon Point, sheltered from the wind.
I thought that it would be difficult to see the Greenish but for the half an hour we watched it was very confiding.
Frequently hovering and fly catching along the strip of vegetation it also hopped across the grass and stems catching Caterpillars, moths and Crane Flys as it went.
As we were leaving the warbler flew over the other side of the bank and began hunting along the vegetation there.
I think even I could have got some good photos if I had brought my camera.
As we headed back to the car park at the north end of the car park, a Sedge Warbler was moving around a patch of gorse.

Yesterday we went back to Newbiggin in the hope of more migrants dropping in over night. In truth it was quiet with no sign of an early fall.
A Garden Warbler amongst the Whitethroats on the side of the Ash Lagoon bank and a Lesser Whitethroat in the scrub on the side of the railway embankment in Woodhorn churchyard were the highlights.

Also we saw a Little Egret fishing from the road bridge over the River Wansbeck as we were going back. It was on the Cambois side of the river not far from the river mouth.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Little Suprise

Ever since the Med Gull at West Hartford the other week I have been paying more attention to the gulls, which fly over Cramlington each night on their way to roost at Blyth.
There is a steady stream of gulls moving east each night from 6-9 probably from some of the inland reservoirs but also from the factory roofs of Cramlington’s industrial estate.

Also at the same time each day a stream of corvids (mostly Jackdaws), move west to roost near Prestwick Carr. I have been paying close attention to both the gulls and crows over my house and whilst at WH.

Last night I went to do the Cormorant count at Blyth Harbour with SH. 178 was the total number of Cormorants, some of which were on the bottom of the wind turbines.
On our way back we checked WH form the roadside, which has been improved recently as the small ditch I usually fall into has been filled in and some nicely placed tree trunks now acts as a good seats.

On the main pool there were 61 Greylag Geese, which is unusual for Hartford. No sign of any waders but we couldn’t see the back pool.
The gulls were starting to move overhead and at one point I heard a Common Tern calling. We both looked up and saw a Common Tern just trailing behind a small group of BH Gulls. But along side the tern was a more interesting bird.
After watching them slowly move over we saw that the other bird along side the Tern was a non-adult Little Gull, a first for West Hartford and another full Crammy lifer for me. They soon moved overhead and out of sight without landing on the pool.

Now watching the corvids go over I spotted 2 Rooks, a rare species anywhere north of Parkside in Cramlington and only my second ever sighting at WH.

I will be paying even more attention to these flocks in future.

113 – Little Gull

Sunday, 21 August 2011

54

Since my last post, I have been back to West Hartford a couple of times and managed to see 4 Greenshank together and 2 Green Sandpiper.
I was there yesterday morning with SH before we went to Newbiggin. Amongst the LBB and Herring Gulls on the main pool was a juvenile Great Black Backed Gull, usually a scarce winter visitor to Cramlington.
1 Greenshank and 4 juvenile Shoveler were also on the main pool.

The afternoon before we had given it an hour at Newbiggin searching for the Barred Warbler but all we could find were Whitethroat. Instead of going back for another look we counted the Med Gulls in the south bay instead.
At the south end of the beach opposite the couples statue we counted 36 amongst the BH Gulls in the beach. Happy enough with this total we then found a further 18 on the beach between the breakwater and the maritime centre.
Out of the 54, 13 were juveniles. This was a Newbiggin record until somebody counted 59 later that afternoon. Also there were easily over 1500 Kittiwakes in the bay

Next we went up to Cresswell Pond. A Marsh Harrier soon glided into view and was seen on and off between the pond and Warkworth Lane. 4 Ruff were on the far bank and an eclipse male Scaup was amongst the Tufted Duck diving in front of the hide.

This morning we were out again to Holywell Pond this time. 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Ruff and 1 Dunlin were on the mud in front of the public hide.
When we got to the members hide we were told we had just missed a bat, which flew out of the hide after dropping down from above one of the shutters. Apparently it tried to get back in the hide before flying off over the pond. The two birders who had disturbed it had taken some photos whist it was on the bench under the shutter.
From the photos Steve ruled out a few species and thinks that it was probably a Daubenton’s Bat, shame it didn’t come back.

Swallow Pond and Arcot were are final stops and both were quiet. From the metal hide at Swallow it is to overgrown to see the pond properly but we did hear a Water Rail calling from the reeds and a Willow Tit was calling from the bushes behind the hide.

112 – Great Black Backed Gull

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Green X2

I went down to West Hartford early this morning. To the left of the gull flock on the main pool were two Greenshank which kept flying off and relanding a few minutes later.

With nothing on the smaller pool I checked the hedgerow between the metal fence and the substation. An adult and a juvenile Jay were hopping around the tree tops before flying toawrds the river Blyth.

Apart from a few Willow Warblers in song there wasn't much else as the rain started. I checked the pools one last time and as I did I noticed a Green Sandpiper feeding with the Greenshank at the back of the main pool.

110 - Greenshank

111- Jay

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

2 in two days

This morning I went out with LMcD to do an early WEBS count at Blyth. On our way we called into West Hartford. No waders and the 100+ gull flock of yesterday were down to around 20.
Most of the gulls, (mainly BH) were on the exposed mud at the back of the main pool but an interesting gull was sitting between two LBB Gulls with its back to us.
Eventually it turned around and we saw that it was a Juvenile Mediterranean Gull, my second full Cramlington Lifer in two days!
As if for comparison with the BH Gulls it flew over and joined them before heading off north with them towards the river Blyth.
I said last night that it was only a matter of time before one turned up but I didn’t think this quickly, it was the first juvenile Med Gull I have ever seen.

We started the Blyth WEBS count at Kitty Brewster and walked along the new footpath to the bend in the river that overlooks the A189 road bridge. From here we could see a Little Egret on one of the small islands under the bridge.

The count on the estuary and in the harbour were quiet with a Whimbrel amongst a group of Curlew on the banks of the estuary being the highlight.

When we finished the count we went to Holywell Pond were the two Black Necked Grebes were quite close to the members hide.
No waders were seen from the public hide and there were also none at the east pool.

109 - Mediterranean Gull

Monday, 8 August 2011

Merlin!

Whilst going around the roundabout at the entrance to West Hartford this afternoon I noticed a raptor sitting on the grass in front of the new fire station.
We went around the roundabout and pulled in a couple of meters in front of the curb the bird was perched on.
As I was getting out of the car I saw that it wasn’t the Sparrowhawk I had predicted but instead a Juvenile Merlin!
I managed to take a crap photo of it on my mams phone as I couldn’t find mine, but it may take some time for this to be uploaded.

Only at this close range could I appreciate what an amazing bird the Merlin is. It sat on the curb for about a minute before flying off low to the ground and landed amongst the small shrubs in the fire station car park.
As soon as I got home I made a few calls and was back out there within a few minutes but there was no sign.
Myself, LMcD and JM then checked the pools where over 100 gulls mostly Black Headed were bathing. Nothing interesting amongst them, it only a matter of time before a Little or Med Gull turns up.

108 - Merlin

Sunday, 7 August 2011

YLG

Early yesterday morning I set off for Newbiggin with GM (Liver Birder) in search of the Yellow Legged Gull that had been seen throughout the week.

Most of the gulls in the south bay were on the rocks underneath the Couples sculpture so we had to scan through them from the beach.
One bird stood out but after about an hour of looking at it we decided it didn’t show enough of the key characteristics of YLG but it was probably not a Herring Gull.

Just off the tide line a group of Guillemots and 1 Razorbill fished with some Cormorants and Terns but there weren’t many gulls on the beach.
The majority of the gulls were Juvenile and adult Herring Gulls with a few Kittiwakes and LBB Gulls. Although we weren’t looking properly we only saw one adult Med Gull.

As we headed back across the beach we checked the gulls sitting on the breakwater next to the new maritime centre. One gull again stood out straight away but this time showed a lot more of the key features of a juvenile YLG.
We watched it for about an hour and took photos and later confirmed that it was a Yellow Legged gull – Lifer.
Picture and more detailed ID notes are on http://liverbirder.blogspot.com/.
When I got home I saw that another separate bird had been seen just off Church point during the week and it looked a lot like the bird we first saw under the sculpture.

With the weather looking like it was going to turn we headed to Cresswell Pond for a quick look.
As we walked to the hide, 4 Yellow Wagtails and a few Tree Sparrows were active in the surrounding fields.
On the pond a Ruff was moving along the western shore and a Little Egret was walking across the sand bar in front of the hide. In the field to the left of the hide 3 Bar Headed Geese were sleeping and 2 Yellow Wagtails, (1 juvenile 1 adult) were flitting around.

After a quick chat with BM (Killy Birder) we moved onto Druridge Pools.
No sign of any Spotted Redshank only a single Greenshank and Common Sandpiper were on the far shore from the Oddie hide.

As we were leaving Druridge it began to rain so we quit whilst we were ahead. With the success of the morning trip it was inevitable that the afternoon wouldn’t be as good and whilst watching Newcastle’s pre season friendly in the pouring rain it was abandoned during the second half. The thunder echoing around the stadium was impressive though.

Friday, 5 August 2011

1 out of 3

After the rain the other day I got a text from JM about the Hobby at WH. I went donwn a while later and spent and hour and a half looking but there was no sign.

I went again this morning. I couldn't see anything on the pools and was heading back when I heard a Green Sandpiper calling.
This is exactly what happened at Arcot the other day, I heard one very close but both times I never saw it.

I've just seen that somebody has had one and a Wood Sandpiper this afternoon. Oh well at least my bird call ID skills are getting better.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

An hour at Arcot

After a slow start to the day at Newbiggin with only colour ringed Med Gulls to look at, myself and SH spent an hour at Arcot scanning the pond from the log on the southern shore.

No sign of the Water Rail steve had yesterday but amongst the mobile flock of Lapwing at the back of the pond was a single Dunlin.
During the hour we heard a Crossbill as it flew near to the west of the pond. Also a Green Sandpiper flew over and circled calling loudly but never landed.

106 - Dunlin

107 - Crossbill

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The beauty of having a local patch

Last night I went to West Hartford to check the flashes in the hope that something rare had dropped in. Water level was still good but no hoped for Pect Sand or any waders for that matter, but this didn’t matter as common bird was about to make my day.

I was on my way home when I got a much-appreciated text from JM saying that he had a Yellowhammer singing in the hedgerow near the substation.
This was only the fifth record of Yellowhammer at WH, and since I had missed one twice already this year at WH I was keen to catch up with it.
It didn’t take long for it to start singing this time from the hedgerow behind the entrance plantation.

At last Yellowhammer is on my West Hartford list, now just another WH mega to find, House Sparrow!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Rain...again

Before going to Castle Island with SH and DMcK for WEBS this morning we checked Arcot Pond first.
There was no sign of yesterdays Green Sandpiper but a Common Sandpiper was on the mud instead. Also the juv Water Rail was out again in the SE corner.
The heavy rain had filled the pond slightly but still a good amount of mud remains. When we checked a quiet West Hartford I was glad to see that it has also filled up and looks very good for the coming months.

It was still raining when we got to Castle Island where 3 Common sandpipers were on the island amongst the regulars.

After the count we ended up taking cover in the hide at Cresswell for an hour. On the way to the hide a Stonechat sat on the brick wall near the car park.
A nice looking summer plumage Knot was amongst the Dunlin on the sandbar and the two Avocets were on the spit before flying off west.
3 Bar Headed Geese were still on the pond, 3 Little Gull on the sand bar and a Water Rail began squealing from the reeds in front of the hide.

On the way back we gave Beacon Point a quick look. 5 Red throated Divers flew south as did a single Great Skua.
No sign of any Roseate Terns but two Whimbrel were feeding on the sea weed at low tide.

105 - Common Sandpiper

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Green

After getting two messages this morning saying that yesterdays Green Sandpiper was still at Arcot, I went for a look.
As soon as I checked the near bank in the SW corner it flew off and landed on the island at the back of the pond.
Apart from the Green sand and Lapwing there were no other waders but 5 Common Tern landed on the dead headgerow in the pond and began fishing.

104 - Green Sandpiper

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Yesterday Morning

I went out birding for what seemed like the first time in ages. I went up to Cresswell with SH first. On our way to the hide at least 3 Reed Warblers were singing from the reeds.
On the sand bar in front of the hide were 10 Little Gulls, which soon flew over to the spit on the left of the pond.
Also near the spit were a pair of Avocets, one of which was a large juv. A juv Great Crested Grebe and 5 Wigeon were also on the pond as were 3 Bar Headed Geese.

Next we went up to East Chevington. The north pool was relatively quiet but there was an adult Spoonbill on the left bank.
We also got good views of the Marsh Harriers including one fledged young collecting food.

Our last stop was at Arcot where the water level is at the best I have ever seen it. 3 Redshank were amongst the now permanent group of Lapwing and oystercatchers at the back of the pond. The long staying Little Egret was also on the back island.
Whilst scanning the areas of exposed mud in front of the reeds in the bottom SE corner I spotted a juv Water Rail walking out into the open. It moved from the edge of the reeds into the open water a few times before disappearing back into the reeds.

103 – Water Rail

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Will there be enough water?

I went to West Hartford for the first time since wednesday last night and in those few days all the water on the larger flash has gone. Only a small amount remains on the small flash.



























Not much left

Also for the first time that I can remember at WH, someone has cut all of the grass behind the small flash along to the row of trees behind the substation. For grazing perhaps?



























To be honest I wasn't at WH to check for waders but for Quail instead. There is a mile long stretch of Wheat/Barley fields between East and West Hartford. Nothing calling there last night unfortunately.

The only activity on the bird front was a Sparrowhawk chasing a Ringed Plover which managed to escape.
























Perfect for a Quail

Friday, 1 July 2011

3-1

I went out yesterday morning with SH. Although it wasn’t WEBS we still went to Castle Island, as there seems to be a lot of activity there at the minute.
As soon as we arrived three Spoonbill were feeding in the water on the near side of the island. They soon flew off and landed on the middle of the island.
One of the Spoonbills was a juv bird and whilst the other two foraged amongst the grass on the island the juv bird stood on top of a pile of logs, making for a very strange site.
Whilst watching them further one of the adults began collecting sticks!

There was no sign of the Ruff or Green Sandpiper but we did see 2 Common Sandpiper, 42 Tufted Duck, 126 Canada Geese and 91 Mute Swan, and I said it wasn’t WEBS!
Also 9 Common Tern flew inland, they got as far as Stakeford Bridge before turning back and circled the island.

After a heavy shower we called into Arcot on the way back to see if anything had dropped in, it had.
Whilst driving past the SW corner I noticed something white in the water. When we got out we found it was a first year Little Egret.
As it fished it moved through the water and eventually ended up on the island in the NW corner but DMCK told me that he had it in the SW corner again last night.
















Record shot provided by Steve


102 - Little Egret

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Hartford Bridge

On Friday evening I went to Hartford Bridge with LMcD in search of Dipper. When we walked down to the river from the roadside, the first thing we saw was an overweight Labrador trying to avoid drowning in the river, ruining any chance of the Dipper appearing.
Instead we walked the 1 ½ miles down stream to the Stannington Viaduct. Apart from a few Mallards the river was quiet.

On the way back now that the dog had gone (or drowned) we looked down both sides of the river from the bridge and straight away I spotted an adult Dipper sitting preening itself on a floating log on the left side of the river.

The Dipper was on the Cramlington side of the river so this is a long overdue new species on the patch for me. Also whilst watching the Dipper a Kingfisher flew west along the river and under the bridge.

101 – Dipper

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Last week at CLV

Last week myself and Cain (Holywell Birder) were helping out at Cramlington Learning Village (or community high school, like it was when I was a student there).
We were offering our limited knowledge to a year 9 class of 26 students, the majority of which seemed to enjoy the week.
The aim of the week was for the students to produce a brochure showing what wildlife is on offer around Cramlington as part of science investigations week.
The brochure was also to include their own photos, drawings and observations from the sights we visited.

On the Monday we went around the school grounds in small groups to see what was about. The strip of trees bordering the railway line was the sight of most of the activity. A family party of Whitethroats and a pair of Bullfinch were the highlights on the bird front whilst a set of fox tracks in the mud were interesting.

With no transport during the week we were limited to visiting local sights by foot so it was a good job the weather was kind to us.
On Tuesday we visited Beacon Lane and Arcot Pond. Although there was nothing out of the ordinary at Arcot, the Common Tern preformed well, diving for fish over the pond. Fighting Grey Herons, Tadpoles with legs and Fresh Water Mussels also seemed to capture the imagination.

On Wednesday we walked from the school, past the fields with the giant spoon in near East Cramlington and ended up on the border of Seghill.
Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and Whitethroat were all showing well in the hedgerows around the tracks. With field after field of Wheat and Barley I though I might hear a Quail but had no luck.

During the rest of the week we helped out with the content of the brochure. It was amazing to see a class that couldn’t name a Blackbird at the beginning of the week, manage to pick out key features of a Yellowhammer by the end. Also we went down to the workshop to offer advice to another class who were spending their week making bird tables, boxes and feeders.
As well as this they were helping to make the worlds largest nest box, a record currently held by Heighley Gate Garden Centre.
By the end of the week they had beaten the record and will soon be in the Guinness Book of records!

I wish something like this existed at the high school when I was there!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

100

I went out with SH and DMcK on Sunday morning to do WEBs. So far this year the WEBS counts at Castle Island haven’t been that interesting, but from now until November they should get better. Sundays count was proof of this.
As soon as we began scanning the river we could see a Spoonbill asleep (of course) on the edge of the island.
As we scanned the island further we found a Little Ringed Plover on the near shoreline.
Surprisingly the Spoonbill soon woke up and began wading and feeding through the river behind the island.
Amongst the regular wildfowl on the river was a Goldeneye and a 1st summer Med Gull was bathing amongst the BH Gulls near Stakeford Bridge.

On the way back we stopped at West Hartford and Arcot Pond. We soon moved on from WH as the main flash is completely dry and there is only a small amount of water left in the smaller flash.
Arcot has also dried out, exposing some good-looking muddy margins, which will hopefully attract some waders in the next few months. A Roe Deer and her fawn were drinking from the pond edge; this is the first fawn I have seen at Arcot.
Whilst watching the deer a Reed Warbler began singing from the NE reed bed.
This is the second year in a row I have heard a Reed Warbler call from this same spot.

Reed Warbler - 100

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Norfolk and Suffolk 2011 part 2

Day 3.

Before moving up to Norfolk for the last few days we went back to Westleton Heath early morning.
This time I got much better views of a pair of Nightingale along one of the tracks. In total we had 4 separate singing birds. Nearer to Dunwich Heath a Stone Curlew was sitting close to the ground and 4 Dartford Warblers – Lifer, were moving around the heath. After being initially shy the Dartfords soon began singing from the top of gorse bushes. Also around the heath we had good views of Little owl, Green Woodpeckers and 3 Turtle Dove as well as a few family parties of Foxes.

On the way to Norfolk we stopped for most of the day at Great Ryburgh watchpoint. We had one possible Honey Buzzard along with 6 Common Buzzard, 1 Red Kite, 1 Little Egret, 1 Barn Owl, 1 Egyptian Goose and strangely 1 Sandwich Tern.

Over the next couple of days we put in a good few hours at various Montagu’s Harrier sites without success. Also on the way we briefly stopped at Choseley Drying Barns where Corn Bunting were singing from the surrounding hedgerows.

With our accommodation in Norfolk less than a mile away from Titchwell RSPB we had a quick look around that evening. Whilst walking down the main path through the reserve we checked the pool on the left of the track. A pair of Red Crested Pochard - a long overdue lifer, was amongst the wildfowl on this deeper pool.

Day 4.

We started off the day a couple of miles up the coast at Cley. No sign of the Shorelark but close prolonged views of Bearded Tit and Little Egret were nice. Rather than go onto the main part of the reserve we went back to Titchwell. On the way out a pair of Egyptian Geese were at Salthouse Ditch.
Titchwell was quiet buy its usual standards but Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Avocet, Pintail with young and Ruddy Duck were still on the reserve, not that quiet!

Day 5.

On our way out of Norfolk we planned to stop at Welney WWT. But first we tried our look at Wolverton Triangle for Golden Pheasant. No Pheasants but a Muntjack Deer fed close to the car. We also tried a nearby site for Woodlark and as soon as we entered the site a Woodlark – Lifer, began singing before dropping from the sky like a Skylark.

When we got to Welney we stayed around the area where the Bluethroat had been seen. After 3 hours with no sign we moved on, only to find out the next day that it had been seen an hour after we left.
Our final stop of the trip was nearer to home at Blackhall Rocks where the Surf Scoter – Lifer, was showing well amongst a raft of Common Scoter.
A good way to finish the trip.

This week:

I went down to Hartlepool with Holywell Birder, BM and TM on Monday to see the White Throated Robin – Lifer. I won’t go into details but I was in the chaotic scenes at Hatlepool and only saw the bird after climbing up a ladder.

After a quick stop at McDonalds in Hartlepool we went to the dunes near the sewage works at Seaton Carew where the Red Backed Shrike had been seen.
The shrike soon appeared and showed well on a fence line for ten minutes before hunting in the dunes. Although not as rare as the Robin the RB Shrike was much better looking and I didn’t have to climb a ladder to see it!

Yesterday whilst walking from Seaton Sluice to St.Mary’s I flushed a pair of Yellow Wagtails from the cycle track. They then landed in a stubble field near Hartley. These were the first Yellow Wagtails I have seen this year, we didn’t even see any in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Norfolk and Suffolk 2011 Part 1

This post is about the trip I went on down to Norfolk and Sufflok with Liver Birder, SH, DMcK, LMcD, GB and LR last week.
Liver Birder has already included photos in his post so there is no need for me to include my crappy scenic shots.

Day One

After a quiet journey down to Norfolk we stopped at Weeting Heath first before the heat haze started. Spotted Flycatchers were tacking away from the treetops as we entered the hide. After a couple of minutes scanning the Heath we spotted a Stone Curlew – Lifer, sitting down. It wasn’t long until we spotted another 3 well-camouflaged stone curlews on the horizon. When they were next to each other we noticed that one of the birds much smaller than the others and that the white stripe on its wing was much less visible indicating that this was one of this years young.

After leaving Weeting our next stop was Lakenheath RSPB, a couple of miles down the road. We quickly went to the end of the first plantation on the reserve as a Golden Oriole had been singing earlier in the morning. Despite spending two hours waiting to see the Oriole we could only hear one bird singing from inside the plantation.
During the two hours we were treated to excellent views of Marsh Harriers gliding overhead, Hobbies hawking insects, a Bittern flew between the reed beds and a Kingfisher flew past, not a bad way to spend two hours.

We then moved on to the area overlooking the reed beds, from here a Cetti’s Warbler blasted out its call nearby but remained illusive. Whilst walking along side the Little Ouse, three Hobbies landed on fence posts next to each other before hunting and pair of Garganey were on the wash pool.

Before arriving at our accommodation we made another stop, this time at an undisclosed location where Lesser Spotted Woodpecker had been seen just over the border in Suffolk.
Gordon and Steve arrived at the area a minute or so before the rest of us and they had a LSW fly overhead but despite us waiting for half an hour in the poring rain it didn’t return, though a singing Firecrest did make up for missing what would have been another lifer.

After arriving at our accommodation we explored the nearby Westleton Heath an area we would visit over the next few days in more detail.


Day Two

With Minsmere RSPB only 1 ½ miles away from where we were staying we spent most of the second day on the reserve. I had been once before back in 2005 so knew what a good reserve it was.
Alsmost as soon as we walked along the track to the first hide, an obliging Cetti’s Warbler began singing from the edge of a tree before flying to the bushes surrounding the… hide where it sang out in the open for long periods, it even flew onto the railings outside the hide door.

On the mere there were over 20 nesting Med Gulls, 20+ Barnacle Geese, Little Tern, 4 Little Egret, 51 Black Tailed Godwit, 7 Spoonbill flew over and an escaped Greater Flamingo.

We went around most of the reserve, visiting most the hides. The other highlights on the reserve were good flight views of Bitterns, Marsh Harriers and Hobby, a squealing Water Rail, a family party of Marsh Tit and my best ever views of Bearded Tit.

That evening just after dark we visited Westleton Heath again. After listening to a Nightingale – Lifer, singing for over 5 minutes it finally decided to show itself in the middle of a bare bush.
2 Nightjars were churring out on the heath and after hearing one bird wing clap it flew up and landed on a branch 10 meters in front of us.

Only two days in and better was still to come…

Monday, 30 May 2011

Leighton and Warton

I headed for the west coast with Cain (Holywell Birder) on Friday. After a couple of stops in Carlisle and Penrith so that Cain could attend to some uni work we went down to Leighton Moss.
We didn’t see much on the way down but a female Peregrine keeping up with the car outside Carlisle was good to see.

Although Leighton Moss was quiet by its usual standards, we still enjoyed the close views of Marsh Harriers flying overhead and food passing.
From the Lower Hide a Hobby was flying around, mobbing the groups of Swifts and a female Pochard with just one young left was followed around by three drakes who acted as bodyguards when BH Gulls tried to attack.
We then drove the few miles along the road to the hides overlooking Morcambe Bay where 20+ Avocets were on their nests on the various islands.
On the way back we had a look at the impressive Warton Crag. Amongst the hundreds of Jackdaws nesting on the crag we picked out a Peregrine perched on the edge of the crag.

Today I got the chance to see the Terek Sandpiper- Lifer, at Hauxley. It took me a while to pick out the Sandpiper as it was sleeping with its back turned to me amongst the rocks on the western shore.
Once it was awake and feeding amongst the rocks I could see it more clearly as it bobbed up and down like a common sand. Somebody then let me look through their scope where I got even better views. It is the strangest looking wader I have seen, like a cross between a Greenshank and a Godwit with a bent bill.
Also there was a Pale Bellied Brent Goose swimming along the north shore with 5 Greylags.

In a few hours I will be off to Norfolk/Suffolk until Saturday, maybe I can get a lifer everyday this week!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

LRP

Went out with SH for a few hours this morning to do the WEBS count at Castle Island. After the count we went to Woodhorn South pool where a Reed Warbler and a squealing Water Rail could be heard from the reeds.
On the way back we check Arcot first, which was quiet and then West Hartford. With not much water left on the main flash I was suprised to still see 3 Ringed Plover. Whislt we watched them a Little Ringed Plover flew overhead calling loudly. It flew in from the direction of the river and landed on the mud.


99 - Little Ringed Plover

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

April Results

The following is how the patch competition 2011 stood at the end of April:

GM: 91
DMcK: 92
LMcD: 93
PJA: 94

I got a call from LMcD on sunday morning saying 2 Greenshank were at West Hartford. By the time I got there they had gone but the 7 Wood Sandpipers remained.
Whislt checking the fence row between the pools for migrants, I found a Whinchat perched on a branch in front of the fence.

Also the day before 2 Swifts were circling over my house.

97 - Swift
98 - Whinchat

Saturday, 7 May 2011

End of April Begining of May

Over the last two weeks I have been finishing off my final pieces of work for uni before I officially finish for the summer on Monday.
In between doing work I have been able to get out and do some birding though. Also I forgot to mention in my last post that on the morning that the Wryneck was at WH, I had a very early singing Garden Warbler on the roundabout in front of the entrance to WH.

27th April
I got a lift up to Lesbury with GM Liverbirder that night to see the night heron.
After two hours of searching up and down the river, eventually at 8:50 the Night Heron flew over our heads down river and landed on the bank side next to the viaduct.
During those two hours we waited Common Sandpiper, Green Woodpecker, Grasshopper Warbler and a Tawny Owl were all active around the viaduct.


29th April

I went up to Harthope with SH and DMcK. We walked around most of the main tracks in the valley and as a result ended up seeing Stonechat, 3 Whinchat, 2 Ring Ouzel, 2 Redstart, 2 Cuckoo and Tree Pipit.
On the way home we stopped at WH where a Lesser Whitethroat was singing from the entrance plantation and 2 Ringed Plover were on the main pool. Also 2 Common Terns were at Arcot.

Last night after GM told me there were 3 Wood Sandpiper at West Hartford I went and had a look. As I approached the main pool 4 waders flew off SW. I presumed they were the WS but when I looked at the other side of the pool 3 WS were there feeding along with a Ringed Plover. I didn’t think anything else of it as I though they had just landed again without me noticing.

This morning when I went for another look I found 7 feeding together in the SE corner of the main pool along with a Redshank. I now think that there were also 7 last night and the other 3 had been there the whole time, either way 7 Wood Sandpipers is still and impressive sight.


90- Garden Warbler
91- Redshank
92- Common Tern
93- Ringed Plover
94- Lesser Whitethroat
95- Undisclosed
96- Wood Sandpiper

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Wryneck!

After last nights rain I decided to get up early and see if anything had dropped into West Hartford. On my way to WH a Groppa and a Whitethroat were calling in the small area of scrub opposite Blue Star training pitch. When I arrived GM and dog were there and hadn't seen much apart from the Wheatear which were still around the rubbish pile.
The mian flash was waderless and after less than half an hour I decided to head back. I met LMcD on the way and we had another look at the Wheatear. A bright male Wheatear flew into the field next to the fire station and landed on top of a dead branch. Whislt watching it I noticed another bird climbing up a reed stem.
At first I thought it was going to be a Reed Bunting or a Warbler but when I looked I couldn't believe what I was seeing, a Wryneck!
LMcD was convinced it was a Reed Bunting as it flew off towards the treeline left of the main flash. I was determined to prove what I had seen and as we approached the trees it hopped out onto an area of dead branches.
Over the next ten minutes as I was letting people know, it flew onto the wasteground in front of the main flash, landed in the dead trees there, pecked at insects on the tree, landed on the ground again and was last seen flying towards the treelne left of the main flash.

LMcD managed to get some record shots which he will send me at some point. I spent another hour with GM and JM trying to refind it but there was no sign by the time I left.

That was definately a bird I was never expecting to see at WH and just proves that anything could be out there. This is also the first record for Cramlington.

88 - Whitethroat

89 - Wryneck

Friday, 22 April 2011

Quiet Friday

I went out with LMcD this afternoon to do some local birding. First stop was The Cramlington stretch of the river Blyth from the stepping stones at Bedlington.
All hopes of Dipper, Grey Wagtail etc were soon destroyed by the sounds of screaming kids and dogs swimming along the river, FFS I didn't think the river Blyth would be such a popular place.
After walking along as far as the river bank that runs behind West Hartford and only hearing 3 Blackcaps and a Nuthatch we decided to head to the coast.

With heavy fog rolling in at the coast we checked the old railway area at Cambois for migrants. Again nothing to be seen. This was the same at Baites Filtrations pools, all very quiet.

West Hartford provided the best birding of the day with 3 female Wheatear near the rubbish pile and at least one House Martin amongst the Sand Martins over the water.
Also a Stock Dove flew east over the smaller flash.

86 - Stock Dove

87 - House Martin

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

catching up

I have been out a few times since friday. On saturday morning I had a walk around Woodhorn with SH. We walked around the fields between Woodhorn south pool and Summerhouse Lane pond.
The ponds were quiet but a Grasshopper Warbler and a Whitethroat were vocal along the footpath.
On the way back we checked Arcot where 2 Sedge Warblers were singing away from the hedgrow right of the pond. On sunday evening I went to West Hartford where Warblers were in full song including 2 reeling Grasshopper Warblers. Also there was a black horse roaming around near the brick building, never seen one at WH before.
Yesteray afternoon I went back to WH, amongst the Lapwing and Oystercatchers were 3 Curlew, hopefully there will be more waders on the move soon.
As I was leaving a male Wheatear flew in front of me and landed on the gate post next to the bigger flash. I then looked at the rubbish pile and 2 more Wheatear had appeared.
As I walked further on I noticed a further 4 on the ground between the substation and the metal railings. In total there were 4 males and 3 females, and they were easily the best lookign Wheatear I have ever seen.
No sign of the Black horse today, maybe I was just hallucinating.

83 - Sedge Warbler

84 - Grasshopper Warbler

85 - Wheatear

Friday, 15 April 2011

Back online

Finally my I.T. problems have been solved thankfully with no lasting damage to the PC. Since my last post I have slowly added a few more ticks to the patch list after a visit to West Hartford last Friday. 3 Willow Warbler, 1 Swallow, 3 Sand Martin and 2 Linnet were the new additions. Last Saturday I tried for the Shorelark at Druridge but there was no sign, the 8 Avocets north of the causeway at Cresswell were nice to see though. I got back from boro on Wednesday and with not much work left to do I was able to go up to Bamburgh with JM for the Black Scoter. We had just gone onto the A1 north of Morpeth where the road goes into single file near Fenrother when I spotted what I thought was a large Buzzard. As we got closer we could see that it wasn’t a Buzzard but the White Tailed Eagle which had previously been at East Chevington. It flew low west over the road being mobbed by Jackdaws as we stared in disbelief. If that wasn’t a good sign for the rest of the trip then I don’t know what was. I have since heard that the eagle was see a by a few others on the same stretch of road further south on the border of the patch! When we arrived at Bamburgh the Farne Islands wardens were watching a close in raft of Scoter only 100m offshore from the lower car park at Stag Rocks. One of the wardens let us look through We stayed for about two hours with excellent views of the Black Scoter as it swam amongst the raft of Common Scoter. At one point the raft was only 50m offshore but kept occasionally disappearing into the swell making photographic opportunities for John very difficult. Apart from preening and swimming the Black Scoter also put its tail up in the air before scooting across the water with its bright yellow beak open when other scoter approached it. In profile it seemed to have a thicker neck and rounder head but that could just be my eyes. This afternoon I has back up the coast with LMcD for a couple of hours. We checked Cresswell from south car park but there was no sign of any Avocets. Druridge Pools was quiet but there were two Grasshopper Warblers rattling away in the scrub between the road next to the dunes and the main pool. Instead of going back to Cresswell we checked East Chevington instead. 10+ Sandwich Terns were on the north pool as were Great Crested Grebes. We were both surprised to hear an early Reed Warbler singing away from the reeds at the south end of the north pool. As we were leaving I spotted a male Marsh Harrier quartering a field near the entrance to East Chevington. All in all it has been quite a good week on the birding front. 79 – Willow Warbler 80 – Swallow 81 – Sand Martin 82 – Linnet

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Out of action

My home computer is currently broken so it may be a while before I can next post something. In the mean timethe results for March in the patch competition are as follows: DMcK: 78 PJA: 78 LMcD: 76 GM: 73 Hopefully by the time I next post something the blog will stop compressing everything I write and put in some spaces.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Fooling around

After finishing doing some shopping in Manor Walks this afternoon I was crossing the road between the Pheonix pub and the library when I heard that familiar trilling. 26 Waxwings were spread accross three trees on the grass to the left of the path. I stood under the trees for about ten minutes watching them trill, fly around and then land on the berry bushes under the pheonix sign before coming back to the trees above. A few of them had taken berries back to the trees and I was showered with them at one point as they flew off when a Herring Gull got too close.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Whoop

When I got to Arcot Pond yesterday I was thinking I would never get Whooper Swan on the patch this year if I didn't get one in the next week. At first I could only see 4 Mutes dotted around the pond but when the one which had its head submerged, put its head up I could see it was a rusty looking juv Whooper Swan. 78 - Whooper Swan

Monday, 28 March 2011

Another good weekend

I seem to be getting a good balance between birding and doing work during my two weeks off. After spending most of Saturday doing work, I went up to Cresswell with CS Holywell birder to see the American Wigeon. Cain was short on time so we didn’t stay long; we soon spotted the American Wigeon amongst the flock of Wigeon to the left of the hide, not a lifer for me but a county tick. Also a Dark Bellied Brent Goose was amongst the flock of Pink Footed Geese. We also called into Druridge Pools briefly where 17 Shoveler and 4 Pintail were on the budge field. Also I have seen an undisclosed bird at an undisclosed site on the patch recently. 77 – Undisclosed. I have no idea why the writing is so crushed together, I have tried editign it 3 times but nothing happens.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Hartford History

That’s what was made tonight, with West Hartford’s first ever Great White Egrets, which are the third and fourth records for Cramlington.
Also is this the first multiple Great White Egret record for Northumberland?

When I got the call from John saying that he had a GWE I was lucky enough to get a lift there within 5 minutes. When I arrived I could just see a flash of white above the reeds. Soon after another GWE appeared next to the other and the pair stayed at the edge of the main flash, viewed from the roadside for about half an hour before flying off NW.
They turned around a few times in flight before deciding to go NW, where will they turn up next?

See http://birdingsometimes.blogspot.com/ for details and record shots.

76 – Great White Egret

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Owls!

I checked West Hartford this evening to try and scan through the gull flock but they took off as soon as I quietly approached. 2 Greylags had joined the Teal and Oystercatchers in the grass behind the main flash.
As I was leaving I spotted a Short Eared Owl sitting on a fence post, which overlooks a small flooded channel (ideal for voles), between the main flash and the marshy field.
It flew from the post and began hunting along the edge of the flash before dropping down onto something. Soon it was mobbed by Magpies and flew off towards the fields behind the flash.
This SEO looked darker than the bird I saw here last month, which was particularly pale.

I was able to get a lift down to Valley Park tonight to try for the Tawny Owls, which have been heard for over 6 weeks now.
The night was calm and still and as soon as I opened the car door to listen, a female Tawny Owl started calling from the edge of the trees opposite the houses. It didn’t take long until the male responded and the pair called non stop for 5 minutes.

75 - Tawny Owl

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

More of the same

I’m trying to get to Arcot as much as possible at the minute as it is a key time of year for seeing certain species on the patch e.g. Goosander, Whooper Swan and Sand Martin.
As soon as I got out of the car today a Chiffchaff was singing away from the trees near the SW corner of the pond.
When I got to the pond itself most of the activity was in the NW corner where 8 Tufted Duck, 2 Pochard, 5 Mute Swan, 8 Coot and the Muscovy Duck were.

As I was leaving a vocal Curlew flew over the fields opposite the pond.

73 - Chiffchaff

74 - Curlew

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Shrike Song

I was out this morning with GB, ML and DMcK, to do some proper birding for the first time in weeks.
We headed up to Harwood Forest, stopping at the layby opposite Winter’s Gibbet first. It was overcast with rain clouds on the horizon and as a result only 2 Buzzards were seen.
Small groups of Crossbill were flying around the plantation to our right and a pair landed on the gibbet itself.
Instead of waiting to see if more raptors appeared we went in search of the Great Grey Shrike, last seen on 2nd March.

We parked in the village and walked along the forest track until we reached Tutehill Moss, a few miles form the village. At the top of the clearfell there is an army look out post, we scanned for the Shrike from there.
The rainclouds which had been on the horizon soon caught up and it drizzled for the rest of our time in Harwood.
Whilst scanning below, more small groups of Crossbill and also Redpoll and Siskin flew over calling, apart from this the forest was quiet and Tutehill Moss was Shrikeless.
On our way back towards the village we stopped about half way along the track and took a short cut back across and area of clearfell surrounded by a young plantation.
As we got near a crossroads between the clearfell and the plantation at Fallowlees Burn, Graeme spotted the GS Shrike flying low to our left before landing on top of a tree in a small alder plantation.
The Shrike stayed perched at the top of the branch for around 10-15 minutes and looked like it was going to cough up a pellet at one point. After about five minutes of watching the so far silent Shrike, it started to sing, at first we thought it was another a crossbill or something but when watching it through the scope we could see its mouth opening at the same time.

I never though I would hear a Shrike sing and it sounded nothing like I had imagined.
First it sounded slightly like a warbler but kept adding mimicry and sounded like a wader then a bird of prey.
The lack of birds and poor weather until this point was frustrating but I was in need of a good walk after lazing around for most of the winter, so the Shrike was an added bonus to an excellent day.

On the way back we stopped at Arcot where 5 Pochard, 8- 10 Tufted Duck, a trilling Little Grebe, a drake Shoveler and a Muscovey Duck were all on the pond.

71 – Shoveler

72 – Little Grebe

Friday, 18 March 2011

70

I broke up for Easter yesterday, so spent a couple of hours at West Hartford this afternoon.
As I was approaching the main pool, a good number of gulls were bathing at the back along with 20+ Lapwing and 8 Oystercatcher. Most of the gulls were BH, Common and Herring but there were also 3 Lesser Black Backs amongst them.
I checked again for Jack Snipe but only found 21 Common Snipe and around 30 Teal. Most of the Teal landed on the pool and after checking through them, couldn’t find a vertical stripe.
2 Skylark and 4 Meadow pipit were vocal the whole time I was there and 2 Common Buzzards circled above the farm building and back fields.

The two patch ticks which took me to 70 today were a pair of Gadwall and a pair of Shelduck which swam around with 4 Mallard before both pairs flew off south.

69 - Shelduck

70 - Gadwall

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Teesside Wax

After seeing the somebody had 25 Waxwings on the Teesside campus on monday, I went and had a look yesterday. I took a shortcut to the area where they had been seen and as I did 6 flew overhead, trilling, before landing in a row of trees opposite.
These trees are near to where they had been originally seen so I checked the surrounding area but I could only see the 6.
Still they were a good campus tick, almost as good as Tawny Owl and it was a good way to spend my lunch break.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Not much

I haven’t done much birding since my last post due to uni work again, but I only have two months left then I can get back out in the field.

On Monday morning as I was leaving for the train, a Song Thrush was singing from the top branches of a birch tree in my garden before being joined by a female Brambling which landed on the branch below it.

At Arcot this afternoon I managed one new patch tick, 2 female Pochard were on the pond along with 2 Tufted Duck, 4 Coot and 5 Goldeneye.
As we were waiting at the Dam Dykes crossing a Peregrine flew slowly over SW, they are getting a lot more regular in the Cramlington area over the last few years.

68 - Pochard

Sunday, 6 March 2011

February Results

The results on the patch for last month are as follows:

LMcD: 69
DMcK: 67
PJA: 66
GM: 63

I have been twice up to Valley Park in recent nights listening for the Tawny owls which have been calling every night this week. Despite getting a call from DMcK saying that he was listening to them and me and the Liverbirder getting there less than 10 minutes later, they didn't call again that night.

The highlight of thursdays train journey home was my first Stonechat of the year, sitting on a fence in a field near Seaham

67 - Coot - a pair were on Arcot Pond yesterday

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Local

As the title suggest I stayed local this weekend. I managed a few hours out with LMcD this morning. First stop was Wet Hartford.
Apart from a pair of Mallard there was nothing on either of the pools. 10 Snipe were on the marshy field and 4 Reed Bunting were flitting about the reeds.

Before we left 2 Skylark and a Meadow Pipit, (my first of the year) were calling above.
Next we checked the gulls opposite the Tommy Tippee factory, where 2 Lesser Black backed Gulls were amongst the Herring and Common Gulls feeding on the grass.
Instead of parking near Arcot we walked down via Beacon Lane, to see if the Golden Plover were still in the fields.
On our way down the lane 5 Yellowhammer and 3 Grey Partridge were calling form the fields near the horse paddock. At first we couldn’t see any Golden Plover and whilst checking, 8 Skylark and a Mistle Thrush flew around the fields. Also there were 3 Greylag Geese in the field behind the farm on Beacon Lane. As we were leaving 2 Golden Plover flew across and landed near the farm.

On our way to Arcot we heard three different Great Spotted Woodpeckers, (one was drumming near the golf course) and a Nuthatch.
Yesterdays Shoveler was not on the pond but there were 20+ Teal and Mallard, 3 Moorhen, 2 Tufted Duck, 4 Goldeneye and a Canada Goose.

58 - Skylark
59 - Meadow Pipit
60 - Reed Bunting
61 - Lesser Black backed Gull
62 - Yellowhammer
63 - Mistle Thrush
64 - Greylag Geese
65 - Golden Plover
66 - Canada Goose

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Good news and a Garden Tick

I woke up to the good news that the fascist regime has decided not to sell off our forests. I think the only way I can look at the scenario is by using a Star Wars analogy; The people who voted against the sell off were like the rebels who destroyed the first Death Star, but they always new that in the end the Empire will strike back.
Well that’s how I see it anyway.

When I got back home today I was watching 4 Long Tailed Tits on the feeder, when they were joined by a Goldcrest – Garden Tick! It has been commuting between the conifer trees and the feeders for the rest of the afternoon.

I managed to get a lift to Arcot this afternoon, after helping with the shopping where I managed to get Pied Wagtail on the patch at last. It was in Manor Walks car park incase anyone wants to twitch it.

I was expecting Arcot to be dead as it usually is these days but instead was pleased to see 2 Tufted Duck, 4 Goldeneye ( 1 male, 3 female), 1 Moorhen and 2 Oystercatchers sitting on the wood in the middle of the pond.
As we drove back, a Nuthatch flew in front of the car next to the golf club entrance.

52 – Goldcrest
53 – Pied Wagtail
54 – Tufted Duck
55 – Oystercatcher
56 – Moorhen
57 - Goldeneye

Monday, 14 February 2011

Early Morning Song

This morning between 5-7 a Song Thrush was singing from the school field. I thought this might have been the earliest patch tick I have had ever, but just remembered the Blackbird calling at 4 in the morning on new years eve. Wish I could hear a tawny calling at that time.

51 - Song Thrush

Friday, 11 February 2011

50

My birding will be limited unitl the 14th March at least but I will try to get to West Hartford a couple of times. I spent and hour at WH with SH yesterday afternoon checking the Snipe field.
Not many snipe were around but 5 Grey Partridge flew from the field next to the fire station.

Most of the field was covered in water but in the dry area near the brick building a Short Eared Owl flew low over the ground before landing in the middle of the field.
This SEO is a very pale bird like one of the individuals present this time last year. By the time we had left it was still sitting in the middle of the field, watching us with its glowing yellow eyes.

50 - Short Eared Owl

Friday, 4 February 2011

January Results and more

For some reason yesterday whilst trying to upload the 2011 patch league table I accidentely posted the template. Since I can't upload the table the results are as follows:

DMcK: 53

LMcD: 50

PJA: (thats me) 48

GM: 40

Not as aesthetically pleasing as the league table but since I can't find a way to put it on then it will have to do.

This morning before the wind pick up again, a flock of finches half landed in the school field and in my garden. At least 4 Siskin and 3 Redpoll landed in the garden.
They stayed in the tree dead tree tops for a couple of minutes and whilst looking at the Redpoll I noticed that the bird on the right looked different to the other two Redpoll.

It was a lot lighter, with bright white flanks, strong white wing bars, no peachy colour to it, heavy black streaking on its back, wings and front and it was a light beige colour rather than light brown.
After looking at images on the internet and in books I have come to the conclusion that it was a Mealy Redpoll- Crammy Lifer.

The flock has been back in the school field a few times since this morning but they dont settle for long in the strong wind.

I have had my best ever views of Redpoll during this winter and all of the birds I have seen including the 6 I had in the garden in December all looked darker with peach coloured wing bars.

49- Mealy Redpoll

Sunday, 30 January 2011

NW of the patch

As soon as I got off the train at crammy station on thursday I added to the patch list, a Rook was sitting on top of a lampost near the car park.
Whilst walking down the cycle track past Northburn School a Brambling and a few Siskin were in the bushes with the ususal flock of Green and Goldfinch.

I went to West Hartford with SH this morning in search of Jack Snipe. As we approached the marshy field a Grey Partridge was calling from behind the fire station.
No Jack but 20+ Common Snipe were around the deepest part of the field.
Whilst watching the Snipe, out of nowhere a Peregrine flew low overhead before gaining hight and landing on the pylon behind the smaller pool. It stayed for a minute or two before flying off SE.

A part from 3 Mute Swans on the pools it was quiet so we off to Hartford Bridge. 3 Dogs were swimming in the river so no chance of the Dipper being seen.
At the Windmill site a Pheasant ran accross one of the fields and on our way back through the industrial estate, 8 Feral Pigeons were on a factory roof, thats two embarassing patch ticks out of the way before the end of January. I can't believe I still need Pied Wagtail!

I will post the Cramlington Patch list league table towards the end of the week when I have everybodys totals.

44 - Rook
45 - Grey Partridge
46 - Peregrine
47 - Pheasant
48 - Feral Pigeon

Friday, 28 January 2011

Any Ideas?

Before christmas I found a memory card my parents had lost in 2008. I t only contained their holiday photos from a trip to Norway they went on, but amongst them I found two photos of a strange looking crow.
I asked my dad about it and he said that on a board of recent bird sightings next to where he had taken the pictures, the bird had been called a Norwegian Jackdaw.

From looking at the photos I think it is a young Hooded Crow but could be wrong. Any ideas?
















Click to enlarge but the quality isn't that good

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Haw and More

Yesterday on my way to do some work for my project on Woodhorn, we stopped at the Hawfinch site (thanks again for the directions LiverBirder).
I met GB and LR who had been scanning the tree tops for over an hour with no luck. No sign of any Marsh Tit but a Nuthatch flew over. We decided to check the first row of Hornbeams again and within minutes Graeme found a Hawfinch – Lifer, sitting in the top of the row less than half way along.
It stayed there for about ten minutes before flying off after a Sparrowhawk began hunting around the paddock. Since I first saw a picture of a Hawfinch in a book in first school I have always wanted to see one and it didn’t disappoint.

Today I went up north with SH and DMcK, first stop was Fenham flats. Brent Geese and Pintail were surprisingly distant but still impressive. Whilst walking along the shoreline right of the hide, 15 Grey Partridge flew from in front of us and landed amongst the rocks and seaweed, something you don’t see every day. A flock of 30+ Yellowhammer were working there way along the dead trees and bushes bordering the fields. As we were leaving and passing the hedges just before the railway line, 40+ Tree Sparrows took to the air before dropping back into the hedge.

Budle Bay was quiet as was Stag Rocks, well by its usual standards. We still managed to see 5 Slavonian Grebes, 3 Long Tailed Duck and a raft of Common Scoter. A few Razorbills and Red Throated Diver were also on the sea.

We stopped at Newton next. Amongst the 200+ Greylags and 30+ Pink Footed Geese in the flooded fields north of Newton Pool were 8 Eurasian White Fronted Geese. Whilst looking at the Geese Steve spotted a male Peregrine sitting on the fence post above the geese. It stayed for a few minutes, preening and watching the ground around the geese before, landing on the ground and running across the grass and jumping on something which we think was a Wood pigeon before flying off with it over the back fields. We think it must have winged the bird and dropped it amongst the geese before checking where it was from the fence post.
Through the scope these were my best ever views of a Peregrine.
At a quiet Newton Pool there was one Whooper Swan amongst the Mutes.

East Chevington and Creswell Pond both held good numbers of duck, mainly Wigeon at EC with 4 Pochard amongst them.
At Creswell the tide was rising so large amounts of Waders, were flying over and landing on the far spit. Whilst checking the waders which had landed in the field to the left of the hide a Ruff was spotted amongst them.

Last stop was Arcot Pond and as soon as I opened the car door I saw a Treecreeper low down in the trees to the left of the layby opposite the metal gate. As it flew off we could hear another calling a few trees along. 1 Siskin and 2 Bullfinch flew over as well and my first ducks on the patch this year were 1 Mallard and 15 Teal on the pond.

39 – Treecreeper
40- Siskin
41 – Bullfinch
42 – Mallard
43 – Teal

Monday, 17 January 2011

One missed one found

Out for Webs yesterday with SH and DMcK, at Castle Island which although unfrozen was very bleak.
Viewed from the metal gate opposite the Windmill at Woodhorn were 4 distant Greenland White Fronted Geese amongst a group of Pink feet. I had only ever seen the Eurasian race of White Fronted Geese before yesterday.
Whilst looking through the scope at the Geese 6 silent Waxwing flew over which I missed, (one missed).

In Blyth Harbour I had my best ever views of Red Necked Grebe, hopefully it will stick around so that it can be seen in summer plumage.
Whilst waiting to look through the scope at the grebe again I noticed a Snow Bunting sitting on top of a trailer, (one found).

Back in cram the only wildfowl on Arcot were 3 Mute Swans. A walk around Arcot golfcourse provided a few more patch ticks. A Common Buzzard was circling the pond area, whilst both GS Woodpecker and Nuthatch were heard calling.
On the way home 3 Lapwing were in the ploughed field between Nelson Hill and Focus. Whilst watching a Brambling on the feeders in my garden 70+ Pink Footed Geese flew north.

33 - Mute Swan
34 - Common Buzzard
35 - Great Spotted Woodpecker
36 - Nuthatch
37 - Lapwing
38 - Pink Footed Geese

Friday, 14 January 2011

The owls are not what they seem

After almost finishing both of my assignments during the week I finally got the chance to do some birding yesterday. Cain (Holywell Birder) came down to Middlesbrough to pick me up and we went off to Saltholme.

After a quick stop in the visitors centre for breakfast we accidentally ended up going on the (pensioners) owl tour.
Whilst waiting for the walk to begin a Little Egret landed on the visitors centre pool near to the window. It or another bird was seen flying around the reserve throughout the rest of the time we were there.

We were told that up to 7 Long Eared Owls have been seen in the communal roost site but only one had been found before the tour began yesterday.
With about 30 people wanting to see the owls we were allowed to view from a distance in small groups. Cain with his hidden ability to see through trees managed to pick up the LEO straight away but I could only see it when looking through the scope.
My poor knowledge of tree types didn’t help when Cain was trying to describe the area the owl was in but the fact that it was roosting behind a branch and only half of its body and its ear tufts could be seen didn’t help. There was another LEO near it but I couldn’t see that either.

Before leaving we checked the Saltholme pools hide where 8 Pintail (6 Drakes, 2 female), 1 Shelduck and a pair of Red Breasted Mergansers were on the water amongst large numbers of Teal, Wigeon and Gadwall.

On the way home we stopped at Cowpen Bewley Country Park where the Ring Necked Duck was still showing well amongst the Tufted Duck and Pochard.
This is presumably the same bird, which has over wintered at Teesside for the last couple of years. It is almost a year since I saw Ring Necked Duck at this site, at least this time it was a lifer for Cain.

The patch list has been largely ignored since the 1st apart from the birds I have had in the garden but this morning I planned to twitch the 28-32 Waxwings LMcD had found at East Cramlington during the week.
Before leaving there was a lot of activity at the feeders and after a while checking with the bins a pair of Brambling dropped in.

When we got to the site at East Cram there was no sign of any Waxwings.
On the way back I noticed 5 flying around the treetops opposite the High Pit chippy. We pulled into the Burton House car park to get a better look but by this time the birds had landed out of sight.
I then heard the distinctive trilling coming from behind the car. 4 Waxwings were feeding on rotten apples on a tree in the car park. After watching them for 5 minutes the 5, which had disappeared, flew from one of the joining gardens and began feeding on the apples.
As if it couldn’t get any better, a male Blackcap (the first over wintering one I have ever seen), joined the Waxwings.

30 - Brambling
31 - Waxwing
32 - Blackcap

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Three more

I’ve been in the house finishing off my coursework for uni all this week. I was hoping that I would have added another 10 or so species to the patch list but the presence of a Sparrowhawk most days has meant that the garden has been very quiet.

Only three birds added, all were seen on Tuesday. 7 Jackdaw flew over the house and a Common Gull was amongst the BH Gulls on the school roof.
The final of the three was a Lesser Redpoll, which landed briefly on the fence amongst a group of Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Greenfinch.
I think there were more in the school field but the flock took off before I had a chance to check properly. I didn’t think I would ever have Redpoll in the garden again.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Patch update

Just totalled up what I have seen on the patch so far this year. In Order:
Green= birds in garden

1. Blackbird
2. Herring Gull
3. Black Headed Gull
4. Collard Dove
5. Kestrel
6. Carrion Crow
7. Woodpigeon
8. Grey Heron
9. Kingfisher
10. Redwing
11. Wren
12. Magpie
13. House Sparrow
14. Robin
15. Chaffinch
16. Snipe
17. Goldfinch
18. Woodcock
19. Great Tit
20. Dunnock
21. Greenfinch
22. Blue Tit
23. Coal Tit
24. Starling
25. Long Tailed Tit
26. Sparrowhawk- a nice Musket was sitting on the fence this morning