Friday, 26 August 2011


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


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


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


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
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.