Monday, 30 January 2012

Black Ice

On Saturday morning I went up to Newbiggin with SH. We checked the lifeboat station first along with GB and RF.
The Black Redstart soon showed itself on a nearby roof. It then spent the next 15 minutes flitting around the lifeboat station before flying off further towards the south bay.
Next we walked up to Beacon Point. No sign of any Snow Buntings but a Short Eared Owl flew around the rough ground in the middle of the golf course.

Leaving Newbiggin we headed south to North Shields Fish Quay. After an hour of waiting an adult Iceland Gull began flying around the harbour as a trawler came in. A few Kittiwakes were also in the harbour.
This morning quite a few Redwing were in the hedgerow near Nelson Farm as I went to the train station and I spotted a Little Egret fishing in a channel near Greatham Creek as the train passed.
I have just seen some reports about a pair of Black Necked Grebes at West Hartford over the weekend! Who found them? BN Grebes are mega rare at WH with only one record from the 80’s. Grebes in general are megas at WH with only a hand full of records none of which I have seen. Nothing about this record makes any sense, BN Grebes are rare in winter in Northumberland anyway especially in pairs and WH was frozen over the weekend and is very shallow anyway. Very Strange.

Below is a picture taken by LMcD of the mystery Duck we saw at Killingworth Lake on Friday, any ideas?

Friday, 27 January 2012

Local Ponds

I was out with LMcD this morning for a tour of some of the local ponds.

First up was a prearranged visit to the permit only site, Shasun at Dudley. After getting through security we went to the ponds at the back of the pharmaceutical plant.
You can see part of the ponds from the railway tracks, which border it, but it is surprisingly bigger up close.
Scanning from the path between the two ponds there were an impressive 25 Tufted Duck along with 16 Mallard and 1 Goldeneye.
There has been a lot of good work done at the site over the last few years with a dipping pond and boardwalk put in along with a few viewing platforms around the ponds.

Next stop was Annitsford Pond. Not much on the pond apart form Mute Swan, Moorhen and Coot but near the bridge that crosses the stream a Willow Tit was being harassed by a Great Tit as it moved through the trees between the bridge and the pond.

Burradon Pond was next. 6 Coot along with 6 Moorhen and a few Mallard fed on the grass around the pond. A Snipe flew from the edge of the pond near the reeds as we did a circuit.

All wildfowl numbers we had seen at the other ponds were tripled when we arrived at Killingworth Lake. Too many Tufted Duck and Goldeneye to count were on the lake along with 17 Pochard, 3 Little Grebe and 5 Goosander (3 Drakes, 2 Female).
Amongst the Canada on the lake were a Greylag/Canada Hybrid and an obvious escapee duck but what it was I have no idea.

Back at Arcot there were 2 LBB Gulls on the pond along with Wigeon, 3 Gadwall and 4 (all female) Goosander.

Friday, 20 January 2012


After completing a bird survey at Mayfield Cemetery in High Pit this morning I needed to drop something off at Seghill. On the way I sent a few minutes checking Seghill Nature Reserve.

As usual the reeds are so overgrown that they block the view of the water. I found a patch of flattened reeds left of the hide and scanned from there.
Apart from a pair of Mute Swans it was very quiet. I then heard movement behind me and saw something run along the edge of the stream that runs past the landfill site, and land in the pipe, which connects, to the pond.
As I went up to the pipe to investigate a Water Rail jumped out of the pipe, landed on the flattened reeds next to the hide and then flew off into the thicker reeds.

No gulls were in the surrounding fields, or anything else, it was all very quiet.

Monday, 16 January 2012


We did two WEBS counts yesterday, First was the usual at Castle Island. It only took us 10 mins or so as the river was 90% frozen! Well it was -6 when I left the house.

Next it was onto Cresswell Pond where we did AMcL's count as he is on holiday. Being that bit more brackish than many of the other ponds Cresswell was only about half frozen.
The highlights were 200+ Pink Footed Geese circling the pond and 5 (4 Drakes) Red Breasted Merganser together.
Whilst watching the geese over the pond I noticed a lot of splashes in the water, expecting to see the Otter appear, I soon realised that it was Goose shite raining from above!
Also 12 Grey Partridge were active in the fields near the car park.

We checked the awkwardly placed Whooper Swan herd near Warkworth Lane but there was no sign of any Bewick's amongst them.
A single Whooper was attacking loafs of bread at QE2 with the Mutes. The Redhead Smew was also distantly seen at the back of the lake with a few Goosander.

Last stop was at Woodhorn south pool. Again mostly frozen but still held a few Shoveler and a Med Gull was amongst the gulls on the ice.
A flock of 9 Skylark were feeding in the field between the pool and the road. We then decided to check the fields surrounding the nearby Summerhouse Lane Pond. Whilst walking past the small channel behind the pond 2 Common and 1 Jack Snipe lifted.
I didn't see a single Jack Snipe last year, missing the one at Cresswell.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Early Warbler

At 8:51 this morning I was walking past the farm at Nelson Village (Cramlington), on my way to the train station when I heard the faint call of a Chiffchaff.
A tit flock was buzzing around the bushes the call was coming from but it was still too dark to get a look at the bird.

Also I had my first Grey Wagtail of the year, fly over Newcastle Central station.

Monday, 2 January 2012

2012 kick off

2012 started well (and early) yesterday. First stop of the year for myself, SH and DMcK was Marden Quarry where it took us nearly an hour to locate the Lesser Scaup, which seemed to be hiding whenever we scanned the Tufted Duck.
2 Goosander were also on the quarry and a brief flyover Waxwing ‘‘trilled’’ away as it went.

Next stop was Gloucester Lodge Playing (near Blyth) fields were 5 mobile Snow Bunting were in and out of a stubble field. They were accompanied by 18 Grey Partridge, 40+ Yellowhammer, 14 Tree Sparrow and a handful of Reed Bunting and Chaff and Goldfinch. It was encouraging to see such good numbers of declining farmland species.

Newbiggin was next to be visited. Only two Med Gulls could be seen amongst the flock in the south bay. Whilst we searched the beach around Beacon Point for the Desert Wheatear, which had temporarily gone missing, a Short Eared Owl was spotted hunting along the ash bank.
With the Wheatear relocated and watched we headed off to check the flock of Greylags in the field north of the north flash at Woodhorn.
The Tundra Bean Goose was soon picked out as were 4 Greenland White Fronted Geese.

A Kingfisher was mobile along the Horton Burn near the old fire station. When we checked. West Hartford was on poor form as was Arcot Pond apart from the 10 (8FM, 2M), Goosander.

So off to a good start, although this year I am not keeping a Cramlington List, just going to enjoy my birding list free the year.

When I finish university for good in May I will give the blog a revamp and include some of my artwork. It desperately need a new look.