Sunday, 27 May 2012

Red Hot

Its been another busy week of birding for me. See Killy birder for details of last weeks trip to Harthope and Holywell Birder for details of our first few days in Cumbria.

Wednesday we did another tetrad this time the highlight being a Tawny Owl on the ground in some woodland. Tertad complete we headed to a quiet Solway firth.  On the way we stopped at Glasson Moss.
There was much more activity were with a pair of Willow Tit near the entrance car park, hunderds of Dragon flies many of which had just hatched flying around the meadows, two recently fledged Stonechat being fed by parents, a Teal on the marsh and a pair of Cuckoo trying to enter a Meadow Pipit nest.
It was our best ever views of Cuckoo but unforntunately somebody forgot his camera.... not me for once.

Back home this weekend and the weather has been very frustrating. Clear and sunny inland, foggy at the sea. With visibility difficult see did well to see a female Marsh Harrier being mobbed at Cresswell before heading south. No sign of yesterdays Marsh Warbler or Spoonbill at East Chevington and Cambois was migrantless when we checked on our way back.

Dropped off at West Hartford I had good views of WH's first Red Kite as it circled over the smaller pool before heading north over the river Blyth. JM soon turned up and we then saw a female Marsh Harrier fly east along the river.

Really it has been a look of mammal sightings which have impressed me the most. Red Squirrel and my first ever sighting of Badgers at a set in Cumbria. Good views of Noctule Bats in Penrith and a Roe Deer and Fox at Cambois. Also heard roding Woodcock at the badger site.

Seeing the Red Kite and Marsh Harrier does make up for missing the Little Owl and Ring Ouzel at Beacon Lane during the week. I'm sure the owl will remain and I can check some time this week.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Belated post number 2

Out with the family on Saturday so missed out on the excitement of the migrants along the coast. Although I did see a pair of Yellow Wagtail in a remote area near Aydon.

On Sunday I went with SH to a site tick for me, Allenbanks. I cant believe I have never been to this site before. Despite the crap weather I could still see what a great place Allenbanks is.

Four Grey Wagtails were active and feeding along the river. Two redhead Goosander flew upstream and a Dipper downstream. Up one of the pathways through the woods a Wood Warbler, a county tick was singing away. Whilst listening to the warbler it landed on a nearby branch and gave off its explosive song overhead for around five minutes.

With the cold wind and sporadic sunshine, not much else was singing so birds were hard to locate despite the relatively bare trees. A pair of Pied Flycatchers were briefly seen in the tree tops and a Spotted Flycatcher showed well over the metal entrance bridge.

On the way back we stopped at Whittle Dene Reservoirs. A pair of Great Crested Grebe were on the smaller part of the GN reservoir. Plenty of hurendaines were hawking over the water but not much else around apart from a couple of Yellow Wagtails on the grass verges.

On Wednesday I was out with Steve again this time up to Long Nanny. Around 1000 Arctic Terns were on the beach nest building. A few Little Terns were flying high over the burn mouth; later on we had a total of 22 on the beach.

We were told by the volunteers at the hut that the colony had been having problems with crows in the last week so it was good to see the terns chase away a Carrion Crow on mass. Even they stayed away from the two Common Buzzards circling high over the burn mouth. Unfortunately they were only common and not late Rough Legged or early Honeys. Amongst the 22 Curlew on the nanny were a few Whimbrel, a single Black Tailed Godwit and two Wheatear on the grass.

A few hours later whilst at home I got a text from JM and soon I was back out again up the Holy Island in search of Kentish Plover and White Rumped Sandpiper. Despite the row of birders searching the tide was too far out and the birds were nowhere to be seen.

We searched from the causeway, chare ends and a few pull ins overlooking the mud but nothing. 6 Whimbrel were nearby and plenty of nice summer plumage Grey Plover and a SEO. I was out with John again this afternoon to Newbiggin. Yet again the target bird, this time Red Backed Shrike, could not be located. Hopefully this weekend will provide more opportunities.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Belated Post Number One

On Friday morning I went down to a dark and damp Hartlepool headland in search of the Red Spotted Bluethroat.
Last time we were at the headland there were chaotic and embarrassing scenes as all ladders and car roofs were climbed on to see the White Throated Robin.
No such scenes on our latest trip with only a few birders and photographers present.
The main threat to the birds on Friday was the presence of a grey cat, which kept low in the undergrowth of the memorial garden with a dead mouse and ringed blackbird beside it. The ring was later recovered.

Plenty of other birds were taking shelter around the garden as we searched for our target bird. Willowchiff, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler were all seen.
After an our or so of searching somebody found the Bluethroat – a lifer for me, in one of the front gardens opposite the memorial gardens. It frequented four joining gardens, often disappearing before reappearing on a wall or gatepost before picking off insects from surrounding plants and vanishing again into thicker cover.
Although our views were relatively brief they were well worth it as we got to appreciate this truly stunning bird from less than a metre at times.
Whilst watching the Bluethroat hop around a bare patch of soil in on of the gardens, a Lesser Whitethroat flew past being chased by the cat, which then dived onto a nearby wall.
Curious indeed, the cat watched our every move before turning its attentions to the Bluethroat. It landed on the same stretch of wall as the cat and flew off back into the memorial garden just in time as the cat made a dive forward. We didn’t see the Bluethroat again but fortunately it was seen later that afternoon.
Also a Whimbrel called overhead as it flew out to see.

Also on Friday we failed to locate the Nightingale at Cowpen Bewley but did see 2 Little Egrets at Saltholme and plenty of Avocets on Greatham Creek along with a Little Ringed Plover.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Over and out

I'm now finished at university so its back to birding for me. Over the last few weeks whilst finishing my work off I have managed a few early morning trips to West Hartford. The highlight of these trips being a Nuthatch in Hartford Wood, (a first at WH for me), a Greenshank which briefly dropped in and 12 Shelduck, a record WH count.
I have missed the odd bird at WH recently but work had to come first so no Little Grebe or Yellow Wagtail for me. However after finishing last week I did manage to catch up with a pair of Coot which have taken up residence in the SW corner of the main pool. Little Grebe and Coot may not sound that exciting but they are the first records at WH since 2003 this is surely because of the high amount of water flooding the area and linking both the pools.
With Prestwick Carr being the place for waders recently WH has only managed Greenshank and Ringed Plover but 5 Tufted Duck two weeks ago was also another very rare sight.

On sunday I was out with SH for a few hours. Woodhorn and Newbiggin were quiet. A few 1st sumer Med Gulls were on the beach in the South Bay and a Eurasian White Fronted Goose was still amongst the group of Greylags near Woodhorn south pool.
No sign of the Hooded Crows at Cresswell/Bell's Farm area, (they would have been a county tick for me). Two Avocets and a Common Sandpiper were near the causeway though.

Yesterday I took advantage of the good weather and went to WH. First thing I noticed on the main pool was a stunning drake Garganey alongside a pair of Shelduck. It spent the next hour moving in and out of the vegetation along the west side of the pool and at one point few off and landed again in the SW corner.
This wasn't my first at WH, I saw the pair that spent a few days in the same area two years ago. But whilst watching the Garganey I heard a first record for WH and a long overdue tick, Cuckoo!
It called between 10 and 12 times somewhere between the main pool and the farm but  I never saw it. There is a lot of suitable habitat around that area but unfortunately I think it was just passing through.
2 Sedge Warbler and 2 Grasshopper Warbler and at least 10 Whitethroat were seen or heard also yesterday around the pools.

Also on 26th April I looked out the window and saw a Swift flying north struggling against the wind.

So thats Wigeon, Crossbill, Nuthatch, Coot and Cuckoo all added to my WH list so far this year, I wonder what is next?