Sunday, 28 October 2012

Exotic, Possible, Probable?

At 13:15 on Friday I could hear something strange calling that I vaguely recognised. I heard nothing for 20 minutes until I could hear it again as it flew north over my house, turns out it was a Ring Necked Parakeet. Strangely enough it was about this time last year when a mystery parrot sp. was heard by a few different people in cramlington including me.
Anyway onto some proper birding as yesterday myself and GB had a three hour seawatch at Church Point, Newbiggin from 13:40-16:40. My target had been any of the four ‘‘easiest’’ birds I haven’t yet managed to catch up with; Pom and Long Tailed Skua, Grey Phalarope and Little Auk.

It wasn’t long until 5 Little Auk- lifer, flew past north. In total we had 28 past north during the three hours, some very close in.
No skuas at all past but we did see 18 Mallard (N), 7 Wigeon (N), 5 drake Goldeneye (N), 50+ Kittiwake, 7 PB Brent Geese (a family party of five adults and two juvs) (N), 1 Rock Pipit, 3 Common Scoter (N), 2 Med Gull (N) and 3 Manx Shearwater (N).

Most frustratingly of all I picked out a large Diver moving north. It had obvious trailing feet, a heavy build with a solid contrast between its upper and under parts, which were clean and white. Crucially we couldn’t see the bill well enough to confirm whether it was a White Billed or Great Northern Diver. This was 50 minutes after the Whitburn White Billed Diver had been seen flying high north.

Oh well at least I saw the Little Auks.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Catch up

I’ve been too busy to write up what I have seen over the last week so here it goes. Last Saturday I was at St.Mary’s along with many others watching the mystery Warbler in the willows. I got good views but don’t have the experience to make any claims as to what it might have been, I’m just glad is all been settled and I can now add Blyth’s Reed Warbler to my county list.

Sunday morning it was time for WEBS where the highlight was a drake Pochard amongst the Mallard near Stakeford Bridge. As I was leaving the house a flock of 20 Fieldfare and 2 Redwing flew from the tree in my front garden and continued west. Before an early finish we called in at Cambois railway line. No sign of the Hume’s Leaf or 2 Yellow Browed Warblers but plenty to keep us occupied. A flock of around 50 Redpoll, which contained a possible Mealy, were flying up and down the track. A very vocal Brambling was also nearby before flying off.

On Monday afternoon myself and SH returned to Cambois railway for a few hours. A lot more thrushes had come in overnight and a massive flock of Blackbirds and Song Thrush held two Ring Ouzels, which showed briefly in the dead trees before landing in the ditch near the top bank.

We also had a quick look at the Shags in Blyth Harbour on the way back. Not as many birds as usual but the highlight was a white ringed bird, LDT, which had been ringed as a chick on the Isle of May 9 years ago! Also in the harbour were 13 Purple Sandpipers roosting on the pier.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Numbers building

I’ve had a few visits to West Hartford this week. With the pools devoid of life apart from BH Gulls, I decided to focus on the border area next to Hartford Wood.

A WH mega in the form of a Nuthatch was lurking amongst a tit flock behind the substation and 20 Reed Bunting occupied a single stretch of hedgerow between the substation and the new flash pool. I cant remember the last time I saw 20 Reed Buntings together so this must be a new Hartford record.
Large numbers of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll were all around the site in tight flocks most of which were feeding in trees. The highlight of the trip though was a Red Squirrel jumping around the treetops at Hartford Wood. Also a Common Toad I narrowly avoided stepping on was my first at WH. Whilst watching the Toad two Fieldfare flew over calling.

Yesterday on my way to WH 10 Redwing flew from a berry bush next Northburn Community Centre and headed west.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


Sunday saw a bit of a milestone for me as I finally caught up with my 250 bird in Northumberland.

These days I only seem to care what birds I see at West Hartford and in the county. Although I still like seeing any new birds I will never be a twitcher and new birds south of the Tyne don’t seem to have the same appeal they once did.

Anyway onto the bird, the Long Billed Dowitcher at Cresswell Pond. I got a quick scope view of this rare wader as I entered the hide before all of the birds on the sand bar flew off and relanded a few times. I’m sure the presence of the Great Skua on the pond had something to do with the birds flightiness. The Dowitcher re landed and settled down with a group of Snipe on the sand bar. Also a Little Stint was amongst the Dunlin.

On Saturday morning thanks to a text from SH, I had my first West Hartford tick since the spring. When JM had a flyover Yellow Wagtail and a Little Grebe at the same time in April I thought that I would have to wait a long time until my next chance.
So thanks to the heavy rainfall and large amount of water now at WH I was treated to views of a Little Grebe swimming across and diving on the main pool.
I still find it strange having a patch where common birds such as Little Grebe, Coot and Tufted Duck are mega rares but I wouldn’t want it any other way.