Monday, 31 December 2012


After a tip off on Saturday I found myself again walking along the Horton Burn in search of the elusive mainland Cramlington Dipper. As I walked from the old fire station end two Kingfishers flew past. As I approached the road bridge I saw the Dipper move from the side of the Burn and fly west towards the park.

So that was my last birding action of 2012. A quiet year by recent birding standards but still some good local activity at West Hartford and a few lifers and county ticks thrown in along the way to. My obvious birding highlight was the trip to Mull but days out in Cumbria and in the county have also been good. I really need to put more effort into this blog.

Happy new year everybody

Monday, 17 December 2012


Out yesterday morning with SH, Ifo and DM this morning or the last WEBS count of the year at Castle Island. The day was off to a good start as two Waxwing flew over the Brockwell shopping centre as I waited to be picked up. As usual nothing much to report from Castle Island but a couple of Red Breasted Merganser behind the island were noteworthy.
On to Bothal Pond next were we couldn’t locate any of the Todd’s (or whatever they are now thought to be) Canada Geese or the juvenile Great Northern Diver.
With no wind and good visibility it was an ideal day for us to check East Chevington for Bearded Tits. First we checked the settling pools and straight away we could hear at least one Bearded Tit- County lifer, pinging away from the reeds. It was a female which flew to the next pool and showed well on top of a reed stem before flying off over the bottom car park and over to the next area of reeds.
An unfrozen north pool held good numbers of wildfowl along with a female type Long Tailed Duck. Whilst watching the pool a Bittern climbed up the reeds in front of the hide next to us and launched itself into the air before flying the length of the pool and landing in the reeds at the opposite side.

Our last stop of the day was at Arcot Pond. As we crossed the stile leading to the pond a Willow Tit was calling from the hedgerow and showed well on top of the bushes.
The earlier reported drake Pintail- Cramlington lifer, was still on the pond amongst the Wigeon, Teal and Canada Geese.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Whilst looking at the setting sun yesterday at 3:45 I noticed a Cormorant flying west high above the Horton Burn. It then angled away and continued SW over the rooftops.

That was the 60th addition to my garden list. So that’s Peregrine, Whimbrel, Greenshank and Cormorant added in 2012, but what will be next I wonder?

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


After nearly falling arse over tit multiple times on the black ice, which seems to have coated Cramlington overnight, I eventually ended up at West Hartford.
To my surprise the main pool was only half frozen, and an even bigger surprise was that there was some wildfowl present. Unfortunately there were only 10 Mallard.
As I was leaving a Short Eared Owl flew around the field behind the main pool before settling on a fence post.

I then walked and skidded the length of the Horton Burn in search of the Dipper Liver Birder found yesterday which was a long overdue first for the Burn.
I was half way along the burn with no sign, which was no surprise as the water was very cloudy with a lot of steam rising from it. Also the number of rats was increased of late, probably due to the raw sewage that was accidentally pumped into the burn during the summer.
As I crossed over the second main road bridge over the burn a Kingfisher flew from its perch on an over hanging conifer branch. I saw it perched a few more times as I approached the end of the burn. No sign of the Dipper today but I will check again.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Still around

I’m not sure if the novelty of Waxwings has worn off yet or if they have generally moved on but there seems to be fewer reports of these colourful Scandinavians in the county of late.
Anyway whilst walking back from Manor Walks this afternoon nine Waxwings were in the tree tops of a garden half way along Needham Place on the Shanklea estate. They were dropping down into the garden so there could have been more than just nine. They could be part of the 70+ Beaconhill flock from the other week as this part of the estate doesn’t get much foot traffic or passing cars so they may have been here for a while.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Another WH first

Yes today I added the tenth addition to my West Hartford list for 2012, which was also a first for the site, but more about that excitement later.

I got to WH this morning in time to see the sun rise, a moment of beauty and tranquillity in an urban surrounding was complete when a pair of Roe Deer walk past the fence line only a few metres away.

A pair of Stonechat were near the main pool and occasionally ventured onto the ice presumably in search of food. Eight Fieldfare flew south and a Cormorant followed the river.

With not much activity near the pools the plantation next to the substation was a different matter. 30 Goldfinch, 20 Siskin and 6 Lesser Redpoll along with multiple tits, Reed Buntings and Chaffinch were feeding on the alder east of the station.

It was whilst watching the alder I could hear an unusual but distant call. I headed further north behind the substation and about half way along the plantation I could hear the call much more clearly and a few second later a female Brambling landed in a dead tree before flying off as quickly as it appeared. Along overdue but very welcome patch tick.