Sunday, 28 April 2013


A days birding with GB and LR yesterday started at Newbiggin. We checked both the mound and the golfcourse but the freezing winds meant that no birds ventured onto the course. The only bird of note found at The Mound was a reeling Grasshopper Warbler on the side of the Ash Bank. A RT Diver and a few Sandwich Terns and Gannets were all that was out at sea.
Woodhorn Churchyard was also migrantless although 7 Blackcaps may have been. They along with a few Willow Warblers stayed on the shaded side of the hedgerow overhanging the pool.

Lynemouth Burn was quiet with only a Common Snipe flushed and a single White Wagtail on the flash. Cresswell Pond still had a Long Tailed Duck on it along with 4 Red Breasted Merganser. 4 Avocets chased each other from one side of the pond to the other and Grasshopper and Sedge Warbler both sang near the hide. Druridge Pools was Crakeless but does look very good for something soon especially on the Budge Field.

Next we checked the flash pools between Chevington Burn and the turning circle at Druridge. The pools were full of Ringed Plover and Dunlin. At one point we though we might have had either a White Rumped or Baird’s Sandpiper but when we got a better view out of the sun we decided on a lst summer Dunlin with a strange plumage variation.

A few Yellow and White Wagtail were in the fields including a ‘Channel’ type, the first of this kind I have seen.
We walked along the beach back to the car but found more dead than alive birds. 15+ Puffins, a Grey Seal, young Porpoise, fresh Guillemots and Gannets amongst a few migrants like Blackbird and Woodcock.

Last stop was Prestwick Carr where the GW Egret was nowhere to be seen but some very showy White Wagtails were on the flashes near the horse paddocks.

Friday, 26 April 2013


Whilst waiting at the Brockwell Seam bus stop this morning I heard a Lesser Whitethroat rattling away from the row of bushes behind the green grit bin. Not typical habitat for one and probabaly just moving through. Less than an hour later I got a call form LMcD to say he had one calling form the path behind his house only a minute or so away from the bus stop.

I have been hearing a lot of strange noises around 12:20 each night. I think they are waders of some kind but I never quite heard enough. Also Canada Geese have been moving over north through the week at the same time.

Monday, 22 April 2013

White Wag

After a few texts yesterday morning saying that 6 Common Cranes had flown north over Backworth Pond only 15 minutes ago I hurryed out the house and was on top of Nelson Hill 5 minutes later.

Knowing I was probabaly too late I still spent 15 minutes scanning the sky to the east but no sign. The only bird of note was a Curlew flying south over the hill.
On my way to the hill I noticed two male Blackcaps feeding on fat balls on a garden feeder near the edge of the eastate. One flew off into the hedgerow but the other just sat on the arm of the feeder.

After leaving the hill I went straight to West Hartford. No sign of yesterdays Avocets or much else really. Although I did have a White Wagtail on the wet area of mud in the field east of the substation along side a Pied Wagtail.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Black, White and Yellow

Another trip south to Teesside with SH and DM today. After a successful trip in February we were hoping for more success today and we weren’t disappointed.

With the sun shining it felt like the first proper day of spring and the birds reflected that. Nothing apart from some distant waders on the receding tide from the hide at Seal Sands but the Seal were very entertaining. Common Seals chased each other up and down Greatham Creek and slid comically down the mud banks along the creek.
A couple of Yellow Wagtails called overhead and at least 40 Avocets were on the pool opposite the bus shelter.

Before driving to Dorman’s Pool we spotted a Whimbrel in the fields near the car park. Two Reed Warbler and a Water Rail were singing and calling form the top car park art Dorman’s and a male Blackcap flitted around the bare trees whilst a couple of Pintail remained on the pool.

Five sleeping Black Tailed Godwits were on west Saltholme pool viewed from the roadside and the male Lesser Scaup occasionally showed well on the Allotment pool. Also a Fox ran for cover after being disturbed sunbathing near the pool.

Once the reserve opened at 10! we went to Back Saltholme hide. In the space of five minutes we managed to see a pair of Black Necked Grebe, 2 Wheatear, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 5 White Wagtail, a sleeping drake Garganey, 3 Little Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper. All of which were close to the hide most centred around the causeway.

After seeing all these great birds the day was nearly ruined when we got a text from Liver Birder saying he had found a pair of Avocet on West Hartford!

Luckily we got back in time to see Cramlington’s second ever Avocets wading happily around the main pool. Just as I thought it couldn’t get any better my second WH lifer of the day flew over in the form of two calling Yellow Wagtails which flew low over the rubbish pile and main pool before disappearing west out of view.

Whilst leaving we found out about the Pectoral Sandpiper at Backworth so quickly went and had a look. It was showing well on the edge of the flash north of the pond and occasionally crouched down low to the ground.

So on a day where we must have seen over 60 Avocets and 10 Yellow Wagtails the most appreciated were the ones seen on the patch, that’s birding for you.

By the way I did take some photos at Saltholme but for some reason they are showing up white on my camera and will not download, oh well I’ll leave it to the professionals.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Patch and Plessey

Myself and LMcD explored some more of the patch this morning. Nothing at a windswept West Hartford although I did have a juv GBB Gull and a pair of churpping Tree Sparrow yesterday morning.

Next we checked the plantation between the railway line and the windmill. A Reed Bunting, pair of Bullfinch and a Stoat were the highlights.  A pair of Dipper were diving in the river and feeding their young near Hartford Bridge. The pair took it in turns to collect food and we could even see them swimming under water the river was so low.

A walk along the riverside at Plessey Woods gave us good views of singing Goldcrest and Nuthatch. A Nuthatch and Willow Warbler were singing on the Cramlington side of the river and a flock of hirundines were flying low over the river near the farm. Mostly House Martins and Swallow, Lindsay managed to pick out a couple of Sand Martins on the Cram side but I couldn't get onto them.

We then searched every inch of Bassignton NR and still couldn't find a Woodcock.  Arcot was its usual quiet self apart form 90+ mixed gulls mostly Herring which tried to land.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Little Bunting

It’s not often you get two attempts to see a rare bird a few months apart but that is exactly what has happened with the Little Bunting in Lambton, Durham.

After an unsuccessful attempt with Liver Birder in October we went back this morning along with Cain.
Present this time in a different area to where we checked on October, the Little Bunting was in an overgrown field opposite the Harrington Burn in Elba Park.
It showed on and off feeding amongst the grass before landing on the wire fence and then along the reeds in the burn channel. I didn’t think it looked particularly smaller than the surrounding Reed Buntings and its most noticeable feature was the Robin like ticking sound it often made.

On the way back we stopped at a quiet Arcot Pond where a Swallow flew north overhead. I don’t think I have ever seen a Swallow before a Sand Martin.

Friday, 12 April 2013

April showers

With the weather looking worse for the Sunday myself and SH did the Castle Island webs count this morning. The only birds of note were 8 Shelduck and 6 Gadwall.

The rain was light but constant and after finding out there had been Ring Ouzel, Snow Bunting and Black Redstart at Newbiggin yesterday we headed there to check for migrants.

We walked form Church Point to Beacon Point and eventually we found 2 Wheatear on the rocks just off Beacon Point. Nothing was amongst the gorse on the way across the golf course but a Short Eared Owl was flying over the south end of the Ash Bank.
The path through the new plantation south of the Mound was the most active area. A few Robins and 20+ Blackbirds were on the path along with Red Wing, Mistle Thrush and a nice male Ring Ouzel, two had been seen half and hour before.

We didn’t find anything else so headed back and stopped at West Hartford. Nothing new there apart from a pair of Crossbill showing well ij the tree tops just behind the substation.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Good sign

I think this morning at West Hartford was the first time I haven't had to wear gloves this year so it must be getting warmer. Its a shame nobody told the trees as they still look dead.

The pools are slowly drying out just in time for spring and a good sign this morning was a Redshank wading accross the main pool.
The fields to the east of the substation were ploughed a few weeks ago and it looked as if the newly formed pools were gone forever. This morning I noticed a lot of gulls flying around the fields and then I saw two tractors levelling the ploughed earth. Once they had finished I could see that the area where the two pools had been had already filled up again although the vegetation that had been building up around them has now gone as has the frog spawn in one of the tyre tracks near the hedge.
Nothing interesting amongst the gulls but the fields now look excellent for a Common Crane.

As I left 3 GS Woodpeckers were chasing each other around the entrance plantation and I breifly heard the Tree Sparrow calling. No sing of Woodcock along the old road on Crowhall Lane but a singing Chiffchaff and stragely a calling Pheasant.

Saturday, 6 April 2013


Early morning at West Hartford and it was still like winter. You know it is bad when the highlight of your two hours are 3 Canada Geese.
A complete contrast by the time I left with the sunshine and birds in full song. No sign of the Woodcock along the disused road off Crowhall Lane but at least two Chiffchaff were singing away near the electricity substation at Brockwell Scrubland.

I also got excellent views of three Great Spotted Woodpeckers chasing each other near the WH roundabout.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


Myself and LMcD explored certain areas of the patch in more detail yesterday morning starting with Beacon Lane.

Everywhere I go around Cramlington of late I have been hearing Siskin and today 3 bright males were in the trees at head height over the railway bridge near Beaconhill. A brilliant photographic opportunity if only I had brought my camera.

A few Yellowhammer were in the hedgerows along the lane near the horse paddocks and 7 Great Tit were hopping along the path in one area near the crossroads on the lane gathering both food and nest material. At the crossroads a Willow Tit flew form the ground into the hedgerow and began calling, I have never had one this far along the lane before.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers could be heard drumming away on Arcot golf course and a Green Woodpecker was yaffling away between the lane and golf course.

Arcot Pond was much quieter than usual with wildfowl numbers significantly down for the first time in a few months. Also a pair of Mute Swans were attending to their new nest on the edge of the reeds.

We walked back through the fields just off the lane but didn’t see much else of interest although at least 10 Skylark were in song overhead.

Bassington NR was also quiet with a pair of Jay being the only birds we saw!
West Hartford was equally devoid of life so instead we checked the fields around East Hartford. The only note worthy birds there were 3 Tree Sparrow, which landed in a stubble field west of the village. We were going to walk along the river from the sewage works but a hail shower forced us to leave. Our last stop was Horton Burn. Nothing there apart from a singing Reed Bunting near Shankhouse Bridge the first I have had there.

No sign of Chiffchaff on the patch and in total we managed to see 53 species. Wihtout missing anything significant it was a poor toal and still seemed reminicent of winter.

Monday, 1 April 2013


I decided to sit at West Hartford for a couple of hours and see what flew over this morning. Approaching form the fire station end I walked across the marshy field to view near the brick building so that I had a better view over the river.

Nothing much on the main pool as all the activity seemed to be concentrated around the ever-expanding pools in the marshy field. 4 Gadwall and a few Mallard were on the biggest pool and 2 Common Snipe were also still around. Best of all though was a Water Rail, which was weaving its way through the reeds before flying off when it saw me and landing in the middle of the field.

I should have just gone back then, as I didn’t see much else. A Fox was making its way through the field, a Buzzard was mobbed overhead and 4 Shelduck flew east. Also 2 Grey Partridge lifted from the rubbish pile on my way back.