Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Goats who stare at men

At one with nature

Yesterday I got the chance to see something in Northumberland that I have always wanted to see – Wild Goats.
With Cain doing some work up in the Cheviots photographing them it was the ideal opportunity to not only see them but get up close and see how these ancient creatures live. We focused on three main herds around the border ridge area of the Cheviots north of Alwinton. The weather was perfect and there was some bird life to keep up the interest including Ravens cronking overhead, Buzzard, Red Grouse and the most Meadow Pipits I have seen in a long time. The roads around Alwinton were littered with Red Legged Partridge and every lowland stream through the hills held small family parties of Goosander.  As well as the goats Roe Deer and a sun bathing Fox were seen.

As you would expect the goats were in the most awkward parts of the hills so photographic opportunities (for my camera anyway) were limited. The herds were mostly a mixture of generations with some kids and females staying together and the Billie’s leading them as they grazed on the hills. The 11 hours we spent in their company yesterday was a great insight into their lives and a truly wild experience.

Billy on the hillside

Thursday, 26 September 2013

bright but blue

Out again with John to Hartley this morning. A Yellow Browed-Warbler flitted about in the sun covered trees on one of the mounds whilst the Bluethroat stayed low down around the base of the bushes. Eventually it popped up and showed quite well as it worked its way accross the mound. Also we saw another Yellow Browed-Warbler in the trees at the gut.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

September at last!

With weather conditions looking good, myself and JM headed for the coast this morning. No sign of yesterdays Red Backed Shrike in the dunes between Blyth and Seaton Sluice. As we pulled into the car park at Old Hartley news of a Bluethroat near one of the mounds along the cycle track came through. There seconds later, we got brief but excellent views as the Bluethroat came into the open only metres in front of us and ran along the path.

There was a lack of good numbers of birds despite the ideal weather, a few Redwing flew over but that was about it. With news of a Common Rosefinch at Rocky Island, Seaton Sluice we were there soon after. We had already been there for a few minutes before going to Hartley but could only find three Stonechat.
No sign of the finch amongst the House Sparrow flock it had been associating with but a Yellow- Browed Warbler did fly past us as it came in off the sea.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Golden Wonder

Bit of a catch up form the last few days. Out for a while with SH on Wednesday morning starting at Bothal pond. Three juvenile Great Crested Grebe and a couple of Pochard the highlight there. Next it was onto Linton. 375 Canada Geese were on the larger pond form the hide along with 54 Greylags. A few gammy looking geese were amongst the flock including a Canada/Greylag hybrid and a Canada/Barnacle hybrid as well as a strange thin necked white headed Canada goose.
In the sun trap by the old feeding station a late brood of recently fledged Bullfinch, multiple Chiffchaff and a Willow Tit were soaking up the rays.

Cresswell was dead so Druridge Pools was next. 15 Pink Footed Geese flew south over the dunes as we got out the car.In total 80+ Pink Feet went over the pools. A single Black tailed Godwit was on the pool form the Oddie hide and 4 Stonechat were in the dunes.

On friday I got out to St.Mary's with JM for the American Golden plover- lifer. It was initially amongst the group of goldies on the rocks in Hartley Bay but as the tide rose it moved off the the Island near the hide where we had our best views.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

St.Mary's Seawatch

For the first time I went seawatching at St.Mary's yesterday afternoon with JM. It was quite a good view from the toilet block apart from the cars passing in front. Large parties of Gannet were feeding distantly but during the two hours we spent we didn't see a single Shearwater sp.

In total we had six Arctic Skua including some dark phase birds go past. Two ganged up to harass the local gulls sitting on the sea which included two Little Gull. Later on at least eight Little Gull flew north just off the rocks on the island. Also a couple of Red Throated Diver went passed north and sat on the sea.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Coming and going

As are the seasons so are the birds, at least around Cramlington anyway. I have heard several Chiffchaff over the last few days including one in my garden and one in full song at Brockwell scrubland.
Ive noticed a light passage of Meadow Pipits overhead in a few places this week including Cramlington and yesterday I saw a flock of 70+ Linnet behind Nelson Hill.
The Linnet were flying as a group around one of the stubble fields behind the hill and I am told that there are now around 150 birds in the flock. Also 13 Magpie and a single LBB Gull were feeding in the fields along with numerous Carrion Crow and Woodpigeon.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Definite and possible

Managed to get to East Chevington yesterday for the White-rumped Sandpiper- lifer. The north pool continues to look in good shape and attracted Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Black- Tailed Godwit and Ruff.
Eventually the WR Sand showed itself on the near bank but kept disappearing behind the overgrown reeds.

With GM having found four Spotted Flycatcher at Arcot yesterday evening I was soon at WH to try and find one there. On arrival six dogs and their owners along with four horses were leaving so not much chance I thought.
Nothing on the pools apart form a load of horse shite so I checked the area behind the sub station. I did hear one bird making a soft robin like ticking sound and looked like a Flycatcher in silhouette but I never got a good look and as the light faded it never reappeared.