Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Inland WEBS

With the usual WEBS counter for some of inland sites away, myself, SH, DM and IFo counted them on Sunday.
After a windy and uneventful count at Castle Island we headed inland to Angerton Lake near Hartburn. After avoiding the Red-Legged Partridges in the middle of the road we started the count. Resident species such as Mute Swans and Canada Geese were present along with returning Little Grebe, Oystercatcher and Curlew.

Next count was further inland at Rothley Lakes, a new site for me. Once we had fought our way through the plantation to get to the lakes we ended up counting Canada Geese, Canada Geese and more Canada Geese so it was swiftly onto our final inland site, Rayburn Lake. This was again another new site for me.
As we approached the lake which is rapidly drying up along its shore, probably due to the lack of rain and strong winds like on Sunday, two Whooper Swans flew off leaving only there Mute cousins behind.
Good numbers of Teal and Wigeon along with Lapwing and Curlew were also on the lake.

It still seemed firmly like winter in inland Northumberland which is much different from Cramlington at the moment as I have heard at least three singing Chiffchaff in the same area behind the Brockwell Centre over the last week.

Finishing the counts quicker than we had expected allowed us to time to visit East Chevington and the feeding station in front of the north hide. It didn't take long despite the wind for the Redpoll to appear. At first we could only see Lessers but then two obvious Mealy Redpoll appeared including once stunning Pink bird. Another joined them and two Bank Voles showed well under the feeders as he fed on the spilt seed.
Long Tailed Duck and the Red Necked Grebe were still present on the north pool.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

South West

On Saturday I headed to the South West of the county with LMD. Encouraging numbers of waders were back on territory around Allendale with Golden Plover, Oystercatcher and most impressively hundreds on Lapwing occupying the surrounding fields.

The wind was so strong it made getting out of the car a struggle so we spend most of the time from the roadsides. Plenty of paired up Red Grouse popped up from the heather and a Raven tumbled through the sky from a vantage point. Black Grouse were much harder to come by and we only ended up finding the one bird despite extensive searching.
My only views of Black Grouse prior to this were accross a valley through a scope so standing only feet away from an impressive male was the days highlight for me.

Grindon Lough was our next stop where only Tufted Duck and a few gulls were. No sign of any Geese never mind any White Fronted. Whittle Dene was a bit more active. The 3 long staying Whooper Swans had been joined by a further 20 in the fields west of the reservoirs. A pair of Great Crested Grebe were viewable from the hide as was a single Pink Footed Goose amongst the Greylags. Again no sign of the Bean Geese. Also a very obliging Green Sandpiper was wading its way through the channel that runs behind the reservoirs.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Through the week

On Monday I had my first trip to West Hartford in a while. A pair of Shelduck and a Lesser Black Backed Gull were new on the patch for me for the year, both were amongst the Lapwing, Oystercatchers and BH Gulls on the main pool.
As I was leaving I checked the fields behind the entrance plantation. Almost a year to the day since first seeing them for the first time at WH, I was surprised to hear the chirping of 5 or 6 Tree Sparrow in the hedgerow. As I left I could hear them from the roadside.

Tuesday night at 21:45 I was putting the bins out when I heard a strange high pitched call repeating and coming form behind the Brockwell centre.  After listening for a while I think it might have been a female Tawny Owl but I'm not 100%.

yesterday I went accross to Cumbria with Cain, as we drove just passed Haydon Bridge I spotted an odd looking mammal on the side of the road. We pulled over and checked and found the mangled remains of a Polecat! Its a shame I have never seen one in the wild and really don't know much about them, its a shame this was my first sighting.