Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Birding highlights of the year

2008 has been a good year on the birding front, I've seen some good rare birds as well as the more common ones I had not seen.
I have done lots of birding around the druridge bay area and not enough on my local patch, something I hope to change in 2009.
I am also going to start new lists ( now that they've been cleaned up), a british and county list and hopefully I can get over 200 species.
Highlights have been Lesser Yellowlegs, Rose Coloured Starling, Wilson's Pharalope, Spotted Crake and Hume's Leaf Warbler amongst others.
I really have learnt a lot this year

Thanks to everybody thats been on the blog and thanks for your comments.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Duff Birding

I was planning to go to Derwentside today on the Red Kite walk but after seeing that it was 11 miles long thought...Nah.
Instead I went to East Chevington and for the first time walked all the way around. Usually I just go to the hide nearest to the road. Chevington has been quite quiet this year and I have not seen anything good there.. well ever.
I started from the hide next to the wooden bridge. After finally getting into the noisey metal hide I was pleased to see that two channels have been made through the reeds which makes viewing a lot better.
A stoat ran in front of the hide and into the reeds which flushed a moorhen, mute swan, Tufted Duck and a Water Rail. The Water Rail stood still in the left channel for a minute before flying off over the reeds and out of sight. I heard it calling for a while.
That was the highlight of the day. On the water there was Goldeneye,Wigeon, Mute Swan ect. 12 Greylag flew over and a kestrel, Goldfinch and Stonechat were around the dunes.

20 Whooper swans were still in the field near Widdrington but no sign of any White Fronted near Linton, or Waxwings.

On the way home I stopped in Morpeth, no Waxwings there either but I did see Damien Duff in Morrisons.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

No new Geese

The weather was to bad to go up the coast last sunday so Steve Holliday and me postponed the trip until today.

We stopped on the roadside at Widdrington and watched 33 Whooper Swan in a field as well as Buzzard and Sparrowhawk.

A quick and quite stop at East Chevington produced not a lot, so off to hauxley where we spent about an hour and a half from 9.

When we arrived there were 5 Whoopers near the reception hide with Mallards and a Shellduck. From the Eric Hide there were 2 Goldeneye, Gadwall, Drake Red Breasted Merganser, 83 Wigeon, 31 Teal, Carrion Crow, Moorhen, Curlew, 7 Mute Swan (which chased the Whoopers) and 2 Pheasant which flew from island to island.

A nice Silvery Peregrine flew over the ponteland hide.

After half an hour a few Greylag flew onto the water including one GreylagxCanada Goose Hybrid which was to far away for the photo which it deserved. Then more and more Greylag landed, totalling 395 birds including one which had an orange neck ring.

In amongst the Greylags was the Tiaga Bean Goose which landed on the far hillside, but no sign of any Greenland White fronted.

There were also 51 Canada Geese and 5 Snipe viewed from the main path.

Around the car park and feeders there was Chaffinch, Blue tit, Great tit, Tree Sparrow, 1 Starling, 11 Pheasant, Magpie and a Sparrowhawk.

Next was Hemscott Hill Links where there were 90+ Twite in a cow field. They stayed on the ground for a while but occasionally lifted onto the fence. Had a good look at them and noticed the white number 7 pattern on there wings as well as there bright yellow beaks.

At Bells pond there were 3 Whoopers and 2 mutes and 150+ Pink Footed Geese nearby but no Snow Goose.

We decided not to bother with the packed Cresswell hide but manage to see an Otter from the roadside.

Linton Lane next, and first we explored the area behind the lane and flushed out a Snipe.

900+ Pigeon went overhead. A couple of hundred Pink Footed Geese flew out of the field behind the smaller pond, they circled overhead for a while before joining two other groups and then they all landed back in the field.

As we walked back down the lane the Geese all flew off south. I never realised what a noise over 600 hundred Pink Footed's wings could make.

On the bigger pond there were Pochard, Tufted, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, BH Gull, Common Gull, GBB Gull and Herring Gull as well as more Pink Footed overhead.

Last stop was North Blyth where 12 Collard Dove were in the middle of the road. 10 Grey Heron where roosting on the pier with 1 Merganser underneath. 35 Linnet where on a fence and 18 Common Scoter flew across the sea. If you want to see more of my images from today go to Birdguides northumberland page because I can't be arsed to upload them onto this post as it takes 10 minutes for one to upload and then you can't change there size ect.. it's really starting to annoy me.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Quick trip

I was at West hartford between 2:15 and 3:30 today.
On the pool there was 1 GBB Gull, 19 Herring Gull and 16 BH Gull. 8 Fieldfare where moving around the trees next to the metal fence on the smaller pool.
8 Carrion Crow, 1 Goldfinch, 9 Woodpigeon and 1 Meadow Pipit - Patch tick all flew over.
A magpie was in the trees and a pheasant was calling from behind the pool.
A noisey wren followed me about as I tried to flush Snipe but none were found.
2 Stonechat- patch tick, were calling to each other to the left of the pool so was a Water rail briefly towards half 3.
I took my note book today instead of relying on memory.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

4 Hours, 3 County Ticks, 2 New Sites and 1 Lifer.

Out again with Steve holliday this afternoon in the south of the county for a change.
First stop, Dinnington in search of Little Owl. We searched the Owl's usual tree but no sign, so we checked the trees to the right and there a few feet off the ground was a Little owl half asleep against the tree trunk, to far away for a photo of one of my favourite birds- New County tick.
We then went to Havannah Nature Reserve, somewhere I have never been. I didn't know what to expect and was suprised to see a slightly different reserve perfect for Snipe and wintering duck.
A Green Woodpecker flew across from the field behind the first small pond we came to- County tick.
We checked the big pond and flushed two Mallard and a Fox which ran around the pond in and out of the reeds. Only one common Snipe flew overhead as did 500+ Woodpigeon. Blue tit, Long Tailed tit, Reed Bunting and a Goldcrest were also in the trees.
We then noticed 9 Birds on the tree tops a couple of hundred yards away which were 3 bright red male and 6 duller green female Crossbill - Lifer, which stayed for about five minutes before flying east.
A good half an hour at a site which I will definetly visit again.
Next we went to Prestwick Carr (another new site for me) where after walking around most of the site in an hour, saw 2 buzzard and flush a jack Snipe, they were the highlights.
We stayed until sun set but no sign of any Hen Harriers.
We might be heading up the cost in the afternoon tommorrow, weather permitted.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Med Gull

I was out early with Steve Holliday again this morning, first stop was Castle Island, somewhere i've never been before.
Most of the site was under water but there where a few Moorhen and GBB Gull there. BH gull also around as well as little Grebe,Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, 89 Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Redshank ect.
Blue tit, Coal tit and Goldcrest were in the trees on the river bank and a kestrel was hunting in the field.
Next off to Newbiggin to feed the gulls. We stood for about five minutes feeding throwing chips and bread which soon got the interest of the gull, starlings and Jackdaws. After looking at the Jackdaws I noticed one Nordic with almost a full collar.
The Med Gulls - Lifer then came down and started eating the chips, they didn't stop long enough for a photo but in the five minutes 1 2nd winter, 1 1st winter and 3 adult Med gulls circled with the rest of the gulls.
Last stop was Woodhorn flash, plenty of teal but no Green Winged, 2 Mute Swan, Tufted duck the same as castle island really.
A good sunday morning.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

A new garden record

I put my new bird feeders two weeks ago and have seen very little activity on them. Today was the first time since I have put them up that I have been home at lunchtime so I spent an hour from 1 till 2 this afternoon watching the feeder.
I have a pole feeder that is put into the ground and has a feeding and water tray hanging off as well as a peanut feeder, 6 lard balls, seed feeder and a suet block as well as another seed feeder and 3 lard balls around the fence.
The main attraction for birds to my garden is the plumb tree which has had Redwing in it and a woodcock underneath.
The hour started off quietly today as the local Sparrowhawk flew over. After 15 minutes a female blackbird fed on the ground under pole with a Dunnock and the resident Robin which kept attacking the Dunnock from time to time.
Then 25 Starling came within 5 minutes and took a huge chunk of the suet block and most of the lard balls.
In between the Starlings which flew between the feeder and my neighbours roof, Blue tit and a coal tit fed on the peanut feeder.
With five minutes left and nothing else happening I noticed a Long tailed tit in the plumb tree, then 2, 5, 8, 9, 11 and finally 12!
This is the new garden record, I have had 5 long tailed tits at the most in the garden but they flew over two years ago anyway. The flock then all flew onto the feeder at once and ate what was left of the lard balls, I stayed and watched them for about five minutes before they flew off over the fence individually. This is proof that I need to come home at lunch more often.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Another good day

Today I went Birding with Steve Holliday and Dee McKeown, (much better crammy Birders).
First stop was Hulne park to look for wintering Hawfinches, no sign at the gates but plenty of common tits, nuthatch and Red Squirrel.
Fenham Flats- 100+ Brent Geese both Pale Bellied and Dark Bellied, Grey plover, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, two hunting Merlin, peregrine, Wigeon, Pintail (beautiful birds), 5 Long Tailed Duck - Lifer, 2 Slavonian Grebe - Lifer and Rock pipit were the highlights.
Stag Rocks - Eider, 10 Common Scoter, 1 Velvet Scoter ( female near the tide ) - lifer and Purple Sandpiper - Lifer.
Cresswell Pond- Brilliant views of a Bittern walking and feeding along the side of the north reed bed and Merlin sitting on branches in mud.
Snab point - 1 Red throated Diver- Lifer
Blyth Harbour- 14 Shag on cormorant roost - Lifer, Iceland Gull sleeping on factory roof and Snow Bunting on wall and then beach - Lifer.
West Hartford - 10 Linnets, Common Snipe, Short Eared Owl flying about- excellent patch tick, 14 Fieldfare and a Water Rail heard calling from the bullrushes west of the pool - also kick ass patch tick.
After a discussion of my Cramlington list today I am removing Lapland Bunting as it was in a tree rather than the ground and the Wood Warbler that hit my window, as it was dead, also removing them from my lifetime list. Re adding Long tailed Duck and Velvet Scoter that I saw today as I looked back on my past post and found that the velvet scoter I saw at Newbiggin was a common scoter and the long tailed duck on the wansbeck was a summer eider- beginers mistakes.
thanks again to steve and D. cheers

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Parkside Wagtail

on my way home today I was stopping myself from slipping down the hill next to the now boarded up parkside school when a Grey Wagtail ran out in front of me and began pecking at lumps of grit.
I stood and watched it for a while before it slipped on the ice and flew up onto the roof. This is probably the same bird that I saw flying around the area a few months ago. I always feel like I have seen a good bird when I see a Grey Wagtail.
No sign of any Starlings today but plenty of House Sparrows in the bushes at shanklee and a coal tit.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Jackdaws and Starlings

There are hundreds of Starlings around in cramlington at the minute sitting in all the usual Waxwing spots.
I'm holding them responsible for the lack of Waxwings in crammy so far.
Also I have seen 3 separate groups of jackdaw flying over different locations in crammy over the last week after not seeing as many this year. one group of 25 another of 24 and one of 15.
There is doubt over the status of the Snow goose and as I haven't seen one at all, captive or wild I am really finding it hard not to go back to holywell for another attempt.
No! must do work...
It makes it even worse when the bus that stops at Holywell is going past every hour or so.
Forgot to add yeaterday that I heard another Water Rail calling from the reeds by the public hide, that makes 3 at least.

Monday, 24 November 2008

I need a key

Had another afternoon off today, (the last one for a while) so off to holywell Pond just in case the Snow goose was an unringed bird.
Just like Chevington on friday, as soon as I arrived it started to hail stone so I dived for cover in the part flooded public hide.
No sign of the Snow Goose which is now at Holywell Dene (I can feel another wild goose chase happening), but there were 2 Greylags and a Pink Footed on the island which later flew north east.
Not much else apart from tufed, Mallard and a couple of Goldeneye. No sign of the Med Gull in with the BH and GBB Gulls.
the hail stopped and I went to the members hide on the off chance somebody was inside and I could sneak in.
Holywell Birder has been telling for ages to get a key for the members hide but I have been putting it off until now, as today it cost me.
As I came to the hide I looked throught the new half finished viewing screen and there feeding on the spilt seed under the feeder was a Juv Water Rail, of course it saw me and ran back into the reeds.
I tried to open the hide but nobody was around. the feeding station to the left of the hide was full of Blue tit, Robin, Great tit, Chaffinch and a possible Brambling was flitting about. Shame I didn't get a proper look it would have been another lifer.
As i watched the feeder I could hear squeeling coming from the front of the hide and a Moorhen flew onto the water followed by a screaming adult Water Rail which dragged its feet along the wateras it flew on to the water and swam out of sight.
A fight in front of the hide and I missed it, I really need a key. The worst thing was I had my camera at the ready but it was all to fast to catch.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

West Hartford patch tick

I had a quick half an hour trip to West Hartford today betwen 2;00 and 2;30 on the off chance that yesterdays Snow goose had decided to return overnight.
I decided to go through the business park entrance today rather than the marsh field way. A female Kestrel was resting on top of a lampost near the entrance before it went hunting over the roadside.
As I came to the end of the road where the permanent rubbish pile is I saw 8 Fieldfare feeding on the ground and in the trees near the metal fence area.
I could see there were no geese on the pool and only a few Herring Gull so I came back. Since the snow has melted at West Hartford the ground is soggier than ever and more plants are starting to grow from the puddles.
I was watching a wren on top of the reeds in one of these newly formed mini snow melt pools when I moved forward and flushed a Jack Snipe (Lifer)!
It ran out from the reeds on to the grass for a few seconds before it gave a snipe like call and flew off over the pool and out of sight.
When I first saw it I thought that it was another fieldfare because of its bold dark brown patterns on its back and sides. I wasn't sure whether it was a common snipe at first but the colours were darker, it was smaller, the call wasn't as loud, the beak was shorter and it's flight was straight rather than in a zig zag shape.
No sign of the Snow Goose or a short eared Owl but never then less a good patch tick.
On my way back a group of nine Greylag Geese flew north, I wonder if it's the same group that was with the snow Goose which is at Holywell Pond?

Friday, 21 November 2008

Bitter - n !

I had the afternoon off today so I thought I would go to Linton Lane to catch up with the geese.
When I arrived two Redwing flew overhead down the lane.
There were a few Teal, Mute Swan ect on the small pond and 60+ Canada Geese, 6 Greylag Geese ect on the big pond but no sign of any Bean or White fronted.
I tried my luck at East Chevington next where 20+ Pink Footed Geese flew over towards Druridge and Cresswell. Then it started to snow, rain and hail stone all at the same time so off to Cresswell pond.
It was gettting dark when I arrived at 4:00pm and a birder in the hide said I had just missed the Bittern by 15 minutes. I sat for about ten minutes where I saw a water rail chase a group of snipe in front of the far east reeds.
After a while a group of lapwing flew past the hide and thats when I saw a short eared owl looking bird follow them past the hide over the reeds.
I ran out of the hide but no sign of anything. Five minutes later I was switching off when I looked at the road above the reeds to the east and thought thats a crap colour for a car, Holy S**t thats a Bittern! (Lifer)
It circled the reeds before flying up high off towards the north west, probably to Chevington for the night. I managed to watch it for a few minutes more as it flew off over the horizon.
On my way back to the car a Barn owl began hunting over the small pond, I stood still to watch it and it flew past my head looking straight at me. I was so close I could hear its wings beating.
What a day, well worth freezing half to death for.
On my way back into Cramlington I was diverted because of an explosion at the industrial eatate!
Also thanks to Birding sometimes for confirming that on saturday it was a Hume's Leaf Warbler not a Yellow Browed I saw at ST.Marys.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Which Warbler?

I spent an hour between 12:30 and 1:30 today looking for the Hume's Leaf Warbler in the willows at St.Marys wetland.
After finding the right area, a Warbler was calling from the top branches of the willows. With my Bins, all Warblers look the same so I couldn't tell if it was the Hume's or anything else. It gave good views for about five minutes before it became harder to see.
I then turned around and in the willows behind me was a pale Chiffchaff and 5 Goldcrest. One of the Goldcrest was so close to my face I didn't want to breathe in incase I swallowing it.
I was happy to leave thinking that it was the Hume's warbler as it was in the same area that it has been in for nearly two weeks but some of the other birders in the area were debating whether it was the Hume's or a Yellow Browed Warbler or if there were both birds there at the same time.
To me it looked slightly darker and more like the Hume's but I cant be sure, but either way it is a lifer but I will try and find out which Warbler it was.
All of a sudden I don't feel so bitter any more.

Thursday, 13 November 2008


Had the day off so I went to Newbiggin to see the desert wheatear. I won't go into deatails but I didn't see it and I can now add it to my list of birds I have either not seen or they have desided to fly off before I arrive.
The list includes Desert Wheatear, Bittern, American Wigeon, lesser grey Shrike, Humes leaf Warbler, Yellow browed Warbler, Red breasted Flycatcher, Dotterel, Wryneck and many more.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The Waxwings have arrived

Two reports yesterday of Waxwings in Cramlington but I haven't seen any yet. Migrants including Blue tit, Robin and Starlings have been arriving over the last few weeks in large numbers including 12 Blackbirds in the same tree near Ali park.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Holy Island

I went on my annual trip to Holy Island on friday. Just as I had crossed the causeway I saw three Pale Bellied Brent Geese- Lifer feeding on the tide line.
I spent three hours on the island and walked around the main areas apart from the Snook.
In half an hours sea watching I saw my three Grey Seals for the first time as well as 11 Gannets, 5 Eider and 1 Common Scoter.
From the lough hide I saw 1 Goldeneye, 9 Mallard, 1 Moorhen and 4 Coot. One House Martin was also flying over the beach, a late straggler.
In the trees around one of the tracks there were 7 Redwing and 4 Goldcrest.
On my way off the island as I waited for the tide to shrink I saw 40+ Curlew, 2 Grey Plover- Lifer, 50+ Redshank and 80+ Brent Geese wading in the mud. A good number of the Brents were Dark Bellied- Lifer. Also a Grey Seal was only a metre or so away from the causeway.
On my way home I called into the hide at Fenham where I searched through 100+ Wigeon but didn't find an the American.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Toad and other forgotten pics from Sherwood

Linton Lane, confused Grey Heron and huge Gulls

Before I start I dont know why there is such a big gap after my pictures in my last post.
On Sunday I went to Linton Lane again in the hope of seeing some winter migrants.
On my way to the smaller pond a flock of 20 Goldfinches flew over as did two Great Tits also I could hear a couple of Jays calling from the trees further down the railway track.
The Gadwall I saw last time had been replaced by 13 Teal and on the bigger pond a Little Grebe avoided every camera opportunity as it dived in the water near the hide. No sign of the Tundra Bean goose from last week or any geese at all.
Over the last week I have noticed more and more Gulls returning to the grounds of CLV, mainly Common and BH.
Today a huge Lesser Black Backed Gull pulled three BH Gulls around the quad as it stole their sausage roll. This gull is one of a few LBB Gulls around CLV and it takes no shit from anything.
Also today I was as looking out of a window in B block when I saw a Grey Heron circling the Cricket pitch.
It then landed on a roof next to the schools wildlife area and ran up the roof before landing between the trees where the small pond is.
The schools wildlife area is really crap and all there are few trees and a pond you could jump across.
Still it was a good CLV patch tick.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Sherwood Pics

Sherwood Forest

I have been at Centre Parcs in Sherwood Forest (Nottinghamshire) with friends for the past few days and on a trip where I did little bird watching I managed to see.
4 Mute Swan, 11 Canada Geese, 12 Mallard, 9 Egyptian Geese, 70+ Moorhen, 5 Coot, 1 BH Gull, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Common Buzzard, 2 Pheasant, 3 Stock Dove, 20 Woodpigeon, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 5 Dunnock, 4 Robin, , 4 Blackbird, 2 Goldcrest, 5 Longtaild Tit, 9 Coal Tit, 2 Great Tit, 5 Blue Tit, 2 Treecreeper, 1 Nuthatch, 4 Magpie, 4 Jay, 3 Carrion Crow, 10 Chaffinch, 20 Siskin, 30+ Mealy Redpoll, 2 Greenfinch, 40+ Goldfinch and 2 Wren. Not bad.
I was glad to see that since my last visit 2 hides and a nature centre have been opened. A small section of heathland has been created to attract Nightjar.
Pictures will follow...

Friday, 3 October 2008

Grey Wagtail...Again

It always seems like every time I see a lifer or patch tick that I will then see about twenty the next week.
Today I was walking home through the village square and as I past the war memorial I heard another Grey Wagtail which then flew over and landed near parkside.
I had never seen a Grey Wagtail in crammy before until Monday, flying over the train tracks at Beacon Hill and now thats two in five days.
Hopefully I will complete the set and see a Yellow Wagtail (which would also be a lifer).
Pied Wagtails are common in Crammy and are best viewed around the libary and the track leading up to CLV ( Cramlington Learning Village), which next month will be a year ago since I saw a White Wagtail everyday for two weeks around the schools gates.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Crepuscular time of year

Went to Cresswell Pond this evening from 5:45 to 6:45 to try once again and see a Bittern. I can tell it is going to be the new Water Rail.
On the way to the hide I saw a merlin on the telephone wire near the road and a Barn Owl was hunting around the smaller pond.
I didn't see the Bittern, (as usaual) but did see a flock of 500+ Barnacle Geese fly over and around the pond as I was leaving.
On my way home I saw 400+ Pink Footed Geese land in the crane field next to Alcan.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Patch Tick

I kept my promise and had a quick walk around Crammy today but stayed mainly at Beacon Lane.
A flock of about 40 Geese went over head but I couldn't identify them as they were to high up and I didn't have my binoculars. On my way back a Grey Wagtail flew over head calling, (Patch Tick).
I haven't had a chance to upload the rest of my photos from saturaday yet.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Back with photos!

Went to linton Lane and Cresswell Pond today, not for any particular reason just because I wanted to use my camera.

Not much at Linton, Mallard, Wigeon, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Coot and a Magpie overhead but I did manage to get some good shots.
Not much at Cresswell either apart from Peregrine that flew past the hide. I was going to upload more images but as you can see they will not move so I will have to post them seperately.



Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Around Crammy

I haven't posted anything for a while now because the blog seems to be very temperamental and only lets me on at certain times, hopefully this will stop soon and I will get back into the habit of regularly up dating the blog.
I haven't done much birding recently as I have been busy and instead have been taking a closer look at the birds on my door step.
I am dissapointed that I haven't seen a Honey Buzzard during the recent influx or the Wryneck at Seaton deleval which I hoped would at least move to east Crammy Nature reserve.
Since I came back to school three weeeks ago I have seen a small female Sparrowhawk most days in trees at the front of the school or being mobbed by Carrion Crows.
I have seen Robin, Dunnock, Wren and blackbirds in the bushes also and a good number of tits on the feeders in the bushes towards the housing estate, this is before last week when the feeders were smashed at the school gates. At least the seed that fell out were feeding the local rats, gotta love rats.
House Sparrows are everywhere as usual, so are Starlings but there is a serious lack of gulls around at the minute.
I have seen a few BH Gulls on the playing field behind D block plus one unidentified species which looked like a strange hybrid but it flew off before i could see it properly.
By this time in past years I have seen loads of BH Gulls, Common Gulls along with some LBB and GBB Gulls but not this year.
Everybody always complains about the gulls crapping on them and stealing there food around the campus, both of which have never happened to me or anybody else I know. I hope that the school leader, the mighty MR. Wise, ( all hail) has not payed some body to kill off the feathered terrors to stop them attacking the recent influx of small helpless childern which are now in the schools Junior learing Village.
Oh well I can feel another Cramlington Learning Village rant coming on so I better go before the Crammy secret service snipers pick me off like an innocent Gull.
Next time I go birding I can finally guarentee that I will return with pictures.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

If Carlsberg did birdwatching it would probably be like today

What a day.
With the water levels being lowered earlier in the week I had been itching to go to Cresswell Pond but school got in the way as usual.
When I arrived there today, after avoiding the puddles which were still surprisingly deep, I saw that there were at least 25 bird watchers on the road side at the north end of the causeway.
After about 5 minutes and my second little Stint of the year, some dog walking arseholes decided to walk across the causeway and scare off almost everything. One of the walkers even came up to me and said, ''will this effect your bird watching?'', even when I said yes she still carried on.
Most of the now fairly pissed bird watcher packed up and drove off or like me, went to the hide.
The hide was as good as it's ever going to get with some mud flats appearing and held, 4 Wigeon, 50+ BH Gull, 7 Common Gull, 1 Little Gull- Lifer, 19 Lapwing, 4 Oystercatcher, 10 Bar tailed Godwit, 18 Knot, 9 Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 6 Ruff, 2 Common Sandpiper, 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 7 Dunlin, 17 Snipe, 1 Cormorant and 1 Water Rail- Lifer!!!
I have always wanted to see a Water Rail today was finally the day. Another birder spotted it first, it was running next to the reeds in a amongst the snipe group and stayed out for about 5 minutes, cleaning itself with its foot before disappearing back into the reeds.
If the water levels had not been lowered I don't think that I would have seen the Rail and if that isn't a sign to the NWT that the water should be lowered at the right time of the year then I
don't know what is.
I then checked the bank on the left side of the pond where there were a large number of ducks one of which was a female Pintail- lifer.
A Black Tern- Lifer then joined the crowd of gulls on the mud flats and cleaned itself for a while before flying off.
A Redstart was flying about in the dunes next to the car park.
I went back to the causeway about two hours later and met one of the bird watchers that I met at Newbiggin last week, who kindly let me borrow his scope where I saw, 2 Pectoral Sandpipers- Lifer and 1 Buff Breasted Sandpiper- Lifer amongst others.
On the way home I stopped at Newbiggin where I saw 1 Guillemot riding the waves, 6 Wheatear and 1 Female Velvet Scoter- lifer.
All in all probably the best days birdwatching of the year or even ever.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

End of the World?

As the Swiss open their black hole in an attemp to find out about the big bang theory and end the world, I am looking back on what has been a very good year for birdwatching for me.
I have seen both spring and autum migrants as well some good summer watches at Cresswell and Druridge.
Highlights have been:
Palla's Warbler- Rising Sun Country Park
Lesser yellowlegs- Druridge Pools
Rose Coloured Starling- Long Nanny
Spotted Crake- Swallow Pond
Red Backed Shrike- St. Mary's Island
There is probably more just I have forgotten at the minute.
I would say that I am hoping for a good winters birdwatching but the world is about to end...very
inconvenient, I wish I had at least seen a Wryneck.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Migrant Mission 2: Red lifers

Crammy Birder in an all star cast featuring Redstart, Pied flycatcher and Red backed Shrike.
With only a half day today, the migrant hunt was back on. Whitley Bay Cemetery was the location today. After a two hour spell I saw:
4 robin
6 Spotted flycatcher
3 Pied Flycatcher-Lifer 173
2 Redstart- Lifer 174
There was no sign of the Red Breasted Flycatcher, Wryneck or Barred Warbler, which had moved on by the time I got there.
I then went to St Mary's to see the Red Backed Shrike which was on the island in the cottage garden.
When I got there John malloy was watching a flock of House Sparrows, one of which turned out to be a Juv Red Backed Shrike-Lifer 175 which flew around the bushes and ran accross the wall for about half an hour.
The last two lifers I had before today began with Spotted and today started with Red, hopefully next time it will be Semipalmated or Icterine.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Migrant Mission

Ok so this mornings post was a little premature and at two o'clock I finished the boring tasks and with the sun creeping out headed off to Newbiggin.
I could have gone to a number of different locations but when I saw that a Dotterel was on the Golf course that swayed it for me.
There was no sign on the golf course so I headed off to the mound where the Red Breasted Flycatcher and Greenish Warbler were.
I met a number of other birders today off which I know none of their names, sorry.
There were about five birders scanning the trees just off the track when me and two other birders arrived.
Someone said that the RBF hadn't been seen for about an hour but we were in the right area.
there were also a few pied Flycatchers and Spotted Flycather around.
After about half an hour my time was up and I had to go home. I didn't see the Red Breasted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher or Greenish Warbler but did see 2 Spotted flycatcher sitting in the tree tops, Lifer 172.
Not as spectacular as my last lifer begining with Spotted but never the less a Lifer is a Lifer.
Small Warblerish bird where flitting about just out of sight which made it more frustrating, one was a Goldcrest, I think it was too quick to see.
On the way back to the car I saw a Whinchat in the graveyard and 26 Wheatear , 11 on the golf course and the rest on the beach.
I really like Newbiggin and can now see how it's got such a good migrant reputation.
I also found out that the Dotterel was about two miles away from the golf course nearer Alcan but I didn't have enough time.

Wake me up when September ends

I knew yesrerday when I saw the heavy rain that this spelt only one thing, Migrants.
There everywhere this weekend and I can't get out to see them.
I wish I didn't know anything about these migrants as it is just making boring house hold tasks even more painful.
Hopfuly the roads will get a little better and allow me to do some migrant spotting but the clouds outside are ready to spoil those plans.
Why can't Cramlington be further towards the sea then I wouldn't even need the car.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Garden Keeping

On my list of birds that I have recorded in crammy I am now going to put a G next to the birds that I have seen in my garden, as this has been a major source of sightings in Cramlington.
I feel like a fraud at time calling myself Crammy Birder as I do little bird watching in Cramlington but I am going to change that from now on...I think.
My garden was the first real place I started watching and have been lucky enough to see some better than avarage garden species over the years.
On another note I am still confident in my sighting of a spotted Crake last Sunday and I know that it was not a juv Coot or Water Rail. Water Rail... I wish I still haven't seen one despite hours of trying, freezing half to death in the Cresswell hide over the winter.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

!!! Spotted Crake !!! no seriously a Spotted Crake!

Where do I begin, I'm still in a state of shock. I have been putting off going to Rising Sun Country Park all summer because there are people everywhere and with the exception of this years pallas Warbler, I never see anything good, until today.
I got there at around 1:00pm and walked around the Hadrian woodland in search of typical woodland species, but nothing apart from a Magpie, one for sorrow.
Then I went to the hide just of the main track. The hide was empty but people kept going past, mainly screaming kids and dopey dogs.
The reeds in front of the hide are to overgrown to get good views of the pond but there was nothing much anyway.
A handful of Mallards were in the shallow muddy water between the hide and the reeds so to was a sneezing swan, I didn't even no they could sneeze?
The weather was strange, kind of muggy with the threat of rain. When it did rain a couple came into the hide which made me thing I'm never going to see anything. It was 1:40 when they left and I was then disstracted by theree rats which were running around next to the hide.
When I turned back I thought one last look across the pond.. but wait whats that?
The mallards have made a small channel through the reeds and standing on the edge of the reeds feeding in the mud was a Spotted Crake, lifer 171!
The usual questions ran through my head, is it not just a Juv Moorhen, or something.
No it was definetely a Spotted crake, it looked a bit smaller than a Starling and was covered in tiny white flecks. It had yellowy greenish legs and a orangy brown body with darker patches on its side and back, its beak was a dull yellow with a slight redish look.
I had time to compare the picture in my bird book and it was almost identical.
I know it sounds like I'm describing a young Moorhen but it was definetly a Spotted crake.
It stood there for about a minute or two pecking at the insects on the water before, as if to wave away my doubts a Moorhen came across from the other side if the reeds with its young.
I've seen plenty of young Moorhens before, some of which were on the main pond, and this young was well developed with blackish brown fluffy feathers and a dull brownish beak, also it was nearly the same size as its parent.
The moorhen swam across to the crake and pecked it forcing it to run off into the reeds.
When the crake and the moorhen were next to each other it was clear that they looked different and that the crake was half the size of the moorhen.
It seemed like time stood still nobody was around until it disappeared so I left, it was claer with more screaming kids coming up the path that it wasn't going to come back.
There have been times when I have doubted what I've seen but I have never been more sure than this.
I now going off to hurt myself for not charging my camera. I could have proved it as it was only a meter or so from the hide.
Hopefully somebody else will see it and confirm but I think that it was a million to one shot.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Albinos, Hybrids, everything but a Wryneck!

I was in the Durham area today and thought it would be rude not to check out the wryneck that had been seen at Hetton Lyons Country Park, Hetton-Le-Hole, for the last three days.
I had never even heard about the reserve until tuesday and thinking about it I haven't really explored the Durham areathat much.
As I arrived at the site there were at least ten people scanning the trees in the car park.
I got out and asked what the crack was and found out that the Wryneck had been seen at 7:30 this morning in the car park.
I then found out that the best place to see it was on a track to the left of Stephensons angeling lake.
I spent about two hours on the track and had a breif explore of the other lakes but no sign.
Then I tried the field behind the factorys where it has been seen roosting in a elderberry tree but nothing there either.
On the second smaller lake there were a good number of Coot familys and an Albino Mallard which at first I thought was an Aylesbury but on closer inspection was definetly an albino.
On the third and largest lake there were more Coots, Moorhen, Mallards and BH Gulls as well as a strange Hybrid Duck which looked like a cross between a Mallard a Pintail and a Garganey?
If anybody has any information about this duck then please leave a comment as I am interested to find out what it is.
Also of note were 20+ Goldfinch, 3 Linnet and a Grey Wagtail overhead.
With a Sabine's Gull, Hobby and various waders Holy Island looks like the place to be, its a shame I'm not going until October. Hopefully I'll catch some migrants even a Wryneck.... someday.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Only 30 to go

On Friday despite the weather I went up to Long Nanny to do some Tern spotting.
The weather was getting gradually worse and as I got onto the beach I was attacked by a sand storm and then a rain storm.
On the beach there were 50+ GBB Gulls with a few other gulls which I couldn't be bothered to identify. With no sign of any Med Gulls I moved onto Terns.
After a depressing 15 minute soaking I thought screw this and headed back after only seeing 4 Sandwich Terns. On my way back I nearly tripped over a young dead Grey Seal which had been washed up quite far up the beach due to the tide.
Yesterday with the weather looking a bit better I decided to go for the first time ever to Newbiggin-By-The-Sea.
I spent about an hour in the sun sea watching and saw 11 Curlew, 8 oystercatcher, 5 Eider, 1 Red Breasted merganser, 11 Redshank, 3 BH Gull, 14 GBB Gull, 9 Herring Gull, 7 Cormorant, 2 Carrion Crow, 7 Linnet and Lifer no 170, a Northern Whetear which was flying around for the whole hour I was there.
On to Cresswell Pond and apart from three Buzzard and a peregrine circling the south west corner fields it was quiet.
North of the causeway there was no sign of any Little Stint and the Dunlin flock flew off as I arrived all there was were 15 BH Gulls, 1 Grey Heron and a Stock Dove on a fence post in the field behind.
The beach at Snab point was to full of people so all I saw was 5 Ringed Plover, 7 Redshank and 4 Sanderling with no sign of any Little Gulls.
When I got home I found out that the Little Gulls had moved to Lynemouth.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Holiday ect...

After a good week of bird watching I am just going to list what intersting things I saw rather than adding the boring details.

Stranraer Harbour : 7th August
6 Great Crested Grebe
2 Black Guillemot - (Lifer)

Irish Sea: 7th August
10 Gannet
4 Fulmar
7 Guillemot- (Lifer)
50+ Manx Shearwater - (Lifer)

Undisclosed Site: 8th August
1 Hooded Crow- (Lifer)

Baltray Saltmarsh: 11th August
100+ Curlew
2 Little Egret

Baltray Sea, Burn and Sand Dunes: 11th August
2 Goldcrest
3 Stonechat Familys
2 Sandwich Terns
2 Arctic Terns
1 Whimbrel - (Lifer)

Caerlaverock: 13th August
1 Fox
1 Great Grey Shrike- (Lifer)
1 Whooper Swan
1 Merlin

Back in England:

Holywell Pond: 15th August
1 Ruddy Duck
1 Shoveler
1 Gadwall
4 Great Crested Grebe
6 Little Grebe
6 Mute Swan
2 GBB Gull
1 Greenshank-( Lifer)

Grindon Lough: 16th August
1 Curlew
1 Wilson's Phalarope- (Lifer)

Arcot pond: 16th August
2 Mute Swan
6 Moorhen
2 Coot
10 Mallard
3 BH Gull
1 Mandarin Duck - Patch Tick

Some good lifers as well as some that I'm embarrased to say that I have not seen yet.
Oh well getting nearer.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Bean Goose! ( finally)

Went to Cresswell today to try once again and see the Tiaga Bean Goose that I have chased after at both Hauxley and Longhirst flash, after it was reported at Cresswell on sunday,( check older posts).
From the hide there were the usuals as well as a little Egret being bullied by a Grey heron near the causway. After an initial scan I couldn't see anything and thought it had escaped back to Brandon Quarry, Powburn where it usually lives, that was until I noticed a large goose cleaning itself in amongst a group of cormorants on the left bank of the pond. Yes!!!
It's bright orange legs and black beak confirmed that was the goose, a lifer taking my total to 161.
Will be on holiday for a week or so now in northern Ireland and Scotland so no posts but I am planning on going to Caerlaverock N.R and Strangford Lough N.R. so hopefully when I return I will be even closer to the big 200!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Nothing at Arcot

I went to Arcot at 2:00 but there was no sign of any Stork or anything much at all. I also checked some roof tops in the industrial estate but no sign.
Its a shame it would have been a lifer and an amazing patch tick.


This morning for the first time in a long time I woke up at 4:40 and looked outside thinking I should go down to West hartford and do some early morning bird watching.
After falling asleep again I woke up at about nine and thought '' that was weird''.
Then at 1:00 I logged onto birdguides and read that a Black Stork had been seen Circling low over Nelson industrial estate for at least ten minutes before apparently drifting south at 12:00, was somebody telling me to get my lazy arse out of bed and go to Hartford?
I will check Arcot Pond later on today and post my results later. I would appriciate it if any body that has some info about the sighting would leave a comment. thanks.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Slipped through the net...again

After seeing that a Great White Egret had been reported at Cresswell Pond on birdguides for the second time this year I thought I've got to see this.
I couldn't leave until about half six so I had to pray that it would hang around long enough for me to get a good look.
As I got to Ellington there was a huge sea fret which would make visabillity very difficult but still I stayed positive...until...
As I arrived at Cresswell I could just about see the road in front of me but noticed that the pond was completely covered in fog.
I parked on the road side and walked to the edge of the causeway where it was like a scene from a low budget horror film complete with eerie curlew sound effects.
After about ten minutes the fog lifted a little but still no sign of any Egret.
As I walked up to the hide for one last chance a Barn Owl flew out of the reeds on the small pond and began hunting over the reeds, stopping breifly on a fence post. That made me feel like I hadn't wasted my time completely.
As you can probably guess I saw nothing else due to the fog and went home.
Birds like this mysterious Great White Egret seem to be reported once and then nothing else is heard about them which makes me wonder...

Thursday, 24 July 2008

July is not that bad after all

After some family business in Alnwick today I decided to go home via the coast.
My first stop was Druridge Pools where apart from the otter in the north east corner there was nothing. I then walked on the beach down to Cresswell Pond where I apart from the usual sea suspects I had the first of four lifers which where 2 Gannets and 2 Arctic Skuas.
At cresswell pond I saw my other two lifers which where a Curlew Sandpiper feeding with nine Dunlin just north of the causeway and a Wood Sandpiper which was on the mud opposite to the Curlew sandpiper an Dunlins.
Not much at Snab point apart from 1 ringed plover and a couple of gulls and eiders offshore.
A very good day. I also saw an otter at Cresswell.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Seawatch and the usual boring July

On Wedneday I had a 2 hour sea watch at Seaton Sluice between 7:30 and 9:30.

I sat on the cliff edge and watched 6 Fulmars nesting on the cliff side for most of the time but still managed to see 4 Sandwich Tern, 1 Kittiwake, 2 Herring Gull, 1 Cormorant, 1 Grey Heron and 35 Eider duck offshore.

Yesterday I went to St Mary's and saw 6 Turnstone, 7 Lapwing, 9 Oysrercatcher, 3 Curlew, 24 BH Gull, 4 Sand Martin and 2 House Martin.

The wetland was dead apart from 4 Swallow, 7 Linnet, 1 Moorhen, 6 House Sparrow, 4 Goldfinch and 1 Reed Warbler.

Next off to Holywell pond where there was 10 Canada Geese, 6 Greylag Geese, 12 Tufted Duck, 6 Mallard, 4 Pochard, 1 Coot, 6 Great Crested Grebe and 1 Grey Heron, Little Grebe calling in the reeds.

On my way towards the members hide I heard a Grasshopper Warbler.

It's a good job that I didn't walk on the beach at Seaton Sluice the other day as Lesser Weaver Fish have been found there and at South Beach.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Patch Tick

On my way home yesterday I past through the Scrubland behind the Brockwell as I regularly do.
This is an excellent place to find birds in an urban area and in the past I have seen both Reed and Lapland Buntings here.
I wasn't looking for birds yesterday as it was about to rain but on my way out of the scrub two birds flew right out in front of me and landed on a branch a few metres away. They stayed on the branch for for about 10 seconds before a whitethroat chased them away.
It took me a few seconds to click but then I realised that they were Garden Warblers a bird I have not seen in Cramlington before and my 8th patch tick of the year.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

I forgot that on my way back to the car I saw 1 Grey Partridge in the meadow hill field near the bypass at Big Waters.

Pleasantly Surprised

Screw it I thought yesterday, I'm not going to let the petrol prices stop me reaching 200, so I went off to Washington Wild Fowl Park.
I hadn't been to the Park for over three years and was plesantly suprised to see that the site had moved slightly away from being a prison for exotic birds and was becoming more of a natural habitat for british birds.
After admiring the captives I went to the Waders Lake and managed to see 6 Oystercatcher, 10 Lapwing, 12 Grey Heron, 16 Mallard, 40+ Arctic Tern, 30+ BH Gull, 20 Shellduck, 2 Moorhen, 4 Tufted Duck, 3 Teal, 2 Greylag Geese, 2 Canada Geese, 20 Redshank, 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Little Ringed plover and 2 Avocet.
The Avocets are annual visiters to the lake and were being dive bombed by the Terns many of which had nests with young chicks of various sizes.
Next I went to the woodland feeding station hide where apart from 4 Grey Squirrels and 3 Brown Rat there were 6 Chaffinch, 4 Bullfinch, 2 great Tit, 2 Blue Tit, 2 Long Tailed Tit, 1 Willow Tit and 4 Great Spotted Woodpecker ( three young and one adult). All in all a good days birding.
Today I though I would go to Big Waters as I hadn't been there for nearly a year.
Walking around the lake I managed to see 6 Arctic Tern, 1 Cormorant, 2 Mute Swan, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Coot, 2 Moorhen, 1 Common Sandpiper and 12 Mallard+ 14 Ducklings.
At the Feeding station I saw 16 Tree Sparrow, 1 Blue Tit, 2 Great Tit, 1 Greenfinch, 3 Goldfinch, 1 Yellowhammer, 2 Pheasant, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker,1 Moorhen and 1 Rabbit.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Local patch

With petrol prices rising I didn't have the luxury of going to Cresswell or Druridge ect so decided to look around my local patch for a change, something which I should be doing more often.
I had planned to go to Arcot Pond, West Hartford and Laverock Hall Farm Pond but the weather dedcided that I was only going to go to West hartford.
I spent about 30 minutes at the main flash and managed to see 40+ Lapwing some with young, 6 Oystercatcher, 1 Herring Gull, 1 BH Gull, 3 LBB Gull, 1GBB Gull, 1 Moorhen, 7 Skylark and 3 Rook.
On my way home I checked the marsh field and saw 1 single tiny Moorhen chick which was swimming on a small puddle before it stopped and stared at me for about two minutes it then dissapeard into the reeds where I heard the parent calling. I also heard at least 2 Teal in amongst the reeds.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Swimming in the Rain

Yesterday I went to Cresswell pond in search of the Little Gulls that have been there for weeks now.
I parked by the side of the road and all that I saw was 1 grey Heron and 1 Shellduck with 7 humbug style chicks, so I went off to Druridge pools.
As ther heavens opened I ran to the indoor hide where an otter gave brilliant views in the water right outside the hide for about ten minutes.
I have only ever seen one Otter before yesterday and that was at the exact same place very breifly in October as it got dive bombed by a Kingfisher.
I watched the latest otter happily swimming in the rain as it caught a huge fish which it then took onto the bank and ate, but as usual no camera!
I then went to the Budge field hide and apart from the usuals there was a Little Egret fishing behind some reeds. I watched it for about ten minutes before it flew off into the tree tops where it argued with a Grey Heron for a further five minutes.
On my way home I saw a worrying sign as smoke was covering the field and roadside not far from Linton Lane. I can only hope that it was from Linton itself and not another case of arson at the reserve.
I also noticed a summer plumage Long Tailed Duck in the River Wansbeck next to Castle Island.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Wild Goose Chase

I had my first Wild Goose chase today, in search of the Bean Goose that was reported on Birdguides yesterday.

I started at Longhirst Flash where it was reported but no sign, only 2 Mute Swans and a couple of Coots.

Next to Linton Lane, no sign there either. A Mute Swan family with 2 cygnets showed well in front of the hide at the bigger pond but as usual no camera. There were also 4 third year Herring Gulls on the left island on the smaller pond as well as all the usual suspects.

The same at Bothal Pond just another Mute Swan family with 6 cygnets and some coots with there young.

On tuesday I visited Holywell Pond and took these Crap photos:
I cant even be bothered to upload the rest

Thursday, 5 June 2008

The Reward

With most of the day available I decided to act on yesterdays decision and went to Druridge Pools in search of the Temminck's Stint and anything else that I could add to my list.
On my way to the Druridge I went the Cresswell way past the pond and this is when I noticed a Spoonbill feeding in the flooded field next to Cresswell causeway.
With a car behind me I couldn't stop and decided to come back to the pond later.
I spent about an hour searching the Budge field at Druridge for the Stint but found nothing.
Checking the main pool and finding nothing I had one last try at the half built hide where I had seen the Lesser Yellowlegs a few weeks ago.
After checking for about 15 minutes all I saw were a few Gadwall, Shellduck, Garganey and a Snipe this was until two men came out of the main pool hide and within minutes of them checking, managed not only to find the Temm Stint flitting around the long grass on the waters edge but also a Little Stint.
Both Stints then disappeared back into the long grass and I disappeared off to Cresswell Pond.
As I was leaving about ten people came to look for the Temm Stint and after talking to one of the people he said that he had seen three Spoonbill at Hauxley at 6:30 this morning after hearing that they were flying south of Long Nanny at 4:30.
I then thought I saw two Wrynecks in the trees next to the Budge field hide but was unaible to get a claer sighting of them before they flew off further into the bushes. So if any are reported here I know I can add them to my list as they are very distinctive birds.
I stopped at the car park next to the dunes at Cresswell as a group of people were gathered here looking a the Spoonbill which was feeding only meters away from the stone wall dividing the pond from the road.
What a bird and what good views, why didn't I bring my camera.
The only other time I have seen Spoonbills was last summer at Leighton Moss in Lancashire where I got distant views of eight feeding in the water but todays was a county first for me.
Thanks to everybody that helped and talked to me today as this was very useful.
So thats 149 and 150 back on the list and this time they are staying which I think is a reward for making yesterdays decision.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008


After reflecting on my birding so far I have decided to make things harder for myself by removing 20 birds from my british birds list. I have done this because I have already misidentified five british species and included 15 species that I saw on holiday.
I would prefer to keep a clean list even if it does leave me with 148 species seen in Britain.
All of a sudden 200 by the end of the year seems a lot harder.
Well at least its honest.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Quick and to the pointless

Yesterday (not by choice) I visited Darden Lough near Elsdon.
Just like any area around the Cheviots it produced the usual moorland suspects including Curlew, Lapwing, Stonechat, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Cuckoo, Pheasant, Grey Partridge, Red Grouse and Kestrel. Although I did see my second Goshawk of the year flying over towards Harwood Forest.
At the lough it self there was only a dead Sheep in the water, nothing else.
I did see a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Morrisons car park in Morpeth on the way home.
Red Backed Shrike, Common Rosefinch, Icterine Warbler, Barred Warbler and Marsh Warbler all seen around the county today. I can feel 200 getting closer. I hope.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Where do I start...
Last week I had my first trip to Low Barns Nature Reserve in County Durham. I spent a good few hours there but saw very little of interest but I did enjoy it. No sign of the Bittern that was reported there last month.
On the way home I did see a Tawny Owl asleep in a tree by the side of the road at the turn off to riding mill.
In between short visits to West Hartford around the weekend I saw that the Iceland Gull that has been seen across the counrty in the past few months had once again been seen only this time at Warkworth. I used to spend alot of time at Warkworth so I knew that the bird would be in the estuary between amble harbour and the river Couuet in Warkworth, so off I went to spend my bank holiday Monday.
After seeing there were at least 50+ gulls I searched through all of them until I found a striking bright White gull with no markings on its wing tips or tail standing next to two LBB gulls. I had found it just in time as it then flew off over the dunes to the other side of the estuary.
In amongst the Herring Gull, GBB Gull, LBB gull and BH Gulls were three Shellduck and a Goldeneye diving in the river.
So thats NO.168 Iceland Gull, I'm well on my way to 200!
P.S. Thanks to Holywell Birder for adding me your links page, Cheers.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Duck Phase Strikes Back

Took a trip to Duridge Pools yeasterday to see the Lesser Yellowlegs.
On arrival I was attacked by a swarm of those annoying black flies that are around at this time of the year. Dam flies.
A quick check of the pool with the half built hide and I saw the Yellowlegs feeding only meters away from the hide, in amongst the reeds.
It let me watch it for about five minutes before it disappeared into the reeds only to be replaced by two Dunlins in Summer Plumage.
Whilst waiting for the LYL to return I heard a Cuckoo which I then saw sitting on a fence post on the far side of the Pool.
Another Cuckoo then came and the pair started fighting before flying off towards the other Pools.
Also whilst I was waiting an upset Shelduck burst into the reeds that it had been guarding and chased out a male Gaganey which flew to the other side of the Pools and disappeared into the reeds. The LYL came out again breifly and began feeding next to the Dunlins.
Next off to Cresswell Pond. Not much to report apart from two Sedge Warblers giving good views infront of the hide. A quick and pointless check at Woodhorn Flash and I was off.
This weeks Duck phase is a draw between the increasing numbers of Shellduck and Gadwall which are everywhere at the minute.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Mixed Emotions

On Monday I had my first Wood Warbler of the year and first record of one in Cramlington.
Unfortunately it had hit my window and broke its neck. It took me a while to identify it as it was only young and was not a Yellow as an adult. After closer examination I decided that it was definetly a first year Wood Warbler. Although I was sad about its death it was also a good sign that this was in my garden to start with.
On Tuesday I had a quick trip to Plessey Woods where I saw Whitethroats, Jays and good views of a Red Squirrel. Hopefully all of these will one day turn up in my garden as well.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Lies all lies!!!

Well not really.
In my last post I complained about the fact that I would not be able to get any birding done until early June, I forgot that I was going on holiday. Oops.
The day before I went on holiday I managed a short trip to Linton Lane, Cresswell Pond and Duridge Pools.
At Linton I managed to see 6 Glaucous Gulls on the small pond as well as my first sighting of the Linton Lane Fox next to the bigger pond. No sign of the Icleand Gull though.
Nothing much at Cresswell apart from 15 Yellowhammers in the bushes next to the hide.
I was hoping to see the Firecrests reported at Duridge Pools the day before but no joy there either.
On holiday I managed to get my bird total from 143 to 158 when I saw House Bunting, Bee Eater, Crested Lark, White Stork, Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, Little Swift, Crag Martin, Great Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Northern Wheatear, Lesser Kestrel, Cattle Egret, Nightingale, Montagu's Harrier and a Short Toed Eagle. Guess where I went yet?
I was frustrated to see that a Hooded Crow was at Cresswell Pond in my absence but on Monday I did manage to see the Pallas Warbler at the rising sun country park. No sign of the Red Crested Pochard.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Why now!

Glaucous, Ross's, Iceland gulls, White Stork and Fire Crests have all been seen across the Northumberland in the last few days but I will not have a chance to see any of them.
I know for a fact that the next time I will be able to go bird watching will be the end of June at the earliest due to a busy few month of tests and other bird denying events.
The Glacous Gulls are always at Linton so I'm not to concerned about them or the Iceland.
The Ross's Gull seems to have just been passing and with no more sightings of I don't think that it will be returning.
The second most frustrating thing is that the Firecrest's have now decided to turn up at St.Mary's wetland just after I went there six times in three weeks, typical.
The most frustrating thing about all of these sightings is the White Stork at Fawdon. It must be the only bird ever seen at Fawdon after it was reported near Morpeth and then Gosforth.
There has been a White Stork seen at two different locations in the borders this last night, hopefully not the same one that was at Fawdon. Why can't the stupid thing settle down at Big Waters or Arcot Pond or something?
Nothing much to report in Crammy for a while now but there was the mysterious long toed bird seen on wednesday morning at half eight.
My dad was at the bus stop at Brockwell at half eight when he said he saw a strange long legged and toed, grey and white bird just bigger than a Chicken land on the patch of grass next to somerfields.
After showing him multiple picture we came to the conclusion that it was a very young and confused Grey Heron.
Hopefully next wednesday it will be a White Stork.
Also I would again like to thank the helpful people on ST.Mary's birding.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Very Good Friday

Last night I recieved news about the two Common Cranes that had been seen in a field left of the Alcan Power Station near Woodhorn, (no where near Ashington).
So today I decided to brave the easter snow and see what would be my firsdt ever Cranes.
When I got to the field two cars where already parked there but the Cranes where no where to be seen.
After a short trip around Woodhorn I returned to find the pair in the far right of the field, unfortunately my camera's zoom is not good enough so no pictures.
I would like to thank the helpful visitors on the ST Mary's birding site for providing me with directions.

Monday, 17 March 2008

!!!140!!! Part 2!

Sorry I could smell burning down stairs and I must have clicked publish by accident.
I forgot to mention that I saw 5 Pheasant and 8 Red Grouse on the moors.
I saw the Goshawk fly from the moors over a small stream this is when I noticed its bulkier body which made me able to identify that it was a Goshawk and not just a Sparrowhawk.


Finally the spring!
Sorry about the lack of posts recently this was due to the bad weather. Yeah that was a terrible excuse.
Anyway I had two trips this weekend both to locations that I check once in a blue moon, Prestwick on Saturday and the lower cheviots on the sunday.
I decided to check Prestwick not just because I was in the area but because it provides some of the best views of Hen Harriers in Northumberland.
With only a half an hour window to check the visit came to nothing and all I saw were 60+ rabbits.
With a lot more time availablein the Chiviots on sunday I saw a lot more.
In total I saw 7 Lapwing, 6 Curlew, 4 Oystercatcher, 30+ Skylark, 1 Dipper, 5 Carrion Crow, 40+ Chaffinch, 1 Blue tit, 1 Great tit, 1 Buzzard and my 140th recorded British bird, 1 Goshawk.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Duck Phase

Have I ever mentioned that I hate the wind?
I decided to go up the coast today, to East Chevington, Duridge Pools and Cresswell Pond.
Nothing much at East Chevington again today apart from 11 Oystercatcher, 4 Greylag Geese, 4 Mallard 50+ Wigeon and 8 Goldeneye. I was hoping to see the Bittern that has been so frequently seen here in recent months but that was just a pipe dream.
On to Duridge Pools next were I saw 12 Teal, 4 Shellduck, 4 Grey Heron, 4 Goldeneye and 1 Female Red Breasted Merganser.
It seemed to be the turn of the Goldeneye in the Duck Phase today as I also saw 10 more at Cresswell pond along with 50+ Lapwing, 4 Mallard, 1 Shoveler,60 + Wigeon, 12 Teal, 10 Tufted Duck,2 Scaup,1 Male Red Breasted Merganser, 3 Mute Swan, 1 Kestrel and 100+ Pink Footed Geese a few fields away.
I wonder what Duck will be the feature of the Duck Phase next time? Oh wait a minute I forgot I don't care. Still no Bloody Water Rail!
I wonder why the water level was so high everywhere today? I didn't think it had rained that much over night.
Bring on the spring!

Friday, 22 February 2008

Dodgy Water Pipit photo

and so it begins....

Before I even get started I must add that I hate the wind!!!
I went to ST. Mary's yesterday to try and get some photos of the Water Pipit that has been seen here recently as well as having a look for some winter visitors on the Wetland.
Although I achieved what I set out to do I still feel disappointed because there was nothing of great interest on the wetland and the pictures that I took are out of focus and too far away to see any detail. I blame the wind!!!
Also the tide was in so I couldn't even go onto the island, a very frustrating day.
All that I managed to see on the Wetland was 1 Mute Swan, 5 Mallards, 3 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 1 Greater Black Backed Gull, 50+ Black Headed Gull and 70+ Starling and still no Water Rail!!!
On the rocks opposite the car park there were 6 Greater Black Backed Gull, 50+ Turnstone, 1 Redshank, 2 Lapwing and 1 Water Pipit.
Nothing exciting in the car park either as there was only 50+ Black Headed Gull and 2 Common Gull.
The only other interesting sighting was a Juv GBB Gull killing a Black Headed Gull and then dropping it repeatedly into the sea.