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!