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.