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.