Sunday, 26 April 2009

Another good morning at West Hartford

After vowing to get up earlier from now on I went to West Hartford at 6 this morning.
The mud is even more exposed on the main pool but still no waders, well that’s not strictly true a Redshank was there briefly before flying off with the gull flock.
The regular pair of Shellduck were constantly chasing another away, nothing else was on the pool.
At least 4 Grasshopper Warblers were reeling around the fields behind the small pool. I managed to see one on a fence post next to the plantation under the pylon, as was a Common Whitethroat – Patch Tick, which started to sing.
2 Jays were squawking overhead and a Roe Deer was in the reeds on the marsh.
As I was leaving 3 Wheatear- Patch Tick, flew from the rubbish pile and one landed in the trees next to the pool. I got one shot before the other Wheatears flew towards the marsh.I always thought that the rubbish pile looked good for Wheatear, Ring Ouzel or Redstart at some time, I think the other two Wheatears were females also.
91 - Common Whitethroat
92 - Wheatear

Saturday, 25 April 2009

I've got to get up earlier

I was woken up by a phone call from Steve H this morning saying that a Great White Egret was at Arcot Pond but it had just flown off!
He had sent me a text 15 minutes before but I once again didn't get up early and missed the text.
I headed straight out to West Hartford incase it had Landed there but there was no sign.
I was going to take more photos at Drurige Bay for school so on the way I checked Cresswell Pond which has Egret less.
I got another text from steve saying that the Drake Garganey was back at Arcot. When I got there, there were a few birders hopefully waiting incase the Egret had returned. I have never seen Arcot Pond that busy before.
Steve and Dee McKeown where watching the Garganey - Patch Tick, which was sleeping under a tree on the north shore. Although it had its head tucked under its wing I could still see the white eye stripe.
The Red eared Terrapin was sunbathing in the south west corner and this time I managed to see the tiny patch of red on its head.
Before I left a Lesser Whitethroat- Patch Tick, called from the bushes between the pond and Arcot Lane, Grasshoper Warbler, Linnet and Willow Warbler were also around. I had missed the earlier Common Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers.
The Egret was only there for ten minutes and I wouldn't have seen it anyway by the time I got there, but if I had got up early and gone to West Hartford I stood a chance of seeing the Ring Ouzel which was only a couple of streets away from my house.
I checked the school field and have been keeping an eye out in my garden today but no sign either.

89 - Garganey

90- Lesser White Throat

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Unexpected Avocets

I got a call from Steve H this afternoon asking if I wanted to go to Cresswell for an hour, easy answer.
We went to Bell’s Pond first where he had seen Yellow Wagtail on Sunday. I had never been to Bell’s Pond before I presumed it was private land or something.
There were some Pied Wagtails on a dried up flash and it didn’t take long for a Yellow Wagtail- Lifer, to appear.
At first we saw three and ended up with five plus a Blue Headed amongst them. The Blue headed quickly flew onto a fence post next to one of the ponds where we got a better view.
As we were watching it I saw a pale looking Pipit land on a fence post a few metres along.
After being distracted by a hare, Steve said a Tree Pipit was calling and the pipit on the fence had disappeared.
He scanned the fields and few trees that were around, we then heard it calling from the trees a few fields away.
On the back pond were 2 pairs of Shoveler and 4 pairs of Gadwall; a Wheatear was sitting on a pile of rocks as we left.

The hide at Cresswell was empty and it looked as if there was nothing on the water but a bit on exposed mud right of the hide made us stay.
I scanned the left bank of the pond and noticed a something flying towards the hide, it was an Avocet.
It did a quick u-turn and landed in the field near the farm towards Warkworth Lane.
Another Avocet soon landed near the exposed mud and began sifting through the water.
Two birders then came into the hide and said they had had three Avocets earlier in the day at East Chevington.
They also pointed out the Little Egret, which had now landed next to the causeway.
Two more Avocets flew from over Bell’s farm and landed on the water. The two birders mentioned that somebody else thought they had 4 Avocets but the bird that landed in the fields didn’t return.

Hopefully it will turn up at West Hartford whilst being chased by a Marsh harrier, which then flushes a Hoopoe, wishful thinking.

I didn’t check Arcot Pond for the Drake Garganey as it hasn’t been seen since and the Lesser Whitethroats are also proving to be elusive.
I can see me adding them to the likes of Goosander, Wigeon, Peregrine, Grey Wagtail, Barnacle Goose, Ringed Plover and Green Woodpecker, which I have also missed on the patch this year.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Good Morning at West Hartford

I couldn’t sleep this morning so I got up early and went to West Hartford. On the way there I was checking the trees around the end of Horton Burn when I finally saw what has become a Bogey Bird for me, Blackcap – Lifer.
I don’t know how but I always seem to miss them, well not any more, it flew into another tree and joined another male, they soon flew off out of sight.
The water level is even lower than the last time I was at West Hartford but still only the usual gulls, Oystercatchers, 6 Moorhen and Lapwing were on the exposed mud.
Part of the huge Linnet flock landed on the shore and drank before settling in the dead trees.
I decided to have a look around the fields and woodland bordering West Hartford today, (somewhere I don’t explore enough).
I went past the smaller pool and as I was walking through the fields, I flushed what looked like a Warbler.
It landed only a meter or so away in the long grass so I went after it. It then climbed up a piece of long grass and I could see that it was a Grasshopper Warbler – Lifer!
It had a longer tail, and heavy streaking on its body with grey diamond shapes on its back.
It stood on the grass watching me for around five minutes not making a sound, are they usually this tame?
If I had put out my hand I think it would have jumped on, it then moved back into the grass so I left it in peace.
As I got to the woodland I could hear it reeling from the field and I realised how it got its name.
Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, GS Woodpecker and Jays were all calling in the woods, I would have explored further put the sound of dogs barking and a Deer Skull mounted on a tree kind of put me off.
As I walked back towards the pools two Stonechats started calling to each other on the fence posts.
The peace was soon shattered when dog walkers and arseholes on dirt bikes started appearing.

87 – Blackcap

88 – Grasshopper Warbler

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Day in the Bay

I was out yesterday with Holywell Birder and his mate, so we went to the Druridge Bay area.
It was cold and grey but the visibility was ok, we checked Linton on the way up, but not much there.
We then checked Lynemouth Flash but again nothing there, we were going to go straight to the north car park at Cresswell Pond but as we drove past, noticed that the hide was full.
Even though the water level is to high at the moment and there was nothing obvious to be seen on the pond we still stopped, only to find that the hide was full of photographers, photographing nothing. There were no Wagtails in the fields north of the causeway.

At Druridge Pools we stopped at the Budge Screen first where the pair of Garganey were showing well but the Little Egret was nowhere to be seen.
I scanned all of the mud for LRP or Black Tailed Godwit but nothing apart from a few Snipe and Redshank.
From the other new hide, which looks a lot like the public hide at Holywell, it didn’t get much better.
A strange sighting was 14 Gadwall together in the sheep fields right of the reserve.

At East Chevington there were around 10 Gadwall in a fields right of the reserve as well, with some Greylags.

Hauxley was the furthest north we went, in the visitors centre there had been a Brambling reported as well as the Bar Headed Goose.
Most of the Geese were in the fields outside the reserve but could be seen from the fence.
Mostly Greylags with a few Canadas thrown in also 10 lingering Whooper Swans.
As we got to the first hide we heard the Geese fly over and land on the water, something they did the rest of the time we were there.

2 Sandwich Terns were amongst the Gulls on the middle island, but the Bar Headed Goose hadn’t joined the others on the water.
We checked all the hides on the right side of the reserve and then the fields again on the way out.
Eventually I saw a very pale goose amongst the Greylags in the fields. We all watched it for a while before it flew off towards the water.

After dropping off HB’s mate we went to Holywell Pond, 6 Drake Shovelers together was the highlight.
On the way home we quickly checked Arcot Pond but nothing much was about.

I see that a Black Redstart was reported today at Hauxley at the sewage pipe, I can’t say we checked it; I can’t even remember a sewage pipe.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Around the patch

I went to Arcot Pond early this morning to see what was around.
5 Greylags were on the water with 7 Mallards, 6 Coot, 2 Mute Swans (nest building) and a few Oystercatchers on the island at the back.
Little grebe called once from the south west reeds and I flushed 4 Reed Buntings from the path.
Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff were in full song all around the area, and 4 House Martins - Patch Tick, hawked over the pond.
I walked home through the scrubland around Beacon Hill, only Yellowhammer and a few Skylark there.
When I first got to Arcot it was misty but it seems to be disappearing a bit so I might get down to ST.Marys this afternoon if I find out which bus gets there.

86 - House Martin

Sunday, 12 April 2009

New sites

I was out today with Steve Holliday, Grahame Bowman and Mark Lowther for a trip to Kielder.
We didn’t get as far as Kielder due to car problems so we stopped instead at Ridley Stokoe.
No Mandarins on the river but there was a Common Sandpiper on the gravel Island in the river.
A pair of Jays were calling from the trees on the bank opposite and Grahame had a female Goosander further upstream.
Next we stopped at Bakethin viewpoint to look for Raptors. We stayed for an hour and
Saw 6 Buzzards displaying high up. Also there were 2 Ravens high overhead, he had good views of them all.
We then tried Bakethin Reservoir, and where lucky enough to get 4 Mandarins. We watched from the bridge rather than the hide and it gave us good views of the right side of the reservoir and the two islands in the middle of it.
The first Mandarin we saw was a Drake asleep on one of the islands. Then we had another Drake swimming close to the bank followed by a pair in the reeds below the bridge.
I hadn’t been to any of the sites we went to before today and was impressed by all of them. Sometimes Loughs and other upland sites seem to merge into one but everywhere we went today had its own distinctive areas and species.
Also on Bakethin there were 2 Greylag, 2 Canada Geese, 6 Mallard and 2 late Whooper Swans, which were starting to get orange heads.

After Bakethin we went to Whittle Dene Reservoirs. We checked the two main fishing waters first where there were 2 Goldeneye and 1 female Smew, which disappeared after a few minutes.
From the hide on the main Reservoir there were 4 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Goldeneye, 1 Grey Heron, 10+ Greylags, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Linnet, 4 Tufted Duck and a controversial Pipit.
The Pipit was on the dry concrete waterfall and kept disappearing behind the wall, so we moved around the corner to get a better view.
At first it looked like a Water Pipit but after half an hour of careful studying and some fence hopping we decided that it was a very streaked Meadow Pipit.
At one point we all thought it might have been a Scandinavian Rock Pipit but it had a clean white tail and the general lack of pink and greyish head ruled out Water Pipit, it sounds easy to identify but it was a dodgy Meadow Pipit, even when it was flushed it refused to call which would have solved the problem a lot faster.
Whilst watching the Pipit 13 Siskin flew over and a Toad swam across the water.

Are last stop of the day was Arcot Pond where apart from the usual a Stock Dove- Patch Tick flew over and 2 Willow Warblers- Patch Tick were calling. Also there was a Swallow – Patch Tick on the telephone wire at Dam Dykes.
I had my first sighting of the Red Eared Terrapin at Arcot today, it was sitting on a log in the south west corner.

83 - Stock Dove

84 - Wilow Warbler

85 - Swallow

Friday, 10 April 2009

Red Kite!

I needed to take yet more beach photos today so this time we went to ST.Mary’s.
After the photos were taken I quickly checked the wetland, Moorhen, 2 Greylags and a few Teal were on the water.
Chiffchaff and Skylark were in full song this morning and I had great views of a Willow Warbler in the bushes around the wetland, which was also in full song on a branch near my head.
On the way home I thought I would check Arcot Pond quickly as I hadn’t been there in a while, I’m so glad I did.
I was watching a single Canada goose on the pond when the coots began calling very loudly and the Oystercatchers lifted off and flew away calling, this all pointed to one thing, a raptor.
I looked up and saw a Red Kite- Patch tick!, fly low over the pond before drifting over the fields next to the A19.
It stayed over the pond for about a minute and I had time to see its fork tail and surprisingly pale under side of its wings.
It didn’t stretch its wings out fully so they were slightly bent inwards and were a lot darker than the rest of the bird.
After seeing it go towards the road I ran back to the car and we followed it. When I got out it had disappeared over the A19. I waited for a while but only a Buzzard flew over.
That’s when I started doubting myself, but it must have been a kite it had that forked tail and rusty colouring.
I got home and found that Steve Holliday had text me saying he had seen a Red Kite fly over his house 5 minutes before I had it over the pond. Yes! Conformation.
I presume it is the same bird that was at Prestwick Carr the other day.
I’m on a role with good Fridays after seeing those 2 Common Cranes last year and now getting a bird I didn’t ever dream of getting on the patch, the highlight of my birding year so far!

82 - Red Kite

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Dead Dolphin?

I needed to take some photos on the beach for school today so we went up to Druridge Bay.
We parked at Druridge Pools so I checked the Budge screen first. A male and female Garganey were asleep on the bank at the back of the pool.
Snipe, Grey Heron, Teal and Redshank were feeding on the pool and a Little Egret was feeding in the marshy area right of the hide.
We then walked on the beach from Druridge Pools to near East Chevington, Sanderlings and Ringed Plover were on the tide line.

After walking in the dunes just before East Chevington we went back onto the beach and I noticed what looked like a dead Dolphin.
It had been well pecked at by Gulls but still it looked like a Dolphin, any ideas?
Whilst photographing the corpse I looked up and saw 5 House Martins hawking low overhead. I tried to take a photo but the were to fast and small for my camera to pick up.
They were overhead for around 5 minutes before heading south over the dunes. At one point I had to duck as they were flying very low, this is when I noticed another had joined them.

On the way home we quickly stopped at the causeway car park at Cresswell Pond but there was no sign of the Yellow Wagtail. 5 Pied Wagtail and a linnet flock in the dunes was about it. I was surprised not to see a Wheatear today.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

LRP check

I was up at seven this morning to check for Little Ringed Plover at West Hartford.
It was windy and damp when I got there and at first it looked promising when I saw that there was some activity on the pool.
Despite the rain last night the water level is still quite low at West Hartford and a few patches of mud have formed on the shorelines.
The usual gulls where on the back mud patch with 5 Lapwing and 3 oystercatchers.
I was looking in between them for anything but no sign of a LRP.
The Teal where also on the pool and a Skylark and Greylag Goose overhead was about it, it then started to rain so I came back.
Still I can’t complain after seeing that Barn Owl the other day, I’ll just keep checking.
I should be out tomorrow taking photos for school again so I will check then as well as at Arcot for yesterdays reported Willow Warblers.

Monday, 6 April 2009

More Night watching

I was out again last night with Steve to do some more night watching, well listening.
We went to West Hartford instead around half 8.
We could just make out a group of Teal on the pool with 3 Oystercatcher and 2 Lapwing.
Mallard, Curlew and Snipe were flying around the pool and we caught a brief sighting of a Barn Owl – Patch Tick, hunting along the hedgerow in the marshy field left of the pool.
We went to the fields right of the pool bordering the woods and began listening.
Apart from the strange noises coming from the industrial estate, Curlews doing horse impressions, a dog barking and some other unidentified noises it was relatively quiet.
A Woodcock flew overhead and a crow began calling from the woods.
Eventually we heard a male Tawny Owl- Patch Tick, call once from a distance, probably in the woods beyond the river.

80 –Barn Owl

81 – Tawny Owl

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Holywell and Hartford

I went out this afternoon to Holywell Pond with Steve H. We went to the members hide and met some other birders who had three Garganey in the reeds to the left.
They were in the patch of reeds on the corner between the two hides and were quite difficult to see.
After scanning through the reeds I could see a Drake Garganey’s head amongst a few Teal, a Drake Shoveler was near it with a few Moorhen.
The Moorhen were moving around the reeds a lot and flushed the other Drake Garganey into the flattened area of reeds with the female.
They didn’t move much, one of the Drakes swan onto the open water briefly with the Teal before moving back into the reeds.
Tufted Duck, Pochard, and 1 Great Crested Grebe were also on the water, 2 Canada Geese and 2 Greylag Geese were in front of the hide.
No sign of the Bramblings at the feeding station only Greenfinch and Pheasant.
As we were watching some Sand Martins which were flying over the pond a first winter Med Gull landed on the water and began washing itself, it stayed for a while before flying off.
There were plenty of Mallards on the pond and two males attempted to mate in front of the hide, I’ll go no further.
On the way back we stopped at West Hartford where the wind was getting very strong, on the pool there were the usual gulls with a few LBB mixed in.
The Shellduck and Teal were also there with lapwing, Oystercatcher and a Redshank – Patch Tick.

79 – Redshank

Friday, 3 April 2009

Night watching

I was out this evening with Steve H for a walk around the Beacon Lane / Arcot area.
We were walking through the fields bordering Beacon Lane when 4 Golden Plovers – Patch Tick, flew over.
It was around half 8 when we were walking down the lane and a Grey Partridge – Patch Tick, began calling from the stubble field next to us.
A few minutes later another called, the light was fading rapidly but I just managed to see the back of one moving through the stubble and out of sight.
Another started calling from near the farm and possibly more. After walking around the scrub between the pond and the golf course we stayed for around an hour listening for Tawny Owl.
The Partridges were still calling and a few more Golden Plovers went overhead, as did 2 Mallard, Snipe and a Woodcock.
Tonight was a good opportunity for me to improve on learning bird calls and I think I’m starting to get there, I now know what I’m listening for in the right areas as well, which always helps.
After an hour there was no Tawny calls so we called it a night, but there was a strange indescribable call, which might have been a female Tawny but, we weren’t sure.

77 – Golden Plover

78 – Grey Partridge