Friday, 31 July 2009

WH Marsh Harrier!

I went to West Hartford again last night between 7 and 8. The Gull numbers had double since the night before but nothing interesting amongst them.
I have noticed that some gulls are also on the small puddles inside the new building site area.

As I was leaving I checked the field, which borders East Hartford near the river. Usually there is nothing to see there but as I looked up a Marsh Harrier- Patch tick, was level with the hedgerow.
The Harrier went down behind the hedgerow and that was the last I saw of it.
I went behind the electricity building to get a better view of the field where I had seen it last but there was no sign.
It was probably heading west to follow the river on the other side of the trees.
I then went to the pool in case it went past but I couldn’t see it.
One major disadvantage of West Hartford is that the uneven ground makes it hard to see anything in flight unless it is going overhead.
Whilst waiting at the pool five Shellduck landed, 3 Juv, 2 adults.

I phoned Steve H who arrived as I was leaving; he told me that LMcD had a Marsh Harrier at Arcot Pond earlier in the afternoon. I got a text from him later saying the Barn Owl and Short Eared Owl were both out.

103- Marsh Harrier

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Unseasonal Owl

I was at West Hartford around 8 this evening to see if anything had settled on the water for the night.
The muddy margins are starting to show once again around both pools despite the showers today.
BH Gulls and a few LBB and Herring Gulls were at the back of the main pool again. After a while the gulls all took off at once and I could see a strange brown bird amongst them.
The gulls flew off south whilst the Brown bird landed on the bent branch of the tree behind the pool. It turned out to be an unseasonal Short Eared Owl, which stayed in the tree looking directly at me for around ten minutes.

I’m not sure what the Short Eared was doing flying amongst the gull group or if it was the reason the gulls flew off. I didn’t even see where it came from, I presume it came out of the long grass to the right of the pool and flew low behind the gulls.
As I was watching the Owl a Roe Deer skulked amongst the long grass in front of the tree.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Blyth High Tide

Yesterday I went with Steve H to the Blyth Estuary for an hour whilst the tide was rising.
The main spit was full of waders with a total of 230 Redshank. Amongst them where some stunning summer plumage Turnstones and Knot.

We scanned all of the banks that the tide was beginning to cover. Three Whimbrel, 1 Black Tailed Godwit, 2 Bar Tailed Godwit and 2 Ringed Plover were at various points.

13 Sandwich Tern and 3 Common Tern were fishing on the water and a gannet flew over the houses opposite.
Bates Filtration Pools were quiet with only 2 Moorhen and a Skylark.

I was going to upload some shots I took on holiday but the heat haze was a big problem and most of them look crap.

Sunday, 26 July 2009


Last night I went with Steve H and D McK to Hauxley to watch Storm Petrels being ringed.
The ringing was organised by Ian Fisher, other birders was also there.
Before last night I had no idea about what a ringing station looked like or even what the net looked like.
We helped set up the nets and waited on the rocks until it was dark enough to play the tape and attract a Petrel.
Also before last night I had never heard the call of a Storm Petrel, but after listening to the tape echoing across the beach for three hours it is a sound I will never forget.
As well as Storm, Leach's and swinhoe's were also played.

I enjoyed just sitting on the beach listening to the other birds that were around during the night. Apart from the Curlew and Oystercatchers Mallard, Grey Heron and Sandwich Tern were calling and flying around the beach.

At around 12:15 the net had its first action of the night when a Storm Petrel- Lifer, was caught.
I knew they were small but not that small! It called a few times as it was being handled but then settled down.
The ring on its foot was so small at first I couldn’t see it. After the bird was ringed we took some photos, unfortunately mine are a bit blurred.

Ian fisher asked me if I would like to release it so we went away from the lights and got closer to the beach to let the Petrels eyes get more adjusted to the dark before flying off.
It stayed in my hand for a minute or so, turning around in circles and flapping its wings before it flew off.
We packed up at half 1 as no others were coming towards the net.

Last night was definitely my favourite birding experience so far.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Beacon Hill and the Bay

I was out this morning with Steve H to try again for Spotted Flycatcher at Beacon Hill.
Initially the woodland was quiet but after about half an hour a family party of Blue and Great Tits appeared.
Whilst watching the Blue Tits that were hanging upside down from the branches, a Marsh Tit landed next to them.
We had great views as it dived onto the ground from the branches and moved around the front of the tree. It was joined by another and the pair flew off deeper into the woods.
A family party of Blackcap and Treecreeper and Nuthatch were also around, but no Spotted Fly.

We then moved on towards East Chevington. Apart from the large number of Greylags and a few Terns, a Goldeneye and Wigeon were on the North Pool.
We checked the short grass field to the left of the reserve on the way out. 6 Whimbrel were amongst a group of Curlew.

On the sea at Druridge Bay there were 85 Common Scoter close to the shore. A few Guillemots were also off shore.

Last stop was a quick check of Cresswell Pond. A Water Rail was calling from the middle of the reeds right of the hide the whole time we were there.
Nothing much on the water, a Greenshank was on the far bank and a Grey Partridge was calling from the field next to the farm.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

East and West

I had a quick trip out this afternoon to East Chevington.
After last weeks rain the South pool was full and waderless.
There was no sign of yesterdays Red Necked Grebe and despite the lack of mud there were still a good number of Terns on the North pool, most of which were now on the central island.

I went to West Hartford this evening, where 44 Bh Gulls were with a few Herring and LBB.
As I was leaving a Common Tern, (probably the same bird which has been around the Horton Burn), flew over, fished over the pool for a few minutes before flying off towards the industrial estate.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Year far

Yesterday I checked if West Hartford had filled up again after the rain, it had, in fact it was flooded.
I checked Arcot Pond this morning and all the exposed mud around the reeds was covered by water and only a small part of the northwest corner island was visible.
The Island held 8 Oystercatchers, 1 Mute Swan, 1 grey Heron and a Little Egret.

The Egret was present all afternoon yesterday and unlike the last Arcot Egret, this one was not intimidated by the Grey Herons.
It fished along the edge of the island before disappearing for a while and reappearing in the reeds.

I have checked West Hartford five times in the last week and due to it either being flooded or dried up, there has been nothing that interesting to report.
A family of three Kestrels have been hunting around the area for the last week.

Below is my patch list for the year so far, which will hopefully be bigger by the end of the year.

Little Grebe
Grey Heron
Little Egret
Mute Swan
Whooper Swan
Greylag Goose
Pink- Footed Goose
Canada Goose
Tufted Duck
Red Kite
Common Buzzard
Peregrine Falcon
Grey Partridge
Water Rail
Little Ringed Plover
Golden Plover
Jack Snipe
Black Tailed Godwit
Black Headed Gull
Common Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Great Black Backed Gull
Common Tern
Feral Pigeon
Wood Pigeon
Stock Dove
Collard Dove
Barn Owl
Tawny Owl
Short-Eared Owl
Sand Martin
House Martin
Meadow Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Willow Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Grasshopper Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Coal Tit
Long Tailed Tit
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow
Tree Sparrow
Reed Bunting


Sunday, 12 July 2009

Sandpipers but no Plover

I was out with Steve H and D McK this morning to do the Webs count at Castle Island. We were hoping to see a Plover on the Island but instead there were 4 Common Sandpipers and a Wood Sandpiper.
A female Goosander was on the left of the island, a Wigeon flew over and a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling on the far bank.

Instead of heading straight to Chevington we checked a few inland sights, Bothal, Longhirst and Linton.
Not much to report from those sights apart from a Tree Sparrow at Bothal and a Green Sandpiper at Linton.

After Just managing to get parked at East Chevington we scanned the North Pool which held 8 Dunlin, 3 Greenshank and 4 Black Tailed Godwit.

From the South Pool only a Dunlin and Ringed Plover were hiding amongst the group of Sandwich and Common Terns.
6 Little Gull were with a group of Black Headed Gulls and Lapwing.

The final stop of the day was a quiet Cresswell Pond. 2 Juvenile Stonechat were in the field next to the car park. Two Sedge Warblers showed well in front of the hide and an Arctic Tern flew across the pond to the left bank where it joined a group of Sandwich Terns.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Leighton Moss

On the way home yesterday we stopped at Leighton Moss for an hour. I only managed to get to two hides. There was nothing of note from the Tim Jackson Hide.
As I was walking up the track to the Griesdale Hide a female Marsh Harrier flew over the hide where it was mobbed by Lapwing.

After only seeing two Red Deer amongst the reeds I was about to leave when the Marsh Harrier flew in front of the hide and hovered in front of the window at the other end of the hide!

It wasn’t hovering like a Kestrel as it was facing the hide with its wings in front of it. This hovering only lasted a few seconds and it then flew the whole length of the hide and over the reeds.
As I watched, the Harrier dived onto the ground and stood there, another action I have never seen this bird do.
I then realised that it was on top of a Lapwing nest and it them picked up the Lapwing chick and ate half of it before flying off with the other half and passing it in mid air over the reeds to another Marsh Harrier, which appeared,Very strange behaviour.
A Little Egret flew over whilst all this was happening.
I checked West Hartford this morning and was pleased to see that the main pool has got water in it again; hopefully it will attract some Waders soon.

Inner Marsh Farm

After leaving Cornwall at the weekend we stayed with family in Wrexham, (North Wales).
On Monday I was dropped off at Inner Marsh Farm RSPB just over the border in Cheshire near the river Dee estuary.
Pool No1. can only be viewed from the main track, so I got distant views of 36 Little Egrets! 2 Egrets flew overhead as I was watching them.

On Pool No2. there were 2 Spotted Redshank amongst a mixed group of Redshank and Lapwing. 13 Black Tailed Godwit were wading around the middle island with three juv birds joining them.

Little Egrets were flying between the pool and there colony in the treetops above. 18 Teal were also on the middle island.

The Egrets stood out a lot more against the black sky behind which later turned into a thunderstorm.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Cirl Bunting!

A few months ago I got in contact with the Cornwall Cirl Bunting release manager, to find out about where a good place to see them was.
After many helpful emails I knew the best place and yesterday we had a look.

After only being at the secret site five minutes 2 Juvenile Cirl Buntings began calling from a hedge row.
It wasn't long until a male Cirl Bunting - Lifer, flew over and landed very obligingly on top of the hedge row, where it stayed not bothered by our presence.
A female was feeding on the ground with some Chaffinches before flying off.
The close views of the male Cirl alllowed me to pick out some fine details on the bird such as the slightly raised crest and row of rust coloured spots on its chest.
It looked like a cross between a Corn, Lapland, Reed bunting and a Yellowhammer, what a bird!

Last night after a heavy thunder storm which lit up the sea, a Tawny Owl began calling in the garden.