Sunday, 27 September 2009

Glossy Finish

Once again the birding world proved just how quickly it can chance. On Friday afternoon I was at Druridge Pools with SH.
We weren’t looking for anything in particular so when we checked a nearly bird less Druridge I was happy enough to watch an otter, which was showing off in front of the Oddie hide, without knowing that in less than 24 hours the relatively empty Druridge would be full of birders, including me looking for a bird I have always wanted to see.

When the call came the next morning we were straight out and off to Cresswell were the bird had been reported.
Unsure exactly were the Ibis had been seen we were surprised to find what seemed like every birder in Northumberland watching the small pond next to the car park.
We soon saw the Glossy Ibis- Lifer, in the reeds at the back of the pond. I then came out and began wading through the water before showing its Cormorant like flight as it flew out of the reeds, over our heads and landed in a field left of the pond.
We drove to the field and found it being mobbed by Corvids before dropping into a small patch of marshy ground and reeds out of sight.
The Corvids soon chased it from the reeds and we last saw it fly towards Bell’s Pond.

This may be my last post for a while as I am leaving to go to University at Teesside today. My new term time patch will be Saltholme, Dorman’s ect!
Thanks to everybody who has been on the blog and helped me throughout this year, it really has been a much better birding year than I could have ever imagined.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


I was out early on Sunday morning with SH and DMcK for the webs count at Castle Island. After a quiet count we went to Cresswell Pond.
A Spotted Redshank was wading through the water just past the sandbar.
2 Greenshank were near the causeway and 8 Tree Sparrow were in the hedge leading to the hide.
At East Chevington there were 302 Canada Geese on the main pool with a Canada Goose/Greylag goose Hybrid amongst them.
A single Great Crested Grebe kept appearing amongst the geese, which were joined by 43 Pink Footed Geese.
A Redpoll flew overhead calling and whilst watching the pool two Stoat bounded through the field towards us. One of the Stoats stopped and popped its head out of the long grass and looked at us before diving into the hedgerow.

With nothing else being reported around the county we headed back to the patch and concentrated around there for a couple of hours.
At West Hartford a single Redshank and 5 Dunlin were on the ever-increasing mud on the main pool.
Three Buzzards were circling the river Blyth and a Jay flew over the pool.

At Arcot Pond 103 Teal were at the back of the pond with a single male Wigeon – Patch tick, amongst them.
5 Dunlin flew across the pond and headed off southwest. Presumably they were the same 5 which were at WH, weren’t they?

111- Wigeon

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Saltholme then home

Yesterday after attending to some business in Middlesbrough we stopped at Saltholme for an hour.
The warden in the visitors centre told me that the Hooded Merganser was on the pool outside the visitors centre but was proving difficult to see.
I was surprised when the first thing that I saw when looking through one of the scopes on display, was the female Hooded Merganser – Lifer, preening itself on the edge of a small island in the water.
It stayed on the edge of the island preening for a further five minutes before disappearing back into the water where it frequently dived and proved why it was so difficult to find.
I also noticed that it was smaller than a Red Breasted Merganser when it swam along side a Tufted Duck, which seemed to be a similar size.
Before it went back into the water I got a good view of its impressive all white stomach and orange bill, which stood out a lot more than photos would suggest.
Normally I would be more sceptical of a bird such as a Hooded Merganser but this bird seems like a genuine rarity to me.

No rings, full wings and not coming to bread are all good enough signs of a genuine bird for me and the fact that it appeared on the night that a hurricane had just finished passing over England from America make it seem all the more possible.
The warden at the visitors centre also said that Washington Wild Fowl Park, (the nearest know keepers of Hooded Merganser) are not missing any birds.
Whilst doing some research on the distribution of Hooded Merganser I was encouraged when I found that the eastern American population can be found from south Canada right down to the Gulf Coast.
It's staying on my list until proven to be an escapee, at least it isn't a Bar Headed Goose I am worrying about.
Also I am sure if somebody was going to keep a Hooded Merganser as a pet then the male would be a much more popular choice.

On the way home I checked Arcot Pond. With nothing on the pond I was about to leave when a Willow Tit- Patch Tick, called twice from the southwest corner of the pond where a Tit flock had just flown towards.

110 – Willow Tit

Friday, 18 September 2009

Last few days

Yesterday I went with Holywell Birder to Big Waters. It was only a short trip but since we are heading to different sides of the country in the coming weeks it will probably be the last time for a while.
It was the first time I had been to the hide at Big Waters and it is the best I’ve ever been in!
Small groups of Wigeon were gathering on the water and good numbers of Tree Sparrows were at the feeding station.
Many of the Sparrows flew in to the reeds in front of the hide, something I’ve never seen them do.
The Kingfisher and Water Rail, which were showing earlier in, the day did not appear.
A single Great Crested Grebe was at the far side of the water, hopefully it will put in an appearance at Arcot soon.

A few small bits of news from around Crammy over the last few days, which kept me happy: Two new garden ticks, the first was a very vocal Redshank, which circled Northburn First School’s field on Tuesday evening and a singing Skylark was over the house this morning as I left.
Also two Grey Herons landed and fished briefly on the Horton Burn the other morning.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

New Link

Spent a couple of hours at Arcot Pond this morning in the hope that the Wigeon I was told about last night had stayed over night. They hadn't.
There wasn't much on the pond which was probably due to the male Sparrowhawk patrolling the area. A female Shoveler and 2 snipe were the best on offer.

I spent a while at Beacon Lane once again listening for Willow Tit and once again coming up with nothing.
Whilst scanning the bushes down the lane I heard a Wagtail call and turned just in time to see a Grey Wagtail- Patch Tick, fly past towards the golf course.

The new link is Another birder from Crammy and still the only person to have Crossbill, Ringed Plover, Kingfisher and Ring Ouzel on the patch this year.

109 - Grey Wagtail

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Shearwaters and Skuas

I was out early with SH this morning for a sea watch at Church point, Newbiggin.
When we got there a line of birders were already set out and already a Balearic Shearwater had been past!

In the two hours we were there a steady stream of Gannets, probably around 100 flew north, usually in groups of 5.
Auks were also heading north in good numbers and a few Guillemots stayed on the water.
Wigeon, Teal and Common Scoter were also heading north in tight groups.
Two Common Scoter were amongst the Eider flock just off the rocks and three Red Throated Diver went north.

A Juvenile Med Gull was flying over our heads and a Wheatear was moving around the rocks.
Apart from the usual passage of wildfowl a female Goosander flew past just over the rocks and a Velvet Scoter went north also quite close.
A Grey Seal was just off the rocks and another further out looked as if it took a swipe at a passing Guillemot.

Once the wind started to pick up a distant Balearic Shearwater went past but I couldn’t see it with just bins.
A Manx Shearwater flew north half way out and a Great Skua- Lifer, went over distantly.
I got better views of another Great Skua later on, we saw 9 Arctic Skuas in total.

In what must be some kind of Newbiggin record the third Balearic Shearwater-Lifer, of the morning flew past and this time it was close enough for me to get a good view.
I watched it skim over the waves until it disappeared past the caravans to the left.

Not long after this Steve got a call saying that a Marsh Harrier was at West Hartford.
Before we left for West Hartford a very distant Sooty Shearwater- Lifer, went past just in time for me to see it turn around in mid air just above the horizon.

By the time we had gotten to West Hartford via accidentally entering a bike race in Newbiggin, the Marsh harrier had moved on.

Friday, 11 September 2009


I had to go to Middlesbrough yesterday so on the way we stopped at Saltholme.
After asking around in the visitor centre if the Purple Heron or Hooded Merganser had been seen I went to the Back Saltholme hide. Neither bird had been reported at the time.

A Greenshank was on the bank opposite the hide and apparently a Little Stint and Ruff were in the long grass with Dunlin. I could see the Dunlin but nothing else amongst them.

We then checked Dorman’s Pool from the hillside. 7 Little Egrets were fishing on the pool and a female Pintail flew over towards the Rec.

A quiet day once again on such a big reserve.

Sunny September

I was out with Holywell Birder on Wednesday where we started at West Hartford. Apart from a Mistle Thrush overhead there was nothing else to write about.
A few Stonechat were on the fence line east of the main pool.

The tide was well out at Seaton Sluice when we arrived. We stayed on the rocks next to the sea-watching hide and scanned through the Tern flock.
I forgot my notebook so I don’t have the exact numbers but there was still a good amount of Roseate terns amongst the Sandwich and Arctic Terns.
Dunlin, Knot and Sanderling were also in good numbers on the rocks.
A Wheatear was on the rocks at the mouth of the sluice as we were leaving.

We quickly checked the Beehive flash but only a Shoveler and a few Moorhen were on the water. Stock Dove and a Lapwing and Curlew flock were in the fields near by.
We also checked the Briar Dene car park for the Med Gull, which has been seen there recently, but it was not amongst the BH Gull flock when we checked.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Ruff Seawatch: Newbiggin

With the wind slightly better today me and SH had a longer seawatch at Church point, Newbiggin.
As soon as we had sat down three very distant Arctic Skua flew south.
The number of Gannets was not as high as yesterday at Blyth, but there was still a good number also heading south.
Fulmar, Kittiwake and 2 Guillemot were close to the shore as was a group of 26 Eider.
The Eider were soon joined by a small group of Common Scoter. Small groups of Common Scoter were flying past every so often as did 18 Wigeon and 63 Teal.

2 Red Throated Diver flew south and a Grey Plover, Snipe, Dunlin, Ruff and Roseate Tern went north.
Wheatear and Meadow Pipit both came in off the sea and a 1st winter Med Gull circled overhead.

We checked West Hartford on the way home, at first nothing much was about until 2 Ruff- Patch Tick flew overhead and landed on the near shore with a Dunlin.
As if this wasn’t good enough 10 Dunlin then flew over. 5 Dunlin landed on the mud at the back of the pool whilst the others carried on.

108 – Ruff

Thursday, 3 September 2009

North Blyth Sea watch

Despite the crap wind today me and SH went to North Blyth for a quick sea watch.
I had never been sea watching before and it was something I would definitely like to do again.
There were Tern Sp. flying past and fishing but most were to quick to identify. Two Roseate terns flew overhead calling, as did a few Sandwich Terns.

Gannet numbers grew as time went on with only a few heading south far off shore but soon they were getting closer and in greater numbers. At one point 38 were fishing as a group.
Most of the Gannets were adults but a few grey young were amongst them. It was good seeing them this close and being able to watch them fish.

No Skuas or Shearwaters came past but a flock of Common Scoter did a good Shearwater impression.
A Red Breasted Merganser flew over and a Rock Pipit was at the bottom of the car park.

At West Hartford tonight the water level was raised again surely putting an end to the run of waders.
Only a few small pockets of mud are still exposed and this was enough to hold the LRP and Dunlin still. Also a female Shoveler was amongst a group of 10 teal at the back of the pool.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Spotted Patch tick

I got word from Steve H this morning that he had 2 Willow Tit at Beacon Lane and a Spotted Flycatcher at Arcot.
At 1 I headed off to see if they were still around. There wasn’t much of note on the walk up.
There was a better chance of hearing the Willow Tits rather than seeing them but despite checking the right area of the lane and walking up and down the rest of it I couldn’t hear or see them on my way there or back.
It started to rain as I got to Arcot so I took cover next to the bushes by the crossroad behind the pond.
As I was checking the trees I saw something small and grey fly from the bottom of a bush to the top, it was a Spotted Flycatcher- Patch Tick.
It sat at the top of the tree for 10 seconds or so before going deeper into the bushes.

I stayed at the pond for around 45 minutes. 44 Greylag Geese were swimming from one side of the pond to the other and the number of Teal on the back island is growing with around 40 there today.
3 Roe Deer skipped through the field behind the pond before stopping and watching me.
I was watching the pond from the fence line on the east shore for a change and it was a good job I did as a Water Rail ran out in front of me and called constantly for 5 minutes from the reeds.
I’m glad I saw the Spotted Flycatcher today as the window of opportunity to see them in crammy is much smaller than that of a Willow Tit.

107- Spotted Flycatcher