Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Sunday's Sab

I have been at home since the middle of last week due to illness. So you can imagine how pissed off I was when I wasn’t well enough to see the Eastern Crowned Warbler despite being offered a lift.
Yesterday I got a call from JM (http://birdingsometimes.blogspot.com/ ) saying he was going for the Sabine’s Gull at North Shields and that I could come along. Still not 100% well, I was determined to get at least one good bird out of the weekend, and I did.
When we arrived at North Shields the Sabine’s Gull – Lifer, was sitting on the edge of the beach with a few BH Gulls which looked bigger in comparison.
After being flushed by a dog it landed on the water’s edge again and allowed us to get reasonably close, it was close enough for me to even get some record shots. After fifteen minutes it flew off and landed on the sand nearer the Fish Quay, my cameras battery ran out at this point so I got no more photos which is a shame as on the sand the Gull was much closer and there was a clearer back drop.
The Gull seemed to be struggling to keep its balance at times as the waves lapped against its legs.
Once again it flew off a while later and was relocated in the Fish Quay where we watched it fishing with the other gulls above the water showing off its distinctive wing pattern. I’m glad I saw my first Sabine ’s gull in this way rather than ticking a distant shadow of a bird in the rain at Church Point.
Whilst at the Fish Quay 7 Whooper Swans flew north up the Tyne.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Red Rain

On Wednesday at around 8 I was walking from the Library to my room when I added another species to my campus list – Redwing.
It was drizzling lightly and almost pitch black but still I could hear what must have been around 100 calling as they flew overhead in the darkness.
It just made me wonder how many people walk around completely oblivious to this huge annual migration.On Thursday morning I was woken up to the sound of a Grey Wagtail, which was running around the car park outside, another new campus bird.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Fire and Gold

Back at home again this weekend so I went with SH and DMcK to do the WEBS count at Castle Island this morning.
After a fairly quiet count we headed for Newbiggin and the Mound.
Just as we were about to turn into Newbiggin Steve got a call saying that the Radde’s Warbler was at Druridge Pools again.
We thought we would have a go at the Radde’s first so drove straight to Druridge.

We went to the area where the Radde’s had been reported but after a half an hour wait without a sniff of any Warbler we went to the Main Pool Hide.
The Glossy Ibis was tucked into the far left corner bordering the reeds and I got brief views as it waded through the water. Also a pair of Scaup were swimming and diving along the back of the pool.

Instead of going to the Mound we went to St.Mary’s instead where news of three Yellow Browed and a Firecrest was filtering through.
When we got to the north end of the wetland we had just missed the Firecrest by ten minutes and were told that it had gone back into deeper cover.
A Yellow Browed Warbler called nearby but never showed so we walked around to the
other side of the willows to get a better angle.
It soon paid off as a Yellow Browed Warbler moved quickly through the trees and out of sight.
Although I did see a bird move through the trees I cannot comfortably say what it was so it looks like I will have to wait for another day to see a Yellow browed.
Whilst it moved through the willows it flushed out a Firecrest – Lifer.

I always thought the day that I saw a Firecrest I would have a new favourite bird and now I do.
We had brilliant views over a half an hour period as the Firecrest moved through the trees, stretched its wings and even stood still on the branches.
At first I could only see its Greenish back and Lemony wash on its breast but once it turned around the fiery crest and black markings on the face were very clear.At one point we though two were present but it turned out to be a Goldcrest, which was even closer, and probably close enough to photograph unlike the Firecrest which was always diving in front of braches at a photographable opportunity.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Tawny Tick

Last night whilst walking back from the pub I heard the unmistakable sound of a Tawny Owl which called constantly from 10:50 until 10:55.
I could not locate the bird but I presume it was in a row of trees which border the football pitch.
This was my 13th campus bird and one I really never expected to hear or see.
Even when I got back to my room I could still hear it calling.
I was going to try and walk along the tree row tonight but the rain has but me, and probably the owl off.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Back and a Lap

I have been back at home this weekend so this morning I went for a sea watch at Newbiggin with SH.
Since the wind from last night had died down it wasn’t looking good for a sea watch so we only stayed for just over an hour.
A Great Skua just off the rocks at Church Point was the highlight, other than that a few Divers and Auks heading north was about it.
Whilst watching the sea we heard a Bunting type call which was soon identified as a Lapland Bunting- Lifer!
Two Laps flew past church point towards the church and car park calling, I was told by SH to mention that Tim Cleeves was one of the birders at Church Point this morning which and he was able to confirm them as Lapland Buntings.

Once we had left Newbiggin we headed back to the patch. At Arcot Pond there was a good count of Teal at the back of the pond.
A Nuthatch was calling from the southwest corner and a Lesser Redpoll- Patch Tick, flew over three times.
112- Lesser Redpoll

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Around the campus and YSP

Before moving into my new home on campus at Teesside University, I made my self a three year target to try and see 50 species, (including flyovers), on campus.
Already I am on ten. The tenth being 20 Pink Footed Geese which flew over this morning.
A large flock of House Sparrow at Woodland row had a Dunnock amongst them yesterday and the other eight are residents,they are:
BH Gull
Pied Wagtail
Feral Pigeon
Carrion Crow

I have explored most of the site and there is a good number of trees and bushes which I will be checking most days.

Today I went on a trip to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park at Wakefield.
Apart from the dodgy pornographic Rabbit sculptures I enjoyed just wandering around the huge site doing some birding and drawing - does it get any better?
The site is too vast to explore in the time we had so instead I did a quick scan along the main field up to the bridge, before staying at a deserted pond behind an empty building.
Good numbers of Robin and Blackbird were everywhere as were Grey Squirrels, unfortunately.
In total I heard six different Nuthatch but it was difficult to see what was up the lake as access is only available from the country park a mile away.

Whilst drawing at the small abandoned pond I was suprised to see 7 Moorhen climbing around a patch of reeds only about two metres wide.
As well as the Moorhen, 3 Mallard were on the water and 4 Mistle Thrushes were on the egde of the bank.
A Grey Wagtail which had been calling for some time finally landed and spent five minutes hopping from reed to reed before landing on a small reed sculpture where it hunted insects.
It soon moved from the sculpture and instead began hunting from a more modern day sculpture - an empty Fosters can.

All in all I had an enjoyable day at a site I would recommend to anybody who is passing, just for the nature if nothing else.
Also I noticed the amazing Autum colours which have taken hold of the trees dramatically over the last few days, well down here anyway.