Friday, 28 May 2010

So Close

I had a walk around the fields surrounding Cramlington Windmill today.
I was going to have a look at the Merck Sharp and Dohme pond and reed bed but access has been blocked off so I'll have to rethink that one.
The highlight of the walk was only the second record of Red Legged Partridge (to my knowledge), in Cramlington.
I found a dead RLP in 2006 in a tree next to the horse fields at Nelson and only know of one record of a live bird which was also seen near the Windmill a few years ago.

The RLP was nearly flattened by a car as it flew from one side of the road to the other before disappearing into the hedgerow.

104 - Red Legged Partridge

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

One of those Days

After the rain this afternoon I was going to go to West Hartford but I kept putting it off.
Had I gone earlier then I would have probably found the Temminck's Stint- Patch Tick, at WH and have a crammy first to my name.
Oh well I didn't but at least I got the bird along with 2 Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper and Barn Owl.
After watching the mobile wader for a few minutes I saw it fly off high calling, I checked the other pool but there was no sign.
There will be another chance for me to get a Crammy first I'm sure with Quail, Curlew Sandpiper,Grey Plover, Black Redstart,Bean Goose and a few others my predictions for the next first.

103 - Temminck's Stint

Monday, 24 May 2010

Tetrad 2 - Big and Little Waters

I went out with LMcD this morning to do the tetrad around Little and Big Waters which also includes part of Seaton burn.
The best bird of the day was seen early on when I saw a Cuckoo fly over a field between the main road through Seaton Burn and the track to Little Waters. Nothing much was on or around little Waters or around Seaton burn.

At Big Waters we checked the scrub behind the playing field, checked the reeds and bushes around the channel and scanned the water from both hides and the feeding station.
A few Blackcap and Sedge Warbler were heard and 8 Common Tern were flying around and on the island.
Apart from a pair of Shoveler there was a lack of birds on the water. No Coot, Grey Heron or Tufted Duck were seen, I feel another controversial Otter rant coming on.....

The feeding station was full of Tree Sparrows as usual, many of which are occupying the nest boxes around the feeding station.

On the way back we quickly checked the Drift Inn flash which had a Greenshank on it last night but there was no sign of any waders this morning.
We also gave Arcot a quick look, a Lesser Whitethroat - Patch Tick, was calling from the hedgerow leading down to the metal gate.

Last night I went down to the Beehive Flash with SH and DMcK were a Temminck's Stint was creeping through the long grass at the waters edge on the far side of the flash.

102 - Lesser Whitethroat

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Long overdue

With news of a pair of long overdue Garganey at West Hartford this morning I was there by 9.
After scannig the NW corner of the main pool with no luck I was about to check the smaller pool when I saw the female Garganey - Patch Tick, feeding in the long grass at the NE corner.
She was soon followed by the male and the pair swam around the NE corner feeding in the mud.

Also a Whitethroat was singing from the top of the dead trees between the pools and a 50+ House Martins had landed on the edge of the mud to drink.
I though that the Garganey were a first for WH but I just remembered that LMcD had a drake over 20 years ago when there was a pond near the farm.

101 - Garganey

Saturday, 22 May 2010

From Penrith to West Hartford

On Tuesday night I went over to Penrith with Cain, (Holywell Birder) to help him with his Tetrad squares.
I was given a quick tour of the Penrith University campus by Cain when we arrived.
Being used to studying at an urban city centre campus at Teesside, I was really impressed by the rural campus and the wildlife within it.
Just by walking around the campus and doing the Tetrad squares I noticed some subtle changes between species found in Cumbria and Northumberland. In Cumbria Stock Doves seem to have replaced Wood Pigeon, Yellowhammer replaced Reed Bunting and Red Legged Partridge replaced Grey Partridge.

On Wednesday morning we started the first square at Newton Reigny just outside Penrith with the help of Steve (
As soon as we got out of the car a pair of Dipper flew down stream from a small river in the village.
Although we had good counts of common species on the first Tetrad the highlight was a Spotted Flycatcher at newton Moss.

Later on in the afternoon we went to Bassenthwaite Lake. We stopped at Powter Howe on the opposite side of the lake first and from the car park we could hear a Wood Warbler- Lifer, calling.
Only 300m or so into the woods we heard 3 Wood Warbler and after a few minutes one appeared in the tree tops. 3 Garden Warbler and a female Redstart were also nearby.

From the hide at Bassenthwaite a Cuckoo called briefly.2 Common Sandpipers were bobbing on some rocks and a pair of Red Breasted Merganser were swimming and diving.

On Thursday we completed the other two tetrad squares the highlight this time being a yaffling Green Woodpecker although for Cain I'm sure the highlight was seeing me being chased by a herd of cows.

Last night I had a walk down to West Hartford from 7 until 8:30. With more exposed mud it was no suprise that two Ringed Plover - Patch Tick, were feeding at the back of the main pool. A Greenshank also appeared out of nowhere (probably out of the long grass behind the pool).
The Barn Owl put in a quick appearence and most suprising of all were two Barnacle Geese - Patch Tick, which flew low over the main pool calling.
A great way to end a brilliant week.

99 - Ringed Plover
100- Barnacle Geese

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Garden Walk

After being woken up by the school fields grass cutter at 7:00 this morning I decided to get up earlier and have a walk around the estate.

I officially finished my first year at Teesside University last week and term starts again on 4th October so I will try to have a walk around the patch most day, well I've got to do something for the next 5 months :)

I started at the Brockwell scrubland which was alive with song. 4 Chiffchaff, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap, a distant Grasshopper Warbler and a displaying Skylark were all within a few hundred yards of each other.
This morning was also the first time I remember being out and feeling hot in the sun this year.

I then checked the roundabout and other bushes around Nelson Hill which again held Chiffchaff and Blackcap. It was more of the same at the trees around the outskirts of the industrial estate.

Finally I checked the West Hartford roundabout where a pair of Garden Warblers - Patch Tick, were in full song out in the open. As soon as I got close they dived further into cover but I could still hear them singing.

98 - Garden Warbler

Sunday, 16 May 2010


After writing this post twice and it failing due to the worlds worst Internet server TalkTalk Broadband, I can no longer be bothered to to write in detail.
If you want to read about yesterdays trip then go to Birding Sometimes.
Yesterdays highlights were Corn Bunting, Little Gull, Little Egret, Wood Sandpiper,Little Ringed Plover, Garganey and of course the Oriental Pratincole - Lifer!

As for Potteric Carr, I want the people who are getting such good views of the Iberian Chiffchaff to come to the Mound Newbiggin as they seem to have the power to be able to see through thick tree tops and find rare birds with x ray vision. Showing Well- my arse.

All in all a brilliant day out, I suppose to mega rare lifers in one day would be greedy.

Thanks again John

Friday, 14 May 2010

Tetrad 1: Stannington

I was out early with LMcD to help with his Tetrad square around Stannington. The square covers all of Stannington Village, part of the river and some of the surrounding fields.

We started at the river where the Sand Martin colony had abandoned. The surrounding fields were also pretty poor with only a couple of Lapwing and a lot of Jackdaw.
It was a draw between Wood Pigeon and Jackdaw for most common bird.

Three different GS Woodpeckers in the village were one of the highlights as was the large number of Dunnocks. The only raptors were a Kestrel and a fly over Buzzard.
I was pleased to see a Red Squirrle behind the church.

On the way back we stopped at Arcot Pond were two Common Terns- Patch Tick, were on the dead wood in the middle of the pond.

We also stopped at Valley Park briefly which had a few Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and a Sedge Warbler singing from the reed bed.

97 - Common Tern

The gateway into Stannington Church yard

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Mission Accomplished

This evening I spent a few hours at West Hartford with only one target bird in mind, Wood Sandpiper.

As I arrived Liver Birder told me he had a Green Sandpiper and another wader which he thought was the Redshnak but hadn't been able to get a good look at due to the sun glare.

I pick up the wader straight away and as soon as the sun was covered by cloud I could see it a little bit better as it waded at the back of the main pool.
Soon it flew off and out of sight but during flight and the rest of the time it was there it never called. I also couldn't see any white in the wings but could see a lot of white underneath.

It landed on the smaller pool a few minutes before going back to the main pool. Soon after Birding Sometimes appeared and with a slightly better angle on the bird we were able to see it was a Wood Sandpiper - Patch Tick.
Whilst watching it flew onto the near shaw before flying to the back of the pool again.

Amongst the many Swallow hawking over the pool was a House Martin - Patch Tick, and just before we left a Barn Owl - Patch Tick, flew along the fence line being mobbed by Magpies.

94 - Wood Sandpiper
95 - House Martin
96 - Barn Owl

Monday, 10 May 2010

Beach Walk

I was out with SH this morning on Blyth beach looking for dead birds as part of a survey scheme.
We scanned the area of beach from the car park near the harbour up to Meggies Burn.
Although it was not as windy as the other morning there was still as strong freezing cold breeze, just what you expect in may in northumberland.

Almost as soon as we started we found the head of a Shag. There was a fresh tideline from last night so we would be first to find anyhting that had been washed up but in the end we didn't find much, which is good really.
Apart from various parts of Feral Pigeons we found a good conditioned wing of an Auk, probably a Guillemot.
The best find was an almost complete Golden Plover which was also in good condition.

Apart from the dead birds, Sanderling were running along the shoreline and a few Reed Bunting were singing in the dunes.

This afternoon after a quick hail/rain shower I saw a Swift - Patch Tick, fly over head whilst I was out.

93 - Swift

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Windy Morning

Was out with SH yesterday morning. The wind was stronger than we expected, not the best conditions to go birding in.

We started at Arcot were I could just hear a Sedge Warbler - Patch Tick, over the wind.
A pair of Shoveler were on the pond and a pair of Shellduck flew over.

After a quick and unsuccessful stop at the Snowy Owl feeding station where LMcD had a Tree Sparrow the other morning, we headed to Beacon Hill to see if any Spotted Flycatchers or Redstart had arrived.
As soon as we got out of the car a Marsh Tit was calling and showing well in the trees opposite.
I had my best ever views of a Treecreeper as it stopped in a tree next to us before preening, something I have never seen them do.
A Garden Warbler and Nuthatch were the only other birds of interest.

Next we headed to the even windier Druridge Pools where despite the good amount of mud no waders were to be seen.
A few Wheatear were in the fields next to Bell's farm. We kept scanning through the nearby flocks of Corvids incase the Hooded Crow Steve had found the other day was amongst them.

Instead of going to Cresswell we headed to Snab Point for a quick sea watch. A steady flow of Gannets were moving north as were Kittiwakes and Auks. Plenty of Fulmars we flying very close in as they struggled against the wind.

92 - Sedge Warbler

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Armchair Detective

After seeing that Liver Birder had a Greenshank an hour before I was at West Hartford the other day it made me think more about what I had seen.
At first I though that I had just seen the Redshank which has been hanging around for a while but when I looked at it I couldn't see any red in the bill or legs and it seemed lighter at the front than a Redshank.
I just though that it's legs and bill were covered in mud from probing, if it had called the matter would have been sorted earlier.
I only checked the pool quickly as I was in a hurry but really I should pay more attention.

91 - Greenshank

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


Apart from the Redshank and Curlew on the main pool, all was quiet at West Hartford tonight. A Whitethroat was singing in the plantation right of the entrance.

90- Whitethroat

Saturday, 1 May 2010

May Day Morning

Once the rain had stopped this morning I went to see if anything had landed at West Hartford.
A flock of 50+ Starlings are doing there best to clean up the mess left by the workers at the new fire station entrance.

Plenty of Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Sand Martins were around as well as the Linnet flock which has reappeared.
2 Wheatear - Patch Tick, flew from the rubbish pile at the end of the road to the pile nearer the main pool.
The water level is slowly lowering on the main pool and on the now visible mud bank at the back was a Green Sandpiper- Path Tick, amongst the Lapwing and Oystercatchers. A Redshank was wading through the smaller pool with a pair of Shellduck.

I had a final look at the main pool and whilst I did, something flew in front of me and landed on a fence post to the left of the pool, it was a stunning male Whinchat - Patch Tick.
Instead of flying off after a few seconds it got even closer and flew onto the gate post infront of me, what an amazing and underated bird.

On my way back into my street two Linnets were feeding on the path next to my neighbours house. I ran onto my drive so that I could add them to my garden list. They then flew into a tree on my neighbours drive before landing on their grass.

87- Wheatear
88- Whichat
89- Green Sandpiper