Friday, 31 December 2010


Once again what a year! I didn’t think anything could top last years birding but 2010 has done just that.
There are too many highlights for me to list but day trips to Teesside, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire for the Oriental Pratincole have been some of the best highlights.
Also helping out Holywell Birder both in Cumbria and with the scouts at Holywell were good days.

But most of all I have enjoyed birding on the patch. Best birds seen on the patch this year have been Temminck’s Stint, Hobby, Quail and Little Stint.
Some birders never see three Quail during their lifetime but I have been lucky enough to see three on my patch this year, it doesn’t get better than that.

I am pleased to say that I have finished on my highest ever total on the patch this year of 119, if only I had got that Willow Tit at Arcot during the week I would be on 120, but going for 120 is a good aim to have.

Favourite bird seen in 2010: A tie between Rough Legged Buzzard and Squacco Heron.

Thank you to everybody who had helped me throughout this year and read the blog, birding is the only thing that keeps me sane at times.

Happy new year!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas Creeper

I had a walk to West Hartford this morning to clear my head, I didn't see much on the way there or at WH. All the bushes and trees were birdless and both pools at Hartford were still frozen.

I was about to go when I could hear a high pitched call coming from the small row of trees between the metal fence and the pools. It sounded like a Goldcrest, then Robin and then Wren. I waited about 5 minutes as I couldn't make my mind up on the call.
Eventually I saw some movement on the underside of the branches, bins lifted, it was a Treecreeper-a first for West Hartford!
Not only is it a new bird for WH it is also my 100th species seen at WH and the first new species I have found, what a christmas present.

Patch Birding doesn't get much better.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Things to do when your bored in Blyth

Throw fireworks into a reedbed! Whilst helping LMcD do his WEBS count at Blyth yesterday we checked Baites Filtration Pools. 6 Teal and 4 Gadwall flew from the largest area of water at the pools when some idiots started throwing fireworks in the reeds. Has nobody told them water and fire dont mix.

The river Blyth was only frozen around the edges so quite a gathering of wildfowl were on the water. 80+ Teal and 60+ Mallard were along the shoreline with groups of Redshank, Curlew and Dunlin.
3 RB Mergansers, 3 Eider and 20 Goldeneye were diving around a group of Tufted Duck which held a drake Pochard.
A Fox was bounding through the snow covered fields on the far side of the river and as we left to check the Quayside a Jack Snip flew down river before turning back and landing on the far shore. We think it had been resting on the near shore and flew off as we passed.

In the car park at the Quayside a Turnstone feeding amongst a group of Feral Pigeon was a strange site. On the river 6 Coot (a Blyth Mega apparently) were feeding amongst the gulls.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Goldfinch Drama

Been filling up the feeders in the garden and watching closely again over the last few days. A male Brambling visited the sunflower seed feeder on the fence yesterday morning.
Whilst playing football on Bluestar training pitch this morning a Waxwing was trilling from the trees on the wasteland behind Northburn community centre.
On my way back a male Reed Bunting was amongst the House Sparrow flock in the hedgerow leading down to the road.

Whilst watching the feeders at lunchtime, a female Bullfinch joined the now resident Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Coal and Blue Tits.
As I was leaving the room I heard a thump against the window, which is never a good sign. When I checked I found a Goldfinch on its back with its wings flapping franticly.

I went straight outside to check it and by the time I had got there it had stopped moving. I picked it up and flipped it over on my hand and suddenly opened its eyes and stretched its neck up to the sky.
I thought it might have damaged its neck but seemed alright after a few scratches with its feet. I checked the Goldfinches wings, which seemed ok and after 5 minutes sitting in my hand it hopped onto the patio. I stayed with it for a while longer before it flew off into the trees in the school field.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Garden does it again

After tuesdays success with the Bramblings in my garden, today I was doing work in front of the window on the off chance they reappeared.
It got to 3:00 and nothing significant had visited the garden. Then I noticed 4 sparrow sized birds land in the lone silver birch bodering the neighbours garden.

Once I got my bins on them I nearly fell off my seat, 4 Lesser Redpoll - Patch and Garden Tick, were stripping the buds from the tree.
They stayed for around 10 minutes before something spooked them and they flew off into the school field calling as they went.
15 Minutes later 6 appeared in my neighbours garden, 3 of them landed on their patio and fed on the spilt seed along with a few Chaffinch.
5 of the Redpoll flew off but one stayed in our garden for a further 20 minutes. I checked them as they were doing some acrobatics in the trees but they all seemed to be Lessers. One bird was Whiter than the others and had more noticable White wing bars but was roughly the same size as the others.

119 - Lesser Redpoll

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

After all that...

After the race to get to SH's garden for my first Cramlington Brambling on Sunday, today 4 turn up in my garden. Off for christmas now and whilst having my lunch looking out the window a flock of finches landed in the tree tops along the fence.
Bins found, I got onto the flock and amongst the Chaffinch and Greenfinch were 2 male and 2 female Brambling, a long overdue garden tick.

The flock soon disappeared but the Brambling stayed for a while before calling and flying off into the school field.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Garden Tick, not exactly

I went out foar couple of hours with SH this morning. First we went to Newbiggin for a brief sea watch. The sea looked good but was very quiet only a couple of Divers and Eiders were seen.

Instead of going north we headed back to Cramlington and checked East Cramlington Nature reserve. Despite walking around most of the reserve it was quiet. A few Siskin and LT Tits were calling from the plantations but no much else.

I have never seen Brambling in Cramlington before so next we checked the bushes and trees around the hall but nothing.

Steve dropped me off at West Hartford which has now almost fully thawed. A Redshank was the only bird on the pools and a couple of Siskin and a Mistle Thrush were in the entrance plantation.

As I was leaving I got a call from Steve saying that he had a Brambling in his garden. I managed to get a lift over to his house and after waiting for a while the Brambling- Patch Tick, reappeared amongst a group of Chaffinch and Greenfinch.

118 - Brambling

Saturday, 11 December 2010


When LMcD asked me if I wanted to help with do a couple of tetrads around the Blagdon area I was very keen to go as despite the public footpaths I still hadn’t been before.

We started the first square at the Milkhope centre before walking along the road for a mile or so to the centre of the Blagdon estate.
All sounds were drowned out by passing lorries from the open cast as we walked along the roadside so once we entered the estate it was much easier to hear and see the birds.

Almost the first bird of the estate square was a Juv Peregrine, which flew over one of the fields opposite the entrance cottages before diving over a group of crows, which were standing in the snow covered field. As the Peregrine disappeared over the woodland to the west, 3 Buzzards appeared and began soaring.

We had just passed a farm in the centre of the estate when we could hear a large flock of birds calling from a hedgerow leading down to the woodland.
Under the hedgerow was a large amount of seed which by now had attracted over 40 Chaffinch, 20+ Yellowhammer, a few Reed Bunting and 30+ Tree and House Sparrows.

I was impressed by the amount of well-stocked feeders on nearly every house and farm on the estate. We watched one set of feeders at the central farm cottages and in 5 minutes 12 Long Tailed Tit, 10 Tree Sparrow, Chaffinches and a GS Woodpecker came to the feeders.

Access to the pond is ''strictly prohibited'' so instead we watched from a distance. The pond was 90% frozen but on the small amount of open water were 4 Mute Swan, 3 Greylag Geese, Teal and Mallard.

Once in the centre of the west plantation we found two feeders full with seed. We watched the feeders and surrounding trees for a while and saw Wren, Great, Blue and Coal Tit as well as Siskin and 2 Lesser Redpoll come to feed. The 2 Redpoll then flew into a bare tree next to us where they fed on the few buds left on the branches.

A few Mistle and Song Thrushes were amongst the flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing, which seemed to occupy every hedgerow on the estate. 7 GS Woodpeckers were recorded in total but surprising absentees were Starling and Dunnock.

Once the two hours were up and we had walked in a 3 mile circle we were pleased with what we had found and were more pleased that so many birds had survived round one of winter.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Three Targets

After reading Stewarts latest post on, it made me think about my county list and other birding aims.

Last year I decided that I had three targets I wanted to achieve during my lifetime:

1. Find a first for Northumberland - A lot harder than I first thought when I saw what has already been found.

2. See 350+ in Northumberland- could be achieved( I'm currently on 233) but it all depends on me staying in the county, which is unlikely when I only 7% of jobs in the area I am going into are in the north east.

3. See 120+ at West Hartford- Currently I'm on 99 and this seems like the most achievable but again it depends on me staying in the area and WH not being built over.

Friday was the only day I managed to get out last week. I went for a walk to WH but went back when I sank up to my knees in snow. Highlights of the walk were 20+ Siskin which flew over the roundabout in front of WH and a Woodcock which was circling the fire station.