Sunday, 24 April 2011


After last nights rain I decided to get up early and see if anything had dropped into West Hartford. On my way to WH a Groppa and a Whitethroat were calling in the small area of scrub opposite Blue Star training pitch. When I arrived GM and dog were there and hadn't seen much apart from the Wheatear which were still around the rubbish pile.
The mian flash was waderless and after less than half an hour I decided to head back. I met LMcD on the way and we had another look at the Wheatear. A bright male Wheatear flew into the field next to the fire station and landed on top of a dead branch. Whislt watching it I noticed another bird climbing up a reed stem.
At first I thought it was going to be a Reed Bunting or a Warbler but when I looked I couldn't believe what I was seeing, a Wryneck!
LMcD was convinced it was a Reed Bunting as it flew off towards the treeline left of the main flash. I was determined to prove what I had seen and as we approached the trees it hopped out onto an area of dead branches.
Over the next ten minutes as I was letting people know, it flew onto the wasteground in front of the main flash, landed in the dead trees there, pecked at insects on the tree, landed on the ground again and was last seen flying towards the treelne left of the main flash.

LMcD managed to get some record shots which he will send me at some point. I spent another hour with GM and JM trying to refind it but there was no sign by the time I left.

That was definately a bird I was never expecting to see at WH and just proves that anything could be out there. This is also the first record for Cramlington.

88 - Whitethroat

89 - Wryneck

Friday, 22 April 2011

Quiet Friday

I went out with LMcD this afternoon to do some local birding. First stop was The Cramlington stretch of the river Blyth from the stepping stones at Bedlington.
All hopes of Dipper, Grey Wagtail etc were soon destroyed by the sounds of screaming kids and dogs swimming along the river, FFS I didn't think the river Blyth would be such a popular place.
After walking along as far as the river bank that runs behind West Hartford and only hearing 3 Blackcaps and a Nuthatch we decided to head to the coast.

With heavy fog rolling in at the coast we checked the old railway area at Cambois for migrants. Again nothing to be seen. This was the same at Baites Filtrations pools, all very quiet.

West Hartford provided the best birding of the day with 3 female Wheatear near the rubbish pile and at least one House Martin amongst the Sand Martins over the water.
Also a Stock Dove flew east over the smaller flash.

86 - Stock Dove

87 - House Martin

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

catching up

I have been out a few times since friday. On saturday morning I had a walk around Woodhorn with SH. We walked around the fields between Woodhorn south pool and Summerhouse Lane pond.
The ponds were quiet but a Grasshopper Warbler and a Whitethroat were vocal along the footpath.
On the way back we checked Arcot where 2 Sedge Warblers were singing away from the hedgrow right of the pond. On sunday evening I went to West Hartford where Warblers were in full song including 2 reeling Grasshopper Warblers. Also there was a black horse roaming around near the brick building, never seen one at WH before.
Yesteray afternoon I went back to WH, amongst the Lapwing and Oystercatchers were 3 Curlew, hopefully there will be more waders on the move soon.
As I was leaving a male Wheatear flew in front of me and landed on the gate post next to the bigger flash. I then looked at the rubbish pile and 2 more Wheatear had appeared.
As I walked further on I noticed a further 4 on the ground between the substation and the metal railings. In total there were 4 males and 3 females, and they were easily the best lookign Wheatear I have ever seen.
No sign of the Black horse today, maybe I was just hallucinating.

83 - Sedge Warbler

84 - Grasshopper Warbler

85 - Wheatear

Friday, 15 April 2011

Back online

Finally my I.T. problems have been solved thankfully with no lasting damage to the PC. Since my last post I have slowly added a few more ticks to the patch list after a visit to West Hartford last Friday. 3 Willow Warbler, 1 Swallow, 3 Sand Martin and 2 Linnet were the new additions. Last Saturday I tried for the Shorelark at Druridge but there was no sign, the 8 Avocets north of the causeway at Cresswell were nice to see though. I got back from boro on Wednesday and with not much work left to do I was able to go up to Bamburgh with JM for the Black Scoter. We had just gone onto the A1 north of Morpeth where the road goes into single file near Fenrother when I spotted what I thought was a large Buzzard. As we got closer we could see that it wasn’t a Buzzard but the White Tailed Eagle which had previously been at East Chevington. It flew low west over the road being mobbed by Jackdaws as we stared in disbelief. If that wasn’t a good sign for the rest of the trip then I don’t know what was. I have since heard that the eagle was see a by a few others on the same stretch of road further south on the border of the patch! When we arrived at Bamburgh the Farne Islands wardens were watching a close in raft of Scoter only 100m offshore from the lower car park at Stag Rocks. One of the wardens let us look through We stayed for about two hours with excellent views of the Black Scoter as it swam amongst the raft of Common Scoter. At one point the raft was only 50m offshore but kept occasionally disappearing into the swell making photographic opportunities for John very difficult. Apart from preening and swimming the Black Scoter also put its tail up in the air before scooting across the water with its bright yellow beak open when other scoter approached it. In profile it seemed to have a thicker neck and rounder head but that could just be my eyes. This afternoon I has back up the coast with LMcD for a couple of hours. We checked Cresswell from south car park but there was no sign of any Avocets. Druridge Pools was quiet but there were two Grasshopper Warblers rattling away in the scrub between the road next to the dunes and the main pool. Instead of going back to Cresswell we checked East Chevington instead. 10+ Sandwich Terns were on the north pool as were Great Crested Grebes. We were both surprised to hear an early Reed Warbler singing away from the reeds at the south end of the north pool. As we were leaving I spotted a male Marsh Harrier quartering a field near the entrance to East Chevington. All in all it has been quite a good week on the birding front. 79 – Willow Warbler 80 – Swallow 81 – Sand Martin 82 – Linnet

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Out of action

My home computer is currently broken so it may be a while before I can next post something. In the mean timethe results for March in the patch competition are as follows: DMcK: 78 PJA: 78 LMcD: 76 GM: 73 Hopefully by the time I next post something the blog will stop compressing everything I write and put in some spaces.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Fooling around

After finishing doing some shopping in Manor Walks this afternoon I was crossing the road between the Pheonix pub and the library when I heard that familiar trilling. 26 Waxwings were spread accross three trees on the grass to the left of the path. I stood under the trees for about ten minutes watching them trill, fly around and then land on the berry bushes under the pheonix sign before coming back to the trees above. A few of them had taken berries back to the trees and I was showered with them at one point as they flew off when a Herring Gull got too close.