Monday, 25 June 2012

Call of the wild

Myself and Cain have been volunteering at Cramlington Learning Village over the past week. The project we have been helping with is called

As we approached the school on Monday morning a Common Tern flew west over the school.

The idea is to help the students create a piece of ambient music using bird song. On Monday we helped on campus to find what birds were around and with some basic ID skills.

With our target birds selected we set off for Arcot Pond on Tuesday. Along Beacon Lane Yellowhammer and Whitethroat were calling and a pair of Tree Sparrow flew from the horse paddock just off Beacon Lane. Despite later searches the Sparrows were not seen again, a shame as they are very rare in Cramlington.

A Garden Warbler was in full song further along the lane near the pond. 2 Little Grebe were on the pond along with the usual wildfowl. It was great to see the kids becoming more interested as the week progressed and by Wednesday Chiffchaff and Yellowhammer could be competently identified by their song. With enthusiasm growing we were back down Beacon Lane and Arcot but before we started the walk I heard and saw 5 Crossbill fly NE over near the railway bridge.

The latter part of the week was spent helping analyse and identify what had been recorded. Fortunately we were in doors for this part as the weather began to turn.

Yesterday I was out with SH and DMcK for WEBS. Common Sandpiper was the highlight at Castle Island. We had good views of a stunning full Orange plumage Ruff north of the causeway at Cresswell Pond as we passed. A brief stop at East Chevington provided my first sighting of Barn Owl this year as a bird was sitting in a pine tree behind the south pool.

No sign of the Spoonbill at Hauxley but 4 Black Tailed Godwit were seen sleeping on one of the banks. We were also treated to amazing close up views of a Cuckoo, which was hoping around in front of and to the side of the Tern hide whilst it was mobbed by Tern.

Also I have just seen that a Carrion/Hooded Crow hybrid was reported at the high school today. Me and Cain both saw this bird on the school field last monday and in the main car park on Friday but thought nothing more of it.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Local Marshes

Stayed mostly local this through the week. On Wednesday I was at Shasun  (permit only) at Dudley doing some work for them at their wildlife area.
Two Tree Sparrows were in the trees bordering the pools amongst a flock of House Sparrow. Whilst taking measurements and photos I was dive bombed by a protective pair of LBB Gulls as I walked past the silo they breed on and a pair of Common Terns nesting on one of the floating islands also made their presence felt.
Mallard and Tufted Duck were the only duck on the pools and two pairs of Coot with 8 young amongst them swam around. Also a family of Canada Geese (two adults with four young) patrolled small areas of grass between silos and tankers.

Also on Wednesday I went to West Hartford but this time failed to avoid the heavy showers so only stayed a few minutes. Despite this I managed to see 12 young Mallard ducklings swim out from the now long grass bordering the NE corner of the bigger pool. Although with the amount of corvids and Grey Heron at WH I doubt the total will stay at 12.
On my way home an Oystercatcher was on the Horton Burn, probably grounded by the rain.

Back to WH on Thursday this time in sunnier conditions so stayed for a few hours early morning. The Coot have moved on with no sign of young. A Redshank circled the pools a few times before heading back towards the river and a Jay flew north.
Four singing Sedge Warbler had the pools surrounded by song but the highlight of the morning though was a squealing Water Rail heard only form the largest reed bed in the marshy field behind the fire station.

Yesterday I was at Big Waters in the morning with SH and at Hadston in the afternoon with JM.
No Marsh Warbler heard at Big Waters only a Reed Warbler making a few different notes. It was a different story at Hadston were a Marsh Warbler showed well and mimicked a range of different birds as it flew back and forth across the reeds into the sycamores.