Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Window Pain

That’s what the Greenfinch below would have felt this morning as it crashed into my window at 7:30 this morning. Fortunately it was ok and after half an hour sitting on the roof looking very dazed, it flew off onto the neighbour’s seed feeder.

Later on this morning I went to Cresswell Pond with LMcD. A Curlew Sandpiper was with 30 Dunlin on Lynemouth flash as we passed.

The pond was full of wildfowl with Wigeon, Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Teal in large numbers. 2 early female Pintail were also amongst the duck along with a few Shoveler.

A female Shoveler is coincidentally the best bird I have seen at West Hartford recently when I saw one fly off on Sunday evening.

An Avocet was sleeping amongst the waders near the sand bar and 20 Ruff and 12 Black Tailed Godwit flew in. The best wader though was a Little Stint on the small area of shore south of the causeway.

A few Snipe were on the sand bar too and an early Pink Footed Goose was among the Greylags on the spit. They soon moved when 4 Buzzard circled the nearby fields.

Very dazed

Getting better
ready to fly

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


I spent an hour at Holywell Pond yesterday evening. Good numbers of wildfowl building up and the most Little Grebes I have seen together in a while. Juvenile Grebes were noisly begging for food in front of both hides.
The Black Necked Grebe put in an appearance as it dived around the fence right east of the public hide and dispite the mud begining to form around the edges of the pond a Greenshank which circled a few times couldn't find any.

Monday, 20 August 2012


After today’s WEBS count at Castle Island with SH and DMcK we headed to Hadston Carrs in search of the Barred Warbler reported earlier.

I have searched around Newbiggin for hours for Barred Warbler in the past so was expecting a long wait as we approached the dunes. Birders were surrounding small areas of scrub and it didn’t look promising so I was surprised when after only a few minutes the Barred Warbler- lifer, flew from the scrub along with a Whitethroat. The size difference was obvious to see as the silvery grey warbler landed in scrub further south. It showed again a few times as it flitted around the scrub looking like a small Cuckoo.

As we were leaving for Cresswell Pond a Yellow Wagtail flew SW over. It was a wader fest at Cresswell with 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 7 Ruff, 2 Black Tailed Godwit and 15 Golden Plover dotted around the pond with small groups of Dunlin.

The Spoonbill on the spit was asleep, obviously, and Yellow Wagtails were numerous although we couldn’t match the 40+ reported on saturday! Whilst watching a Goldcrest in the willow outside the hide we were told that a Cuckoo had flown past.

With the succession of waders at Cresswell we quickly checked the River Blyth on the way home. Bar Tailed Godwit, Whimbrel and Turnstone were all but not much else.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Bats and Dragons

Last week I spent an hour at West Hartford after dark. Not much in the way of birds but a couple of bats caught my attention. One in particular was bigger than the others and could have been what Sedgedunum Warbler had at Hartford back in the winter. After mentioning this to SH we went back on Friday night from 9:15 to 10:15.

 After dark WH came to life as 27 Canada Geese and 12 Mallard came into roost. The bats were quieter on Friday night with only a Common Pipistrelle and a possible Soprano Pipistrelle around. We also had a potential Wh first fly close past us but it was to dark to confirm. We couldn’t rule out other possibilities in the end but we both thought it was a Kingfisher that flew past!

On Saturday I was out with the family to Harwood Forest. We parked in the village and walked to Tutehill Moss and back. It was deathly quiet with only 5 Buzzards, a single Crossbill and a single Great Spotted Woodpecker seen. It got slightly better at Tutehill Moss where two juvenile Whinchat were flying around the clear fell and a couple of Roe Deer got close.

Yesterday I visited East Cramlington NWT. Along the main stretch of boardwalk a Ruddy Darter was sunning itself, this was the first three Dragonfly lifers I saw yesterday. Apart from a few Moorhen on the ponds the only bird of note was a Green Woodpecker which was yaffling near the roadside before flying across the ploughed field near the bee hives and into the trees behind Ivanhoe Forge in Seaton Deleval.

In the afternoon I went to Newbiggin with SH. The beach was too busy so only 6 Med Gulls could be seen including a scaly juvenile bird. On the way back we spotted a Little Egret on the Cambois side of the Wansbeck estuary.

The second Dragonfly lifer came at West Hartford where 3 Black- tailed Skimmers were chasing each other at the edge of the main pool. We also checked Bassington N.R. in the industrial estate where last weeks Black Darter, (the third lifer and Cramlington’s first) was amongst a group of Common Darters.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Harbour to Hartford

On Wednesday evening I went to Blyth Harbour with SH to do a Cormorant Count. A new August peak of  5 Shag were resting on the staithes near the pier along with 133 Cormorant.
Although many of the birds were ringed two in particular caught are attention.

A bird with yellow ring ZR6 was ringed in Rutland Water as a chick in May 2011 and was seen at Castle Island last August before moving to Blyth harbour from December 2011.

A Shag with a blue ring IUC was ringed at Isle of May as a chick in June 2011 and has been seen several times at Blyth since Sep 2011.
Also in the harbour were 2 adult Roseate Terns, which were amongst the Common Terns in the railings of the shorter pier, 2 Rock Pipit and around 80 Ringed Plover on the yellow factory roof. A freshly dead Guillemot and Razorbill were floating in the water near the jetty.
On our way back we called in a West Hartford where on arrival 3 Gadwall took off from the main pool just before a cream crown Marsh Harrier flew from the row of dead trees and in the reeds south of the pool.
It was a very dark almost black bird with raggy wings, which has also been seen at Hartford over the past 2 days.
With news of the Harrier LMcD soon appeared and once he had seen the bird we went off to Beacon Lane in search of the Little Owl. As we were leaving a Yellowhammer was calling near the sub station.
It didn’t take long to find the Owl, sitting on the same fence post I had seen it on a while ago. It then flew into the trees and wasn’t seen again.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Hear and there

That’s where I have been this past week. I was helping Cain out with some tetrads in Cumbria last week. The main highlights were a family party of Pied and Spotted Flycatchers in trees on the same stretch of road near Penrith.

The water level is looking much better at West Hartford and it is surely only a matter of time before they start attracting some decent waders although probably not a good as the Stilt Sandpiper at Low Newton.

Yesterday I was out with SH. Plenty of Med Gulls in the south bay at Newbiggin and a few Roseate Terns on the breakwater rocks.

A Long Tailed Duck presumably the Chevington bird was on Cresswell Pond along with a Ruff, a few Avocet and a couple of Yellow Wagtail.
Was up at Newton this morning with JM watching the Stilt Sandpiper - Lifer. Good but distant views across the back of the scrapes. A few Greenshank were keeping the Sandpiper company as they waded across the scrapes.

Not much else to say really, a very good bird, which we watched for over an hour. No need for record shots.