Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Early and Late

I hadn’t had a proper look around all of West Hartford in a few weeks for one reason or another so I gave it a few hours on Saturday morning.

A Painted Lady and Speckled Wood Butterfly were making the most of the sunshine on the edge of Hartford Wood. Whilst walking towards the overgrown field behind the sub station I flushed a very late Grasshopper Warbler, which landed in a small bush providing excellent views. A vocal Jay was calling as I walked to the pools and a Short Eared Owl was hunting over the back fields.

On Sunday morning I heard a Greenshank fly north over my house just before I was leaving to meet SH and DMcK. We stopped at West Hartford first and on the flash pools in the field east of the entrance plantation there were 2 Redshank, 1 Green Sandpiper and a Greenshank.

Next we checked Cambois for migrants. 6 Blackcap, 8 Chiffchaff (including a few singing birds) and a Lesser Whitethroat were the only migrants we could find along the old railway line.

Yesterday I was at Seaton Sluice for 9:00 ready to check for migrants. As soon as I crossed the bridge to Rocky Island a few Goldcrest flew down the sluice and landed in the bushes at the harbour mouth. I spent a few hours searching Rocky Island and the harbour and managed to find: 4 Goldcrest, 6 Song Thrush, 4 Robin, 5 Wheatear, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Redstart and a Common Sandpiper in the harbour.

I met Cain at Seaton Sluice and form there we moved onto St.Mary’s. With a much bigger area to cover we managed to find: 4 Redstart, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Yellow Browed Warbler (one of 4 around), 5 Brambling and a Swift.

We would have given it longer if the weather wasn’t so bad. Most of the birds were taking shelter in the gut so we headed off to Tynemouth.

Although happy with what we had seen at St,Mary’s it was still annoying to have missed an Osprey which flew overhead!

Tynemouth was much quieter with only a few Redstart seen. Our last stop was Blyth Links Cemetery where 5 Redstart (including a stunning male) were grave hopping along with a White Wagtail.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


With frustrating strong westerlies on Tuesday morning myself and LMcD couldn’t decide where to go. In the end after a disappointingly quiet look at Cresswell Pond and Lynemouth flash, which held a single Ruff rather than Pectoral Sandpiper, we headed slightly further inland.

We started at the now viewable reclaimed opencast at Widdrington Moor. Around 500 Canada and 300 Greylag Geese sat on the bare earth surrounding the vast pools. Amongst them was a Pink Footed Goose and a Great Crested Grebe dived in the water to the west side.

A lot of Gulls, mostly Common, were flying over west but the main highlight was an immature Marsh Harrier which lazily drifted south on the wind.
Maiden’s Hall lake was quiet despite having a good looking muddy edge but the smaller quarry pool near the farm building held 12 Teal, 8 Moorhen and 4 Coot. Also 3 Jay were calling from the adjacent plantation.

Last stop was West Harford where a single Dunlin was the best thing I have seen there in a while now. But this was eclipsed by SH’s 2 Redshank, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Stonechat and 1 adult Med Gull which he had later in the afternoon!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Wader Day 2012: Disturbance

With a target of 23 wader species to beat I went out with Graeme B, D McKeown and John (Howdon Blogger) on Sunday morning.

Our first stop at West Hartford just before 6:20 provided us with out first waders of the day, Lapwing and Snipe.
The mist cleared as we headed north, just in time as a family party of 7 Red Legged Partridge ran across the road just outside Newton. 2 Ruff, Redshank, Black Tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover and Curlew were next on out list at Newton scrapes before a quick pit stop at Seahouses Harbour gave us Knot and Bar Tailed Godwit.

No Purple Sandpipers were at Stag Rocks only 2 Stonechat and hundreds of diving Gannets close offshore. At Budle Bay we saw our only Common Sandpiper of the day.

Holy Island causeway was next and this is where our birding was first disturbed not just by the constant stream of traffic across the causeway but by dog sand kids flushing everything on the sand and a group of backpackers standing in front of our scopes.

The best we could managed apart from Dunlin were 2 Greenshank on the edge of the causeway near Beal.

After failing for the first time that I can remember to find a Grey Plover at Holy Island we thought one would be at Fenham flats. No sign of any there either or at anywhere else we visited during despite being present during the day.

When we began the day we also thought that we stood a good chance of finding our own rare wader but this notion soon disappeared when we saw that common waders were only present in poor numbers.

The best ‘self found’ wader of the day was at Fenham when Graeme found a Curlew Sandpiper amongst the Dunlin. Also at least 300 Brent Geese had returned to the flats.

On the return journey we quickly stopped at Amble Braid when a Whimbrel flew over calling. As we approached Bell’s Pond we could see all the birds take to the air as a jet flew (too) low over. By the time we got to the hide at Cresswell it was Little Stint, Avocet and Pectoral Sandpiperless.

Futher south at Cresswell Village we had a Great Skua fly low over Cresswell Ices and head further inland. It had earlier seen on the pond where it killed a Coot!

A Yellow Wagtail was the only thing at Lynemouth Flash. The Spotted Redshank that had been at Castle Island had also disappeared as people were on the island in canoes.

The day would have been complete if cocklers were picking at Blyth Estuary but fortunately they weren’t’ it just a shame no bird were there either.

So the day finished just over 12 hours after we set off and we finished on a disappointing 19 species but still a good day was had by all.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Autumn approaches

Before I forget, again, I was up at Warkworth Gut on Monday with the family and had 7 Little Egrets feeding in the channel viewed from the wooden bridge.

Tuesdays autumnal feel continued this morning in Druridge Bay with SH. The highlights at a very quiet East Chevington were 2 Greenshank, which flew around the islands on the north pool, a single female Pintail and 2 Snipe.
From the Budge hide at Druridge Pools, 2 Shoveler were lurking in the grass and a juvenile Marsh Harrier struggled against the wind over the far plantation.
The Pink Footed Goose was still amongst the 87 Greylags at Cresswell Pond. Yellow Wagtails were still calling and Ruff still present. Groups of Hirundines were all along the bay not flying anywhere just feeding presumably fattening up before their journey home for the winter. Amongst a group of House Martins and Swallows at Cresswell were 2 Swifts.
Also a juvenile Cuckoo flew from the wires just outside Cresswell Village back towards the pond.

On the way back we stopped at Snab Point for a few minute. A few large rafts of Common Scoter flew north and a lot of Teal were also moving north. Whilst at East Chev and Druridge we could see Teal flying over the dunes and landing on the pools ready for the autumn.