Monday, 28 January 2013

Cow Heron

I wont bore you with details of yesterdays trip, see to see what happended. Also a Merlin has perched on the Beal side of the Holy Island causeway and a flock of around 50 Twite were flying around Stag Rocks.
Anyway Northumberlands long overdue second Cattle Egret is now on my county list and my first lifer of 2013.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Garden tick of a different kind

At 12:40 last night I was checking to see if it was snowing when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye moving accross the school field. Expecting to see a cat I was suprised when I looked closer and saw that it was a Fox!
It scurried off straight up the middle of the field and disappeared into the shadows around the school pond. Everytime I have seen a Fox in the past particularly urban ones, they tend to turn around a lot and just generally take more notice of their surroundings. This fox just seemed in a hurry to cross the field and I didn't see it again over the next half an hour.
The closest I have seen a fox to my house in the past is around the Crowhall Lane area but people have told me that they sometimes see one near the Brockwell centre. I wonder if this fox was just forced out of its usual area by the snow or if it has been around more regularly and I was only able to see it last night because of the snow?

Wednesday, 23 January 2013


Last night I went to Tynemouth as I will have to do once a week for the next few months. I spent and hour and a half helping clear the street of snow only to get past Laverock Hall Farm and find that the snow had stopped and was non existant along the North Tyneside coast.
A part from hearing a few Fieldfare fly over whilst clearing the street, a Grey Heron also flew over, very low almost like it was going to land in a garden.
Tynemouth Boating Lake was completely ice free and held 10 Mallard and 18 Tufted Duck. Under the streetlights I could see amongst a small group of Mallard and Mute Swan asleep at the south end of the lake, was the tame Barnacle Goose.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Crept into the garden

Whilst going to close my window this morning as the freezing wind blew in a snow shower I could hear a familiar song. At first I couldn't place but then as it continued on and off for a few minutes I realised it was another garden first, a Treecreeper!
Despite searching the limited number of trees in the garden I couldn't see it and a few minutes after it stopped singing I could hear it again this time further east in my neighbours garden.
It's not unusual for one to turn up in a garden during these conditions but I never thought I would get one due to the lack of trees but I have seen Treecreeper less than half a mile from my house  on Crowhall Lane and JM did have one along the section of the Horton Burn nearest to my house the other day.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Garden Traffic

After filling up the feeders in my garden this afternoon, the birds soon appeared. A mixed finch flock of around 10 Goldfinch, 10 Greenfinch and 5 Chaffinch hung around the feeders on the fence. Whilst watching the flock I noticed a stunning male Brambling amongst them, which didn’t stay long.

The resident Robin who has sung constantly each night from 1am since the 20th December chased away anything that got to close. Numbers of Collard Dove, Wood Pigeon, Coal, Blue and Great Tit and Blackbird doubled as they pillaged the feeders. Jackdaw and a Song thrush were also briefly present as was a male Bullfinch.

Down to the woods, yesterday

In need of some more fresh air yesterday I pushed on through the snow and ended up at West Hartford. All pools were frozen as expected but still a pair of Stonechat flew around the edges of the reeds.

I then walked up to and through Hartford Woods. A nice male Bullfinch was flushed from the ground on the way there and 2 Cormorants flew east along the river Blyth. It was worth sitting in the freezing cold and snow for over and hour as a few Roe Deer wandered past me completely oblivious as I sat on a tree trunk. A GS Woodpecker was drumming away nearby and a flock of 5 Song Thrush, 15 Fieldfare and 30+ Redwing fed on the rare patch of bare ground on the edge of the woods.

Every so often the flock would get up on mass and fly further into the woods and then come back. I soon realised that some of the flock were mobbing something in the trees. A few times I caught site of something brown hopping from tree to tree as it was mobbed. I never got close enough or got a proper view but I’m sure it was a Tawny Owl.

I walked back through the stubble fields were 6 Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and a Grey Wagtail were all seen. Also a flock of 60 Lapwing were flying around the backfields.

Despite the cold not a single snipe was along the edges of the Horton burn on the way back where the water was still flowing.

When I got home I look out my window and as I thought I could see the Lapwing flock high up in the air. So that’s the first new bird to enter the garden list in 2013.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Enjoying the game

On Saturday I went to West Hartford to clear my head. Apart from a few gulls dropping onto the pools there wasn’t much else. A pair of noisy Stonechat chased each other around the smaller pool as I headed back.

As I approached the gap in hedge north of the entrance plantation, to check the new pools in the fields, I could hear the crowing of pheasants. Over the next five minutes I was treated to views of two cock Pheasants duelling both in the air and on the ground.
These usually nervous birds hadn’t noticed me only standing feet away as the kicked, pecked and pulled chunks out of each other. Six Grey Partridge were also closely watching the fight almost as if they had money on it. There didn’t seem to be a clear winner in the fight as the two flew off in separate directions across the field along with the partridge.

I had never seen Pheasants duel before until Saturday and enjoyed it just as much as seeing a new bird at WH. So I have decided that although I will still be looking out for new birds on the patch this year I will also take time out to enjoy nature and its events more rather than just listing or ticking.

Also this year there is the patch competition with Big Waters to do, I’ll mention more about that in the future.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Winter Bird Race 2013

Saturday saw myself CS, JB, DMcG and TM take part in the Northumberland winter bird race for the first time. With a route in mind we started off at Fenham-le-moor at first light. Not much in the way of wildfowl compared to the sites usual standards but a few species ticked off with the highlights being a Peregrine flying north along the shoreline and a Long Tailed Duck south, although we missed the family party of Whooper Swans in a field nearby.
Little Egret and Greenshank were surprise additions in Budle Bay and we got most of our seabird targets from Stag Rocks. The highlights there were a Great Northern Diver, 6 Slavonian Grebes and a surprise Little Auk floating on the sea alongside a Guillemot!

After an hours detour inland we picked up a few more common birds before arriving at East Chevington. A Slavonian Grebe was diving on the north pool and whilst we watched, 8 Crossbill flew south. The Twite flock was in flight at Hemscotthill Links as were 6 Grey Partridge. The Greenland White Fronted goose at Woodhorn was viewable

Our next main stop was Horton Burn. No sign of the Dipper but eventually we located one of the Kingfishers. Whilst checking the boggy field on Pipe Lane near the old fire station we managed to flush 3 Jack Snipe along with 2 Common Snipe. All birds got up in separate parts of the field so three different ones were definitely seen.
We spent the rest of the afternoon fighting against the fading light and failing to locate any owl species at all despite searching numerous sights in north Tyneside.

We finished in last place on 98, which was quite good considering we missed some obvious species such as GS Woodpecker and Treecreeper. It was an enjoyable experience and showed another side to birding. Its just a shame that nobody else was around to see some of the species we saw as I am sure a few eyebrows were raised with reports of Little Auk and 3 Jack Snipe.