Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Last night at 12:30 I could see movement at the bottom of my garden. Expecting the neighbours cat as usual I scanned the garden with a torch and instead caught the eye shine of a Fox!
It looked back at me before turning around and scampered back into the school field. Last February in the heavy snow I saw a Fox run through the field but presumed that it had been forced here because of the snow. It was probably the mildest day of the year yesterday so there no reason for the Fox to have been forced into the garden in an attempt to find food. They have been seen more frequently over the last couple of years around the estate so I wonder if the Fox is a regular and I just happened to have caught up with it now.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Through the week

For the second week in a row I had a garden tick. At 12:15am on Monday a single Golden Plover flew over my house, obviously it was only heard not seen.

On Wednesday I was out with LMD for the first time this year. First stop was a birdless Maiden's Hall Lake. East Chevington north pool was full of Wigeon, Wigeon and more Wigeon. Amongst the Wigeon were a pair of Red Breasted Merganser, 3 Long Tailed Duck, 7 Shoveler, a few Pochard and the Red Necked Grebe.

Druridge Pools was also quiet with again more Wigeon on offer. 20+ Shoveler and 2 Pintail were also of note. The Twite flock was out of view at Hemscott Hill Links and Cresswell Pond held, yes you guessed it, more Wigeon. The track to the hide was alive with Tree Sparrows mainly because of the new feeders hung in the trees. No sign of any Scaup but a pair of Pintail were showing well on the sand bar and a Water Rail squealed from the reeds in front of the hide.

After failing to locate the Glossy Ibis at Tynemouth of  early Thursday morning, myself and Cain checked Holywell Pond instead. As we walked down to the hide a group on Greylags flew from the pond and landed in the field. As we scanned we spotted the White Fronted Goose amongst the group.
A good number of Gadwall and a few Pochard were on the pond but a rare bird at Holywell was the best find, a Stonechat on the wire fence in the sheep field.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Red necked but no Phalarope

With a few hours spare yesterday afternoon I headed up north with Cain. Grey Phalarope has been a bird that has eluded me for far too long now so with the long staying bird at Stag Rocks being seen again during the week hopes were high.
The tide was getting towards its highest and as a result Common Scoter, Long-tailed Duck along with the Eider were just offshore. As the weather turned from grey and dull to greyer and wet to horizontal sleet the sea got rougher. Gulls were hard to pick out never mind a tiny grey ball of fluff bobbing on the waves so once again I failed to see a Grey Phalarope.

As we scanned from in front of the lighthouse, a Red- necked Grebe was sitting on the water just below the rocks. The only previous one I had seen from here was at least a mile out on a choppy sea amongst a raft of 200+ Scoter a few years ago. We were treated to prolonged views of the Grebe as it floated even closer on the rocks just underneath us not bothered at all as it dived  and caught fish. As it dived its whole body was out of the water and I even watched its shadow move under the water in the shallows.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Am I doing something wrong?

After news broke of the Yellow Rumped Warbler's location in Durham on Sunday morning I was soon there with JM and MA. The bird hadn't been seen for about an hour so like the 50+ people now gathered we wandered around the estate. Since the area it had been favouring was along the back of the estate we could see into peoples gardens and a lot of the gardens had not just feeders but feeding stations.
With rumours that the Warbler had just been photographed in a garden and was now amongst a flock of Goldfinch everybody lined up and scanned the gardens.
As we watched and waited, three Waxwings landed in a nearby tree. To most present this provided a brief distraction from the tense situation but to me this and the next few minutes were the highlight of the trip. With more rumours that it had moved further down once again we decided to stay watching the feeding station and play it cool. So whilst most charged away like a hoard of blood thirsty zombies we watched as the charm of 30+ Goldfinch danced around the feeders along with a single Lesser Redpoll, Willow Tit, Brambling and the Waxwings.
 Once the sighting was confirmed we moved down and got some ok views of the warbler. Highlights were when its Yellow rump was visible and when it ticked like a Robin as it flew along the area of scrub bordering the estate.

Dont get me wrong I like seeing any new bird but I had more enjoyment out of watching the feeding station than actually seeing the Warbler. It happened again today when I stepped onto the drive, I heard the familiar call of a Reed Bunting and look around just in time to see it fly passed from the neighbours fence. This garden first was almost as enjoyable as all of sunday. I'll never be a twitcher.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

2 out of 3

I had three winter targets when I left for West Hartford with Cain this morning. Wandering around the marsh a few Common Snipe lifted but one of my targets Jack Snipe eluded me. Skylarks were singing overhead and Meadow Pipits are starting to arrive back in good numbers, I had 14 on Thursday.

As I approached the south of the pool I heard a Moorhen call from the reed bed and as I turned around a Water Rail (target) flew passed into the reeds. Doing so it spooked a Short Eared Owl (target) which lifted and flew to the west of the pool. Despite the strong winds it managed to perch on a fence post before being bullied away by a Magpie.  Despite a decent amount of Teal being on the pool there was no Green Winged.

We also checked the fields near Seghill for geese but they had moved on. A few Greylags were in the fields at Holywell Pond and a couple of hundred Pink Feet were in the fields at Blyth Links but no Bean or White fronted.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Local interesting

I was out again at the weekend with Cain. Despite the strong winds we headed to the Beacon Lane-Arcot area. At last the Little Owl was showing itself form the usual tree on the bend along Beacon Lane.

The winds had forced the golfers off the course at Arcot so we had a good wander around there. Going off the beaten track we ended up in a thick area of scrub somewhere on the course. Roe Deer flitted passed and a Woodcock lifted from the damp ground.
Unable to describe where I had seen the Woodcock I went back yesterday with Liver Birder and showed him. No sign of any Woodcock but Roe Deer still present as was the Little Owl along the Lane. Also a Hare ran through the undergrowth, not habitat I'm used to seeing them in.