Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Yesterday was a fitting end to what has been another very good birding year. Trips to Estonia and Mull and some very good lifers and county ticks (Ferruginous Duck, Little Bittern, Caspian Gull, Collard Pratincole and many more) have been the highlights as was the trip to birdfair and being part of the winning 2014 Northumberland Winter Bird Race team.

Yesterday I had a trip out with Cain, Gary, Ewan, Andrew and Rachel to Leighton Moss. On the way we stopped at Sizeurgh Castle in the southern Cumbria. Loads of Chaffinch, Gold and Greenfinch, Nuthatch and Bullfinch were briefly joined by one Hawfinch in the car park but the presence of a cat was making everything flighty. More worrying was the presence of a Grey Squirrel!

We arrived at a cold and icy Leighton Moss and walked along the reed bed surrounded path to the lower hide. Bearded Tit and Water Rail called tantalisingly out of view close by in the reeds on the way. A pair of Marsh Tit were working there way through the trees and the worlds most tame Robins and Pheasants ate dog biscuits from our hands!
From the Lower hide we had great views of a male Peregrine resting in a dead tree before flying around a bit. From the main hide at least 2 Marsh Harriers were in view but unfortunately no Bitterns showed.

We spent the last hour or two of light in the Eric Morcambe hide. Around 4 Little Egrets were on the marsh including two fighting birds whose awful vocals could be heard across the marsh. A Marsh Harrier was quartering the area; a Sparrowhawk sat patiently on a fence post and a Peregrine also hunted. This alerted the attention of a flock of Lapwing that took to the sky to avoid an attack. They looked amazing silhouetted against the setting sun.
 Our last treat of the day was a Kingfisher that flew past the hide and settled on a post outside the hide. It then began to hunt on the unfrozen water before attempting to smash through the ice.

Thanks to everyone for another amazing birding year, hopefully I’ll see you all soon.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Garden Tick!

Yes Tree Sparrow joined Golden Plover and Grasshopper as the third garden tick of 2014. Grasshopper Warbler sounds like a strange one but a reeling bird behind the Brockwell Centre in the summer was still audible from my drive.

A combination of work and illness over the last week has meant that I havent been back to see the popular Shrike at WH. This morning though I woke up to the sound of Tree Sparrows close by and when I looked outside and saw 2 males and a female on  the nearly empty feeders on the fence. They were very flighty so I never got a proper count but hopefully like the shrike they will hang around for the winter. Also a Chiffchaff that was present yesterday was still around this morning.

Monday, 15 December 2014

I've seen the butcher (bird)

Yesterday I was out for a few hours in the morning with SH. First stop was Holywell Pond which held a group of 18 Pochard and a ringed Med Gull was amongst the BH Gulls from the public hide. Arcot was quiet so Steve dropped me off at WH.  A LBB Gull on the main pool and a Stonechat on the reed tops on the Snipe field were the highlights until I noticed something on the row of dead trees running between the pools. It turned out to be Cramlingtons second and West Hartfords first Great Grey Shrike. This long overdue patch prediction soon moved further along the dead trees and later showed much more distantly in the tops of some bushes nearer the river.  

Monday, 8 December 2014

Cold Start

After an uneventful WEBS count we checked the river in front of the rowing club but there was no sign of the long staying Blue-winged Teal. Newbiggin was checked next mainly the Church Point area. Amongst the large gathering of Golden Plover on the rocks were a few Knot and Sanderling and a Grey Plover. On the cliff bank under the caravan park was a Black Redstart which showed well on the boulders. Also a few winter plumage Med Gulls were flying over the car park.

Amongst the Eiders and GBB Gulls in Blyth harbour was a first winter Glaucous Gull but not much else. I have seen and heard a few flocks of Golden Plover and Pink Footed Geese go over Cramlington in the last few days also.