Friday, 13 March 2015

Seeing others, and one of my own

Interrupted some coursework (42 and still studying...) to visit Arcot on Thursday afternoon after another Gordon tip-off - a drake Pintail was probably my first in Cramlington for 5+ years, and the accompanying Pochard and Shelduck were new for the 2015 Cramlington list.

The early drive to work this  morning produced another new addition, with a Tawny Owl sat out on a roadside tree close to home.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Magnificent Seven!... Nine?

A surprisingly productive afternoon birding after an early shift at work...

Thoughts of where to start were put to one side when Gordon texted through news of a tricky Cramlington year-tick - a single Whooper Swan on Arcot provided a good start.

Further north, a brief stop provided nice views of a drake Mandarin at Sheepish - a couple of picture taken with the bridge camera and then I was off...

The good fortune continued further north - Widdrington Moor Lake provided a large herd of Pink-feet, but still no Ross's for me, preventing a double plastic wildfowl trip. Compensation came in much the preferred form of a scarce birdie the region this winter - Short-eared Owl.

Not untypical there was more than one bird - I happily texted out the news of two birds, to find the next scan revealing four. Then five, then six and finally, seven!

East Chevington north pool provided black-necked, great created and little grebe but no beardies...

Cresswell is clearly popular in the evenings, with a "crowd" watching the Barn Owl late afternoon.

Heading back it was apparent that I could have a final pit stop near home - and rewarding it was too, with 2 Curlew, 2 Dunlin, a Fox, a Hare and the final owl of the day (and ninth owl at that!), with grand views of a Long-eared perched on a fence line.

That'll do nicely.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Marching On

Trip south toTeesside to meet up with John B. 

Looked in the wrong places for a couple of species - solved that error with a nice cooked breakfast at Saltholme before having a better 2nd half - a much unexpected good view of roosting long-eared owl sunning itself on the edge of a hawthorn and later, a drake green-winged teal elsewhere.

The return journey was uneventful with a pit stop near Coxhoe not providing any buzzards of the rough legged variety.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Saturday, 21 February 2015

The weekend so far.

Friday afternoon / evening was spent out and about the vicinity with some things seen and some things not.

Saturday was bright and breezy, so a saunter to Morpeth to see this winters nationally scarce Waxwings. Two birds present, with a knack of feeding on the "wrong-side" of the hedge.

Closer to home, Little Egrets still frequenting the Burn...

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Owls, Mega Scoter and the like.

Given it's still "only" February, the birding pace is still rather decent. Despite work commitments and the like.

Friday evening was spent stood in a damp field as the sunset - the quarry, Barn Owl, finally achieved in much darkness over the fields at West Hartford.

Saturday saw another delayed-duck mission - with a trip to Cheswick for the drake Black Scoter. I'm guessing this is the bird that was off Stag Rocks a few years back - a mega in it's own rights and a class county catch up for Mark. The bird was distant, so the footage below, taken through the scope on 70x magnification and the iphone on full digital zoom is amusing, if anything.

Heres the link to the 2011 bird...

Image from 2011 - off Stag Rocks

In addition, loads of Long-tailed Duck present at perhaps 4 Great Northern Diver.

Further south at Stag Rocks, more Common Scoter, approximately 11 Slavonian Grebe, Red-throated Divers and more Long-tailed Duck.

An attempt at Ross's Goose was unsuccessful, but plenty of Pink-feet at Stobswood.

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Bluetones

Patience is a virtue.

Finally able to justify a day trip to the River Don in Aberdeen to take a look at the progressively blue toned immature drake Harlequin.

A Barn Owl started the early day well, with a bird drifting over the A1 in north Northumberland.

Having had amazing views of Otter in Seaton Park, walked west with Eric to the favoured rapids section of the river adjacent to Papermill Drive. No immediate sign, just a couple of Dippers and a Kingfisher. Then out of the "blue" the immature drake flew in and plonked itself down a couple of feet from another observer... mad.

Phwah!!!!   Not quite the expected distance for a world tick!

Spent the next few hours watching the Harlequin tease... prolonged periods round an inaccessible bend in the river and brief spells out in the sunshine...

Towards the end of our visit the Harlequin came back in really close - albeit in the shade of the afternoon ... not complaining though!!!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Urban Birding

... in Dubai.   Nearing 5 years since the last visit


More relaxation than birding I'm afraid, but a potter at Ra's al-Khor Wildlife Reserve and and the severely dimished Safa Park added a few to the passive week long winter holiday list.

Highlights on the trip included Greater Spotted Eagle, Saunders, Caspian and Whiskered Tern, Socotra Cormorant (only 2), Greater Flamingo, Kentish Plover, Spoonbills etc.
Lots of building work in Dubai - hence the reference to Safa Park - probably one third (or more) being "redeveloped" to enable a huge waterway to cut through it....

Western Reef Egret

Great White Egret

Greater Flamingo

Dubai - Skyscapers!!

Black-winged Stilt


Saturday, 24 January 2015

Non-additions and additions

Sauntered round the doors ... Usual fare, great grey shrike, little egret, kingfisher. Unusual fare in form of jack snipe and peregrine.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Buffy Stink.

A belated county tick for me this morning, and not the most glamorous rose-coloured starling I've had the fortune of seeing in the UK. Not quite a pink stink, more of a buffy stink...

Nevertheless, a nice bonus for the time of year. Given the urban setting in Prudhoe I opted for the 100-400 lens today.

Sunday, 11 January 2015


A foray to Nortumberlands' finest locations this morning/afternoon produced a few noteworthy / useful "year ticks" and a couple of ommissions too.

Snow Buntings at Cambois were decent, with 16-17 present at the start of the outer pier, just south of the Alcan Hoppers.

At Warkworth Lane Tundra Bean Geese were still present, along with 7 Whooper Swan

Widdrington Moor lake was quiet over two visits...

East Chevington was where the action was - the Black-necked Grebe was accompanied by an unexpected Black-throated Diver and a Long-tailed Duck, with a bonus Eurasian White-fronted Goose among the Grey-lags on the entrance road. I'll not count the two Bar-headed Geese.

Druridge was difficult - hods of Eurasian Teal, but not a sniff of the Green-winged... probably still around, but the gusty conditions may not have helped, with many keeping in the grass.

West Hartford at dusk did not provide the hoped-for, and perhaps as compensation, Pink-footed Geese over the house later in the evening, ending another dour weekend.

Saturday, 3 January 2015


Potter this morning resulted in a decent melody of species - great grey shrike continues along with little egret near to home, while at North  Shields a gull fest with 2 glaucous (1st year birds) a "Viking" glaucous x herring hybrid and a 2c Iceland Gull. Iphone at the ready for some images..,

Top 2 - Gaucous Gull
Middle - left "Viking", right Glaucous, Viking and GBBG.
Lower - 2c Iceland Gull

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Little Twitch...

News of the Little Bustard at Fraisthorpe near Bridlington this morning put an end to plans to cycle around the local patch today. By 0910 I was packed up and ready to head south. Some time later, after a curious route courtesy of the sat-nab, I arrived and joined the hordes on the edge of a bleak, windy kale field. Perfect setting for January.

Fluked the Bustard with the first scan of the field - with its head sticking up between feeding sessions. To far for any standard images, so a bit of trusty emergency iPhone imagery and video today.

iPhone image (also appears in collage featured at top of this post)