Saturday, 31 December 2011

No more

So thats it. 2011 birding over. No yearlist. 3 UK ticks.

Finished up at West Hartford at dusk. Two short-eared owl were good, while lapwing numbers had increased to 200. Nine mallards dropped in, 2 grey heron stalked the reedbed and a single meadow pipit remains.

West Hartford has had a good 2011, with some decent birds - wryneck, snow bunting, hobby, merlin, 2 great white egret, hen harrier, osprey, wood sandpiper, wheatear, whinchat, yellowhammer (!) ...Wonder what 2012 will bring?

So 2011 ends... Here's what Cramlington's premier birding spot looked like at close of play today...

Dull Desert.

Met up with cousin Rob at Newbiggin on this final dull morning of 2011. With no reports of the desert wheater for a couple of days we were still mildly confident that it would still be there. And it was... easy as pie at the north end of the beach.

Only took the 100-400 today and it was ample as the wheatear maintained it's confident self, feeding within a few meters of us on the shore.

At Church Point we could only pick up three mediterrean gull - an adult and 2 1w.

Down the road, and still in winter gloom, West Hartford was quiet - 120+ lapwing and a few bhg, hg loafed on the pool. A single gbbg flew up the Blyth valley.

That could be it for 2011...

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Great Ears

With West Hartford remaining very quiet, I opted for a trip out this morning to Prestwick Carr. Only a few miles from the patch, but much more to see.

The main quarry was the great grey shrike - always nice to see, but very good at keeping out of the camera range... (and murky light)

With the shrike distant and light not too much kop, attention was turned to the short-eared owls. I'd hoped for some nice perched shots - but apart from the first image (above), I'll have to settle for more "atmospheric" images...

Thursday, 22 December 2011


Ah, the onset of lighter nights.

Celebrated the last full shift at work with a potter round West Hartford and the Horton Burn.

West Hartford was busy with c200 lapwing - though little else. Two buzzard cavorted to the west, while a single kestrel patrolled the back field. Four teal on the pool...

Near the old fire station, the Horton Burn was more productive, with a pair of mallard, many blue/great and coal tit, several blackbird and my first kingfisher of the winter.

With the festive break approaching I look forward to a few potters round the doors ...

Thursday, 15 December 2011


A late morning roadside look at West Hartford was pleasant despite the cold temperature.

The flash was 90% frozen, yet it still held >149 lapwing and 45 teal. Two grey heron stalked the fields, with fifteen meadow pipit and a single skylark. Thrush-wise, blackbird, redwing and fieldfare were in the hawthorns along with 7 long-tailed tit.

Saturday, 10 December 2011


A cold, sleety day in the north-east. Saved by a couple of good birds though, with the desert wheatear still present just north of Beacon Point, and the drake green- winged teal at East Chevington. Didn't bump into the 'legs or connect with any geese, but can't complain.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


A few more images from yesterdays session with the desert wheatear...

Monday, 5 December 2011

Desert Wheatear, Newbiggin

I spent a pleasant hour or so with the 1w desert wheatear this morning. The bird was rather obliging, feeding on the muddy banks and beach south of Beacon Point. At one point the wheatear landed within 50cm... (a tad too close for the auto focus).

A moderate selection of photographs were taken, some of which should appear here later in the week, as nightshift beckons.

A single snow bunting fed on the path north of Beacon Point.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The 3 "IANS" - Siber_, Casp_, Euras_

Headed south to Teesside this morning after encouraging reports from the Zinc Works Road area of Seaton Carew on Saturday.

First up, a stop at the first lay by on the road for IAN number 1- on show was the confiding male siberian stonechat - my second encounter of this newly promoted species in the UK. A dapper chap at that, and thoughts of prolonged viewing and photography were quashed as the bird flitted off into the scrub upon the onset of a heavy, cold winter shower.

Hoppy... plain rump just about on show.

Taking shelter from the rain we headed to lay by number two for IAN number 2 ~ and a few minutes later (refreshed with coffee) we set about scanning the gull flock. The 1st winter caspian gull (one of perhaps 3 that have been here this week) was picked up by another fellow, and decent scope view were had. Rather embarrassed to admit this, but the caspian gull was a UK tick for me and Mark. Northern sightings of this species are few and far between, and it's certainly not a bird I'd have travelled far for! In hindsight some record shots should have been taken, but a scope was essential to get a good view. Not long after the bird was picked out one of the two local peregrines lifted the flock and the gull dispersed.

The third port of call was, conveniently, at the third lay by down Zinc Works Road for IAN number 3 of the jaunt - a small group of Eurasian white-fronted geese were on show along with a single pink-foot. With the geese in the bag, and another less successful short wait for IAN number 1 we headed back north.

News of desert wheatear at Newbiggin might provide an incentive to get out on Monday, as time is not on my side today. Nice to see that the birding pace has not yet settled down for winter!

Saturday, 3 December 2011


A mid afternoon visit to West Hartford was unproductive, with little to note.

Eighteen lapwing consorted on the pool, with a few teal and bhg for company. No sign of any seo today.

A single fox was the highlight, it came close as it hunted the edge of the field.