Sunday, 28 April 2013

A little means a lot.

Early afternoon was spent on the bike, circumnavigating the patch - East Hartford still retains two male wheatear - it's been over a week now since the first arrival.

West Hartford was somewhat uneventful, I still have not seen or heard a grasshopper warbler - though it was rather windy...

Heading to Arcot via Beacon Lane, it was pleasing to bump into a little owl, and amusing to follow it in flight into a ploughed field where it sat watching me watching it. A few texts issued to the others, and a call from one - looked up and it had gone.

Arcot was quieter than of late - no yaffling or drumming from green woodpecker - a few coot, pair of mute swan and little grebe were about the lot.

A Jay near Damndykes was probably the last highlight of the trip.

Rolling on to 18:00 and news of common crane at Lynemouth was sufficient to lure me back out - in the car this time - for what was a failed mission.

With the appetite whet again, the bike was duly extracted from the garage and another trip to West Hartford resulted in a calling water rail, a few gulls of the bh, h and lbb variety and little else.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

The Un-countables

Started the day finishing a prolonged week of nightshift - the 06:15 stop-off at Arcot produced nothing new for the year, only a calling and drumming green woodpecker and woodcock (that flushed from the roadside hedge).

Thoughts of what to do later in the day were assisted by Tim Sexton and his post of blue-headed wagtail at Whitley Bay. Nice sunshine (albeit cold temperatures) and more importantly, a defined short walk from the car park saw me there late afternoon, just as the tide was getting a wee bit high.

The wagtail flock was impressive - may be a dozen white variants, a few pied and the apparent blue-headed. I say apparent - I did wonder about the paleness of the "blue"... however a quick skim through the Birding World article (Volume 20 Number 3) perhaps supports this bird being blue-headed rather than a  "channel" variant - the darker ear-coverts may add to the weight of "bh" argument.

Whatever - a bonny bird nonetheless. The other uncountable was also photographed, perhaps a little less vigorously - so a pic for the blog with a nice nit of litter in the background will suffice.

In addition to the wagtails the beach contained plenty of rock pipit, a wheatear or two, many sanderling and redshank. Loads of swallow moving north.

News of a great white egret saw me heading Prestwick bound, but news from the site suggested otherwise. And that ended that sortie.

Thursday, 25 April 2013


2 early morning stops at Arcot - not quite the success I'd hoped for with rain both mornings. Wednesday provided lesser whitethroat while today, a catch up with a very vocal green woodpecker.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Tail Hammer Ear

Nightshift continues, so afternoon cycles along the northern edge of Cramlington are on order this week.

West Hartford was relatively quiet (probably due to the relatively gale force conditions) - the pools held the usual plethora of gulls - lbw, c, h and a couple of displaying bh. A pair of gadwall plodded through the south west corner with a few teal. No garganey yet (!)

Highlight of the visit came in the form of a calling yellow wagtail, south over the pool and onwards to the industrial estate - a tricky bird in Cramlington despite some favourable sites, the third in the past week. Historically yellow wagtail was easier - I even had one near my parents house one spring near the Whitelea fields.

Yellow continued in the form of yellowhammer - a male on the small puddle/flash in the ploughed field east of the sub station. No tree sparrow for a few days now...

A quick sortie into the industrial estate for lesser whitethroat was lesser-less, while the eastward journey to the delights of Boghouses produced 2 male wheatear in the East Hartford fields, and a mistle thrush at the final destination.

Barn swallow are now abundant over Cramlington, martins less so - 4 sand at West Hartford and no house for a few days...

Monday, 22 April 2013


No sun on Sunday, just a pre nightshift cycle around the north of Cramlington - avocets had gone and there was little of note at West Hartford (as with today). The howling wind is keeping the warbler song to a minimum but wheatear still are available - two on Sunday and 3 today in the ploughed field north of East Hartfords football pitch.

I was a few minutes late reading the crane news from Backworth on Sunday, but invariably spent time scanning from both Boghouses and the Laverock roundabout...

Saturday, 20 April 2013

How the mighty fall

Back in April 2004 West Hartford struck patch-gold, with a single Avocet on what was, the new flash.

Fast forward to 2013 and the lone record is something of a distant memory as West Hartford's apparently resident Liverbirder picks up not one but two.

A great patch record - and not the news that I wanted whilst in Newcastle procuring vinyl.

Three hours later and I'm there, somewhat short of breath as the cycle ride (had to take the bike for the list!) into the wind was an effort.

The 2 elegant waders spent their time in the middle / far side of the pool - so record shots with the mighty compact will suffice.

The cycle ride back home was easier, with the wind assisting the journey somewhat... stops at East Hartford produced 4 wheatear, and at the delightful place that is Boghouses, another - 5 is a good Cramlington total.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Picking up

Spring may have finally sprung, with Cramlington year-ticks accumulated this afternoon and evening:

Willow warbler in full orchestral song at West Hartford this afternoon - maybe 5+ singing, two sand martin and a belated addition of Jay too.

Later, to the East of West, three wheatear in the ploughed field behind the football pitch - Cramlington birders duly alerted, though PA had clearly left the mobile at home.

At Laverock, a minimum of 4 tree sparrow on the territory side of the patch and a few barn swallow too.

Chiffies abundant... it's finally starting to happen...

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Overdue garden and year tick

The reward for opting to wash the dishes; an "in the" garden first and overdue 2013 year-tick, blackcap! A short visit as it was chased off by the dunnocks.

Record shots through the window using the SX50...

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Little Bunting

It's been a while, but finally caught up with another little bunting this morning. The last? September 1987 at Hauxley!

Despite the long wintering residency of this particular individual (and that it was un-noticed since the autumn), today was the first opportunity to venture south. Parked up about as far away as possible from the chosen feeding area, but it was worth the walk - the sun was even out...

It's always a bit frustrating resizing the images for the blog, image quality is not like I'd like to present, however, the few here give an indication of the dapper qualities of this eastern bunting.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Yesterday gone

Finally caught up with a West Hartford tree sparrow yesterday - a chirpy chap singing from the east side of the entrance plantation. Accompanied with the first yellowhammer of the "spring", and 2 short-eared owl.

Later, the drive to work produced a lone woodcock, flushed from the copse near Shaw by a dog walker.

Sunday, 7 April 2013


The hint of a milder morning and more importantly no strong easterly wind was enough to lure me out on the bike this morning. The route took in the delights of Cramlington, Bellasis Bridge (passed PCF - don't think he'll have recognised me in a bright orange t-shirt!), Castle Island and the Blyth estuary.

Not a great to report - my first chiffchaff of the year near Shaw garden centre, hods of skylark in fields along the roads and a single sandwich tern, first of year, off Blyth promenade.

Reports of tree sparrow at West Hartford still tease...