Tuesday, 31 December 2013

From 13 to 31.

Despite having some time off work, and the availability of 2 significant UK "ticks" in, er, the UK ... I haven't ventured far at all - in fact it's all been done on the bike round the doors. 

Waxwing were a bonus on Christmas Day - with six on Horton Drive in the morning, then later outside the house in what seems to be a favoured tree. 

Greater black backed gull have been more numerous than other times (and can actually be tricky in Cramlington), while the resident lesser black back is still at the other end of town.

Today's venture took me to he usual sites, with kingfisher and 2 grey wagtail on the burn (no little egret - good reports of one yesterday morning), a jack snipe, two coveys of grey partridge and, almost as darkness closed in, a short-eared owl and fox combo - quality on the door step.

Onwards to 14 - 13 provided two UK ticks (both in county too - bridled tern and ivory gulls!), plus approx 8 new for the county list, including a long awaited catch up with purple heron and the unprecedented male collared flycatcher. I think it goes without saying that Northumberland has been quality in 2013... (Not forgetting Cramlington - a blissful year if ever there was one - refer to Gordon's blog for more of that - great to see a team effort with Phil, Steve, Dee and Lindsay producing a record parish haul).

Trips away have been limited, with Speyside featuring strongly in the great weekend category - together with Mark, John B, Rob and Ian we had a clean sweep from beginning to end - surf scoter, king eider and white billed diver en route to the "starting point" of the trip was superb - I look forward to our next weekend, not to long to wait for that ...

Friday, 13 December 2013

The reality of dark winter afternoons

After the madness of the Seahouses Ivory Gull fest, it's been a week of nightshift for me. Birding has been restricted to a daylight journey home from work today - with a female Merlin near Northumberlandia (Cramlington year tick) and a cycle later as dusk fell - West Hartford producing c20 teal, c30 lapwing and a smattering of pre roost gulls - bh, h and c.

The Horton Burn was traversed east to west on the way back and prove to be worthwhile with my first kingfisher of the winter near the middle bridge. 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

The next day

"Number 1" started at the north end of the flooded golf course, and after a while, started a casual wander closer... Looked and behaved like a greedy wood pigeon!

Yesterday afternoon was surreal... I think there will be much recollection over the next few years of the "there's two!" moment...

Today I was at work in the morning, as was disappointed to hear that there (to date) not been any further sightings. There is no doubt that they could reappear (I think the Ayrshire bird went AWOL a few years back, reappearing on farmland a few days later).

Flew round to check us out...

Landed closer, had a sneaky worm snack...
Flew round a bit more
Landed closer again (rock hard these fellas')
Had enough ... and off to meet "number 2"

Judging by the face pattern and wing markings, I've photographed the same bird throughout... the second bird appeared with the former as the gulls started to drift back to the beach

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Ivory Gull... Gulls!

I ended the last post with a prediction of sorts. Bizarrely it came true...

12:16 on a quiet Saturday, lunch consumed and a casual glance at the phone. Message from Gary

Head-less chicken mode ensued.

An hour later and I'm there... a UK/world tick for me, and weirdly, not quite as expected... a second 1st winter appeared as the bird flew over our heads off out to the beach!

First UK multiple record?

The last Northumberland bird was December 1979, so a catch up for many in the county. 2013 has been a belter year in Northumberland.

Feeding on worms...

Doubtless more images to follow in a day or two... I need a moment or two to take this all in!

Seconds... both birds far off on the rocks south of Seahouses
In addition to the Ivory Gulls - peregrine and woodcock