Thursday, 30 July 2009

Couple of grey, some grass but no marsh...

News that Crammy Birder had seen marsh harrier at West Hartford this evening saw me divert on my way home from work after a lateshift.

Further to that, STH had also had barn and short-eared owl mid evening... so I was bound to score on something. Not!

1 grey partridge, 1 grey-lag goose and a reeling grasshopper warbler were about my lot.

I've only seen marsh harrier once at West Hartford - the image above was that very bird, taken on 02 September 2004. The image was digi-scoped from the A192.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

A short owl effect

I spent a quick three hours at West Hartford on Saturday evening, viewing from 18:00 to almost 21:00. Not much activity on the pool - only BH/LBB/HG and 1 C gull plus two mallard... In the fields one grasshopper warbler continued to reel, particularly as the evening drew on. Two whitethroat were feeding near the small brick building and reed bunting were a plenty.

Highlight of the watch (and probably the reason why I did not venture back home sooner) was the unseasonal appearance of a short-eared owl. My first July record of this species at WH. The owl appeared at 19:55 and promptly caught a vole sp. It then proceeded to sit on a distant fence post for the next fifty minutes - blowing any photo opportunities as the sun finally set (that's a photo from earlier this year to the left of this paragraph).

I headed back home along the A192 only to have to slow the car right down as a fox lazily trotted across the carriageway... a nice end to a pleasant few hours relaxed birding!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

[Dry pigeon.dry swallow]

July continues to experience unsettled weather in the north-east of England - it's been another dull and wet day here in Northumberland, so continuing very roughly with the pigeon and swallow themed posts of late, here are a couple of images of "dry"... pigeon guillemot (at sea, Strait of Juan de Fuca, south of Vancouver Island August 2008) and barn swallow (American form, Vancouver August 2008).

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Wet Hirundo

I headed to a rainy Newton Pool with Mark this morning. After Fridays' heavy rain we had thoughts of many dumped waders on the ponds muddy shore... two common sandpiper (and no mud) were our wader lot. Three moorhen, a scattering of mallard, little grebe, teal and three grey heron were on the pool, with several barn swallow hawking. On the dunes a couple of reed bunting were half heartily singing, while off shore a party of gannet were diving just past the breakers.
Back in the village a damp barn swallow (above) sat looking very miserable in a gutter.
Fortunately the chippie at Amble was en-route home, so chips and curry sauce made up for the lack of water rail, little gull etc that NS has had the pleasure of viewing this past week.
Newbiggin held two mediterranean gull on the beach, and with that, we called it a day.
Got home and the sun came out. Briefly.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Wet Wood Pigeon

Rain certainly does not deter a hungry wood pigeon or four. These images were taken in the downpour while preparing the previous post...

Garden Pigeon

The weekend must be approaching - as I write this there is a torrential rain shower literally lashing down and the thunder is booming! - glad I got the lawn cut earlier this afternoon!

This wood pigeon is one of up to four visiting the seed trays in my garden. Indeed, these wood pigeons are costing me a small fortune as they hoover up all the mixed grains.

The photograph was taken during on set of heavy dark rain clouds - so has benefited from the use of flash. I quite like the detail on the fence (which probably could do with a fresh application of creosote!) - the greens of lichen are nice and there is even a bit of cob-web to make all a bit more rustic. I think I need to get out more...!

It's encouraging to see that a couple of pec sands have turned up in the north-east of England over the last couple of days - I expect Northumberland will hold one or two soon.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

American Royal Tern

Following on from last months Florida selection, it was pleasing to recieve Birding World magazine today and find that one of my (american) royal tern images had been used for an article on the species after it's (well, "african", form) occurance in Ireland and Wales during June 2009. Taken in January 2007, this tern species was very approachable on the Gulf coast beaches, often associating with groups of black skimmer, forsters tern, ring-billed gull and laughing gull.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


I spent a couple of hours at East Chevington on Monday afternoon - just after a little egret had met it's demise on the south pool - all that was left was a lifeless heap of white feathers on the mud near top corner. Good start eh!

On the south pool (and still alive) were plenty of lapwing, three bar-tailed godwit, 2+ greenshank, 5 dunlin, 1 common sandpiper plus plenty of black-headed gull and a few grey heron.

The north pool was busier - two 1s little gull, plenty of arctic/common and sandwich tern, 12 knot (one colour ringed - white on right, red/green(flag)/yellow on left.) ringed plover, cormorant and most surprisingly - a single brent goose... winter is here already??? The presence of reed warbler and grasshopper suggested it may still be summer.

Looking forward to the pace picking up soon...
Again no photographs... I'm sure I caught my camera trying to ring the Samaritans to talk about abandonment...
Quick video clip below is of a new cure show soon to be released... Paris 2008. Bit like my July birding... it's never enough.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Cresswell Quiet

A very quick trip to Cresswell this morning revealed very little - in fact the trip was barely worth the effort - the northern scrape was wader-less, with one grey heron was teasing its way around the causeway.

On the sea there was a steady movement of gannet north, with a few kittiwake too.

Stark contrast to 10th July 2005 - a day which saw me (and Tom) head south-west to Cemlyn Bays star attraction - sooty tern! An incredible bird in a beautiful part of the world. Had hoped to post a retro picture here - but a review of my images swayed my decision not to post - we experienced a terrible heat haze four years ago!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Doolittle Birding

Friday afternoon, another week of work over... excellent!

Thursday was bright and sunny - so a trip to East Chevington was called for during the afternoon. On the north pool a single roseate tern roosted amongst the common, arctic and sandwich tern and four 1s little gull were pottering about. Water levels continue to drop, so hopefully late July will attract plenty of waders.

At Hauxley the main bird species of interest was the appearance of two drake scaup ... otherwise it was fairly quiet (albeit noisy with all the juv BHGs' and grey-lags!). A few wigeon have returned and most of the grey heron were in odd sun-bathing poses!

Hopefully the weekend will provide opportunity to get out and about... possibly even take a photograph or two?

Highlight for me so far today is the purchase of tickets to see the Pixies at Brixton in October. Loved this band first time round, but only saw them once (Preston 1990)... so could not resist this opportunity to see them again, especially as they'll be performing the whole of the Doolittle album for it's 20th anniversary!

Here's a clip (co-incidentally from Brixton, 1991, Black Francis is somewhat thinner here than today...) - check out the crowd after about 33 seconds!

and... they've sold out... nice!