Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Gripping Link

I've added a new link this morning - Birding Corvo (Azores) - a temporary blog from Olof Jonsson - already gripping reading, it will be very interesting to see what else he picks up this Autumn!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Monday Blues

I spent a pleasant morning with Richard and Tom at Bells Pond on Monday. The idea was to get some amazing shots of the ibis - which had performed extremely well on the previous day. Luck was not with me however, as our only views in the morning were of the ibis in flight - landing at Druridge... then (from Druridge)... heading back to Bells Pond. By the time I'd got back to Bells... the bird was back at Dru... and I was late for work. Maybe later then?

A brave merlin was chasing carrion crow around the fields at Bells.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Out in the open...

Snapshot just before the ibis flew off early afternoon.
(Canon 500mm IS lens & 2.0 extender)


After 20 long years Northumberland finally gets another glossy ibis... This bird was originally picked up at Druridge last night and gave birders the run around this morning before finally settling at Cresswell for an hour or so late morning. The ibis was feeding on the edge of the small pool that lies between the car park and hide, so was reasonably close, tough often obscured in reeds. Local corvids took a dislike to it when it tried to rest in a field to the south, so it headed off north west early in the afternoon, only to return not long after three pm. Hopefully I'll get another go with this county mega over the next few days.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Note to self

I must get out more.

Birdless weekend for birding sometimes... overtime at work was too much to resist on Friday night, and by Saturday afternoon the extra money was spent on audio and visual gadgets.

Highlights in the garden have been the return of the robins for autumn/winter, dunnock increasing from two to three regular birds (including one that has mastered feeding on the hanging feeder) and the occassional visit from coal tit. Yes, it's that bad.

A text from my mate Sacha in Norfolk told of his success with blyth's reed and yellow-browed warbler on Blakeney Point this morning... maybe we'll start to score in Northumberland soon.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

WH 9, SMI 0

Started an afternoon potter at West Hartford where I was very please to record my highest dunlin count to date - a whole nine birds! They were joined by sixty lapwing, a few black-headed gull, herring, lesser black backed and three common gull. Overhead three common buzzard roamed the River Blyth valley and two stonechat continue to show in the marshy field.

At St Mary's I joined a few of the lads for an hours sea watch - very little of note: two arctic skua being about the best on offer, a few auks north, gannet, kittiwake etc. I'd missed a close in red necked grebe and a few sooty shearwater... A flock of wigeon contained two pintail.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

WH Tuesday

With the absence of the BHB on Brownsman and a decrease in seabird activity (having read the other local blogs I feel I made a mistake in location choice yesterday...) I opted to visit West Hartford this afternoon.

The pool held 25 lapwing and 4 dunlin, while gull numbers were down of late. Two stonechat patrolled the marshy field and barn swallow were in good number.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Monday Seawatch

With the news of a cory's shearwater heading north from Hartlepool late morning, I opted to spend some time sea-watching this afternoon.

The obvious choice for me would normally be St Mary's... but for some reason I elected to head a bit further north, past Newbiggin and start watching from Snab Point.

The location was actually not too bad - I was able to view from a height of about ten meters above the beach (which is higher than the likes of St Mary's etc), but the coast here is recessed a bit, so birds passing Newbiggin are likely to drift out to sea a bit, venturing closer to land at Hauxley.

So, for the next four and a half hours I scoped the sea and enjoyed a reasonably steady trickle of seabirds - the totals being something like:

  • manx shearwater - 150 N
  • sooty shearwater - 3N
  • great skua - 4N
  • arctic skua - 5N 1S
  • pomarine skua - 1N
  • pale-bellied brent goose - 9N (inc 7 on sea, these had previously been reported past St Mary's 50 minutes earlier)
  • wigeon - 30N
  • teal - 25N
  • common scoter - few parties N, no more than 20 birds in total
  • gannet - 100's, inc many parties of mixed ages
  • kittiwake - 100's
  • auks - guillemot and razorbill
  • sandwich tern - 2

Hopes had been high when the cory's shearwater was reported at both Whitburn and St Mary's (along with great shearwater at Whitburn)... but alas, no joy today.

Sunday, 13 September 2009


An enjoyable couple of hours were spent at West Hartford this morning. Initial scope views of the pool revealed one oystercatcher, one dunlin (different bird to previous day), lapwing, the usual assortment of gulls and three kestrel.

At 10:25 all of the birds lifted off the pool as a imm/female type marsh harrier drifted through... then landed on the mud. Great! With scope in one hand and mobile in the other I phoned out news to Steve Holliday - only to find he was a Newbiggin, sea watching with Phil!

As soon as the marsh harrier had arrived it moved off... and a few of the gulls returned. Meanwhile, a single jay cavorted in the hawthorns.

At 11:05 the marsh harrier returned - as with the previous visit I was alerted to its presence by the gulls. This time I was treated to five minutes viewing as the bird hunted over the flooded field, only to be sufficiently harassed by carrion crows - the bird drifted off west, presumably following the River Blyth.

The arrival of Steve, Phil, Lindsay and Pete lent to some good banter, but alas the harrier did not return.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

WH Saturday buzz...

Saturday has arrived and its another beautiful sunny day. West Hartford is still providing some reasonable patch birding this morning, with one dunlin, ten lapwing, three imm stonechat, two kestrel, black-headed/herring/lesser black back and common gull.

A few barn swallow and house martin remain, and meadow pipit were inconspicious

Two common buzzard have taken a liking to the fields south of the River Blyth and subsequently are doing a good job of lifting most birds off the ever decreasing flash.

4 very distant geese flew north and were probably of the canadian variety as opposed to the pink-footed that have started to arrive back from their breeding grounds.

Friday, 11 September 2009

WH Friday

Had a scope of West Hartford this afternoon - the green sandpiper is still present, along with one dunlin, three snipe (lifted from marsh to south of pool - they're always present but not often seen) and fifty to sixty lapwing. There were a lot of black-headed gull, maybe pushing one hundred, along with a few herring and a single lesser black back.

A single grey heron was poking about while wood pigeon and stock dove still continue to be well represented.

Oh, and the weather was lovely too...

WH Thursday

A pre-work visit to West Hartford on Thursday produced 1 green sandpiper, 20 lapwing, 40 black-headed gull and low numbers of herring and lesser black-backs. I was such a lovely day there was even a heat haze!

Now off work for a long weekend - it would be nice to think that a few goodies may appear, but I have reservations...

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Migrantless St Mary's

I had a rather birdless stroll around the northern part of St Mary's Wetland on Monday morning, taking in the "gut", willows and mixed scrub. The results - two chiffchaff and one willow warbler. Interestingly one of the chiffies and the willow warbler were singing.
My exit from SMI was delayed somewhat when*

(a) I decided to check out a flock of sparrows from a moving car and I hit the kerb causing my tyre to explode

(b) the kerb ran across the road and deliberately hit my car causing my tyre to explode

(*delete as applicable)

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Wet Whitburn

With news of greenish warbler at both Whitburn coastal park and Marsden quarry, I headed south after lunch. I arrived at a birder-less Whitburn at about two-thirty, picking up a swift over the south car park - things were looking good. Or so I thought. By five I was quite wet, my arrival had coincided with a miserable non-moving rain cloud, and during the two and a half hours trudging around I'd picked up about three chiffchaff!

Saturday, 5 September 2009


Another look at West Hartford between 18:50 and 19:20 provided stunning views of hunting barn owl - always a delight to see, bit annoying when the camera gear is back at home... Only wader was one lapwing, but plenty of gulls - couple of hundred inc bh/h/lbb. The deceased common gull was proving to be a tasty snack for a carrion crow.


Don't worry, this is not a post about Michael George, merely a cunning reference to a quick look at West Hartford this morning.

The visit produced 2 stonechat (both male), 1 dunlin, 2 lapwing a few back-headed and lesser black backed gull and one dead common gull - this adult bird had looked sickly on Friday, so was not really that much of a surprise. Actually, it's my second WH "gull death" - many years ago a herring gull died while I was watching it - it stumbled about a bit then flopped into the water. Nice eh?

I see that Blyth Birder has his 2 ruff back at Bothal. Could do with a greeshank or two to head down from there- WH used to be quite good for this species but it has become sparse of late.

Meadow pipit were vocal this morning and a mixed party of long-tailed, great and blue tit passed along the roadside hedge.

Friday, 4 September 2009

WH Ruff :-(

A text from Steve Holliday had me headed for West Hartford late afternoon - he had had two ruff. No sign scoping from the A192, so along with Lindsay McD, I headed up the business park road for a better look at the pool. Regretfully there was still no sign of the ruff, but one dunlin and two teal were present. An ill looking common gull sat in the middle of the water and a few lesser black backs were kicking about. Enroute back to the car a single late skylark was flushed.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

WH relapse

Not much doing at West Hartford today - no sign of the little-ringed plover (it was pouring with rain so I was not there long!) - just a few soaked black-headed, herring and lesser black backed gulls.

Nice to see that Madness have announced a tour that does not involve big atmosphereless arenas' - tickets for the Newcastle show are already available via pre-sale on their website. My December gig list is improving all the time - yeah yeah yeahs and Madness at the O2 Newcastle, then Spiritualized at the Sage, Gateshead just before Christmas. Happy days indeed!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

WH wader numbers decrease (a bit)

A brief visit to West Hartford this afternoon. Wader numbers were down since Tuesday, with only one oystercatcher and the immature little-ringed plover present. Gulls featured with black-headed, herring and lesser black backed. Oh, and no chats either...

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

WH wader numbers increase (a bit)

I spent an enjoyable hour at West Hartford this afternoon.

The immature little-ringed plover remains faithful to the largely muddy pool and today was joined by an impressive (by West Hartford standards) four dunlin. The little-ringed plover stuck with the dunlin as they fed on the muddy patches within the remaining water.

The photograph featured here is of an immature little-ringed plover taken at the Beehive Flash in July 2005, taken from the car - the West hartford bird is not so approachable!

The only other wader species today was lapwing, of which only two were present.

On the pool edge and surrounding fence posts five whinchat reappeared after a day missing (I had been at West Hartford on the 31st August too - there was so little to report on the blog that I didn't) with two stonechat. Stock dove continue to show while numbers of barn swallow and house martin are suddenly declining.