Monday, 26 April 2010


Heading on a short trip so there will be a brief pause in posting....

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


A text from Mark stating that he was able to head to Cresswell this afternoon was (again) too much of a temptation to resist... The black-headed wagtail was immediatley on view and it continues to be watched by a steady crowd of observers. Despite good light he never came as close as the other wagtails, so it was another black-less photo session. The other wagtails were more accomodating, with the "channel", white and yellow continuing to provide entertainment. Debate increases on which wagtail is the most appealing...

"Channel" Wagtail

White Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Click the images for a sharper version...


Another image from Sundays' session with grasshopper warbler at Arcot Pond. Fascinating birds...

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Wagtails continue to show at Cresswell...

Poor image of "channel" (blue-headed x yellow hybrid) wagtail at Cresswell, photographed at sunset... the only time it came within decent range!

 Part of a great wagtail afternoon, with the black-headed still present (until 17:00), minimum seven yellow, a mixed flock of 11+ white and pied. Good stuff.

Monday, 19 April 2010


Another image of the black-headed wagtail from Cresswell on 18th April. Of all the "yellow" wagtails present, this bird managed to remain the furthest away...

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Black-headed Wagtail...

A quite afternoon editing grasshopper warbler images was shattered by a pager message not long after 11:20 - there was a male black-headed wagtail at Cresswell!! Naturally I calmly headed north to try and see this county third (and first twitchable individual), and by about 11:45 I was watching this beauty feeding in the field just north of the causeway. A stunning bird accompanied by one white wagtail and up to six flavissima.

In the two hours or so that I spent with the bird the sunny sky was replaced by thick dark clouds and for the last hour it poured with cold rain. Luckily for us the wagtail continued to feed allowing some reasonable record images to be taken. As with all images here, click the pictures to see a bigger sharper version. A heap of images were taken, and when time permits I'll trawl through them and post (hopefully) better images.

I guess there will be some discussion on the racial id, and as it stands I have no contribution to make as I simply do not know the ins and outs of yellow wagtail taxonomy!! I'll let the debate commence and watch politley from the side...

The "reel" deal

A quick posting of an obliging grasshopper warbler, one of three "reeling" this morning. Photographed at Arcot Pond this morning, I've a nice portfolio of images to work with...

...but the other images will be processed later, there's a wayward wagtail to chase first... more on that later!

As always, click the image for a bigger, sharper version.

Also at Arcot was a yaffling green woodpecker, lesser whitethroat, sand martin, chiffchaff and willow warbler

Saturday Update

A day of two halves - morning spent in the Cresswell/Druridge area with Mark, three black-tailed godwit at Dru being the only highlight. Afternoon was better, with a tricky Northumberland species pinned down and one house martin and barn swallow over.

As I write this a curlew is calling above the house... nice.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Early visit to Arcot

After the end of a week of nightshift I opted to check Arcot out on my way home. It was no great suprise to hear grasshopper warbler reeling almost immediatley as the species had reach Cramlington last weekend, but the hoped for early sedge warbler did not materialise. Willow warbler and chiffchaff were a-plenty, while on the pond four mute swan, two canada goose, two great crested grebe and a single little grebe were present. A few coot loafed around the edges and wood pigeon were vocal on what was a fine, still April morning.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Sunny in the bay

Lovely weather again today, pity my trip up the coast was relatively bird-less. No sign of any avocet at Cresswell, no sign of garganey at Druridge nor Hauxley. Instead the highlight was seeing the drake tufted duck/ring-necked duck hybrid at Hauxley (tho' too far away for a photograph), my first 2010 willow warblers and sandwich tern.

The long-tailed tit was at Hauxley. A lively little fella he was too...

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Quiet Sunny Sunday

Spent the day re-arranging the garden feeders, hopefully to provide some photo opportunites over the next few weeks. Much coffee was drunk and a couple of chocolate doughnuts "disappeared" during the garden activities...

This colourful starling had no hesitation in trying out an old post that's cable tied to the re-hashed bird table!
An evening visit to West Hartford was pleasing with nine sand martin and a single barn swallow hawking the pool - the first of 2010 on the patch. Two shelduck remain, with up to six teal. Skylark and meadow pipit continue to sing. There were hundreds of wood pigeon loafing up and down the River Blyth wooded banks.

Grasshopper warbler was reported in Cramlington this morning, hopefully West Hartford will get a "reeler" soon.

April Goodies

A couple of "oldies" from April 2006... two American species to reach the east coast of the UK.

Killdeer - Blakeney Fresh Marsh, Norfolk 09th April - a cracking wader by all standards! No spring is complete without a twitch to Norfolk!

Blue-winged teal - St Mary's Wetland, Northumberland 22nd April - I spent hours with this dapper duck over the seven days that the bird was present, and it was only on this date that it came close enough to the screen for reasonable images to be taken.

I wonder what April 2010 might bring...

Saturday, 10 April 2010

WHishful thinking...

A quick check of West Hartford this morning was fairly uneventful, with two jay, plenty of m'ipit and skylark being about the only hight-lights. A single fox recieved some unwelcome attention from the carrion crows and wildfowl were represented by two shelduck, a mallard and a teal. None of the hoped for garganey (surely we'll get one at WH this year?), sand martin, barn swallow, willow warbler, blackcap...

At home the blackbird that had started nest building in the garden has upped sticks (literally) and started taking nest material to another garden!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Little and Large

above - great white egret, Druridge. Click the images for sharper versions...

With a bright start to the day, and no news on the Cleveland black-throated thrush, I headed back to Druridge for another look at the great white egret. Today the egret was settled on the western side of the Budge field - nice for watching but not brilliant for photography. The hopes for the egret to be hassled into coming closer to the hide by the resident grey heron did not materialise, so the attached images are with the 500mm and 2.0 extender. Not ideal, but better than yesterday I guess. This particular bird is good plumage, with ample plumes showing.

Good showing of plumes... pity the light had gone!

Waders today were represented by lapwing, oystercatcher and snipe, while numbers of black-headed gull were high. Near the hide a male reed bunting was vocal and a chiffchaff passed through the willows. Two sand martin made a brief appearance before heading off north.

above - oystercatcher
below - lapwing

As the morning progressed the light faded as cloud cover increased and the temperature dropped. Glad I left my coat in the car....

On the journey home I (at long last) managed to connect with little owl - easily over looked - they don't half blend in with the tree as they sit motionless!

above - little owl

Saturday, 3 April 2010

(r) Egrets? I've had a few...

Made a mistake by not going out until the afternoon today, by which time the sun had been immersed by a huge heavy rain cloud, and all the decent light had gone for the day. Still, the two main species seen on the trip out were pretty good by Northumberland standards, with the great white egret at Warkworth Lane (record shot below, the light killed this photo... if I'd got my skates on I could have faired better at the Budge field...) and the adult common crane remaining just north of Eshott.

News of a black-throated thrush in Cleveland was tempting... maybe Northumberland will score too?

Friday, 2 April 2010


Good Friday started bright but cold. The male black redstart continues to flit amongst the tombstones at Whitley Bay Cemetary, and occasionally I was in the right place at the right time. I do like black redstarts! Northumberland has had a bumper year so far, with many black reds' on the coast...

An early afternoon patrol of the Prestwick / Berwick Hill / Kirkley / Bellasis Bridge area did not reveal any sign of the white-tailed eagle, nor much else.

News of the Suffolk lesser kestrel aroused interest, but with no further sign at time of writing, the "tick mobile" remains parked on the drive-way and a quiet Saturday looms.