Monday, 26 March 2012

Northumberland Tour

Trip 3 of the planned 10 with John B, Rob and Mark was based in Northumberland - we started on late afternoon Friday 23rd (after work) and completed the journey by 12.00 on Sunday 25th. Accommodated in Allenheads and Bamburgh, we aimed to cover as much habitat as reasonably practicable over the time available. Early starts on Saturday and Sunday.

Allenheads Moor
 Friday afternoon took in West Hartford - Blyth - North Shields and Prestwick Carr. It was a mixed bag ~ jack snipe and short-eared owl at wh, dipper on the River Blyth,  no waxwing at ASDA, 1 juv iceland gull at the quay, more seo at pc and a squealing water rail.... but no great grey shrike!

The aging gang...
 In the Allenheads area we scored with singing ring ouzel, a splattering of red and black grouse and our biggest surprise of the trip - a clawback on great grey shrike!

Grindon Lough gave us a decent dose of geese, with out only barnacle of the trip, while the Kielder area let us down - forest drive closed. We salvaged the trip there with mandarin and goosander.

Hulne Park - forced inland by sea fret...
 Leaving Kielder we headed east towards the coast - and into a damning sea fret! A nasty twist to our plans saw a Druridge Bay visit scoured - though we still picked up some birds for the trip ~ pintail, stonechat etc... So back inland to Alnwicks' Hulne Park...

Confirmation from Bamburgh that the sea fret wasn't too bad saw us end the birding day at Stag Rocks/Budle bay where we managed only a few of the target species ~ but it was a return the next morning when we finally scored with the target birds, with 4 slavonian and 1 red-necked grebe. Budle Bay had produced a single greenshank but little else new for the list.

Early morning at Stag Rocks, fret lifting
 Sunday dawned warmer and the sea fret was visibly lighter - burning off as the sun rose. Red-throated diver was added with the grebes and after a hearty breakfast we headed to Holy Island. A cracking peregrine was picked up on the causeway - sat on the roadside in full sun - nice!

Brent geese were distant but still new for the list and a few grey plover noted too. No sign of any lapland or snow bunting...

Sunshine at Holy Island
Back down the coast the clock was ticking ... so it was good to squeeze in East Chevington. In complete contrast to Saturday the sun was shining and we could see the pools! The redhead" smew was easy to find and 3 scaup were the final list additions, as the return to Blyth again failed to produce waxwing. Maybe another trip will have some available.

We finished the days with a combined trip list of 115 species. The overall list for the three trips rose from 145 to 181 species.

Details of the 2 previous trips - Norfolk and Mull

Trip list: (hopefully correct!)

Mute Swan Cygnus olor AC
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus A
Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus A
Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons A
Greylag Goose Anser anser AC
Canada Goose Branta canadensis AC
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis A
Brent Goose Branta bernicla A
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna A
Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata C
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope A
Gadwall Anas strepera AC
Eurasian Teal Anas crecca A
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos AC
Northern Pintail Anas acuta A
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata A
Common Pochard Aythya ferina A
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula A
Greater Scaup Aythya marila A
Common Eider Somateria mollissima A
Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis A
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra A
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula A
Smew Mergellus albellus A
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator A
Goosander Mergus merganser A
Willow Ptarmigan (Red Grouse) Lagopus lagopus A
Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix A
Grey Partridge Perdix perdix AC
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus C
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata A
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis A
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena A
Slavonian Grebe Podiceps auritus A
Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis A
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus A
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo A
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis A
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea A
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus A
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo A
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus A
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus A
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus A
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus A
Common Coot Fulica atra A
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus A
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula A
European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria A
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola A
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus A
Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima A
Dunlin Calidris alpina A
Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus A
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago A
Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola A
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica A
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata A
Common Redshank Tringa totanus A
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia A
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres A
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus A
Mew Gull Larus canus A
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus A
Herring Gull Larus argentatus A
Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides A
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus A
Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla A
Razorbill Alca torda A
Stock Pigeon Columba oenas A
Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus A
Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto A
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus A
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major A
Sky Lark Alauda arvensis A
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis A
Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus A
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea A
White / Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba A
White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus A
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes A
Hedge Accentor Prunella modularis A
European Robin Erithacus rubecula A
Stonechat Saxicola torquata A
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus A
Common Blackbird Turdus merula A
Fieldfare Turdus pilaris A
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos A
Redwing Turdus iliacus A
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus A
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita A
Goldcrest Regulus regulus A
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus A
Coal Tit Parus ater A
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus A
Great Tit Parus major A
Wood Nuthatch Sitta europaea A
Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor A
Black-billed Magpie Pica pica A
Eurasian Jackdaw Corvus monedula A
Rook Corvus frugilegus A
Carrion Crow Corvus corone A
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris A
House Sparrow Passer domesticus A
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus A
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs A
European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris A
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis A
Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus A
Common Linnet Carduelis cannabina A
Twite Carduelis flavirostris A
Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret
Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra A
Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella A
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus A

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Great in Northumberland

Just spent a very nice couple of days partaking in event 3 of the "10 trips 10 years" project with John B, Rob and Mark.

Full details to follow when I get access to my pc (this update is via my phone), but needless to say we enjoyed some great birding in our home county of Northumberland - and we even found our own great grey shrike! Picture attached was "phone-scoped" early on Saturday morning on a pre-breakfast amble for grouse...

Thursday, 22 March 2012


Pre-last nightshift splodge at West Hartford revealed 1 jack snipe, c20 snipe, 3 short-eared owl, 3 grey heron, 3 mallard, c20 teal and several pairs of reed bunting. Meadow pipit have suddenly become more conspicious and skylark are singing more regularly.

On the way out two grey partridge lifted, first for a while...

Busy weekend approaches.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Not so quickie

Prompted by Gordons' successes, I headed back to trusty West Hartford for a mid afternoon splodge in the marsh. The reward was provided in the form of fresh air and a  relative wad of good WH birds - 2 jack snipe lifted with the c24 snipe, reed bunting were aplenty, while on the pool, a pair of gadwall were the first of the year (scarce visitor here), plus 2 shelduck, 2 mallard, c10 teal, bhg, cg, hg, lbbg, c10 oystercatcher and 38 lapwing.

Owl-wise short-ears numbered an impressive 5, with typically three in the air together on most scans around the fields. 1 buzzard, 2 sparrowhawk and a kestrel rounded up the BOPs nicely.

Saturday, 17 March 2012


Short stay at West Hartford late afternoon produced two short-eared owl, six teal, lbbg, hg, bhg, cg, reed bunting and skylark. No luck with chiffchaff (yet) nor an early sand martin. Oystercatcher numbered 10 today. A quicker pre beer collection visit to Bassington failed to produce the green woodpecker, but two long tailed tit were noted. Must make more of an effort....

Friday, 16 March 2012

Sticky yellowish mouldable substance-wing

The trusty camera almost needed a dust-down prior to today's little foray out to Blyth. The four waxwing were my first of 2012, in what was a truly strange week.


Monday, 12 March 2012


An email from LMcD and a subsequent text from STH were suffice to have me head along to West Hartford late afternoon. The purpose of the visit didn't take much finding - a female stonechat - possibly the first back here for maybe 16 months!

Otherwise it was good going - three short-eared owl, nine oystercatcher, 28 teal, 2 mallard, buzzard, 4 skylark, grey heron and the usual mix of lbb, h, c and bh gulls.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Sometimes expected

A late afternoon visit to trusty West Hartford was good value with 28 teal, 11 oystercatcher, 5 lesser black backed gull, 3 shelduck and 2 short eared owl. Just as I was packing up to leave 2 goosander flew over...

Tales of the unexpected

Had a few extra minutes in bed this morning while the better half made coffee. As I contemplated a lazy day, Mrs BS proceeded to add Brambling to the garden list... Gripped off or what!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Walk like an

Egyptian, apparantley. Not the most exciting addition to my county list, but they all count I guess! Twitched after work with Phil... Its only a couple of months since I last saw this species - in Cape Town!

A little distant from the track to the pond at Holywell, egyptian goose is considered a rare visitor in Northumberland... I'd previously seen a single bird on the Durham side of Derwent Reservoir, so it was kind of nice to get one in the county. Although I do look forward to another, better, county tick!

Not much on the pool itself, with twenty odd curlew, redshank, lapwing etc.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Marching On

A quiet Saturday morning was spent at Gosforth Park with Mark - little to report, with no sign of any bittern in gloomy conditions. Water rail were heard on a couple of occassions, and the pool was largley occupied by wigeon and teal. Maybe the otter that was patrolling the pool kept the goodies at bay?

The feeding station was busy, with everything to be expected being there...

Wallsend Swallow Pond didnt contain any white-wingers on a quick pitstop.