Monday, 30 April 2012

Migs & 2nds

The weekend was cut short with overtime at work, so West Hartford was only visited once, on Saturday evening - a pair of tufted duck were note worthy, with only a few past records, while the pair of mute swan remained and a single short eared owl sat on the fence line.

Monday allowed a mid afternoon visit, and a productive affair it was too. A male wheatear lifted from the road, while the pool was a hive of activity with increased numbers of barn swallow, two swift, two plus house martin.

More excitingly the visit provided two "second" records for me - with a male yellow wagtail north over the pool and a single little grebe tucked in the south west corner!

The mute swan remain (though there were no tufted duck), and shelduck peaked at 4. 2 canada geese were briefly present.

I've only heard grasshopper warbler once so far this spring, should be heaving by now!

Saturday, 28 April 2012


Corvids to be precise - hooded crow was a handy year tick today, having not yet ventured out of the county for 2012 birding. Not the easiest species to catch up with, so a bonus during a visit to Druridge Bay.

First stop had been at Woodhorn where a great grey shrike had been showing in the hedge near the church. I arrived ten minutes after it had lifted and flown over the road to the north.

Dipping continued at Druridge pools - I failed to locate the drake garganey, but a female marsh harrier gave decent views.

The hooded crow was next to Hemscott Hill and took an age to come into photographable range - it was nice light,  not that the heat haze helped at all... A single sand martin flew through while I waited and flooded fields to the north held black-tailed godwit.

Meanwhile at Cresswell, 4 avocet fed in the northern part of the pool, and a male wheatear fed next to the path.

An alert of a male siberian stonechat on Holy Island was tempting (I still need this for Northumberland), but the timing wasn't quite right for a trip today...

Friday, 27 April 2012

Great Expectations

Had them.

A cycle to West Hartford mid afternoon blew the cobwebs of early shift away, but there wasn't too much to see. While migrants appear to have arrived on the coast, little has penetrated inland - so it'll have to be another visit before I find a ring ouzel next to the upside down bath...

Barn swallow were evident, with probably 10 whizzing around the somewhat enlarged pool - recent rainfall has made WH rather wetter than average - potentially good for later in the spring. Two mute swan were new, while shelduck remain at 5. Grey partridge are particularly vocal as of late.

Prestwick Carr has a multitude of waders - WH managed none today!

Maybe there will be some later?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Couple of new arrivals yesterday - house martin over ... The house, while West Hartford finally delivered a loud grasshopper warbler. I expect it'll get noisier there over the next few days.

Also at w h - 1 short-eared owl, the gadwall pair, a few snipe, 5-6 swallow and 5 shelduck.

Sunday, 22 April 2012


A single wheatear brightened the trip to West Hartford this afternoon, with hopes of grasshopper warbler dashed again. The pair of gadwall remain and shelduck numbered 3.

Some pedalling saw us arrive at Arcot, where a single short-eared owl hunted the north-east field, and lesser white throat remained unseen and unheard for 2012. Plenty time yet.

Saturday, 21 April 2012


A nice bright morning so off on the bike to West Hartford for some early morning migrant collection. Alas, nothing new, Chiffchaff, blackcap, and willow warbler were the only spring arrivals, with none of the hoped for grasshopper warbler, lesser throat etc. 2 short eared owl were the first for a couple of weeks, while the pool held a pair of gadwall, 2 sparring shelduck and 4 mallard.

Thursday, 12 April 2012


2 barn swallow at West Hartford this afternoon, brightening a rather quiet visit - with only 4 shelduck and 15 teal, 1 curlew and a couple of lapwing. Had hoped for a garganey, but there's time yet.

Chiffchaff and a willow warbler belting song out, not long till the other spring arrivals join them...

Monday, 9 April 2012

Holiday Blues(throat)

After the relative excitement of Saturdays trip to Amble chippy with Mark, Sunday and Monday (so far) has been a quieter affair.

Hopes were raised moderatley on Sunday when an inquisitive text asked if I had heard anything about a reported white-spotted bluethroat (I hadn't and didn't for the rest of the day)...

As dusk descended and the wine was opened, a garden tick was in the form of a dapper male siskin on one of the seed trays - a hasty record shot was taken through the utility room window.

First glance down the pager this morning revealed a local white-spotted bluethroat report from Sunday, but on an area with no general access... so West Hartford it was.

2 wheels taken out instead of four, the trip out ended up being a prolonged potter, taking in the Horton Burn, West Hartford, Bassington, Beacon Lane, Arcot, Valley Park and West Hartford (again).

Trip highlights, birdwise, were 5 shelduck & 25 teal on the water at WH & my first willow warbler (previously reported by Phil and GM). Raptors on the route included 3 buzzard and 1 of kestrel and sparrowhawk. No SEO today. Grey heron were abundant with ~3 in the WH area and 5 on Arcot Pond. Chiffchaff are everywhere and one blackcap was heard. Hoped to bump into a wheatear or even garganey...

None birdwise I managed not to get a puncture (always good), having a 12ish year old lad driving past me in a Renault Megane up Beacon Lane (honest!) and a pitstop at my parents for a hot-cross bun and tea.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

New arrivals and hangers on

A steady potter to Druridge Bay on a dull day produced a nice selection of new arrivals and hangers on.

Cresswell held 2 avocet and little else. The hoped for white wagtail could not be found on the north pool and a walk along the lane did not produce the common crane.

The journey to Druridge provided a male wheatear and some twite, while from the budge screen the 2 pintail remain and a male marsh harrier patrolled distant fields.

East Chevington produced a cream headed marsh harrier and 6 sandwich tern.

Refreshed with chips at Amble the return leg included a stop at Hauxley, where puffin covered the sea round Coquet Island (which had both Canada and grey lag geese on it), many gannet flew north and 3 barn swallow were my first of the year.

A final stop at Warkworth Lane delivered the most distant of distant common crane...

Not a bad trip out!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Stuck in the house...

A year ago to the day I wrote about an Osprey passing through West Hartford... Hadn't realised the close-ness of the 2012 date until I read Phils blog this afternoon.

As it's snowing and a gas engineer is due I'll not be out again today...

In the same post I tried to forecast 10 species that could be added to my own patch list (some others have some of the species I need) Of the list prepared, I've not yet caught up or found any yet!

They were ~

Spoonbill - why not? If Castle Island can draw them in no reason why WH can't either
Little Egret - long overdue, beaten by its' larger relative
Tawny Owl - already seen and heard by others, I've been too lazy to venture out at the right time.
Pectoral Sandpiper - Arcot has had them in the autumn, other waders have found WH to their liking...
Bittern - There is a nice reed bed forming south of the pool, may be one hard winter will bring one in?
Red Kite - only a matter of time.
Reed Warbler - habitat getting better.
Great Grey Shrike - outside chance on passage - Arcot has had one and Prestwick Carr held one for honks this past winter!
Common Redstart - infrequent through Cramlington on passage (though I did have one in my parents garden many moons ago!)
Cuckoo - a tricky bird in Cramlington, but possible.

In 2011 wryneck was added to the West Hartford site list (still hurts), so black redstart, red backed shrike could follow... I think snow bunting was my only addition - fitting given the weather today!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Stuck at traffic lights...

Not too bad, as an osprey was picked up!

The journey home from work was suddenly better as I picked up the northward bound fish hawk, initially seen over the A19 from the Holiday Inn roundabout off the A1 at Cramlington.

Pulled the car over at the entrance road to Arcot Hall and was treated to a prolonged view of the osprey circling over Plessey South Moor Farm Cottages - until it disappeared into the clouds...

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The April FOOL

That'll be me.

After a busy week at work and a busy Saturday spending the money earned during the previous busy week I opted to travel north to Druridge Bay this afternoon.

A common crane, assumed to be the bird that had flown north past St Mary's last week had been getting reported from Warkworth Lane.

Easily scoped from the entrance to the holiday park, we scuttled round to Cresswell and walked the 2/3 mile up the bridleway to try and get a better view. Hardly!

The crane was about as far as it could get from public access, and associated with a few mute swan. Despite that, it's always a good one to see up here.

Nearby a male marsh harrier was added to the notreallyatrip list, so a feeling of mild satisfaction was taken from the increasingly expensive drive up the coast.

I've not managed to get to West Hartford for over a week now - late hours at work have not helped, but this week should see a return to form... a new set of wheels (two rather than four, no petrol required) should see quick nips to and from the site.


I see the white stork at Backworth (yesterday) was ringed (see here)

Just like ...

Escaped White Stork, Burgham Golf Course March 2009

Early Rise