Sunday, 21 August 2016

Fenham Flats 21st August

Fenham Flats 21st August
Today was my monthly WeBS count, the weather was warm and sunny but there was a blustery wind, not ideal for counting. However it did get off to a good start with a Greenshank in front of Elwick Hide and it continued at a pace with next a group of 19 Ruff, 3 of which were larger males and one had the remnants of his ruff. Moving further on a stunning brick red Knot was added to the list followed soon by 2 flocks of Whimbrel totalling 22 birds, breeding plumaged Grey Plover numbering 96 birds added a touch of class which was followed by 170 Bar-tailed Godwits some still in breeding plumage. On reaching Guile Point I began counting Oystercatchers and soon ran out of fingers when the number reached 699, other waders, ducks and gulls were added to the list on what turned out to be a much better day than I had expected. On the return journey I noticed something reddish/brown about 50 yards in front of me and heading in my direction, it turned out to be a Fox feeding on scraps along the high tideline, so I sank down into the long grass and waited, sure enough about 5 minutes latter it had come within 4 metres of me and only then realised I was there, at which point it shot off like Usain Bolt in the opposite direction, a fitting end to a super day.    

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Hirundines !

Today, Saturday 6th August, a very warm sunny day, I lay on my back on a patch of grass at Yearle to try and count the many Hirundines flying high! There were at least 60plus House Martins apparently randomly twisting and swirling in flight at about 200 feet - sometimes they all gathered and flew southerly only to return flying in the opposite direction...
I liked to think they were feeding on flying insects, perhaps fattening up for their forthcoming migration (does such behaviour herald their departure?) but maybe they were just enjoying the sunshine and communal chatter! (A few Swallows added to this fascinating spectacle).

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Some High Spots for Waders

Today, 4th August                                                                                                                                     Cresswell Pond: 9 Little Egrets, 10 Med Gulls, 20 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Adult & 2 juvenile Avocets, 3 Little Stints, 1 Knot (in summer plumage),100 Golden Plovers, 200 Dunlin, 2 Reeves, juvenile Water Rail, 100 Lapwings, 50 Redshank, 5 Curlew, 1 Common Sandpiper.
Also a Barn Owl, hunting.
Chevington: 2 pairs Stonechats, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Whitethroats...

Yesterday, 3rd August-
Newton Pool Scrape:  13 Black-tailed Godwits, 20 Dunlin, 6 Wigeon.

Previous day, 2nd August -
Budle Bay (high tide): Red-breasted Merganser with 7 ducklings in convoy, 2 Little Egrets.
Stag Rocks, Bamburgh: 54 Knot, 30 Turnstone, 2 Dunlin, 1 Redshank, 24 Eiders afloat, 5 Sandwich Terns flying south.
Monk's House Pool: 7 Redshank.  


Return passage of waders seems to have started and there is few better places to check it out than the flash at Low Newton. One of the first birds we came across on arriving there was a lovely clean looking juvenile Little Stint showing well with summer plumaged Dunlin. Larger waders in slightly deeper water included Ruff and 11 Black-tailed Godwits in vastly differing plumages. Next our attention was focused on the call of a Greenshank, it was soon located along with a second bird, as we watched 2 more Greenshanks flew overhead and headed off towards the pools, our wader watch was completed with the addition of 1 Common Sandpiper,1 Green Sandpiper plus several Ringed Plover and Redshank. It wasn't all about waders, a single Yellow Wagtail hunted for insects around the water's edge and a pair of Stonechat's called noisily from the fence line. A walk out to the point proved unproductive but we did hear later that a Wood Sandpiper had been seen at the roadside flash at Charlton Mires. 

Sunday, 24 July 2016


It's been a good year for new breeding species on Branton Ponds, first off the mark were a pair of Grey Herons who managed to rear 3 chicks who like all unruly youngsters seem to be reluctant to leave the family home. Next was a pair of Gadwall, regulars on the ponds but have never shown any sign of breeding until this year. The final proud parents were the Great Crested Grebes who have tried for several years to produce offspring and have finally succeeded after many failed attempts, it just proves that effort and hard work always pays off.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Holystone Woods 22nd May

Holystone Woods 22nd May
With warm sunshine and little breeze Sunday morning was ideal for a visit to Holystone Woods before the afternoon's heavy rain. The clear felled area just before the main woodland produced singing Tree Pipit which then indulged in a spot of parachuting, the Oak woods themselves were carpeted with Bluebells, Greater Stitchwort, Dog Violet and a few Yellow Pimpernel. Above in the canopy Nuthatch and Redstart called, whilst in the undercover Spotted Flycatcher flitted around after insects and Treecreepers scurried up the trunks. As we skirted along the edge of a wooded ravine a Green Woodpecker called out from the far side but remained unseen, next to the ford near South Yardhope and following quickly on the trail of our third Red Squirrel of the day we came upon a stunning male Pied Flycatcher, no Wood Warblers but not a bad haul for the morning.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

I need a time machine

I need a time machine
At this time of year a time machine would be very handy and this morning proved the point. The choice was get up at 3 am to drive to Etal for the Bird club dawn chorus , with the added bonus of bacon butties afterwards or get up at a more reasonable hour and go to Holy Island to do some late spring birding. I decided to do the latter and was rewarded with a number of really good birds, the first was a smart looking female Bluethroat which was hopping around feeding off the turf at Chare Ends. Next a visit to the Crooked Lonnen  produced a distant Dottrel, the Straight Lonnen came up trumps with 2 Pied Flycatchers and another more elusive Bluethroat, this time a male with a limited amount of blue on the throat. Finally the star of the day in the form of a very active Subalpine Warbler feeding energetically on flies in a Hawthorn, there was much debate over what form but it was finally identified as a Western Subalpine Warbler. A great end to the day which would have been even better if I could have also fitted in the Dawn Chorus, maybe next year.
                                                    Female Bluethroat