Thursday, 9 March 2017

Full of Eastern promise

Full of Eastern promise
A lovely sunny morning saw us checking out Branton Ponds, the waterfowl were busy chasing one another and even a few Bumblebees were to be seen, amidst all this spring activity Keith suddenly noticed and interesting duck lurking along the waters edge, on closer inspection he realised it was a first for the site in the form of a drake Mandarin, what a stunner with it's gaudy colours and feathers held at jaunty angles, this now brings the site total to 170 species, not bad for an inland site.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Bittern

Bittern
On Sunday I got a text message from Mike Carr to say he'd just had a Bittern at Branton Ponds, we were straight out  but didn't see the bird. Mike then sent us a stunning flight shot of the bird which left us drooling, so at first light on Monday we were in position staking out the site, eventually we briefly saw the bird as it flew from one side of the pond to the other, then back home for breakfast.
This is the second record for the site after a bird in 2014 and many thanks to Mike who provided the photos.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Shore Larks and Twite with a Great Northern Diver to finish!


Today's outing was to Tynemouth ,East Lothian where fellow club members Marge and Phil had promised me Shore Larks!Having never seen this species before I jumped at the opportunity and after parking up and walking less than twenty minutes towards the Tyne Mouth,sure enough we soon had excellent views of 22 Shore Larks feeding in the bright sunshine.We were able to watch them throughout our lunch break - both in their company and  a flock of around 60 Twite!Although both species were regularly moved on by dog walkers,they always returned to a fairly specific area to feed.

Proceeding around the estuary where the tide was only just on the turn we added a pair of Red Breasted Merganser,Wigeon,Turnstone ,Ringed Plover,Bar Tailed Godwit ,Curlew ,Redshank and Grey Heron.
Returning to the car we exchanged sightings with another birder who also alerted us to a Juvenile Great Northern Diver in a pond at West Barns,overlooked by a caravan park.
Hurrying there next we had extensive and uninterrupted view of the bird in bright sunshine which nicely rounded off a great day's birding!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Doon Sooth

Doon Sooth
Today we decided to head south of our usual patch in search of Gulls to add to our year lists, by down south this meant the delights of North Shields Fish Quay. We were not disappointed after checking out numerous large Gulls on the Fish Quay roof our first target in the shape of a juvenile Iceland Gull was hard to miss as it cruised close to the quay amongst the trawlers. Next a feeding frenzy of gulls produced our next bird in the form of a juvenile Glaucous Gull a big brute of a bird which was very happy to exchange blows with the Great-black Backs, as we watched the melee a Kingfisher flew past the Low Light. Next to Newbiggin which produced 7 Mediterranean Gulls on the beach, at Cresswell 80+ Pinkfeet fed in a field. At East Chevington near the burn mouth the 7 Shore Larks were still present, whilst on the North Pool we found a male Scaup and another Kingfisher appeared. Our last port of call was just north of Warkworth where 35 Whooper Swans fed in a field with several Mute Swans.   

Monday, 9 January 2017

Anyone for Football?

        A visit to Low Newton on a fine Winter's Day is usually a pleasure, though when we arrived yesterday the large number of people and dogs on the beach didn't bode well for birding along the tide-line! Twenty-three Whoopers in the fields behind the scrape soon caught our attention; the edges were  busy with Dunlin, Redshank,Curlew and Lapwing plus Mallard,Teal,Wigeon, and a few Shovelers on the water- but nothing more than the usual suspects! Newton Pool was fairly quiet, a few ducks, a Little Grebe and one Snipe.
              We soon headed off to the 'Football'.... more precisely Football Hole........ a lovely semicircle of sand and rock facing east to the open sea just north of Newton Point. Little groups of female Common Scoter, typically twos and fours were scattered round the coast as we rounded the point. Our first surprise was a beautiful Redwing  perched on the rocks- whether just arrived (very late) or thinking of departing (very early) or just resting, we cannot say. Our next surprise was to watch a Short-eared Owl fly in off the North Sea and head inland low over the dunes doubtless looking for suitable prey. Excellent.
               The northern end of the bay had a fine collection of diving ducks busily feeding in the corner, which was catching the best of the wave action. We eventually counted six pairs of Goldeneye,  a similar number of  Eiders and four Long-tailed Ducks (sadly no drakes). The final bonus as we headed back round was a Red-throated Diver close in to the rocky shore indulging in a bit of preening. Another little moment of magic.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Wild Goose Chase

Wild Goose Chase
With Keith full of cold I decided to have a day's birding in the Bamburgh area, the first port of call being Harpers Heugh to look for Geese, unfortunately as with almost every area I visited today the shooters were out in force. There were a few geese in fields just west of Budle Bay, mainly Greylags but also 3 Pink-feet and a single Brent Goose. Next to Stag Rocks where at least 50 Long-tailed Ducks were offshore accompanied by Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser and 15 Red-throated Divers. In yet another change of scenery I headed off to Spindlestone Hides where the feeders had Chaffinches, Blue,Great and Coal Tits on them along with Great-spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch, but no Marsh Tits. My final visit was to Elwick where the fields were alive with the sound of geese, there were about 2000 Pink-feet and almost 1000 Barnacle Geese, also 6 Bean Geese, 30+ Pale Bellied Brent Geese and the unusual sight of a Bar-headed Goose.      

Saturday, 26 November 2016

East Chevington 26th November

East Chevington 26th November
Shore Larks are one of those birds which are either here in small numbers at this time of year or totally absent, so when 7 turned up at East Chevington it would be churlish not to go and have a look. The birds were soon located but getting good views were not easy as the number of people on the beach meant that they were very flighty. It is the most we have seen at any one time in the county but not for some favoured locations, north of the border at John Muir Country Park there has been a flock of up to 35 birds for the last few days, lets hope they stay for a while longer so more people can enjoy these stunning little birds.