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.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Rare Bird Baird's Sandpiper -Newton Scrape

Today, at Low Newton Scrape, a Baird's Sandpiper feeding near, but separate from, a group of 10 Dunlin. Also, on Holy Island causeway 3 Little Egrets & 1 Greenshank and at Budle Bay 4 more Little Egrets.
Yesterday, at 14.30hrs,  a Barn Owl sat in the hole in an Ash tree , near Wooler...
Good numbers of Pinkfeet are moving to & fro in the Milfield Plain area.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Double Issy

Double Issy
What an autumn it has been on Holy Island, at this rate it will be rivalling Fair Isle, so with this in mind and determined that I would not miss out on the action after Keith got the Accentor yesterday whilst I had to work, we headed off to Holy Island and crossed as soon as was safe. On parking we headed straight for the area of beach where the Accentor was watched yesterday, several others were already there but no sign of the fabled sibe. This wasn't a problem as 100 yards along the beach the assembled crowd watched a very approachable Isabelline Wheatear, only the second for the county, it showed really well down to a few metres as it searched the tideline for scraps. We then spent some time searching the dunes for the Accentor with no success, at which point we headed to the Half Moon slack and were soon scoping a very pale Isabelline Shrike which had been found the previous evening, it was mobile but by keeping back and keeping still views were possible. What a two weeks it has been with 3 new birds for the Island's list and lots of happy birders who will always remember this Autumn.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Exotic Accent

Exotic Accent
Yet another busy day turned upside down by news of a Siberian Mega.As anticipated from recent news a Siberian Accentor was found on Holy Island, a county first! I made my way to the island via delays by slow traffic, roadworks & closed railway crossings. On arriving at the North shore, just west of Snipe point I found about 30 fellow birders waiting for views. A few brief fluttering glimpses of a bird dropping into the dunes wetted the appetite and we were not disappointed since the bird eventually hopped out into the open and gave brilliant views down to about 10 feet! Amazing! When the bird flew back  into the dunes everyone gave a big sigh of relief and very nearly a cheer of delight. Being time constrained I made my way from the island to arrive home to news that another first for the island, in the form of an Isabelline Shrike had been found at the Snook!  But it didn't spoil my day.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Holy Island, a haven for migrants!

After recent easterly winds and last night's rain, today - Saturday 15th October - dawned drab and damp so grounded migrants were still likely to be on Holy Island - their first land-fall from Scandanavia.
Indeed, a Pallas' Warbler was showing in a bush at the Snook. Redwings, Blackbirds, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Gold Crests were everywhere, whilst at least 3,000 Brent Geese and 4,000+ Pinkfeet were seen on Fenham Flats along with a flock of 3,000 Golden Plover. 2 Greenshank fed by the causeway. Well worth the visit!

Incidentally, last evening, at 18.30hrs, approaching dusk, 4-5,000 Pinkfeet flew in skeins, whiffling down onto the mudflats of Budle Bay  - very moving and atmospheric!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

A Pallas for lunch

A Pallas for lunch
An early start on Holy Island saw us checking out the excavations with little success, however as we headed towards the Quarry it was obvious there were still migrants about mainly in the form of Redwings and dozens of Goldcrests. Whilst checking Reed Buntings amongst the dunes a Great Grey Shrike suddenly exploded from a bush, scared the Buntings and headed over the next dune. Our next point of call was the Willows at the north end of the Straight Lonnen, here a Red-breasted Flycatcher was showing well along with a Lesser Whitethroat, further along the Lonnen we came  upon a second Red-breasted Flycatcher and on the wires a second Great Grey Shrike perched. At this point along with Alan Hall we headed off to the Vicar's garden to stand by the wall and consume our Turnbulls Steak Pies ( other pies are available). We could hear a Yellow-browed Warbler and when a small bird came into sight we all though that is what it would be, then we saw the unmistakable crown stripe and realised that it was in fact a gorgeous little Pallas's Warbler. It then proceeded to endlessly forage amongst the leaves just above our heads before finally flying across the garden to give more distant views. More birders arrived and some did manage to get views. We headed back to the car via Chare Ends where we finished off the day with a Common Redstart.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

MEGA - White's Thrush on Holy Island

MEGA - White's Thrush on Holy Island
I was about to go around the Ponds and Keith had the car packed to do some work when I decided to check the computer, a good move, as the first thing up was a White's Thrush on Holy Island. It had just been found so I rang Alan Hall who I knew would be there, what came next sounded like- yes,pant ,pant, pant, Straight Lonnen,pant ,pant, heading there now. By this time Keith had cleared the car and within minutes we were away. At this point I should say no speed limits were broken during this blog. 40 minutes later we were walking very quickly up the Straight Lonnen.  We finally reached the willows at the north end where a group of fellow birders were scanning the trees. Almost immediately the bird appeared and showed well to the assembled group for quite some time, a large thrush with  very distinctive markings and when it flew the underwing barring showed up very well. At this point we decided to leave the bird and head home as we both had work to go to. We felt very smug as we headed back along the Lonnen with groups of birders running in the opposite direction knowing that we had seen probably the Holy Grail of birds,lets hope many more saw it too.