Thursday, 31 December 2009

NO-L, NO-L, NO-L, NO-L L etc

The birding equivalent of this carol, as far as I was concerned yesterday was:
NO-B (Bramblings at Bolam Lake's feeders (noon-1pm)
NO-SEO (at Prestwick Carrs, 3pm)
NO-LO (at Dinnington).

Consistent if nothing else!  Bring on 2010!

Monday, 28 December 2009

And Ross McWhirter?

Great day, great weather, great visibility and great result!
1/2/3 Gulls - BH/C/H - all over the place
4/5/6 Tits - B/G/LT - along Horton Burn (HB)
7/8/9/10 Finches - B/Go/C/Gr (HB)
11 Linnet c. 20 (WHIE)
12 House Sparrow (HB)
13 Song Thrush (HB) - nice to see
14 Kestrel (WHIE) - mobbing two Common Buzzards
15 Mistle Thrush (HB) - again, nice to see
16 Buzzard (WHIE) - two
17 Mipit (WHIE) - three
18 Wood Pigeon - all over and in their hundreds!!
19 Collared Dove (HB)
20 Magpie (HB)
21 Crow (HB)
22 Fieldfare (HB)
23 Snipe (WHIE)
24 Blackbird - all over
25 Stonechat (WHIE) - a pair north of the new fire station
26 Reed Bunting (WHIE)
27 Wren - numerous
28 Robin - as above
29 Starling - as above.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Groundhog Day

Merry Christmas, Folks!  Yesterday, 24 species on my usual walk, today 23.  Largely the same list, the only difference was a flock of 80 Fieldfare just now, but very few of these 24 hours ago.  Two Grey Partridge too, and a possible Lap Bunting over.  I spent some time yesterday here, trying to learn the call that got Newton Stringer so ornithologically orgasmic, but the bird was high so I guess I'll never know.  It was last seen flying south over the sub-station (there's a challenge for the Three Wise Men - find that Bunt!).

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Where's Roy Castle When You Need Him?

Went on a dog-less stroll this pm around my patch - this aspect of birding is quickly becoming addictive, seeing whether or not I can beat the record.  Earlier?  Failure!  2pm > 320pm - success!
1/2/3 Gulls - BH/C/H
4/5 Tits - B/G
6/7/8/9 Finches - B/Go/C/Gr
10 Crow
11 House Sparrow
12 Dunnock
13 Kestrel
14 Sparrowhawk
15 Buzzard
16 Mipit
17 Wood Pigeon
18 Collared Dove
19 Magpie
20 Pheasant
21 Heron
22 Fieldfare
23 Snipe (inc. one over my street)
24 Blackbird
25 Stonechat
26 Wren
27 Robin

Record of 22 smashed!!

The ice on the Flashes was over two inches thick and could often take my full weight!  Good Lord, it's Eskimo Gord!

The Three Wise Men

A bit like my current football team's form, or should it be my football team's current form, today's WHIE sortee started off well but petered out and was ultimately dissappointing.  Fourteen species before the end of Horton Burn but the final count was a Scrooge-like 17.   In a festive fashion, my patch was invaded by the Crameltonian Magi - Crammy, Steve and Dee McE, but they were gift-less.  Only a mere Grey Heron, a Mipit and Mistle Thrush were added to the day's running total, hardly the ornithological equivalent of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh!  Anyway, the dog's resting now, so I am going back for a second go, with camera and bins.  Hopefully, the Red Kite seen at 11.30 today (and betcha bottom dollar it'll be Lucky Crammy who 'bagged' it!) might pop in.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

In One!

Knocked up 20 species in the wintry conditions this afternoon at WHIE.  Nothing out of t'ordinary, but some spectacular.  Good winter score would be 30, given what's about but I did not see.  Better luck tomorrow!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Two Little Ducks

My Dog Walk Patch Count was smashed this afternoon with 22 species on the round trip to WHIE. Me and The Pup had 13 by the time we reached the end of Horton Burn, the best being three Bullies and a Coal Tit (I haven't seen one for many months). 

In the Estate itself, more relevant was what was NOT seen - Jay, Buzzard, Redwing, Fieldfare and Rook.  No Blue Tits seen or heard along the route either.  Got a glimpse of the Quick Brown Fox as it ran east to the north of the smaller Flash.

Dozens of Teal on the Flash or in flight, the usual gulls present, along with a pair of Mistle Thrushes.  Nothing to get too excited about, but a pleasant 80 minutes nonetheless.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Usual Suspects

Found myself in work mode in SE Northumberland this morning, and as the day developed, it was far too nice to be indoors ('who knows what the weekend will hold, so grab the rays whilst they're there', is my philosophy at this time of year).

Off to Bothal Pond (bit big for a pond on a good day, but after the recent rain, it's more a big lake!).  Counted 25 species, inc. over 200 Canada Geese (with Billy (No Mates) the Barnacle Goose in with them), but other than that, nothing out of t'ordinary.

After 45 minutes, off to Longhirst, with a score of 4.

And then Castle Island for 2.15pm.  20 listed, inc. 2 Sparrowhawks (close up and personal), a pair of RB Mergansers and an odd duck sat on a log on the river's edge, south bank, to the east of the path through the allotments (opposite the east end off the island).  Head was under its wing, poor thing, but it appeared all white below and neck, and all dark (black?) on top with a long dark tail.  Never saw the head whilst I was there, but it was alive as its tail wagging showed.  Imagine a GBBG with duck's feet!  Probably a Muscovy.  Can I tick it?  Yes you can!  (there's a song in there somewhere!).

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Great And The Good

Congratulations to Boulmer Birder for being the 'first footer' as this blog's hits pass 1000.  The prize I offer is the warm glow in knowing that he has moved the site forward from three figures to four.

The only benefit of working at Ponteland is the ease with which I can sneak off to respond to 'Brambling at Bolam' or 'Nightingale at Angerton' (although the latter was never ticked, some crackin' Redstarts were).

Now add to my deviousness, 'Great Northern Diver at Whittle Dene'. 

Got up this morning and puked, but being the steadfast public servant I am, I went to work despite feeling sh*te, stomach churning, face burning and hands and feet freezin'.

So at noon, I decided to take a half day and a handful of tablets washed down by a Lemsip but before doing so, a detour to The Dene to tick the GND.  What a cracker, if not a little distant. 

Silly tw*t that I am, after my trip the the homeland at the weekend, I forgot to move the kit from garage to car boot so only had the bins.  Met two sound chaps there, the legendary Tom Tams and another guy who gave me a few views through his scope.

On the way home, Common Buzzard v 6 Crows further along the Military Road and female Sparrowhawk into the grounds of Ponteland Middle School.

Freekin' chilly', but superb!

Thursday, 26 November 2009


If you are the 1001st reader of my ramblings, put a comment on the blog so you can be immortalised in text!  I was the 1000th so that doesn't count!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

New Record

Lunch time today - WHIE or Venice as it should be known at the moment!  Dog Walk Patch Count passed 16 and is now 17 thanks to a GSW.  Plenty of Fieldfare about, LT Tits too.  Now for all walks this week in the dark (6.30 am and 6.30 pm) and next weekend in Liverpool so no posts for a wee while (unless I see something in The Pool and can get on the kids' laptops to report back!).

Just thought, '... get on the kids' laptops..' makes me sound like Gary Glitter!!!!

Leader, Leader, Leader...........................

Super Sixteen

Yesterday's Dog Walk Patch Count was a dozen, today's four better.  In an hour from home towards Manor Walks and back across the fields, the usual Corvids, Gulls, Doves/Pigeons etc, but for me, the highlight was a pair of Sparrowhawks (never seen Mr and Mrs together and close) at the back of Westwood Grange (bottom of Nelson Hill).  Don't know whether she was chasing him or he was just a bit quicker seeing me coming but off they flew in convoy.  Su-feckin-perb!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Car Park Patch Tick! Car Park Patch Tick!

My Learned Colleague, Crammy Birder, summarises the sedentary nature of birding inland at the moment.  A car park patch tick is surely an example of making the mediocre more memorable.  My angle is counting how many species I see when I take the dog for a walk.  Today it was 12 from leaving Chez Moi to make a return journey round Cramlington's micro-Cumbria, WHIE.  Both Flashes are now joined with an aqua-umbilical.  The Dirty Dozen were - Robin, Crow, Jackdaw, 3 Gulls (C/BH/H), Mute Swan, Teal, Blackbird, Wren, Mipit and Magpie.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

4, 3, 2, 1 but hardly thunder birds!

WHIE 1pm today - take your waders, even wellies would not be enough! 

4 Bullfinches on the roundabout at the entrance

3 Grey Herons (1 on the larger Flash, 2 on the smaller)

2 Mute Swans (immatures on the smaller)

1 Snipe flushed by my trusted companion!  About a dozen species in all during the hour's trot/splash!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

(Not Quite The) Puppy's Privates

Off to Holy Island this morning for a shot at the RR Swallow.  Sun up at 7.37am, parked up by 8.07am.  Met Andy Cowell, Roger Forster and a couple of others near yesterday's last sighting spot - The Crown and Anchor.  All quiet.  Too quiet!  Not even a sniff for the next two hours before leaving the place as my Canute powers are not what they used to be.  Nonetheless, huge numbers of Pale-bellied Brents and Bar-tailed Godwits, 15 LT Ducks off the Vicar's Garden, and a BT Diver too.  The area opposite the harbour was flooded and was a veritable Teal fest, plus Lapwings, Redshanks and a few Barwits.  Generally, quite busy with quantity making up for quality.  Stag Rock was the stop-off on the way home.  Dozens of Purple Sandpipers an Oystercatchers on the rocks, and off them the usual suspects.  No Grebes or Divers (other than the RT type).

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Dogs B*llocks!

Having read Alan Tilmouth's blog, and with his County Year Ticks being Lifers for me, it was off up north 'early doors'. Crackin' idea, for a change. En route to Bamburgh to see the Black Guillemot first. A few Buzzards silhouetted against the rising sun (I am sounding like the Boulmer Birder a bit here. Not that that's a bad thing!). Plenty on the well lit mill pond as viewed from Stag Rock's dewy benches. At least three Slavs, half a dozen RTDs, several Common Guillemots and more Shags and Cormorants than I have ever seen on the sea before - rafts of them! Fifty Purple Sandpipers, four Brents north, three LTDs on the sea and numerous gulls. But no BG!.

Ah well, off to Budle Bay. No Snow Goose, but loads of Barnacle Geese, a few Greylags, Wigeon, Shelduck and Redshank a plenty, 20 Whoopers, two Mutes, and a few Bar-tailed Godwits.

Thought I would try for the Bearded Tit at Holy Island. Always good to arrive a find a few big lenses there (the iconic Colin Pears and equally talented Venetia), as well as Andy Cowell, Alan the Butcher and one or two others. And as I neared the throng, the bird lifted and settled in the reeds to the north of the Lough hide just over my shoulder. This preceded a minute or two of birding XTC. Great albeit brief views, but very close. Doubtless, Birguides will have the fruits of CP/V's labours on later.

And on the way back to the car, AC told me the BG had been seen again at Stag, so back there where AtB put me in the right direction and voila, Lifer No. 2 for today.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Practice What You Preach!

I want this blog to be a combination of birding and humour and often these are linked and sometimes expose my frailties.

Take yesterday, for example. 

Good start, as there were a few 'scopers' when I arrived at the Beehive to tick the Pec. Sand.  Even better, a nice guy who I have seen countless times before but do not know his name (drives a small red Mitsubishi on an 05 plate and he is 5'8", 50's, dark brown hair and a full set) put me on to the bird as it was doing a Pheasant impression by hiding in the long grass!  Magic!

Then off to Holywell to see if the GWT was about.  Always a good sign when other birdres' cars are there and Northumbrian Birder's was plus a few others.  At the 5-bar gate I met a guy who had been at the Members' Hide and was now en route to the Public one.
"Just seen a Goosander fly over this way."
(ME) "Nice birds.  Smart lookers.  Quite common and under-rated."
"A flock of Greylags has flown over that way too."
(Me) "Lots of them about.  Always worth a look in case something else is with them."

And did I have a look?  No!  And should I?  Yes!  And would it have been only my second ever White-fronted Goose?  Too right!  And am I bitter?  Absolutely!!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Went for a walk up the beach to the Harbour this pm, hoping for a Snow Bunting or something else that might get the heart racing a wee bit. Failed. A couple of very dark backed 'Herring' gulls (the darkest I have ever seen) were with BHGs near the south pier but a couple of half-wits (no, not me and the dog. She was at home!) put them up before I could have a better look. The legs were salmony-pink (on the gulls not the half-wits) from the distance I was at. Probably Herrings nonetheless. On the rocks at the north end of the small beach to the north of the south pier was a GBBG, Curlew, Oystercatcher and a Purple Sandpiper, which was nice.

Does anyone know why the Harbour is now akin to a prison? It would take Steve McQueen on his motorbike to get in. Are they now unloading gold bullion as opposed to fish!

Usual suspects in the Harbour itself, Eiders, Cormorants, BHG/HG/GBBG/CG, Kittiwakes and Pied Wagtails.

A dozen Sanderlings on the shoreline on the walk back.

Monday, 26 October 2009


Tried for the Sab Gull this pm.  May have got it but whilst taking Herself for a walk around WHIE, she decided to roll in several lots of fox sh*te!  So she needed a bath when we got home, I was late out and the bird was missed.  But I'm not bitter (much)!

Nice to get some fresh air.  And whilst passing the fish quay, there was a melee caused by a guy off a prawn boat throwing small fish overboard (pity he couldn't have done so when they were still alive) and the adults and juv Herring Gulls were competing for the easy scran.  But who gets the most fish, adult or juv?  There's only one way to find out - FIGHT!!!!!!!!!!

Black Humour!

Spent a few hours yesterday afternoon ambling around Byth and Whitley Bay Cemeteries.  This isn't something I am completely comfortable with as I cannot rationalise the relatives' grief alongside my enjoyment and both happening in the same place.  Then there's the resting places of those all-too-soon departed.  'Still United Son' reads the floral tribute in the NW corner at Blyth, a newly created memorial to a lad called Paul who appears to have been very young when he passed on.  The photograph on the other flowers is very sobering to me as I have twin boys.

But the Black Redstart was a ray on sunshine the other day, and whilst yesterday's birds were mundane to say the least, there were two pieces of comic genius at WB Crem.

Firstly, given the nature of the business transacted there, to have a sign that said Fire Point made me snigger.  Better still was the wheelie bin 'parked' near the chapel itself which read 'No Hot Ashes'!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

OK - You need a clue!

Above and to the right of the fence post!

Friday, 23 October 2009


Skulked off work this pm for a few hours on Cemetery Watch.  Thought I'd try Blyth first for the Black Redstart.  Arrived just after 2pm and was enthused that Northumbrian Birder's car was outside.  Wandered in and in the NW corner was 'himself' and a stunning male bird.  Very mobile, elusive at times, but frequent short glimpses kept the interest up.  After NB left, I remained there and got more views.  Brilliant.

And now the competition.  Spot the bird.  It is there.  Honest!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Off The Rails

Nothing too inspiring coming off Birdguides today.  There was a Pectoral Sandpiper at St Mary's, presumably the wetland, but annoyingly, the location was vague.  In fact, very vague.  To simply say, 'One present' is poor.  'One on the Wetland.'  Better.  'One on the south end of the wetland.'  Better still.  Whilst part of learning is to seek and find, sometimes time is of the essence.  Anyway, rant No. 1 over.

Rant No. 2?  People who let their dog crap everywhere.  If I can pick Lil's up, why can't others.  I am sick of standing in it or worse, trying to stop 'Herself' eating the feckin' stuff.

Rant No. 3?  Feckin' amateur footballers who leave energy drink bottles littering public fields.  And worse, the caps and covers that one day will choke a dog.  If I let mine sh*te on their pitch, they'd be livid.  But it's OK for them to leave the bi-products of their hobby lying about.

Rant No. 4?  The 'gentlemen' who frequent Arcot Lane and Lake.  I am all for live and let live, but this afternoon it was like Piccadilly Circus.  I am tired of being embarrassed about who is behind me (no comments, please) when I am trying to watch the feathered friends.  And who knows what comes into view when scanning the bushes!

WHIE today - never before have so many Jackdaws, Woodies and BHGs been in the air at once.  Amazing.  Move over Hitchcock! 

Arcot this afternoon - Teal and Mallards, Crows, Jackdaws and Magpies, BHGs, HGs and CGs, Snipe and Moorhen and a Water Rail up and down the west bank.  Best views I have ever had.  Superb!  And I know you are asking, 'Where's the pathetic photo?'  Not to disappoint, voila!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Siberian Hamster

Fawlty Towers fans will note the photos that follow, taken at 10am today in my garden, as capturing a pedigree Siberian Hamster.

Those born after 1975 may disagree!

A Week Is A Long Time In....................


Haven't posted since last weekend.  Went for a day break(ish) walk with the dog.  All started well.  Out of the street, quick left and a male Sparrowhawk flew low over the road.  One of my favourite birds, good so far!  Onwards to WHIE, a hundred yards up the road and back at the entrance a man with a van arrived with his FOUR dogs, three terriers and a whippet.  Beagles, you may know, are at best stubborn and at worst disobedient so twice I was off chasing her through the tufty, knee-high grass like a lumbering cross between an Impala and a Masai tribesman as clearly his pooches were more appealling.

Birds?  The usual.  Nothing out of the ordinary, I am afraid.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Nice Threesome

This blog is developing into something more akin to a Carry On film, with a touch of Finbarr Saunders and some Ken and Kenneth!  What with a quickie a day or two ago, a threesome today, what next?

Off to St Mary's (even that sounds a bit rude) this morning, the prospect of THREE Yellow-browed Warblers being too good to miss.  Birding Sometimes was there, and Crammy (Where's my hide key?) Birder too, plus lots of other notable birding experts. 

After half an hour of poking around in the bush (?), voila, the Firecrest.  And soon after, a Goldcrest (both year ticks).  And after another 20 or so minutes, Lifer 243, the YBW put in an appearance.  Three ticks in one session, so this afternoon off for some time at The Mound (?) and then Church Point.  The former was as dead as a dead thing, the latter not much better.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Fancied a Quickie!

.....but she didn't, so I went for a few hour birding!!!!!  First stop, Castle Island, back to normal i.e. an island as opposed to mudflats.  A Grey Heron upto its knees, a GSW south over. 200 adult GBBGs with a supporting cast of juveniles, HGs and BHGs.  The only waders were sknahsder (cunningly created anagram), and on the water, Teal and Mallards in abundance.  A few Moorhen too.  Pleasant, but nothing to test my 45 yr old 'ticker'.  So off to Bothal Pond.  Wigeon, Tufties, Coots, BHGs, a few Mute Swans, the obligatory Lapwings and a few corvids.  Heart safe here too.  And to conclude the sedate pace of Liverbirding, Longhirst had two Mutes, a dozen Teal and a Mallard or two.  Hardly a Mega day, but nice to get out.  And tomorrow will be a sea watch day I think, given what passed there this afternoon - two Lifers!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Mixed Bag

Tried for some closer/better views and shots of the Ibis.  Unfortunately, the Oddie Hide was not full of Goodies (Oh, the humour) and all the seats were full.  I may dress as a pensioner or a pregnant woman next time and a nice gentleman might offer me his seat!!!!  Anyway, life's too short, so knowing the BBS had flown off north, and was clearly not at The Pools, I went to East Chev.  Zillions of geese - PF, G and B - Lapwings and Golden Plovers, Teal, Gadwall and Wigeon, a juv GC Grebe, hods of GBBGs with a healthy smattering of LBB and BHs, Mallards, a Meadow Pipit eatng a caterpillar (caterpillars in October!) and other bits'n'bobs.

Warm, sunny, devoid of other Homo sapiens and the sound of geese.  Blissful!!!!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


WHIE yesterday lunchtime and the same today - a bit Groundhog Day.  Wet underfoot, clear-ish skies, Buzzards above, Lapwings on the ground, the entire UK population of Woodies in one half km square.  The only difference?  Yesterday, a Sparrowhawk was above the larger Flash and today, the dog went missing for 10 minutes (that seemed more like 10 hours).  Everyone reunited, Mrs M less tearful, and all home for dinner!

Sunday, 4 October 2009


I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky..........
I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide...........

By John Masefield (1878-1967) (English Poet Laureate, 1930-1967.)

You can't beat a bit of culture!

Anyway, Seaton Sluice between 3.30 and 4.30 pm today, a flock of over 100 Eiders just off shore.  Worth a check, me thinks.  For once, me thinks right!

In amongst, 3 young Common (oops, there's that word again) Scoter, 3 adult males and a male Velvet Scoter.  Like herding cats, so trying to digiscope sea ducks on a bit of a swell is far from easy.

A few poor attempts follow:

West Hartford Common

Lunch time today, and a very enjoyable stroll-ette with my trusted companion around WH and its periphery.  VERY quiet, starting with a Crow on the building site fence, and on what is left of the larger flash, two Common Starlings, 50 Lapwings, a BHG and a Common Gull.  No waders, even the reliable Common Redshank was nowhere to be seen.  The smaller flash was devoid of any birds at all, and to the north, where the woods are, 3 Jays and a Common Buzzard.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Wind in the Willows

Storm force winds (or so it felt) from the west across Arcot Lake made things difficult.  Hiding next to some willows and the wind kept on a comin'!

Two hundred Teal, two Snipe, a charm of Goldfinches, three Mute Swans, a handful of Mallards, three Little Grebe and three Moorhens.  Oh, and loads of Woodies, a couple of dozen BHGs,  a few Commons and one Buzzard over that caused Teal-frenzy.

And a guy who was off to the SW corner of the lake to look for the Terrapin he had seen a few days ago and which was, a bit like the one that got away, the size of a bin lid!

Friday, 2 October 2009

What an amateur!

Not to be out-done by a few predatory sea birds with spoon-like tails, I thought a few minutes of maritime hommage was in order at first light today.  St Mary's, Seaton Sluice or Blyth, that is the question.  Given the tight timescale and the lateness of 'sun' rise, I opted for Blyth (the end of the pier to be precise).  That was possibly error No. 1.  Not checking that my coat was in the boot was No. 2!  Leaving my new bins' rain cover in the car with the rest of the lens caps, cloth and carry case was No. 3.  And so to the pier, no coat, chilly, but in hope of a Pom.  And on the beach was a HUGE flock of gulls, mostly GBBs, nearly 170 adults, plus 80 or so juveniles, with some Common and BHs.  Worth a quick scan en route, I thought, and for once, rightly so. 

Voila, an Iceland amongst them. 

It looked a bit odd, on the periphery of the flock, the right wing drooped as if damaged.  My frown was replaced by a slight grin, that was quickly returned to a frown by the rain that had started.  Not to be beaten , off to the end of the pier, clad only in t-shirt and jeans like a true (if not adopted) Bigg Marketeer on a weekend!! 

Not much seen during the 20 minutes there - gulls, Gannets, Eiders and Cormorants. 

But on the way back, the gull flock had dispersed for dog-related reasons but as I passed the Yacht Club, as if by magic, the Iceland Gull was there on the shore, less than 10 yards away.  Camera in hand, batteries charged, and off we go, another POTW contender for Birdguides (NOT!).

And the end photo proves it can fly!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Nearly Bissed Off!

After my foot-in-mouth comment yesterday about no birds up the coast, the least I could do was to respond to the call that the Ibis was doing the rounds today.  HOWEVER, I got to Cresswell to be told by RD that I was an hour late!  The bird was last seen flying off north west and landing beyond Bell's Pond.  So, with nothing to lose and an hour to spare, and never having been to Bell's Pond, RD and I went for a stroll, and as pleasant as it was, no Ibis.  Gave Druridge a few minutes but others there had seen nowt.  Oh well, off home via Castle Island, which now resembles the Masai Mara (the bit the Wildebeest cross before being devoured by the crocs).  Someone somewhere has pulled the Wansback's plug out and all the water has dissappeared apart from a dribble, and lots of mud.  Gulls galore, then a text from Vipers that the Ibis was back.  Like a yo-yo, back up, and the cast of thousands (tens actually) gave a clue that this time I was luckier.

Bingo, Lifer No. 242!  And move over RD and all the other photographers, there's a new kid on the block (Yeah!  Right!)!

And as a nice couple of add-ons, walking the dog at lunch time, I heard a Chiffchaff along Horton Burn, West Hartford at had three Common Buzzards over the woods to the NE, and tonight, a GSW near the entrance, a Common Redshank on the larger Flash and three Common Snipe on the smaller one.


Friday, 25 September 2009

Bit of a let down

Took a few hours off this afternoon and thought I'd go up north and enjoy the sun.  First stop was Druridge Pools, where a Chiffchaff was singing in the trees to the south of the path to the Budge.  The Budge?  Grass too long and water too high.  Little mud visible so nothing much to see (0815 Sat 26/9 - JUST CHECKED BIRDGUIDES AND A GLOSSY IBIS AT DRURIDGE POOLS!!! I TAKE BACK WHAT I SAID. BUT IF ANYONE HAS THE PATIENCE TO SPEND THE TIME LOOKING AT A GRASSY FIELD THEY DESERVE TO GET THEIR REWARD).  And so to the Oddie.  The south-facing hide all nice and new and green and looking out onto a grass field (who stole the water and the mud?).  Druridge from the Oddie had two Otters but nothing with feathers worthy of note, I'm afraid.  That said, the Otter were a treat, one with a reasonable eel that it took to the SE corner of the pool and then out of sight.  The second Otter remained in the middle for some time.

Thought I'd scan the sea.  The tide was on its way out but the best views I have ever had of juvenile Gannets fishing oly 30m off shore.  Probably about 30 of them plus a few adults.  Superb!

And in a very, very quiet Cresswell this afternoon, the highlight were four Greenshank.  The spit was empty, the north causeway had Mallards and Wigeon and there were a few dozen Lapwing on the west shore.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Nothing like Billy Connolly........

........who once described himself as 'windswept and interesting', West Hartford this evening was very windswept and far from interesting.  If you like the odd House Martin and Swallow, superb.  Anything else, I wouldn't bother!  Nothing on the water or the mud or in the air, not even a corvid or a pigeon.  Just hirundines.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

(Cress)Well Spotted

Ticked the Spotty (sounds a bit rude!) at Cresswell this afternoon.  A fine specimen, feeding outside the hide, with a HG, BHGs, Knot, Redshank, Dunlin, Curlew and allegedly Greenshank (according to others, but I didn't get a blimp, more's the pity).  Plenty of Teal and Mallard and a Wigeon too.

A short sea watch off Snab Point saw Eiders and Guillemots on the water and plenty of juvenile Gannets travelling north above it, with the odd adult, Kittiwakes and common gulls.

Beagle And Bins(er)

Like a couple of searchers, Lils and I did an early turn around last night's venue, and it was a little more productive.  No Buzzards, but a Kestrel hovvering to the north of the new NF&R building, and over the other side of the access road from the building site entrance, at least two Chiffchaffs were chiffing and chaffing, as they do.  Hods of Woodies to the east, and likewise Jackdaws, and so to the ever decreasing flashes.  A couple of dozen BHGs were with three dozen Lapwings, two Dunlin and a Redshank.  Predictably, one or two Pied Wagtails were taking advantage of the ever increasing mud islands.  To the north of the Sub-Station, another Chiffy, and above it, House Martins.  On leaving, a flock of a dozen Long-tailed Tits flew in behind the entrance sign.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Once Upon A Time In The West (Hartford Industrial Estate)

I thought the title was appropriate, given my birding is in dire straits of late (Oh, the humour!  When will it end!!)

Skys alive with Swallows and House Martins, the odd woodie and a few corvids as we circled the flashes.  Several Pied Wagtails on the shoreline were accompanied by three Dunlin.  On the walk back along the access road, opposite the new fire station, two Common Buzzards left a tree and flew off north - which was nice!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Not Much To Tell

Tonight's amble around the usual stubble fields was thwarted by an over-diligent farmer who spent many an hour once the sun had gone down yesterday ploughing the fields over.  So this evening there was no chance of any sprawk action, nor a repeat of Wednesday dusk's two Kestrels v two Crows 'dogfight', which gave excellent views of the former as they were only about ten feet from the ground, so almost eye-level for me.  This evening, West Hartford was the destination for One Man And His Dog.  Although it was beautifully cool and clear, with a picturesque sunset, the bird life was negligible.  A dozen or so House Martins over the Sub-Station, a Skylark too, and on the flash, a few Pied Wagtails.  There is now more mud than water.  Definately all quiet on the West Hartford front!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Turned Out Nice Again!

Left the bins in the back of the car at work (hire car brought home ready for an early start tomorrow).  Mistake.  One of my favourite birds is the sparrowhawk and we have one or two that frequent my garden feeders in sunny Cramlington.  On Sunday evening, I was in the sunroom and a male flew over the garden wall, and along the bushes (forsythia.buddleia etc) and then a very sudden right turn and it landed on a peanut feeder.  After 10 seconds of flapping around, it made off the way it came.  So, either, the sudden right turn occurred because it happened to see the feeder at the last minute (the feeder was devoid of any potential prey - bird or mouse), or, the sprawk knew where the feeder was and took a chance at surprising any meal that might have been there.  I favour the latter, but if anyone knows better, let me know.  So this evening, me and the trusty beagle (who has aspirations one day of being as famous as Boulmer's Bunty), walked the newly cut corn fields between the Y estate in Vietcram and the railway station.  I have seen a spuggyhawk in the area the past few days and tonight was no exception, except this evening it chose to land in what would have been an excellent location for a longer gaze, but as I said, the new bins bought on Sunday were 10 miles away.  Not to worry, on the way home, walking along the cycle path behind Chez Moi me and the Lilster were confronted by a male sparrowhawk heading for us just below fence level.  No surprise, when it saw me, it did a quick up'n'over and away into a garden.

Monday, 14 September 2009

West Hartford @ Dusk

7.15pm tonight - a few BHGs, a few dozen Lapwings, 19 Dunlin and 2 Snipe.  And 80 geese landed to the north of Merck, Sharp and Dohme but when I got to them they were only Greylags.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Nice Find

Out pre-work this morning.  Me and the dawg located the proceeds of a robbery that happened earlier and which woke me up at 2am!  After passing the goods to the local bizzies, we continued on.  Nothing else of note otherthan the Chiffchaff still doing its thing near the Blue Star.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Not The Early Bird

Up at 0600 today as usual and out with The Lilster for her usual pre-work walk.  Beautiful morning, fresh, sunny, still and glorious.  I don't know whether it's late for a Chiff Chaff to still be around, but there was one chiffing and chaffing to the north of Northburn's Blue Star Sports Ground in Cramlington.  My first one of the year was here on 19 March 2009.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Blog Cherry Lost!

I have eventually succumbed to technology and dipped my toe in the waters of bird blogging.  I'm no Boulmer or Northumbrian Birder (or one of the many excellent others) but like David Carradine in Kung Fu, it is time for me to learn!