Saturday, 15 January 2011


Journeyed south - and not for the first time - in search of a Ring-necked Duck.  Arrived at Cowpen Bewley CP as dawn broke and with a spring in my step sallied forth to the main lake.  For the first 15 or so minutes, the enthusiasm was increasingly sapped as every Tuftie was, well, a Tuftie.  And then, over to the left, behind the island, there it was - 600 miles worth of driving, over three or more years, and what a corker!  The feeders were busy with Tree Sparrow, tits, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting.

Spoke to another birder there and spookily he was awaiting some colleagues including Birding Sometimes, all four having some form of annual reunion.  Now that's spooky!  Drive 50 miles and meet a birder who lives less than a mile from me.

Next stop Greatham Creek and a B-n Grebe.  Howling gale, horizontal-ish rain, wet spectacles, bins and scope and cloth in the car!  What an amateur!  The hide was a welcome respite.  And scanning the creek and Seal Sands for an hour failed to locate it.  R-b Mergansers, Shelducks a plenty, Black-tailed Godwit and others tho'.

Off to Saltholme for a spot of LEO action (and I don't mean Sayer; that would be just wrong!).  Our survey said......

Trust me to pick the first day of the until that point unannounced new arrangements.  The 11/2pm window to be pointed at the elusive owls was now a 1pm only opportunity!  Too late was the cry, did not have my pass-out signed for that long. 

Still, Pintail added to the year list, but not much else.  No time to really get acquainted with the place so after an hour, off to Ward Jackson Park for a R-n Parakeet.  Another dipper!

So on to Cramlington, and The Burton House Pub for a couple; Waxwings that is.  Back on good form, there they were, half a dozen dining on apples.

And finally, Bramblings in a garden on the Beaconhill estate.  Nice end to a generally productive day.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Mixed Bag

2/4pm today, Castle Island first - Common Buzzard over and off west along the river, Teal and Mallards, a couple of Goldeneye, a sleeping male Goosander, and loads of gulls.

NbtS - Med Gulls and Ringed Plovers on the shore, Eiders on the sea, and a huge raft of sea ducks, 'Bloody Common Scoter, thousands of 'em!'  Or, when I'm not in Zulu mode, hundreds, in a 'string' between Chirch and Beacon Points.  A departing birder told me there was a drake Velvet there.  Could I see it?  Could I b*llocks!!  Did see a R-t Diver, and an u/k bird, on the sea.  Too heavy and not long enough for a diver, too big for a grebe, and not an auk.  The head was level (not tilted up like the R-t Diver), the upper half of the head, neck and torso was dark grey, the lower was white.  The contrast was quite clear.  It was a good half a mile or more out and even with my 20 x 60 on Warp Factor 3, I could not be certain.

Called in a Blyth on the way back.  Behind the cafe, looking north over the river, amongst the Redshanks on the north shore was a solitary Grey Plover.  And no sniff of any owls at West Hartford either (I did 'tick'  Birdingus Sometimesii travelling east over the r/about o/s the new fire station tho'!).