Monday, 30 December 2013

Dead End

So 2013 draws to a slow and painful end, with my quest to add Golden Plover to the Patch List becoming predictably negative. Repeated visits to both Beacon Lane and Cramlington Learning Village have only yielded odd stares from the farmer and caretaker respectively. 136 (135 if you take off the R-n Parakeet) is well above the previous Cramlington record of 125, and like all records, it's there to be broken. Confining my exploits to NE23 has been well worth it, with numerous local Lifers: Black Kite; Yellow Wagtail; Tree Sparrow; Mediterranean Gull; Avocet; Sanderling; 'that parrot'; Kittiwake; Gannet; Redstart; Little Stint; and Spotted Flycatcher, and half a dozen of these self-found. Each one has had the ever-aging 'ticker' beating a little faster, and that's the best and easiest exercise I can think of. More in 2014? You betcha! So to all those who have assisted, supported, amused and educated me during this year, I say a huge THANK YOU! And a particular note of appreciation to The Guvnor, Crammy, Sometimes, Linz and Dee. To you all, a healthy, wealthy, peaceful and successful 2014!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Under The Wire

5pm start on The Lord's Birthday (and my Dad's too - 71 today!), and sitting in the employer's premises at Cramlington at 00:15hrs and I thought I heard a Tawny Owl. Hearing things, thinks I. And then a few moments later and there it is again. Window open and after a wee while, voila! Went to try and and locate it better, and it was coming from the SE, so perhaps near Valley Park.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Almost Jack Sh*t!

Had another plodge about Wessie H this morning, not a snipe of any persuasion emerged from the Somme-like terrain. First Fieldfare of the season looked smart, and not much else to get excited about. Thought I had a few glimpses of SEO diving into the grass but if it was, it never emerged. Off to Arcot next, and as I watched the water from near the big free or thereabouts, a bloke with a wee dog arrived at the east shore and proceeded to walk clockwise around the shoreline. As he headed for the five bar gate on the south shore, a small bird flew up from his feet and low and east and towards the SE corner and dropped out of sight. Hmmmm - looked Jack Snipey to me. He scaled the gate and walked towards me. Q: Did I see a bird rise from near your feet? R: Yes. I nearly stepped on it. Small and brown and black and it flew off that way (points to the SE corner) So I bid him farewell and walked the reverse journey, and as I did so, a Jack flew up from the SE corner and off over the water.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Still Here

Inundated (NOT) by enquiries about my continued presence on the planet due to a lack of blog posts, fear not, I am alive and well. Too much work (and too short a day length) makse me a dull boy and one who needs to get out more. Resisted the trip to see the LGS at Long Nanny, but did spend a wet and welly-clad 90 minutes thrashing the local swamps in search of Mr Jack Snipe. So far, no good.

Thursday, 24 October 2013


New computer and Windows 8 and too many new toys has made what was an easy process of cropping crap photos a right toil. Anyway, added a few Lifers to the list this week, starting with Pallid Swift on Saturday but dipped the Bonelli's Warbler, Boooo! Managed to get to Howick on Tuesday for this beauty: Managed views of the Pallas's this morning but not a hope of even a record shot. And now 133 for the patch this year thanks to six of these at Arcot this afternoon:

Friday, 11 October 2013

Creative Accounting

With news from Mr Sometimes that Gannets were viewable from the northern-most boundary of the patch, off for a few local Lifers. He had also had Kittiwakes and Fulmars. In 20 minutes, managed the former two but not the Fulmar and that was with the scope on 60x and with a touch of eye-strain. Back and out 'mit Hund', and Pinkies over in two skeins, heading south. So 132 for the year, but my list to the right of this post will not update. Bollocks!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Memorable Experience With Three Birds

Spent today over at The Lakes taking belated advantage of a 2012 Christmas present before the year ends. Fantastic day here. So here's me and a Verreaux's Owl, we clearly have the same hair dresser, then the Bald Eagle' with Sapphira, the White-tailed Sea Eagle and finally with Ben, the Goldie:

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Dickie Ticker

Couldn't resist the chance of a Life tick at Whitburn this morning so toddled off south (Crammy was doing something with goats in the Cheviots?!?!?! in search of the Richard's Pipit(s). Arrived to see a few scopes looking west over the road into the field, with reports of two of the three having flown off and the remaining one not seen for a while. Within five to ten minutes, they were spotted flying back in, so one tick, and then later, two birds in the same scope view. And a Whinchat too! Too far for even a half decent record shot, so here's some from Portugal last week.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Portuguese List

Got back on Saturday from five days of Algarvian birding; quite simply, superb! The list: Owl (not seen, but persistently hissing from a nearby tree all night) / Honey Buzzard / Fan-tailed Warbler / Turtle Dove / Warbler (mystery so far, green above and yellow below with very long legs) / Cockatiel / Crested Tit / Greenfinch / Serin / Iberian Chiffchaff / Sandwich Tern / Subalpine Warbler / Sand Martin / Great Tit / Southern Grey Shrike / Starling / Curlew / Jay / Greenshank / Barwit / Med Gull / Little Grebe / Coot / Purple Swamphen / Glossy Ibis / Shoveler / Red-crested Pochard / Great Crested Grebe / Pochard / Moorhen / Hoopoe / Cetti's / Pied Fly / Wigeon / Black-headed Weaver / Woodchat Shrike / Spot Fly / Redstart / Gannet / Crested Lark / Stonechat / Azure-winged Mag / Crag Martin / Mallard / Kingfisher / Blue Rock Thrush / Lesser Kestrel / Goldfinch / Little Stint / Osprey / Red-legged Partridge/ Caspian Tern / Green Sand / Wheatear / Red-rumped Swallow / Black-winged Stilt / Redshank / Lesser Black-backed Gull / Grey Plover / Curlew Sand / Common Sand / Audouin's Gull / Grey Heron / Greater Flamingo / Kentish Plover / Black-headed Gull / Avocet / Blackwit / Spoonbill / Common Waxbill / Yellow Wagtail / Whimbrel / Sardinian Warbler / White Wagtail / Dunlin / Swallow / House Sparrow / House Martin / Swift / Turnstone / Sanderling / Ringed Plover

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Four Spot Chaser

Having seen that the Big Waters team had had a Spotty Fly of late, and never having had one on the patch ever, I consulted the Dalai Lama and asked for guidance.  'Go early in the morning.  Seek the birds in the woods at the north end of West Hartford and Arcot' was his advice. 

Well it was a dry, calm-ish and sunny evening so I thought I'd give it a try in Arcot, as failure would at least allow yet another perusal of the Garganey and Shovellers and who knows what else.

Without donning the orange robes, off anti-clockwise and into the NW corner of the NW field and despite the sun in my eyes, some wee birds in and out of the hedge tops.  Moving so as to get a good view, sun from the left, and voila!  And FOUR of them!

I must admit, whilst the Black Kite was good, this was, dare I say, along with the Redstart, better; and a few half-decent images too.  It doesn't get much better.  I am a patch birding addict and will need some therapy at some stage.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Another 48 hours

Yesterday at Arcot, 'early doors' my second Little Egret of the year.  It did not stay for long; it was gone by 8:30am when MaccyD dropped in.

Today, no Egret at Arcot, but Garganey (still), female Pintail, two female Shoveler, hods of Teal, Moorhen and Coots too, as well as Mallard, Little Grebe and the ever-maturing Mute Swan juvenile duo.  Two Water Rail seen, and lots of vocalisation between Rails in the east and west reedmace beds.

Wessie was quiet, with little to see or hear.  This fella was there this morning and this afternoon:

Monday, 26 August 2013

Another Lesson Learned

Arrived at Wessie this morning to see a dog walker near the Flash, and The Guv's limousine parked up.  Not having had any news from him combined with the likelihood of a rampant canine did not bode well for some action.  Taking the easy way out, I texted His Royalness and enquired.  Confirmation that the Flash was a bare as a bare thing, and rather than waste energy and time, a u-turn and off to Arcot.

Imagine my surprise when I soon got a call to say he had an immature Marsh Harrier!  Lesson?  Get out of the car as birding tedium can change to the canine's privates in seconds.  It is now added to these others.

Another u-y and back at the bollards and news it was off east.  Time to put the ostrich legs into top gear and at the sub-station, voila; high, distant and being given grief by two Buzzards, it was last seen fast and low and off west.

In the words of the great (for now) Rolf Harris, can you guess what it is yet?

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Early Morning Stint

If you have felt safer sleeping in your beds overnight Friday and yesterday, that's because I am work keeping the streets free from fear.  And tonight too, btw.

And so to bed at 4:30am today, and four hours later, a call from Lord McDougall that I missed by a second. Must be something good, thinks I and a few texts to the other Team Crammy members revealed nothing.  Mr MaccyD's phone was engaged.  Why?  Because he was leaving me a voicemail of a Little Stint at Wessie.

Dogs bollocks!  And the Sanderling remains too.

Saturday, 24 August 2013


It's here for its third day:

Joined this afternoon by four of these:

And three u/k waders were part of the gull flock that 'got the flock out' as I neared the pool (I must wear some lo-viz garb next time!).

Arcot was busy, the Teal numbers moving up from half a dozen to about 80, with two female Shovelers, three Gadwall (2M:1F), the Garganey; Mallards, Moorhens and Coots: Little Grebes and a Heron that was observed harpooning a guinea-pig sized vole (couldn't see a tail) and eating it!

Amazing (unless you were said rodent)!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

One Two Six

Four visits to Wessie today (I think), one 'early doors', mid-day, mid-afternoon and this evening.

Little to show for it in general, the usual BHGs had the odd HG and LBBG and a juvenile CG.  The Wag-fest continues with up to four Yellows.  There were Stock Doves, Woodies, Crows and Magpies, Linnets and Goldies, Mipits, a Sprawk causing mayhem and Willow Warblers too.

The MEGA was this evening, and a patch lifer and the record breaker for a Crammy year.  After a call to The Guv, and several double-takes, this:

And for good measure:

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Chatty Man

No sign of the Redstart at Arcot this morning after two visits; the Garganey remains.

First trip to Wessie was one about BHGs and Pied Wags and little else.

The second journey was vastly better, with two birds chasing each other around some 100 yards away from the main Flash on the fenceline to the north of the brick house.

Both looked good for Whinchat, but at that distance?

Back in the car and off to the gap in the hedge and a walk north.  And voila!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Nice Start

Several local visits today, the female Garganey remains at Arcot, and a freshly dead gull on the island, possibly a LBB but as it was upside down with head bent under; it was hard to tell from 100 yards away.

Wessie was dead at dawn, a gull fest at tea time, and this evening, its usual wag-fest, with a dozen Pied and three Yellows.  Until this year, Yellow Wagtail was a patch lifer, and this year I am falling over them.  Brilliant!

This fellow was trying to generate some sustenance, but without much success.  He'll learn!

After dropping Mrs M off a local hostel, and second visit to Arcot.  As I got out of the car, a Robin flew from the hedge onto the wooden structure that allows the cows and horses in and out safely, the sort of equine/bovine kissing gate.  But feck me, the bins showed the Robin to be a female Redstart (patch lifer),

Camera bag open.  Camera out. Camera on.  Started to raise it from my hip and the bird was into the hedge.  Bollocks!  After a text to the troops, a game of cat and mouse as it was always one shutter button ahead of me.  This went on for 20-25 minutes, with periods where it went missing and then reappeared. 

And with the light fading, the shittiest shot that is not even good as a record.  I'll spare you the humour.

Back early doors for another go.

And the gull is now but a few feathers and the odd bone!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


Times are hard and every tick has to be earned at the moment.  Wessie has water, and so Gulls and Wagtails (tonight a Grey and a dozen Pied and last week, two Yellow, a Grey and half a dozen Pied).

This afternoon's visit to Arcot had this 'monster':