Thursday, 25 December 2014

Seasons Greetings

Quick patch tour this afternoon was both therapeutic and productive. One each of Little Egret, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail on Horton Burn. Arcot was busy - three Shovelers inc. a waxing drake were nice. Wessie H had the reliable Great Grey Shrike and wade through the reeds yielded two Jack Snipe and heaps of Commons. Here's to a better 2015 - and Merry Christmas 2014!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Izzy, Whizzy, Let's Get Busy!

Too good to pass up; a fine afternoon, a clear(ed) work diary (no professional conscience as I was in for 10 hours yesterday), and a reportedly very obliging Mega and Lifer to boot, so after collecting Crammy, off to Smoggy Land to address the Sooty catchphrase and see the Izzy (or is it Issy?) Wheatear. Fecking hard to see against a sandy shore-line with dark patches such as seaweed or sea coal, until it got its beady eyes on insect prey and it ran like a roadrunner after the snack. Two Lifers in three days - ain't birding brilliant! And so to the shitty-shotties.....

Saturday, 22 November 2014


A very welcome break from the comparative birding boredom of late, with news of a Lifer at Brierdene and along with the low sun emerging from the November gloom, and chores done, a 'selfish' hour and a wee throng and the little chap accompanying his frantic insectivoral foraging with lots of calling. And a duo of flukey distant shots to boot! Does it get any better (probably, but not in my world)!!!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Sports News: Great Start

Good start to the weekend and a break to the patch birding doldrums with news from Crammy's mate who works at the Cramlington Learning Village that he had has a Black Redstart near the Sports Centre. There within the hour, me and Phil had a few brief glimpses and then a less brief glimpse and then an in-flight glimpse and then an 'on the fence near east coast mainline' glimpse and then never to be seen again. First for Viet-cram and a welcome tick.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Birding By Instalments

Olive-backed Pipit in Sunny-derland. Beautiful day commenced by work. Waited for BirdGuides' third report and off south. Got lost but eventually found the road and crowd. Bird had gone into the scrub, perhaps due to the swelling but well-ordered crowd. Eventually seen on the slope, covered in dropped leaves, brambles and litter (the slope not the pipit). Hard to see due to the ornitho-populus, not wanting to get in others' way, the leaves on the floor, the direct and head-on sun, and a host of other obstructions. Saw a stretched right wing, a full back, a right side head and then a full frontal. What a looker! Limited time so good luck to others and for tomorrow.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Floggin' a Dead Horse

Every hour of post-work, post-dog walk daylight this week has been spent trying to emulate even to a slight degree those very lucky feckers who have patches with a coastline. It's been tiring hearing all week about red-breasted this, barred that and yellow-browed the other. Today's daylight, unaffected by my profession, was spent trying again. At least it's consistent; consistently flat and dull. And the Hammers are 2 - 1 up too - can it get any worse?

Monday, 8 September 2014

Two Blue?

Tried for the Blue-winged Teal this morning and arriving at Castle Island, started to scan the Teal flock on the south side of the island itself. After a few minutes, and discounting those with teal-coloured specula, I am 100% certain I located a blue one, and furthermore, a few wing stretches and pale blue area on the wing clearly visible. Excellent, thought I, a possible lengthy spell of Teal elimination was shortened and so off to Amble for the Caspo. However, I checked BirdGuides and at the same time as I was patting myself on the back for a job well and speedily done, the bird was to the west of the Rowing Club (RC). Impossible! My 100% was now 99.9% and so I drove to the RC car park and met up with Lord Bullough and another frequently-encountered but so far un-named birder and the quarry was within a few feet of the bank-side. Could there be two? Here's the 'deffo' one:

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

100 and out!

Just spent a week in the Algarve, based in the Ria Formosa (as usual) and a good guided bird trip to the Castro Verde with a real local expert, Mr Ray Tipper. Will add some photos to the blog next week when I am back from celebrating the big 5 0 in The Lakes, but for now, here's the holiday list (Emboldened = Lifer) 1. Audouin’s Gull 2. Avocet 3. Azure-winged Magpie 4. Barn Swallow 5. Bar-tailed Godwit 6. Bee-eater 7. Blackbird 8. Black-headed Gull 9. Black-headed Weaver 10. Black-shouldered Kite 11. Black-tailed Godwit 12. Black-winged Stilt 13. Blue Tit 14. Booted Eagle 15. Buzzard 16. Carrion Crow 17. Caspian Tern 18. Cattle Egret 19. Cetti’s Warbler 20. Collared Dove 21. Common Sandpiper 22. Coot 23. Corn Bunting 24. Crag Martin 25. Crested Lark 26. Curlew 27. Curlew Sandpiper 28. Dartford Warbler 29. Dunlin 30. Gadwall 31. Golden Eagle 32. Goldfinch 33. Great Crested Grebe 34. Greater Flamingo 35. Great Tit 36. Green Sandpiper 37. Greenshank 38. Green Woodpecker 39. Grey Heron 40. Grey Plover 41. House Sparrow 42. Iberian Chiffchaff 43. Hoopoe 44. House Martin 45. Jay 46. Kentish Plover 47. Kestrel 48. Kingfisher 49. Lesser Black-backed Gull 50. Little Bittern 51. Little Egret 52. Little Grebe 53. Little Ringed Plover 54. Little Stint 55. Little Tern 56. Magpie 57. Mallard 58. Marsh Harrier 59. Mediterranean Gull 60. Melodious Warbler 61. Montagu’s Harrier 62. Moorhen 63. Northern Wheatear 64. Oystercatcher 65. Pied Flycatcher 66. Pied Wagtail 67. Pochard 68. Purple Gallinule 69. Raven 70. Red-legged Partridge 71. Red-rumped Swallow 72. Redshank 73. Redstart 74. Ringed Plover 75. Rock Dove 76. Sanderling 77. Sandwich Tern 78. Sardinian Warbler 79. Serin 80. Shelduck 81. Short-toed Eagle 82. Short-toed Lark 83. Shoveller 84. Slender-billed Gull 85. Southern Grey Shrike 86. Spanish Imperial Eagle 87. Spoonbill 88. Spotless Starling 89. Stonechat 90. Swift 91. Thekla Lark 92. Turnstone 93. Waxbill 94. Whimbrel 95. White Stork 96. Woodchat Shrike 97. Woodpigeon 98. Yellow-legged Gull 99. Yellow Wagtail 100. Zitting Cisticolla

Monday, 11 August 2014

Turned Out Nice

After a slight drenching (can you be slightly drenched?) with the dog from 1800 to 1845, time for a trip to Wessie in the hope of getting more wet, and wind swept (but not interesting (Billy Connolly)). On arrival near the water's edge (my Big Boots were, as ever, elsewhere) I huge dark bird harassing the crows in the north edge's trees. Initially, I 'saw' a forked tail, but on raising the bins, the cream head of a Marsh Harrier. So, scope, tripod, bins, camera and phone, 'assisted' by the wind and sausage fingers combined to produce this record shot ('record' in its broadest sense). Also present were three Greenshank, two Dunlin and an LRP. Not too bad for a breezy puddle, one of the Dunlin looked a tad odd, so many a minute in fading light trying to turn it into something better. And whilst doing so, one of the Greenshank walked through the scope view, except it had become a Ruff. And there were two, as well as the Greenies. The good Lord alone knows where they came from, but who cares. 121 for Viet-Cram so far and a wise move to not be beaten by the elements!

Thursday, 7 August 2014


Arcot Lane this evening, and something on the road near the entrance to the lakes. As I neared, NINE dead young stoats (EDIT: These may be weasels - can anyone advise, please? RE-EDIT: They are weasels), laid out randomly, not squashed by a car, and two with bright red blood from the mouth and one partially disemboweled. They were all the same size, about 6 to 7 inches. I moved them onto the verge, hence the photos below. I might be near 50 yrs old, but this had me gutted. Any theories appreciated.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


Travelling past Aerodrome Corner in Crammy tonight and a Tawny Owl flew from Northumberlandia over the road and into the copse.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

(No so) Common Scoter

So this morning I rolls up at Wessie to see the Guvnor's car already there. It was very early for him; had he left it there the night before or had he wet the bed? A text to see if it was worth getting out the car was met with response that despite his best efforts to delicately place his size 5s in the proximity of the Flash, he had spooked two Shoveler. From now on, The Guv shall be known as Blunder Boots (BB)! So assuming the Shoveler and accompanying Teal has skipped over to Arcot, Arcot bound we then were. Arcot Lane is becoming the satellite Tip, with plenty of industrial $hite and this morning, some not so industrial too as the McDonald's refuse by the gate was aside a huge turd; at least the deliverer had wiped his/her arse on three Tesco's receipts! So eight Teal over the water and a throng of Mallard on it, and after setting the scope at the five-bar gate, this:
Later on, BB located the Shoveler at Northumberlandia (I got them too at noon) and he accidentally flushed a Redshank back at Wessie (although he blamed a dog walker). So if you fart, blame the dog; if you flush, blame its owner (sounds like one from Confucius).

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Both Ends Of The Spectrum

Saw that a Black-winged Pratincole was at Hurworth Burn Reservoir near Smoggy Land this morning, and appeared to be wanting to stay. Too good to resist given the clement weather and the weekend, a journey of 45 minutes and as many miles and a throng of optic-laden Ladies and Gents watching a grassy field full of Lapwing and trying to make each one the quarry. Alas not, but after about 30 minutes or so, they lifted and the BwP was there on the edge of the weaving mass of Peewits. They split into two groups of 100 and some landed back from whence they came and the others in a cow field just to the north. And so that was it; 30 seconds of bliss but no ground shots or static views despite one or two Emperor's New Clothes-like situations where it was 'on the ground in the grass' (but could I see it, with a decent scope etc? No). And then at Arcot this afternoon, a Common Sandpiper. Take that Big Waters!!!!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

More Like It!

Haven't posted for ages as there's been no reason. The Guv bagged a drake Ruddy Duck at Arcot this evening - at last something to prompt the pedal to the metal!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Happier Days

This time last year, 120 ticks had entered the notebook - inc. some waxers such as 'that Kite', Avocet and Yellow Wag. This year has yielded 106 for me, although others will have a few more. It's been a wet and difficult 2014 so far. More hard work today, as every other, and no additions. Arcot was flat, Northumberlandia was flat and Wessie was flat - except for a vocal yet muted......

Saturday, 17 May 2014


Today was tedious. Nearly as tedious as yesterday. And that was tedious too. So far this year, waders in the Viet-cram patch have numbered one fly-over Redshank, Oycs and a Ringed Plover. Yesterday's Arcot Cuckoo has gone, it appears. Despite two rounds of the patch, nowt new. This little chap was this morning's entertainment at Wessie. Unsure why he looks so bedraggled. Just out the nest hole?

Friday, 16 May 2014

Going Cuckoo

Cuckoo has been at Arcot since Sunday morning - still there at 11am today (16th) and feeding like a mad thing on what I believe to be Drinker Moth caterpillars. It's a lean, mean, caterpillar-eating machine.
Loads of other activity, fare and foul (deliberate typo), in the locality as the warm weather brings out the real birders and the pseuds who are there for other reasons but choose to cover their real purpose with some questions about birds that a three year old might ask!!! Are there any swans here? Why are there Red Kites at Chopwell? I might stop and ask them why they all wear jogging bottoms? Does it make getting your bottom jogged so much easier? Anyway, this fella was up and about at Wessie this morning.
Oh, and twice last week I slipped on the muddy, boggy, puddly area between the NE and NW fields at Arcot. Ended up like one of those cakes that is dipped in chokky! Except it was my left side first, and my right second. Take care, or take a friend with a camcorder and make £250!!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Let's Twist Again!

Never seen a Wryneck close up until today. Whitley Bay Crematorium was well worth the wait this afternoon:

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Came Down in the Last Shower of Rain

Migrant-fest today, linked (or otherwise) to yesterday's 'wee shower'! Arcot at dawn - another Gropper, this one near the south shore in the SW field (west end). Sedgie on the SE shore line reeds. Whitethroats in the SW corner of the SE field,. This followed a drop in to Wessie, so much easier as the green access gate was open so you can drive up to the end of the road. Four Wheatears was the reward (later in the day they were along the SW shore reeds). Out with the derg later, and a Lesser Whitethroat in the scrub to the NE or the Blue Star building. Walking down Beacon Lane, another Whitethroat in the hedge south of the horse stable. A second Sedgie was in the reeds on Arcot's north shore. Second dog walk and a second Lesser in the scrub to the rear (south) of Brockwell shops (the back of the health centre). Lesser hat-trick with a third, this time in the hedge along the access road from the Plessey Checks windmills down to Plessey Hill Farm. And in the old windmill field, in its SW corner, two more Wheatears.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Gosforth Park Fudge - £3.50 and well worth it!

Some Lifers are ticked 'just because'; the Yellow-rumped Warbler, for example. Well, it would have been rude not to! Never heard of one before, will never hear of one again and as remarkable as its journey was, it was hardly stunning, in my opinion. At the other end of the Lifer spectrum, those birds, probably unique to every birder, that you would drop everything (within reason) to see. Palled Harrier, Subalpine Warbler, Purple Heron and Red-breasted Goose are but four, and the Fudge Duck is another. So today, with more news, and my pestering Crammy for updates from my frustratingly piled-up desk at work, and then photos, it was a comparatively sharp end to the working day (only nine hours) and off to Gozzy P. After what was a bargain payment of £3.50, as I neared the hide, a text from Crammy to say the covert Anatid was now very much overt. Dogs' bollocks!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Here, Kitti, Kitti, Kitti!

Ladies and Gentlemen - Kittiwake has, I am told, never been 'ticked' in Crammy. Well, as they say, records are made to be broken so as of 11:30am today, Rissa tridactyla added to the Patch Life List.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Bring it on!

Osprey over Kielder and East Chev earlier in the week, Sand Martin in Dorset yesterday and Northern Wheatear in Hants today. Get set for migrants!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Pain 'n' the Rump

OK, so I succumbed. En route south, knocked-off Pochard for the Patch Year List; good start! Found the place easily off the A177, parked correctly, followed the source of the departing optic-carriers and voila, the trees, the lamp-post, the half-coconuts and the throng. The rain had stopped and it all looked good. A few glimpses of its yellow rear, and some other brief glances of various anatomical aspects, oft obscured by the thicket it was determined to remain within. And then the rain started again. And so the enjoyment speedily ebbed due to moisture, breeze, wet specs, damp optics, a timid quarry and people frequently walking in front of my scope. I know when I'm done; and I was done. So I've paid my fee to the bucket-shakers, seen a bird I'll probably never see ever again and had a ride out. The Life List is now one notch bigger but to be honest, did it give me any more pleasure than seeing the Little Owl on Beacon Lane? What do you think?

Friday, 14 February 2014


Nice little stroll today; usual local beauty spots, albeit somewhat drier than usual. Wessie remains Jack-less, additions for the year being Shelduck and Reed Bunting. There was a flock of 40 Mipits that was quite a wee spectacle and very vocal. Plessey Mill Farm Wood was busy, 40 Redwing, 3 Jays, Mistle and Song Thrushes and more common fayre. Arcot's Tufties now number 16, accompanied by 4 Wigeon and 3 Mallards, hods of Coot and Teal too. Not quite Yellow-rumped Warbler, but hey ho!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Brace Yerself!

With the dedication to the patch that yielded success last year, talk of a yellow-rumped warbler (I am sure someone's making these names up) did little to draw me south (Tuesday, if it's still about, may be a different matter!!). Finely balancing keeping 'Er Indoors happy by some chore-related activity with spells in the rarefied Cramlington air eventually paid off. Woodcock have eluded me thus far in 2014, The Guv having four in one go at one stage and Crammy several singles. So not for the first time, the golf course's NE corner demanded some welly-clad activity, and not just one but two of the little blighters. Jack's failed to show (yet again) but a wee reward for many a plodge at Wessie with a duo of Oycs.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Please consider signing this petition Save our Barn Owls

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Treeeee-o! Treeee-o!

Had a nice threesome today (that'll increase the hits on this blog and depress a few who wander here with alternative thoughts!). Goldcrest (65) at the back of Chez Liverbirder this morning on the back nine with the hound. Nice! Then on the front nine with the dog at dinner time, a lone Waxwing (66) on the burn. Great! Finally, at Arcot without the mut, a Willow Tit (67) in the hedge near the south-east shore. Formidable!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Not Too Eventful

A couple of hours each day over the weekend and although pleasant, nothing too radical to report. Yesterday, the circuit of Beacon Lane, Arcot, Plessey Mill Farm Wood and West Hartford added Cormorant (63) to the year's Patch List, one flying along the R. Blyth west to east. Little else at PMFW and Arcot likelwise. No sign of the Willow Tit, unfortunately. Today, all quiet at Arcot, the Little Owl, absent yesterday was on sentry duty in its usual 'box', and a substantial flock of Redwing, Fieldfare (64) and Chaffinch in the vicinity of the travellers' stables. There is a Common Buzzard frequenting the area of late (to the east of the lane in the region of the stream) and in today's light its head and shoulders looked very pale (a tad of heart-racing pre-empted the confirmation that it was a Common!).

Sunday, 12 January 2014

You Can't Beat A Bit o' Bully

Trekked the usual spots this afternoon, nothing to add to yesterday's ticks (Pied Wag at Avebury Place, Shankhoooose and Golden Plover off Beacon Lane's north end). Willow Tit and Fieldfare remain irritatingly elusive. Beacon Lane did yield this (not so) little fella - one of my faves.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Calm Down! Calm Down!

After yesterday's 'We wuz robbed, Guv' Bird Race, it was back to the patch today and some more-leisurely ticking. The Little Egret was on the Burn at 0900(unlike yesterday when it disappeared). Beacon Lane was productive, with four Greylag Geese over White Hall Farm (SE) and a calling Yellowhammer. Near South Stream, 10 Grey Partridge flew low and north over the horse paddock. No sight nor sound of the Willow Tit, and the same at Bassington Nature Reserve.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Definition of the word Shit

So I was at Wessie H about noon today trying to add to the year list for Cramlington and it was dead. The female Kestrel was active as ever and successful, taking her prey to a fence post for lunch. Facing into the wind, with me 30 yards or so to the rear of her, the gourmet cuisine was eventually identified from glimpses as Kes's tail was maneouvred to combat the wind. It was a huge frog that writhed and wriggled as it was devoured slowly and probably painfully from the head backwards. But why was a frog available for Falco-related nutrition on 2 January 2014? It was a mild day but my garden pond frogs only emerge at the end of February or early March. So the poor amphibian wakes up, and realises it's two months too early. Shit!!!! And then, as it's about to turn over and have a lie-in, as it were, Mrs K drops in and it's even bigger shit!!!!

The Tale of the Baby, Albino Heron

So just for a change, I was walking Herself on Tuesday morning when two local dogwalkers started a conversation with the implicit challenge of,'You know a bit about birds, don't you.' Yesterday's equivalent conversation of a duck that whistles was correctly met with a response of 'Teal' but Tuesday's was the answer to 'An albino baby heron on the burn yesterday (Monday).' 'Highly likely a Little Egret', says I. After the finer points of dark legs and yellow feet were discussed, we went our separate ways. So this morning, same time and same place and the two dogwalkers waving like madmen and directing me to the east end of Horton Burn near the park. 'It's there now! It's there now!' And it was (there). And it was (Egretta garzetta). And after alerting Crammy and Lindsay, and waking Sometimes up from his much-needed post-night shift beauty sleep, I left the trio to follow it and get some photees. And a Grey Wagtail on the burn on the way home too. Bargain!