Friday, 22 May 2015

Iceland Gull in summer!

This out of season Iceland Gull is frequenting the QEII Lake, Ashington. Just view from the car, it is attracted to people feeding the ducks with other gulls. Its timings are a bit erratic but I finally caught up with it on my 5th visit on the way to work this morning...

First summer Iceland Gull, centre.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Shear joy........

An hour and a half was spent sea watching off Boulmer last night.  There were a large number of auks (Puffins, Razorbills and Guillemots), Kittiwakes, Gannets and terns (Sandwich, Arctic, Common and a few Roseate) feeding offshore.  Dunlin and Ringed plovers were also moving north.

The joy of the evening was watching small parties of Manx shearwaters ease their way north.  The count was 57 over the period.  The evening sun shining on the small flocks, moving close inshore, was very special.  One wonders where these birds were coming from and where they are going to at this time of.  With no breeding colonies in the North Sea, are these birds non-breeders or breeders taking a tour of North Sea waters?  Do they look have a look for potential breeding sites around the Farnes and other suitable islands?

Unfortunately there were no skuas.  The only other species moving was two Tufted ducks moving north (male and female).

Late news from Monday (15th May) was a Quail calling at West Fenton.  Cow parsley, Herb bennet, Tufted vetch and a number of grasses are just coming into flower.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Spring Waders

We decided on an early visit to Low Newton scrape to check out the reported waders. On our arrival a Greenshank flew off with another, smaller wader, when we checked the scrape a bird with a small group of summer plumaged Dunlin turned out to be the Pectoral Sandpiper. At that moment the Greenshank came back in with it's smaller companion, this soon revealed itself to be the Lesser Yellowlegs, as we scanned further along we came across another small wader, this proved to be a Wood Sandpiper which had just flown in. The high point was to have Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper all together in the same scope view. Whilst there we could hear Reed Warbler calling in the reedbeds, Wheatears ran about in the wet meadow, two Yellow Wagtails were having a scrap and a Little Tern flew past on the tideline.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Groppers and otters

After the rain on Sunday, a strategic walk from Embleton to Low Newton was required on Bank Holiday Monday.  Fortunately we left it late and missed the hordes of visitors.  The tide was high and there was little on the sea apart from a few Shags, auks and a party of Sandwich terns feeding close into shore.  A small party of waders dodging the dogs and people included summer plummage Dunlin, Turnstone and 'northern' Ringed plover.

Low Newton flash produced a female Pintail, Snipe and good numbers of Teal were of note.

There was very little on Newton Pool but a group in the hide said they had just seen two Otters.  After 10 minutes they re-appeared and gave great views.  Two Roe deer gave further interest.

A walk back along the dunes produced at least two Grasshopper warbler, several Sedge warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, and a good passage of Swallows.

A Swift welcomed us home to Glanton

Local birders star with Indie band Stornoway

  


What do Stornoway, Lindisfarne and AWG members have in common?  Answer: a picture in The Independent on Friday 1st May.  Stornoway are an indie band from Oxford who were being showing around Lindisfarne by Andrew Craggs.  Their latest album 'Bonxie' was in need of promotional material.

Stornoway get up to a spot of birdwatching Lindisfarne (Mark Pinder)Mick and I were glad to help even though the rest of the AWG group had sloped off to the Lough.

All the best to Stornoway. Their album is great, especially the use of bird sounds such as Red grouse. From what I read, they do a lot of great work for conservation. Certainly, there are at least three new fans in the Dodds household!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Warblers

Warblers
Recent days around Branton Ponds have seen an influx of warblers, first we had the Chiffchaffs which were then overtaken  by the Willow Warblers, now Blackcaps are here in large numbers, there seems to be a bird on territory almost every 50 yards. This evening we came across the first Garden Warbler of the year, sounding a bit like Blackcap but a bit more monotonous, on Monday we had a first for the ponds in the form of a Wood Warbler with both it's very distinctive shape and song which sounds like a spinning coin gradually coming to rest on a table, it was still there this morning. Another warbler which just arrived yesterday is the Common Whitethroat with one bird calling from the gorse, this evening there were a further two birds, so all we need now are Lesser Whitethroat and Grasshopper Warbler then the set will be complete.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Saxifrage

The warm weather of last week has be replaced by a much cooler air from the north.  Not a lot to report from the weekend but the majority of Swallows appear to have arrived in the last 4-5 days.  A Cuckoo was seen on the south side of Longframlington Common on the 26th April.

Tthe first flower heads of Meadow saxifrage have appeared on lowland acid grassland next to the Wooler Water today (27th April).  A pair of Common sandpipers have also taken up residence.  Numbers of Sand martins appear to have dropped since they first arrived.  Buff-tailed, Red-tailed and White-tailed bumblebees were much in evidence visiting the flowers of Lesser Celandine.