Friday, 29 November 2013

Birdwatching on a farm in the Rothley area.

I am always surprised by some farms for their diversity of birds.  Today was no exception.  Game-cover held a very large flock of linnets (200+) with smaller numbers of chaffinch, greenfinch, yellowhammer and reed bunting.  Male grey partridge were calling from red clover leys.  Permanent pastures held a flock of 400 starlings, 35 lapwing and 120 fieldfare.  3 snipe were flushed from a wet corner and there was a party of 100 Canada geese were on the lake.  A flock of house sparrows (12) were joined by wrens, robins and chaffinches on the edge of the silage pit.

Woodcock and owls

Evening of the 27th November, saw at least 4 woodcock flying out of Kyloe Wood (western side).  There was a further bird feeding in an area of mud on the side of the road.  On the same stretch of road, a long-eared owl flew into Kyloe from a neighbouring conifer shelt belt.

A barn owl flew over the A697 at Haugh Head, south of Wooler, later in the evening.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Accidental sighting and the owls of Glanton

Short days and rugby ahve been restricting my nature rambles.  One or two birds of interest from last week include 3-5 probably 'northern' bullfinches at the Once Brewed car park (21st Nov), a water rail in a wetland south of Longhoughton (22nd Nov) and 3 light bellied brents (flew north) off Boulmer on the same day.  The male bullfinches were strikingly pink-breasted with slatey grey mantles and their calls were very different to our native birds.  On the 23rd November, there was a good collection of wigeon, mallard, teal, mute swans, greylag and 1 barnacle goose in flooded fields south of Branton.  Branton Pools were relatively quiet .

The highlight of the weekend was seeing a barn owl in the Glanton parish on the 23rd November.  This is the first barn owl that I have seen in the parish since the snowy winter of 2010/11.  On the 24th Nov, a little owl was calling west of the village and there were at least 3 male tawny owls calling within the southern side of the parish.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Newton Point and Long Nanny

We parked at Links House car park where the Lesser Grey Shrike was still showing well, which is a bit worrying as it should be in Africa. From here we headed off to Newton Point where we noted 5 Long Tailed Ducks, 2 Red Throated Divers and a flock of about 1500 Wigeon in Beadnell Bay. Next we walked along the beach towards Long Nanny which was very quiet only 3 Sanderling on the tideline but no Twite or Snow Buntings, the only other thing of interest was a Merlin chasing small birds in the dunes.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Lunch break

A lunch break at Boulmer produced 2 red-throated divers, 3 light bellied brent geese moving north with a flock of 25 eiders and 3 red-breasted mergansers.  The rocky shore prodiced a good selection of waders including 3 grey plovers, 12 redshank, 15 dunlin and good numbers of oystercatchers and curlew.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Stormy Seawatching.

A half an hour seawatch from the car before work this morning at Craster had -

Great Northern Diver 3 ( inc 1 on the sea)
Red throated Diver 8
Velvet Scoter 2
Goldeneye 2
Wigeon 50+
Pintail 1 ad drake with Wigeon
Golden Plover 100+
Purple Sandpiper 2
Dunlin 100+
Gannet 20+

In the right weather, its nice just to sit and gaze seaward from the comfort of the car, scope balanced precariously on the drivers window...I might even go back tomorrow for a Little Auk?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Mora Rolley kindly sent in this pic from her garden of two Collared Doves eating niger seed put out for Goldfinches! Looks like they will need to wait their turn....

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Harwood Forest 17th November

After our success with the Lesser Grey Shrike yesterday we decided to head off to Harwood Forest to see if there were any signs of it's larger cousin the Great Grey Shrike. The sky was dull and grey befitting our quarry, however the forest itself was also silent, our only bird sightings were 7 Crossbills,2 Lesser Redpoll and 12 Goldfinch, after much time spent scanning the new felled areas we came away without a shrike sighting, not to worry our day was topped off with the sight of 2 Red Squirrels at a feeder in Harwood Village

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Shrikes and Gulls

We were out with North Northumberland Bird Club at Bamburgh today but decided to go via Low Steads car park(as one does) and there as promised was a very smart looking 1st winter Lesser Grey Shrike. It performed well for all those present throughout the day, next on to Bamburgh where at Budle Bay we had 2 Peregrines out on the mudflats,whilst at Stag Rock there were Velvet Scoter, Long tailed Duck and an unexpected bonus in he form of the much twitched Bonapartes Gull.

Lesser Grey Shrike

A Lesser Grey Shrike has been present at the Long Nanny car park in the dunes just north of High Newton village for the last three days. The bird frequents the paddock on the south edge of the car park but flies around the edge occasionally. It is a stunning black and white bird in flight as it makes sallies high into the air to take a flying insect. I hope it moves on before next weeks cold spell or I fear its days are numbered....

Monday, 11 November 2013

White Christmas...

This partially albino / leucistic Robin has been present at Longhoughton for almost a month. I've never seen the like, even the bill is two toned !

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


At least one waxwing was present with redwings and fieldfares in woodland to the north east of Weetwood Avenue, Wooler.  The bird/s were heard and one was located feeding amongst rowan.

Monday, 4 November 2013

2nd / 3rd November

A quick walk around Branton Ponds located 2 Davisons and a Tindle in their winter plummage. The ponds were relatively quiet with highlights including 4 gadwall (2 pair), 1 lesser black-backed gull, 3 herring gull, 5 goosander and a good selction of wigeon, teal and tufted ducks.  Coot numbers appear to have increased recently.  Three bullfinches and a party of eight siskins were found in scrub.

A walk around the remoter parts of the Glanton parish located honey, meadow and snowy waxcaps.  Wavy-hair grass, sheep's fescue and tormentil were new species for the parish.  Good numbers of yellowhammers (8) were located in an area of gorse. Eight greylag geese headed south west towards Caistron.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Grisly goings on at Budle....

Sorry I haven't been blogging for some time but I had an interesting visit to  Budle Bay on Tuesday. 

There were hundreds of Barnacle Geese and many waders,  but I spent a long time watching a Great black-backed Gull, two Crows and a Buzzard and an unidentifiable corpse.  

When I first saw the latter, the gull was enjoying a meal with the crows hanging around.  When I next looked a Buzzard had arrived on the scene and had the corpse in his grasp while the gull had moved off and the  crows were attacking the Buzzard, who was not amused.  

It tried to fly off, but perhaps the corpse was too heavy for him as he'd just manage to flutter a short way before landing to be again buzzed by the crows.  This went on for some time before the Buzzard gave up and went to sulk on a rock while the crows pecked at the body.  

When I eventually had to leave, the gull had moved in again while the crows and Buzzard had flown off.  Maybe he had more patience than the others. Gulls do seem to hang around a lot of the time... 

Mora Rolley, Alnwick.

Another Great Black backed Gull eating carrion, this time a Hare - Howick ( S.Sexton)

Friday, 1 November 2013

Branton Ponds 1st November

After a morning looking for fungi around Beanley Woods I decided to take the camera around Branton Ponds. On reaching the East Pond my attention was drawn to some movement under the trees, there in full view were 2 Brown Hares neither of which appeared to be bothered by my presence.

Seamus eaves, birding and fantastic east coast landscapes

Seamus and I set off on thursday (31st Oct) morning to locate the Sardinian warbler at St Abb's Head.  The sun was shining and the cliffs were at their spectacular best.  Ravens and peregrines were seen cruising the hillsides.  A party of 8 whooper swans flew over with numerous small flocks of fieldfares, redwings, starlings and skylarks.  Eventually, we located the site for the warbler but it was not playing ball.  After 2 hours of watching the bushes we located this charismatic bird through its call.  Supporting cast included 2 blackcaps, at least 2 chiffchaffs, 5+ bullfinches and good numbers of reed buntings.

The afternoon was spent trying to find the Bonaparte's gull at Stag Rocks, Bamburgh.  We failed but we did see a Mediterranean gull, 250+ common scoter, 3+ red throated divers, good numbers of gannets, shags and cormorants.  There were about 30 purple sandpipers and 60+ turnstones on the rocks and these were accompanied by small numbers of redshank, curlew and sanderling.  A flock of 60 knot dropped in at one point.  1 little egret and a grey heron flew north into Budle Bay.  Small parties of fieldfares and starlings still appeared off the sea.  One fieldfare only just made it over the breakers and landed with a bump on the dunes!

Fenham Flats - 1st November.  Seumus and I had a very pleasant three hours at Fenham Flats enjoying the waterfowl and waders as the tide came in.  Highlights included 300 barnacle geese, 5000+ wigeon, 15+ long tailed duck, 10+ goldeneye, 1 red throated diver, 1 black-tailed godwit, 12 ringed plovers and a good range of other common species.  There is a very confiding robin at the hide which was quite happy to sit on your boots and feed between your legs!  One common hawker dragonfly was also found.