Thursday, 29 January 2015

Great Grey Shrike.

At West Hartford, Cramlington, the long staying Great Grey Shrike was still present on Tuesday this week. Showing distantly in the hedge to the north west of the pond near the middle pylon. A lovely bird as always...Park at the fire station and follow the track to the north.
Regards Stewart

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Winter wanders

Glanton: a waxwing flew south east calling as I walked out of the house this morning.

The pink-footed goose flock in the Doddington / Weetwood area north of Wooler was estimated to be about 2,400 bird strong today.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Black necked Grebe, Seahouses Harbour

Today there were 2 lovely Black necked Grebes in Seahouses harbour. They have been present for a few weeks now but this is my first chance to catch up with them. One soon disappeared out of the shelter on to the sea, but one bird stayed fishing around the boats and inner harbour all the time I was there. It is well worth a visit to get such good views of this rare winter visitor.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Birding on the north Northumberland coast

Goose counts around Fenham Flat (16 / 1) produced one large flock in the Elwick area.  The flock contained pale-bellied brent 710, pink-footed goose 1065 and 650 barnacle geese.  There were also small flocks of golden plover, lapwing and small coveys of grey partridge.

I was back on the coast this morning counting waders and waterfowl on Fenham Flats.  Highlights included pale-bellied brent 1300, pintail 256, barnacle 180, long-tailed duck 16, slavonian grebe 3, little egret 1, whooper swan 42, twite 23 and tree sparrow 4.

A stop off at Stag Rocks, Bamburgh produced 2-3 great northern divers, 2 black-throated divers, 5 red-throated divers, 1 slavonian grebe, 20+ long-tailed ducks and 2 stonechats.

Monkshouse Pool produced 3 shoveler.

There was a good selection of birds in the Low Newton area.  These included a Bewick's swan, 5  whooper swans, 1 Eurasian white-fronted goose with the greylag, 14 grey partridge, 2-3 calling water rail, a young male scaup, 2 stonechats and a good selection of waders on the beach including at least 2 purple sandpipers

A good days birding was spoiled by the local shoot trying to flush ducks from Newton Pool. Fortunately, the ducks had more sense and flew out to sea to sit it out.  This was much to the annoyance of a 'birder' who was looking for the Bewick and Y front!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A brief encounter

When it comes to secrecy Otters must come near the top, and finding them at Branton Ponds is a real joy. About 5 days ago Keith had the dog out and was walking past an area of Bullrushes when he heard a splash follow by the unmistakable head of an Otter some 30 yards away. We thought this would be a one-off , not so, yesterday in the same area we were rewarded by a second sighting as it hunted the various bays around the lake. Then today would you believe it but there it was again, swimming about in a purposeful manner, suddenly diving and resurfacing somewhere else, harder to spot due to the wind and the waves, but we find that after many years wandering around the ponds observing the wildlife you can often tell when a predator is about as many of the birds are on high alert. As a final note Keith was around the ponds tonight and noticed a dead fish floating on the water, he came back home to get something to retrieve it to see what had killed it only to find it had gone by the time he got back.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Punk Goldfinch

This Goldfinch has been on our feeders most of today, along with other goldfinches, the usual mass of Chaffinches and Tree Sparrows, with Siskin and Greenfinch and a large number of Blue, Great and Coal Tits that seem to have arrived en masse over the past week.  We also have at least two pairs of Gt Spotted Woodpeckers here and perhaps one or two of last year's broods are still hanging about on the peanuts and fat balls.

I've never seen a Goldfinch with this startling orange face, but perhaps its a regular variation.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

New Year's Resolution

I've made a New Year's resolution to try to post more often to our AWG blog.  Nothing very exciting yet this year, but we had Great Spotted Woodpeckers already drumming at Titlington Mount in the week before Christmas.

Then on 31st December the Whin Sill cliff at Cullernose Point had several pairs of Fulmar already occupying nesting ledges.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Wildlife highlights from the last few days

There have been a few interesting wildlife sightings from the last few days.

On Wednesday (7th Jan), a wetland in the Wansbeck catchment produced 20 Snipe and a lone Meadow pipit.

On the same day a Stoat in ermine crossed the road at Rothley East Farm.  There were also three Lesser redpolls in woodland close by.

A Barn owl was calling in Glanton last night (8th Jan) and a Long-eared owl flew south over the road at Alnwick Moor.

The new leaves of Lesser celandine and Broad-leaved dock are also starting to appear in grassland and Great tits have started singing.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Long distance birding......

Happy New Year to you all.  A good proportion of the Christmas holidays has been spent in Lincolnshire. This means a 4 hour journey down the A697, A1, M62, M18 and M180.  This can seem a bit boring but there are always things to see especially birds.

We went south on the 27th December.  The highlights of the road trip included a Rough-legged buzzard (sitting on the side of the M18 just north of the M180 turn-off - black breast/belly patch showing very well with a pale head), 3 Red kites (York - Wetherby area on the A1 with excellent views of one individual drifting over the carriage way), 7 Kestrels (I try to count as many Kestrels as I can on long journeys - the best count on this journey was 19 but this is a few years ago), Lapwing, Golden plover etc.

On the way home (2nd January) there were again 2 Red kites (Wetherby area), 6 Kestrels, a female Sparrowhawk (that flew under the central-reservation barrier and carried on to a wood on the other side - it was very fortunate not to be hit by a vehicle), 3 Bullfinches, 10+ Lesser black-backed gulls (York area), and a good number of Fieldfares, Redwings and Blackbirds. 5 Roe deer were also counted on the way home in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.

Road birding can be interesting!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Shades of white and grey

On a very blustery day we headed off to North Shields Fish Quay where several birders were gathered on the quay beside the Trawlers, our gaze was directed towards the roof where a juvenile Glaucous Gull was lounging, instantly recognised by it's pale pink bill with a black tip which looked as if it had been dipped in ink. Further along was what looked like a second bird but this turned out to be a Glaucous/ Herring Gull hybrid, we didn't have to wait long when a second star made it's entrance in the form of a sleek, ghostly looking Iceland Gull, yet again a juvenile.
Our next port of call was Wesr Hartford where after 20 minutes standing in a very cold wind we were rewarded with a distant view of the Great Grey Shrike. After a while it disappeared, a small group of us stood and chatted about birds in general .when someone said it's heading in our direction, sure enough the distinctive shape of the Shrike got closer and closer until finally it landed in the tree above our heads. What views we had before it flew off and continued it's circuit, the only downer was that of the six people standing there no one had a camera.