Saturday, 28 February 2015

Warkworth Dunes

Warkworth Dunes is the place to visit at the minute if you want to see owls. There have been 3 Short-eared Owls (above) and a Barn Owl hunting the dunes area to the south of the car park. Afternoons seem to be best. Also Kingfisher and several pairs of Stonechat in the area.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Branton Ponds 20th February

Is spring just around the corner?, today provided more evidence in the form of our first Adder of the year at the ponds, only two days later than last year.

Wild goose chase......

For last 10 weeks I have been making regularly visits to the farmland west of Fenham Flats.  These visits are part of research work looking at the feeding behaviour of Light bellied brents once they move off the mudflats.  As I have reported previously, there is a mixed flock of Pink-foots, Barnacles and Brents.  This flock totals about 2,700 birds with an additional 300 Greylags joining the flock when they visit Budle Bay.  The most interesting feature is that this flock can go missing especially when you consider that the Brents will rarely stray more than two fields from the shore.

Evidence shows that the Brent are increasingly preferring temporary grass rather than winter-drilled cereals.  It is also fascinating that when the Brent first come onto fields in late December, they do not mix with other species of geese.  By mid February they are quite happy mixing with their bigger relatives especially the Barnacles.  Barnacles are also interesting - when they first started to over-winter they could always be found in and around Budle Bay.  This winter they could be found early on in Budle Bay but increasingly have spent their time at the southern end of Fenham Flats.

Other counts from yesterday include a flock of 14 Tree sparrows and 24 Linnets at Elwick and a good passage of Gannets off-shore.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Ford Moss 19th February

We had a quick visit to Ford Moss this morning to do a bird count, there were a few birds about(we managed 26 species) on a bright but blustery day. Apart from the usual's such as Great Tit, Blue Tit and Robin we also had 1 Woodcock, 3 Common Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk, 8 Fieldfare, 3 Jay and best of all 2 Ravens flying over at tree height, "cronking" as they went, not a bad morning for mid-February, perhaps a sign of things to come!  

Monday, 16 February 2015

Northumberland's birds ........

There were a number of highlights last week.  These included 1500 pink-footed geese at Doddington next to the Berwick Road and over 2700 geese in the Smeafield / Elwick area.  This mixed flock comprised of pink-footed geese, barnacles, light-bellied and dark-bellied brents.

I also had the fortune to be able to visit a moorland site in the county through work.  Unfortunately, due to the sensitivity of the species found I cannot publish the name of the site.  The visited started with flushing a woodcock.  A raptor appeared being harried by carrion crows - this proved to be a female hen harrier.  This bird flew off to the west.  Two more female hen harriers were then discovered interacting with each other.  A male peregrine was discovered followed by a sparrowhawk, two buzzards and two kestrels.  Two short-eared owls were then flushed accidentally. Both birds flew a short distance before giving excellent views.  Other species of interest included twite, numerous wrens and three roe deer.

Has anyone heard tawny owls calling through the day recently?

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Winter birding at Ford Moss

Below is a copy of a 'report' by Colin Platt on the Tuesday Group's survey of Ford Moss in early February.  It is brought to this blog courtesy of Mora Rolley.

All it proves is that several of the AWG members were out in the snow doing a Ford Moss winter count.


Hi Guys, what a great day as usual.

Who cares if the sun doesn’t always shine.

2 x photos attached depicting just how much we were enjoying ourselves and I’ve labelled Mora with the strapline ‘I take full responsibility’!! – I’m glad somebody did.

The highlight of the day wasn’t Tom moving from vertical to horizontal – all solved thanks to Ian and the loan of his ‘crippers’ – don’t let it be said that Tom finally got to grips with the difficult terrain! Back to the highlight which is summarised below in order of activity:

1.       Ian goes for a pee-break
2.       The group proceeds across the half-frozen snowy bog
3.       Winnie almost steps on one of our feathered friends
4.       Up and off it flew like a rocket
5.       I shout Snipe
6.       Ian shouts (mid-pee) – ‘it’s a little small’
7.       All agree it was a WoodCock !
8.       Group re-gathered and off we went – next on the list were a male & female Goldcrest.

What will next week bring!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Moorland sightings

On Monday morning, early, I was on Hulne Moor doing the Bird Survey inside the Park walls.  The birds were entirely unremarkable, but the stars of the morning were two Fallow Deer bucks.  The first I saw was young with not much width in the antlers, but the second, which rose out of the heather about 50 metres from me, had the characteristic palmate form of antlers.

The other thing that surprised me was that there was a line of molehills right up on the top of the moor alongside the 'golfball' fence which seemed a very unpromising location for moles.

Then  today Jane and I were out on a different area of moorland north of Alnwick when we spotted a group of Carrion Crows plus a Raven.  At first we assumed that the crows were mobbing the raven, but then a Ring-tailed Hen Harrier emerged from the ruck and moved away to quarter a different part of the moor.  Not a unique sighting, but an unusual one.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Blogger Picture Problems...

Hi All,

If you have had problems uploading images to this blog please try it using Google Chrome as your internet browser, then try it. I heard that it solved John Rutter's blogging issues immediately and is recommended by others on line if you have this problem.

Regards Stewart

Spring is springing, if not yet sprung

Fine sunny days in February are always good, especially if there's also no cutting wind.  On the Titlington Mount moors and woods yesterday there were two Mistle Thrushes singing and we saw five Skylarks starting to dispute territory and producing their early sub-song.

Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming is now a daily event and the Tawny Owls are very vocal from our bathroom window.  Now I just need the first sign of leaf buds breaking on our early Larches to persuade me that the end of winter is in sight.  Cue blizzards I expect!