Thursday, 14 January 2016

A wintry scene

Finally winter has hit us with a vengeance, we woke up this morning to about 2 inches of the white stuff. It does have some benefits , the first was in the form of a male Brambling feeding with Chaffinches and Tree Sparrows on the ground at our back window. Next to the Ponds where the snow revealed numerous footprints which included Red Squirrel scampering across the snow and further around where an Otter had come out of the burn and crossed over to the ponds, you could even see where it had stopped and then slid down the bank and into the water, who says animals don't have fun.
The ponds themselves held quite a few wildfowl including Teal, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Goldeneye, we also noted a small flock of 6 Redwing feeding in the treetops.  

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The Milfield Plain

This afternoon was spent walking the River Glen from Akeld Bridge to the confluence with the River Till.  There were a large number of birds in the area due to all of the lying water.  The Pink footed goose flock is between 4,000 and 5,000 birds - no other species could be found except a lone group of Greylag (24)  Interestingly a small number flew off north west presumably to the Hoselaw Lock roost.  There would also be at least 500 dabbling ducks consisting of mainly Teal and Wigeon with smaller numbers of Mallard.  At least 2 Gadwall were found and there were 2 female Goosander.

Waders were the most interesting with anything between 6 and 8 Green sandpipers (4 in one flock), 2 Greenshank, 6+ Redshank, 5 Snipe, 2 Woodcock, 160 Lapwing and 15 Golden plover.

Other species of interest included a female Barn owl, a Dipper and a good selection of passerines including a possible Water pipit.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Back blogging

A change of PC meant that Google ceased to recognise me as an author on our Blog - but Stew has now sorted me out.  It explains why some of these comments are rather out of date.

Away for Christmas, but coming home on 27th we stopped the car right on top of Bilsmoor, (immediately north of Elsdon) to admire a Short-eared Owl that was sitting on a road-side fence post.  It all seemed a bit bleak up there for the bird not to have retreated closer to the coast.

Then on 28th we were treated to a big flock of Lapwing circling overhead at Low Hedgeley - our estimate was 400/500.  There was plenty of variety on the main pond, including 12 Gadwall and six Goldeneye.  Two Dippers chased each other up the river towards the road bridge.

On 29th we had our first, and so far only, bird table Brambling of the winter.

Finally on Friday this week a quick visit to Buston Links with the tide coming in gave us the biggest flock of Sanderling we've seen for a long time.  We counted 85 birds strung out along the strand line, plus a dozen or so Ringed Plover.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

It not just cold snowy weather that is bad for some wildlife

A quick lunchtime walk along the river in Wooler today brought home the fact that lots of rain can be challenging for some of our wildlife.  The Dippers that were singing along the Wooler Water have stopped and it would appear moved on.  A confiding Goldcrest was found picking around areas of long grass looking for invertebrates - presumably a lot of potential food has been washed off the trees.  A Barn owl was hunting over long grass between Weetwood Avenue and the Middle School at 1pm in the afternoon.  Night time hunting conditions have been obviously too wet in the last few days for successful forays.

Other wildlife of note included Gorse in flower, small flocks of Siskins moving south and a Moorhen feeding in a puddle.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Rain, rain go away.........

The North East seems to be getting our fair share of the wet stuff and the forecast for our area does not give us much hope for the coming week.  Sunday afternoon was spent dodging the showers and 'plodging' in the mud around Branton Ponds.  The West pond was relatively quiet with the highlight being 7 Goldeneye.

The shelter of the East Pond meant that there was a bit more going on.  Two Stoats in ermine were cavorting on the path close to the sluice.  A female Roe deer was very confiding in the same area.  The East pond held good numbers of Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Coot and Tufted duck.  A Snipe was flushed from the eastern end of the pond and there was a nice flock of mixed buntings (e.g. Yellowhammers and Reed buntings) and finches (e.g. Chaffinches and Greenfinches) in the trees in the same area.  Many of these birds are feeding on an area of 'unharvested crop' that lies to the east of the site.