Monday, 29 February 2016


Saturday morning was spent surveying a lowland farm site near Lesbury.  The first bird of interest was a very confiding second-year male Peregrine sitting on a fence line.  Small numbers of Lapwing were starting to display and good numbers of Curlew (55) were feeding in a pasture.  Two Buzzards were eyeing up the large numbers of Brown hares (14 in one field).

Good numbers of Skylarks (25+ males) were in full song and the first of the returning Meadow pipits were seen.  Other species of interest included a pair of Stonechat, at least 7 Yellowhammers and several Tree sparrows.

Visible migration included small parties of Siskins moving north.

Friday, 12 February 2016


Early morning around Branton Ponds had a feel of winter, the ponds themselves were 80% frozen. This helped to concentrate the birds onto the small areas of open water, Wigeon are still in good sized numbers along with Teal, Tufted Duck, Mallard and 2 Pochard. Siskins ,Bullfinch, Lesser Redpoll and various members of the Tit family fed greedily amongst the Alders. In stark contrast when the sun came out and the air warmed up a bit we came across our first Adder of the year, a small male which was our earliest ever by 2 days, could spring be just around the corner? 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Singing larks

A lunch time stroll along the cycle path to Doddington, today, produced a few species of interest. Two Skylarks were briefly in full song.  A Peregrine was hunting Wood pigeons on neighbouring fields. Two Meadow pipits fed in a small wetland at the side of the path.  Small flocks of Pink-footed geese were commuting between tasty fields.  The largest accumulation of birds were about 500 in a grass pasture just down from the village.

Hawthorn was coming into leaf next to the path!  Obviously continental plants.  Older, more established plants are still in tight bud.


Thursday, 4 February 2016

Arctic Redpoll

For those who fancy a a touch of the exotic, or should I say a touch of the Arctic, it is worth visiting Warkworth . Birling area to see the Coues Arctic Redpoll that has been present since the new year. It is favouring a game crop with 30+ other redpolls a mix of Mealy Redpolls and Lesser Redpolls.

Here it is second from the left, a much paler bird that the others in the flock....
It often fluffs up to show the lovely white rump and flanks.
This is a rare bird in the UK and in Northumberland its the first for a good few years. If you fancy a short walk it is easy to get to just follow the dotted line on the map and watch the fence line....

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Is spring here?

On 30th Jan we were at Branton ponds and found two or three Hawthorns already in leaf.  Then the following day along the track from our house one of the Larches that usually come into leaf early had broken its leaf buds.  In the past when I've seen this tree showing leaves in mid Feb I've been amazed, but before the end of January is exceptional.

Then today I was in Chillingham and during a circuit of the park put up three Woodcock and an excellent pair of Fallow Deer does.  There was also an very good selection of unusual conifers near the Castle and some of these will be the subjects of my Plant Corner article in the February newsletter.  But given that storm Henry was still raging it wasn't surprising that there was a great deal of wind-blown fallen timber throughout the park.  The wind also nearly blew me over up on Ros Castles.