Saturday, 21 October 2017

Bee Eaters and Buntings

After a week working I was looking forward to catching up with the Bee Eater which appeared at Druridge Pools through the week, after a bit of waiting and a walk up to East Chevington and back it finally appeared perched on a nearby fence, only leaving to grab a passing insect. After lunch we ended up at Low Newton where we along with a small but enthusiastic group caught up with a very smart looking Little Bunting. 

B is for Bee Eater and Bunting

After being unable to get down for the Bee Eater due to work I was looking forward to Saturday, would it be still there?. On arriving at Druridge Pools the signs weren't great, it had been seen but had flown North towards East Chevington so I headed off in that direction, it was very quiet only Stonechats and a large flock of Linnets so I headed back to Druridge, it was a good move as within minutes the bird had turned up and sparkled as it perched on a nearby fence, leaving only to feed on passing insects. Home for a spot of lunch then over to Low Newton for a very smart looking Little Bunting which was feeding amongst the upper branches of a tree near the Tin Church and was much appreciated by all present. 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Holy Island 17th September

It's that time of year when Holy Island is just too good to miss, however there is also the chance that there will be absolutely nothing. That was certainly the case today when it came to passerines, the Snook had it's usual numbers of Meadow Pipits and the Half Moon slack held 3 Reed Buntings, and a single Common Whitethroat, Snook House itself had 1 Goldcrest, 1 Robin and a Willow Warbler.
From there I decided to walk along to Emmanuel Head, following the Beach produced 9 Sanderling, 1 Redshank and 4 Bar-tailed Godwits. The day really picked up with a spot of seawatching at Emmanuel Head, the long lines of Gannets of all ages were picked out against the dark choppy sea, next through were 6 Velvet Scoters quickly followed by 2 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Red-throated Divers, this sequence was broken by constant movement of Kittiwakes which in turn attracted those pirates of the seas Arctic Skuas, one unfortunate bird was assaulted by 3 hoodlums at the same time and soon disgorged its food, in total 11 Arctic Skuas were seen, the highlight arrived soon afterwards in the form of a graceful Sooty Shearwater one of many which were seen up and down the coast today. It just proves that even the most unpromising day will still have it's highlights.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Black and White beauty

After finally catching up with the Corn Bunting at Boulmer ,a bird which tragically is a real rarity in the county our focus turned to Low Newton scrape where after spending much of Saturday in the Druridge Bay area our end of the county was treated to a stunning White-winged Black Tern as it fed over the scrape. At this point I should apologise for the quality of the image, with it's buoyant, bouncy flight it was very hard to focus on, but who cares, what a cracking bird and one which is always worth a trip to see.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Dragons and Damsels

After Stewart and Richard's superb talk on Wednesday evening I decided to check out Branton Ponds for Dragonflies and Damselflies. The smaller Damselflies were much in evidence, the easiest to I.D. were the Blue-tailed then there were the Common Blues with their almost tree-like marks on the 1st and 2nd abdominal sections, having checked dozens I failed to find a single Azure with it's tell tale letter H marking on the same section. Then as if by magic a larger Dragonfly came into view, after careful observation it finally came to rest on some vegetation where I was able to observe it in detail and narrowed it down to another species which was mentioned in the talk, Black-tailed Skimmer, after getting this confirmed by Stewart I did as he had suggested and enjoyed the views of what was a new species for both me and the Ponds.

Saturday, 13 May 2017


After a morning spent in the Cheviot Hills surrounded by low cloud we headed down to Lynemouth Flash to catch up with a Citrine Wagtail which first appeared yesterday. On arriving we were soon onto the bird  as it fed constantly at the water's edge, a small group of people had gathered and soon it was only about 5 metres away still feeding and totally unfazed. Next we headed to the Budge Screen at Druridge Pools which held Wood Sandpiper, Garganey, Little Egret, and a very smart male Ruff in full breeding plumage, Spotted Flycatcher was also seen dashing for insects from a wire fence, after an unpromising start to the day the sun was out and all was well in the world.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Green Hairstreaks

We decided today was a good day to look for Green Hairstreaks on Debdon Moor, as we crossed on the moor track Swallows buzzed overhead and Tree Pipits were also calling, in the distance a Cuckoo gave its evocative call. Eventually we arrived at an area of small crags surrounded by Bilberry and started looking, after a few minutes searching some movement was seen and there was our target, when a second one appeared they both flew off in a frantic chase but always came back to the same spot.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Catch Up...

Apologies, I didnt have time to write anything for the newsletter, I must try to be more time conscious! Here are a few shots taken over the last couple of weeks...

This Ferruginous Duck attracted a stream of admirers down to the Silverlink Park.

While, a pair of Mandarins were on DBCP, they seem to be getting commoner in spring along the coast.

March was good for moths being quite mild, here we have clockwise from top left - Twin spotted Quaker, Small Quaker, Pine Beauty and March Moth.

Great White Egret, distant on the Budge Fields, Druridge...

...replaced soon afterwards by this Spoonbill.

And finally 4 more Shorelarks closer to home at Boulmer...
 Write this out 100 x ...'I must be on time'...

Friday, 10 March 2017

Reptile update

A short walk on the outskirts of Branton revealed only 10 Adders today, as it was early afternoon and quite warm many were probably off hunting, however the walk was given further interest by the first Slow Worm of the year, a lovely bronze coloured individual, there was no sign however of yesterday's Mandarin.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Full of Eastern promise

A lovely sunny morning saw us checking out Branton Ponds, the waterfowl were busy chasing one another and even a few Bumblebees were to be seen, amidst all this spring activity Keith suddenly noticed and interesting duck lurking along the waters edge, on closer inspection he realised it was a first for the site in the form of a drake Mandarin, what a stunner with it's gaudy colours and feathers held at jaunty angles, this now brings the site total to 170 species, not bad for an inland site.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Grey Wagtail

I know the back lane  behind our cottage is a bit wet at the moment but it was still a surprise to see a Grey Wagtail poddling about in the small pools there this afternoon.

Monday, 27 February 2017


Three nice Waxwings have been frequenting Embleton for a few weeks, at the north end of the village around the quarry and bottle banks mainly. On Sunday we found two of them just inside the housing estate on the west side of the main road. Still there today.

It all adds up

Even though the forecasters are predicting doom and gloom over the next few days there was a spring like feel to the air this morning. Around the ponds birdsong has increased, winter visitors like Wigeon are still here in numbers but there has been a steady build up of summer breeders over the last week, Curlew on their way to the uplands, Shelduck and Oystercatcher which nest on the site and even the Black-headed Gulls are making their presence felt. No further sign of the Bittern today, it was last seen on Friday but Frogspawn has suddenly made an appearance and the numbers of Adders are gradually rising with 11 seen basking today, so it really does add up, spring must be on the way.

Monday, 20 February 2017


On Sunday I got a text message from Mike Carr to say he'd just had a Bittern at Branton Ponds, we were straight out  but didn't see the bird. Mike then sent us a stunning flight shot of the bird which left us drooling, so at first light on Monday we were in position staking out the site, eventually we briefly saw the bird as it flew from one side of the pond to the other, then back home for breakfast.
This is the second record for the site after a bird in 2014 and many thanks to Mike who provided the photos.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

A small sign of Spring

At Branton the signs of spring can come in many forms, bulbs sending leaves skywards, frogspawn in sheltered pools or maybe some early insects on the wing. One of our favourite indicators is usually found curled up on a dry south facing bank, and today looked perfect for the first Adders of the year, so with this in mind I set off checking likely spots all to no avail, as I returned home the second shift headed out in the form of Keith, as the day grew warmer the prospects improved and he was soon looking at looking at a small male Adder basking in the sunshine, our first of the year, a couple of days later than last year but hopefully a sign of things to come.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Pacific Diver

Over the last couple of weeks, a very rare bird has been frequenting either Druridge Bay Country Park or East Chevington North Pool. The bird, a Pacific Diver Gavia pacifica is the north west American counterpart to out own Black throated Diver. This is the first record for Northumberland and maybe only the 8th for the UK. The bird is best viewed on one of its sorties north onto the lake at DBCP where it sometimes comes to within 20 feet of observers.It is more distant when on East Chevington, but regardless of that, if you are in the area. call in, its well worth the visit, you might not see another for a very long time.

Nearby are a nice wintering party of 7 Shorelarks and 80 Twite feeding on the beach at the Chevington Burn mouth. Even more reason to pop in!

Pacific Diver, on DBCP lake.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Doon Sooth

Today we decided to head south of our usual patch in search of Gulls to add to our year lists, by down south this meant the delights of North Shields Fish Quay. We were not disappointed after checking out numerous large Gulls on the Fish Quay roof our first target in the shape of a juvenile Iceland Gull was hard to miss as it cruised close to the quay amongst the trawlers. Next a feeding frenzy of gulls produced our next bird in the form of a juvenile Glaucous Gull a big brute of a bird which was very happy to exchange blows with the Great-black Backs, as we watched the melee a Kingfisher flew past the Low Light. Next to Newbiggin which produced 7 Mediterranean Gulls on the beach, at Cresswell 80+ Pinkfeet fed in a field. At East Chevington near the burn mouth the 7 Shore Larks were still present, whilst on the North Pool we found a male Scaup and another Kingfisher appeared. Our last port of call was just north of Warkworth where 35 Whooper Swans fed in a field with several Mute Swans.   

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Wild Goose Chase

With Keith full of cold I decided to have a day's birding in the Bamburgh area, the first port of call being Harpers Heugh to look for Geese, unfortunately as with almost every area I visited today the shooters were out in force. There were a few geese in fields just west of Budle Bay, mainly Greylags but also 3 Pink-feet and a single Brent Goose. Next to Stag Rocks where at least 50 Long-tailed Ducks were offshore accompanied by Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser and 15 Red-throated Divers. In yet another change of scenery I headed off to Spindlestone Hides where the feeders had Chaffinches, Blue,Great and Coal Tits on them along with Great-spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch, but no Marsh Tits. My final visit was to Elwick where the fields were alive with the sound of geese, there were about 2000 Pink-feet and almost 1000 Barnacle Geese, also 6 Bean Geese, 30+ Pale Bellied Brent Geese and the unusual sight of a Bar-headed Goose.