Friday, 28 January 2011


Squandering time between meetings spent some time at QE Park Ashington yesterday where a particularly trim Barnacle Goose was keeping its own company to the west of the car park.

Much nicer than his larger relative the Canada Goose now so ubiquitous in our country. Speaking of relatives was doing a similar thing yesterday as well at Killingworth Lake where the Nordic Jackdaw was again feeding near the car park.

Note to self...........must stop hanging around lakeside car parks and get some work done.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

R B night

No not Robbie Burns but Reed Bunting where 1-3 are visiting my garden daily. For a bird of open country they generally stay on the ground although one has been converted to a townie and uses the feeder.

Nice to see a bright bully making a brief appearance. They occasionally visit but I have never seen them feeding!

The local residents of course look down their nose at all these invaders to their patch. Having done Garden Birdwatch for over 12 years Jackdaw along with House Sparrow and Starling are the birds with an 100 % attendance record.

I for one will not be shooting any Haggis tonight and my bottle of malt ran out last night so I doubt I'll be toasting the bard with anything other than wine so bottoms up!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Fly by

It's been a strange week trying to mix a busy work schedule with birding. Managed to combine a meeting at Blyth on Thursday with a stab at the Red necked Grebe in Blyth harbour but without success although the Snow Buntings were more obliging. The good sunlight also allowed some attempts at Sanderling in flight but with limited result.

Other than that it's been a schedule of work from 8.00 till 3.30 then out on the Carr for an hours birding and back to work till 6.30. Why the schedule? Well there's an evening visitor which made up No 50 on the list and if you don't blink you may get a view. Start scanning the distance around 4.00pm and with luck she'll be low and fast over the grass turning to fly directly toward you, she'll be hard to spot as she merges with the background. Then about one field away she'll bank right and start making a long turn into the wind where she may just make one pass before dropping down into the grass. Twenty to thirty seconds if you're lucky although many aren't. Of five expert birders present on Wednesday two failed to pick the bird up and last night of the twenty or so present at least five didn't see it. I trust this included the lady with the bright pink dayglo jacket and dog at heel who perhaps needs to re-consider her attire before expecting to see many birds other than rear views of those flushed by the dog.

Anyway, the spin off benefits of my schedule is more birds for the list. Tuesday the bird flushed a large flock of Teal from the ponds near the garden centre and Wednesday saw a flock of 33 Waxwing sudddenly emerge from behind us and fly into a tree 50 yards away before moving into the hedge further west.

Thursdays watch saw the big bird flush numerous Snipe from the fields and PF spotted a Woodcock that flew straight over our heads up the bumpy road such are the benefits of spending some time on the patch.
This morning it was out sharp in dull weather to be greeted by a small flock of eleven Siskin that by the time I retuned at 10.30 had grown to 34. Also added to the list were possible Green Woodpecker yaffling in the golf course but no end of searching could get a visual although 16 Waxwing were flushed and headed off west. Twenty three Pink footed Geese flew in from the south and turned east over the Carr possibly heading to Big Waters and a solitary Mute Swan headed for the flash water. This makes the year list now only 56 with notable omissions being Skylark, Meadow Pipit and any Owls. Lets hope the onset of warmer weather will allay fears about the effect of the bad winter on these species.

Monday, 17 January 2011

A dot or a tick

A morning of demands from clients hadn't put me in the best of moods especially after missing the opportunity of a local Hawfinch on Sunday so when I checked Birdguides and found a bird was still at Morpeth there was really no choice.
After getting out of the car and flushing a Dipper from the nearby stream I proceeded west as directed to find a group of six birders with bins trained on a bird overhead and just got focused as it disappeared into the trees. That was it I was informed and for the next hour we waited for a repeat. Fellow blogger The Liverbirder was present and Vee with lens trained in anticipation. Eventually a bird was spotted atop a tree one hundred yards away. Nobody had brought a scope and no matter how hard we looked a positive ID was impossible at the distance but we were sure it know, jizz and all that.
So the spectacular view

and the massive enlargement which seems to suggest we were correct. A Hawfinch dot.

On leaving we met Alan T with youngsters in tow who managed a closer encounter than I. Then, after doing a bit of work it was off to the Carr where other than a Kestrel aligning with the moon and a particularly vocal Curlew, things were quiet especially when the sun sank in the west.

A nice bit of afterglow on the flooded landscape and another birding day draws to a close.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

What's mew

After a week where the two evil W's, work and weather, got the better of me and having spent Saturday getting wet on a building site that more resembled a lake I was looking forward to my Webs count this morning so imagine my dismay when upon awakening the only sound was of shifting tiles and creaking eaves as the wind tore a hoolie round the gable of my house. I considered not bothering but even a blustery count is better than siting around thinking about all the work I should be doing so off I set.
Arrived on the Tyne at 8.10 hoping the rising tide wouldn't effect the last section of the site only to find that the gale was so strong the tide looked like it was going out and the mud flats were devoid of bird life. No point counting nothing so will leave it till later in the week when weather and tide may be more favourable. Not wanting to go home I headed up to Whittle Dene and spent five minutes on the road dam watching seven Tufties, eight Goldeneye and a Cormorant fishing at the far west end of the reservoir while searching for the long staying Redhead when a bird flew in from the east and landed just fifty yards away. Ah perhaps my luck had turned. It was the Smew and it was swimming toward me as I edged the hide (car) nearer. I have tried to photograph this bird many times but it has a personal space of about 100 meters so this was the closest yet! Got three shots off and waited for it to surface a little closer but as it did took one look at the car and flew off west. Bugger!

So down to Prestwick Carr where many of the birds that should have been on the banks of the Tyne were huddled in the middle of flooded fields. A mixed flock of 200 or so Golden Plover and slightly fewer Lapwing were surrounded by numerous Black headed and Mew (Common) Gulls.
The only additions to the list over the week has been Feral Pigeon and today added Shelduck and a bathing juvenile Great black-backed Gull. Perhaps he could wash a bit harder and turn into a putative Slaty backed Gull!! (see Birdguides)


Monday, 10 January 2011

Creeping up

A very quiet weekend on the counting side with only the addition of 15 Golden Plover standing in the middle of a frozen field to bolster the list. I did find two Treceepers though so it's nice to see this species which is potentially vulnerable to frozen weather getting on ok.

There's lots of shooting going on around the Carr at the moment and I think the game birds are wisely keeping their heads down as not even a Pheasant has been found yet.
And so another week of drudgery begins.................or should I try for that Great Grey Shrike at Longframlington?

Friday, 7 January 2011

Ey glow tha lots

On the way back from a job at Matfen yesterday called in at Bolam lake where the feeders were alive with birds. Mainly Chaffinch' s numbering 25 and more battled with six Woodpigeons for the rights to each spot along with Great, Blue and Coal Tit plus a tribe of six Aegithalos caudatos. Not a true tit the long tailed jobby was the only one that photographed in the abysmal light. Hardly suprising being in a wood during a snow storm even 3200 ISO didn't quite stop the motion!

I waited half an hour in the hope for a Brambling but only Blackbird, Nuthatch and Robin joined the throng.
This morning I awoke to another hard frost and looking out of the back window at first light a garden record 12 Blackbirds were waiting for a feed.

Thank goodness for the disgusting waste of our supermarkets. Christmas goodies all being sold off means the birds shall have Christmas cake, fatty bacon bits and Apples along with their normal fayre.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Slow start

Not remotely in the mood for this year yet and the dull days do nothing to promote a feeling of well being. A bit of late sun yesterday was welcome giving a glowing sunset made better by three Whooper Swans overhead going north. Nice to get them ticked early on as the list has also started a bit slow. To date
House Sparrow
Collared Dove
Common Gull
Black headed Gull
Pied Wagtail
Great Tit
Mistle Thrush
Blue Tit
Long tailed Tit
Reed Bunting
Greylag Goose
Herring Gull
Coal Tit
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Grey Heron
Willow Tit
Whooper Swan
That's 41 so far with last years tally of 109 to beat. Also nice to see surviving Goldcrest and Treecreeper given the cold weather which were travelling with a marauding tit flock. Reports of a big bird gave me reason to spend a couple of hours freezing my butt late yesterday but without avail.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Keep yer pecker up

and well fed. In the game of Snakes and Ladders that is life another year begins and lists are reset to zero. All the best to all of you and best of luck be it in finding that mega, capturing that moment, pounding that patch or just finding enough time to stop and appreciate the wealth of nature.

Now don't hang around reading this twaddle.....get on out there and work off that excess!