Thursday, 12 December 2013

Once Bittern

I have spent the last two mornings at Gosforth Park watching Bitterns.  Yesterday I had four sightings of at least two Bitterns, all in flight.  Because of the good weather photographers were out in force.  
Today I headed back there because I thought in today’s duller weather there wouldn’t be so many big lenses around and I was right.  Today I saw at least three Bitterns moving around the reeds in front of the hide.  One was very vocal and seemed to be more dominant and chased the other ones away.  It’s nice to sit and watch these superb birds only five minutes drive from home.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

A Stag ‘Do’

           As usual at this time of year I’m trying to tidy up my year list and pick up the birds that I really should have seen earlier in the year.  Two birds that were missing from my year list were Slavonian Grebe and Great Northern Diver.  So on Monday I headed up to Stag Rock to try my luck. 

On the sea, there were good numbers of Long-tailed Duck, maybe as many as fifty on view.  Just beyond the breakers, was a small flock of Eiders with a few Common Scoter and a single Velvet Scoter in with them.  I soon pick up one of my targets with a single Slav just off the end of Stag Rock which dived and then was never seen again!  I did pick out three or four Grebes, within the large flocks of Common Scoter North of Stag Rock, that looked a bit dull to be Slavs but they were very distant and I couldn’t say for definite what they were. 

Whilst trying to get some other birders onto another Velvet Scoter, I spotted a very dark looking Diver just off the rocks, so I dashed back to my car to get my scope and it was ‘target number two’, a superb Great Northern Diver, which then took off and flew North.  I managed to get the other birders onto it as it flew off towards Holy Island.

I then got greedy and tried for the previous days Glaucous Gull at Long Nanny, again with no luck.  I couldn’t resist seconds of the Lesser Grey Shrike though which performed superb as usual.  I can’t help thinking what will happen to this bird once the photographers get bored with it and stop putting mealworms out for it?      

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A Lesser Grey Day

I set off up the A1 this morning with clear blue sky, I was just south of Alnwick when day turned to night and then everything turned white.  The snow was so heavy that I nearly turned around and headed back south to get back to the clear blue sky.  However, I decided against it and the shower passed, although it did leave the country roads a bit treacherous.  It was well worth the journey to watch the Lesser Grey Shrike in the Snow.

After watching the Shrike for a bit, I began to lose the feeling in my extremities, so I decided to drive up to Stag Rock.  The sea was very rough and difficult to watch birds on.  There were still a couple of Velvet Scoter mixed in with the various flocks of Common Scoter, one of the flocks also held 5 or 6 Mergansers and I also counted 25 Long-Tailed Ducks.  The only Divers I could find were 2 Red-Throated Divers.  No Grebes or other Divers were seen, but not surprising as the sea was very rough.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Fallen Heroes

No birding today, as it has been a day with the family, remembering 'our own' fallen hero.

L/CPL Kyle Marshall 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment.
KIA Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand Provence 14th Feb 2011

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Snow on the beach

I spent last weekend in the Lake District with the family and unfortunately we did not realise that 'Autumnwatch' was being broadcast from Leighton Moss.  We mistakenly then went on the Friday!  The place was heaving with families hoping to catch sight of Chris Packham and the other presenters. So that was a bit of a wasted day . . .

I didn’t really ‘bird’ for much of the weekend, but we did have a nice walk around Grizedale Forest on Sunday and we saw a Hawfinch near the car park and at one point there were five Ravens circling above us, which was nice to see.

Today I headed up to Druridge to catch up with the Snow Buntings.  I then spent a couple of hours following them up and down the beach.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Stag Rock

I spent the day with the family at Seahouses and Bamburgh today.  Not much to see at Seahouses with no Long-tailed Duck or even Eiders in the harbour.
Stag Rock was much better with Dunlin, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Turnstone and really good numbers of Purple Sandpiper and Knot.  A bit of a surprise was an Arctic Tern on the rocks.

On the sea were lots of Eiders, a handful of Common Scoter, a single Red-throated Diver and a Juv Velvet Scoter that looked remarkably like a female Harlequin.  I must admit it did get my heart racing for a minute until I got a better view of it. 
Also we saw the Trinity House Ship, Galatea, which was anchored between the Farnes and Holy Island all day.

Monday, 21 October 2013

A bit of a Chat

Today, I headed to Howick to try and get some shots of the Siberian Stonechat. I saw the St Mary's bird a few years ago, but I couldn't even remember what year it was!  Now thanks to Stewart (From the Notebook) for posting a picture of the St Mary's bird that he had drawn for the cover of the 2001 'Birds of Northumbria' book.  I now know the year I first saw a Sib Stonechat.  Stonechats are such a pleasure to watch as they are so conspicuous.  The light today wasn't great but I did manage some record shots.

On Sunday I went for a walk with the family at Prestwick Carr and managed to catch up with the Great Grey Shrike, which showed well but distant all the time we were there.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Border Crossing

I headed North today to try for the Sardinian Warbler at Mire Loch. As it has been there for so long it would have been rude not to go!   As I walked along the path on the West side of the Loch with another birder, we saw a small bird fly up into the dense foliage of the Sycamore trees, but I wasn’t sure whether this was a Yellow-Browed or Pallas’s Warbler.  I only got the briefest of views but it just seemed a bit bright for Yellow-Browed.  Whilst trying to relocate the Warbler a pair of Mealy Redpoll landed in a tree right next to us, unfortunately my camera was in my back pack.  Doh!  We didn’t find the Warbler again although a Pallas’s was reported from the same area later on!

The birder I was walking along with had been there for the last four mornings with not even a sniff of the Sardinian Warbler so things weren’t looking good.  After about half an hour it popped out of a bush right in front of him and we watched it move through the bush, feeding on blackberries, before it flew into gorse - never to be seen again!!!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Try it again

I had another go at sea watching this morning. I couldn't get the best spot at the Snab Point car park so I had to move down to the car park opposite the caravan park.  Today was much better with 68 Great Skua, 35 Sooty Shearwater, 17 Manx Shearwater, 5 Velvet Scoter and 2 Pomarine Skua as well as the constant flow of Gannets, Kittiwakes and Fulmars.  Unfortunately the hoped for Leach's Storm Petrel didn't materialise.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Not much to Sea.

I had a trip up to Snab Point this morning for a spot of sea watching.  I didn't really see a lot other than Gannets, with the highlight being four Barnacle Geese and three Scaup heading North.  So I then headed up to Hadston Carr hoping that the more sheltered North end of the bay would have a few Divers in it.  However all I could find were two Red-Throated Divers, although I did pick up a Sooty Shearwater, a Manx Shearwater and three Velvet Scoter all battling their way North against the wind.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

After a Sub

After seeing the Subalpine Warbler yesterday I couldn't resist seconds.  So this morning I headed back up to Druridge Pools where this cracking little bird was soon on show in the Blackthorn just North of the turning circle.

After a few minutes it set off on a tour of the small Hawthorn bushes giving the growing crowd of birders some superb views before it headed back into the Blackthorn again.

After tearing myself away from the Subalpine Warbler I headed for St Mary's to see if I could catch up with the reported Red-Breasted Flycatcher.  However on arrival I was informed that It hadn't been seen and no one knew who had reported it.  I did see Firecrest and Yellow-Browed Warbler.  Which is always nice!! 

Friday, 4 October 2013

A New Beginning

I’ve started this blog as a bit of an experiment, but I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to keep it going.  For now though we will see how we go.


Yesterday I headed down to St Marys to see if there had been any new overnight arrivals.  Within ten minutes of arriving I’d found my first Firecrest near the first viewing screen.  It then flew into willows near the second viewing screen where it joined another one.  Two Firecrests within fifteen minutes, not a bad start!   However despite spending most of the day there, the only other highlights were a Redstart, a few Goldcrest and a Yellow-Browed Warbler.


Today whilst sitting in the pub having lunch, I received a text informing me of a Subalpine Warbler at Druridge Pools.  But after having a beer and with things to do this afternoon it wasn’t looking good, then in steps my superb ‘other half’ offering to give me a lift up to Druridge.  So off to Druridge Pools we headed, arriving late afternoon.  We walked North towards a group of birders but the bird had disappeared, so we walked a bit further to get higher for a better overall view.  After about ten minutes of scanning the vegetation the Subalpine Warbler flew right past us and into a small Hawthorne on the other side of the Haul Road.  From where this superb little lifer showed quite well for the next five minutes or so.  Giving a new meaning to ‘Sub of the day’.  Nice!