Sunday, April 26, 2015

More bees...

Garden Bumblebee Bombus hortorum
White-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lucorum 
Out down at Warkworth this morning. It was clear and sunny but a white frost coated the grass first thing, and a cold  northerly breeze put the dampers on things.

Before I discuss the birding, we were checking out the bumblebees on a patch of Yellow Archangel and White Dead Nettle. At first glance the two above look pretty much the same, but the Garden Bumbler has three yellow bands while the White tailed has two. That is very simplistic, and to be honest bumblebee id is not that straightforward. I am sure the top id is correct but the bottom one? Mmm...If you know any different please leave a comment...

So what was on offer bird-wise? Straight out of the car added Common Whitethroat to Johns year list with two singing males. Nearby a Grasshopper Warbler reeled for a moment but thoughts of a photo were dashed when it didnt sing again and we couldnt find it. Next, in similar fashion, a Reed Warbler croaked off a few notes but remained concealed. Blackcaps were everywhere and there had been a certain increase in Willow Warblers over the week.

Down on the estuary, 89 Dunlin were coming into breeding plumage, 19 Knot, 11 Ringed Plover and 2 Little Egrets were of note.

The only thing back home were 2 Whimbrel south as I left the house, first thing.

113. Whimbrel 


Saturday, April 25, 2015

After being stuck in an over heated office all week when the weather outside was glorious I was really looking forward to the weekend. Then when I got up and looked out, it was as if we had gone back to March. It was dull, cold and raining with a light NW breeze. Great.

Still, you have to make the best of what you have so today I've been out on several dog walks around the patch, the last one was even bathed in afternoon sunshine.

This mornings stroll was around the coast path, to the Rumbling Kern and back. Common Whitethroat was the best on offer and quite early for here. A lone Red throated Diver flew south and 3 Sandwich Terns N. A nice Greenland Wheatear was on the muck heap next to Tommy's farm.

A lunchtime walk took in the pond field and lane end. I was pleased to find a Coot sitting on a nest here, the first I have confirmed breeding I think, while Little Grebes have hatched young and Mallard have 9 ducklings. The heronry is making all kinds of god awful noises.

Finally this afternoons walk was a combination of the two earlier ones, down the teepee track to the burn mouth and back by the Long Walk and Pond. A Sand Martin was finally added to the PWC list, hawking with Swallows above the pond and Blackcaps were chasing around in just about every bit of wood and scrub available.

111. Common Whitethroat
112. Sand Martin 

Friday, April 24, 2015

On Reflection....

After a tip off from a work colleague, I called in to Warkworth Lane Caravan Site first thing this morning to check out the two drake Mandarins that have been here for the last three days. One was very vocal and kept flying around the pond, while the other was more relaxed. In the morning sunshine they looked a real vision of colour, its just a pity I could get them both in shot together...

Quite scarce birds, Mandarins, up here and with a mystery provenance but what show stoppers they are regardless of their status. I love them!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Snakes and bees..

Yesterday I arrived at Rothbury for a meeting about 15 minutes early so I took  a short walk along the river with the camera. Three Goosanders and a Grey Wagtail were the only things of note bird-wise but a fluke shot of a Buff tailed Bumblebee at Snakeshead Fritillary made me pleased I had bothered taking my gear!

Snakeshead Fritillary and Buff-tailed Bumblebee


Outside of the village Willow Warblers were everywhere but there were no Green Hairstreaks despite the 16 degrees on the mercury...

Willow Warbler

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Good evening...

You know those evenings when your patch seems to be the best in the world? It was one of those tonight. Certainly not because of the birds seen, there were no new year species or anything, but it was sunny, mirror calm and very quiet. Lovely.

Down at the Rumbling Kern there were still no Sand Martins, but Swallows were more in evidence. A small wader roost was quite wintry looking - 45 Oystercatcher, 10 Turnstone and 2 Purple Sandpipers. 11 Common Scoter flew N....a pair of Grey Partridges were being harassed by some very young calves.

The stroll back via the lane end, had a few singing Chiffs and Willow Warblers and little else...

Turnstones and Purps.

Monday, April 20, 2015


A day late with this post, but there is no rush as Sunday provided very little inspiration for writing. I met with John, as usual, at Warkworth on a wintry like morning. It was overcast windy with odd cold showers and short bright spells. Summer migrants had stopped arriving as if someone had turned the tap off.

A light north passage of Linnets and Meadow Pipits, with odd Swallow and Sand Martin, 2 Chiffchaffs and 2 Goldcrests were the highlight here.

Later on in the afternoon, the sun had come out and the wind had blown the clouds away so I headed down to Craster for a seawatch. A local resident took umbridge at me parking on a hardstand outside an electric / telecom box where a sign proclaimed 'No Parking'. She asked what would happen if some one wanted in? Apart from being highly unlikely on a Sunday afternoon, I said I would move immediately to allow access. I wasn't going to leave the car. At this she said I was ignorant and left. Unperturbed, I continued my hour long seawatch without further interruption.

As I left I looked at my parking alternative. I could have moved on to a perfectly legal bit of road only feet away and caused more of an obstruction, so I think my sea watching will remain on the hardstanding...[Some people must have nothing to worry about!]

Anyway, what did I see - 1 Manx Shearwater, 5 Red throated Divers, thousands of Gannets, Auks, Kittiiwakes and seriously cocked up when a flock of small waders blasting south before I got my bins onto them. I still haven't had Dunlin, Sanderling or Ringed Plover..

Lest hope the 'tap' is turned back on next week...

Being laughed at by a Goldcrest...
110. Manx Shearwater

Saturday, April 18, 2015

On the patch...

Out early this morning to try and catch up with some spring visitors on the patch. First stop was Craster where the only sounds were the birds singing against the distant thrum of a boat engine off to collect the pots. The morning was crystal clear and sunny with a chilly NE nip in the air. Around the village were 12+ Chiffchaffs, 7+ Blackcaps, 3 Willow Warbler, 3 Swallow, 4 House Martins, 2 Willow Tits and 2 Bullfinch.

Four House Martins straight in at the nest site, quite early here, but still no Sand Martin...
Next, a short run along to the Rumbling Kern to check for Sand Martins proved fruitless, but 6 Sandwich Terns flew N close inshore, 3 Canada Geese flew south and 2 male Stonechats on territory put on a great show in the morning sunlight. A female Sparrowhawk dashed south along the cliffs.

Sparrowhawk, nearly sharp too!
Later a visit down to Howick Pond had Coot, Little Grebe and Mute Swan all sitting on nests, plus several more Blackcaps and another Willow Warbler along the lane.

The willow warblers wouldnt play so who could ignore these chaps, possibly the easiest bird to photograph after the robin!

107. Willow Warbler
108. House Martin
109. Sandwich Tern