Sunday, May 27, 2007

Top - Northern Marsh Orchid, Holy Island.
Centre - Cowslips and Northern Marsh Orchids in dune slack, Holy Island.
Bottom - Holy Island Castle and village from the north dunes. Click on the picture for larger image.

Today began with heavy rain and a light NW -NE breeze. Later on it was sunny with a strong NE6 blowing.

I started the day with high hopes of a good bird being grounded on Holy Island. Unfortunately it took me a couple of hours to find that there were no migrants let alone good ones on the island. The only pics today to brighten things were of the orchids in the dunes.

On my way back south I stopped at Monks House Pool and Newton Pool. Nothing much to report from either of these though I did find a Goldfinches nest with the female building at Newton.

So, as I was not having much success away from home it was back to Boulmer to see what I could salvage of the morning. I knew the tide would be well up by the time I arrived so I headed up to the north end near Longhoughton Steel for a sea watch and hopefully some close views of the waders.

I had only been sitting about 15 minutes when the wind suddenly strengthened from the north east giving me some hope of a seabird movement, and I didn't do too badly in the hour I was there. The list goes like this -

Bonxie ( Great Skua) 1N. As I watched through my scope I heard the gulls on the close rocks become agitated and glanced up to see a huge Bonxie come from behind me, over my right shoulder and stoop into the birds on the rocks before heading out to sea. Great Views.
Little Tern 5
Grey Plover 2
Knot 2
Whimbrel 1
Teal 3
Arctic Skua 2N one was just like the Bonxie and flew so close it could have crapped on me!
Manx Shearwater 39N Including a single flock of 27 birds.
Curlew 79
Sanderling 8
Common Scoter 6N
Eider 1 female with 5 ducklings just on the rock edges.

121. Great Skua
122. Arctic Skua

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Only a short walk with Bunty around Boulmer this morning. This immature Little Gull with the Black headed Gulls was the highlight. In the top picture you can see how much smaller it really is.

Basil Brush.

This skinny Fox was having a meal on the shore of Linton Pond this afternoon. The local Mallards and Canada Geese weren't too bothered by it. It later had a drink and sloped off to somewhere a little bit more quiet...

Lesser Scaups!

Male Lesser Scaup showing dark rear end of mantle where grey turns black giving a whole blackish rear, not just under tail.

The pair of Lesser Scaup, the female showing the classic head shape and face pattern.

Female Lesser Scaup. See greyish edges to mantle feathers and obvious neck ring.

A better view of the true head shape of the male.

A view of the diagnostic wing bar pattern. White on secondaries, greyish buff on primaries.

Another view of the male head shape.

Profile of the male.

Finally the black bill tip restricted to the nail only.

This afternoon GB and LR found this pair of Lesser Scaups at Linton Pond. After a bit of a purple patch at Linton, these two are the icing on the cake ( the ducks, not Graeme and Les!). There has only been one previous record of the nearctic duck in Northumberland, on Bothal Pond on 1st May 1999. I think they must be overlooked as there are a good few reported annually throughout the UK, the best time to look for them being Feb - May. Pity some of the lads are away on a bird club outing to Norfolk eh!

Also of note here, 1 male Ruddy Duck complete with sky blue beak and a single Little ringed Plover. Funny I didn't see it after the fox had his snack...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Spoon river....

ADMc found this Spoonbill at Castle Island on the River Wansbeck at Ashington this morning. I thought I would call in to get a photo on my way home from work only to find that I had left my camera at home. Not to be outdone, my trusty mobile was put to use again. At least you can get the gist of it...

Now Spooners are annual in Northumberland these days, but at lunchtime I had a much rarer sighting. I was out for my lunch in Blyth town centre and crossing the market square and was amazed to see a female Holly Blue butterfly fluttering outside the Keel Row shopping centre! This is a very rare species up here, my last was in my garden in about 1993. This Blyth specimen drfted away across the main road and was lost outside Barclays Bank. Bizarre!

At Boulmer this evening 2 Little Terns on the beach and the 'one white winged Herring Gull' seen at Chevington on Sunday was offshore. They get about a bit these gulls dont they...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The House on the Shore.

Above - The House on the Shore, Monks House and Monks House Pool, Seahouses.
Top - Lesser black backed Gull looking very long winged?
Second - Moorhen sitting on nest.

This area has a lot of birding history. The house was once a bird observatory owned and run by the late Dr Eric Ennion. The book " The House on the Shore" by him shows its rise and fall in the post war years. I first read it as a teenager and is still one of my favourites. A friend of mine recently paid £40 for a copy from Barter Books, mine came from New Jersey, USA and cost about £12 including shipping!

Apart from the birds shown, also here this evening were 3 Yellow Wagtails including a nice male 'Channel' Wagtail, a Blue headed x Yellow cross. I almost got a photo but the other two put it to flight just as the shutter was being pressed...

Above - Lindisfarne, the Holy Island viewed from Bamburgh Golf Club this evening.

Above - I couldn't drive past without a snap of this view of Bamburgh Castle again..

All of this lot as we decided to have fish and chips from Seahouses.

Above - Bunts sick of waiting...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Above - One of the Wood Sandpipers at Druridge on Sunday. Photo very kindly sent to me by IDR, Mine weren't worth putting on. Cheers.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Word from my correspondant on the spot and in the know, says that there are complaints being whispered in corners about this here blog. 'They' reckon that its not updated enough!

Must do better...

Above - A Sedge Warbler singing at Linton Pond.

Above - An immature male Marsh Harrier showing well at East Chevington.

Above - Cinnabar Moth and Orange Tip Butterfly at Druridge.

And finally at Linton Pond Hide, graffiti of the highest order. Apparently ALL of the Pochards tell lies. Yes, thats right, all of them. Bastards.

A breezy sunny day that improved as time went on.

No visit to Boulmer today thanks to the Ring necked Duck. Despite starting at 5.30am, and thinking that I had nothing better to do than stroll up and rattle off some snaps, how wrong could I be. The bird had done one. Lucky for me I've seen a good few in the county already...

I spent the morning in the Druridge Bay area with ST and ADMc et al.

Highlights as follows -

Linton Pond - er, I'm struggling here, Blackcap and Garden Warbler doing their own version of Duelling Banjos in the wood.

Longhirst - phhhh...

Bothal - mmmm...some nice swifts etc hawking over the pond and a single Ringed Plover. No Little Ringed seen on our visit.

East Chevington - Better, 2 Marsh Harriers seen well, one bird in particular. 30+ Gadwall, 1 Buzzard flew over.

Druridge Pools - Best, 2 Wood Sandpipers, 1 Greenshank, 1 Snipe, 41 Ringed Plovers and 15+ Dunlin , 1 Whooper Swan, Herons nest containing two ugly pterodactyls all on the Budge fields. 2 Wheatears on the roadside.

No a bad morning after all, plus a skinny Fox, a few Wall Brown butterflies noted.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

At Boulmer today the wind was quite strong, SW6 or 7 with some bright sun and quite mild.

As I walked my stinking terrier ( you don't want to know what she rolled in )along towards Longhoughton Steel the tide was well up and just about to cover the rocks. Nice timing to sit and watch the waders comng up close.
There were 225+ Turnstones, 150+ Dunlin, 50+ Ringed Plover and 3 Whimbrel. An immature Little Gull came in from the sea but flew around then headed off south, 2 male Red breasted Mergansers flew south.

Just as the tide swamped the rocks and moved all the birds off, a massive juvenile Glaucous Gull flew in and landed on the sea with a Herring Gull. It was taking a bit of stick from one or two Herring Gulls so it was quite restless, making it easier to see as it flew up and landed again a few yards away. I finally left it sat offshore just north of the village.

As I write this, hot off the press, a drake Ring necked Duck has been found at Linton Pond. Ten or more years ago we used to get these yankee tufties just about annually but they have been very rare in the county in recent times. I bet this one attracts quite a few interested parties. I think I'll give it a go in the morning.

Hopefully I might get a snap or two, as I have been a bit slow off the mark with the camera recently. I could have taken a few today had it not been left at home...

120. Glaucous Gull.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Above - Wryneck, Newton Pool, Saturday 12th May 2007. Found by Gary Woodburn, photographed by unknown, totally dipped by me. Some you win...Nice photo though, I hope its owner doesn't mind me using it. If you took this photo please leave me a comment and I'll either remove it or credit the picture to you. Cheers.

A catch up from bits and bobs through the week. On Thursday evening between showers a good flock of 140+ Dunlin dropped in to Boulmer beach for a short rest from their northward journey. All were in summer dress bar one that got the pulse going for a second until I got a better view.

Saturday 12th May 2007. The weather was cool and overcast with showers and a NE4 blowing. At Boulmer first thing, a Common Sandpiper was feeding on the rocky shore below the seawatch seat. 2 Swifts flew north from Alnmouth. Other migrants around were single Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Whimbrel and Grey Plover while 2 Sedge Warblers were singing.

I stopped in at Chevington briefly at lunchtime for a chat with ADMc. A Reed Warbler was singing from the depths of the phragmites bed, 6+ Swifts fed with 150+ assorted hirundines of three species and 20 Sandwich Terns and a Common Tern were resting on the spit. When I was here, news of the Wryneck above came on the pager. Later in the afternoon I popped down to Newton hoping to see this, my favourite, bird. I met up with Les, Richard and Graham who were also looking for it but we were too late. It had disappeared over to the scrub at the back of the pond never to be seen again.

Today was overcast with heavy showers, cool with an ESE 4 increasing to 6.
I went to Boulmer fired up in the hope of a repeat Wryneck performance or maybe something similar. A walk from the village, south to Seaton Point, taking in some farmland hedgerows was mostly uneventful other than 1 female Whinchat, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 14 singing Sedgies ( a substantial increase since yesterday), 1 Whitethroat, 2 female Wheatears, 1 female White Wagtail, 1 Tree Sparrow, 2 pairs plus a single Grey Partridge, 1 pair plus a single Lapwing and 14 Turnstones.

A seawatch from the north seat was much more interesting with 1 summer plumaged Black throated Diver N, a frenzy of feeding birds not too far offshore had 1 Roseate Tern, 2 fs Little Gulls and 30 -40 Arctic and Common Terns plus a few Sandwich Terns, 1 Whimbrel, 3 Manx Shearwaters and 5 Swifts all N.

114. Common Sandpiper.
115. Swift.
116. Whinchat.
117. Black throated Diver.
118. Little Gull.
119. Roseate Tern.

The weather stopped any attempts at photography.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A short trip to Boulmer this evening had 1 Yellow Wagtail( above) and 38 Manx Shearwaters flew north.
The photo was taken on my phone through my scope, hand held, hence the stunning quality!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

I see a rainbow rising...

...look back on the horizon...

A Green Hairstreak Day...

Above - Green Hairstreaks and their habitat, Rothbury.

We ended our trip as the sun came out by checking out a regular site near Rothbury for Green Hairstreak butterflies. We found 3 or 4 holding territories on the bilberry strewn boulders, sheltered from the strong breeze between scattered birches and rowans. Tiny butterflies, they are very difficult to pick up and even harder to follow when flushed. Also here were an Adder, a female that made off as the camera came out, a Redstart sang, unseen and a Swift dashed overhead.

Above -Tree Pipit.

The rest of the day was spent up the Coquet Valley checking out Yardhope Oaks, Holystone Common, Debdon Woods and Rothbury.

At Debdon the wind had increased to a moderate - strong W5. I managed some wind blown shots of a displaying Tree Pipit, but the area was very exposed so birds kept low.

At Holystone there were no migrants of note. This was very suprising as this area of ancient upland oak wood usually holds Wood Warbler, Redstart and Pied Flycatcher. I think the cold weather up here has held them back. All we saw were 2 Crossbills, a day flying Tawny Owl on three occasions and a Roe Buck.

Above - Whimbrels, 2 of the three birds. The Whimbrel is the little one next to the Curlew...

Today started off dull and overcast and quite cool with a light SW2.

Only a short early visit to Boulmer before meeting up with JWR to head off inland. At the north end, 3 Whimbrel were with 18 Curlew in the field next to the farm, 1 Fieldfare was at the golf course scrub, 2 Willow Warblers, 2 pairs of Stonechats had newly fledged broods, 2+ Sedge Warblers, 1 Whitethroat, 1 House Martin, a flock of 25+ Terns made up in order of abundance, Arctic, Common and Sandwich was fishing just out from the haven and a Cuckoo was cuckoo-ing near the plantation.

113. Cuckoo.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cullernose Point

Above -
Cullernose Point from the south.
Banks covered in Primroses, Dog Violets and Celandines.
Bunts helping to look(?)
Leopards Bane growing along roadside.
Close up with some type of bee.

I walked Bunty along the cliff path here looking out for Star of Bethlehem that I found flowering here last year. I cant remember the date when I found one growing on the path side, but now is the time for them. No sign today.

Today started off overcast and cool but calm then by afternoon it was warm, sunny and breezy from the SE.

Boulmer was again very quiet this morning, with only two Wheatears on the beach and a Whitethroat in the caravan site hedge. 8+ Sandwich Terns were fishing offshore and 20+ Swallows hawked insects low over the beach.

At lunchtime I was out delivering flowers near Ashington so I called in to Bothal Pond. 2 Black necked Grebes resplendant in summer plumage with that ruby red eye were showing well, a drake Garganey was a bit more distant and 3 Common Sandpipers fed along the muddy edge. My first Swift of the year flew overhead and a couple of pairs of Tree Sparrows were chattering from the nearby buildings. Pity the camera was left at home!

Another drake Garganey was at Longhirst flash and I hear reports of two still at StMary's Wetland and one at East Chevington. This seems to be a good year for them.

Yesterday, I delivered some flowers to Rothbury and stopped to walk Bunty near Debdon Farm about a mile north of the village. I've never been here before but was well impressed. It was a moorland / upland wooded area with rocky outcrops. During my short visit a Tree Pipit was singing and showing well from a tree in the valley, a Cuckoo was calling nearby, several Redpolls were displaying, a Redstart was singing and a pair of Stonechats were on territory. Not bad in half an hour.