Thursday, August 30, 2007

Today was dull and calm but quite warm.

Have you ever been 'gripped' by a non birding friend or relative? Well today I have.

Much to my shame I have not seen Glossy Ibis in Britain. Yes, I know one has been in the north west now for a year but I haven't bothered my arse to go on the twitch. A few years ago while on holiday on Portland Bill I twitched the bird that had been living at Topsham and dipped, so that was about as close as I've been.

Today, my non-birding brother sent me a text to say he had been out for the day and that he had not only seen the aforementioned bird at Marshside, but also a Great White Egret just to back it up!

Oh well, I'm due to visit him down in 'that there Manchester' in the coming weeks so if the Ibis hangs around he can make another trip for it!

Today a couple of brief birding stops before work and lunchtime had -

Foxton Bends, Alnmouth -
1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 2 Greenshank, 1 Kingfisher, 23 Teal and 3 Stock Doves.

Castle Island, River Wansbeck -
1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 3 juv Black tailed Godwit, 1 Snipe and 3 Dunlin, 2 Goosander and 30 Teal.

Bothal Pond -
Loads of birds but all common species, 7 Little Grebe, 11 Wigeon, 13 Gadwall, 1 Pochard, several Shoveler and Tufted Duck, 1 Barnacle Goose with 150+ Canada /Greylag Geese, 300+ each of Lapwing and Starling.

No visit to Boulmer today, must catch up at the weekend.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Not so obvious.

After yesterdays disappointment today seemed to continue in a similar vein with Great Shearwaters, Sabines Gull, Pom Skuas etc between Newbiggin and Whitburn and where was I - at work.

So what was the plan? Have an early finish to coincide with high tide, thats obvious. Should I go to Newbiggin, the premier Northumberland seawatch spot? After all I was a regular there for many years and its only ten minutes away from work. I could quite easily drop in there for a couple of hours and chances are meet up with friends cleaning up on the goodies. After all, more sets of eyes makes the seawatching easier, right?

Then I remembered and old article by DIM Wallace who wrote about 'not doing the obvious'. In his case, it was 1990, I think, and he was considering whether or not to twitch the Yellow throated Vireo in Cornwall after a lull on his local patch, ie, no Dusky Thrushes or Oriental Skylarks for a week or so. What did he do? He ignored the mega in the south west and gathered his senses and headed back to his patch. And for what. A female Peregrine if my mind serves me correctly.

Well my predicament was not as bad as his surely, after all there were no mega's in store or even lifers for that matter, so it was back down to the Boulmer seawatch seat for a couple of hours to try my best to add to the patch list.

Now you're thinking, there must be a good ending to the tale, you know, the bit where I get an albatross 200 yards offshore for ten minutes. Well there was no pay back for my efforts, only a bog standard high pressure movement.

One day I will get my just desserts!

Todays details - Light SE2, overcast sea calmish.

4.00pm - 6.00pm

Sooty Shearwater 10 N
Manx Shearwater 32 N
Fulmar 21 N
Arctic Skua 17 N
Bonxie 4 N

Common Tern 16 N
Arctic Tern 53 N
Sandwich Tern 20+
Little Gull 1 ad 4 juvs all in one flock N
Puffin 5 N
Shag 8 N
Red throated Diver 2 S
Teal 27 N
Common Scoter 4 S
Greenshank 1 S
Whimbrel 3 S
Bar tailed Godwit 4 juvs
Knot 4 juvs

Monday, August 27, 2007

De'ja vu

Early on, a moderate to strong NW 6 becoming quite calm by late morning. Sunny, mild clouding over later.

No proper birding today ( Bank Holiday 'n' all that). Out a couple of times down Boulmer with the L'il G, had a covey of 16 Grey Partridges, the female Merlin again, 1 Teal and 7 Wigeon flew north.

While writing this first paragraph my pager gave out news of a Black Tern flying north along the beach at Chevington. This tempted me out to give the seawatching another try. I was going to give it an hour when I heard about 2 Great Shearwaters flying north past Newbiggin at 5pm and 5.20pm. A glance at the watch, 5.50pm and I thought that they would be maybe due to arrive at Boulmer any minute. How wrong could I be. This 'waiting for Newbiggin birds' is becoming an annual event for me now but this time I was convinced I would score. By 7pm I had seen Great Gannets, Cory's Gannets and Pomarine Gannets but no sign of the shearwaters. I was beginning to realise that it was not to be and packed up for home, thoroughly p'd off.

Totals tonight 5pm - 7pm

Sooty Shearwater 36 N
Manx Shearwater 13 N
Bonxie 1 N
Arctic Skua 1 S
Red throated Diver 2 S
Peregrine 1 imm female chasing waders over the rocks.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Above - Although they look similar, the flowers above are two different species. Top - Yellow Chamomile and Bottom, Corn Marigold. These were growing in the field margins at Boulmer today. The leaf shapes are totally different. In the top photo the fine feathery leaves can be seen and in the bottom a more conventional oval type leaf is visible.

Today was warn and fair with some cloud and a light NW changing SSE breeze.

A walk around Longhoughton towards the quarry this afternoon we had 2 Buzzards, 2 Kestrels and a Merlin hunting the swallows. This is the first returning bird of the autumn here, there are usually a bit earlier than this? I wonder if there are a lack of young birds due to the wet breeding season in the hills?

I did a couple of hours around Boulmer this afternoon. The seawatch spot was too crowded, being full of picnic-ers with tents and windbreaks etc. Roll on September!

After being harassed off here I checked the hedges just behind the dunes for migrants with some limited success - 1 Merlin, possibly the same bird as earlier, 4 Stonechat, 1 Whinchat, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Willow Warblers, 23 Tree Sparrows and a Willow Tit. On the beach were 84 Dunlin, 75 Ringed Plover, 4 Sanderling and a Whimbrel flew south.

Saturday 25th August 2007

Fine and warm with some cloud.

It looks as though this spell of sea passage is waning. Lets hope its not too long until the next spell.

Walked Bunty along the runways this morning. We had 4 Wheatears, 9 Grey and 2 Red legged Partridges, 1 Stonechat and 1 female Sparrowhawk.

Wednesday 22nd August 2007

Above - Sooties on a seawatch...

Seawatching again 07.20 - 08.20 from Boulmer.

Sooty Shearwater 8 N
Manx Shearwater 13 N
Wigeon 17 N
Bonxie 6 N
Puffin 2 N
Common Scoter 1 N
Arctic Tern 3 N

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Today was dull and mainly overcast with a moderate N5.

Two short seawatches before and after work totaling about 1.75hrs from Boulmer had -

Bonxie 2N
Sooty Shearwater 2N
Manx Shearwater 9N
Storm Petrel 1N seen fleetingly as it fluttered by a pot flag before vanishing back into the troughs between the waves. Only my second here.
Balearic Shearwater 1N, the second of the autumn, showed well close in lingering briefly and landing for a second before meandering its way N. None seen in 2006, but 3 in 2005. Will I beat my best?
Roseate Tern 2
Arctic Tern 25+
Sandwich Tern few
Teal 40N
Wigeon 23N
Mallard 4N
Common Scoter 1N
Red throated Diver 2S

On the shore 26 Dunlin, 2 juv Knot, 1 juv Bar tailed Godwit, 25 Sanderling.

At work today a Swift was above Ashington main street

130. Storm Petrel.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rain, rain and more rain today. The early morning started with a light N2 increasing to N7 by lunchtime. Foul weather can only mean one thing - seawatching.

Boulmer 0700 - 10.30.

Arctic Skua 6 S
Bonxie 2 S

Manx Shearwater 10 N
Sooty Shearwater 12 N
Teal 56 N
Shoveler 1 N a great record here.
Common Scoter 7 N
'Aythya' sp female 1 N ( Scaup or Tufted too far off to tell)
Grey Plover 8 N
Bar tailed Godwit 2 N
Knot 4 S
Sandwich Tern 30 N

and this afternoon's session - 17.05 - 18.40

Sea now mountainous, visibilty atrocious, very few birds.

Roseate Tern 2 N ad and juv
Arctic Tern 32 N
Teal 60 N
Wigeon 3 N
Knot 40 S

Also had a check in the bushes along the front for migrants but there was nothing doing. Of note, a Sparrowhawk took a Swallow off the over head wires.

Last night, an imm female Peregrine was harassing crows and waders just north of the village and a Wheatear was on the beach.

129. Shoveler.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Its idyllic...

...this life we lead. Country Fetes and Fairs each weekend during the summer, the sound of leather on willow, backed by the woody clapping of the supporters. The sounds of bees humming and the purring of turtle doves ( well, not here, they're extinct ). The brass band playing and the smoke smells from the engine. (We could really do with Phil Drabble and Fred Dibnah as guests but they're extinct too).

Pics of Warkworth Fair today...


When I saw Gary's name appear on my mobile at lunchtime I thought that he must have caught or found something good at Newton. Instead of the expected Barred warbler or Wryneck maybe, I was suprised when he said that he had netted a Long eared Owl.

In the hand, this species is probably more likely when the immigrants are arriving in October or November. The one caught today by the 'Newton Stringer' was an adult and very heavily in the moult. Even its eyelashes were in 'pin'. These birds are much smaller and light weight in the hand than they appear in the field. After the paparazzi were finished it flew off strongly with an entourage of House Martins to find somewhere less disturbed to get some shut eye.

Nice one Gary, Cheers.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Butter wouldn't melt...

Then again, would you take her birding?...

Above - top, an adult Knot in summer plumage, a nice red one. Centre - Sanderling, Bottom - Waders feeding frenzy in shot, Sanderling, Dunlin and Turnstone.

A nice sunny calm morning at Boulmer with the smell of autumn.

Out with Bunty along the old runways had 6 Willow Warblers and a female Blackcap plus 3 Long tailed Tits at the Golfcourse scrub, 8 Grey and 2 Red-legged Partridges, 50 Linnets and 3 Buzzards, 2 showing well the other distantly all in the same binocular view.

I attempted a sea watch this evening but it was dead. Like looking at the Med!

Two patch ticks in a morning can't be bad though -

127. Blackcap.
128. Red-legged Partridge.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Above - A Turnstone, turning things...Boulmer beach. Tonight there were at least 50 of them.

Also on the beach this evening - 6+ Sanderling, 14+ Knot ( 1 adult), 88+ Ringed Plover, 70+ Dunlin, and 12+ Redshank.

Nosmo King

Click on this and read the sign.

The Fishing Boat Inn is the local pub in Boulmer. Its nice to see they have sorted out an area for their smoking customers!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Today at Boulmer started of wet but got brighter this evening.

Loads of birds around at the minute. Waders on the beach are the highlight with the winters first Purple Sandpiper ( remember the Grey Plover too), 6+ Sanderling, 65 Dunlin, 60 Ringed Plover, 50+ Turnstone, 5 Knot, 20 Redshank. 300 Black headed Gulls were also feeding on the tideline. At Seaton Point flocks of finches were noticeable with Goldfinch, Linnet and Greenfinch in similar numbers, 20 or 30 each?

The waders will get a better scrutiny at the weekend.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Links

Just to let you know that I've added a new link or two on the left. Its good to welcome the Druridge Blog to the burgeoning list of county coastal blogs - Newton, Boulmer, Druridge, Blyth and St Mary's all has them plus help from ST and Northumbrian Birding. Great Stuff keep them coming. We want blogs now from Holy Island, Farnes ( that'll just boil everyone), Hauxley, East Chev, Newbiggin and the inland chaps, Big Waters, Arcot etc - GET ON TO IT, YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD!

At this rate NTBC will be made redundant! Oops just thinking out loud there.

Oh and if you want inspiration have a shufty at but watch out for the language, you are sure to have a laugh...the next time you complain about how quiet your patch is have a thought for Green Withens.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ground Hog Day

A visit to my old patch before work this morning to find that the Spooning Spooners have flown. Here are a few soft pics of Spotted Redshank, Ruff and a Snipe from Druridge Pools. Birds distant always running around etc. There were 2+ Spotshanks, 1 Greenshank and 3 Ruff this morning.

Oh and a Boulmer sunset to end with ....

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Above - Goldfinch and Linnet on thistles.

Out early today to beat the holiday crowds. Yesterday 13 cars were at Boulmer north end with as many in the main car park. It doesn't sound much but when you are used to being almost alone here most of the year, the place feels like Blackpool!

Some light drizzle early on, brighter later with a light W2.

I intended to give the patch a good seeing to after some neglect over recent weeks ( ooh er missus.) Started off at 0600 by checking the golf course roadside bushes, then moving to the haven car park and on to the North End before finally checking along the runways. Back home in time for a late breakfast while watching Countryfile.

The whole place had a decidedly quiet feel to it this morning now that the birds have stopped singing. Of note today -
1 Greenshank dropped in on to the beach with Redshanks briefly before flying off south, Snipe 1 flew W, 55 Ringed Plover, 16 Dunlin, 35 Redshank, 16+ Turnstone, 350 Golden Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 1 summer plumaged Grey Plover, the first of the winter!, 1 Red throated Diver, 18 Goosander, 2 Willow Warblers, 2 Whitethroats, 11 Stonechats, 4 Tree Sparrows, 80+ Linnets, 10+ Goldfinch, 15+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk female caught a Starling only yards in front of me and was so startled it dropped it and the Starling flew off.

At Alnmouth, 2 Green Sandpipers were still present, today on the tiny pond between the waterworks and the cricket club, 2+ Common Sandpipers, 2 Willow Warblers, Mallard with 3 new ducklings, 1 Stock Dove, 15+ Pied Wagtails and 3 Teal.

126. Greenshank.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Camberwell Beauty in my garden, 13th August 2002!

On the 13th of this month it will be five years since I found this Beauty in my garden at Stobswood. Only present for an afternoon what a pity I didnt have my digi camera then. My compact just doesnt do it justice. Even though I am first and foremost a birder, this is still the best rarity I've found. It'll be a while before I get another.

The last of the Orchids

This is the last Orchid for me this year, the Broad leaved Helleborine. Quite a scarce plant in Northumberland today a dozen spikes were in flower at Widdrington though several more had been eaten by rabbits!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

At Boulmer this evening a walk up and around Longhoughton Steel had 2 Wheatears, the first of the autumn, 40 each Ringed Plover and Dunlin, 1 pale phase Arctic Skua flushing the roosting gulls and terns and a few Golden Plover.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Dipped in!

On our way home from Manchester last night I got the message about the White winged Black Tern at East Chevington Pools, so as we were only about five miles away, we popped in. The bird showed quite well though distantly as it hawked over the surface of the north pool. Much too far off for a photo, so this is a picture of a former WWBT at East Chev that I had published as part of a Northumberland and Tyneside Bird Club Annual Report...
Once these birds were mega rarities in the county, now they turn up just about bi-annually!
Very nice indeed, especially as it had gone by this morning.

Bridgewater Canal, Sale, Cheshire

An away weekend visiting family over west in Sale, Cheshire ( very nearly Greater Manchester depending on where your allegiance lies!) The weather was very warm and humid on Saturday when we arrived and much nicer and brighter on Sunday.

Being in a largely urban landscape the best place to wander Bunty was along the canal towpath only a short distance from my brothers where we were staying. It was nice to find so many wildlife jewels in this built up area and I even managed a lifer as well as several very scarce species up here.

We had 6+ Holly Blue Butterflies around the garden, though none landed at all hence the missing pics, several Speckled Woods, Gatekeepers, Comma's and Red Admirals. Dragons were noteworthy by the aforementioned lifer - 2 Brown Hawkers, one over the canal the other in the garden and a cracking male Banded Demoiselle one of my favourite creatures.

It just shows that no matter where you are, seek and you will find...

Above - Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Comma and Banded Demoiselle. Click for bigger image ( especially the Demoiselle, there's nothing as bright as them, positively tropical!)