Sunday, November 26, 2006

Not much to add today as most of it was spent doing chores and not a glance was had through my bins. This morning was steady rain until lunchtime with some sunshine just before dusk.

In the garden still 80 - 100 House Sparrows and 6 Collared Doves. Another 40 Collared Doves were just along the road at the South End Farm. An immature male Sparrowhawk was hunting the sparrows in the garden and sat for a short while on the garden gate before flying off, narrowly missing a passing car.

As I haven't taken any pics this week I've added one taken in the summer of a Sparrowhawk at the nest on the Boulmer patch. I'm not an advocate of nest photography but this was an opportunist shot and I didn't revisit the site while it was active. I would like to think that the bird in my garden today was from this nest.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

No gales yet.

The weather forecasters said that we were in for the worst storm of the year with gale force winds and structural damage. So far, nothing. Fair, overcast light S2. Not a bad day at all. I wonder if the storm will arrive a day late?

A walk with the dog along the Snableazes track at Denwick this morning had 1 Woodcock flushed from the track side three times before it moved elsewhere, 3+ Bullfinch, 10 Meadow Pipits N, 10+ Blackbirds, 1 Tree Sparrow and a Mistle Thrush in full song ( even the Stormcock thought the weather was going to be rough).

At Boulmer this afternoon, the sun managed a few minutes at dusk. 2 Fieldfares came in low off the sea. I saw them about a mile out and they came in right over my head and headed off inland, 9 Blackbirds were on Seaton Point, also migrants presumably, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Red throated Diver N and 2 female Red breasted Mergansers S.

Oh and the 'Comments' feature on this Blog works now. It was set to members only but now anyone can have their say. Let me know what you think. Constructive critiscisms only please. Cheers.

Richardson's Canada Goose

Above - The little goose, thanks to Alan Gilbertson for the photos.

I would have swapped these views for Rob's fly by at Boulmer though...

On Friday 24th November 2006, the weather was cool with alight SE1, overcast.

A quick check of Longhoughton Quarry, I couldn't see any Scaup ( bins only) but there were 16 Pochard, 1 Goldeneye, 100+ Tufted Duck, a Coot ( good bird here! that shows you how pleased we are with the duck flock.), 2 Buzzard, 10+ Redwing and 5+ Blackbirds.

On my way home from a late shift at work, a Barn Owl was on the roadside fence just north of Widdrington Village at 11.30pm.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The one that got away...

Today I sneaked in to see the Woodhorn Richardson's Canada Goose on my way to work. It was feeding with a Barnacle Goose and gave a good comparison. A nice distinctive bird and only half the size of those huge grass munchers we're more used to. What really hurts though is the fact that I've had to see it here rather than at Boulmer when Rob had it flying south a few weeks ago...

The bird showed reasonably well in Jimmy's scope ( I was on my way to work after all) and was easily viewed from the roadside next to the mini roundabout along from the QEII lake looking east towards the church flash. I only caused a minor tailback of rush hour traffic when I abandoned my car on the verge for a few minutes look...apologies...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Rainbow Fight.

Above - 'Kingfishers' rocks sticking out into Howdiemont Sands.( Click on any image to see larger copy).

Above - Kingfisher 1. Male.

Above- Kingfisher 2. Another male.

Above - The two males meet, and don't seem too happy. Calling a shrill trilling sound, unlike the whistle heard on the streams in summer.

Above - The fight breaks out.

Above - And continues on the rocks...

Above - Until it's just a stare-out...

Above - And the loser flies off across the bay.
An excellent show from these normally quite retiring birds. Does anyone know why they were fighting when they are nowhere near abreeding territory ( and its winter anyway).

Monday, November 20, 2006

More from the weekend.

Top - Coquet Island.
Centre from the foreground back, Boulmar Golfball Radar, Amble marina, Alcan Power Station, Newbiggin and Blyth Offshore Windfarm.
Bottom - Church Point, Newbiggin ( cant see any Little Auks).
The view from Longhoughton Quarry facing south, digiscoped.

A check of the quarry on Saturday had 5 Scaup ( 2 males 3 females), an excellent count, 11 Pochard and 120 Tufted Duck. From here the view was fantastic. Facing south I could see Church Point, Newbiggin 20 miles away!

At Boulmer had 27 Grey Partridge, 1 Twite flew south, a good patch tick for me and long overdue, (157), 1 2nd w Med Gull, 1 female type Snow Bunting dropped in briefly, 2 male Kingfishers fighting again on the rocks at the north end ( pics to follow) 1 male Peregrine, 60 Pinkfeet flew south, 9 Herons, 1 Shelduck, 8 Teal, 2+ Grey Plover, 12+ Sanderling.

Shore birds.

Above - Top three 2nd W Mediterranean Gull in front of lifeboat hut, and Bottom Snow Bunting landed for a few minutes at the north end before flying south.

Above- Tree Sparrow top and bottom and Reed Bunting centre.

This weekend was the November Winter Plover Survey. I have three tetrads to cover, all in the Boulmer / Longhoughton area. On the inland one, just south of Longhoughton I had a nice flock of finches and buntings in a field left as game cover. There were 10+ Tree Sparrows, 10+Yellowhammers and 8+ Reed Buntings plus Linnets, Greenfinches and Chaffinches and a Brambling heard. Also here I flushed a Woodcock from a hedge bottom.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A good day sneaks up...

Above - 3 Scaup with Tufteds, Longhoughton Quarry.

Above - Kingfisher, Boulmer Steel.

Above - Last weeks Merlin again, on a kill in the field, Boulmer north seat.

The weather today was much improved on yesterday. A cold WNW6 with some high cloud though generally fine.

A short sea watch was followed by a walk up to the Howdiemont Bay. Here, Rob and myself met up with John Steele who was out for a stroll from his caravan nearby. On the return we bumped into Brian Galloway and a group of a dozen or so birders from his evening class on a field trip.

Some good birds were noted today despite only being out for the morning. The seawatch produced 2 Little Auks N, 1 male Long-tailed Duck N and 5+ Red breasted Mergansers on the sea. A distant diver refused to be anything other than a Red throated and a second was seen further along the shore.
At the north end we had 2 Razorbills, 10+ Knot, 4 Purple Sandpipers, 20+ Gannets N, 135+ Pink footed Geese S. 1 Snow Bunting flew N high over head, calling. On the rocks were 2ad 1 2nd winter Lesser black backed Gull, 1 adult Mediterranean Gull and 1 fw Little Gull, a very late record for this species here. The usual female Merlin seen 4 or 5 times this morning, finally with a kill being plucked in a winter crop. Later on when driving past the south of Seaton Point at 4pm a nice Peregrine flew over south towards Alnmouth.

We were pleased to see that one of the Kingfishers was back and this time feeding on tiny fish from the rock pools. Some were caught in the usual manner from a perch, but at least one was caught by the bird hovering out over a pool then plunge diving in. We last saw it being persued across the shore by a Herring Gull. I hope it doesnt go the way of many little auks!

A quick check of Longhoughton quarry at noon (including a very short visit yesterday) had 135+ Tufted Duck, 1 imm male and 3 female Scaup, 3 Pochard, 6+ Moorhen, 1+ Willow Tit and a Chiffchaff heard only.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bonfire Night

Top - Long-tailed Duck
Next three - Merlin
Fourth - Grey Partridges
Bottom - Yellow Wort

Today was overcast and quite dull with a moderate westerly, though it was quite mild.

Wandering around Boulmer for an hour or two, with Rob, we spent the first part of the morning bubbling and whingeing about how quiet it was, how there was no birds etc etc. It was only when we got back to the cars that we realised that we had seen a few good things after all. Many an inland patch watcher would have wished for the birds we had seen this morning!

1 Whooper Swan and 58 Pink footed Geese flew S, the drake Long tailed Duck was still in the Howdiemont Bay with a female Common Scoter and a Red throated Diver. Back near the car park, the resident female Merlin showed well along the usual bit of shore north of the village. It then perched up on a fence post for a while. While watching it, a Buzzard and a Peregrine flew overhead, all three nearly in the same field of view! 8 Grey Partridges were in the allotment, and 6+ Tree Sparrows flew over calling.

A quick dog walk at Longhoughton Quarry at 2pm had 144+ Tufted Ducks and, suprisingly, 1 male and 3 female Scaup. A nice record. The mild autumn has prolonged the flowering period for a few wild flowers here, with a nice show of Yellow Wort still.

Friday, November 03, 2006


The first white frost of the year here this morning.Clear and sunny, a nice fresh
At lunchtime in Blyth today I popped down to the quayside and had 3 Little Auks and a Red throated Diver in the harbour.

I think that the Long tailed Duck I had yesterday was a year tick (156)


Above- Wrecked Little Auk.

On Wednesday 1st November 2006, the wind blew a gale from the N all night and on into the daytime. At Boulmer, the sea was about as mountainous as I've seen anywhere in the county. Pity I didnt take the camera. It was much too rough to pick out any seabirds, and the only thing of note was a female Merlin that caught a dunlin off the beach right in front of me.

On Thursday 2nd November 2006, the wind had decreased to a force 2 Northerly, the sea had dropped right off and it was a nice day.
Its at times like this that having a full time job really gets in the way of real life! I managed a half hour at first light at Boulmer and had -
13+ Little Auks
1 Slavonian Grebe
24 Goldeneye
1 Red throated Diver
14 Red breasted Mergansers
1 nice male Long tailed Duck on the sea
65 Wigeon
25 Mallard
5 Teal
40 Pink footed Geese flew S.

Meanwhile, later on in the day Rob kept me nicely up to date with his efforts -
2 Bewicks Swans flew SW ( a patch tick)
1 'Lesser' Canada Goose flew south with a Barnacle Goose for excellent size comparison, the Barnacle being the largest of the two ( another patch tick )
700+ Little Auks skittering along, one or two even flying through the village and going inland!

I haven't even had one of those giant Canada Geese that come to groundbait for the year list never mind a true rarity, and as for Bewicks, well I might wait a while for one of those too. Lets hope that something is lingering till the weekend...