Thursday, September 29, 2011

Near Miss...

After Sunday's twitch north for the Sandhill Crane, imagine my face when Alan Priest called me this morning to say it had just flown over Newbiggin and was heading towards Blyth! Oh no, I thought, dejavue, Short billed Dowitcher scenario all over again...

Fortunately my fears did not materialise, our costly trip to Scotland had been worthwhile after all, the Crane continued its journey south.

I must be the only person in Northumberland who wished a county first would bugger off!

On the way home from work this evening 2 Little Egrets flew serenely up the River Coquet into Warkworth, keeping up speed with the car.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Back to reality...

I forgot to mention, on Saturday night at 11.30pm I popped out for the terriers last walk and activated the outside light on the Old School holiday cottage.

The glow lit up a Barn Owl hunting the Starling roost in our neighbours garden. The Starlings were flushing everywhere and the owl flew through our garden into the sycamore above the moth trap, where it gazed back looking at me like I'd ruined its evening....On our return, it flew out of the garden and along the field edge nicely lit by 125 watts of MV Bulb...

Not a regular sight to get one actually IN the garden.  Nice....

Monday, September 26, 2011


Its only taken about 38 years of birding for the Sandhill Crane at the Loch of Strathbeg to take its place on my list...I dont want to make a song and dance about it, but, it is my  400th species in the UK..... I say... its.....

Sandhill Crane ...
...not 399...

Cheers Alan!
Not another word to be said on the subject. I dont recall seeing anything else up there really...see here for another account of our twitch.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Woe is me...

The Swallows have gone.

Last weekend there were still 30+ in the village but none today. Late afternoon produced 15 flying strongly south overhead, but they aren't ours. It will be 15th April before they return...

Over the back field this morning were 5 Yellowhammers and a Reed Bunting were in the hedge while 2 Sandwich Terns were on the rocks in the cove. The garden still has plenty of Chiffchaff comings and goings while a male Blackcap is in the elders. A single Grey Wagtail and my first 9 Pinkfeet of the year flew south.

September has been a flop here so far with scarcely a hint of an easterly that is so well required at this time.

Oh well, maybe October will give us a.....Yellow Rumped Warbler ( ? or something with a yank accent) that is now on the Norwegian coast waiting for a cool tail wind to restart its migration...That is how Northumberland's only Red eyed Vireo arrived many moons back on Holy Island...

Sunday, September 18, 2011


This morning I went to do JWR's WeBs count up at Branton Pits.

Highlight was a Little Egret, the first we've seen at this site, and quite uncommon so far inland. Apart from that it was a standard wildfowl count really.

From here a jaunt up to Corby Crags to check for some dragonflies was quite a good diversion.
Masses of Black Darters, with two or three Common Hawkers along the rides, a single, tiny, Common Lizard posed well and the birds were quite active too - 13+ Crossbill, several Redpoll, Siskin, Bullfinch, 3+ Goldcrest and 6+ Chiffchaff.

The view from Corby Crags. Proper Northumberland...
Fungi sp, to be id'd...maybe Melanoleuca cognata?
John 'Insect Magnet' Rutter finds photographing Black Darter tricky...

Common Hawker ovipositing.

Red Admiral
Common Lizard. Looks the size of an iguana, but only about the size of my little finger.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The wind has dropped to a SSE2 this morning, with odd showers, brightening to a nice sunny afternoon.

A seawatch from 8am - 9am was a tad slow. The southerlies have blasted the birds back into the north Atlantic. Still a few wildfowl were moving -

Pale bellied Brent Geese 11
Teal 130
Wigeon 58
Shoveler 2 a rare bird on the patch.
Pintail 2 ditto
Common Scoter 101
Red throated Diver 3
Arctic Skua 4
Bonxie 7
Manx Shearwater 1
Arctic Tern 6+
Sandwich Tern 3+
Grey Wagtail 2
Whimbrel 1 on the rocks.

All going north.

A few Chiffchaffs were in the coastal scrub including one singing. At least 4 were in the garden this afternoon. One bird was very inquisitive, peering in at our windows, gave me a nice photo opportunity. Click for a bigger image.

A Swift went S over the garden this afternoon in with 30+ House Martins and 86+ Swallows.

Friday, September 16, 2011

This morning and the wind had increased in tempo, still from the SE. I quickly dashed to the coast for a half hour seawatch before work. It was half light with an orange glow on the horizon and there were thousands of birds on the move. The problem being, the light was very poor and, the SE blow ( we are more used to seawatching an a N wind) meant that the birds had a rocket up their ar.. and were very difficult to track.

Still the potential was there -

Sooty Shearwater 4
Manx Shearwater 3
Arctic Skua 6
Bonxie 2
Red throated Diver 2
Eider 27

All flying N.

The light was dismal this evening and the wind is a gale now with heavy rain. It might be worth a look first thing...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Good Hour...

I came in from work at 6pm this evening and was changed and down on the coast path by 6.10pm.

Although not ideal seawatch conditions, I fancied that the recent jet stream / hurricane would blast some birds over and into the north sea and there might be a bit of a high pressure movement to follow. Today's light SE3 came from a small, moving high, and if the forecast is right it will soon be replaced by another rain bearing low...

Enough of the Michael Fish, what was had...

6.10pm - 7.10pm

Sooty Shearwater 11 N my first of the year.
Manx Shearwater 34 N
Arctic Skua, difficult to be sure but somewhere in the region of 9 seen. They sneak around after tern frenzies so I tried not to duplicate counts.
Bonxie 1 N
Red throated Diver 1 S
Pale Bellied Brent Geese 29 N
Black Tern 2 in a tern frenzy consisting of about 50+ Arctic and Common Terns and a few Kittiwakes.A patch tick!
Wigeon 9 N
Pintail 3 N
Teal 16 N
Common Scoter 3 N

Then back to set the moth trap in time for tea...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Good old BOU...

On perusing the Birdwatch Mag website today I find that the BOU have added two new lifers to my list.

Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maurus ( used to be maura?) Seen several, my first being at Newbiggin in Oct 1990 in a massive fall. Previously Saxicola torquatus maura/stejnegeri 'lumped' with Stonechat Saxicola torquata.

Hudsonian Whimbrel Numenius numenius  One seen on St Mary's Isles of Scilly in Sept 08 or 09? Previously this was the American race of Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus, lumped with Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus.

This brings my bird lists to -

BOU British 399 ( oh yes...what will it be, and mores to the point - when?)
Northumberland 325.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pre-Hurricane Migration.

View south from stubble field to the village. Copse on the left and Back Hedge on the right.

The coast path viewing south from Cullernose.

Up and out by 7am. After checking the moths, I popped to the coast path to see if I could get a Black Tern for the patch list. With the milky back light there was little chance of this, but I gave it an hour anyway.

I had -

Arctic Skua 6 S including some very close in.
Bonxie 1 N
Arctic Tern 5 S but there were loads of terns offshore too far to id in the poor light.
Sandwich tern 4 S
Wigeon 28 S
Teal 6 S
Shag 3 S
Knot 2 S
Red throated Diver 1 adult still in summer plumage on the sea close in.
Further offshore there were loads of Gannets in feeding frenzies, plus a few Fulmars.

While seawatching it was clear that there was some viz-migging going on along the coast. The next hour or so was spent wandering the back field at home up to Cullernose and back counting the birds moving south. The strong SSW breeze was keeping them low and near the coast, but birds were moving on a broad front so these are absolute minimal counts.

Swallow 180+ S
House Martin 55+ S
Sand Martin 1 S
Swift 1 S mobbed by Swallows then it or another over the Village later on.
Meadow Pipit 200+ S
Skylark 4 S
Goldfinch 61 S
Linnet 34 S
Siskin 19 S
Redpoll 7 S
Pied Wagtail 1 S
Grey Wagtail 4 S

A male Blackcap was still in the elders in the garden and 4+ Bullfinch were in Village Wood, and thats about it really. No Hoopoes here I'm afraid ( Bamburgh 7.55am)...

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Buzzard - Gull - Buzzard?

On my way home from work this evening via the A1, a large bird caught my eye hanging in the wind right over the road near the turn off to Eshott. After assuming it was a Buzzard then thinking, no its just a gull, I drove right under it, and was over the moon to see it was an Osprey!  

A very brief view at 50 mph but enough to id it. Nice one.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Delayed Post from Sunday...

On Sunday I actually did some birding complete with scope and everything. Well I had a couple of hours around the Village and a short jaunt to Alnmouth and Boulmer so here goes -

6.45am wandered to the coast path to look at the sea. On the way noticed some viz migging going on -

Siskin /Redpoll a flock of 36, sounded like 80% Siskin. S
Meadow Pipit 63 S
Swallow 99 S
Sand Martin 1 S
Yellow Wagtail 1 S
Grey Wagtail 1 S

All in about half an hour.

Seawatching from 7am - 7.30am over a calm sea -

Sandwich Tern 35 S
Roseate Tern 1 N
Cormorant 7 S
Shag 14 S
Goosander 1 S
Little Gull 1 fs very close in with a few Black headed Gulls flew N, a good bird for here.
Red throated Diver 1 S and 1 on the sea.
Skua sp 1 N too far off the Hubble couldnt put it in a family...
Whimbrel 3 S
Wigeon 8 N my first of the autumn. Oh dear winter is not too far away.
Common Tern 1 S
Common Scoter 1 N.

Around the village were -
Sparrowhawk 1 female next to a Kestrel on fence posts.
Willow Warbler 1 singing.
Chiffchaff 1
Blackcap 1
Whitethroat 2
Redpoll 11 NE over the garden.

Nota  bad local tally.

At Foxton Bends with JWR we had Kingfisher or maybe two, 4 Greenshanks, 4 Common Sandpipers. Alnmouth Rugby Club saltmarsh pool had a juv Black tailed Godwit and a Bar tailed Godwit flew around. A Little Egret flew S and 100+ Curlew dropped in.

Up at Boulmer the tide was starting to recede and waders were moving in with 3 Curlew Sandpipers, 100+ Dunlin, 7 Bar tailed Godwit, 15 Ringed Plover and a Turnstone. 20+ Common Scoter were offshore.

Back home for lunch...

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Around about...

Theres a distinct lack of illustration on here at the mo, must do better....

Any way, todays dog wanders around the village and coast path had -

Meadow Pipit 17 S in 20 minutes first thing.
Sandwich Tern 4+ offshore.
Common Tern 1 offshore.
Whimbrel 3 N at sea and some whistling, unseen, inland from our drive.
Arctic Skua 1 hammering a kittiwake offshore.
Sparrowhawk 1 female ( I see there was a Gos at St Mary's Island today. I wonder what that was...)
Jackdaw / Rooks 600+ in back fields.
Still plenty of Swallows and House Martins.
Theres a canny Starling roost building in my next door neighbours four conifers recently. There might be 100+ birds? Not exactly the smoke waves of the Somerset Levels, Dumfries or Brighton Pier, but, you know...I'll try and get a count at the weekend.

I might do some proper birding this weekend, using the scope and everything...