Monday, 29 April 2013

Hard to Swallow

A morning visit to St. Marys' south beach seemed in order with the hope of a sighting of the Blue-headed Wagtail. There was a strong westerly blowing so going down to the beach and tucked in behind the sandy cliffs was a good move. The Blue Wag was spotted almost immediately but was staying high so i wandered along towards the small boatyard. Pied and White Wagtails were noticeable all along and if not feeding on the increasing numbers of insects were calling. Initially i had Swallows and Sand Martins continually hunting back and forth but they were joined on odd occasions by a few House Martins. A cracking morning got even better when,  almost at the boatyard first i had a single male Wheatear,  then a second appeared and then a third. Lots of interaction and conflict between the three for which i just pulled up a rock  and sat and enjoyed. The Hirundines continued to hawk all around me as i was fast disappearing in a cloud of flies.
I could see the Sand Martins were disappearing into their nesting holes further south along the beach so i took time out to enjoy their comings and goings and a Yellow Wagtail popped up while there. I came across the Blue-headed Wag again as i headed back which had gathered a small crowd by now but i had spent much more time watching the Wheatears than that. A small group of Swallows chilled close by the stairs on the way up to the prom. Nice.
Stunning sunning Swallows.
I had planned to take time out around the periphery of the wetland before going back to the car but the wind was wild by now. It was evident straight away that any birds would be sheltering deep in the undergrowth so just had a quick walk round. Nothing showed and virtually nothing on the wetland.
Managed after a bit of a wait to download an imageso here is one from last Thursday at Swallow Pond.
Swallow Blackcap

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Let the sun shine.

I was going to treat you to a couple of nice images but Blogger will not let me download at this time. Both were from my visit to Swallow Pond early on Thursday morning in brilliant light including a smart male  Blackcap and my first "baby bird" of the year, a Greenfich being fed by one of its' parents. Shortly after i had the sight of a pair of Tree Sparrows collecting nesting material on the main path close the the metal gates leading to the Visitors Centre. I've seen Tree Sparrows just outside the country park at Scaffold Farm but these are my first inside the boundary. I'll have to ask JSD and SPP if they've had them.Willow Warblers outscored Chiffchaffs 7-4 on this morning.
The previous day i had ventured from Druridge Pools to Low Hauxley with Mr. Cheviot for a walk with a bit of birding thrown in. We travelled up keeping to the beach for as much as we could and came back through the dunes via the main pathway. By far the highlight in birding terms was the sight of a couple of Avocets on the flashes in the fields just past the turning circle at the end of the main drag at Druridge, sadly they didn't hang around and after only 20 seconds lifted and headed off in the direction of Cresswell from where the had presumably came originally. The low light being the 3 dead Puffins that we came across by the side of the path, strangely we had seen no casualties on the beach as we headed north. Scattered along the surfs edge were small groups of Sanderling, probably 30 or so in overall. A few waders in the form of Oystercatcher and Redshank were also noted here before we came across larger numbers at the Hauxley reserve with more Redshank alongside Lapwings and a trio of sleeping Bar-tailed Godwits. Honking Greylags and Canadas made their presence known.
A few Goldeneye still hanging around at East Chevington but no Terns. The male Marsh Harrier was "worrying" three Greylag geese near the reed beds towards Chevington Burn and a single female was the only Wheatear in or around the Dunes.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

4 - 4

Not the score in the Toon, Benfica match tonight but i had 4 Song Thrushes and 4 Chiffchaffs singing at the Rising Sun today. It's nice to start getting out at six a.m. birding again. You catch the dawn chorus and miss the majority of the dog walkers and the retards are still soundly tucked up. I did have a teenager cycling past around 6.30 glugging a can of cider. Cup of tea and toast does me these days.
First bird on arrival was the Little Owl in his cubby hole. 42 Fieldfare caught my eye shortly after and while i counted a Skylark burst into song behind me on the old pit heap. 3 Skylarks and 5 Meadow Pipits chased each other as i stood on top of the pit heap for a still chilly ten minutes before heading down to a noisy Swallow Pond.The cacophony of noise was being generated by the fifty or so Black-headed Gulls as they cavorted with each other. Strange seeing 8 Canada Geese on here as they are usually seen off by the resident Swan who did give one of the Canadas grief as i was moving on to the plantation meadow. I lifted a Woodcock as i crossed the meadow shortly before coming across 3 Siskins in some Alders. A Great-spotted Woodpecker drummed on one of the telegraph poles near the visitors centre, close by a number of Greenfinches wheezed. As i crossed the extended car park beside the visitors centre having checked out the trees around a pair of Wrens, so engrossed in the tussle they were having, almost collided with my legs. Dunnocks seemed to be calling from every vantage point along with Robins, Great and Blue Tits. I came across another flock of Fieldfare, numbering 65 this time not far from the A19, as i headed down to a quiet Hadrian Pond where a Snipe lifted from the reed beds. A solitary Golden Plover was noted in among some displaying Lapwing as i headed home.
One of the non singing Song Thrushes.
Following last nights report of the sickening fire in the reed beds at Siddick Ponds today i passed 8 places where fires had been lit either in the drier long grass or amongst scrub. Lets hope we don't have a drought during the school summer holidays !!!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Druridge, going the extra mile. Thursday.

You don't actually have to go that extra mile i refer to, more like an extra eight hundred and eighty yards or so. Those extra four furlongs ( Grand National theme there! ) brought me a nice selection of waders and while none were rare the mud around the three flashes had caught the eye of fifteen Redshank, thirty four Lapwing, fifteen Ringed Plover and thirty two Curlew with twenty Pied Wagtail on the periphery. I had parked up at Druridge Pools and decided to have a walk up to East Chevington and after leaving the turning circle at the end of the road i headed through the first of the cow grazing areas with the large trailer to my left. Through the second gate next to the double ended timber finger post then on to the tarmac track, having negotiated the herd of cows, and there on the left in the farmers fields is the area i refer to. Worth keeping an eye on over the next few months if you are up that way. If you come up short there is always the dunes on the opposite side of the track which held the expected Goldfinches but instead of one large flock consisted of smaller groups scattered around. The farmers field further on had more Lapwing and Curlew and a single Short-eared Owl that quickly disappeared when a couple of Crows started mobbing it.
East Chevington was relatively quiet with four Goldeneye the standout species, that was until a female Marsh Harrier lifted from the reeds not thirty metres away. I had a very brief sighting of a Barn Owl as i walked up to the hide at Cresswell for the last thirty minutes of daylight. I could also see numbers of birds coming into roost at the site and counted the following on the sand bar just before i left.
113 Curlew, 26 Turnstone, 45 Redshank, 27 Oystercatchers, 3 Sanderling, 2 Shelduck, 3 Dunlin, a Lapwing and a Snipe. There was a Snipe in front of the hide also.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Common Snipe, Cresswell Pond.

A trip up to Cresswell a couple of days back brought sightings of Red-breasted Mergansers, Long-tailed Ducks and a Bittern but all were overshadowed by the close view of a pair of Common Snipe. You can see why.
Perfect light on a pair of stunners.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Taking a fence.

That's what this Roe Dear stag was doing early on at Big Waters yesterday. Two females had passed through just before.
Hope your horse jumps like this in the Grand National if you have a wager.
A pair of Great Crested Grebes the star attraction for me but THE WEE MAN was getting jiggy about three Pochard. He then started clicking !!!!! The source of this behaviour being a number of Wigeon. When he had finished counting them the clicking stopped. It started again five minutes later and the Wigeon had his little appendage going like the clappers. One hundred and one. More than sixty more than the earlier attempt. We met A.J. as we left Big Waters an hour or two later and he had managed over one hundred and forty.
In the main hide The Wee Man saw a Water Rail but nobody else did. When this was mentioned to A.J. he commented that on the Sunday walk John had seen a Greenfinch which nobody else had. Draw your own conclusions !!!
A very quiet hour was spent at Prestwick Carr with John seeing c70 Golden Plover in the horse field which i did see! That was about it.
Our first port of call had been Little Waters after i had mentioned to John that i had never been and while, again, not lots about looks a nice place to call into in future while in the vicinity. A Song Thrush belted out from on high as we departed.