Sunday, 28 September 2014

Catching Up

Well a week of pottering around, catching up with jobs, working out finances, renewing policies, opening accounts and paying bills.

Plenty of birding to break up the tedium however.

Geese started arriving from the Arctic. Pink-footed Geese first, then Brent and now Barnacle Geese. Barnacle Geese have to be the smartest of the lot and their barking call as they fly over is the least intrusive. Some Greylag flocks have flown in from high altitudes and I wonder if they are true migrants joining the feral, year-round birds which breed in the bay (they appeared to have a less raucous call).

Jays are on the move. I have seen up to 10 in the bay on one day, some well away from trees.

Divers are building up on the sea, at least 100 Red-throated in Druridge Bay. In addition their must be some good fishing as plenty of Gannets have been diving  close to the shore and a few harbour porpoise were close in.

The successful expansion of Mediterranean Gulls means that they are everywhere I go. Today was a fly-catching day for birds. Lots of Craneflies and others filled the sky and Black-headed gulls, Starlings, Jackdaws and numerous others were feasting. Unsurprisingly two Med Gulls  were joining in.

Most of the warblers have moved on now (only a few Chiffchaffs remain, some of which might overwinter). Bullfinches are moulting into adult plumage but at present they aren’t the prettiest of birds.

Still a couple of Wheatears and a single Whinchat at Newbiggin

Monday, 22 September 2014

... and there goes another.

An eventful day yesterday. Several hours spent watching seabirds. Juvenile Kittiwakes (above) which distantly look like Sabines gulls but are nothing like them in reality. Sooty Shearwaters with the silvery underwing making them far from dull. Mediterranean Gulls with their pure white plumage shining against the grey sea, once a very rare sight in Northumberland.

News of the day was that of a Fea's petrel headng North. It took its time in Yorkshire at 09:30 is it finally arrived in Norhumberland some time after16:00 and long after my motivation to stare into the greyness had given in. 

I seem to have lost the urgency to see rare birds.

Well I intend this to be a quieter week. No tweeting or blogging until next Monday.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Dreach Dreach Dreach

Robins everywhere.

Plumage variation in pipits is amazing. This one is pristine, what a smart bird for something that is basically brown.

Golden Plovers at Newbiggin

The theme of the last few days has been to find dull, drab looking birds Photograph them in poor light and make them look damp. Well that's how the weather has been, and since the NO vote it means we can still steal the odd Scottish word to describe this weather.
Chiffchaff (above) St Mary's Island
Chiffchaff (below) Hadston

Yesterday having been out in the drizzle for 7 hours I was looking forward to a nice hot meal when I found a Spotted Flycatcher which had obviously just crossed the North Sea and landed at the burnmouth, Chevington. Two birders I met informed me a Brambling was at the feeding station so food had to be delayed while I tried to get a photo in the ever deteriorating light.

Even Goldcrests look dull in this miserable light. Lets hope it's sunny when I find a Firecrest.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Lindisfarne Magic

Greenish Warbler

Sorry the photos are rubbish, but a grey morning and flighty birds made it difficult.

Yellow-browed Warbler (below)

A late decision and a trip to Holy Island with ST was arranged. It turned out to be a classic day in birding terms. Many gems, blown across the North Sea and grounded by poor weather.

You know it's going to be a good day when you find Goldcrest, Redstart and Yellow-browed Warbler in the first bush on the island. The village held a further YBW many Pied Flycatchers and several Brambling and the birding continued to get better as we found the Greenish Warbler (originally found by SS on Sunday).

Arriving at 7am in cool fog and leaving in bright sunshine at 2pm, exhausted and sunburnt .. ouch.

Greenish Warbler, 4 Yellow-browed Warblers, 2 Wrynecks, 3 Garden Warblers, 10+ Pied Flycatchers, 10+ Redstarts, Goldcrests, Blackcap, Fieldfare and Lesser Whitethroat.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Red Throated

A busy Saturday morning. Birding was brilliant with few new migrants but some quality local wildlife.

Two sightings of a Peregrine Falcon had the birds scattering. Maybe this Grey Wagtail was on the lookout too. 

The Ponteand Hide was alive with birds around the hedges and on the pool. If only the water level could stay like the present.

Highlight at Chevington was this Red Throated Diver.

Friday, 12 September 2014


Can you guess the bird? (Look at the last photo to confirm.)

Male Ruff


How many Tufted Duck are in the following photos?

Well one more for you to guess? Answers on a postcard to:
Carp Hotpos,
Dysliaex Itustitnet,
Old Littlin

Thursday, 11 September 2014

No Comment

Dung Beetle
Aphodius rufipes


Thick fog this morning, but the light winds of yesterday brought little new to the bay. Robins are everywhere and warbler numbers are lower. Whinchats have proved to be very numerous on the coast this year, four new arrivals today. Little Stint on the beach and a big Golden Plover flock at Newbiggin.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Out for Lunch

This Heron chose a flatfish for lunch.

As you can see not a catch that slides down easily.

Two Black Terns were actively feeding but were impossible to photograph with the limitations of my 'bridge' camera.

The rump is pale which might have suggested WW Black Tern but the smudge from the shoulder eliminated WWB and close inspection shows the rump is pale grey not white.

BTO suggest House Sparrows in steep decline in the UK. This year however has seen a fantastic breeding season for almost all the local birds. I have seen several flocks of 100+ House Sparrows in Northumberland. Providing the Winter is reasonable and plenty of food is available, we could be seeing a recovery.

Well, I started the day at North Shields, Fish Quay, then to Tynemouth and on to St Mary's Island, Blyth Links Cemetery and then back to my patch.

I noticed no reportsof the Wryneck all morning, however when I returned numerous lenses were focused on the bird. I put the news on twitter and headed for Hauxley. When I returned, the place was deserted and I managed a quick photo before two very happy visitors arrived (one having seen my tweet).

Monday, 8 September 2014

Manic Monday

Common Teal (above)
Blue-winged Teal (beow)

Blue-winged Teal
North American duck with a distinctively shaped bill.
Nice find by father and son combination BD an DD, a bird probably overlooked by many visiting Castle Island. Pays to check all the birds!

This Stoat was on the road at Hadston.

Then it moved to the rubbish tip where it took an interest in a ground feeding bird. Fortunately, for later visitors, the distracting behaviour of the Robins and Wren meant it failed to get a tasty breakfast ... Wryneck.

The Wryneck proved very popular and at times proved rather difficult to photograph, however, patience and a lack of chattering onlookers and it finally gave itself up. At one stage flying straight towards and past me, I thought it was going to land on my shoulder.

Finally, the Ponteland Hide, allowed me to get nice and close to this Ruff.

Oh.. nearly forgot. Lots of Goldfinches in the dunes.