Saturday, 28 November 2015


I have been checking the trees near Woodhorn Motors for the last ten days expecting to find Waxwings. Early morning  Friday and the distinct silhouettes (5 in total) could be seen at the top of the tallest trees. I parked my car so I could use it as a hide and waited for the light to improve.

As the light improved they became more vocal and the trilling helped me locate them.

Finally they dropped to the berry trees but they were constantly hassled by a Mistle Thrush.

My hope was to get that classic picture of the berry in mid air and a nice sharp bird side on. No chance!
 I was surprised at the lack of birders coming to see the birds but I guess the Morpeth birds in January meant they were already on the year lists (oh and some people have to work .. tee hee).

Sadly just before AC arrived the Mistle Thrush chased the birds away. We did a couple of circuits of the area but without success.

The 'Brute'

I thought it was worth another look this morning (Sat 28th Nov). This time the light was a bit better and the birds obliged by using the small berry trees. Still no classic photos but again I had them all to myself. This time there were 8 (when I left there were 9) and they seemed to be ignoring the Mistle Thrush.

Last stop of the morning East Chevington and the Black-throated Diver was still on the North Pool.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Big Numbers ... Guesstimates

Great week so far SEOs everywhere but not close to the camera. As the winter progresses I'm sure there'll be better opportunities. Tonight I watched one sitting on a fence post for over an hour, (distance 1 mile) I guess it had just had a meal.

Feeders at Chev are starting to pull in a good number of birds (although my grit tray may be untouched).

Starling Spetacular

I estimated the roost at 5,000

I ought to print out a picture and count the dots. I'm sure there is a minimum of 3,000. I was encouraged to see a group of children were visiting the roost and that staff from their school were encouraging an appreciation of the Natural World. 

Fab bird, poor light :-(

2-3000 Pink-footed Geese in the field north of Druridge.

Back to the Starling Roost tonight. The light faded quickly but the birds gave a fabulous show. Lots of shape-shifting but a bit too difficult to photograph. The Marsh Harrier remains and went to roost quite early, on one of the old nests.

Monday, 23 November 2015

A Few (more) Blurred Images

Update on this B-h Gull. I found the ringers details on the CRbirding Site and received this information.

Newbiggin by the Sea

Date 07/11/2015
Time 12:49
Yellow Ring 2XHV (left leg)
Metal Ring (right leg)

Colour Ring
Metal Ring
Distance (km)

Ythan Estuary

Eastfield, East Lothian
Keith Gillon

Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland
David Elliot

The strong winds and cold weather meant the focus changed to sea passage. Predictably Little Auks played a starring role but the hoped for Grey Phalaropes haven't appeared yet?

Yesterday (23/11/205) the female Marsh Harrier was struggling to find a meal. Firstly it attempted to catch a Teal from the water on the South Pool. it swooped more than ten times (The Teal just made a splash and shallow dive to avoid the harrier.) before giving up and resting in a nearby tree. 

Later the Harrier was over the North reedbed but gain was unsuccessful. Hopefully it caught something when I left. The Harrier now has a missing weather or two on the right wing maybe from the unwanted attention of the local crows?

Friday, 20 November 2015

Take a Second Look

A trip to South Shields and a walk along the beach started a pleasant morning. Few birds of note but the early light was brilliant. Then on to Sunderland? Well JA (Sedgedunum W mentioned a Dragon Hunter (Alan Mould) and on checking his blogs, he mentioned an exhibition of Eric Ennion's work. Eric Ennion famous for his art work, writing, work at Monk's House and much more .. so I couldn't resist.)

If you are in the area and want to fill a few hours Sunderland Museum and Mowbray Park (aka Baillon's Park) are well worth a visit.

This time of year and thoughts switch away from rarities and back to taking a look a our fantastic resident species and incoming winter visitors. Anything extra is a bonus.

This Little Gull seems to be spending winter with us in he bay.

Curlews enjoying the temporarily flooded fields.

AP (Newbiggin's regular birder) knew I was nearby and let me know that there was a tern off Beacon Point. Having just walked back to Church Point I was able to use my telescope to check. Then I thought it might be worth a closer inspection, even though I was sure it was a Sandwich tern, so I headed back to Beacon Point. As I headed towards the point it flew South past me ... typical. It was a Sandwich tern, a good late record for AP. 

Stormy weather has curtailed the walking a bit. The Dowitcher sticks mainly to is favoured West Shore well away from cameras.

I the past week I have managed to meet two more enthusiastic naturalists. NF (Abbey Meadows blog) great to catch up with him and MH, Northumberland's most enthusiastic Harrier expert and a great artist. Birding is such a special hobby it enables you to meet some really knowledgeable people.

The water level at Cresswell is very good, thanks to a man with spade? Snipe enjoy the area right in front of the hide. hopefully a Jack Snipe will join them soon.

Finally Whooper Swans passing through the bay seem to have few juveniles with them. (Apparently Iceland had Snow until June (per MPF).) Today a flock of 47 included only 5 juvenile birds.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Long-billed Dowitcher (part 2)

When I arrived at Cresswell this morning the LBD was very close but it was dark and wet.

Same photo crudely lightened by the computer. At least it shows the barring on the tail.

Slower shutter speeds gave a better picture but made it impossible to get anything sharp.

These were my best efforts before it flew further away, the rain stopped and it brightened up. I'm sure someone will get a decent photo today.

Black Tern and Little Gull also then put on a good show.