Tuesday, 31 January 2017

...and now for something completely different?

I decided on a trip to Saltholme. The RSPB reserve is well managed but Winter is not the best time to visit. Two of the main hides face South and the wildfowl tend to be distant. Nonetheless it was good to see a Hare and a couple of Little Egrets. (The vegetable soup was not bad too.)

The Butterfly Garden was full of Knitted animals and is a great attraction for young kids I'm sure. 

The reserve was very quite, people wise, and none of the over eager volunteers pointing out the obvious.

One that escaped the shooters around the Chevington reserve.

On a recent walk from Boulmer to Howick Dene I came across a large patch of these. I believe they are;
Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage.
(Chrysosplenium oppositfolium)

They should look brilliant when they flower.

Quite a few Song Thrushes about. I have been looking closely to see if I could identify any of the races. Hebridean used to be  reported quite frequently in the past?

'Sunshine' at Hulne Park

Amble Eider (drake)

Colour-ringed Twite amongst a growing flock. (A Derbysire ringed bird I think)

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Sanderling News

Same bird above and below!

It is not often that you get the chance to see the transformation from Summer to Winter plumage in the same bird, but here you can.
The bird above was ringed 22/05/2016 near Reykjavik (Iceland).
Photographed (Top) Chevington 09/08/2016
Photographed (Bottom) Newbiggin 04/01/2017

This bird (above and below) was ringed at Griend (Netherlands) 06/08/2016. It was observed many times in this area until 27/09/2016. The next observation was (photographs) 25/01/2017 at Newbggin.

The last bird (above) was ringed near Reykjavik (Iceland) 17/05/2016. The next observation was at Whitburn (by RA) 11/11/2016 and then photographed by me at Newbiggin 25/01/2017.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

What a Turn-up (or Turnip)?

For three months the Bittern has been in residence but this was only my fourth sighting, despite daily visits.

Thursday saw reports of a Black-throated Diver at Cresswell just as I sat in the hide and then saw a Diver in the distance at Chev. There was so much happening, Otters Splashing in the reeds, Kingfishers, Bittern and Water Rails that the diver didn't get my full attention. But, then I noticed it didn't have a white flank patch. Immediately I looked for a chin strap but it wasn't there ... so it couldn't be Pacific. (Yes I'm the Turnip!)

Heading  home I met several birders. I mentioned my mystery diver and suggested it was worth a look. Two birders mentioned a Snow Bunting on the beach so I turned around.

At the beach I met GS and his partner and I mentioned my funny Diver. Just as he asked, I answered ... no chin strap. We left it there.

Friday I met AMc and he mentioned the Black-throated Diver was still on the  Pool. I mentioned the lack of flank patch but the conversation went nowhere. Apparently other people had also seen it. 

Friday night and AC was brave enough to pronounce it was a Pacific Diver and he had some decent photos. I decided that Saturday morning that the Park Run crowd and a big Twitch wasn't for me so I headed for Bamburgh

The Smew at Monk's House Pool gave itself up easily although it was still dark. (Next photo was taken ten minutes later.) 

Found these rather splendid Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)on the way back. Ouch! Yet another ID mistake. (Not a Turnip this time?) This is in fact Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans) which makes much more sense. The flowering of Butterbur is usually Mar-May cf Winter Heliotrope  Dec-Mar. An example of carelessness as captions in field guide were close to same plant. I should have put more effort into reading the text.

I scanned Budle Bay, Seahouses harbour and then returned to Chev to judge the size of the Twitch 

I timed my arrival perfectly and was treated to a close encounter as it flew over my head, quite low and towards the sea. It then turned and flew straight back over my head and landed on the ice.

After securing a few snaps and chatting with a few people I headed home.

I was quite pleased with the pictures until I heard it had flown to Ladyburn Lake. So I headed back as there would be chances of  getting closer and better photos. Unfortunately the Twitch had increased and I didn't fancy joining the masses. Maybe tomorrow?

On Thursday I should have been more diligent as I might have twigged if I'd looked at the 'First Pacific Diver for Spain' photographs (in Birding World 277, Feb 2010). The Chevington bird is in similar plumage to that one. The North Yorks bird which I went to see in 2007 is very different. (Birding World 241, Jan 2007). The facial pattern and head shape are very variable so that didn't help, but the fly over today was a great help at satisfying my curiosity. (Hope it moves on quickly so I can get my patch back ... ha ha  ... miserable old me!)

Another addition! 
I have just been reading Birding World 254 (Feb 2008) and I am still confused. The head shape of the Druridge bird is a better match for Black-throated Diver.

Finally! It appears this is the same bird photographed by TL at Blyth. So I guess he becomes the finder of Northumberland's first Pacific Diver and AC the first to identify it. I hope the next rarity I see is a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, I think I could just about identify one of those. Bring on Spring!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A Few Bits and Pieces

Chev was visited by two Whoopers for a few days but eventually they departed. Other birds of note 100+ Goldeneye and 15 Little Grebes.

On the sea at Druridge a massive 1500+ Wigeon, 5 Velvet Scoter, 20 RT Divers and 4 Razorbills (Tuesday)

A gloomy morning visit to the fish quay to see a couple of Glaucous Gulls. Both appear a bit shabby and slightly oiled.

Great Black-backed Gull (Juv)

Swift progress at Hauxley

Coming to the feeders a wary Water Rail

Grey Partridge