Sunday, 24 March 2013

It's Great at Branton

The first Great Crested Grebe arrived back today, and hopefully it will be joined by more to enable them to successfully breed. They have attempted over the past three years but for various reasons without success. Previously eggs have been laid but for some reason didn't hatch, nests have been washed out on atleast three occassions while I once had to persuade a photographer not to attempt getting photos of them on their nest by approaching through the reedbed they were nesting in. Lets hope for a Great nesting season.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Skylarks over Branton

As everywhere else, the morning walk with Jess ( the dog ) was bitterly cold. The more surprising then to observe a flock of 34 Skylark flying up the valley towards their summer breeding grounds in the hills, currently snow covered in near arctic conditions.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Branton and Hedgeley 13th march 2013

A cold but sunny morning saw us checking the river Breamish near Hedgeley Ponds,our attention was caught by what gave the appearance of a giant House Martin which of course morphed miraculously into a Green Sandpiper. We made a note of where it had landed and slowly crept up on it,eventually gaining really good views.
Branton Ponds had a number of displaying male Goldeneyes together with a pair of Pochards and a pair of Gadwall.
Another bird of interest is the Moorhen which appears to have taken up residence in our garden. It spends most of its time feeding on an area near our garden pond and hurries back to cover when disturbed.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Single Marsh Tit seen visiting garden feeder at Canty's Brig this morning.

Impatient for Spring to Arrive

Sixty-six Oystercatchers were piping away on a snowy inland field, with a further twenty-four Lapwings calling as they tumbled through through the air, indulging in their spectacular display flight. Over a neighbouring field, a Skylark poured forth its glorious song this morning, invisible in the blue sky above. Four Ravens passed over, heading for the hill country, cronking some encouragement to each other. We are not alone in wishing this Winter weather begone!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

A Walk in Tilmouth Woods

6th March 2013

It was a fine, sunny, frosty morning for a walk through Tilmouth Woods.  We set off to walk uphill to the ruins of Tilmouth Castle, we immediately heard the call of a Nuthatch, & it appeared on a tree branch above our heads the song of the Chaffinch, Great Tit & Blue Tit were also heard. .  As we approached the castle ruins, a Buzzard appeared gliding overhead.  After crossing the field to the road which leads down to the River Tweed, in the hedgerows were Tree Sparrows, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Pied Wagtail & Chaffinch all in full breeding plumage, two Great-spotted Woodpeckers flew over head.  As we approached the point where the former Norham/Coldstream  railway line crosses the road, a house had a selection of well stocked feeders in the garden.  It was wonderful to see Great-spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Brambling, Great Tit, Reed Bunting & House Sparrow taking full advantage.  On reaching the River Tweed, a Peregrine & several Buzzards flew over, & a single Goosander flew down river.  A footpath that leads to the junction of the River Tweed  & River Till had warning notices about severe subsidence following such a wet winter, so we decided to walk back via the railway line to the viaduct (which gives excellent views of the River Till, & you are looking down on the treetops!)  It was nice to hear the song of the Song Thrush,  the typical call of a flock of Fieldfares from the hedgerow, & several parties of Long-tailed Tits   It was so nice to hear that the woods are now full of early spring birdsong, roll on the return of the summer migrants!
Tilmouth Woods are on the Berwick to Cornhill road just about 200 yards beyond the entrance to the Tilmouth Park Hotel, a small car park is located beside the old Tilmouth bridge,  the starting point. Strong footwear is recommended

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Pink-foot wanderings

On the 20th February 2013 Keith and I drove down to the Cresswell area for a spot of birding,whilst there we checked out Woodhorn and noted 4 Whitefronted Geese with about 100 Pink-feet.
Within the flock was a Pink-foot with a pale blue neck ring,the white lettering on it read TVS.
On returning home we sent off details to the BTO,we have just received the following information.
It's full ID number is CGTVS,it's metal ring number is GBT1412427. It was first ringed as a juvenile(male) 16/10/08 at Loch of Linthrathan in Angus,it was next sighted 15/10/08 at Meikle Loch in
Aberdeenshire,then 29/12/09 at Fylde in Lancashire,then 7/12/10 at Cockerham in Lancashire and
finally our sighting at Woodhorn.It's amazing what you can learn from a ring.   

Sunday, 3 March 2013

A Perfect Day

Over the last 3 or 4 years National Park Rangers and Voluntary Rangers have been recreating a new path up the College Valley,from Hethpool Mill  to Southernknowe running parallel with the main valley road.
As Tuesday was a fine Spring Day I decided it was a priority to head to the Valley and check out how the new path was bedding in!
Leaving the car in the Hethpool Car Park  where Siskin were calling in the trees,I could hear a distant Mistle Thrush singing its welcome Spring song whilst at the same time an Oyster Catcher announced its noisy flight down the burn.
I then headed  back down the road past the cottages ,following the St Cuthbert's Way over the College Burn then heading off up the valley past Hethpool  Mill.Passing the Mill I stopped to photograph a Roe deer, in the trees which was unexpectedly obliging.A Heron took flight from the river bank as I moved on,passing the ancient protected natural woodland of Harrowbog on my left.
My next photo stop was a stunning view of a Stoat ,standing out like a sore thumb,wearing its winter ermine and which again obliged by standing motionless watching me with interest.
Just before reaching valley road once more I spotted a Buzzard I have noticed a few times in the Harthope Valley with a damaged right wing and apparently broken leg-a short flight across the hills in Buzzard time!
Unwilling to turn back just yet I then headed up the Lambden Burn towards Dunsdale Farm stopping to watch about two dozen Fieldfare feeding on the fields by the burn.A short lunch break then I decided to retrace my steps in case the Stoat was still around.Unfortunately,there was no sign of it but there was a large flock of Coal Tits feeding among the Alders and a Wren was also spotted.
 This walk is to be publicised this year by the National Park so now is a great time to steal a march on the general public by checking out the path!
If you do decide to walk it don't be too put off by the 'Danger' signs at each end of the path!Considerable improvements have been made since then but it does still need care it places.Two burns can normally be crossed with a stride but if there has been a lot of rain a walking pole  would be handy!There are also some short steepish inclines but anyone of average fitness can manage these with care.Further work is proposed to improve the footpath throughout the year.


Apart from two starlings prospecting the nest box next door,we haven't had many sightings in our garden this winter. Recently,just at dusk, several small flocks have been gathering in the sky above the house wheeling and turning, like a  mini murmuration. Eventually they join up,and with a large whoosh they all descend into our large holly tree chattering away. Then silence falls. We never see or hear them leave in the morning.They must be early risers!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Branton 1st March

We may all be looking forward to the spring migrants but it is also great to see that we still have some of our winter visitors,such as Fielfares, Redwings and birds like this Brambling which has been seen around Branton over the last few days .
A timely reminder that even though the Met office consider this the first day of spring,winter is still clinging on.