Friday, 31 May 2013

A walk in the woods 31st may

A walk in the woods 31st may
Finally a warm,dry,sunny day and what better place to go at this time of year than Holystone Woods.Our target species was Wood Warbler but the air was full of sound everywhere. As we made our way through the oak woodland the bubbling calls of Cuckoos seemed to be everywhere and two were noted chasing each other around a tree. Tree Pipits were calling from the tree tops along with numerous male Redstarts, a male Pied Flycatcher made a brief appearance whilst a Spotted Flycatcher provided us with a more leisurely view. After the oak woodland we came to an area of beech and conifer, here the air was filled with the calls of Treecreepers,Nuthatch and Goldcrests a fitting end to a glorious morning.  

Monday, 27 May 2013

Dusk Chorus

What a magical experience it is to listen to woodland gradually fall silent as night approaches. As part of the BTO’s survey of breeding woodcock this Spring, I duly turned up at dusk to my allotted woodland survey point to stand and look up from the glade while listening  out for the strange calls of this enigmatic bird. A cuckoo called from another part of the wood; but gradually the willow warblers, robins, thrushes and blackbirds ceased singing their symphony as the sun set. A badger came bustling down the trail, only to stop and ‘test the air’ with its nose about three metres from where I was standing stock still before beating a hasty retreat; a while later a fox crossed quickly over the trail and a roe deer barked from the depths of the wood.
As it grew darker, several  bats emerged to tackle the abundance of flying insects and the querulous ‘oooh…ooh’ of a male tawny owl was answered by sharp ‘kewick’ calls as another owl responded. Then, out of the gloaming, a woodcock flew over the clearing uttering its weird croaks and squeaks. Altogether I recorded five ‘events’ including one more sighting, but whether this involved the same bird five times (possibly) or five different birds (less likely) is difficult to tell.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Holy Island yet again

Holy Island yet again
After work and dinner we decided as it was a lovely evening to take the dog to Holy Island.On reaching the Snook Keith and the dog went through the dunes and soon found a female Red Backed Shrike and a Short Eared Owl,I headed for Snook House a picked up a second Short Eared Owl and a Lesser Whitethroat. We both moved on to the Half Moon slack where there was no sign of the Bluethroat but we did find a very confiding Spotted Flycatcher who was struggling to dispatch a very large moth.In the wonderful late sunshine we headed back across the dunes and soon discovered another Red Backed Shrike,this time a stunning male.  

Sunday, 19 May 2013

More Holy Island migrants

More Holy Island migrants
An early start on Holy Island saw us wandering around the Snook looking for migrants, there were a few about mainly Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. Our next port of call was the main car park, where we had reports of a Lesser Grey Shrike, this was soon located sitting on a fence next the car park, it was a very smart individual with some pink colouration on the breast. From there we headed off along the track from Chare Ends and located a second member of the Shrike family, a stunning male Red Backed Shrike, as it hunted for food along a fence line. Next we walked back along the Straight Lonnen, which was alive with small birds, the highlight being a bush full of Lesser Whitethroats, we saw 5 in total. The bad weather of Saturday must have brought in many waifs and strays as we heard later that other birds found included, Rustic Bunting, Icterine Warbler and Common Rosefinch.      

Friday, 17 May 2013

Holy Island migrants

Holy Island migrants
In view of the poor forecast we decided to pay a visit to Holy Island looking for stranded migrants.
Our first bird was a skulking Grasshopper Warbler in the dunes. From there we walked along the Straight Lonnen and picked up Common Whitethroat,Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart, the Rocket Field only held a single Dunlin.To increase our tally we needed to check out the area around Snook House,we weren't disappointed on reaching the buildings a small brown coloured bird flew up onto a fence,flicking its tail and showing off its striking supercilium. We realised we had found a female/1st winter Bluethroat.After watching the bird for about 5 minutes we headed off to the Half Moon slack where we added Pied Flycatcher, Sedge Warbler and Short Eared Owl to the list.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Wader Heaven

The weather and light conditions were far from ideal yesterday when I dropped in on Bradford Kaims near Bamburgh following reports of some interesting waders on the muddy flash to the north of the road. There in the scope amongst the lapwings and black-headed Gulls were five beautiful spangled Wood Sandpipers and an American vagrant- a Pectoral Sandpiper. A Greenshank was towering above the other waders present including a Snipe and a Dunlin- a very pleasant end to a showery afternoon. (Many thanks to Ian Davison who just happened to drop by and 'rescued' me from a fruitless search of another nearby scrape!!!).

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

A first for Northumberland

Teatime and a quick check on the computer set the pulses racing,a 1st summer Collared Flycatcher had been reported at Low Newton near the Tin Church.Optics were thrown in the car and off we set hoping to get there before the crowds.When we arrived we found a group of about 20 people.The bird was soon located,in fact it was hard to miss it,as it flitted around catching insects on the ground and in the air.Eventually it settled down and began to preen,this gave us the chance to look at its plumage in detail,a smart black and white bird with a large white patch above the bill,a greyish white rump,brownish tinge to the primaries and the most important feature,a complete white collar.
What a superb little bird and a first for Northumberland.  

Branton and Powburn 8th of May

Branton and Powburn 8th of May
Our early morning walk around Branton Ponds saw yesterday evenings "squealing" Water Rails replaced by a mini influx of Garden Warblers(our first of the year) many of which gave unusally good views.The male Blackcaps finally appear to have been joined by females and from the riverside scrub came the distinctive nasal buzzing call of a Willow Tit which obliged us by coming out into the open and showing us it's pale wing panel.The ponds hadn't revealed their final bird of the day until we reached the shallower west end where a faint melancoly call alerted us to a brief Little Ringed Plover.
After breakfast I was dropped off at what is locally known as the"killing shop"for a walk back along the old railway line towards Powburn,the first bird seen was a female Redstart,Which was soon followed by Blackaps,Nuthatches and Willow Warblers.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Has anyone heard a cuckoo?

One cuckoo heard this evening - perhaps heading for the Harthope Valley in search of Meadow Pipits' nests!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

A long day in the field
It was an early start this morning as we met up at Slainsfield Moor at 5 am for the North Northumberland Bird Club dawn chorus outing.After a chilly start the birds started coming thick and fast,with Redstart, Wheatear,Blackcap and Grasshopper Warbler topping the bill. After a delicious cooked breakfast at Heatherslaw Mill we headed back home.
After a quick cuppa it was off to East Chevington for a reported Purple Heron,the wait to see it was enlivened by super views of a food pass between a male and female Marsh Harrier,to our left a Grasshopper Warbler "reeled" in the reedbed accompanied by a less obvious Reed Warbler and then the main course as a tall ,elegant Purple Heron stepped out of the reeds and gave brief tantalising views of its long stripey neck and dagger like bill.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

More spring arrivals

More spring arrivals
An early morning walk around the ponds at Branton turned up yet more Blackcaps "chacking" in the undergrowth and Common Whitethroat calling in scrub near the river.On moving to the west pond a small falcon like bird flew up onto a fence and then back onto the ground,on closer inspection it tuned out to be a Cuckoo with it's bright yellow eye gleaming in the early light.Further on and yet another spring migrant in the form of a dapper male Whinchat,foraging around on the ground near the ponies,probably new in and on it's way to breeding grounds in the hills.