Sunday, 23 June 2013

Fenham Flats 23rd June

Today saw me doing my monthly WeBS count at Fenham Flats,it is a very quiet time of the year and today was no exception,the mud flats were very still and almost devoid of birdlife. On closer examination using a telescope more and more birds could be seen including 115 Curlew, 57 Oystercatchers, 88 Bar Tailed Godwits and 5 Knot which included a stunning breeding plumaged bird in its brick red finery. One thing which wasn't quiet was the weather as I was soaked by an intensely heavy downpour. The one downer on the day is the excellent wet flash at Elwick is slowly being drained which is a real shame as last year it was a fantastic spot for autumn wader passage. 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Black Beauty

We were having our late evening dog walk around Branton Ponds when a group of four Redshank came flying in, it was obvious that one of them was very dark. Once they had landed and settled we got our bins onto them and the dark bird did turn out to be a stunning breeding plumaged Spotted Redshank, its feathers a subtle mix of black and brown, its legs and bill longer than the nearby Common Redshank and when chased across the pond by a Moorhen, its white rump contrasted with its otherwise dark plumage. The question is, at this time of year was it coming or going?. 

Monday, 10 June 2013

Yellow Fellow

We paid a visit to the Lees Haugh on the north bank of the River Tweed immediately upriver from Coldstream in search of Yellow Wagtails. These beautiful birds regularly choose to nest here in a large field of Oil-seed rape bordering the river. Locating a little yellow bird flying across the day-glow brilliance of the rape in full flower is quite challenging to say the least! Altogether we saw five birds including a brightly coloured male.

St Abb's Head re-visited...

                     A few days ago the two of us decided to visit St Abb's Head (National Trust for Scotland & National Nature Reserve), having missed the NNBC field trip a little earlier in the month.The greatest numbers of birds were to be found just north of the lighthouse. Watching the behaviour of these birds, in such good weather, can easily take up 1-2 hours of one's time  - plus the walk and study of flowers  & butterflies!                                                                                                                                   In addition to the many thousands of Guillemots crowded onto the rugged cliff ledges and stacks, hundreds could be found on the water -  it being a fine, calm day. They could be viewed 'queueing up' waiting for a gentle wave to wash them high enough to aid their fluttering clamber out of the sea on to the almost perpendicular rock face. Razorbills seemed less adventurous but were occupied with allopreening.  Kittiwakes displayed  their pair bonding & copulating skills whilst perched on equally precipitous narrow ledges, whilst Fulmars occupied the air-space surveying the scene and watching us watching them!
              It's a great place to see these cliff-nesting birds without taking a boat trip to the Farne Islands, but there were no Terns to be seen!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Branton Ponds - a must...

If in the area, Branton Ponds ( near Powburn / A697) are 'a must' at the moment - the antics of the many duck species with duckings and all the other sights and sounds, as previously recorded in earlier blogs, make it a special place at the moment. I have never seen as many Cowslips in my life before!

Harthope Valley Secrets !

Three consecutive, (unprecedented!), evening visits to the Harthope Valley have led to sightings including the following:  Ring Ouzel (male & female), Mistle Thrush, Whinchat, Meadow Pipits (carrying food), Grey Wagtail, Grey Heron, Dipper (feeding young), Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher (incubating),  Curlew, Snipe (heard, distant), Willow warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat & fleeting Buzzard & Kestrel
Roe Deer, including a Doe suckling twin fawns!  Also Slow worm killed on road.
The varied habitats - riverine, woodland, moorland -  can reveal their secrets (& flora) in different places at different times but the scenery alone has been worth the travel in this recent fine weather ( perhaps see you on Sunday...).

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Crepuscular Birding

Crepuscular Birding
After an unsuccessful late night expedition to Thrunton Woods on Monday looking for Nightjars, we decided to go back to more familiar ground where we had seen them in the past. It was with this in mind on Tuesday evening we headed for Holburn Moss, unusually the midges were almost non existent,was this a bad omen?. As we stood next to the moss Tawny Owls could be heard along with a very noisy Cuckoo , then suddenly, very distantly at first we could hear the churring call of a Nightjar, after some careful scanning we could make out his distinctive silhouette on a dead piece of conifer, it got better when at that moment another bird glided right past us and banked to reveal it's long pointed wings with white flashes on them, what a fantastic bird at a site which yet again came up trumps.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Out of area 2nd June

Out of area 2nd June
The last day of my holidays so we decided to have an early start and visit Allenbanks near Bardon Mill. The early start was justified as we were the only car in the carpark, as we wandered along the riverbank we soon picked out the lovely tones of a Pied Flycatcher,another one was added later. The only problem with Allenbanks is the volume of the noise coming from the river,even this could not stop us from locating the instantly recognisable call of a Wood Warbler and soon the little songster was located,we came across two more further on along with a very shy Redstart.
As the day was still young for our final visit we called in at the Derwent Valley and even though it was extremely busy with what seemed like all of Gateshead, we were soon enjoying  views of four Red Kites as they moved effortlessly across the clear blue sky,it just goes to show the huge variety of both wildlife and sites we have in our area.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Branton Ponds 1st June

Branton Ponds 1st June
Amazing, a second sunny day,and a walk around Branton Ponds showed that the breeding season is in full swing,both Greylags and Canada Geese with their goslings and a gaggle of 20 little "mint humbugs"otherwise known as Shelducks with their parents. The air is still full of the calls of Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, Garden Warblers and Sedge Warblers, long may this weather last.