Sunday, 23 November 2014

A late Sibe

A late Sibe
First thing on sunday we headed off to Brierdene in Whitley Bay, a number of birders were already present and soon we picked up the call of our target bird. Flitting constantly looking for food was a tiny Warbler all the way from Siberia, a Hume's Yellow-browed Warbler, a super little bird which showed well to all those present. Our next port of call was Snab Point just north of Newbiggin, where there was very little on the sea but a couple of Black Throated Divers were noted flying south. Next we called in at East Chevington where we soon got onto the female Smew which has been present for a couple of days, also present were 30+ Goldeneye, 4 Red Breasted Merganser, 50+ Greylags which also included 2 Bar-headed Geese, a small group of 13 Whooper Swans flew over and on the lake 2 Otters seemed to be making great inroads into the local Eel population. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Heaven's Gate

The chance of a Rough-legged Buzzard virtually on our doorstep seemed too good an opportunity to miss, but with reports of recent sightings over quite a wide area, where to look? I set off on foot for a nine mile loop taking in the old shepherd's cottage at Broadstruther and Hawsen. Much of the route had little other than the fine dark autumn colours of the moors and the regular calls of the grouse rising up from the heather..... but not even so much as a Common Buzzard in the wide open skies to raise hopes. After a couple of hours walking, I met two birders at the locally named 'Heaven's Gate' who had recently watched the Rough -legged Buzzard hunting from that vantage point, but they reported that it had flown off up over Broadhope after catching a vole (?) and hadn't been seen for twenty minutes or so. With the mist rolling down obscuring the top of Broadhope, I eventually decided to continue along my route....but amazingly, I was only fifty metres or so beyond Heaven's Gate when the bird came gliding down low over the valley with its horizontally- held narrower wings and significantly longer tail. It passed close by at eye level and flew up to disappear over the Hawsen Crags, revealing its white tail with characteristic black terminal band as it did so. What a 'Heavenly' view for all three of us, thumbs raised all round !

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Mixed weather, mixed flock

A morning of thick mist which lingered on in the valley had the Pink-footed Geese calling overhead at Yearle, perhaps struggling with the poor visibility. We headed up the Harthope Valley and amazingly came into some fine sunshine and beautiful autumnal views of the Cheviot hills ...  like a different world within half-a-mile of home!
Just beyond the car parking area near Langleeford we enjoyed coming across a mixed flock of woodland birds in the birch trees- lots of Redpolls, some Siskin, a few Treecreepers working up the trunks, Blue Tits,Coal Tits, a noisy party of Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Robin and Goldcrest all busily feeding, perhaps as many as 40 birds.
Unfortunately as we left the valley we plunged back into the thick cold mist.... that's November for you.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

If Pigs could Fly.......?

A 'squealing pig' in the reed-bed at Branton East Pond could only mean one thing- a Water Rail-but could we see it as well as hear it? Waiting and watching patiently and silently, we were rewarded after a few minutes with a brief 'couple of seconds' worth as it tiptoed past a little open channel in the reeds. Oh well, better than nothing!
                   However, the best was yet to come. As we headed up the east side of the pond, the Water Rail decided to fly along past us to the next reedy edge, giving us a rare view of the now silent bird in flight-with bill angled down towards the water and legs trailing behind- something we've never seen before.
            We enjoyed the rest of our visit, with plenty of activity on the water from the usual suspects, and even more activity in the Alder Trees from Lesser Redpolls, Siskins, Goldfinches and Goldcrests, where the seed cones were clearly proving irresistible. But the 'flying pig' was the star event............

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Holy Island 1st November

Holy Island 1st November
We decided to pay a visit to Holy Island and weren't disappointed, we were checking out the Sycamores opposite The Lindisfarne Hotel and spotted 3 Blackcaps, as we watched another bird appeared similar in shape but bigger and bulkier, our immediate thought was Barred Warbler and this was confirmed when we saw the obvious barring on the undertail coverts. We observed this bird for about 5 minutes when a second bird appeared, yet again a first winter both of which were constantly harassed by the local Robin and House Sparrows. Keith headed off towards the Heugh where he met Mark Winter who got him onto 2 Black Redstarts and I managed a small number of Goldcrests near the coach park, also present on the Island was a single Mediterranean Gull by the Harbour and a Woodcock along the Straight Lonnen