Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Seeing the old year out

Seeing the old year out
As the weather was dry and mild we decided to go for one last birding walk in 2014, we headed for Ross Back Sands and naturally took the dog with us.
The sea was grey and quite choppy but there were a few birds out there including a total count of 21 Long Tailed Ducks , most of them stunning adult males. Cormorants ,Eiders and Common Scoter flew past but no sign of any Divers. There were 2 Porpoises steadily making their way towards Holy Island and as we took a last look before leaving the beach we noted a group of 6 Slavonian Grebes.
Our day was completed with the briefest sighting of a Fox as it's bushy tail disappeared into the dunes, this certainly livened up the day for our dog.
A fitting end to another great year, lets hope for more of the same in 2015, all the best and a Happy New Year to everyone.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

More Winter Birding...

Saturday 20th December: North-east Coast
With a chill N.N.Westerly blowing today found us at the Long Nanny estuary; as hoped we spotted 30 Twite, a restless party. A single male Merganser was actively diving in the estuary whilst a large group of Herring & Black-headed Gulls bathed. More sedentary, west of the dunes, were 200 Golden Plover, a few Curlew, Redshank & 2 pairs of Stonechats.
At Low Newton scrape a gaggle of 180 Greylags arose ( it, of course, was impossible to distinguish whether these were feral or immigrants).                                                                                                   Low Newton Pool held 7 Gadwall, Teal & Mallard.   

Friday, 19 December 2014

Winter Birding...

Wednesday 17th December 2014: Holy Island.
Observed from the Heugh, in the channel, across to Guile Point and the mainland, a spread of 1000s of Brent Geese (both races); 100s of Eiders, 5 Mergansers, 7 Slavonian Grebes (mostly paired), & a Red-throated Diver (pretending to be a Black-throat with a white patch on its flank).
In addition, 5 Whooper Swans flew over the causeway & 1 Black-tailed Godwit slept by a pool.
Equal to the birds: the scenic view & the panorama of sky & landscape made a memorable visit.

Friday 19th December: Branton Ponds.
A brisk walk around, in a cold breeze blowing from the snowy hills, revealed 15 Goosanders, Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon, Tufted & Goldeneye duck. 4 Cormorants rested on an island. In the trees as many as 60 Goldfinches fed on alder cones & also teasels, whilst a party of Long-tailed tits flitted here & there. A pair of Bullfinches enjoyed guelder-rose berries, and another male Bullfinch was sighted at the opposite end of the reserve.  A family of Mute swans flew in, whilst a second Mute family occupied the neighbouring lake. Other common birds increased our list!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

A Neglected Footpath by the Tweed

It was a fine afternoon on Monday so I set out to to have a walk along the Tweed from Tillmouth Station towards Norham.
The Tweed was running fast past Dreeper Island  and the footpath somewhat precarious involving several unplanned crawls and much undignified and fortunately unobserved, sitting down in mud,as parts of the path had been washed away!
Walking through the lovely beeches,with one  eye open for Brambling, a Jay flew off indignantly, noisily objecting  to my intrusion.A Grey Heron fishing quietly by the bankside followed suit squawking crossly,over the river.Shortly afterwards,three Roe Deer scampered off,whilst a splash from the river gave me a brief glance at an Otter.
After an hour of plodging through mud,tripping over debris and wondering if I would actually survive my 'stroll', I retraced my steps.
A Willow,down by the water was suddenly alive with birds!Blue Tit,Great Tit,Coal Tit,and a large party of beautiful Long Tailed Tits ,noisily going about their business.Deft ,tiny, fast movements in another part of the tree revealed 3 Goldcrest ,the sun just catching their tiny golden heads,whilst a thin call from the more mature trees behind me suggested the presence of a Treecreeper,eventually spotted.Even a Nuthatch called out its indignation at the unwanted intrusion of a mere human into what has suddenly become a tiny unspoiled natural paradise.
Muddied but unbowed, I  negotiated the slippery path back up to civilisation ,more resembling the 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' than the sensible cleanly attired person who had set out two hours earlier!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Fenham le Moor Hide

With a good forecast and a rising tide three of us decided to try our luck at Fenham le Moor hide.
Initial views were of huge numbers of Shelduck,Wigeon and eventually Brents. Out in the bay were the expected Eider but no sight of any Divers or Mergansers,

On the shoreline were the expected waders-Redshank, Dunlin, Ringed Plover,Curlew,Turnstone ,Bar Tailed Godwit ,and a solitary Grey Plover.

The highlight of the day was an unexpected close up fly past of a magnificent male Hen Harrier!

On leaving the hide ,a short walk south along the flats produced 12 Grey Partridge,2 Little Egret,and a Yellowhammer gleaming gold from the top of a bush.Near the Elwick hide large numbers of Pink Feet and Lapwing were feeding in the fields.

As we prepared to leave,the sky was darkening and a rainbow appeared to the North but a  shaft of strong  winter sunshine bathed the seagrass and the Island in a golden glow, reminding us what a beautiful area we live in!