Saturday, 24 January 2015

The p(o)int of the tail......

A tale of two halves..........our first visit to the coast this year (memo: must get out more often!) on a cold but bright day, took us to Stag Rocks and Bamburgh, usually a birdwatching Mecca. But where were the Purple Sands? or even the Turnstones? let alone the twinkling 'edge of the tide' dancer, the Sanderlings? A bracing walk to the Black Rocks and back was rewarded with one fly- past, a Great Northern Diver, but little else of note. No rafts of Scoter, no Long-tailed Ducks.....hey ho. not the usual delights of Bamburgh in Winter.
So we headed for Fenham-le-Moor on the turn of the tide, where the mudflats were 'busy- busy' with many Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwits, and aerobatic displays of Knot. Further north the Shelducks seemed to line the horizon. As we waited  in the hide, a small party of light-bellied Brent Geese flew in to the shore, and we watched as the ducks on the tidal edge came ever closer, many Wigeon of course, but over a hundred beautiful, graceful Pintail. As a parting bonus, a few Grey Plover flew by revealing their tell-tale black 'armpits'. Not such a bad day out after all!

Friday, 23 January 2015

lower Whiteadder

Birds that might not raise an eyebrow elsewhere, but a Dipper and Gadwall (on pond near Low Cocklaw) got me excited when seen on 20th and 13th, respectively. Both are rather scarce in these parts. I have not seen a Dipper on the Whiteadder below the Border in the six years that I have been regularly watching this spot.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Spring is in the air!

After a spell of freezing weather,today looked more hopeful so three of us set off for Twizel.
Leaving the car at Twizel Bridge car park and heading up through the woodland we immediately heard  the drumming of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker in the distance ,followed by the unmistakeable call of a Nuthatch.
Several Tree Creepers were also spotted in this old deciduous piece of woodland.Reaching the top of the hill we then flushed a Woodcock -the spot of the day!
The woodland was teeming with Blue Tits,Great Tits,Coal Tits and Long Tailed Tits ,and Chaffinch all of which were surprisingly vocal.A Greenfinch was also heard wheezing by a nearby house.
On the river,Cormorant,Mute Swans,Mallard,Grey Heron and a large number of Goosander were seen.
The warmth of the sun,the patches of Snowdrops,the singing birds plus the sight of several Roe Deer bounding through the trees were  enough to lift the spirits-Spring is on the way!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Grazing Geese...

Many hundreds of Pinkfeet, with more arriving, could be easily viewed from the Wooler to Berwick road near Doddington (from a convenient lay-by) this afternoon. This area of the Milfied Plain is an old favourite of these season visitors. Grasslands (& crops of autumn sown cereals) were the main object of their attention. Their coming and goings around this area makes a visit, in the hope of seeing them, worthwhile. However, true to their reputation, their moves are unpredictable!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Shades of white and grey

Shades of white and grey
On a very blustery day we headed off to North Shields Fish Quay where several birders were gathered on the quay beside the Trawlers.Our gaze was directed towards the roof where a juvenile Glaucous Gull was lounging, instantly recognised by its pale pink bill with a black tip which looked as if it had been dipped in ink. Further along was what looked like a second bird but this turned out to be a Glaucous/ Herring Gull hybrid; we didn't have to wait long when a second star made its entrance in the form of a sleek, ghostly looking Iceland Gull, yet again a juvenile.
Our next port of call was West Hartford where after 20 minutes standing in a very cold wind we were rewarded with a distant view of the Great Grey Shrike. After a while it disappeared. A small group of us stood and chatted about birds in general, when someone said 'it's heading in our direction'. Sure enough the distinctive shape of the Shrike got closer and closer until finally it landed in the tree above our heads. What views we had before it flew off and continued its circuit; the only downer was that of the six people standing there no one had a camera.