Saturday, 26 November 2016

East Chevington 26th November

East Chevington 26th November
Shore Larks are one of those birds which are either here in small numbers at this time of year or totally absent, so when 7 turned up at East Chevington it would be churlish not to go and have a look. The birds were soon located but getting good views were not easy as the number of people on the beach meant that they were very flighty. It is the most we have seen at any one time in the county but not for some favoured locations, north of the border at John Muir Country Park there has been a flock of up to 35 birds for the last few days, lets hope they stay for a while longer so more people can enjoy these stunning little birds.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Rare Bird Baird's Sandpiper -Newton Scrape

Today, at Low Newton Scrape, a Baird's Sandpiper feeding near, but separate from, a group of 10 Dunlin. Also, on Holy Island causeway 3 Little Egrets & 1 Greenshank and at Budle Bay 4 more Little Egrets.
Yesterday, at 14.30hrs,  a Barn Owl sat in the hole in an Ash tree , near Wooler...
Good numbers of Pinkfeet are moving to & fro in the Milfield Plain area.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Double Issy

Double Issy
What an autumn it has been on Holy Island, at this rate it will be rivalling Fair Isle, so with this in mind and determined that I would not miss out on the action after Keith got the Accentor yesterday whilst I had to work, we headed off to Holy Island and crossed as soon as was safe. On parking we headed straight for the area of beach where the Accentor was watched yesterday, several others were already there but no sign of the fabled sibe. This wasn't a problem as 100 yards along the beach the assembled crowd watched a very approachable Isabelline Wheatear, only the second for the county, it showed really well down to a few metres as it searched the tideline for scraps. We then spent some time searching the dunes for the Accentor with no success, at which point we headed to the Half Moon slack and were soon scoping a very pale Isabelline Shrike which had been found the previous evening, it was mobile but by keeping back and keeping still views were possible. What a two weeks it has been with 3 new birds for the Island's list and lots of happy birders who will always remember this Autumn.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Exotic Accent

Exotic Accent
Yet another busy day turned upside down by news of a Siberian Mega.As anticipated from recent news a Siberian Accentor was found on Holy Island, a county first! I made my way to the island via delays by slow traffic, roadworks & closed railway crossings. On arriving at the North shore, just west of Snipe point I found about 30 fellow birders waiting for views. A few brief fluttering glimpses of a bird dropping into the dunes wetted the appetite and we were not disappointed since the bird eventually hopped out into the open and gave brilliant views down to about 10 feet! Amazing! When the bird flew back  into the dunes everyone gave a big sigh of relief and very nearly a cheer of delight. Being time constrained I made my way from the island to arrive home to news that another first for the island, in the form of an Isabelline Shrike had been found at the Snook!  But it didn't spoil my day.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Holy Island, a haven for migrants!

After recent easterly winds and last night's rain, today - Saturday 15th October - dawned drab and damp so grounded migrants were still likely to be on Holy Island - their first land-fall from Scandanavia.
Indeed, a Pallas' Warbler was showing in a bush at the Snook. Redwings, Blackbirds, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Gold Crests were everywhere, whilst at least 3,000 Brent Geese and 4,000+ Pinkfeet were seen on Fenham Flats along with a flock of 3,000 Golden Plover. 2 Greenshank fed by the causeway. Well worth the visit!

Incidentally, last evening, at 18.30hrs, approaching dusk, 4-5,000 Pinkfeet flew in skeins, whiffling down onto the mudflats of Budle Bay  - very moving and atmospheric!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

A Pallas for lunch

A Pallas for lunch
An early start on Holy Island saw us checking out the excavations with little success, however as we headed towards the Quarry it was obvious there were still migrants about mainly in the form of Redwings and dozens of Goldcrests. Whilst checking Reed Buntings amongst the dunes a Great Grey Shrike suddenly exploded from a bush, scared the Buntings and headed over the next dune. Our next point of call was the Willows at the north end of the Straight Lonnen, here a Red-breasted Flycatcher was showing well along with a Lesser Whitethroat, further along the Lonnen we came  upon a second Red-breasted Flycatcher and on the wires a second Great Grey Shrike perched. At this point along with Alan Hall we headed off to the Vicar's garden to stand by the wall and consume our Turnbulls Steak Pies ( other pies are available). We could hear a Yellow-browed Warbler and when a small bird came into sight we all though that is what it would be, then we saw the unmistakable crown stripe and realised that it was in fact a gorgeous little Pallas's Warbler. It then proceeded to endlessly forage amongst the leaves just above our heads before finally flying across the garden to give more distant views. More birders arrived and some did manage to get views. We headed back to the car via Chare Ends where we finished off the day with a Common Redstart.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

MEGA - White's Thrush on Holy Island

MEGA - White's Thrush on Holy Island
I was about to go around the Ponds and Keith had the car packed to do some work when I decided to check the computer, a good move, as the first thing up was a White's Thrush on Holy Island. It had just been found so I rang Alan Hall who I knew would be there, what came next sounded like- yes,pant ,pant, pant, Straight Lonnen,pant ,pant, heading there now. By this time Keith had cleared the car and within minutes we were away. At this point I should say no speed limits were broken during this blog. 40 minutes later we were walking very quickly up the Straight Lonnen.  We finally reached the willows at the north end where a group of fellow birders were scanning the trees. Almost immediately the bird appeared and showed well to the assembled group for quite some time, a large thrush with  very distinctive markings and when it flew the underwing barring showed up very well. At this point we decided to leave the bird and head home as we both had work to go to. We felt very smug as we headed back along the Lonnen with groups of birders running in the opposite direction knowing that we had seen probably the Holy Grail of birds,lets hope many more saw it too.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Boulmer Bairds

Boulmer Bairds
We headed off to Boulmer this morning for a Bairds Sandpiper seen last evening on the beach, a small group of birders had gathered to pay homage and the bird in question was soon picked out amongst a group of Dunlin. Only slightly smaller than the Dunlin it showed a heavily scaled back with short legs and most obvious a long primary projection giving it a very attenuated look at the rear. The question was how long would we be able to view it, the answer not very long as after about 10 minutes a Peregrine decided to start stooping on the assembled waders hoping to spook them into flight, this had the desired effect as the group disappeared out of sight and the Raptor left empty handed, hopefully the bird will be back at high tide. 

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Rosy at Roseden

Rosy at Roseden
We were going seawatching this morning but decided to first try for a Rose-coloured Starling which had been reported at Roseden on fatballs. On arrival at the site we met the local farmer and had a good chat about the whereabouts of this bird, he had not seen it and couldn't think of anyone in the village with feeders out but he did suggest trying a cottage on the other side of the A 697. This looked more promising as the garden was full of feeders with lots of birds but no Starlings, after about half an hour we decided to go and come back later. As we reached the main road a number of Starlings appeared in the hedge and one of them was very pale, on getting better views we noted the pale buffy plumage with dark wings and a pale yellowish bill, it was the Rosy, not a stunning bird but worth looking for and perhaps greatly overlooked amongst Starling flocks.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Complete Angler

The Complete Angler
I was in the hide at Branton Ponds early this morning, the island held 12 Common Snipe and there were 133 Lesser Black-backed Gulls loafing on the water, but what attracted my attention was the shrill piping call of a Kingfisher. The bird soon appeared and landed briefly on a  branch in front of the hide, the camera came swiftly into action only for the dreaded sound of the battery running out , I changed batteries and thought my chance had gone. However a few minutes later the piping was heard again and 3 Kingfishers flew into view chasing each other, luckily 1 landed on the branch for about 30 seconds and I finally got my shots.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

High's and Low's

High's and Low's
We were on Holy Island first thing this morning looking for the juvenile Pallid Harrier which had been seen on Thursday and Friday, unfortunately even though the island was well covered with birders there was no sign of this elusive bird. The island was generally quiet however a slow day was enlivened by several Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs, a Lesser Whitethroat at the excavations was a bonus, however things improved when at the half moon slack we got onto a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Red-breasted Flycatcher. Our day wasn't quite over, on returning home we received a call from a birding friend to say the Franklin's Gull was still at Whittle Dene reservoir, this resulted in a hurried dash down the road. Things didn't look good when on arrival there was no sign of the bird, after about 2 hours we decided to head home, once more good fortune shone on us as the bird appeared in a field next to where everyone's cars were parked, giving good views to all present.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The unusual and the expected...

A Lesser Grey Shrike, yesterday, (Tues. 13 Sept) at Newton Links (OS NU231 265); 17 Little Egrets at Cresswell Pond & a Great White Egret at Druridge Bay (Tues. 6 Sept).
3 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Ruff & 1 Little Stint at Newton Scrape; 1 Curlew Sandpiper & 4 Black-tailed Godwits on Monk's House Pool; 6 Little Egrets in Budle Bay (Tues. 13 Sept).

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Low Newton 10th September

Low Newton 10th September
Saturday morning saw us parking up at Low Newton, the village itself had a fly over Peregrine and the track along to the scrape held a family group of 5 Stonechats. Our next destination was the scrape where 2 Little Stints fed eagerly with a small group of Dunlin and Ringed Plover, also on the scrape were, Lapwings, Redshank  and a large mixed flock of Black-headed Gulls and Herring Gulls. We then checked out the wooded area which proved quiet apart from several Chiffchaffs and a single Lesser Whitethroat, the beach was more productive as 2 Yellow Wagtails fed with Pied Wagtails Rock Pipits, Meadow Pipits, 3 Purple Sandpipers and a very noisy flock of Starlings. We then headed out to the Point which was very quiet, the sea being calm, not good seawatching conditions, the real highlight being the 400+ Golden Plover sunning themselves on the rocks at the Point. 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Fenham Flats 21st August

Fenham Flats 21st August
Today was my monthly WeBS count, the weather was warm and sunny but there was a blustery wind, not ideal for counting. However it did get off to a good start with a Greenshank in front of Elwick Hide and it continued at a pace with next a group of 19 Ruff, 3 of which were larger males and one had the remnants of his ruff. Moving further on a stunning brick red Knot was added to the list followed soon by 2 flocks of Whimbrel totalling 22 birds, breeding plumaged Grey Plover numbering 96 birds added a touch of class which was followed by 170 Bar-tailed Godwits some still in breeding plumage. On reaching Guile Point I began counting Oystercatchers and soon ran out of fingers when the number reached 699, other waders, ducks and gulls were added to the list on what turned out to be a much better day than I had expected. On the return journey I noticed something reddish/brown about 50 yards in front of me and heading in my direction, it turned out to be a Fox feeding on scraps along the high tideline, so I sank down into the long grass and waited, sure enough about 5 minutes latter it had come within 4 metres of me and only then realised I was there, at which point it shot off like Usain Bolt in the opposite direction, a fitting end to a super day.    

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Hirundines !

Today, Saturday 6th August, a very warm sunny day, I lay on my back on a patch of grass at Yearle to try and count the many Hirundines flying high! There were at least 60plus House Martins apparently randomly twisting and swirling in flight at about 200 feet - sometimes they all gathered and flew southerly only to return flying in the opposite direction...
I liked to think they were feeding on flying insects, perhaps fattening up for their forthcoming migration (does such behaviour herald their departure?) but maybe they were just enjoying the sunshine and communal chatter! (A few Swallows added to this fascinating spectacle).

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Some High Spots for Waders

Today, 4th August                                                                                                                                     Cresswell Pond: 9 Little Egrets, 10 Med Gulls, 20 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Adult & 2 juvenile Avocets, 3 Little Stints, 1 Knot (in summer plumage),100 Golden Plovers, 200 Dunlin, 2 Reeves, juvenile Water Rail, 100 Lapwings, 50 Redshank, 5 Curlew, 1 Common Sandpiper.
Also a Barn Owl, hunting.
Chevington: 2 pairs Stonechats, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Whitethroats...

Yesterday, 3rd August-
Newton Pool Scrape:  13 Black-tailed Godwits, 20 Dunlin, 6 Wigeon.

Previous day, 2nd August -
Budle Bay (high tide): Red-breasted Merganser with 7 ducklings in convoy, 2 Little Egrets.
Stag Rocks, Bamburgh: 54 Knot, 30 Turnstone, 2 Dunlin, 1 Redshank, 24 Eiders afloat, 5 Sandwich Terns flying south.
Monk's House Pool: 7 Redshank.  


Return passage of waders seems to have started and there is few better places to check it out than the flash at Low Newton. One of the first birds we came across on arriving there was a lovely clean looking juvenile Little Stint showing well with summer plumaged Dunlin. Larger waders in slightly deeper water included Ruff and 11 Black-tailed Godwits in vastly differing plumages. Next our attention was focused on the call of a Greenshank, it was soon located along with a second bird, as we watched 2 more Greenshanks flew overhead and headed off towards the pools, our wader watch was completed with the addition of 1 Common Sandpiper,1 Green Sandpiper plus several Ringed Plover and Redshank. It wasn't all about waders, a single Yellow Wagtail hunted for insects around the water's edge and a pair of Stonechat's called noisily from the fence line. A walk out to the point proved unproductive but we did hear later that a Wood Sandpiper had been seen at the roadside flash at Charlton Mires. 

Sunday, 24 July 2016


It's been a good year for new breeding species on Branton Ponds, first off the mark were a pair of Grey Herons who managed to rear 3 chicks who like all unruly youngsters seem to be reluctant to leave the family home. Next was a pair of Gadwall, regulars on the ponds but have never shown any sign of breeding until this year. The final proud parents were the Great Crested Grebes who have tried for several years to produce offspring and have finally succeeded after many failed attempts, it just proves that effort and hard work always pays off.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Holystone Woods 22nd May

Holystone Woods 22nd May
With warm sunshine and little breeze Sunday morning was ideal for a visit to Holystone Woods before the afternoon's heavy rain. The clear felled area just before the main woodland produced singing Tree Pipit which then indulged in a spot of parachuting, the Oak woods themselves were carpeted with Bluebells, Greater Stitchwort, Dog Violet and a few Yellow Pimpernel. Above in the canopy Nuthatch and Redstart called, whilst in the undercover Spotted Flycatcher flitted around after insects and Treecreepers scurried up the trunks. As we skirted along the edge of a wooded ravine a Green Woodpecker called out from the far side but remained unseen, next to the ford near South Yardhope and following quickly on the trail of our third Red Squirrel of the day we came upon a stunning male Pied Flycatcher, no Wood Warblers but not a bad haul for the morning.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

I need a time machine

I need a time machine
At this time of year a time machine would be very handy and this morning proved the point. The choice was get up at 3 am to drive to Etal for the Bird club dawn chorus , with the added bonus of bacon butties afterwards or get up at a more reasonable hour and go to Holy Island to do some late spring birding. I decided to do the latter and was rewarded with a number of really good birds, the first was a smart looking female Bluethroat which was hopping around feeding off the turf at Chare Ends. Next a visit to the Crooked Lonnen  produced a distant Dottrel, the Straight Lonnen came up trumps with 2 Pied Flycatchers and another more elusive Bluethroat, this time a male with a limited amount of blue on the throat. Finally the star of the day in the form of a very active Subalpine Warbler feeding energetically on flies in a Hawthorn, there was much debate over what form but it was finally identified as a Western Subalpine Warbler. A great end to the day which would have been even better if I could have also fitted in the Dawn Chorus, maybe next year.
                                                    Female Bluethroat

Seeing Red!

Feeling somewhat aggrieved at having to miss the Annual Dawn Chorus on such a beautiful morning,I was consoling myself in the garden with a mid morning coffee break at home in Lowick.
The increasing anxiety calls of the Curlews nesting nearby,drew my attention skywards to be rewarded by a lazily circling Red Kite right overhead!
It hung around for about five minutes giving magnificent views of this gorgeous bird before drifting off west!Wow!

Sunday, 8 May 2016


My first day of the 2016  season on duty on Lindisfarne Nature Reserve to check on the returning Little Terns was eventful in many ways!
The netting ,laboriously positioned by the team earlier that week ,was devastated by the 5.25 metre High Tide which hit for the second time that day at 4 pm. On arrival at the two sites my work was cut out to try to retrieve the seaweed sodden  netting(first remembering to disconnect the electric current!) from the rising tide and to drag it to a higher place - only to turn my back and find once again it was under water!
On the bright side, was the sheer number of waders seen at both sites!Huge numbers of smartly plumaged Dunlin,Turnstone ,Sanderling and Ringed Plover fed frantically and voraciously at the waters edge.Oyster Catcher in lesser numbers were also present and above the mist Sandwich Terns could occasionally be seen,
The highlight was ,of course, the presence of at least 3  -possibly 4 pairs of Little Terns,noisily watching my antics with some anxiety.Unfortunately the area fenced off for them was flooded out but on the bright side ,they had not yet got around to making any scrapes-unlike the Ringed Plovers .
Another highlight of the day was the huge haul out of Grey  Seal-200 plus at a very rough estimate.
On finishing what I could of retrieving the netting-realisation then dawned!My route back to the mainland was impassable so there was nothing else to do but to wait and enjoy the peace and solitude until the water level was low enough  to safely-if wetly- paddle through!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Seabird City

Needles Eye, a dramatic Stack isolated from the Red Sandstone cliffs running north from Berwick-upon-Tweed is an amazing hive of activity at this time of year. About 60 Kittiwakes formed a white cloud as they circled in front of the cliffs where at least as many more were sitting on nests or ledges, the cliffs resounding to their evocative calls. More than twenty Razorbills were on the stack, with many more on the sea just offshore, whilst one pair of bridled Guillemots were also showing well on the top. A larger gathering of Guillemots (>100) could be seen on the ledges just to the south of the stack, with a constant flow of birds flying in and out. Many Fulmars also have their nest sites near the top of the cliffs, more to the north of the Needles Eye. A few Cormorants and Shags were hanging out on the top of the stack, along with the Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, no doubt waiting for an opportune moment to raid an unguarded nest. Along the grassy cliff tops there were Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings, with Skylarks calling overhead.
             Perhaps the fact that the most direct access to the site involves a daunting short section of footpath alongside the A1 dual-carriageway plus a footpath crossing of the equally busy East Coast Main Line ensures that it will remain an under-visited little gem! (There are longer routes along the coastal footpath from Berwick or Marshall Meadows.)  

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A Tern up for the books!

The skies at Goswick yesterday morning were filled with the joyful song of Skylark,Meadow Pipit,Linnet  and dozens of Swallows whilst on reaching the shore,the cries of Sandwich Terns were heard - the first time for me this year!They were fishing offshore whilst Gannet passed further out to sea.A pair of Ringed Plover scurried around the shingle possibly prospecting for a nest site-a good omen for the coming opening of the Shorebird Monitoring Project which begins its third year at the end of this month.
Approaching the mouth of the Low,two dozen Sandwich Terns were seen ,some displaying half heartedly whilst at the other side of the stream stood around a dozen Curlew.
Cutting back through the dunes a solitary Wheatear arose whilst two Linnet flew over as I unfortunately had to leave to attend to more mundane duties.
Later whilst enjoying a break from the gardening with a cup of tea ,a familiar sound-the House Martins were back -inspecting the remains of last years nest washed away by the winter rains!
Must make sure the garage door is open ready for the Swallows-

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Wishful thinking

Wishful thinking
As we were wandering through Hepburn Woods this morning on a Bird Club outing I was day dreaming about seeing an Osprey flying over, not as ridiculous as it sounds bearing in mind Chatton angling lake is only a short distance away and stocked with lovely fat, juicy fish. As one would expect of such idle dreaming nothing appeared, however after the walk we were driving home via Old Bewick and guess what flew over the car at treetop height, yes you've guessed an Osprey, I wonder if this works with the National Lottery?

Friday, 15 April 2016

Spring Beauties

A stunning Male Brambling in full breeding plumage visited the seed feeder in the garden at Yearle this morning -what a 'cracking' bird! We often have a few Bramblings drop in to the garden during hard weather in the winter, but never one in mid-April. Since mid-March our other early Spring visitors to the feeders are small flocks of  Siskins, including many brightly coloured Males in full breeding plumage.  

Spring ?

Spring ?
It's hard to tell at the moment, we seem to be at that time of year when the weather is on a knife edge.
At Branton Ponds the wild life seems to be also unsure, whilst the trees are full of singing Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers we had 2 Whooper Swans fly over a few days ago and not unusually there are still one or two Wigeon feeding up on the grassy banks. However the season still battles on, male Tufted Ducks are forming groups and surrounding lone females, Sand Martins are hawking the water along with ever increasing numbers of Swallows and as if to show the spring is moving forwards and has not stalled we had our first Common Sandpipers of the year when 3 turned up on the west pond. Yippee here comes summer!.   

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Bewitched by the Dowitcher.....

My first visit to Cresswell in February to see the overwintering Long-billed Dowitcher was rewarded with a typical long-distance view of the bird on the Western shore where it tended to hang out. However in recent days as it gradually changes into its breeding plumage, it is becoming a little bolder and venturing up to the muddy pools north of the Causeway- providing much closer views for birders and photographers to enjoy. How much longer will it stay, until the primeval urge to return to its breeding grounds prompts it to attempt a very precarious return journey?

Sunday, 6 March 2016

White winger

White winger
Once again this year Branton Ponds turned up trumps, we were getting ready to go out with the dog when we got a phone call from Alan Hall to say that he and Stevie Rippon had a 1st winter Iceland Gull on Branton Ponds, quick change of plan and we were on site in less than 5 minutes, only to find it had flown off. After checking other local sites we decided it was gone forever, not so, whilst checking Branton later I suddenly saw it sitting on the water, which was astounding as 2 minutes earlier it had not been there. After swimming around for a while it eventually took off and headed to the east , hopefully in the next few days it may return.

Saturday, 5 March 2016


We decided to have a morning at the coast and so with that in mind headed off to Stag Rocks which was very quiet only birds of note being 6 Common Scoter along with several Common Eider, there was no sign of the Black Scoter reported earlier in the week. Our next destination was Harpers Heugh which proved to be the most productive of the day, in the field next to the road were a number of geese which were mainly made up of Greylags(60) and Pink-feet(110). On searching carefully through the flock we were pleased to find a single Tundra Bean Goose(rossicus) hiding amongst the Pink-feet, further scanning produced 3 White-fronted Geese of the Greenland race(flavirostis) along with 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and 18 Barnacle Geese, not a bad selection for such a small flock. Our final destination was Fenham le Moor where we encountered a dozen more Brents plus Redshanks, Knot, Turnstones and a respectable flock of some 30 Pintails.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

A Bounty of Barn Owls!

A trip to Chatton from Lowick on Saturday night rewarded with one Barn Owl at our road end(Lowick);one near Holburn and another near Hetton!
Our return journey caught a full face view of another fine bird sitting on top of a hedge near Chatton!
A daytime trip to Twizel last week rewarded us with the lovely sight of a Barn Owl flying through the ruins of Twizel Castle and out into a nearby tree where it perched for five or so minutes despite some harrying by Jackdaws and Rooks!

Friday, 12 February 2016


Early morning around Branton Ponds had a feel of winter, the ponds themselves were 80% frozen. This helped to concentrate the birds onto the small areas of open water, Wigeon are still in good sized numbers along with Teal, Tufted Duck, Mallard and 2 Pochard. Siskins ,Bullfinch, Lesser Redpoll and various members of the Tit family fed greedily amongst the Alders. In stark contrast when the sun came out and the air warmed up a bit we came across our first Adder of the year, a small male which was our earliest ever by 2 days, could spring be just around the corner?  

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Two suprises at Branton Ponds!

Today, with weather calm & mild, among a selection of Gulls were surprisingly 2 Kittiwakes (in winter plumage) - it is rare to find this marine species inland!
Pleasingly were a minimum of 24 Curlew, now a Red Listed species. 4 Common Snipe rested on the same island.
Two ponds held good numbers of duck: Tufted,Wigeon, Mallard, Goldeneye (pairing) & 5 Goosander.
Second surprise: a Stoat in Ermine, with a clear black tipped tail, seen several times.

At Hedgeley Ponds, 23 Snipe lined the edge of the low island whilst 400 plus Lapwing circled overhead looking to land. A pair of Gadwall were among the duck species there.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Tawny Owls

Two Tawny Owls calling again this evening; they have been calling most nights this week. One flew over tonight from the large Beech Tree on the field boundary of the garden as I opened the back door of the house giving a brief view before landing again further along the line of trees. It soon restarted its 'conversation' with the other. They seem most active and vocal at this time of year, doubtless pairing up ready to commence nesting in March.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

A wintry scene

A wintry scene
Finally winter has hit us with a vengeance, we woke up this morning to about 2 inches of the white stuff. It does have some benefits , the first was in the form of a male Brambling feeding with Chaffinches and Tree Sparrows on the ground at our back window. Next to the Ponds where the snow revealed numerous footprints which included Red Squirrel scampering across the snow and further around where an Otter had come out of the burn and crossed over to the ponds, you could even see where it had stopped and then slid down the bank and into the water, who says animals don't have fun.
The ponds themselves held quite a few wildfowl including Teal, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Goldeneye, we also noted a small flock of 6 Redwing feeding in the treetops.  

Monday, 11 January 2016

Stag Rocks

A beautiful ,sunny, frosty morning found us at Stag Rocks at around 9.30 am with a low tide and with  the beach  almost to ourselves!
Just off Stag Rocks there were good views of  7 Long Tailed Ducks,40 Common Scoter,1 Red Breasted Merganser ,Eider,and Cormorant while on the rocks there were around 30 Purple Sandpipers amongst the usual suspects-Oyster catcher,Curlew,Turnstone and Redshank,.A Rock Pippit was also present.
In the rough grassland over the wall by the lane a Short Eared Owl was hunting ,with some success by the look of it.At one point a Kestrel harassed it before flying off.A huge mixed flock of finches fed on the thistles and grass seeds and included Goldfinch,1 Greenfinch and Linnet.A Reed Bunting was also spotted in the same area as was a female Stonechat,sitting on a fence post.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Scandinavian Visitors

                 After many days of continuous rain, it was good to wake at last to a brighter morning. I was delighted to come across a mixed flock of c.150-200 finches close to home, flying from an overgrown hedgerow in and out of a  field of winter kale, reduced to stumps by the sheep. (NT997257) The flock consisted of Chaffinches and Bramblings, with a few Tree Sparrows thrown in for good measure. Some beautiful brightly coloured Male Bramblings lit up the hedge while they were 'resting', and observation of the flock in flight  suggested 30-40% of the birds had white rumps; once they landed of course they virtually disappeared as they 'melted' into the muddy field.
                 A few hundred metres away towards Middleton Hall, another mixed flock graced the tops of the trees bordering the field- this time of Scandinavian thrushes, c50 Redwings and Fieldfares. Meanwhile in the tree above my head, three Mistle Thrushes were involved in a noisy squabble...maybe rival suitors?...... they are early-season breeders after all. 

Monday, 4 January 2016

Berwick Pier

Feeling in desperate need of some fresh air,and noticing a lull in the rain we decided to have a quick look at the mountainous seas from Berwick Pier.
Over the Pier wall there was a good view of Little Beach as it is now called. (historically known to long-term Berwick residents as Sandy Beach!). The tide was still high with little sand showing but Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher could be seen making the most of a rare opportunity-a dog and human -free deserted beach!
With the strength of the wind, Rock Pipits and Pied Wagtails  sporadically shot precariously overhead whilst Herring Gulls made the whole  process of flight look effortless.There were several Cormorants fishing by the pier and flying over whilst a tightly formed group of Eiders bobbed on the big waves near the bar. A small fast flying duck, possibly Teal, cannoned past heading up the river, probably in search of calm.
At the first bend of the Pier the wind strengthened  and with large waves breaking regularly by the lighthouse we decided to turn back.On the edge of the pier as we turned landwards once more, 3 small and very hesitant waders clung anxiously to the edge, clearly reluctant to launch into the storm.On closer inspection,they were seen to be Purple Sandpipers which I have never seen there before!
Over the pier wall all the waders had disappeared, their place taken by barking dogs and their owner!