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!