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?