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!