Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Bank Holiday Business

The weekend has been cool and breezy but I have had three days work free, not including gardening mind but that doesn't count. Moth trapping has been typically slow with nigh time temperatures a little on the low side still. I have still had some interesting moths though, Streamer, Muslin Moth being the highlights.

Muslin Moth
A large queen Tree Bumblebee was floundering on my lawn just as I was about to give it a cut, managed a snap before it buzzed off..

Tree Bumblebee
I even managed a snap of a Common Frog in the garden pond, it allowed me to get really close.

Visited to a couple of favourite inland sites, Hedgeley and Ingram Valley, I wasn't the only one visiting Ingram, its a popular area when the weather is reasonable, a nice Whinchat, Common Sandpiper and hundreds of Sand Martins made the short visit worthwhile.

Sunday morning was my only proper outing of the weekend, coastal watching. Met up with Stewart and headed to Beadnell, a brief seawatch was unproductive, Gannets, Kittiwake, distant Terns and groups of Auks offshore. There were a couple of Common Sandpiper in sheltered bay to the north of the point. A cracking Wheatear posed for us in Beadnell Bay as we headed back to the car.
Monks House Pool was quiet, we ended up at Low Newton for our first brew of the day, the small wood by the tin church at Newton seemed to have a fair few migrants in.. male and female Blackcap, Chiff Chaff and Willow Warbler. The only photo I managed though was a singing Wren. Newton Pool and the flooded fields had a very obliging Grey Heron, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Grasshopper Warbler, Blackcap and a couple of superb White Wagtails.

Singing Wren

Grey Heron
Finished the morning at a site near Alnwick here we have had Green Hairstreak previously, one of my favourite of all things.. no luck, to early, to cold or to windy, or even.. no Green Hairstreaks anymore. A lovely piece of moist and sweet apple cake, provided by Stewart courtesy of Howick Village Hall,  with our final cup of tea was a bonus but no consolation..

Monday, 10 April 2017

Early Spring

Winter has given way to spring and though there is still time for a weather set back it has been an interesting transition, I love seeing things wake as the air and ground warms. I've not shared much of it on my blog but I thought I'd post some of the images anyway.

March 12th Low Newton

First Chiff Chaff of the year singing and Whooper Swans noted moving north, steadily all morning, in small flocks of 12-35

Whooper Swans
March 19th

A great day inland today, sun is really quite strong now when the cloud clears. More singing Chiff Chaff wading birds in numbers moving to breeding areas and reptiles awakening from winter hibernation.

Carrion Crow and Oystercatcher

Slow Worm
30th March 

Back on the coast as March drew to a close, all still a bit slow as it often is in springtime Northumberland. Ring Necked Duck was a distraction worth attending to so Chevington was the first stop, no sign of the duck but we got caught up with and thoroughly enjoyed some lingering winter visitors, Shorelark and Twite and Chevington burn mouth.


A couple of fine Lesser Black Backed Gulls at Branton on March 31st rounded off March nicely.

2nd April

Sand Martins back in numbers inland today, difficult to count but 30 or so swarming around suitable sand banks and a fabulous Dipper seen with nesting material.

 The week leading up to the 9th March was very nice weather, lots of sunshine, approximately 30 Lesser Black Backed Gulls were following a plough near Eglingham and my first Swallow was a nice surprise on the 7th.

The day of writing, 9th March. Coast again, hoping for Garganey. No luck but butterflies seen, Green Veined White, Speckled Wood and Peacock. A Bee Fly added to the insect interest, very warm this morning in sheltered areas.

Green Veined White

White Wagtail, Wheatear, Chiff Chaff and Willow Warbler all noted. 

Great Crested Grebes full of spring fettle
Gadwall pair

Tufted Ducks
Not a mention of Acconites, Snowdrops or celendines but the ground is bursting into life.

Back to March a while, garden mothing has been nice and steady which is good because I have difficulty identifying half of what I get to see. Here are a few that I have recorded.

Hebrew Character

Early Grey
March Moth

Common Quakers
Pale Pinion

A bit of a cobbled together account but spring waits for no man...bird nor beast

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

No dip trip

Sunday morning had an up the coast feel to it, not so far up that we would not see the Black Scoter again though, no Cheswick or Goswick dipping this week, despite that bird having been seen again. I'm not sure we really had much of a plan, met Stewart and parked my car in the car park at Howick Village Hall, left it unlocked all morning with the keys in the ignition as it happened too, anyway, we headed north.

It was worth a stop at Embleton. Waxwings had been seen at the north east end of the village for a few weeks, up to three birds reported feeding on berries and occasionally flycatching. We had a drive through the housing estate checking gardens for any bushes or shrubs that might still hold berries. We had all but given up when the tell tale silhouette was spotted on top of a bush just as we were leaving the estate. Two Waxwings feeding on a sparsely berried garden bush.

Its a funny thing, it has been a good winter for Waxwings, I had seen a few near Eglingham earlier in the winter and have enjoyed seeing the photographs birders have been taking of them. They do make a good subject, can be approached closely with care and the berry in beak shot is always sought after. This morning though I had a chance to take a few snaps myself, the light wasn't good at all but you have to try, also we were in a residential area and pointing lenses at houses isn't that comfortable but the discomfort only really affected my behavior once a few snaps of the Waxwings had been grabbed.

We left the Waxwings and the residents of Embleton and headed on north.

Next stop, Monks House Pool north of Seahouses, tea was poured, a bit early but I think we were feeling celebratory. Monks House Pool had 13 Shoveler, Teal and Tufted Duck.

Budle Bay next, scanning from the layby;

Bar Tailed Godwit
Large numbers of Brent Goose well out in the bay. Spotted Redshank picked out by Stewart in on of the streams, feeding hard in the moving water.

We thought we would 'call in ' at a little woodland feeding station at Spindlestone. We have popped in here on occasion, its a well stocked feeding station with a good hide. It seemed a little quiet really, no sign of any Red Squirrels, hunting male Sparrowhawk though, Siskin, Treecreeper and Nuthatch seen also.

This hide though is one of two, we knew this but have never managed to find the other, the south hide. We drove around to where we thought it should be, stopping to, flush, as it happened a massive flock of feeding Pink Footed Geese. As we pulled into a layby a gentleman on a quad bike pulled up, he was ignoring us really but I asked if he knew if there as another bird hide in this area. It was Mr Baker-Cresswell, the guy that has developed this little secret reserve and he was really pleased we were interested. We followed him to the south hide and spent the rest of our morning birdwatching, draining the last of our tea and scoffing cheese sandwiches, in this hide. 

Good show of woodland species, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue, Coal and Great Tit, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch and Yellowhammer..

just the job, and my car was still there...

Monday, 23 January 2017

Specific Pacific

I have to admit to not being as well read as many. A few months ago I heard of a Pacific Diver reported off the Northumberland Coast, one of those moments in esteemed company when you smile and take a step back, something I do often as it happens, but really, I'd never heard of this Diver. I researched, halfheartedly and then forgot about it all, this bird was never seen again.

During the last week however, reports of Back Throated Diver had been coming through, offshore and estuaries, even ponds. Interesting, some Black Throated Divers turning up. 

One however had raised eyebrows and had been identified as Pacific Diver. This bird was on East Chevington reserve. For a change too it was Saturday morning and I was free to take a look, I met Stewart and off we went.

All the time, even though I had done some more identification reading, I as thinking, this will be a tricky identification and will be thankful it will be the only Diver on show. Had I been alone and not been previously alerted to Pacific Diver identification I don't know what I'd have made of it, its a lot easier when its already identified and all you have to do is study and compare.

The bird was in the center of the partly ice covered north Pool and viewable from the coast path with a telescope. 

What a fabulous bird. 

I returned home and checked messages on the local Whatsapp group only to find some great photographs being posted and reports of ridiculously close views had on Druridge Bay Country Park, just a stones throw further north. No chance to get back to the bird but tomorrow is Sunday and we went back for seconds..

Two very cold and grey mornings but enjoyable birding, and, not at all like me, it was nice to be a part of it all, meet up with some familiar faces again and learn something. Think I'm growing old compliantly.