Monday, 24 October 2016

After all the excitement

Holy Island for Stewart and I this morning, weather conditions were still very good but it had been quiet, relatively of course, during the few days previous.

This ended up a pleasant stroll with a few nice birds but when you have a wind that is still from the east you never know.

We got on the island just before daylight and as the tide was due to close the causeway. Quick cup of tea in the half light by the car and then off we headed along the west shore towards the Vicarage, Priory and The Heughs. Lovely views of St Cuthberts Island in the morning sun and of the tightly packed waders moving around with the rising tide. Hundreds of Bar Tailed Godwit and Grey Plover all calling as they lifted and flew up, amazing.
Goldeneye and a few Red Breasted Merganser the only birds on the water.

Past the Vicars Garden, Goldcrest, Fieldfare, Redwing, Chiff Chaff and Goldfinch. 

Over The Heughs, past the Priory and down to the harbour. Following the coast around past Lindisfarne Castle.

Lindisfarne Castle
We followed the east coast for a while and then headed back towards the village down the Crooked Lonnen, a Peregrine was hunting the fields here, lifting the large numbers of Golden Plover and Lapwing into panicky swirling masses, a Merlin was seen mobbing the Peregrine but not by me..sadly

Looking back from the east shore

Track of The Day, an iconic one, Crooked Lonnen
Walked Crooked Lonnen, Straight Lonnen and back around to where the car was parked at Chare Ends. We stopped briefly on the causeway to view closer waders as the never ending stream of traffic poured onto the Island now that the tide has exposed the causeway again.

Straight Lonnen

Causeway waders

Sunday, 23 October 2016

One of three

The discovery of a Siberian Accentor on Holy Island had me all fired up, I had been to East Yorkshire, had some wonderful views and taken some dreadful photographs of the bird there but when one was discovered in Northumberland I thought I'd really like to see this in my home county. There would possibly be an opportunity to get some nicer photographs too. I checked in at work and was given the all clear to head to Lindisfarne. 

Reported on Holy Island were, Isabelline Wheatear, Isabelline Shrike and Siberian Accentor, what an hour or two I could have here. It didn't quite work out, Isabelline Wheatear the only bird of the three I saw, what a fabulous bird though, I'm well pleased. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Tea Ticks

Sunday was one of those nice cool spring mornings, met up with Stewart at Warkworth. 
However, His arrival into the car park was one of crunching gravel and skidding tyres.. he had been tracking a male Marsh Harrier from somewhere just south of Alnmouth, I managed to get on the bird and we watched it for a few seconds as it disappeared south over Coquet Estuary.

We exchanged our proper good mornings and headed off towards the north side. Old Water Pools, dunes and the main track to the North Pier and back through the dunes. 

It turned out a really good morning for catching up with early common migrants, male Blackcap in the Picnic Site scrub, four fabulous Black Tailed Godwits flew up towards the Old Water as we headed to the estuary, a couple of Sandwich Terns were sat out on the sand bank opposite Amble Harbour and 6+ Sand Martins were buzzing around the pier.

As well as the arrivals noted, two Twite were still 'wintering' on the saltmarsh, tame and easily photographed feeding on the high tide debris..


Sandwich Terns

We left Warkworth quite satisfied with a nice collection of migrants and pulled up on the track by Birling poured some tea and just stood around a bit. The thing is, at this time of year even just standing outside can be good, a few small flocks of Pink Footed Geese drifted north, a Greenshank flew overhead calling, the fields around the Birling area and the Golf Course have quite a few shallow pools at the moment and this bird may have lifted from one of those. Chiff Chaff and Goldcrest were obviously moving, following the ditch that runs from the sea and inland along the track hedgerow, it seemed that way anyway, perhaps not.. 

Friday, 8 April 2016


Computer problems stopping posts at the moment, not that I'm prolific at the best of times, new PC on its way so there could be no more posts after this knowing my IT nous.

So.. March has given way to April, summer birds are starting to pass through and arrive in small numbers, it never seems to be very dramatic in north Northumberland just a slow and gradual process. Keeps you looking hard at the patch or wherever you find yourself.
I got to thinking about one early spring species, Chiff Chaff, so much excitement for a week or so and then they just tend to get forgotten about for thew rest of the year, reports here and there of the earliest singing birds and then they are pushed aside by its sweeter more melodic stable mate the Willow Warbler, Sand Martin and coastal Wheatears as spring gathers pace.

A wander down the River Coquet at Warkworth on one of the last days of March we caught up with and enjoyed a singing Chiff Chaff, this one was easy to watch in the leafless branches.

Goldcrest also singing but difficult to photograph

A week or so later, first Sunday or April I didn't make it out first thing but met up with Stewart at Howick and decided to check out part of his patch for a change, Craster. 
Late in the morning so kicking about a bit, feeling like we were just having an hour or so, we parked up and wandered down to the harbour, it was a nice enough morning.

Just as we rounded the nearest moored up fishing boat Stewart shouted a Black Redstart, fabulous..

Its the time of year for these birds to turn up but they aren't common and always nice to see. I went mad a bit with photographs.



Other species were feeding in the small harbour area. Robin, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Jackdaw, Rook, Turnstone and Purple Sandpiper.

Loved this Rook, drinking fresh water from a clifftop puddle


Purple Sandpiper
Anyway, back on my patch, I've just had my first Wheatear,,, 

Monday, 21 March 2016

Lap Laps

Back on the patch this morning after what seems like ages away, Old Water and down to the north side of the estuary first, all very quiet but really nice and spring like, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Stonechat pairs all confirming its late March already.

A good stroll and back to the car for tea. We then decided to take a look at the field on the coastal edge of Birling to see if the Arctic Redpoll was still present, this field is now absolutely full of birds, Good numbers of Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow, Skylark, Linnet and Redpoll. No sign of the Arctic though, little winter star has obviously left us.
There were four or so Brown Hare, Gray Partridge and Pheasant.

Anyway, never mind all of that, half way up the field, heading north on our first transect we, at first, got our eye on and then heard the distinctive call that put us on Lapland Bunting alert.
What followed was what seemed like dozens of laps and wanderings through this field, legs getting heavier with each chase. Heading to where the bird seemed to go down, having brief views on the ground then following the bird in flight to the next secluded tuft, stalk or bare patch only for it to flush meters away from where we were certain it would be.. a frustrating and challenging exercise.
The bird did land on a bramble hedgerow for a while allowing the photographs I'm posting here to be taken.. dark ear spot, rusty nape, two or three dark secondary coverts and nice rusty wing patch, a large, 'long' bird in flight with a distinctive look and feel, easy to pick out.. 

I have never really had very good views of Lapland Bunting, still haven't really but nice to find one and observe it in flight, calling and sat up a bit..  absolutely whacked and ready for more tea when we got back to the car.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Black Redstart

Black Redstart at Seahouses Harbour. Seemed quite settled feeding around the warmed sunlit harbour walls and among all the boat men that were busy with winter maintenance work.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Abbey Tip Off

Met up with Stewart at Coquet Estuary, Braid Car Park, we had decided to check out an area not really known to me but which had, last week, an interesting flock of Redpoll courtesy of our good friend Nigel. So after quickly checking the Gulls in Amble Harbour off we headed.. south..

Widdrington Tip, former landfill site flanked by a former industrial site, doesn't sound good but these areas can be some of the best in our countryside. Its no 'nature reserve' as we'd more comfortably expect but a small area where wildlife can thrive.

Superb habitat, Birch, Alder, reeds, small ponds and ditches. I tried to take some photographs to show the habitat.

We did catch up with the Redpoll flock, or part of it anyway, or actually, some Redpolls. Mostly Lesser Redpolls with at least a couple of Mealy Redpoll present, really nice birds to watch, very active, sometimes sat up in low bushes and sometimes disappearing to ground either feeding or drinking. We also saw Woodcock, Snipe and Long Tailed Tit flocks moving around the area.

Track of the day; fringing the good habitat on one side and our green and pleasant and lifeless habitat on the other
Looking in from the Widdrington Village road

Track in from the north end
Spot the Peregrine, winner gets a slice of cake
Off we headed back north, checking out various other ponds on reclaimed open cast areas, good birds to be had. Our last stop was Druridge Bay Country Park, photographing the male Goosander, not that successfully as it happens.

and a Mute..
It really lifted my spirits this visit to Widdrington Tip, yes we may have to share these habitats and areas with air gun enthusiasts and countryside users that may not quite be on the same side of the barbed wire fence as we are but do you know, I think the wildlife is safer and better off..