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.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

A shore lark

Met a recovering Stewart at Warkworth with the intention of sitting in the car drinking tea sheltering from the forecasted rain watching gulls coming in to roost and bathe above the weir on the Coquet.
It wasn't a bad morning though and after discussing this and that we headed for the land of birds and birders, East Chevington Reserve.
There have been a small group of seven Shorelark frequenting the mouth of the Chevington Burn, we thought we'd take a look. They didn't take much finding, as soon as we broke cover from the dunes there they were, scoped and watched with binoculars as they were getting disturbed by dogs and beach users, typical Sunday morning. They kept returning to the seed strewn tide line to feed.
I had my camera but the light was poor and the birds distant, I took a snap or two anyway.

A flock of 42 Twite flew in and started to feed in the same area as we were enjoying the Shorelarks, other birds close by; pied Wagtail, Sanderling and Turnstone..

We headed back northwards up the coast and after a stop at Amble finished our morning off at Boulmer. Scanning the bay, at a very Low Tide, for the Glaucous Gull that had been seen through the week we were about to pack up when Stewart picked the bird up on the shoreline way way to the south end of Boulmer Bay.

We stalked it and enjoyed great views and a few photographs, a nicely marked and well conditioned first winter bird.

Good numbers of wading birds in the bay, as usual, Bar Tailed Godwit and Grey Plover were nice. Flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing were being flushed from the fields behind the village but no bird of prey was seen.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Last look out

Final wander of the year around the Coquet Estuary. Met up with Stewart in The Braid car park and spent the morning around here, Amble Harbour and had a walk up the river to Warkworth.

Not a bad morning; as the morning lightened a Little Egret lifted from The Gut, circled and dropped back in, as they seem to do when you surprise them feeding in this area. 
We noticed Collared Doves heading north over The Braid into Amble and started to keep a tally, 55+ counted leaving the trees around the car park where they had been roosting.

We headed to Amble Harbour after a cup of tea and some Christmas chocolate. Groups of Pink Footed Geese were drifting south and a small flock of Golden Plover were wheeling over the estuary with a Peregrine in attendance, it had obviously stooped on the waders and failed so drifted off towards Coquet Island.

The resident Mediterranean Gull was on its usual rock off the Little Shore. A walk around the pier and Cliff House was interesting with Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper, Rock Pipit and Knot seen.


Eiders cant be resisted in Amble harbour when you have a camera and some sunlight.

Back to the car we decided to fill the last of the morning by walking up the river towards Warkworth. The tide was rising by this time and waders were being pushed close to shore, we had noticed a couple of Black Tailed Godwit earlier in the morning but some were now close enough to attempt photographs. Excellent call heard as they fed and squabbled. 

Black Tailed Godwits
Thats it really, fine male Red Breasted Merganser and same Goldeneye were both seen on my way home just a little further up stream...

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Boxing Day

Think what you like but I rather craved a quiet walk today, I usually do mind but especially today. I just pulled my wellies on and headed away from home on foot. I explored Longdyke and a couple of the footpaths leading away towards Alnwick and south. 

Colder than it has been which was pleasant and more normal, I made a bird list, not for any particular reason but I recorded exactly 20 species in a couple of hours or so.

Nabs Plantation

Cawledge Burn


Track of the day, leading out of Longdyke

and a good flock of Linnet attending a game crop that will be worth keeping an eye on

Monday, 28 November 2016

Creosote and Christmas

Straight up the coast this morning, arriving in the main beach car park at Beadnell at around 08:00. Not cold really but an early shower delayed our walk to Beadnell Point and we had a look around the harbour. Some great waders to watch, Turnstone and Sanderling on the rocks and along the beach with Redshank, Oystercatcher and Dunlin. Long Tailed Duck, Scaup and Eider in the bay. 
The waders were all flushed into panic on one occasion when a hunting Merlin flashed through.

Beadnell Sunrise

Digiscoped Scaup
Rain clouds quickly passing over we headed out to Beadnell Point, watching the sea for half an hour or so, a few Gannet were moving north, 13 Common Scoter, Eiders, Red Throated Diver, Guillemot, Razorbill, Grey Plover and Wigeon.

Beadnell Point
We headed to Seahouses next for a cup of warming tea parked on the harbour. A Peregrine over the north edge of the harbour, where we were parked, wheeled overhead as we stumbled from the car grasping binoculars, headed of towards the Farne Islands. 
Tea drained we had a wander around Seahouses Harbour, took a few snaps and headed off to Newton.

Late November is always a bit quiet, sort of reflective a bit. A wander around Low Newton was quiet but quite busy with people, walking and exercising dogs. Newton Pool was quiet, Mallard, Teal, a few Snipe. There has been some work done to Newton Pool, reed beds seem to have been opened up in areas and the whole reserve was looking really good. 
I can remember visiting this area back in the early eighties when I was just starting to take my birding more seriously, I can remember studying the plates and the seasonal guide  to birds that had been recorded, displayed in the main hide, with interest and wonder, the hide today is the same hide and still has the same comforting, nostalgic smell of old timber and creosote.  
The flash to the north of the pools as better for birds, good numbers of waders even though the tide was low.

Track of the day

Newton Pool

Track through to the Shore

That's that, morning over, quite a good day for birds of prey today, Peregrine, Merlin, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and when I pulled down the road to home a fabulous Common Buzzard was perched..

Longdyke Guardian
Christmas Tree up this afternoon.....