Tuesday, 29 April 2014

They're here

Its been a slow and steady spring for me. A lot of the early summer birds are in now, still plenty of time left for a little excitement but the early anticipation is over for another year.
I thought I'd start a post from my first entry in my new notebook.

14th April

Visits to the coast are often unproductive during early spring but today it all happened, its was great. Walking along the track that leads south behind Buston Links something caught my eye amongst the Sheep and new lambs in the fields. My first Wheatear of the year, always a bit of a punching the air moment, I never get less excited as the first Wheatear appears each year, three birds in total were on this stretch of farmland just north of Buston Pond.

First Wheatear


Stonechats were very vocal and agitated as I passed through each breeding territory. Three pairs at least between the Aln Estuary and Birling.



Stonechat


I had my scope with me and sta for a while on the highest dune watching the sea. A few Gannet were moving far offshore and two Red Throated Diver were fishing closer inshore. More summer visitors weren't far away, three Sandwich Tern moved north from Birling Carrs, calling and fishing, fabulous. I also checked back to Buston Pond from here, there have been Garganey seen, no luck for me though.




Buston Pond


I headed back to the Estuary. A pair of Red Breasted Merganser flew out of the estuary and a single Whimbrel was showing nicely on the saltmarsh with Curlew.

 16th April

Another visit to Buston Links. Again Wheatear were seen and I had a single Sand Martin flying through.
This visit was bitter sweet a bit though. I got myself all bogged down in what I was seeing around the place, fields were littered with inverted blue plastic drums filled with feed, by each of these were two traps for small mammals. Other traps were sited on obvious runs, ditch or stream crossings and fence lines. A large trap was concealled behind a Blackthorn thicket, this had been baited up and held a number of Carrion Crows, their destiny was certain.
I cant fathom why such a scorch and burn policy is necessary for wildlife in the coastal strip.I hope it doesn't spread.

Despite all of this though I was able to sit quietly and enjoy a pair of Stoat carrying prey back and forth.They had obviously found a Rabbit burrow and were raiding the unfortunate youngsters and taking them back to a safe place where they would undoubtably feed their own young. What future for these great little carnivores? I think I know.
On my way back to the car a male Linnet was singing from a Gorse bush, I watched this lovely little bird for a whil then headed past the bush to leave, as I passed the bush I noticed approximately eight small plastic bags neatly tied and containing dog waste, many others were scattered around the area. Nothing really to say about this. 

Small Tortoishell butterflys


later in the afternoon a couple of Small Tortoishell butterflys were chasing and mating on a patch of bramles and nettles in the car park of the Coquet Estuary.



Stoat with prey


20th April

A visit to Low Newton this morning. Four days since I had last been out, what a difference. Shortly after leaving the car heading towards the village a Grasshopper Warbler was heard singing. Swallow was seen on wires behind the cottages, Chiff Chaff and Willow Warbler were singing from all scrubby areas.
As we passed the Hide at Newton Pool and started to check the bushes to the south of the reserve a Lesser Whitethroat was heard singing and did show well for a time at the top of a Blackthorn bush before flying down into the reserve. As we were enjoying this bird a female Marsh Harrier flew in from the south west, hunted lazily around the reed beds and bushes on the reserve, giving great views before drifting off.



Female Marsh Harrier


We headed inland not really knowing where to go. Checking out upland areas we ended up at Chillingham Woods and had a little wander. Well worthwhile, we followed the track to Ros Castle. Tree Pipit, Redstart were seen and a distant Cuckoo was heard. A nice area this with fabulous views af the Cheviot Hills.



Chillingham Woods


27th April

Early visit to Low Newton. We parked, as usual, near the little tin church. It was a struggle to mave away from the car as the bushes and trees near the church held a good few migrant birds. Willow Warbler, Chiff Chaff, and Blackcap all seen. Tree Pipit was flushed from Newton Point.
The flooded fields to the north of the reserve were great, there wer good numbers of Swallow, Sand Martin and my first House Martin of the year, all feeding over the pools.
Sitting in the reserve hide Sedge Warblers were singing, possibly up to six birds in total. Five Arctic Tern flew over the pond heading back to sea and six Black Tailed Godwit flew over the reserve and dropped onto the flooded fields.
A further visit later in the day was quiet, quiet that is untill a Yellow Wagtail was spotted on the flooded fields, what a gorgeous bird, as yellow as a fresh Dandelion.

Plenty of spring birding to be done but there have been some great birds so far.

Summer migrants!, I'm pleased they're here.



Wildlife on the coastal strip take heed