Monday, 8 December 2014

Looking for geese and counting dunlin

Sunday was another WeBs counting day.  First stop was Budle Bay where 350 barnacle geese, 300 lapwing, 100 golden plover, 209 greylag and 99 pink footed geese fed in pastures around the edge of the Bay.

Lunchtime at Fenham le Moor and the tide was on the turn.  What was interesting was the lack of light bellied brents (370) and the large reduction in wigeon numbers (<1000).  There were good numbers of dunlin (950) and shelduck (1270).  Other birds of interest included 2 black-tailed godwit, 6 little egrets, 27 twite, a female merlin, a shoveler, 2 long-tailed ducks and a male American wigeon. Good views were had of the last species as the tide reached its peak at Teal Hole - its pale cream forehead and the broad dark green stripe through the eye was very prominent.  The bird flew off to the south with about 200 wigeon.

The American wigeon was not the only interesting sighting at Teal Hole.  Many of the birds were very nervous and it turned out that there was a female peregrine hunting.  It managed to kill and fly off with a redshank.  At this point, the bird was mobbed by a very persistent common buzzard.  It looked as though peregrine was going to lose its prey.  Then in from the south appeared another very vociferous male peregrine.  This peregrine continually mobbed the buzzard which included a bit of talon grappling.  The buzzard eventually gave up.  The second bird must have been its mate.  I had not realised that pair bonds were maintained through the winter.  Is this true or is there another explanation - I am off to my BWP and Poyser!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Another wetland along the Wansbeck.

An early morning walk around a wetland south of Scot's Gap produced 40+ snipe, 2-3 jack snipe, 3 mute swans, 1 green sandpiper, 30+ reed buntings, 1 kestrel, 1 grey wagtail and a water rail.

Tree sparrows and nuthatches were in trees around the farm.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Unusual Stonechat.

This unusually marked female Stonechat has been present along the coast path opposite Howick Village for 6 weeks now. It is showing a very distinctive white throat which is really an 'albino' patch of feathers. Many species can exhibit aberrant plumages, but this is the first time I have seen a Stonechat do so...

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Dippers galore ......

A lunchtime stroll along the Wooler Water produced 7 dippers from the Chatton road to just beyond the sewage works.  There were at least three pairs and two of the males were singing.  A male with white secondaries in the right wing was also present - this bird has occupied a territory in the bowling green area, all year.

There was also a flock of 110 fieldfares that were accompanied by 26 redwings, 2 song thrushes and 12+ blackbirds.  Other birds of interest included a female goosander and a mixed flock of tits that included a treecreeper and several goldcrests.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Late summer migrant ..........

A late afternoon stroll around Branton Ponds produced a few birds of interest including 26 teal, 42 wigeon, 7 female goosander and 3 female goldeneye.  There were no greylag or Canada geese and other duck numbers are greatly reduced from a week ago.  No little or great crested grebes could be found.  Do these birds know something that we do not?  An adult lesser black-backed gull was on the water with 7 herring gulls.

There was a kingfisher on the river, charms of goldfinches and greenfinches were going to roost in the scrub.  Reed buntings and yellowhammers were making their way to the reedbed at the western end of the site.

The highlight of the walk was finding at least 1 chiffchaff and there may have been as many as another two.  These birds were in the scrub close to the sluice on the northern side of east pond.

Wild carrot, nipplewort and gorse were still in flower.

News from the weekend

A buzzard, stoat and brown hare were on the road at the Bridge of Aln early on Sunday morning.

A barn owl flew over the A697 at Roseden and a common frog hopped over the minor road at Lilburn.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

A late Sibe

First thing on sunday we headed off to Brierdene in Whitley Bay, a number of birders were already present and soon we picked up the call of our target bird. Flitting constantly looking for food was a tiny Warbler all the way from Siberia, a Hume's Yellow-browed Warbler, a super little bird which showed well to all those present. Our next port of call was Snab Point just north of Newbiggin, where there was very little on the sea but a couple of Black Throated Divers were noted flying south. Next we called in at East Chevington where we soon got onto the female Smew which has been present for a couple of days, also present were 30+ Goldeneye, 4 Red Breasted Merganser, 50+ Greylags which also included 2 Bar-headed Geese, a small group of 13 Whooper Swans flew over and on the lake 2 Otters seemed to be making great inroads into the local Eel population. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Waders, waterfowl and a lot more

A rugby disrupted weekend meant that my WeBs count (Fenham Flats) had to carried out on Monday 10th Nov.  The count was not to disappoint and probably one of the largest November counts that I have carried out in 15 years.  The first comment was that there was a huge number of birds.  Wigeon number up to 10,500 and there were at least 1277 light-bellied brent.  These waterfowl were accompanied by 997 shelduck, 5 shoveler, mallard, pintail (97), teal, long-tailed duck (1), great crested grebe (1), red-necked grebe (1), 136 eider, 12 goldeneye, 3 goosander and 6 red-breasted mergansers.  Gate-crashers included two flights of whooper swans (32), 62 barnacle geese, pink-footed geese and 10 mute swans.

Exhausted after counting the above, there were grey plover (149), lapwing, curlew, dunlin (800), turnstone, oystercatcher, bar-tailed godwit, black-tailed godwit (7), knot and redshank (258).  These was a huge flock of golden plover off Chare Ends on the Island.

The best of the rest include 8 little egrets, a female merlin and 25 twite.

A barn owl was seen late in the evening of the 11th Nov. at Mindrum Mill

A water rail ran over the A697 today (12th Nov) just south of my office at Haugh Head, Wooler. This was probably too far away to be counted on the office list that stands at 97 species.