Saturday, 21 November 2015

Low Newton

We were a bit concerned about the weather this morning bearing in mind we were leading a Bird Club walk at Low Newton. It was cold and very windy at the point, foam blowing over the rocks and looking south towards Dunstanburgh Castle the scene looked more like the South Atlantic around Cape Horn. However the birds were there Brent Geese, Wigeon, Red-breasted Mergansers, and finally what we had been looking for Little Auks, coming through in small groups adding up to at least 40 birds. From there we headed off to Newton Scrape where there was a flock of about 100 Golden Plover, at the hide the highlight was a stunning male Hen Harrier hunting over the reed bed followed by a very close encounter with a Short-eared Owl, a day of quality rather than quantity.

Little Auks...

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Great White

No Branton Ponds hasn't been taken over by some large fish with big teeth set to the theme tune from "Jaws", but something much smaller and less fearsome, unless you are a small fish. A walk around the ponds this morning produced a good variety of birds including Siskins, Lesser Redpolls and Bullfinches all feeding on the seed of the Alders. As I reached the east pond I noticed what I thought was a Heron with the sun shining off it's back, on examination with the bins I realised it was an Egret, but due to it's size and orangey/yellow bill not a Little Egret but a Great White Egret. The bird flew briefly then settled back down in some trees where with the aid off a scope it's finer features were picked out including it's dark legs, pale eye with dark iris and almost a hint of green to the base of the bill, a stunning bird in non breeding plumage. The bird finally took off and headed in a north westerly direction, at this point a bright turquoise streak flashed past and the day was complete.

Great White Egret, an old shot, this bird was at Alnwick in November 2010... 

Monday, 16 November 2015

WeBs and a white front

Sunday afternoon was spent counting wildfowl and waders at Fenham Flats for WeBs.  The highlights were 7 Great crested grebe, 1 Slavonian grebe, 3 Little egrets (1 a third bigger than the others), 19 Goldeneye, 11 Goosander, 10 Shoveler as well as the usual flocks of Wigeon, Light-bellied brent, Oystercatcher etc.

A Chiffchaff was calling in scrub at Fenham Mill as well as a flock of 50+ Goldfinches.

A quick visit to Branton ponds, this morning produced 9 White-fronted geese heading south west. The birds could not be put to a race i.e. Eurasian or Greenland but their call was very distinctive. There was also a good selection of wildfowl with the highlight being at least 10 Gadwall.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Spring and autumn all in one day

Tuesday 10th November was again spent in the Red Row area, looking at the Chevington Burn.  Bay willow catkins (see below) were starting to burst on trees in sheltered spots with an air temperature of 18oC!

A Red admiral butterfly was seen on the edge of an oilseed rape field.  What looked like Opposite-leaved pondweed was found in a very murky ditch along with newly hatched Sticklebacks.

A visit to Cresswell Pool eventually produced the Long-billed dowitcher - it acted like a hyper-active dark Snipe!  There was also a small party of 8 Twite at the north end of the site.

What appeared to be Brown long-eared bats were hunting under street lamps on the outskirts of Alnwick.  A Barn owl as hunting alongside the A697 close to Glanton.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

A Tern up for the books

Tuesday morning saw us at Druridge Pools looking for a Long-billed Dowitcher, despite checking through numerous birds on the water it couldn't be found. As we checked out the Budge Screen a lady with a scope and bins said she had just seen what she thought was a species of Marsh Tern heading in the direction of Druridge Pools so we headed off in that direction and after a bit of scanning noted a Tern jinking about over some wet ground, it soon showed itself to be a Black Tern with November being very late for this species. Next to Cresswell Pond where we had been told the Dowitcher was visible from the hide, soon we were looking at the bird as it fed endlessly along the west shore amongst Teal and Wigeon, a great morning's birding and 2 new birds for the year list.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Dune Fungi...

Just to show that you need not go to woodland or upland meadows to see some unusual fungi, at the weekend I found these three at Warkworth Dunes..

Black Earth Tongue Geoglossum cookeanum
Rosy Bonnet
Dune Waxcap

Also here on Sunday morning was a lovely male Bearded Tit in the reedbed down from the car park.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Late autumn migration

There are still flocks of Fieldfares, Redwings and Blackbirds on the move today in the Wooler area. Small parties of Siskins and Lesser redpolls also seemed to be moving through.  Approximately, 150 Pink-footed geese were feeding in stubbles the West Weetwood area.  A male Dipper was singing downstream of Wooler.

Sea trout were also on the move with 3-4 fish seen jumping and several trying to lay eggs in suitable sites.

Hogweed, Dandelion and Red campion are still in flower.