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Monday, 5 January 2015

Glaucous & Iceland Gulls

A day at north Shields Fish Quay on Saturday in the company of many birders and Gulls , we had all come to see  Glaucous and Iceland Gulls  and they put on a good show especially the Iceland Gull  which gave cracking views , my interest was also in the  so called "Viking" gull a hybrid of Glaucous and Herring Gull which put in an appearance later in the day , initially it looked just like a Glaucous but darker . I had heard the term Viking gull before presume it has northern origins where perhaps they are more common I suppose it's  just a simple name rather than saying Glaucous X Herring Gull Hybrid 

 Iceland Gull

Glaucous Gull on the shed roof

 The "Viking"

 The Viking

 Iceland 2nd Winter
 Glaucous Gull
 Glaucous Gull

Glaucous X herring Gull
 Glaucous X herring Gull
Glaucous top left   and Glaucous X herring Gull lower right

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year To All !!!!!

Happy New Year To All , Good Birding For 2015

Started the year with a header of the humble but ever welcome Stonechat , this one along the wall at South Harbour Blyth  first time I have seen one this far along the beach, at the moment they seem fairly common especially along the coast , lets hope the winter is kind to them.

What does 2015 hold for us ,birding has changed enormously over the years , some sites are  in  decline and will never recover to there former glory , Linton Ponds one such site the closure of the open landfill site more commonly known as the tip , saw the rapid decline of Gulls from this site which would surely have pulled in Yellow Legged and Caspian Gulls . There was always something of interest and I spent many happy but very cold days of Winter at this my favourite site.Other landfill sites around the Country are still active and drawing in some unusual gulls , but how long before the too are phased out .  I saw an orange ringed Herring Gull at North Shields Fish Quay which could have been from the ringing scheme to determine the movement of Gulls that fed at landfill sites , of the hundreds of Gulls present this was the only bird I could see as ringed.
Now another threat to Northumberland  more opencast mining ,personally I would have thought they had long since dug out every bit of coal from the area but no , with the proposal of a site  not far from where I live and another at Druridge and at the same time importing huge stocks of coal from abroad  into Blyth Harbour . Yes they will restore the land to farming and wildlife hopefully not making the mistakes of the early days like Hauxley, after the end of opencast at Widdrington the site was filled and eventually was  covered in rough grassland  ,that now seems to be going  over to pasture  all will no doubt end up with a low hedge acting as no more than a windbreak. Perhaps the best to come out of  the recent years was the forming of a small pond near Newton which rapidly proved popular with migrating birds , so the creation of suitable habitat can be done. We are never going to get a huge reserve like the creation of Saltholme , although the habitat was already there , the management of the RSPB  does see it's future more secure . So what is 2015 going to produce no doubt given the recent trend there will be a couple of County firsts , or the very least County first's for many given the increase in birders over the years , so let's be positive  and enjoy what the fantastic County of Northumberland has to offer in the coming year  !!!

Monday, 22 December 2014


I have been out and about most days of December but photo opportunities where few  so I have just added a few from various days ,some days out it was so dull the camera never left the case .

4th of December  a visit to Blyth South Harbour , in reality  there is no public right of way to the harbour  access has been seriously restricted in the past few years in the interest of security , the middle jetty was the place to be  where you could see the fishing boats unload and get very close to the ever present Gulls. Walking the path a Snow Bunting lifted from the grass I stopped and it settled on the wall  as it was on it's own it just sat there giving superb views ,till it flew across the road into the restricted yard . There was masses of Gulls in the harbour and distant shed roofs , but no White Wing Gulls that I could see. 

 Common Gull not that common in the harbour
 Red Throated Diver off the stone jetty it was getting nearer till kayakers came around and onto the beach
The stone jetty and entrance to the river on rather a dull day  one of many in December

The 5th saw me spend a day at Shields Fish Quay , never seen as many gulls at one site , these are just a fraction of gulls coming in with the fishing boats . At last a bright sunny day but it soon became a problem the strong low light was impossible to pick out any WW gulls   I had also taken my DSLR  but did not go mad taking shots . I took the bus to the boating lake and back again it often has gulls on taking the chance of a bath in fresh water.

The 8th another walk along to South Harbour very little around no sign of the Snow Bunting but the Red Throated Diver still around

16th  A day at Big Waters , first problem the small hide on the south side was closed due to vandalism , an ever present problem not just at nature reserves  but everywhere  and with seemingly little retribution for those that are caught it's only going to be an increasing problem. Apparently the shutters had not been bolted properly , which is also what  happened at Holywell Pond . Anyway it was a good day in the sense that I had sightings of Otter first two for about 20 minutes than an hour later a single  slightly nearer , which would have given great views from the closed hide . 

17th  Went back to West Hartford with the Great Grey Shrike having been refound I had been there on the Monday but it stayed hidden for the couple of hours I had given it , the bird gave good views via the scope but stayed rather distant , looking at some of the photos of the bird it did come much nearer at times. I thought as my luck is in I would head to Swallow Pond with the chance of Bittern, Harris Hawk, and Water Rail it was worth the run . Well I gave it till near dark but no sign of Bittern , Harris Hawk dropped in nearby as did a Sparrowhawk and in the field behind the screen an Adult Med Gull with the Common and Black Headed, and in the fading light 2 Water Rails called and a bird crossed the gap , ended the day getting some shopping at ASDA \

18th stopped off at QE11 lake to try for the Black Necked Grebe  I went around the east side which was a mistake as the wind was howling across the lake , the bird located via the scope so I went around to the west side which was at least calmer , I never got close enough for any decent shots , but again I have seen some cracking shots from other birders , you need Patience or luck .   Not having been to Linton Ponds  for a year or more , my most favoured winter haunt when the local tip was in full swing and  the pond used to get full of gulls , alas the closing of the tip  (and others not sure where all the rubbish now goes) sees the ponds very quiet with only a handfull of Mallard a few Teal and Tufted 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Black Redstarts & Med Gulls

Saturday I went up to Newbiggin to check out the 4 Black Redstarts  that seemed faithful to a short stretch of beach , not the best of days very dull but at least not raining , birds located fairly quickly by just walking along the top of the dunes , but I could only get three and it took most of the afternoon  to finally get a total of four . I also tried a short seawatch  with only a few Wigeon and  two Velvet Scoter  as visibility was some what restricted , talking to AMc he picked up a Grey Phalarope as it crossed the headland and seemed to drop in the bay but it was not relocated .
Sunday we also called in to Newbiggin with the report of a Glaucous Gull on the breakwater and it was also a much brighter day , so I thought I would go around for the Redstarts  but when I got around the area they where frequenting was in shadow anyway  so I checked out the beach where  a concentration of birds where feeding on the shoreline . A quick look through and I picked out at least 12 Med Gulls in with the mass of Black Headed, Turnstone , Redshank and Sanderling , I could only see one Med with a colour ring on , several attempts made to get the number but without success 
Saturday 29th

Sunday 30th November

 The light fading fast

At least five Med Gulls in this shot by far the best place in Northumberland to see these fantastic looking Gulls