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Tuesday, 30 January 2007

30-01-07 WEST HARTFORD...........SEO's

I was not planning on going out today started work in the house decorating,but at about 2pm while out in the garage c150 Pinkfeet flew over and it seemed so bright and sunny so I thought sod this I'm off out, so I ended up at West Hartford hoping for the Owls, non where showing it was windier here than at home they do not seem like to like wind at all, so i had a walk around trying to get near two Stonechats for a photo,then I just had a look at the type of ground the Owls where hunting over it is very wet with tussocky grass,much wetter than I thought it would be I did surprise a Short Tailed Field Vole about a yard away from its bolt hole,but still to fast to get a photo,it was living in wetter conditions than I thought diving into a tussock, I presume they can keep above the water table this way,my first thought was if I can surprise it then an Owl should have no problem.
Two further flocks (150+ 200) of geese came over all heading North plenty of pipits still around,Kestrel passed over,then two SEO started hunting I got a few shots but not looked at them yet,I did find a fresh Pellet and lots with mould on I will compare it with a Barn Owl one I picked up awhile ago.
Nothing on the pool and no sign of the thrush flock.
Anyway there is always tommorow to decorate, although I am tempted to go for the Pacific Diver.

Monday, 29 January 2007


Looking onto Fontburn

Decided to have a run to Fontburn reservoir it is under watched at this time of year and as per my visit last year not a sole around,my car looked lost in the huge car park,which by the way has toilet facilities, first bird seen on the lake a lone Common Gull with a Cormorrant on the Buoy,there is a walk around part of each side but not all the way around although some of the adjacent land is open access.also of interest nearby is access to an ancient settlement and on the hill to the south a series of earthworks as yet I have found out nothing about their origin,anyway it's a very pleasant walk around the south end but alas mo hidden Barrow's Goldeneye or any Goldeneye for that matter only some Mallard about three hundred yards away,which took flight immediately,true "wild Mallard" also flushed four Teal roosting amongst the trees hanging over the water along the shore ,the water looks very brackish probably why it does not seem to attract much wildfowl.
The path ends with a Nature Reserve sign with a route onto the open access land to the left,we walked around the wood edge to the fence line but I am not sure if you can go further,it was exposed to the wind on this side so no flocks of hoped for Redpolls, in the Alders although I did hear calls of a small flock of something take off but no Idea what they where as it was so brief,on the way back one then another two Buzzards lifted and one landed on a small tree followed shortly by a Roe Deer that ran up the hill.Only Blue,Great,Robin & Goldcrest.
Next stop Rothley Lake a walk up to the water revealed that is was mostly frozen with a family of six Mute Swan on the ice so it must have been thick,a mixed party of Tits also included Nuthatch and about 30+ Fielfare flew North also a Heron on the far side,I used to have a nest box scheme here many years ago and regularly saw Squirrel,but not on any visit since.
As it was still good light the last stop was Mitford Castle in the hope of Woodpeckers,the castle grounds are private but there is path around the edge it is still an impresive sight even in the ruined state,GSW called in the first trees but could not pick it up around behund the castle a mixed flock of Goldfinch/Chaffinch and another flock of tits which I now scan looking for a mythical Lesser Spotted,the path comes back onto the road,but you can go right and onto Morpeth if you want.
Fontburn from the access land Harwood in the distance
Buzzard about to land Fontburn
Rothley Lake
Mitford Castle
Mitford Castle

Friday, 26 January 2007


Another bright sunny day but not much time to go far today,so I went back for the Black Redstart, as I approached the steps down a guy was coming along with a scope & tripod so I asked if the bird was still there yes he said just along the right,but about 20 mins later I still had not seen it,the Fulmars had returned to the cliffs about 20+ but I think it is better to try and see them when there is a bit of onshore wind and viewed from the tops towards Seaton Sluice being very carefull not to go too near the edge,but the birds will sail up and look down on you they really are fantastic to watch.
I walked back and forth looking for the redstart to show itself but no luck .I was about to give in and go elsewhere but thought no give it a little longer,I think it must have been further around the coast as I picked it out near the fallen Pillbox,I tried to get a little closer,sat in a good spot and waited after a few shots I thought I am not going to get anything better so left to go to Holywell via the Beehive flash but with only one Shellduck on I did not stop (the verge is churned up as well). Holywell still had plenty gulls on but at the far end mostly Herring/Common/Black-backed, I could pick out nothing else in with them, Scaup still here which I think is a winter male and not 1st winter,M Blackcap beside the hide and GSW on the Willows, and I noticed two Fox crossing the open not sure what was going on they where well apart so perhaps one was chasing off another or a male after a female,i came out the hide and waited and sure enough one came towards me but soon got a sight of me and veered off.


Today I went off to Blyth Harbour not with the intention of trying to get the Snow Buntings as i have seen them many times but it was interesting to hear there where now seven birds so some must wander around I allows thought they would travel in flocks. The main reason I went down was to check for Divers or Grebes or White Winged Gulls perhaps brought in with fishing boats as they headed for shelter in the heavy seas of Tuesday etc.but gull numbers are very low just lately I think they are moving more to the rubbish tips,Blyth used to have an open site many years ago along by "Blyth Cemetery" there used to be thousands of gulls there,before I got into birding,plenty of Shags feeding in the harbour area as are Eider, I have seen these go down for shrimps that have been thrown over from the boats.
I got along to the first pier and got my first sight of the Buntings feeding on the beach and then along the river prom, they can be very elusive but I did get some shots before they flew off.


Thursday, 25 January 2007





This was a much better day than yesterday and all I could think of was we should have gone to Hulne Park today and had visions of a flock of Hawfinch just posing on the tree tops.
Anyway we went to North Seaton for the Waxwings turned up towards the cem and there they where just the two perched on the side of the road they then flew onto the Rowan to feed but did not seem settled and flew into the cem,i was amazed how many berries there where on the Rowans my garden tree gets loads but they are all gone before the end of August.
As we first watched a couple drove up stopped to look at them up in the tree ,went into the car park turned and came back down the road stopped again to look up bins and all, then drove off without even getting out, drive by Twitching it's a new one for me !!
Next stop Linton ponds I like these little pools and always think there should be more there than you see, a walk up the track (old road) and you can see both ponds lot's of Redwings along the hedge but again very flighty,Canadas in the east field but no sign of the Richardson's looking west I saw three in the corner of the pond so thought it worth going to the hide to check out ,this is a good hide with movable bench for Wheelchair use or you can set your scope up and move the bench behind,good numbers of gulls get on here from the nearby tip ,but I have never found anything in with them (but no gull expert)
The Geese where across in the west corner the Richardson's did not look as obvious as when I first took some Digiscoped shots of it with a Barnacle Goose ,so I took what I could with my scope as the light was just right, tried to get some shots of under the chin as I had read somewhere the white joins but I can't find it yet.
Shoveller,Gadwall,Teal,Mallard.Goldeneye,Wigeon.its probably not much for some people but if you like to Digiscope or take photos its a good place to sit,the other hide is not as comfortable to sit in.who the hell designs these things the seat is fixed with bars across to bang your legs on as you get in and out & the right hand window is to high with the left window to low(although this is for Wheelchair users so I cannot comment if it is any good).The Pinkfeet geese have been seen in the fields opposite.



Alnwick Gardens Tree House

We obtained a ticket for ALNWICK GARDENS so I thought it a good opportunity to visit and check out the Woodland Walk that was listed and see how bird friendly the scheme was, I had not been before as I thought it was just a formal garden ,but the thought of a Woodland Walk sounded good,another strong windy day and bitter cold,the gardens are rather bare at this time of year but the fountain was impressive and the Tree House WOW the perfect birders house.if I ever get loads of money I'm having one built in a suitable site.
A small flock of Chaffinch feeding near the entrance which I checked for Brambling with no luck in the garden walls only one Dunnock and in a sheltered corner Great & Blue tit, it is a formal garden and gives the impression there is no room for wildlife , a feeding station on the side of the Tree House would I think be a great attraction,the Woodland Walk was rather dismal and that's all I will say ,still worth a visit overall ,but I'm only going back if I get a free ticket.
The other aim of going was to go up to Hulne Park but the wind had not dropped as predicted so I held no faith in seeing Hawfinch, just as we got into the entrance to the park a party of Long Tailed Tits & Treecreeper where on the feeder but nothing on the whipping tree tops then the sky opened and it ****** down and went very dark......that's the end of the day.
If you go to the Gardens from the South pass the first turn for Alnwick and come around the back which is signed, & for Hulne Park turn back towards the A1 but turn left for Eglingham to the roundabout and left again back over the bridge to the Castle then right and up to the park gates.

Alnwick Castle From The Woodland Walk

Wednesday, 24 January 2007


Thought I would try West Hartford for the SEO's but as soon as I got there I knew it would be a waste of time as the wind was to strong,there where about 30 Fieldfare with 10+ Redwing in the tree tops beside the pond but you don't get anywhere near them before they are gone also about 8-10 Goldfinch, so I had a walk over the back not sure of the rights of way etc. but it is well used,I wonder if the developer has bought all that land as it is clearly not farmed.

photo is from an earlier visit.

18-01-07 HOLYWELL

Another couple of hours at the "POND" the usual at the feeders with a Sparrowhawk chasing after what looked like a Dunnock,but with no real effort,around the 1pm mark the gulls usually come in for a bathe and preen and I faithfully scan them for anything that could be out of the ordinary hopefully Iceland or better but nothing, it's good to help sort out the ages and I take many photos of one or two that I target to try and age but it's still a minefield for me.Blue Tits where feeding on the Reedmace so I had a try at Digiscoping them but it's not easy trying to pick them up once the camera is on.

17-01-07 CRESSWELL

Still a strong Westerly forecast to ease in the afternoon so I thought I would go to Cresswell pond for the Smew which was there but over the far side,the hide is a large one with plenty of room although the floor is weak and when there is a few in you can feel every movement forget Digiscoping unless you are on your own,it gives good views of the pond but the front is now overgrown and you cannot see anything along the edge,it used to be open and when wet attract Snipe & Water rail,even the depth post favoured by Terns is obscured as is the small outlet beside the sand bar.
It was along this edge that the Smew favoured last year about as close as you will get but be unable to see.
After a good scan I thought i would head to Druridge Bay Pools etc. thinking it would be a waste of time going for the Twite given the windforce, but before I could pack up the heavens opened and it lashed down with rain and I mean it was coffee out and sit and wait,when it did stop the pond came to life the Curlew flew over to the field West of the hide followed by Redshank and Oystercatchers I presume they thought the heavy rain would bring food to the surface, Wigeon soon followed then Lapwings from the sand bar and further West over 100 Whoopers flew past. I got my eye on a female type duck that I thought was Scaup so took some Digi & photo shots but as it neared it was clear it was only a Tufted with much white around the face and only the mearest hint of a tuft,a further shower or two and I thought it's time to go no chance of Barn Owl in this.









From the hide at Cresswell looking N/E.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

16-01-07 Cragside/Weldon/Morpeth

Whoopers at Cragside

A "DIVER" at Paperhaugh Bridge

The best day weather wise this year, called in at Cragside 34 Whoopers on the lake and Nuthatch calling but nothing else onto Pauperhaugh Bridge for a quick look then to Weldon Bridge for a walk along the river on the S/ east side looking for Goosander and the hope of Kingfisher on the stream but nothing only a flock of Redwings flew over .
Next stop Morpeth for a walk along the river again looking for Goosander I have had them here coming to bread with the Mallard,but only one Female which flew off,we walked along past the six bridges and back again nothing other than Mallard.

15-01-07 Big Waters for Otters

Yet another very windy day and being reminded of the Otters at Big Waters so why not as good as place as any on a day like this ,got to the car park and had a walk over to the pond 10 Bullfinch feeding on Haws and a small flock of Goldfinch in the treetops but not much to see on the pond itself but I could see birds over towards the Hide ,a large flock of Lapwings in the fields and Redwings in the hedges birds along the hedge are always on the far side and only showing as they fly off.
The Otter had been seen and indeed it showed again bit at a distance,it showed again and again getting just that bit closer then it disappeared ,about 20mins later I saw it out of the corner of my eye towards the left of the hide just yards away and it was coming closer one shot of it before it dived,you could see it's progress by the bow wave it was making and it was coming over to the hide,this was going to be my best shot yet of an Otter it came into the rushes right below me barging through the stems but could I see it ,could I hell it swam below the surface to the next patch of rush just a few feet away I could See it now and again as it went through,how frustrating to be so close but not see it properly just once,the duck moved out from the edge so I assumed the Otter had moved further along.
Some Goldeneye where near the hide,also Teal & Mallard,with good numbers of Tree Sparrows at the feeders,also a couple of Long Tailed Tits dropped in but no Siskin or Brambling oddly there was a large flock 100+ chaffinch & Goldfinch feeding on the ground by the dipping pool ,most of my birding at the moment is more about what I have not seen rather than have.