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Monday, 31 March 2008

29-03-08 Another Iceland & 1st Swallow

Not the best of photos but it does show the darker wing edge

Northumbrian Birding

Started the late morning at Castle Island giving the area a thorough scan revealed nothing unusual always plenty of loafing gulls here so worth a check,on to Bothal ponds or Coneygarth

as it is sometimes called, no sign of reported LRP, 2 Barnacle in with the Canada but they both seem to have paired with Canadas 15 Fielfare in the horse field as I checked Jackdaws for the nordic bird other than that not much else a strong cold wind here as the pond is open on most sides,next stop Longhirst flash checked through the gulls no white wings, but I did find the nordic Jackdaw ,Wigeon, Teal ,Mallard, & couple of Gadwall also 2 Whooper Swans, on to Linton Pond stopping to check a large flock of gulls resting in a field ,I picked out 2 Glaucous gulls. at the pond a 1st year Glaucous sitting on the island , a Swallow over was a nice surprise the earliest date for me, with a Chiffchaff singing outside the hide another scan of the gulls I picked out ab Adult Iceland this a different bird to last weeks ,heavy rain and a dark sky did not help with digiscoping, another Glaucous dropped in as did numerous birders, stopped to have another look at the Cranes but they where not on show.

This bird not as clean as last weeks trace of winter around the head and faint light grey on the primary tips
Just barely visible ,darker outer web of the 10th primary
A large heavy Glaucous

Showing nicely marked undertail

Friday, 28 March 2008


Check out this link re mammal surveys etc and paste it into your favourites.
"Peoples Trust for Endangered Species"

28-03-08 Firecrest St Mary's

The day started off wet and grey so I thought Linton ,get the flask and sarnies and sit in the hide, still would like an adult Glaucous, but I got stuck in a very long traffic jam for some reason and I realised I had not brought my phone or pager so I turned around and went back home ,message of a Firecrest not 10 mins old so off I went , not a soul there so I worked the whole lenght of the willows twice before I picked it up on call ,sounded to me hoarser than Goldcrest, anyway it showed very well giving good views but the light was poor and when the sun came out the bird had gone , in and out of view and I took loads of photos many have been binned ,my reactions where always behind the bird and I got many shots of a bare branch.
also in the large triangle patch Goldcrest, Redwing, and a Chiffchaff.
I thought i had taken plenty of shots but I should have went back when the sun came out, the big lenses where there,check out JM site link ,he got a stunner shot as the bird was at the pool for a drink. wait till I get my 800mm!!!!!!!!! (DONATIONS WELCOME !!!!)

Not sure what these are it is feeding on

This looks to me to be starting to show pink on the breast

25-03-08 Looking for a Gull

The message of a Ross's Gull adult past Seaton Sluice in the morning ,so I thought what the hell go out and have a look at anywhere that it could have dropped into , checked the beach at Blyth plus the estuary,Castle Island Newbiggin ,QE11 lake but nothing , this is a great find for SSWT just goes to show put in the hours and the rewards will come , still hoping it will turn up somewhere along the coast. stopped to have another look at the Cranes with what I thought was a White Wagtail in the gateway and two Long Tailed's working the hedge, can't be anyone who has not seen these birds by now ,did not think they would stay this long , on to Linton 2 x Glaucous on the pond, and Barn Owl on the way home.

White Wagtail looking at it again I think not !!!

Monday, 24 March 2008

23-03-08 With Hope to Harthope Valley

Today we went to Harthope Valley with the hope of perhaps an early Adder not sure when they are about this far north, but actually when the sun was out it was very warm ,but it changed very quickly with some heavy snow showers, not much snow lying other than on Cheviot, Dipper and Grey Wagtail on the stream, three Buzzards over and 2 Kestrel, plenty of Red Grouse calling as we where walking back to the car I saw this one at the road edge but with only my 50mm lens on I just walked nearer and nearer, great views of a Green Woodpecker as it called from the top of a dead tree and then flew off, 2 new birds for the year list ,also GSW, and Blue/Great/ Chaffinch with c12 Song Thrush & 5 Mistle Thrush, and a pair of Mallard on a small puddle also a Marsh or Willow did not get good enough views and two Treecreepers having a fight just feet away from me with a shaft of sunlight showing them off superbly, but alas 50mm lens is no good for birds this small,I was trying my hand at some scenery shots,but I am useless at it the shots just look flat and dull, I have joined a Photographic Society to try and improve my technique which at the current standard would not take much.
I did notice plenty of Hares chasing around they looked to me much larger than I have seen in the local fields , on the way home a Barn Owl showed in front of the car stopped and changed my lens but it had moved back along the road sitting on a fence post we had just passed ,a car stopped within feet of it from here it just moved a few posts ,the car neared and stopped again,fro here it looked as though it was going to come right over my head but veered off,followed by a very heavy snow shower, thats it home !!
These look good enough to eat!!!!
Looking across the valley
Looking East
Hawsen Burn

Langleyford with Hedgehope in the background
Not bad for a 50mm lens
The red really stands out , you could pick the birds out well up on the hillside.
Barn Owl number ........hundreth, but I never tire of seeing one
Have just been looking at Google Earth, and you can actually see this rough ground the Owl was hunting over, its fantastic !!!!!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

22-03-08 Iceland

Saturday the wind seemed to have eased somewhat but with flurries of snow and sleet ,I headed up to have another look at the Cranes calling at Castle Island not much on show gave it a good scan from the hill and moved on to Longhirst flash plenty of gulls along the edge put I think I flushed them putting up my scope, I had to sit in the car for 10 mins while it bleached down with snow, but the sun came out and I had a good look around ,Teal, Wigeon, Shellduck, and Gadwall, but nothing out of the ordinary in the gulls , so off to Linton a tree down across the path , it absolutely heaved it down thankfully its not lying, a Glaucous on show , followed later by an Adult Iceland Gull and another Glaucous, Shoveller in good number with a count of 22, still Goldeneye, Tufted, Teal about 30 Wigeon, and the usual honkers, no sign of the Cranes on the way back, but about 30+ Pied Wagtails in the west end of the field.
Adult Iceland,digiscoped
Adult Iceland,digiscoped
Not the clearest of shots but it does show how "clean" they are, Stunners I think
now where is that Adult Glaucous ????
Second of the Glaucous gulls

Thursday, 20 March 2008

20-03-08 Ringed Crane

Glaucous Gull dropping in at Linton Pond

The Cranes took off and circled but came back to the same field

Drove past the site of the reported Cranes but they where not on show according to other birders on site , scanned the field further along and surrounding area with no luck so went onto Linton, to have a look for the reported Yellow Legged Gull but with no sign only one Glaucous on show, a large bruiser of a bird, Cranes reported again so headed off for another look, slightly better light but a strong wind which is no good for digiscoping, but on the shots of today you can see the adult bird has a metal ring on the right leg they flew across the field a couple of times , I was going to wait till they took off to roost but gave up as the light was fading fast any shots would have been distant and dark.
 I thouight I had edited this post re the ring on the Common Crane it turns out just to be a photo artefact or leg colour and not a ring   !!! 

Another shot amongst the Jackdaws, ring clearly shown

Jackdaws around the Cranes, ring can be clearly seen.

19-03-08 Twitching Cranes

Wednesday not sure of where to go today I thought a cycle through the fields to Holywell not much around other than I caught up with 2 Red Legged usually in good numbers in the fields but these the first of the year, sitting in the hide just checking the gulls as they dropped in along with the usual Greylag + 5 pinkfeet, the pager went off with the message of 2 Common Cranes near QE11 park this was at 3:30 ish but the time quoted was 2pm ,so what to do had they been there but by now gone , or where they still there, a couple of phone calls gave no further info , so a while later I headed for St Mary's only to get the call the Cranes where still present, so I decided to go for them, cycling all that way was a no ! no!. back home for the car scope and digigear, first problem a puncture, so I had to stop frequently to pump it up, then I got onto the coast road and into the wind, bottom gear and it was still hard work, but I had decided to go for the birds and so I had to battle on, I was Knackered when I got home with having to pump the tyre up and cycle against the wind, got home got my gear and was off, but just around the corner the petrol light came on and with stations few and far nowadays thought I had better get some ,pulled up filled up and went to pay ,bugger no money and no cards, in my haste to get out forgot to pick my cards up, so I went in to explain, had to fill a form in and leave my mobile, and then it was off the sun setting fast as I pulled up and there they where, fantastic got a couple of shots, they showed well but where at some distance for digiscoping, eventually just before dark they flew west and where later reported at Longhirst Flash ,as predicted a suitable roost site .but as I had no phone I could not ring in an update!!!!!

18-03-08 Linton Pools

A spell at Linton Pools where there is always plenty of gull activity produced 3 Glaucous, and later an Iceland Gull, no sign of the 2nd Winter bird with the damaged bill not seen for a few weeks, it was great to see the Iceland much better finding your own than going off for birds seen elsewhere, there should be a few around over the weeks. A guy in the hide whos name I did not get had an adult Yellow legged gull but I did not see it,will have another spell here soon.

1st Winter Iceland drops in for awhile
Iceland Gull
And again 1st winter Iceland
Not an abnormal bill just spmething stuck on the end !!!