Sunday, 26 April 2009

Now that's more like it

Perfect weather for the best two weeks of the season with an excellent count of 53 species including those at Banks Pond. New arrivals of Whitethroat(3), Sedge Warbler(2) with my first singing Blackcap of the season anda lingering Fieldfare above the sentry box.
Warmth also brought out the Butterflies with lots of Orange Tips and smaller numbers of Peacock, Small White, Small Tortoiseshell, and Red Admiral.

Was just approaching the pond when a text came through regarding the Great White Egret at Arcot so made my way home and off there but the bird had only stayed briefly. Whilst standing with those assembled the Garganey flew in and a Lesser Whitethroat passed by so worth the trip. Was discussing the merits of photographing Grasshopper Warblers with JM (see his great shot on Birding Sometimes) and how I spent years photographing the bird, or not that is, as usually all you get is a speck in a yellow background. Now is the time to try though as they establish territories they will ‘reel’ against each other working their way up the reed or branch as they get more intense. My best shot came by chance whilst talking with JSB and EC, when a pair of squabbling birds came into the hedge next to us and I got this out of character shot. Bird does look a pit peeved though!

Choose a bright sunny day with a light breeze and best of luck! Yesterday four birds at two locations on the Carr with others heard at Arcot and either side of the metal box at East Chevington

25.04.09 Weather bright and sunny, light breeze 7.45-10.30
The list update for this week

80 Lesser Black backed Gull
81 Whitethroat
82 Sedge Warbler
83 Blackcap

Tuesday, 21 April 2009


Thank goodness the weathers broken. The weekend count was cold and dank but provided some 42 species with a further four in the evening. New to the list was Grasshopper Warbler but the reeling was hardly impressive and yesterday saw the first resident Swallows at the smallholding with House Martin over my house.

Still a flock of 31 Fieldfare just south west of the sentry box feeding up for the trip and the Golden Plover were in the air most of Saturday morning contrary to my previous comments about disturbance!

Three Great Spotted Woodpecker territories with a male visiting my garden last night and at least three Long tailed tit territories although I've yet to locate the actual nests. Pair of Stonechat in the same place as last years nest and plenty of Chaffinch building nests. All the Blackbirds I saw were male suggesting females were nearby and the Curlews are all flying in pairs.

The Buzzard has taken to loafing around on the fence line between Prestwick Road and the bumpy road which, with the ground drying out, seems to have discouraged any Lapwings in that area although territories are being well to the North. All seems set for the season then.
78 Grasshopper Warbler
79 House Martin

Friday, 17 April 2009


Potentially the dullest photo posted on the web today but it matches this period of weather and there are at least 200 Golden Plover in it starting around the telegraph pole. Amazingly having such great camouflage they are barely visible with the naked eye unless they flex their wings
Also unmoved by the horses or their owners. Watched a lass with her dog walk within 25 meters of the flock and they just shuffled across.

Hoping the weekend will bring some better weather and interesing birds

Sunday, 12 April 2009


Out this morning on the basis of the St Mary’s Grasshopper Warbler but no reeling on the Carr, just Chaffinch having a fling!

Did find a singing Willow Tit which presents a good punt for those yet to add one to their year list. It was moving along bush tops alongside bumpy road between NZ187736 to NZ195736 and back, therefore giving a clear view rather than the normal skulking bush bird seen when you hear their alarm chur.

This bird seems to prefer five notes tsiu tsiu tsiu tsiu tsiu and then moves songpost . Only one bird so not sure if it’s mate finding or territory establishment but the last time I heard song regularly (that bird only did three notes) a nest was established within the area which was eventually successful.

Golden Plover flock still present numbering 374 last night but surely can’t be long till they head for the hills. I wonder if they go on mass or if this gathering is some kind of opportunity to meet a mate?

Friday, 10 April 2009

They're back

yes five singing Willow Warblers this morning prompts me to return myself after an absence due to severe apathy (to work, not birdwatching) but the descending cadence of these great little birds brings a renewed energy to the Carr. Not that it’s been quiet. Skylark, Curlew, Lapwing, Meadow Pipit and Chaffinch have all been in full voice. Only a couple of drumming Snipe is a disappointment but this morning saw the start of Goldfinch and Linnet song and of course the Willow Warblers.

So what’s been going on? Late January saw a male Hen Harrier move through followed by the return of the Curlew with flocks peaking around 40. Three Crossbill was an interesting find near the golf course and flocks of Meadow Pipit(100+), Pied Wagtail (80+) and Golden Plover (300+) have regular in the fields south of Mayfair Cottage. Even today a large flock of the latter was present many almost in full breeding plumage.

Oystercatcher returned to Banks pond and had a nest on the island until they were ousted by a pair of Canada Geese as has occurred in the preceding two years. Little Grebe, Coot and Moorhen are all making preparations.

Willow Tit, Siskin and male Reed Buntings all regular visitors to my garden over the last few weeks with House Sparrows and Jackdaw all nesting. Two failed laying attempts already by the Collared Doves, presumably due the choosing a site too close to the Jackdaws.

Generally most of the flash water has now drained away and the fields are looking a bit dead. Horton Grange flash has been drained so another good little habitat has been lost although hardly surprising as it formed in an area which was previously dry arable land after the completion of the Open Cast (oops sorry……Surface Mine) It was interesting to see the Northumberland Wildlife Trust express an interest in managing the area but they follow in the footsteps of many who have tried and failed. They also shot themselves spectacularly in the foot with a press release to the Journal claiming the area was dry as a sponge when at the time it was flooded! The locals were not best pleased.

The old mine workings have opened up again west of Carr Grange presumably due to the flooding though not as spectacular as the last time in 2000 when all the flood drained as if down a plughole. I don’t think they ever did find out where the water went!

A handful of Fieldfare remain near the range, first Sand Martin last weekend and Swallow on Tuesday 7th thanks to GB but I dipped out on the Red Kite he’d had earlier. Not on my Carr list yet which this year to date is

58 Hen Harrier
59 Grey Wagtail
60 Herring Gull
61 Barn Owl
62 Crossbill
63 Coal Tit
64 Little Owl
65 Oystercatcher
66 Siskin
67 Little Grebe
68 Tufted Duck
69 Canada Goose
70 Peregrine
71 Stock Dove
72 Linnet
73 Rock Dove
74 Chiff Chaff
75 Sand Martin
76 Swallow
77 Willow Warbler