Sunday, 28 September 2014


Helpful that this bird was singing away as various light conditions give allow for various opinion on ID. Greyish warbler with black legs
Greenish warbler with brown legs
Grey green warbler with pale legs. All the same bird shots taken within three minutes of each other

Thursday, 25 September 2014


As dealing with imbeciles in the Planning Authority became too much for me yesterday I abandoned the fight and headed out on patch. Plenty of Goldfinch and Bullfinch still around but fortunately they don't need the benefit of feeders. As I watched their antics the first of three skeins of Barnacle Geese approached high overhead from the south being heard long before they became visible. The first two of 22 and 65 birds turned west and presumably followed the A69 west to the Solway whilst the final 78 kept on going north no doubt to Budle Bay where they will then swing west and go around the Cheviots. A pair of Kestrels battled the corvids attracted by all the grass cutting being carried out whilst a further three hunted deep in the heart of the Carr. Good numbers indicating a high vole population and the hope of Owls to come.
Up the bridle track near Banks Pond numerous acorns were scattered about, no doubt brought by the Jays cackling on in the nearby wood but unable to be buried in the solid ground.
And another masterful shot but I had to include it as it took me ages to photograph one of the many Swallows hunting insects disturbed by the grass cutting but this one was without a tail and looked most strange, almost bat like. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Back again

Whilst searching in vain for flycatcher and warbler at St Mary's Island this week I came across an old acquaintance (other than Dick that is). Black headed Gull J9CE was back on its late summer patch having spent April through July in Norway. This is a repeat of my post last year about the same bird having this routine. Having been seen in September 2012 at St Mary's it was in Molledammen, Norway for April / May 2013 returning to St Mary's by 11th July and last seen in this country on 7th September.
This year it returned to Molledammen on 17th April but stayed in Norway relocating to nearby Oksnevad (Minkfarmen) in July. This is open farmland with large bodies of water in the district of Klepp 25km south of Stavanger and I would suspect indicates it may have bred although Morten who maintains the birds records has mentioned nothing of this. On 6th of August the bird was seen at Orreosen in the same district before returning to  St Mary's Island being seen by MPF on 13th August and six times subsequently by various observers including Northumbrian Birding
For the record the bird of unknown sex was ringed as a 3rd calender year on 18th April 2012 and has spent the 892 days since traversing a minimum of 593km across the North Sea five times. The next question is where it goes from October through to March.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A bit Ruff

I was awoken this morning at 5.29 by a female Tawny Owl on the wires just 20ft from my bedroom window giving very loud and repeated kwww-ck calls. She flew off over the house as Blackbirds and Robins in the adjacent trees kicked off with their alarm calls. Not exactly the dawn chorus.
This male Ruff was at Hauxley at the weekend directly in front of the Ponteland hide and chased off any of the other smaller juveniles and females that dared to come close to his part of the pool.
Have twisted work to get a couple of visits to the coast without any flycatcher or warbler success in the last few days somewhat frustrated but nothing new there!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Buzzed off

The season is changing and having manged to resume normal service and carry out counts the last two weekends it is clear our summer visitors have taken advantage of the clear nights to move away. Last week small family parties of Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler were still in evidence with a few singing Chiffchaff. This weekend only the tack from one young Whitethroat and one half hearted Chiffchaff song. Tuesday saw the skies over the Carr full of feeding hirundines probably 150+ yet yesterday counts were nearer 10-20. Numbers however are high for our local species showing a good breeding season with counts of over 100 Goldfinch, 20+ Skylark included a flock of 15, 35 Blue Tit including a flock of 26, 16 Robin, 5 Kestrel, a family group of 4 Buzzard, 10 or more Bullfinch and Meadow Pipit / Reed Bunting in excellent numbers if difficult to quantify due to their distribution. Passage visitors saw 2 Wheatear, 5 Whinchat and 3 Stonechat with 10 Pinkfooted Geese overhead south. An unusual record was Marsh Tit on the bridle track with only a brief glimpse but calling p-tchew frequently just to prove it wasn't a Willow job. Only my second for the Carr.
The garden is busy with the post breeding flock of House Sparrow around 30, more than fifty Starling messing my car from their roost in the conifer tree above, three Robins battling over territory, Tree Sparrow and Coal Tit regularly with visits by a splendid male Bullfinch and Goldcrest. More remarkable is a gathering of 13 Collared Doves in the adjacent gardens this morning. If only a a Turtle Dove would join them but I'd just cry because my equipment is still playing up so it looks like I'll have to splash out. 
Mothing has died off with only Garden Carpet, Common Marbled Carpet and Lesser Yellow Underwing this week but in what appears to be an exceptional year for the species Speckled Wood was added to the garden list.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Southern Lady

Or is it a Blue woman. I guess it depends which common name you prefer or can I call you cyanea.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Started, spotted speckled but mainly blurred

All grabbed shots but an excellent walk along the bumpy road this afternoon accompanied by Redstart
Spotted flycatcher
and two Speckled Wood along with hundreds of Swallows and numerous Goldfinch. 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

A niger feeder

A Black Tern carried out its aerial feeding ballet in front of the Ponteland hide at Hauxley for a good hour this afternoon occasionally departing to the other pool but returning after ten minutes to continue feeding.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Missed again

but it goes to show Chiffchaf are replacing Willow Warbler in the hedgerows as migration continues.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Having ticked in the morning I returned to the platform yesterday afternoon with dodgy lens in an attempt to get a record shot of which these two were the best. (Frank G has posted a far superior shot on Birdguides and better still Allan on his blog). With all gatherings of birders it's surprising what else is turned up and despite not having found either Greenshank or Tree Pipit that had called in the morning whilst straining our eyes to see the Woodchat Shrike in the far distance ADMc called Egret and there, flying west about 100 foot up was the bird. My heart jumped as I've been waiting for a Little Egret on patch for the last few years but my view and the general consensus was that it was a Great White (already patch ticked!).
Then this morning I returned to see if the Shrike had remained. With clear sunny skies ideal for night or early morning travel and navigation I wasn't surprised to find the bird had gone but some serious scanning of the hedgerow found a greyish warbler with eye stripe slightly smaller than the Whitethroat it was next to and clearly the Lesser variety. Would you credit it. After months of inaction four year ticks in two days.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Chatty pic

There I was having cleared my outstanding correspondence just settling down to some productive work and Dick texts me about a Woodchat Shrike. What Wood hat Shrine as my phone corrected the spelling. So off I trotted and there on the platform the assembled throng was all focused on the bird. Without a serviceable zoom lens it was sods law that such a beauty and a species new to the Carr would turn up. Anyhow good views were had of a cracking female bird with a rather faded yellow head and I'll leave it to others for the stunning photos. If you can find the arrow above you can just see the bird!
Bonus also had as a Whinchat was flycatching from the adjacent fence bringing the PC all time list to 198, my all time PC list to 162, the PC year list to 105 and the much maligned platform list to 68.