Sunday, 31 January 2016


A thrash around the patch today brought the PC list to 72 with a yaffling Green Woodpecker in the wood the first for a couple of years. Having sorted through 400+ Black headed Gulls for a Med I decided to take a closer look at the Meadow Pipits for a Water Pipit which had been reported toward the end of last year. A clean individual soon came to attention as the flock were moved from the ground onto a fence. Nice clean belly and looks like white sides to the tail however no obvious supercillium.
On the ground however despite standing out from the other pipits the clean belly was less apparent and nothing like the Druridge bird I saw earlier in the month but it appears to have a supercillium and the high shoulder I remember noting up at Druridge.
Anyway I can't make a decision so number 73 will have to wait for tomorrow. 52 species today which is a good winter count for the patch with big gulls notably absent. Missing from January Tawny Owl, Jay and Curlew and I apparently missed a Marsh Harrier. A flock of 70 Greylag flew over west from Big Waters and I just know that Tundra Bean Goose was among them but they kept going so here's waiting.

Saturday, 23 January 2016


It's been a grey dank week but this find by Maria on Tuesday was nice. The bird fed on the small same patch of ice next to a muck heep for three days before disappearing to richer pickings when the ice melted.
Up to three SEO's have been flying most afternoons and a pair of Stonechat remain with the pc list moving on to 70 this morning with a calling Oystercatcher.
There were also nine Mute Swans on the flood water today mostly juveniles probably glad of their own space having been seen off from their birth patch by adults beginning to pair up.
Star of the week though is this and possibly another Merlin which are hunting the central area when not squabbling with Crows and Kestrels

Monday, 18 January 2016

Ice breakin

The water level on a frozen Carr finally dropped enough for me to get along the length of the bumpy road. Not easy mind you as they surface ice in the deeper parts couldn't be stood on as the sheets acted like plates and you ended up sliding off so the method was to break and push forward keeping your feet below ice level. This had a problem though in that occasionally you hit a section of unbroken ice which cut into your shins.
One intrepid cyclist tried to get along and eventually succeeded but not without wet feet. Just impossible to keep up the forward momentum on a bike.
A photographer you got into the middle for some SEO shots missed out as his target species mocked him with an unseen fly by as he struggled back along the road.
The goats however found it all very amusing

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Limited access

A nice sunset last night made good of the fact that Prestwick Carr is almost totally under water. It also allowed me to add Gadwall, Coot, Little Grebe, Snipe and not so predictably Little Owl to the PC 2016 list.
The general view though is bleak although the Black headed Gulls are having a splendid time. It's the second worst I've seen the Carr flooded the last time being around 2000 when a hole opened up in the area to the bottom right of this pic and all the water went down the mine. See my other site for a pic
I rescued this caterpillar off the flood water which was curled up and barely moving yet after a minute on my hand it had recovered and wasn't too keen when I returned it to the damp habitat. Just the tip of the iceberg when you consider all the worms, grubs, beetles and even small mammals that will have perished.
Tonight the sunset view was distinctly grey but two Short eared Owls were still hunting their usual area apparently not concerned by the flood.

Monday, 4 January 2016

A little better

Spotted a gap in the rain so out to see what had arrived and very glad I did. An adult Little Gull avoiding the large numbers of Black headed Gulls fed in the horse paddocks. My second record for the patch and unusual for winter as few invertebrates for it to pick off the ground.
Sitting on the flood water it would take off and dance over the grass rather than water and when I got the pics home I saw it was taking earthworms off the surface.
Obviously hasn't read the documentation on Littlle Gull feeding habits. I put the notice out although there were many LG's appearing up and down the Northumbrian Coast and called GB for a look.
After getting our fill of the gull it was SEO hunting of which we found four, the best count so far this season and as a bonus Graeme spotted a distant white chest on a fence post way off. I suspected Buzzard but he noted the size was way too small and continued viewing as it hunted along the fence line confirmed it was a Merlin. Two splendid additions to this years list.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Slow start

Spent some time out on Prestwick Carr yesterday to get the list going but apart from some notable highlights a very average showing. A family group of four Whoopers was a nice first day tick as was an overflying Cormorant.
Three Short eared Owls hunted most of the morning although it took a good hour to confirm the regular sightings of two were in fact three birds although this task was made less arduous by watching a pair of overwintering Stonechat feeding near the road.
The warmer weather seems to have brought many birds into early breeding plumage this Kestrel looking particularly smart. In the end it was a measly 46 species which with four more today brings the fifty up. Just 363 days to go.