Sunday, 27 May 2012

Marsh Magic, a second and fresh start!

Well, I kinda let this slip over the past year and a bit! I've decided to re-start this blog and give it another go. There is to much to catch up on so I will start the blog from this week's events. Wednesday saw me heading down to the main area I bird (when I'm actually in the area): The amazing N Tees Marshes on the report of a Temminck's Stint, a scarce bird and one I really wanted to see for the yearlist. We got there pretty quickly and met some local birders who hadn't seen it recently, and it had most likely moved on. We felt we should look for it since we were there but again, there was no sign. The numerous Avocets and Lapwings made up for it, as did the Ringed Plover and Redshank. Still a shame to miss a special bird, but that's birding! Thursday was a scary day. A Birding friend of mine texted me before an exam that a county 2nd had been found, again in the N Tees marshes and only a few hundred metres from where i had been the night before. The bird would be a life tick for me, so i began to get very, very twitchy and desperately wanted to get out of school and down to see it! The bird in question was a Long Billed Dowitcher, a rare american wader somewhere between a Snipe and a Godwit, and this one was in breeding plumage- brick red all over with variations on barring, streaks and dots all over. I rang my Mam and tried to organize a way to get to it as ASAP (the last stayed 15 minutes). She said she would take me down as soon as she was home as she wanted to see it as well. I held on teh hours until she got back, checking RBA every few minutes to see if it was still around. It hung on until we got there at 7 thankfully. Wow! What a bird, certainly a contender for bird of the year for me! I didn't get out again until today, when me and my Mam went for a short trip to RSPB Saltholme (the place where the Dowitcher had been). On arrival we were told to head straight through, a WHITE WINGED BLACK TERN had just been found, and was still showing by the centre! We ran to the viewing gfallery and were greeted with views of this spectacular Marsh tern gracefully flying around teh lake. It wasn't quite an adult, but was stunning non the less with a jet-black body and very pale wings. We watched the bird for over 20 minutes until it moved off to the Saltholme pools where it spent most of the afternoon. What a bird, and although not a lifer, one of my favorite birds this year! I decided to continue with the plan and have a look up at Haverton Hole rather than go and spend some more time with the tern, mainly to see if I could find some Dragonflies or Damselflies which have so far this year eluded me. I added my first species of the year, Blue Tailed as I had predicted just outside the visitor's centre, and a common blue damsel also hawked with them! I didnt see anymore so birds once again returned to the fore. En route to Haverton I spent time looking at the Swifts, only recently back from africa, hunting with the hirundines and giving a good show. Reed and Sedge Warblers added a beautiful theme tune, and Whitethroats added another touch to the song. A few Great Crested Grebes provided interest, but Haverton was quiet aside from a fishing Grey Heron. We wandered back to Paddy's Pool to spend some time admiring the breeding Common Terns and Black Headed Gulls, and both made the walk worthwhile, as did the cute mallard ducklings scattered around the pond. With little more to see we began walking back to the Centre, but a flash of red caught my eye. A Large Red Damslefly was hanging of a blade of grass, looking very out of place with a wonderful attire of bright red. Another Damsel moved behind, it, another Blue, and this time it was an Azure, my 4th species of the day. I was chuffed to say the least!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Saltholme and Snow Bunts

Saltholme today. Nother 'overly' different for me, but a distant and hidden Long Eared Owl was nice. Missed the Slavonian Grebe, but hopefully will get another chance to see it at some point.
Little Egret showed brilliantly overhead and another distant, but was absolutly beautiful!
Wigeon, Teal, Mallard and Gadwall were all displaying, and some Pochards and Tufted Ducks swam about, but stayed quiet. A solitary little grebe floated around in the reeds, showing occasionally.
Afterwards, I headed to Seaton Common looking for the ICELAND GULL. Sadly we missed this, so we headed on to Seaton Carew beach. Walking along we had Oystercatchers, Black Headed and Herring gulls, as well as a large flock of 20+ Magpies crowded in a bush, so I'm quite sure they were roosting there (it was getting dark). After a gentle stroll throught the dunes we came to a larger one. I just stood for 5 minutes looking at the gulls flying by. Suddenly, a small brownish bird caught my attention as it lurked amongsted the grasses. I followed this bird for a while from a distance, but it disapeared over a fence before I could get a positive id (in total it was probably only in sight for afew seconds, hidden by grass...).
Turned around the corner, and another small bird was perched on a log. Buffy, but mainly white. SNOW BUNTING! I stood an whatched this birds, and soon it was joined by a male (the first one was female) and for half an hour I watched them as they walked and flitted down the beach. AMAZING!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Rainton and Chester, and review

Just been able to get on here , and as I have so much to put on I have just decided to do a quick review of my NYB (New years birding).
NYDay was a late start but we headed straight down to the N tees area. First stop COWPEN BEWLEY, which enabled me to get some quick waterfowl- Pochard being the Highlight, and some Tits and Finches, but also a Greater Spotted Woodpecker.
Then to Saltholme. Brambling and Bullfinch were new additions. Quickly added Water Rail, Bittern and Long Eared Owls- pretty good start. After a gentle walk, we headed up to Hartlepool, picking up 2 geese species in the field and a Short Eared Owl. Hartlepool had Rock Pipits, Eider, Red Breasted Merganser and loads of Waders. Suprised to see a dead seal too!
2nd: Up the coast on the Second. Brent Geese, Shelduck, the rest of the waders, Sea Duck, Red Throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe and Tawny Owl all good birds, oh yeah, and Waxwing (Morpeth)

On to todat: We decided to go to Rainton Meadows DWT for the multiple Arctic Redpolls that have been seen there amongst the Lesser and Mealy Redpolls. Arrived there at twelve and went stright over to the first hide, btu realised this was a waste of time as it was stil frozen, se we went up to the feeders where the Redpolls are regularly seen. We sttod for a while watching the coming and going of the birds, seeing large flocks of Goldfinch, Lesser Redpoll and Mealy Redpoll feeding in this small area of young Trees and shrubs. After being sttod around, freezing, for a while, a small pale redpoll perched on a nearby tree, and a few people mumbled its location, saying it was arctic. ARCTIC REDPOLL! Finally, I caught up with the species after missing it on a previous attempt to see it.

After a 'coffee' at the cafe and brilliant views of Bullfinch, we headed of to CHESTER LE STREET. On the river their there have been sightings of Whooper Swan, Scaup, Mandarin, Gooseander and Kingfisher along a small stretch of river. As soon as I arrived I spotted an unusual bird on the river- Goldeneye, a beautiful female under a road bridge. After watching her for a while, we moved on in search of the other birds. As we reached the wier, we began watching a group of 4 Gooseander, two males and two females, diving in the river water. Suddenly, a blue streak flashen aross my binoculars, and I followed it up river until it was lost from sight. KINGFISHER! Now in a brilliant mood we headed to the area the other birds had been sighted. Standing on the edge of the river with two other birders, I quickly picked out a single WHooper Swan, Male Scaup and Female Mandarin Duck. Amazing. On the way back to the car we bumped in to a flock of tiny Long Tailed Tits and Goldcrests. A perfect end to a brilliant day.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Catch up

Just quick update on the ringing fornt-
Bluti 5; Bramb 1; Bullf 1; Chaff 1; Coati 1; Greti 3; Grswo 3; Tresp 1; Yellowhammer 1.

Not many nets, and a Misty day, not out ringing long so a brilliant total!
Bullfinch was a first, as was AD Tresp and Yellowhammer. 17 birds.

Reed Bunting 3
Blackbird 1
Robin 2
Nuthath 1
Great Tit 3
Long Tailed Tit 3
Treecreeper 1
Brambling 2
Blue Tit 2
Chaffinch 1

19 birds, quite good as we only had 4 nets up, and a large amount of ringers.

Possibly to Rainton Meadows tomorrow, trying for the Arctic Redpoll before the end of the year.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Ringing and Rares

Went out ringing with my trainer yesterday, in Yorkshire, amazing day, and considering we didn't have many nets up, quite a few birds. Heres the total-

7 Coal Tits
3 Blue Tits
2 Great Tits
1 Robin
1 Long Tailed Tit
1 Redwing- My 3rd
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker-my 2nd
1 Brambling- my 1st
(BTW thats my personal total)

Today I was out late, and headeed to RSPB Saltholme.
We went straight to the Wildlife Watch point and saw the Water Rails- one bird was on show nearly the whole time I was there. STunning birds, they come out and feed on Bananas put out by the wardens when the pools freeze over, and there is a considerable amount of them in the area. We then started heading up towards the Owl watchpoint> On the way we were told that a BITTERN was showing well on the way. It gave brilliant views, and apparently had been there for TWO HOURS fishing and feeding.
The owls showed well two- One on an exposeed branch!!

Friday, 24 December 2010

New Garden Ticks

Exiting day today, without going to far. Walked into the Local village to get the last of the Christmas Shopping and some bird food. Its freezing out there!!!
Anyway, on the way back my Grandma spotted a tiny Coal Tit hunting for food in a snowy hawthorn bush. I felt so sorry for it, and with these temperatures, I think rightly so. Further on we spotted a bird that is 'unusual' in my are- a female Bullfinch, again in a Hawthorn. In the past 6 years I have seen 6 individuals (counting this one), so a fair rarity!
As I was watching the feeders a large flock of birds (maybe 50?) flew over my estate and 3 dropped down into my garden. WAXWING!!!! They stayed there for about a minute, giving ok view from the top of the tree. I have seen afew this year, but these gave the best views and they were in my garden!
We then put some more food out- small amounts of bread, Raisins, Apple Oranges and some seed. Almost instantly this brought in Garden tick No. 2- Jackdaw, the first actually in the garden. There was a pair, flanked by 2/3 rooks, 12+ Blackbirds, Woodpigeons, 2 Dunnocks, Robins and finches and tits. A good day considering there was no birding intended :)

Thursday, 23 December 2010


Nice walk at a new reserve for me, RAINTON MEADOWS DWT, with my Grandparents and Mum.
Started late, and we ddin't get there until about one. We began our walk with what sounded like a single waxwing calling, though we could not see it. We headed to the hide and began scanning over the pool, but it wsa frozen over and there was no sign anything was there, or had been there, so we headed off (although a had scanned the reeds!)We started heading down into an area of trees in search of our target bird, Mealy Redpoll. We soon spotted a large flock of mixed finches furhter on, so we headed over quick. When we caught up with the flock, we met another birder who showed us where they had landed (THANKS!) and told us this was the large flock that was mainly Mealy Redpoll that had been spotted! I soon picked out quite a few of these beauties, which are paler than the commoner (In Britain anyway) Lesser Redpoll and soon picked out some birds that were clearly Mealy, including an Adult male, with a bright red crown, chest and onto its belly. for the competition, this was my 246th bird of the year, but on my personal list it was my 251st. This was all fine, but I soon came across my first ID problem. A Bright white Redpoll flitted into sight, showing a low levels of streaking on the flanks, belly and back (including head and neck). I imediatly thought that this bird was different. Then it gave me a flash of its rump, and it seemed really pale, with little streaking. The bird soon flew of without giving me good views of its face or undertail coverts so I couldn't be sure which species I was looking at. Along with Redolls I had brilliant views of Siskins and Golfinches which were feeding along with them. I turned back, and i saw a single Roe Deer runnig across the far hillside with a blizzard close behind. Magical.

I'll have to find how to put pictures on here, I don't know how yet, although I haven't been on that many times. Advice?