Monday, 20 January 2014

At last!....Athene Noctua

So another Sunday has come around and another trip to my local patch, Arcot Pond, accompanied by Michael. 
First impressions were how waterlogged the fields had become since the previous days twitch there.
A scan of the pond and all seemed quiet, though a female Tufted Duck was feeding to the far left on the north side. Scattered Teal, Coot and  Moorhen were feeding along the back of the pond, with Black Headed Gull, Common Gull and a couple of Mute Swan closer to shore. A solitary Grey Heron was perched over by the dead trees. 
A walk up Beacon lane provided plenty of small bird activity with Robin, Great Tit and Blue Tit all singing and flying between the hedges and trees.
A quick scan in the large trees to the right of the stream provided a few patch firsts with a large flock of Redwing and Fieldfare gathered together and spread across two large trees. My first Fieldfare for a long time and a great sight! A few Greenfinch adorned the top of the tree.

We headed to the 'Forked Tree' after a tip off, thanks to LiverBirder. 
Looking up as we walked past, something stared back.......the Little Owl!! What a buzz! A tick for the patch list and more importantly my life list! I felt honoured to be in the company of such an amazing wild bird. Those big bright yellow eyes stared at us unblinking the entire time we observed it! 
A truly beautiful bird! 

After observing the owl for a little bit, and taking a ridiculous amount of pictures, we headed back down the lane to the car as the sun set.....feeling pretty damn good. Brilliant end to a great weekend of birding.
Where next?....

Sunday, 19 January 2014

An Ibis.....Or two!

So after an early overtime shift on Saturday morning, I headed straight to cramlington and picked up Michael. After a brief technical glitch with the sat nav, we headed straight for the Tyne Tunnel and then onto Blue House Lane at Boldon.
I parked up about half way down Blue House Lane, locked the car and got the scope set up!
We spoke to a fellow birder who said the Ibis had just flown to the field slightly further down the lane. Lou and behold in the left hand field, near the metro line, there they were.
This was my first encounter with Glossy Ibis, what great birds and very active!
We watched them for a good 20 minutes until they were scared off by a rowdy Kestrel.
They didn't move very far, simply flying over the hedge into the next field. We walked back up to a better view point and observed them for a while longer. The Kestrel remained perched on an electrical wire and in a bush to the back of the field I saw my first flock of Redwing this winter. 
As we left we had a quick look into Boldon Flats, plenty of Curlew, Lapwing, Teal, Wigeon, Herring Gull, Greater Black Backed Gull, Black Headed Gull and a solitary Mute Swan.

A quick stop off at Arcot Pond showed nothing of major interest, the three Roe Deer were seen again in the bullrushes but they quickly headed into the large trees on the north western side. A search for the Little Owl yielded zero results. 

Monday, 13 January 2014

First day as a voluntary Ranger

On Saturday, 11/1/2014, I started my first day as a 'Voluntary Conservation Ranger' at Gibside.
A nice change from my dusty, sweaty week job, and the weather on the day made it the perfect day for it, bright and fresh.
As I write this I feel myself getting tired, long day back at the grind, so I'll simply write a species list of sightings from that day.
Bear in mind I wasn't actively was just the perks of the job. 
Red Kite, these majestic birds of prey are stunning and numerous in the Derwent Valley! 

The feeder outside the office was regularly visited by, 
Blue Tit
Coal Tit
Great Tit

And of course the regular common birds showed up,
Wood Pigeon
Carrion Crow
Black Headed Gull
And on the mammal side of things,
3 Grey Squirrel on the walk up from the car park & a Roe Deer flushed from the undergrowth as we reached the bonfire site.
A trip to Arcot Lake on route home showed nothing of interest and was significantly quiet. Until a huge flock of Crow came in to roost.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The early bird caught the worm.......or fish in this case!

On Friday night I was reading through the blogs of local birders and I was hit with the news of a Little Egret kicking about Horton Burn, having never seen a Little Egret my interest immediately peaked, and the fact it was hanging around a housing estate in cramlington made this info even more compelling.
So this morning, Sunday 12/1/2014, I went in search! I was up at 7:15 and left home just before 8. After a 15 minute drive( from Tynemouth) I got to Northburn and parked up near the burn on the eastern side of the estate. 
Lovely morning for it, clear, frosty and fresh! 
I started making my way west along the north side of Horton Burn, the burn was alive with the sound of bird life
Collared Dove
And a ridiculous amount of mixed male and female Blackbird, I must have seen 15 plus over a quite small area.
The bushes were alive with smaller birds Goldfinch, Blue and Great Tit. Along the banks of the burn every so often I would notice the odd Wren, a single Chiff Chaff and lone male Chaffinch were also noticed.
This was all well and good, nice walk, some decent sightings but still zero egret. Hmmmm once I got quite a way west I turned around and headed back. 
As I reached the bridge near the park I spoke briefly to lady who was walking her two chocolate labs, she mentioned a kingfisher being in the area, which she had seen fishing the previous day. She also mentioned not having seen the egret for a few days.........nightmare! 
I continued down the burn and as I neared the car something caught my eye, a flash of electric blue! The Kingfisher! This was impressive, a kingfisher in Northburn! A first for me, having only seen them along the river at Plessey Woods previously. I followed it back west along the burn but never got a chance to get a good luck, every time I got near it was off. Overall I think I got a good five sightings of it flying along the burn.
Once again I headed back to the car.... Feeling happy to have atleast seen the Kingfisher, when something white flew from behind a bush on the water!
The Little Egret!
I followed it for about twenty mins, talking to various dog walkers about it, and enjoying the sight of a new bird so close. Close enough that a scope or even binoculars wouldn't really be needed. What a buzz! 
Morning well spent and another species ticked off the species list! 
Here's hoping a Little Egret colony will become established in cramlington, at Arcot Lake perhaps? 
Keep dreaming Dave.......

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Arcot Pond 5/1/2014

First of all, happy new year to anyone who happens upon this blog and all the best for 2014.
My first spot of birding in 2014 and it was at I suppose my local patch, Arcot Pond in Cramlington. Always been compelled by this site since my childhood.
First impressions once I reached the waterside was the fact that the pond was more of an ice rink albeit a one I wouldn't recommend ice skating on. About 60% of the waters surface was covered in a layer of thin ice. 
The ice was covered in Black Headed Gulls constantly being bossed around by a few cheeky Carrion Crows. A large flock of Teal was acting very spooked towards the back of the pond, taking flight every few minutes. I couldn't work out what had them shaken, was kinda hoping a bird of prey would make a nice flyby appearance or dare I say do some hunting.
A melted open pool of water in the middle held feeding Coot, Wigeon, Mallard and Mute Swan.
I took a walk towards the dead trees at the left (creepy) side of the pond. Always loved that part of the pond, used to spook me as a boy. A few fresh waters mussels littered the mossy shoreline, unfortunately it was quiet and nothing but a male and female Mallard was seen. Over in the woods I could the raucous call of a Grey Heron.
After another check over the main part of pond, and seeing nothing new I headed through he gate and into the meadow area. 
After being drawn to a Wren in the scrub I heard a loud rustling and before I could grab the camera three large Roe Deer sprung out undergrowth. I was loving this! They were so close, I tried to follow them but they had run off through the bulrushes and I stood no chance. I did spot two brilliant male Bull Finches though! What a beautiful pair of birds! 
All in all a great way to spend 90 minutes.
Let's see what the rest of 2014 has in store for Arcot Pond.