Monday, 17 February 2014

Cresswell 17/2/2014

Well the original plan today was to finish work and head to a local hot spot for owls, but with the rain pouring down I decided to make a trip to cresswell pond.  What with it only being a 10 minute drive from work and supporting a hide to keep dry in, it seemed like a good idea.
In the bushes on the path to the hide I seen Tree Sparrows (my first of 2014) and a little Dunnock skitting about in the undergrowth!
Once inside the hide I couldn't believe how low the water was and just how many birds where gathered!! 

Lapwing, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal Moorhen were all in abundance. With the Lapwing making the place feel like a rock gig with the noise volume. 
A few Grey Heron were scattered about, no sign of the reported otters though.
Little Grebe and Red-Breasted Merganser fed close to shore. On the far shore I could see Shelduck and geese, however due to quickly disintegrating light conditions I couldn't identify the geese. 
The cherry on top was my first ever sighting of a Water Rail, in a break between reeds in front of the hide! Seeing that was a great buzz. Such a secretive, dainty bird. 
Just before I left a flock of roughly 30 Whooper Swan came into land on the pond. 
Not bad for a 45 minute birdwatch after work! Nice way to wind down after a long day!
(Apologies for the awful pics) 

Sunday, 16 February 2014

....Between Leaves & Birch

Another day at Gibside, working as a voluntary conservation ranger, dawned!
A chance for me to do my part for the National Trust, as well as gaining experience and getting outdoors after a week at work in a fume filled garage. 
In a nice turn of fate the sun was shining! 

Today's tasks were kept pretty simple, first order of the day was to remove heavy leaf fall from a drainage ditch. A job not made too comfortable by wearing a split wellie! Canny! 

Second order of the day after dinner was to thin out a plantation of Birch, deep in the grounds of Gibside. A rewarding job and more importantly.....a dry one! 

As always, whilst doing my voluntary work I did some casual birding when I could. 

So here's my list for Gibside Forest 16/2/2014

2 Buzzard
2 Tufted Duck 
2 Coot 
3 Red Kite

Wood pigeon 
Carrion crow 
Blue tit
Coal tit
Great tit
I also believe I heard a Green Woodpecker calling when I first arrived and got parked. But i can't confirm this.

And mammal wise...
3 Roe deer
(Young buck, young doe, mother doe)

Not many bird pics today, apart from a few feeder shots. 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Newton By The Sea 8/2/2014

A rare Saturday when I wasn't at work and Newton by the Sea was the destination, last time I was here was on a last minute twitch to a small car park north of the town for a Lesser Grey Shrike.

Today was a slightly more relaxed affair, a beach walk with the girlfriend, whilst incorporating some scope action! 

From the roadside, near the entrance to beach, my attention was drawn to 3 sea ducks feeding just off the shoreline, these were my first 2014 Goldeneye, all males. 
3 female Eiders were gathered on an outcrop of rocks with a couple scattered males out on the water near the bouys.
I walked onto the beach and setup on the shoreline, from here I got a much better view of the Goldeneye, Eider and a fly by Cormorant and Oystercatcher.

There was numerous rocky outcrops along the shoreline exposed by the retreating tide, these housed a few varieties of bird
Black Headed Gull
Common Gull
More female Eider and a lone Oystercatcher feeding.
Along the shoreline 8 Bar Tailed Godwit frantically fed, running along the beach as they did so.
Further along a little treat in the form of a male Turnstone was spotted jumping bscratting around between the rocks.

As we made our way back towards the car park, by cutting through the small village of what look like holiday sheds, I spotted a female Brambling and a fleeting glimpse of a female Blackbird. Due to the call of Mother Nature (for both of us) we had to bypass the pond and hides, although I could heard the raucous honking of Geese. Despite the excessive volume I couldn't identify. 
After a spot of lunch at The Ship Inn, we headed home.
An enjoyable day in good company 


The past few weeks.....

Well it's been a few weeks since my last blog, so to quickly to recap the events of my last few weeks birding we have to start at West Hartford.
It's a site I've frequently visited since my last blog, and it's played a blinder. A new site to me for birding but it's become one of my favourite places to bird.
I'll summarise my best sightings from there in a list.

Marsh Harrier (my first ever and as soon as I got out the car no less)
Woodcock (Always a brief 'flying away' glimpse)
Snipe (Flushed and climbing high but quick descension into the reeds)
A close encounter with a female Sparrowhawk (amazingly close)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Decent fly by view)
***possible (can't confirm) Water Rail running through the marsh near the fence post
Kestrel (regular treat) 
And a brief glimpse of a Short Eared Owl as day soon turned to night, last Thursday after work, very exciting. Purely for the reason that's the one bird I was after considering the time of day! 

The picture below was taken just after seeing the owl, I happened upon it just out of chance by scanning the back hedge line. It landed briefly on a fence post to the right of the big tree and vanished into shadows! 

I spoke to a dog walker and birder who told me what had been seen at West Hartford etc 
He shocked with news he had earlier flushed a Bittern, unfortunately no sightings by myself as of yet.

I also revisited Horton Burn again recently, seeing the Little Egret and Kingfisher/ers again. As usual the foliage and gardens along the burn were teaming with multiple passerines. And surprisingly a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen in a conifer tree. Nice surprise. 
(Shame about the rubbish pic!) 

Wrapping up warm left me looking slightly suspicious!