Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Patch Birding; 23rd / 24th Feb.

Not something I expected to see over the patch.

The past couple of days I have spent my birding time on my local patch; Arcot Pond & SSSI Grasslands, Cramlington.
I find patch birding to be the most rewarding type of birding, watching the seasonal change and the shift in activity is much more gratifying than travelling here, there and everywhere twitching rarities.

Twitching can be great fun, though I rarely do it myself, but lets be honest your always just chasing a glimpse at another birders sloppy seconds. Which is fine, everybody has a different way in which they like to birdwatch and in most cases your only going to see that bird in that place because its not going to come looking for you. 
I myself prefer to stay local or at least within a forty five minute drive from home, I would definitely consider myself more of a patch birder.That feeling you get when you discover a rarity yourself is exhilarating and made even better if discovered on your patch. That being said I wish a rarity would turn up on the patch, its all been very quiet lately.

23rd February, 2015

An incredibly quiet two hours were spent at Arcot on Monday with very little on the pond, in the woodland or out in the grassland fields.
A pair of Mistle Thrush fed along the border of Arcot Golf Course and a Grey heron rose up from the small pond on the Golf Course border.
The woodland held Coal, Blue and Great Tits, but these sightings were sporadic and the birds few and far between. A small section of  exposed woodland ground lay swathe to a blanket of Snowdrops. Always a nice plant to see and a great sign of the change in seasons, spring is on her way.

The scrubland behind the woodland wasn't too bad with two Woodcock taking flight, I have yet to see one of these birds before it spots me! In the distance Jay were heard to be calling over towards the golf course and Robin and Jenny Wrens flew throughout the scrub.
The pond had good numbers of Teal, Gadwall and Coot, with a few pairs of Shoveler dotted across the water. The teal took flight as one of Arcots regular predators glided overhead, the majestic buzzard, a bird I see almost every time I visit but a very hard bird to approach as it takes flight when still at a distance.

Buteo Buteo, stunning birds of prey. Why would anyone want to persecute these stunners?!

Teal pair in flight, one of my favourite Duck species.

24th February, 2015

Prior to my visit to Arcot I decided to take a very slight detour to see one of my local Little Owls, and sure as night follows day there it was in the same spot as ever. I've mentioned this Owl on this blog before and without fail its always been in the same spot. Watching from within its stone throne.
You again?

Following my very swift detour I pulled up at Arcot, grabbed my gear and marched on. It was once again very quiet, besides the horse activity. It was this day that sparked my horse related fury, see previous blog if you haven't already done so.

Today was very similar to the day previous with Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Moorhen and Coot on the pond. The usual Gulls and corvids flew to and fro. The grassland were quiet with only a couple Common Snipe taking flight and a Grey Heron Pair stalking the boggy marsh in the South East field, an area the Herons have seemed to favour of late.
I did however find a miniature treat in the form of a young Common Toad, hidden under an old childs mattress. I can't wait until both the Common Frog and Common Toad begin their mass breeding and subsequent spawning and Newts once again take to the water. I gently put the mattress back without disturbance and carried on my way.



On the western edge of the pond the four Deer remained in their usual spot but swiftly seen me and ran like the clappers! I've seen them so often now they should be feeding from my hand!
The woodland was even quieter today than yesterday with nothing but Blackbird and a couple Wren on the woodlands edge.

Hopefully the change of season will usher in a little bit more activity around the patch, but in all honesty this uncertainty is what appeals to me about Arcot. Yeah sure some days you'll go and there will be very little to see but others you can go and there will be an explosion of life or you will chance upon a surprise. A surprise like the Short-Eared Owl I seen as I got out the car last May, stunning views on patch!

So c'mon Arcot whats up your sleeve......I wait in anticipation!

David
Nature North East / The Northern Owl Project

Shoveler & Gadwall taking flight over the pond.
I took these Fox shots when I visited Arcot a couple of weeks ago. I've only seen a Fox at Arcot twice now.