Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Migration from the Garden......

Another few days of being stuck around the house, but I have been spending a little time in our tiny garden and logging quite a few migrants.

It's amazing the amount of birds you miss from inside the house, even with the windows open for a bit of soundtrack. 30 minutes or so sat outside with a coffee each morning this week has seen some great viz action.

On Sunday we had a chiffchaff in our tiny garden before it flew off high south until I could no longer see it, obviously on a mission. Interestingly the same day the ringing groups totals comprised of roughly 35% chiffchaffs. 3 chaffinches on the garden feeders on the same day were also likely migrants, we don't normally see them in our garden.

On Monday trees sparrows were evident with 3 groups of around 70 birds in total heading south within half an hour. Also noted moving south were 30+ meadow pipits, 4 rock pipits, 1 grey wagtail and a mistle thrush. A couple of chiffs and goldcrest were also seen in the neighbours garden.

On Tuesday a further light passage of meadow pipits was noted with around 20 birds south in around 30 minutes. Also flying south were 4 skylarks and 2 rock pipits. A northbound merlin also gave a superb flyby.

This morning a group of around 18 swallows were moving slowly southwards past our place. They didn't seem too urgent about it, they were just following the shoreline and feeding along the way.

That's the great thing about the autumn, even without classic fall conditions you can still step outside and witness many common migrants coasting their way southwards.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Little Gulls

This week I have had to knuckle down so my only birding has been done from home.

The last 3 days around here have been dominated by little gulls, with at least 30 lingering offshore from our place and a further 20-30 in Beadnell Bay.

I managed to grab a few pics while I was walking the dog yesterday but I haven't really had too much time to watch these birds, just a quick check each am and pm just in case they have been joined by a passing sabs gull........ It hasn't happened yet !

Little beauties !

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Fea's Petrel !!!.....

........ Well, to be more accurate Fea's/Zino's Petrel.

With a Fea's Petrel tracked up the coast of Yorkshire this morning I got a little excited and sent out a text to alert a few locals. I made a deal with myself that if it was seen as far north as Whitburn I might head out to Beadnell Point for a look, if it was seen past Newbiggin then I would DEFINITELY head out to the point for a look !

When it appeared at Whitburn I crumbled early and the decision was made. I recruited the good company of Stewart and Bazzer and we headed out to the point for our seawatch - the more pairs of eyes the better/strength in numbers.... and all that !

After some complicated mathematics I calculated that if the Fea's continued at it's current speed it should be flying past Beadnell at approximately 17:20. As this time approached we were all glued to our scopes (and had been for over an hour and a half).

17:20 came and went, but no Fea's Petrel. Hmmmm........ flawed mathematics.......
Then at approximately 17:26 a distant bird appeared to the south that seemed to have a different flight action. It was tracked for a few seconds before it banked and showed off a black underwing and bright white belly.... FEA'S PETREL !!!

All hell broke loose as a stream of over-excited and very poor directions only helped people to locate a number different lobster pot bouys in an otherwise featureless sea !

Luckily the target was getting closer and now approaching a pre-designated pink marker bouy (planning pays off !). With all eyes trained on the bouy everyone connected as the Fea's flew past it. We all then continued to track it north until it passed Beadnell Point, by which time it was a little closer too.

Once it had passed the point and disappeared from sight we just grinned at each other and Stewart remarked '....what just happened ?!!'.

At 'mid distance' this bird was not quite as close as I would have liked, but it was still plenty good enough to see good details and nail my 2nd Fea's Petrel on the patch.

After last year's incredible bird HERE, I never thought I would ever see another Fea's in the UK let alone on the patch !!

A great experience with excellent company - thanks guys !!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Sun !

I made couple of visits to the patch today, an early morning and a mid afternoon check.

Nothing new to report really, breezy conditions made birding quite difficult but 2 RBFs and a barred warbler are still present....

I've been checking the scrapes daily this last week but there has been little change to report and the passerine migrants have stolen the show for the last few days too.

Today on the scrapes there was....

30 ruff
18 blackwits
13 dunlin
11 redshank
3 golden plovers
29 snipe
16 lapwings

Down at Newton Pool this morning there was very little in the way of obvious migrants, just a few chiffs and a couple of goldcrests.

This afternoon the sun appeared for the first time in about a week ! I hoped that this might help to make birds more active but unfortunately the windy conditions still ensured most stuff was difficult to see amongst moving foliage.

In a few of the more sheltered spots some birds were enjoying the sun. 2 RBFs, 1 barred warbler, 2 redstarts, 1 lesser whitethroat and 2 garden warblers were logged amongst the commoner blackcaps, chiffs and goldcrests.

The star of the show today was this cheeky weasel that ran out in front of me while I was stood looking at some elder berries !

A cheeky weasel !
The weather looks set to change imminently, clear skies tonight may see some of this weeks grounded migrants departing, then a week of westerlies ahead doesn't hold much promise.....

One of todays redstarts

Friday, 19 September 2014

Floggin the Patch.....

I managed a few hours back out on the patch today.

It was hard going and it didn't feel like there were new birds arriving, the only obvious new arrivals in the ringing site were a lesser whitethroat and a redstart. However, there is some headline news - a third RBF appeared today when the 2 ringed birds were joined by an unringed individual.

This is great news but I strongly suspect that there have been 3 birds here the whole time, when I had extracted 2 birds from mist nets the other day I was sure that I heard another bird calling. With three birds in the ringing site and a bird down at Newton Pool yesterday too, there is a possibility that there are actually 4 RBFs in the area !

The third RBF - great birds !
Today I spent hours methodically searching all the areas of bramble and elders for that ultra skulky barred warbler. I had an brief millisecond glimpse this morning, then in the afternoon it finally gave some brief views when it hopped into some bare branches of a hawthorn. It was only on show for a matter of 15 seconds before dropping back into the deep cover of the elders.

Record shots of the barred, a great bird but what a skulky fecker !
Whilst looking for the barred warbler the elders gave up a few other berry munching sylvias, 1 lesser whitethroat, 4 garden warblers and many blackcaps.

Garden warbler on the berries
Lesser whitethroat
 Also logged today, 2 redstarts, 2 siskins and 1 grey wag flew over heading south.

Today's star of the show

Thursday, 18 September 2014

More Murk, More Migrants......

Today was another day of fog and mist on the coast, at times it was so dense you couldn't really see much at all !

This morning I checked out Newton Pool, I have neglected this area for a couple of days in favour of flogging the coastal headlands and birding around the ringing site.....

Early morning down at the pool was good with a very elusive RBF lurking in the garden at Risemoor, and a pied fly and 2 lesser whitethroats in the willows. In front of the hide 2 water rails were 'showing well'.

I had my usual commitments today so birding ended at 9am.

At lunchtime I crumbled and headed back out into the murk. This time I hit the ringing site again and took a walk out to Newton Point to check the compound.

Out at the compound a willow warbler and a robin were the only birds present in thick mist.

Despite the lack of compound birds, some birds were clearly fresh in to the ringing site this afternoon including a redstart, a wheatear and quite a few chaffinches.

At least 1 (possibly 2) RBFs were still present this afternoon and a superb barred warbler showed very well for about 5 seconds until I pointed a camera in it's direction. From that point onwards it turned into a skulky fecker refusing to give itself up. I presume this was probably the same bird that was skulking in the compound yesterday afternoon.

One extremely skulky fecker !!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Fresh In - Barred Warbler

Another day of decent migrant weather and a few more hours out birding the patch.

Today I was joined for a couple of hours by one Andrew Stringhorn from that place down south called Durham (that's the one just above CLEVELAND Andrew). Anyway, a quick flog around the patch was made and on arrival at Newton Point we bumped into a cracking barred warbler !

Obviously fresh in it was in company of 2 robins and 2 chaffinches. In usual barred warbler fashion it was an absolute pig to see, I saw it just twice in the bushes and twice in flight, great bird tho and one of the flybys was superb.

Also still present today was at least 1 RBF.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Smelly feet !!

Well...... Having seen the weather forecast I have had no option but to wear my lucky yellow socks for 2 days running. 

2 days, same socks, lots of walking in sweaty wellies.....My feet now pong !!

Anyway it was well worth the smell. Yesterday saw some very nice birds, all of which seemed to still be around today. 

After yesterdays little fall of migrants I decided to dedicate the whole of today to ringing. A long day which saw me opening the nets at dawn and packing up late in the afternoon. The numbers of birds ringed was a little disappointing (only 30 odd) but what it lacked in quantity it made up for with quality - garden warblers, blackcaps, chiffs, goldcrests, robins and best of the bunch 2 red-breasted flycatchers !!

RBFs - Stars of the show....
Some more good migrants were logged around the ringing site today including 1 yellow-browed warbler, 1 redstart and 2 bramblings, all of which managed to avoid the nets. Some early morning 'vis' was also evident with plenty of meadow pipits, 2 yellow wags, 2 grey wags and a few skylarks and chaffinches.

Another good day and well worth the smelly footwear !

A little fall......

Yesterday the weather finally looked good for some grounded migrants........

I headed out in the morning with great optimism, but apart from a few common migrants it was hard going. Then late morning/lunchtime (as is often the way) it became apparent that birds were arriving. A flog around the headlands was in order....

At Newton Point the compound held a couple of robins, a chiffchaff, a goldcrest, a wheatear and a whinchat. Next it was off to Low Newton where a spotted flycatcher was flycatching from the exposed fenceposts near the boatyard. Then down at Newton Pool garden warblers, blackcaps, chiffchaffs and goldcrests were all logged in reasonable numbers.....

Spot fly in the gardens next to the boatyard

Newly arrived chiff in the compound
I decided to head back home to Beadnell to check the headland and it's gardens. Half an hour on the exposed headland saw 'in off the sea' arrivals of 2 redstarts, 1 black redstart, 1 garden warbler and 2 redwing ! Stuff was happening and the rocks here seemed to be hopping with with robins, with a couple of wheatears thrown in for good measure too. In the headland gardens 2 garden warblers, multiple goldcrests and a chiffchaff were logged.

Newly arrived redstart and robin on the rocky outcrop of Beadnell Point

Dodgy record shot of a black redstart on the rocks...
Finally, I decided to return to Low Newton and have a good look around the ringing site for mid afternoon arrivals. A wise move as the best birds of the day materialised here.... not one but 2 red-breasted flycatchers closely followed by a cracking yellow-browed warbler !

Even worse record shot of a RBF....
As it got towards late afternoon birds were still arriving and a large flock of vocal chaffinches arrived in off the sea and settled into the ringing site to roost for the night.

A cracking day of migrant action.

Sunday, 14 September 2014


This little beauty was ringed at Newton Pool this morning...

The ringing group very kindly sent me a text which allowed me to get there in time to see it - thanks for that Chris.

A cracking little thing, it was last seen flying into the walled garden, plenty of large sycamores in there so it may hang around.