Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Tit's Out!

After umpteen visits I finally connected with the Bearded Tit at East Chevington. Initially picked up on call, it eventually popped into view just to the right of the south hide.

Bearded Tit
When I first arrived a pair of Marsh Harrier were over the south pool.
Female Marsh Harrier
Female Marsh Harrier
Male Marsh Harrier
On the north pool were the regular Black-throated Diver, Red-necked Grebe and 3 Long-tailed Duck. A bonus was 3 Otter ( I presume mother and 2 cubs) playing in the water and on the main island.
New for the year were Sand Martin with groups of 3 and 6 moving through.

Sand Martin
I moved north to Stag Rocks, but the sea was quiet and only 100+ Linnet, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard in the fields behind.
Moved down to Newton hoping for a Black Redstart in the easterly winds. No joy with the only migrant being a Goldcrest in off the sea. On the seaweed were 20+ Rock Pipit of various hues. I got photos of a pink 'littoralis' and a light bird with very light wing bars and white outer tail that wasn't far from a Water Pipit. A Stonechat was just behind the beach.
'littoralis' Rock Pipit
'Almost Water' Rock Pipit


Sunday, 23 March 2014


The first proper sign of spring this morning with 2 Wheatear in brilliant sunshine at Burdon Moor. Loads of Skylark and Meadow Pipit flitting around the fields and 2 Chiffchaff singing along the lane. 6 Fieldfare, 2 Redpoll and 2 Goldcrest were moving through.

At Watergate I heard my first Green Woodpecker since early January and on the pond were now 4 Little Grebe.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Man Flu

Woke up this morning with man flu, but bravely got up and headed for East Chevington. The north pool was very choppy with the strong wind and held the Black-throated Diver and 3 Long-tailed Duck. No sign of the Red-necked Grebe and the Bearded Tit again failed to 'ping' past.

The drive to the north side gave a Marsh Harrier hunting by the road. The feeders at the hide had loads of Lesser Redpoll and 3 Siskin, but no sign of any Mealies while I was there.

Lesser Redpoll
After East Chev I caught up with a distant, scruffy Black-necked Grebe and then headed for Prestwick Carr. Having failed twice after work this week I wasn't overly confident in the Short-eared Owl showing on such a windy day. Hit lucky as a pair of angry Lapwing forced the owl up briefly before it disappeared behind a hedge.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

More Mealy

Another trip up to East Chevington and again no Bearded Tit. The north pool held Black-throated Diver, Red-necked Grebe and 3 Long-tailed Duck flew in from the sea. A look in the north hide gave cracking views of a Mealy Redpoll, 12+ Lesser Redpoll, 2 Siskin and 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker while 2 Chiffchaff fed in the scrub.

Mealy Redpoll
Another look at the south end failed to provide the Bearded Tit, but a Marsh Harrier was hunting over the south pool.
Marsh Harrier
I called in at Prestwick Carr, but too windy for the owl and the only bird of note at Shibdon was the Ruff.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Gateshead Tick

I was woken by a text from George. A Mandarin had dropped into Shibdon. A quick shower and I was able to get my second Gateshead tick of the year. Difficult to get a photo as it was perched among low branches on the main island.

The Ruff was showing well with a Redshank and a Dunlin.
Cheers George.
A bonus on the way home from work was a Peregrine over Asda at the Metro Centre.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Goshawk and Mealy

An early start got me up in the hills while it was still below freezing. A couple of Raven were perched up, but flew off as I pulled up. The moor was alive with Skylark and Meadow Pipit and a Stonechat flitted about. The wind picked up and despite the sun it seemed to get colder. It took two hours for the first Goshawk to appear, drifting up from a valley to the west, a female that soared across on stiff wings. After this bird disappeared several Buzzard lifted with some displaying. They were joined by a male Goshawk, soaring and displaying for a short time. All the action was very distant through the scope so no photos. Freezing, I retreated to the car and headed for the coast.

East Chevington held the usual with Black-throated Diver, Red-necked Grebe, 2 Slavonian Grebe, 3 Long-tailed Duck and 2 Scaup. No sign again of the Bearded Tit or the Marsh Harrier. News of a Firecrest sent me to the north end of the pool. A good search failed to turn it up, but I did see 10+ Goldcrest, a Chiffchaff and a Treecreeper. A look in the hide produced super close Reed Bunting, Lesser Redpoll and 2 Mealy Redpoll.

Mealy Redpoll

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Gull with yellow legs

Had a look down to Teesside to see the adult Yellow-legged Gull. After half an hour I picked up the following gull sitting on a distant lamp post. I drove closer and the bird could be seen to be big with a hefty bill, darkish grey wings and most importantly yellow legs.

I also got a couple of flight shots and looking at these at home spoilt the day.

The primaries look great from p10 down to p6, but p5 should have a full black band, while this bird has just a narrow band on the outer web. Arses!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Same Old

An optimistic start up in the hills proved fruitless, so I headed to the coast. East Chevington held the same as last week with a Red-necked Grebe, Black-throated Diver, 2 Slavonian Grebe and 3 Long-tailed Duck. Just before I left the diver took off and headed south over my head.

Black-throated Diver
Red-necked Grebe
Further south were 2 Pintail at Druridge and an Avocet at Cresswell.
Around Gateshead the Ruff was at Shibdon and Steve's 2 Stonechat still at Burdon Moor.