Sunday, 28 February 2010

DBC Trip to Dumfries & Galloway (WWT)

We stopped of at Dumfries first for the traditional first Lesser Back-backed Gull of the year. We saw this as well as Little Grebe, Goosander, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, and Grey Wagtail. It was nice to see the Grey Wagtail and Lesser Black-backed Gull as they were both year ticks for me. On the way today we had about 80 Common Buzzard and 20 Red Kites! Great to see!

What a truly fantastic and memorable Durham Bird Club trip to Dumfries and Galloway. We started the day of by heading to the Golden Eagle site for an hour. There was nothing much for the first 45minutes apart from a few Ravens sky dancing which where a pleasure to see. Then the word went out quickly and we got out sights on a Golden Eagle with the back end of its body towards us as it headed away from us and down the valley and eventually vanished. Most people on the trip saw the bird and we waited a while to see if it would come back up but sadly it didn’t show. A short while later a cry came of MALE HEN HARRIER! Everyone came over straight away to have a look and see this fantastic bird, it flew across the road and gave fantastic views as it flew around a bit before disappearing. We also saw a few Buzzards in the distance whilst waiting to see the Golden Eagle. A few of the group saw a Goshawk briefly but I missed that sadly.

From here we then headed onto Caerlaverock WWT for the remained of the day. The bus pulled up and then like a bullet out of a gun BANG! I was in the visitor centre paying my entrance fee and I was in. Straight to the Whooper Hide and I saw the American Wigeon nearly straight away. It was really close then got gradually distant but I had fantastic views of the attractive rare American duck. From here myself and a few others headed of the Tower hide to see what we could see. We arrived and where told there was a Peregrine sitting on the post near the Barnacle Geese and we quickly picked the Peregrine up. There where quite a few Barnacle Geese behind the Peregrine in the fields as well as a Common Buzzard sitting on a post not far of the Peregrine for good size comparison. We then scoped around and someone called out another Peregrine that was a long way of and it was sitting on a very large log in the water but it was clear from the overall appearance it was a Peregrine. Other birds scoped from the hide included a few Grey Plover, and Shelduck is all that I could remember.

I thought I would look around the other side of the hide for a while when a cry went up MERLIN! I ran over as quickly as I could and everyone in the hide was over to the one side looking either at or for the bird. I quickly got onto it thanks to the Chairman letting me look though his scope. I then looked though Derek Charlton’s (The Finch) scope and saw it again. I then quickly grabbed my scope and got nearly straight on it. It took of did a little bit of hunting and then flew towards us and landed even closer on the fence post! I took a few terrible pictures then simply watched and enjoyed the bird for the few minutes it sat. It flew and cam right past the hide and I got a good view of the bird in flight it then landed a little bit more distant where I watched it again and found it but it was not quite a way off and not as close as before. I then headed of with the rest of the group as they where leaving, I felt strange leaving when it was still in view but it was distant when I left and it had its back to me.

From here I headed to the other hide (don’t know the name) and I saw all the regular stuff you would expect with Whooper Swans, 1 Snipe, Teal, and Wigeon. From then on I just wandered around a bit and found a Water Rail and alerted the others and they saw it as well. I went back to look at the American Wigeon but it was sitting asleep and then it sat down so I left it be.

All in all a fantastic club trip out and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

British List updates
233 – American Wigeon (235 All time Life List)

Year List updates
119 – Lesser Black-backed Gull
120 – Grey Wagtail
121 – Golden Eagle
122 – American Wigeon
123 – Peregrine
124 – Grey Plover
125 – Merlin
126 – Water Rail
(Whooper Swan - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Merlin on post - Andrew Kinghorn)

(American Wigeon - Andrew Kinghorn)

Saturday, 27 February 2010

A Stoataly different days Bitterning

Another fantastic winters day birding with the lads of Stew's Crew, with another life tick of a rare/scarce bird as well as 4 new year ticks for me. We headed to Northumberland instead of Teesside as news of a Green-winged Teal got me twitching a little bit.

I got picked up about 9:15 by SA then we went to pick up AR a few minutes later and then finally The Finch (DC) soon afterward. We arrived in Northumberland at about 10:30ish and like a bullet out a gun me and The Finch went straight for the budge screen at Druridge Pools. The Finch set up his scope and started laughing as he had it straight away, second bird he looked at apparently. So there it was a fine drake Green-winged Teal amongst some Eurasian Teal. I got my eyes on it through The Finch’s scope and then once I was sure I had seen it I set up my scope and had a look at it and then took some pictures. I wished I had spent more time watching it instead of trying to get a picture as it soon disappeared after about 5 minutes of watching it. We didn’t see it again but we did see Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Shoveler, Wigeon, Snipe (The Finch only) and Herring Gull.

We then headed on to East Chevington bust sadly there wasn’t much showing at all in the area! The Finch headed down to the hide and we all followed. We met 2 lads in the hide and they where debating whether or not a bird they had seen was a very early returning Marsh Harrier. It was down so we waited a while and it came up and it was ID’d as a Common Buzzard being mobbed by 2 Carrion Crows. Then about 5 minutes later The Finch cried out “BITTERN! Straight out over the island” we all panicked asking where and eventually got onto it. The Bittern was up in the air a good 20-30 seconds and I had fantastic views through my scope. What a belter! Didn’t expect to see one of them today. There where other birds about with Coot, Great-black Backed Gull, Teal, Kestrel and probably other birds but sadly I didn’t pay much attention probably due to the excitement of the Bittern.

We moved on to have lunch at Druridge Bay Country Park and we enjoyed our lunch. Here from the car park and car we had Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Mute Swan, Mallard, Coot, and Red-breasted Mergansers. The Finch also reported a Pochard as being present.

We then headed onto Low Hauxley. The feeding station was busy on the way out with Tree Sparrow, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Robin, and Dunnock as well as a Pheasant up the wooded bank which quickly went out of sights. The reserve itself was heaving (as far as Low Hauxley goes) with birds. Loads of waders and these included Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone (The Finch only), Redshank, and Dunlin. Also there was a single lonely Brent Goose, some Greylag and Canada Geese. Also I think a few Shelduck were present and that’s all I could remember sadly.

We then headed north to a pull in to do a Sea Watch and where distracted by a Stoat! We watched this white stoat for a short while and then got back in the car. It was cold! Even cold for me to do a Sea Watch and I’m usually up for one. From here we headed back down to Cresswell Pond NWT, at Bell’s Farm there was a single Brent Goose still present as well as a Turnstone and a few other birds such as Canada Goose, Lapwing, and Shelduck? Can’t remember? We then headed onto the hide at Cresswell where we had fantastic views of the Otter! It came really close but must have smelt us and disappeared never to be see again by us. We added Tufted Duck and Reed Bunting to the day list and other birds were present that Cresswell usually tunrs up.

All in all a good day with 1 life tick and 4 year ticks.

Life List update
232 – Green-winged Teal

Year List update
115 – Brent Goose
116 – Green-winged Teal
117 – Bittern
118 – Bar-tailed Godwit

Here are some pictures from the day…….enjoy!
(Green-winged Teal (far left) - Derek Chalrton)

(Green-winged Teal (2nd from right) with Eurasian Teal - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Brent Goose (pale bellied) Low Hauxley - Andrew Kinghorn)

(White Stoat - Derek Charlton)

(White Stoat - "HEY! What you's looking at?" - Derek Charlton)

Friday, 19 February 2010

I Bean, I saw, I conquered – Northumberland Coast

Yes! I bring some good news. Finally I saw some Bean Geese today and they where Tundra Bean’s, not Tiaga or Baked. I personally treat Tiaga and Tundra as the same species, not separate (do my readers?).

The day started off with me, Stew, and Andrew-G-Raine getting lost and missing out turning. This worked in our favour as we saw 30c Whooper Swan in the fields near Cresswell which we wouldn’t have saw had we not took the wrong turn. The first stop was the Geese, I got soaked and frozen due to the blizzard at first and then it cleared up. Soon after I picked up the first Bean Goose of the day though views where distant and very brief. I first noticed it as it was scratching its head with its right leg and the deep orange colour stood out very well. Along with the Bean Geese there where 4000c Pink-footed Geese, a handful of Barnacle Geese, and a few Canada’s and Greylag’s.

We then moved on to Cresswell to have our lunch, after lunch we headed for the hide. On the way there we where rewarded by flocks of Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Starlings, and a few Pink-footed Geese (again!). Then we got to the patch down to the hide and where rewarded with Reed Bunting and also a Wren (on way back and after lunch). Also we where treated to Black-headed Gulls and a few Magpies. We entered the hide and had a look over the watta’ we had Curlew, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Grey Heron, Pink-footed Geese (surprise!), Redshank, Tufted Duck, Black-headed Gulls, Common Gull, Goldeneye, and a single Dunlin.

We then left Cresswell and we set of for Druridge Pools, on our way I was stopped by the Geese and instead of torturing Stew and Andrew-G-Raine to look through the geese I said I would get out and then walk along to Druridge Bay later once I had finished looking through the geese. No sooner had they drove off when they returned and told me to move up as the geese where closer up the road. So I went further up the road quietly got out the car, and then minutes later they spotted me and all took off to the other hill. This worked in my favour though. They had landed in a field on a slope and when I scanned them I picked up the 2 Tundra Bean's nearly straight away. I watched them for 10 mins or so and then ring Andrew-G-Raine. He informed me there was no sign of the Smew so I headed to the car and met them. I took them back so that could have a good look at the Bean’s but the light was bad and I doubt they would have been able to see any leg colour at all.

So we headed off to Druridge Bay CP for a quick look and all of the expected park birds where there but there was an unexpected drake Red-breasted merganser. We then moved onto East Chevington, the driveway up to the reserve rewarded us with Common Buzzard being mobbed by a crow. On the reserve we added Great-black backed Gull to the list as well as 3 redhead Smew that had obviously moved from Druridge Bay. A winter plumage stoat was nice to see as I had never seen one before.

From here we headed to Woodhorn Flash, near Woodhorn Grange we picked up the Whooper Swans that had clearly moved from where we first saw them. Some were closer than others but same as before we couldn’t stop or slow down so very brief views were had. I must admit I am a bit naughty as I assume these 25-30c Swans were Whoopers that we saw on the morning and the afternoon. However how many people see flocks of Mutes in this sort of a number sitting in water logged fields? When we got to Woodhorn Flash there was a small flock of Greylag and Canada’s that contained 4 White-fronted Geese. We all noticed there was very little white on these birds at the front of their bills, however they where all a nice dark colour and the breast bands where seen quite well through my scope.
(2 Bean Geese and Pink-footed Geese first arrow is meant to be pointing at goose facing right)

(Just trust me right! lol)

Bean Goose photos - Price: £negotiable ;)

(3 of 4 White-fronted Geese present with Greylags)

Year List updates:
107 - Whooper Swan
108 - Pink-footed Goose
109 - Barnacle Goose
110 - Bean Goose
111 - Dunlin
112 - Smew
113 - White-fronted Goose

Life List updates:
233 - Bean Goose

British List:
 231 - Bean Goose

So it was a fantastic day overall with 6 species of Geese. That's not bad now is it! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading it as well.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

16th - Blacktoft Sands RSPB

Stew’s Crew had an outing to Blacktoft Sands RSPB yesterday. I didn’t update my blog because I was cream crackerd (knackered). It was a good day but sadly my target bird (Merlin) had yet again avoided me! Little horrors they are. On the way there I picked up a Red Kite from the motorway, this was a canny year tick for all of us. We arrived around about 12:30ish and we immediately picked up the local Tree Sparrows and a few other commoner birds such as Chaffinch.

We headed left and visited the hides to the left of the visitor centre. We had our lunch in the first hide before DC collapsed due to hunger. Whilst in the hide we picked up the only Goldeneye of the day, Gadwall, Shoveler, Snipe, a very distant Marsh Harrier, Carrion Crow, Teal, Mallard, Reed Bunting, loads of Snipe, Wigeon and a Shelduck.

The next hide was pretty devoid of birds apart from Teal, Mallard, and Coot. A drake Pintail flew over! That was the only one I saw all day so that was nice. Then the final hide added Greylag Goose to our list (well not really as I had a fly over from the first hide but still it makes the walk look as if it was worthwhile), we also added Stock Dove to the day list. Waders where few and far between yesterday I am afraid but that doesn’t really matter.

We then headed back toward the entrance and made out way down the right hand side hides from the reception hide. We stayed for the raptor roost and we where not disappointed. I soon picked up a Barn Owl and alerted others in the hide and we watched it as it flew around the reed bed. Then shortly after I looked straight out and there was a different barn owl! So I had 2 Barn Owls at once and it was still light, we got fantastic views of them as they flew back and forth. One of the Barn Owls was flying around the hide really close. Then at one point they both sat in the tree together. The first Barn Owl was quartering the reed bed and it flushed up a Fieldfare and later a few Meadow Pipits. Later on into the roost Andrew-Graham Raine was trying to get a video through the hide window (which was shut) the quartering Barn Own was heading straight for the window and the hide, then DC’s humour kicked in and whilst looking at the owl he calmly and friendly said “Howay’ in” haha I started laughing my head of (quietly). It was literally 3ft of Andrew and DC and headed for the hide windows. Andrew actually moved as I think he thought it was going to hit the window and actually try to come in. It then soon flew right in front of the hide looking at us to see what we where doing. We had 1 male Marsh Harrier come into roost and about 10-12 cream crown Marsh Harriers. Sadly no Hen Harrier or Merlin, oh well not to worry. It was a fantastic day and I really enjoyed myself.

Year List updates:
104 – Red Kite
105 – Marsh Harrier
106 – Meadow Pipit

Other birds seen where a Bittern just before we left, and 2 Dunlin we missed (Only DC had these 2) They would have both been year ticks for me, oh well.
(Marsh Harrier - Blacktoft Sands - Derek Charlton)

(Barn Owl - Blacktoft Sands RSPB - Derek Charlton)

Monday, 15 February 2010

NO! It…. it can’t be!

So there I was looking for Long-eared Owls going through a small area where there where some trees. When I got toward the end the trees it started to narrow, then all of a sudden (BURST) and then a dumpy brown bird took of and flew away. Not a pheasant, it could only be………….Woodcock! It took of when I was right near to it and it flew away over the top of the trees and away.

Finally at long last one of my hardest to get common birds is no more! Woodcock British Tick 230. Finally! Just (Common) Crossbill now.

Nothing much else of note but a fantastic day and it was nice to be out and about. I had a drake Pintail at Rainton Meadows and this was a year tick for me.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Bean and Gone

Warning: The following contains very dry humour

It had Bean and looked like it had gone!
It actually was Beaning very sneaky and must have been hiding!

Sadly now it has Bean and has now gone, just when I thought all hope was not lost and I could return at a later date. I was going to say “Can I go and see it? Can a da’ ”

Yes, on Monday the 8th I went to Castle Lake DBC to look for the Bean Goose, I was at the location and couldn’t see any geese at all! It was hanging about with 12 Pink-footed Geese but I couldn’t see them or the Bean Goose! I left the area and heading into the hide and saw 2 nice Ruff, year tick 100! YEY!

I got home disappointed, turning the computer on did not help as it was reported where I was looking at 3:00! I was standing in the area at 3:00-3:05 and stayed quite a while and didn;t see anything! Maybe I was looking in the wrong place?

That’s right, I am not a happy man. I suppose if it had Bean some rarer I would have been more gutted than what I was. Well a life tick for some other time (which can probably not be said for the UK’s 1st Eastern Crowned Warbler, phew! Glad I saw that).

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Gulls, gulls everywhere but not a single yella' legged in sight.

Rainton Meadows

That’s it! That’s me and gulls finished! I spent about 2-3 hours today scanning through gulls to look for something interesting and didn’t see anything. However, I did gain more experience with ID’ing some of the commoner gulls and therefore familiarising myself with some of the commoner gulls. Today there was really high numbers of Black-headed Gulls, Herring Gull, and quite a few Great-black backed Gulls. There was also 2c Common Gull amongst them. 1 small (female?) Herring Gull nearly got my excited thinking it was a Ring-billed Gull but closer inspection and I quickly realised it was a Herring Gull. I missed a Lesser-black backed Gull when I went to go and look around Joe’s Pond for the Pintail. I couldn’t see it; this was probably because it had cleared of because of the idiotic fisherman on Joe’s Pond. They where either ignorant or couldn’t read the “NO FISHING” sign that is clearly displayed in the middle of the pond. No sign of the Tawny Owl either so I missed that! Sadly it wasn’t my day today.

I must admit I really enjoyed looking through the gulls hoping to find the Yellow-legged Gull. I have spent a lot of time this winter scanning through gulls but nothing has really stood out that well. If I confess I did go of gulls for a while after missing that Glaucous-winged Gull which I would have loved to have seen but missed by about 2 hours :( Thankfully I am getting back into them and hope to see or find a Glaucous Gull sooner rather than later.

Rare gulls I HAVE seen:
- Ring-billed Gull, Dundee 31/12/2008
- Iceland Gull x3
- Glaucous Gull x1
- Yellow-legged Gull x1

That’s me lot! Lol
Now lets bask in my terrible shot of a Great-black Backed gull from today.

(Great-black backed Gulls)

Friday, 5 February 2010


Please could my followers sign this petition:


If you can spread the news so that loads of people can sign it.

I am sure you will sign it and spread the word, Thanks much.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

January Review & Beware of Malware

Don’t you just hate Malware! It is a bit like a virus that installs itself onto your computer without your permission, hey I love ICT. I was hit by it last night and have not really been able to use my computer for nearly a day. However technology was no match for the brains of the might Foghorn and I completely got rid of this nasty virus. It was called Antivirus Vista 2010, this software deliberately lies to you and tries to make you believe you have a Trojan horse and they say that you should but there products to fix this problem. They ask for your details, including credit card and they will put the software on to get rid of this “virus”. In actual fact it is a huge con. You DO NOT have a virus at all and they are simply trying to get your details. It has been on the go for about 1 week now and it brand new. So watch out as you might get hit! (Hope not) Screenshot of what it looks like, just incase any of my very kind readers get infected :

January Highlights
But anyhow enough about ICT and computing lets get on with my January review. The year started of well in Orkney, 1st of January bought me Common Buzzard then Kestrel then a nice ringtail Hen Harrier. On the same day I ticked of Raven and some of the birds that are harder to get down here in County Durham. The ferry back to the mainland was good and produced a fine juv Iceland Gull in Stromness harbour. Not much birding was done in January as my friend who I go birding with drives and he was very busy with things that needed doing. However my Dad very kindly took me to see the Black-throated Thrush in Newholme which was fantastic to see. Also a 8 days later my Dad kindly took me to see a fine drake Ring-necked Duck that was down at Teesside, both birds where life ticks. The female Black Redstart at Hartlepool was a life tick for me and the last one for January 2010, a good way for Stew’s Crew to start the year. Three life ticks in total taking me up to 231 for my life list and 229 for my British list.

Monday, 1 February 2010


A fantastic evening out tonight owl’ing at an undisclosed site. The first bird we had was a 1 Short-eared Owl once it disappeared another one appeared following it. So that was 2 SEO’s and the only ones we had the whole night.

After this I had 1 definite confirmed LEO and what I believe there was another one that disappeared quickly. This meant I saw 2 LEO’s.

Then on the way back home a Barn Owl nearly flew into the window of the car! Thankfully it spotted us and turned itself around at the last minute.

- 2 Short-eared Owl
- 2 Long-eared Owl
- 1 Barn Owl

Not bad, this takes my year list up to 99! 1 more come on!