Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Lets start 2010 with an 'annual report' of the Boulmer Birders monthly highlights of 2009.


New Year on Speyside in temperatures down to -6 degrees. Birds on New Years day included Crested Tit, Hooded Crow and Red Grouse.

My first lifer of the year came early on 8th with the adult Glaucous winged Gull on Teesside, supported by a fw Glaucous Gull both on the same ice.

On 24th work commenced on improvements to our new house in Howick curtailing many weekends thereafter.


Started with snow and ice. My new garden list also started. A hard weather movement on 12th had birds flocking to our coast and a short walk had 65 Skylarks, 120 Fieldfares,20 Redwings and 7 Snipe on the coast path.

The first Fulmars were flying over the garden on Valentines day.

My first moths of the year paved the way to a more concentrated effort that will continue into 2010 and beyond. 4 Pale brindled Beauty were on the wall of the local Spar shop.

The the first new garden and patch highlight of the year. One Raven on 28th was joined by a second in March and were my first coastal birds in Northumberland.


The Ravens were on the garden list on the 13th and 15th. On 15th the first butterflies were a Small Tortoiseshell and a Peacock in the garden.

On 17th a Yellow horned Moth on the Spar wall was a good north Northumberland record.

Near the month end, 3 Chiffchaffs started off the spring on 29th at Howick.

April ...
No fool on the 1st when 3 Wheatears were near home on the coast path.

On 6th and Early Grey moth was another good Spar shop record.

Sand Martins arrived back at Howick on 7th followed by a pair of Swallows on 11th and Willow Warbler and Blackcap on 12th.

We finally moved house on 17th.

What a moving in present when a male Marsh Harrier showed well from our porch on the 21st!

During the last week of April other migrants at home included Grasshopper Warbler, Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail and House Martin.


My second Marsh Harrier arrived on 3rd when a female flew north over the pond field.

On 5th a Blue headed Wagtail was a stunner in with cattle near the coast path.

The 6th produced both Lesser and Common Whitethroats as well as a few Bird's Nest Orchids in the estate woods.

More spring birds were added with Garden Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Swift and Common Tern. A few Turnstones and Whimbrel trickled through too, with 7 of the latter calling as they flew north over the garden.

The first Wall Brown was seen on 11th.

Some 'weather' on 17th had me off to Holy Island for some migrants. Pied Flycatcher, Marsh Harrier and a day flying Nightjar were the best. None of these were consolation for missing a Turtle Dove at our village duck pond early on.

On 19th a Cuckoo was heard from our garden plus 4 Noctule Bats showed well feeding at dusk over the pond.

My first Northumberland Speckled Wood was in the pond field on 23rd.

Up the Harthope Valley on 24th. Mother Shipton moth was a lifer for me as they are a scarce species in Northumberland. 6+ Redstarts, Tree Pipit and Whinchat also brightened the day.

Back home on Bank Holiday 25th had my first evening seawatch. Manx Shearwater, Arctic Tern, Red throated Diver, Puffin and Razorbill were all added to the patch year list.

At the months end Badgers featured but it was a shame to find a roiad casualty near home.

June -

The Barn Owls near home began a pattern of hunting right outside our kitchen window that continued right until late August.

One of the years ultimate highlights for me was my first ever self found Northumberland Golden Oriole. A first summer male took up residence in Village Wood for several hours on 18th allowing a few keen birders to twitch it from as far as Newcastle. When it stopped singing at midday it melted away into the canopy and was not seen again.

On 20th a family of 4 Bottle nosed Dolphins gave us a private display in the evening on a flat calm sea just in our little cove, jumping clear of the water before swimming further offshore.

15 Caterpillars of Mullein moth were on verbascum on our drive. A great record only the second record for Northumberland. I will try and catch an adult in spring this year...

The last week of the month was spent on holiday in the New Forest chasing the dragon. No, its not 'Trainspotting', Im talking about odonata, dragon and damselflies. I saw plenty including several new species with a southern distribution including Downy Emerald, Southern Damselfly and Beautiful Demoiselle. Butterflies were exciting too with Silver washed Fritilliary, White Admiral and Emperor.

July -

In what can be a slow month up here I was pleased to be told about some Red veined Darters near Newbiggin. I saw 8 on 14th along with Black tailed Skimmer one of few county records.

Roseate Terns showed well from the coast path early in the month.

A couple of parties of Crossbills were seen and Green Sandpiper was on the Hall pond mid month.

My third Marsh Harrier of the year on the home patch was seen flying north offshore on 25th.

From late in July I scrutinised the garden buddleia's form moths at night finding scarce county moths such as Least Yellow Underwing, Shuttle shaped Dart and Common Footman.

August -

A calling Quail heard from our garden was a good start on 7th.

I was suprised and pleased with an early Icterine Warbler, self found at Fenham le Moor on 9th. Roseates continued to show off our point at home with 1 ad and 2 juvs on the same date.

Bulrush Wainscot was found in the village phonebox.

On 19th and excellent county tick turned up at Cresswell when a Semi palmated Sandpiper showed well.

Moth trapping proper started on 20th when Tom Tams loaned me a Skinner Trap. I was well in there on 22nd with a catch of 283+ moths of which 171 were Large Yellow Underwings!

On 24th a mad dash up to the Farnes for a British lifer - Yellow breasted Bunting turned out to be a wild goose chase, but the Ortolan on show was nice all the same.

September -

On 8th an Osprey on a local telegraph pole was a real joy, totally unexpected too.

The seawatching wasn't up to much really but a Sabines adult north at Newbiggin was appreciated.

The wheel came off on 26th with Northumberlands second Glossy Ibis in 100 years at Druridge. A massice twitch ensued but we needn't have panicked. The bird was faithful to Druridge for another month!.

October -

Some good moths this month with Red Underwing, 2 Merveille du Jour, 2 Blair's shoulder Knot and rarest of all a Tawny Pinion.

On the 11th JWR and myself found a Barred Warbler in the hedge behind the Heugh at Craster.

Then the highlight of 2009 came on 22nd when an Eastern Crowned Warbler was found at South Shields in Trow Quarry after being mis -id'd as a Yellow brow! Luckily it was still showing well on 23rd for me. Although I saw a couple in China last year this did not detract from this first UK record only an hour from home.

0n 25th 2 male Firecrests showed well in Howick Dene.

November -

On the 8th I added a stringy Snow Goose to my county list on the b asis that everyone else does so why not me.

On 29th a good seawatch included 2 Black throated Divers, 2 Great Northern Divers and 2 Long tailed Ducks all on the patch.

December -

Came and went with little to show except for the cold spell around Christmas. Lapland Buntings, Jack Snipe, Merlins and Long tailed Ducks were good off patch records and 500 Skylarks in the field behind our house was a good count.

Finally at the months end 2 Ravens returned to my Village, bringing 2009 full circle.

Happy New Year everyone. Keep wildlife watching and dont get too down in the mouth during the quiet spells. Retire, regroup and get back in the saddle there's always something interesting just around the corner.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas all...

-2 through the night but a balmy 2 degrees today has resulted in a minor thaw.

Although we haven't been far today, a couple of dog walks was quite good and produced one or two things of note.

This morning a short walk around the coast path had 42 Fieldfares over the back field with the hundreds of Skylarks and 19 Grey Partridges were near the farm. A flock of about 10 Redpolls were in the alders along the lane and although they were very flighty I glimpsed a white rump on one as it preened briefly showing that it is likely to be a Mealy. Its a shame I couldn't get a better look. A Marsh Tit was in the hedge near the village.

At lunchtime we took a walk to check on the swans at the pond. All three were on the ice with only a bath sized area of water remaining frost free. In the Village Wood we flushed 2 Woodcock from one spot and a male Blackcap was feeding in the ornamental pink rowans before being shown the way by a beligerent Mistle Thrush.

On our return I heard a Raven call to the south. On looking around, a single bird was flying from the farm to the Village wood calling regularly. As we lost sight of it behind the trees, a second flew from the village, from right over our house, and headed off to meet the first. These massive crows flushed all the pigeons from the wood and looked quite sinister on passing. Its great to hear them so close to home...

Merry Christmas to all, and thanks for all your comments.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Exaltation...

...of Skylarks. Today the coast around here is absolutely lifting with them. Out in the back field (above, please click on it) were 500+ and another 2 - 300 were between the farm and the teepee. The flock behind us attracted the attention of this Sparrowhawk and one lark ended up as lunch.

In with the larks were a few Meadow Pipits looking very groggy now in the cold. Some scuffling along fence bottoms, dunnock fashion. A Fieldfare arrived from high this afternoon and pitched in to the same field. 5 Golden Plovers and 8 Lapwings were in the hayfield.

This afternoon I flushed another Woodcock when out collecting wood behind the hall.

Tom Cadwallender called me to say he had seen the two Ravens near the farm this morning before they flew off towards the dene. Despite a good walk down that way I had neither sight nor sound of them.

The sea is quiet with only one or two Eiders and 3 Goldeneye to be seen...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

They're back!

At dawn this morning, well still dark but a hint of a glow over the sea was a taste of things to come, the very first bird I heard outside was - a Tawny Owl, closely followed by that distinctive cronking we all know and love - the Raven's have returned!!

Well I could hear one at its roost anyway. My neighbour, Julie saw them both on Saturday not far from here and I've been on the look out since. I hope to actually see them soon...

A walk up to the coast path with Bunty had a few migrants on the go. A nice Woodcock came in-off and carried on west as did 6+ Redwings and a few Blackbirds. Skylarks were calling unseen in the gloaming...

Today was my last day at work until the new year so I hope to get out and about a little bit, if I can find the time!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Winter's Tale...

Through the night the temperature at home was -4 rising to -2 at daybreak, but scarcely moving above zero all day. Yesterday's snow froze into a crunchy hard icing over the landscape. Below is a trip with me on my circular walk of about a mile and a half from home...

Just about the only noteworthy thing on an eerily quiet day was a hard weather movement along the coast, with the following all going south -

Meadow Pipit 90
Skylark 136
Redwing 6
Grey Wagtail 1
Pink footed Goose 90+

On the walk through the Village wood and back by the Heugh were 9 Snipe (3 and 6) dropping into the running streams, 2+ Song Thrush, 1 Bullfinch, 2 Treecreeper, 2 Buzzard, 5 Siskin, 12 Grey Partridge, 1 male Stonechat and 5 Lapwings.

I couldn't even rumour a grey Gyr let alone a white one...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Link...

Check out the new link on the right - Bird and Wildlife Illustration. This lad's got real talent, maybe the new Ian Lewington!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day Dreaming...

Rumours of a big freeze have set me thinking.

Today, in the dark at 7.30am I heard Song Thrush, 2 or 3 Redwings, 1 Skylark over and saw 2 Blackbirds in torchlight near the coast path when I was out with Bunty. Are these just tardy migrants or are they the start of a hard weather movement ahead of the cold front?

Ipin has suggested that the temperature could drop to -15 degrees in the next few days. I think weather forecasters exaggerate a bit with bad weather just to cover their backs. If the forecast is right though, it should move some birds across the north sea from the more north easterly reaches of Europe. More Thrushes and Larks are likely with maybe things like Shorelarks and Lap Buntings, Wildfowl from the Baltic might carry a few Smew and Grebes and there could be Woodcock on the coast.

You never know, 2009 might be the year of another Tengmalms Owl, Hawk Owl, White winged Lark, Dusky Thrush or mainland Pine Grosbeak. The real jackpot would be one of those eastern Accentors that turn up rarely in Scandinavian countries, Siberian or Black throated...

A more likely scenario is that the forecast is about +15 degrees out and we get two days of frozen windscreens...

Oh well...'when I snap my fingers you'll be back in the room'...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This might be the end of the years Moths. Or maybe not.

This morning as I drove past Longhoughton Spar shop on my way to work, a glance over my shoulder and I could see a 'mark' on the white painted pebble dashing. Worthy of a check. A quick about turn and...The mark was a Pale Brindled Beauty (above) and along side were single Chestnut and Mottled Umber.

No need to fork out big bucks for a moth trap in winter eh!

I've just recieved the moth report for 2009 so far. In my short novice spell of mothing this year I've had 4 firsts, 5 seconds and 3 thirds for VC68! I hope 2010 is as good....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

(Almost) Moth Free Zone...

After some complaints by licence payers saying that Boulmer Birder should now be Boulmer Moth-er I felt that I need to get back to basics. One commentator about this blog said that there are 2500 moths in the uk of which 2300 are brown and look the same. Philestines.( Although I can see his point!)

So this weekend is more 'birdy'...

Lets start with Saturday. It was cold, damp and foggy. For a change Bunty and I took our morning walk at Boulmer covering two stubble fields along the front, just behind the beach.

On the way, a short stop at the Spar shop in Longhoughton produced a single Mottled Umber on the wall.( Sorry I couldn't help it. Thats it honest.).

In the fields and hedgerows were -

12 Skylarks, 15 Meadow Pipits in one flock, 6 Snipe, 7 Grey Partridge and a Brown Hare. A small corner of game crop was quite good with 15+ Reed Buntings, 10+ Yellowhammers and 6+ Tree Sparrows.

On the shore, 2 male and 4 female Red breasted Mergansers flew north, 25+ Dunlin, 2 or 3 Sanderling and 3 + Bar tailed Godwits.

At home only one of the 3 Mute Swan cygnets remains on the pond. I'm not sure if the other two have flown off ? It will be interesting to see what happens to the last one... 2 Buzzards were in the Rectory.


A nice cold calm day with thick cloud at first, clearing gradually later on. A light NW breeze kept things 'sharp'.

I met up with Andy and Rob for a trip up north to Beal, the mainland side of Holy Island causeway. From here we had a long walk north to Goswick sands. Unfortunately the tide stayed quite distant keeping the seabirds well out.

4 juv Dark bellied Brent Geese and 1 Twite were the first birds seen on the saltmarshes. 3 Roe deer trotted through a damp area flushing a dark bird only feet before it took cover again. As we went to investigate, a Common Snipe towered away closely followed by a nice stocky little Jack Snipe that almost flew into Rob!

On the sea - at least 800+ ,and possibly as many as 1200, Common Scoter were the biggest flock I think I have ever seen. Dotted around about were 10+ Long tailed Duck including some nice males, 15+ Red breasted Merganser, 10+ Red throated Diver and 30+ Shag.

Above - If you remember there was a 'wanted' note for me in Birdwatch Magazine the other week? This is one they have returned to me, a timely Lapland Bunting from 1995...

The return journey was via a large stubble field, just behind the car park, near the end of the causeway that demanded further investigation. We spread out as we walked, seeing 30+ Skylarks and the usual flight views of 3 calling Lapland Buntings, a 2 and a 1. Poor views, but a good record nonetheless.

Above - Brents swimming the flooded causeway. Obviously they cant read.

Back at the car, the causeway was now covered by the tide and the wintering Pale bellied Brents were showing well with several hundred on show. A Merlin was overseeing them from a low rock on the marsh. This proved to be the first of three on my way home with two others, one over the A1 at Brownieside and one over the road at Denwick.

A good typical winters birding day in Northumberland...

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Last moth...

The last moth of the year I expect. A male Winter Moth. Lately I've been seeing up to half a dozen in the car headlights near home, but this one came into the kitchen. I'm looking forward to keeping my first proper moth garden yearlist...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Feed the Bir..iiiirds.....

...let them know it's Christmas time...

Poor gag, I know...

I seem to have developed a chest cold over the past couple of days so today was mostly spent indoors feeling quite rough. The birds coming to my feeders outside the living room window always cheer things up though. Today there were 11 Tree Sparrows and 13 Goldfinches along with 25+ Chaffinches, 30 House Sparrows and odds and ends of various other species. I'm hoping that the Tree Sparrows take up summer residence too in my nest boxes.

My only venture out was a walk in the Village Wood with Bunty where 1 Red Squirrel and 3 Roe Deer where the only things of note.

Last night coming home from Alnwick, near the River Aln on the road to Denwick, a flattened creature had me puzzled. Cat was the first guess, then, no its just a cock Pheasant ( well it was pretty flat). Today I see that the unfortunate victim is an Otter, with tail still in tact. What a shame....

Saturday, December 05, 2009

RFA or Fishguides....

Imagine a rare fish alert system? It might read -

Northumberland. RAY'S BREAM, Ross back Sands for third day.

In fact this one would get mega alerted because they are very rare, but appear in influxes. Not as rare as last years Oarfish, but a good record all the same. I used to read about wrecks of them reported in Angling Times, usually after winter storms, and hoped to find one but never did.

The one above is about 12 -15" long and was found by Mike Hodgson who kindly sent me the pic. I believe they are a fish of deeper colder waters and a recent short google scan found someone who says they are common off Iceland.

Do you think its brought a Harlequin Duck with it? Get looking at Stag Rocks....

This is a photo I took in 2005 on an town river in northern Iceland...

Friday, December 04, 2009


Steve Gale has inspired me.

To look at the literature that set me on a lifelong venture into natural history. Being an avid bibliophile, there have been so many books over the years its difficult to select from them all but a few are so evocative of childhood memories they are worthy of mention here.

It may suprise many who know me ( or not) to see that some of my great influences have not been from birding lore. For example, in Steve's list he included the great Collins Bird Guide. A masterpiece its true, but not one to inspire me I'm afraid. Its just a tool for use in the field and no more. I can't feel the wind or rain or see the moon when I delve into its pages.

No, what I'm on about here are some of the writings that take you to past places no longer with us, with a sense of field craft and quietness.

Saying that, this is what set the ball rolling. Heinzel, Fitter and Parslow was my first proper bird book. I was lucky to have been bought the first edition in 1972 I think, aged 8, from a shop in Seahouses. I remember opening the pages for the first time and seeing coloured plates of bird after bird with wonderful sounding names. I read it from cover to cover. How on earth I managed that I'll never know, the text is very dry indeed!

The Ladybird 'What to Look for in Spring' etc series with paintings by Tunnicliffe was well read. I particularly remember the autumn bonfire scene being looked down on by a Tawny Owl in the darkness...

It was the autumn greyness of Richard Richardsons plates that sold this to me...

Now for the proper stuff....

Ennions tales and drawings from Monks House was, and still is, my favourite. The local and historical aspect gives it a special place on the bookshelf even today.

Many of Denys Watkins-Pitchford's books have been read and re-read over the years. Does anyoneone set the scene better?

These three fishing books are by great writers too, Walmsley, Venables and Forbes let you see the seaweed fronds waving on the flood tide or the mist on a June dawn over a tench pool...

Pre-war poaching tales by the light of the moon. Old timers field craft...

The biography of the first 'famous' wildlife photographer. No digital images in Hosking's day. Includes the photo of the Tawny Owl that took his eye.

These and many others were all read while I was still at school...what an education. Apart from a few exceptions, I think it is the artwork as well as the great writing that made these books so enjoyable...

Birdwatch Magazine...

Can I just say thanks to you all who have contacted me to let me know that I am a wanted man! Apparently Birdwatch magazine have some illustrations to return to me after they have been away for some 10 years +. I have just made contact.

Thanks again....

Notice -


Northumberland & Tyneside Bird Club


Due to facilities at the Falcons Rugby Club not being available on 10th December, the next indoor meeting has had to be re-scheduled to WEDNESDAY 9TH DECEMBER.

The speaker and time for the meeting remain unchanged:



at 7:00pm

Apologies for any inconvenience

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Some seawatching...

A bit wild at home today. The wind was a nice force 8 NE gale and it stayed dusk all day, but the heavy rain through the night stayed away all day. Just.

So as I mentioned the other day, I decided to pop down to the coast path and scan seaward. Arriving at 8.30am and staying until 10.30am, it wasn't too bad for the time of year. Now this is no Whitburn or Flamborough but I had a few nice patch birds...

Red throated Diver 1 N 3 S and 1 on the sea.
Black throated Diver 2 N, close in. The rarest of the regular divers in the county.
Great Northern Diver 2 N
Diver sp ( GND or BTD ) 1 N too far out to id.
Fulmar 10 per hour N
Gannet 20 ph N
Shelduck 2 N
Wigeon 1 N
Scaup 4 ( 2 male 2 female) N in one flock.
Eider 12 N 4 S
Common Scoter 46 N 3 S
Velvet Scoter 1 male N
Long tailed Duck 2 nice full tailed males N very close in.
Red breasted Merganser 1 female N
Kittiwake 50 ph N
Auk sp All those specifically id'd were Guillemots, a steady movement N.
Purple Sandpiper 1 N
Turnstone 2 N

No Little Auks or the hoped for Leach's Petrel but any day with three Diver species is good in my book.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A proper artist...

Today was nice and fine but cold with a light northerly breeze.

This morning a short walk with Bunty around by the coast path had 1 Snow Bunting flying over S calling, 1 Red throated Diver S but strangest of all was when I was walking back through the village a Kingfisher flew north over the road, over the houses and on towards the coast. 37 Pink footed Geese flew S and 500 Woodpigeons were in the back field.

The rest of today was spent having a trip north of the border to Aberlady. Not for the long staying Lesser Yellowlegs, but to see an exhibition and demonstration by wildlife artist Darren Woodhead. Darren gave a good hour long demo to a small audience in the comfortable headquarters of the Scottish Ornithologists Club to launch his new book 'Up River'. It was a real inspiration.

Before the talk we popped in to the wooden bridge where the above mentioned Yellowshank had gone awol ( well it would be rude not to). The usual cry of 'it was there on that mud half an hour ago' did nothing to improve matters. An hours wait showed that we had just timed the tides wrongly and the dip was done.

Highlights here were masses of Pink footed Geese flighting over, a Peregrine flushing everything and loads of estuary wildfowl.

All in all a pleasant day out.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Weather Forecast...

With a hint of northerly off a westerly above Scotland I would like to think that a very late seabird or two would be coming to us on Sunday? A Little Auk or two perhaps. Saying that I assume all the northern birds will be further south in the atlantic now. Still, I'll be keeping an eye open, just in case.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More seabird Mega's

As if Frigatebirds aren't enough a potential first for Britain kicked my pager ( and me) into life on my way to work this morning.

A White or Black bellied Storm Petrel was in the Severn Estuary for at least an hour this morning. Oh my, I would have liked to have seen the observers faces with that one. What with Tufted Puffin, Red billed Tropicbird and Long billed Murrelet, what else is out there. Its mildly irritating when a seawatching spot that gets excited by 10 Gannets and 4 Bonxies gets such a mega as this.....

I'm just jealous, good luck to them!

The Moth Trap has arrived. thats me ready for the 2010 onslaught....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Friggin Magnificent!

News on the pager tonight is of a juvenile Frigatebird sp flew SW over Huddersfield early this morning...Where has that gone? It might be in SW Yorkshire somewhere...Dean, over to you ;)

Alternatively it could have been in the same category as multiple Eleonoras Falcons ( Hobbyperegrines), Rubythroat ( Bluethroat), Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Barred Warbler) Oriental Turtle Dove (Turtle Dove) and many more stringy megas this year.

It is getting worse isn't it.

Oh I hear too that a recently found dead Black Guillemot in Scotland has been stuffed and flogged on eBay to one of our local birders, except its not a a black Guille, its a Long billed Murrelet!!! Second record or Hastings part II?

Right - Juv Magnificent Frigatebird over somewhere substantially warmer than Huddersfield. Image from Net...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not too bad a day though Breezy with a SW5 whipping sand up off the beach.

As it is quite a while since Boulmer Birder has actually been to Boulmer I headed off there this morning for a short walk around Seaton Point. The tide was dropping back as 180 Golden Plover flew south over the rocky skeers. On the shore, 32 Dulnin, 10 Sanderling 1 Bar tailed Godwit and 2 Grey Plovers still showing signs of summer plumage.

On the return, a nice female Merlin was sat on a fence post quite close, until it was flushed by the molecatcher and his dog.

As I was saying about late migration yesterday, I watched 2 Blackbirds come in from high to the east over the sea then the shore before pitching into some bushes on the front. Maybe there's still time for that Siberian Accentor...

Back home a walk along the lane to the pond field had 5 Redpolls, 3 Siskins and 6 Bullfinches still in the Rowans and birches near the main road. The male Bullies looked very nice against the berries...

Moth catching became a case of Trap versus Spar shop and guess which one won!

Moth Trap -

December Moth 2.

Spar shop Light and window -

December moth 1
Angle Shades 1
Mottled Umber 2

I have just put an order in for a new Robinson Trap so I'll be well prepared for the 2010 season...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Not much doing...

..but a pleasant morning all the same. Early on it was cool and hazy but fair. In the garden, Tree Sparrows have increased their number to 5 birds but the Brambling seems to have moved on. Maybe it was a new arrival re fuelling before carrying on south and west?

Two Roe Deer were in the field up towards the Heugh from our drive and a third was flushed by us near the Village Wood. Jay and Redpoll were calling while 6 Bullfinches and a Marsh Tit fed on strangely pale pink ornamental Rowan berries.

Some migration was still occurring with 3 Mistle Thrushes and 2 Fieldfares together heading south followed by 3 Redwings freshly in-off. I sometimes hear Redwings calling in the dark as they come in right up to December.

The weather has deteriorated this evening with some rain and a freshening Sou'Westerly...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Look! No Trap!

Last night was very mild for the time of year. No trap on but I rescued a December Moth from our phone box and this morning 2 Angle Shades were on the Spar shop wall.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Still Mothing!

Yesterday was a nice and pleasant day for the time of year. I see the 15th November as the first day of winter.

I was unable to go too far as I am still finishing off some college work for a course that almost cost me the Eastern Crowned Warbler, but a terrier still needs her walk so I did get some fresh air.

The Brambling was still in the garden, but the highlight came when I was chopping some wood for the fire. A Woodcock flew across the back field towards me and on east over the village. A nice garden tick that one, but to be expected here at this time of year eventually.

As the day was pleasant the Moth trap went on from 4.30pm to 10.30pm last night. I had a reasonable winter catch with -

Winter Moth 1
December Moth 4
November Moth 1 ( these moth names have a theme don't they....)
Silver Y 1 ( even that sounds cold)
Angle Shades 1 on nearby Ivy flowers.

8 moths of 5 species isn't too bad.

This morning over a thousand Pink footed Geese flew over our house in a SE direction. They were very low and looked like they had recently taken off. I wonder if they are birds from Druridge Bay on a feeding trip?

Saturday, November 14, 2009


The Brambling was as elusive as ever today. I have stuck three images together to make more of it but it mainly kept to cover. It can be seen to be a male due to the black feather bases to the head and mantle. Look especially at the forehead and ear coverts. Eventually the grey buff tips to all of the feathers will wear off leaving a nice glossy black headed bird in the spring.

Also at the feeders, 8 Goldfinches, 2 Tree Sparrows, 35+ House Sparrows, 10+ Chaffinches, the odd Blue, Coal and Great Tit, 5 Collared Doves, 2 Woodpigeons, 6+ Jackdaws, 1 Magpie, a few Starlings, Robin and Dunnock. The whole lot vanished for a good while mid morning when the reason became very obvious. A female Sparrowhawk was sitting on the ground under the peanut feeder!

A short visit to the Spar Shop in Longhoughton showed its continued mothing potential as 3 Angle Shades were on the wall near the car park under the outside light. I haven't caught a moth for ages due to the weather.

A pair of Tawny Owls were calling to each other in the Village Wood this evening.

I see that the weather 'down south' is pretty poor today? Its not been too bad up here. Yet.

And why Bramblefinch? When I was a bairn, in the 70's, I knew an old man, a birdcatcher, down the local allotments who always told me tales about birds, particularly finches. He used to catch odd ones to breed from, female Bullfinches and Greenfinches to cross with male Goldfinches ( yep, thats right) but he always referred to Bramblings as 'Bramblefinches'. I can't see one even today and not think about old Geordie...

Oh, there has been a Red rumped Swallow on Holy Island yesterday. I wouldn't have minded seeing that but no show today...This is the last one I saw, in the very same place...

Friday, November 13, 2009


More depressing news Stew the Cresswell Otter got snagged on something yesterday and drowned. Three observers including Eddie Slack could only watch on helplessly as it struggled in the middle of the pond.

Nigel at Abbey Meadows left this comment for me. What an absolute disaster. I'm so pleased I wasn't there, I would have had to wade across...I hope that there is another male to replace him. I think the one at Cresswell was the dog?

On a more pleasant note ,yesterday and today, a nice winter male Brambling has been in the garden at our feeders with the Chaffinches. It is proving quite elusive though, but hopefully I'll manage a picture or two over the weekend.

A short walk with Bunty this morning as far as the pond field and back had 4 female Bullfinches, 4 Siskins, 5 Buzzards, 1 Sparrowhawk and 5 Teal. Not bad in 20 minutes from door to door..

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No luck for the Fieldfare I'm afraid. It passed away through the night...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Todays road casualty is....

..after Badger, Woodpigeon, Bullfinch and Red Squirrel, Jane came in this morning with a Fieldfare. This one made it across the North Sea as far as our road and thats about I think. Only my third on the coast this autumn, it's now in a box in the outhouse not getting on too well. It looks fantastic. A feather perfect 1st winter bird, probably a female, but it has lost the use of its legs and wont fly.

I am going to give it until tomorrow to see if there is any improvement. If not then I'll do what needs to be done...

( Image courtesy of t'internet images. If you don't want people nicking 'em don't publish in the first place!)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Mists and...

...mellow fruitfulness. Thats how autumn is meant to be, and today was a classic.

Off work on a glorious sunny day, the morning was spent catching up on things at home, then I took a trip inland in the afternoon...

Great spotted Woodpecker, 2 Tree Sparrows and 5 Goldfinches were quite photogenic in the garden today. The good light helped. Also this morning a total of 500 Pink footed Geese flew S at home, flocks of 120, 140 and 240...

So I thought I would see what was going on up on the moors...

An eerie fog filled the valleys but it was crystal clear higher up.

The late afternoon sun was warm, encouraging the last of the midgies to dance around...

Wrens were all over in the heather, gorse and fence lines. The tiny things look lost in such a big landscape...

This Fox came up to me as I leant on a gate. He just turned an casually walked back the way he came...

At dusk, this Goshawk came in to roost with a full crop. It was a big hefty bird. Nice one...

Evening fog still in the valley....

PS edit - I forgot, while up there I also had a nice flock of Redpolls, maybe 30+, and a similar number of Fieldfares going to roost.