Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Cresswell and Hauxley 27/4/09

After reading about everything that was at Cresswell such as the blue-headed wagtail, we went down to have a look. When we got there, nobody was looking in the field and we couldn't see anything on our way past so we went straight to the hide. As we parked our car, we noticed a hare in the field. On our way to the hide, we saw the pair of stonechats that live there and a robin. When we got to the hide, the mudflats were there but there was no waders. The rarest bird we saw was a male garganey in the corner of the pond. There were also a pair of herons that flew straight towards the hide before turning and flying over the field next to the hide. We left soon after to go to Hauxley. When we got there, we went straight to the feeding station. Unfortunately we couldn't get in the hide because a wren was nesting in it! So, we went to the first hide (Eric's Hide). When we got there we saw some big orange waders and brownish-white waders. We identified them as bar-tailed and black-tailed godwits. As we were watching them we noticed a duck with a long tail, and then saw that it was a pintail with it's head under it's wing. After watching these for quite a while we went to the wader hide. There wasn't much except a pair of gadwall and a redshank. On our way back we noticed the bar-headed goose in the field. We walked all the way round to the furthest hide because we saw some more godwits over there right outside the hide. And when we got there, sure enough they were there. Both types. As we were watching them, a crow flew in and stood in the water for a while. Then all of a sudden it starting pecking very hard into the ground and that was when we noticed it had a flatfish in it's beak!! A very successful day.
Canada Goose Crow with Flatfish
Group of GodwitsBlack-Tailed Godwit

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Birding in Budapest

This week I have been in Budapest since Friday. It's not a birding holiday but I couldn't resist a little bit! Unfortunately, I haven't got the camera with me so I can't take photos but I will still be looking! On the first day we got here, from the balcony that we have, I heard a sharp call that I had never heard before and after looking for it, I discovered that there were 2 black redstarts singing on the roof of the hotel. I have never seen black redstarts before so it was even better. A bit later on in the day, We heard woodpeckers calling and when we went to have a look there were 3 green woodpeckers feeding on the ground. As we were watching the green woodpeckers, a biggish bird caught my eye flying to a tree on the far side of the garden. It landed on the tree and gripped the trunk so we knew it was another woodpecker. Then we saw the red under it's wing an we knew that it was a Great Spotted Woodpecker. A very good woodpecker day! P.S: When we go round sightseeing in Budapest I often notice that they don't have carrion crows here but all over the city centre are hooded crows.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Saltholme RSPB 14/4/09

Yesterday, me and my dad decided to go and try out the new reserve - Saltholme. When we got there we found out that there were 3 hides so we went to the first one which had a feeding station. On the feeders there were loads of goldfinches and 3 reed buntings but not much else so we went to the next hide. Unfortunately there wasn't much except a great-crested grebe so we went to the last hide which was the very best. When we went in we noticed a black-tailed godwit next to 4 wigeon. We weren't sure what type it was until it turned it's tail and we saw it was black. Then someone pointed out a wader on the far side which was a ruff. I tried to digiscope it but it didn't turn out very well. Just as we were about to leave the hide, a white-fronted goose flew over too fast for me to get the camera out. Unlucky!
After Saltholme we went to Greatham Creek to see the avocets. We got to the first little bit of metal which was the hide that the avocets were in and sure enough there were 8 avocets - 1 of which was sitting on eggs. We went to the hide that overlooked the sea and we saw 2 seals. Not much else though so we went back to the avocets. My dad noticed a little wader to the right of the avocet nest and after looking hard at it we decided it was a little ringed plover. A lovely end to the day!
Avocet Pair Avocet Nest Little Ringed Plover
Digiscoped Ruff Goldfinch

Saturday, 11 April 2009

A good day in the hills 10/4/09

My dad told me about a peregrine nest site that he had come across with his dad over 30 years ago high up in the Cheviots - he's never been back since. I asked him if he would take me to see if it was still being used today. We parked the car and walked for an hour into the hills until we came to a cliff face, it was raining slighting so we sheltered under a tree which gave us good views of the cliff. At first there appeared to be nothing there and we thought we had wasted our time when suddenly a female peregrine appeared overhead and flew onto a ledge high up on the cliff. She sat there watching and preening for 10 minutes before settling down until only her head was visible. After a while the male flew over and the female flew up to greet him before returning to the ledge. We watched for about an hour before quietly sneaking away so we didn't disturb them. I have read that some nest sites have been used for 100 years and we now know that this one has been used for at least 30 years. It occured to me that the next generation of our family was watching the next generation of the peregrine family. I wonder if I'll be showing my kids this wonderful sight in 30 years time!!
On the drive up there we drove through Elsdon where we saw a pair of dippers under the bridge and as we were watching them a pair of sand martins flew over. Other sightings were 100+ fieldfare, 6 red-legged partridges, 5 wheatear and lots of buzzards. Spectacular views of the peregrine LapwingRL Partridge Fieldfare

Hauxley, Druridge and Cresswell 8/4/09

For a little day out on Wednesday, my grandma took me to Hauxley, Druridge and Cresswell. We arrived at Hauxley first and went into the reception. The warden in the hide said that there was a bar-headed goose in the fields to the right. We couldn't see it so we waited for it to come. After 30 mins it still didn't show so we left. We went to the feeders which produced 3 pheasants, 6 tree sparrows and 4 chaffinches. So we moved on to the first hide. From there we saw 2 gadwall feeding just in front of us. Also, the teal numbers were good and two sailed just in front of us next to the gadwall. The other hides sadly didn't produce much except to lapwing in courtship so we went back to reception. The warden said that we had missed the bar-headed goose by 2 minutes. It flew across the pond just before we got there. Damn!! After that we went to Druridge Pools to see if we could see the little egret and garganey. When we got to the main pond, we saw a pair of mergansers and a Great Crested Grebe. The GCG was quite far away but not a bad photo either. We saw the little egret from the other hide but no garganey and the egret was in the reeds miles away! Cresswell, unfortunately was the worst reserve which is very rare. Nothing except a whooper swan on the far bank. Very dissapointing but the other reserves were good and produced some nice birds and photos.
Gadwall GC Grebe Pheasant Lapwing Courtship

Monday, 6 April 2009

A weeks worth of birding

I've had some interesting sightings during my travels this week starting with a pair of buzzards over the Snowy Owl pub in Cramlington. A fairly unsuccessful visit to St. Mary's resulted in a pair of greylags on the pond and a reed bunting. No sign of the garganey this time. Driving through Killingworth on Saturday morning we saw the short-eared owl hunting over it's usual field but when we went later, it wasn't there.
I visited Washington WWT today with my grandparents hoping to see the avocets. And sure enough there they were along with 20+ shelduck and a heron with a chick. A visit to the feeders revealed the usual birds such as bullfinches, chaffinches and blue tits although I was surprised to see a reed bunting on the feeder. Also there was a chiffchaff as we were walking around the reserve but it was too far off for a photo.
Avocet Chaffinch
Reed Bunting

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

St. Mary's Garganey

After school tonight I went down to St. Mary's to see the garganey that was on the wetland. As soon as we got there, it was showing well near the reeds. We got some snaps but as it was to far away for anything decentwe went to the north bay but nothing to be seen expect 2 rock pipits, 2 oystercatchers and a redshank. When we went back to the wetland, I counted 60 redshank on the far bank along with 5 black-headed gulls and 2 snipe. The garganey had moved to the far side but soon flew off with the other ducks out to sea. I think they will probably be back soon though.