Monday, 29 February 2016


Great to be back in the North East for another yomp round some excellent bird spots. We started with a visit to Newbiggin for a walk with the family and were rewarded with Mediterranean gull and an Oystercatcher with a sense of dignity as it posed on a tombstone in the church. All the following photos were taken by my friend and birding mate David who was experimenting with his new camera - a Christmas present from his wife.

Med gull

At rest!
 Next day we set off for Linton Lane to start the dawn to dusk odyssey.  As predicted Linton was quiet with only small numbers of wildfowl but we racked up 10 – 12 species including the only pochard of the day. On to the QE2 Country Park and loads of gulls (including a Med gull) and ducks. We could not find the Iceland gull and there were no Goosanders on view but a lot of common stuff was duly ticked especially when the lady came with the bread.

Gull fest
Next stop was Snab Point and fulmars were there despite a raw biting east wind. This was a feature of the day on any exposed coastal section. It was actually easier to set up and use a scope rather than try to hold binoculars still. 

Even looks cold

 Cresswell gave distant views of the long-billed dowitcher as well as the only shelduck of the day. The dowitcher was found for us by a gentleman en route from Yorkshire to Inverness who couldn’t stay long as his wife was in the car!! We moved to the Causeway car park for better views but never saw it again.The feeders were busy but for the first year in a long time we could not find yellowhammer.

Litle grebes

Look at me I am colourful......

..... and I am not bad either

Teal, wigeon and no dowitcher
 The threatened rain had not appeared and the sun had come out. We managed to work round the hail showers by driving or sitting in a hide until they passed.  As the road was closed we had to drive up to Widdrington so we detoured for the Widdrington waxwing that was exactly where we were told he would be. 

Billy Nomates, the Widdrington waxwing
 Back down to Druridge Pools we passed a field which was covered in Lapwing, Golden plover, Fieldfare and Redwing as well as large numbers of gulls. We were able to scope a field of Pink-footed geese and two White fronts from the end of the track at Druridge.   Then we backtracked to the car and drove to Druridge Bay CP for Goosander and the feeders. 

Goosander coming to bread!!
 We then walked south to Chevington Burn and back and were able to pick up the Black-necked grebe, Marsh harrier, Stonechat, Scoter and Twite. Thanks to Neil and “Even Sparrows” for their assistance. We then had a choice as time was running on whether to return to Cresswell for a Barn owl or go to QE2 for the Iceland. We chose the former and dipped. Nevertheless we finished with 77 species and a lifer in the form of the Dowitcher, not a bad day at all. From 0715 in the hide at Linton till 1715 in the hide at Cresswell we had a cracking day and ten hours quality birding. Looking forward to next year when Hauxley will re-open with a circular walk. Thanks to all who helped on the Forum and in the field. If you ever fancy a visit to Strangford Lough let me know and I will see what I can do to assist. 

East Chevington in the late afternoon light
2016 totals:  
104 Black-necked grebe
105 Fulmar
106 Pink-footed goose
107 White-fronted goose
108 Scoter
109 Goosander
110 Sanderling
111 Long-billed dowitcher
112Mediterranean gull
113 Meadow pipit
114 Waxwing
115 Twite

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Belfast WOW

I didn't think there would be a post today but the light was good, the camera was primed and the birds were on form. I had 43 species today at WOW including golden plover, barwit, blackwit and 600+ dunlin. We even had oystercatchers for the first time in a long time and I finally got cormorant, goldeneye and eider as well using the scope at Kinnegar.  Considering there were no feeders that was pretty good. As usual it helps to have 5 people working scopes and reporting in so as the rest of us could lock on to birds. Phyllis picked up a hen pheasant, Kenneth spotted a little grebe, Gerry scoped three mistle thrushes and Dennis found a pied wagtail.The high tide roost was spectacular as 60 barwit, 400 blackwit, 10 golden plover, 600+ dunlin and 140 lapwing wheeled and displayed. A female sparrowhawk lifted a snipe and the buzzard sat in his tree. All was well with the world and when I got home there were siskins on the feeders!!

Moorhen, teal, shelduck

Mute swan


Siskin (F), goldfinch, greenfinch

Wow patch
51 Little grebe
52 Goldeneye
53 Cormorant
54 Eider
55 Pheasant
56 Golden plover

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

London Calling

Quick update from last week in London. Regent's Park added 8 species to the 2016 list but not the hoped for firecrest which was beautifully photographed on the Saturday and the Wednesday. I was there on Monday!! Egyptian geese have hatched young and black swans are displaying

Goose and goslings

Black swans

Family with a pink-footed goose

The problem in Regent's Park is sorting out the collection from the wild, the Egyptian are introduced feral but free flying. The pinkfoot is  native but captive.

Rainham Marshes added another 4 birds to the 2016 list and Barnes Elms added 5 more. Both were pretty wet with high water levels.
Barnes Elms WWT
Somebody found a snipe in this lot!!

Locally I added jay to the NDCP patch with a cracker in the garden and Lesser black back and pied wagtail to WOW. The water levels here were also high and the Konik ponies have muddied up all the grass areas which are totally waterlogged.

A walk on the Newtownabbey Way on a cold and snowy January 30th produced little in the way of birds except for a robin inside Hillside Garden Centre. Apparenntly it overwinters here, there are at least two and they can go out of the automatic doors to feed.

Yes folks, it is real not stuffed. It was even singing its territorial song just in case there was a rival. Also perched near the bird food section as people have been buying suet balls and opening them for it. No dozer as we say in Norn Iron.

Hoping to be in Northumberland over the weekend and Bolton next weekend so should get a few more ticks. Saturday is the planned dawn to dusk with David "Dusty" Miller to see how many birds we can see in a day so there should be something to write about when we return.

2016 totals:  
85 Lessr black-backed gull
86 Egyptian goose
87 Canada goose
88 Pochard
89 Red-crested pochard
90 Mandarin duck
91 Ring-necked parakeet
92 Green woodpecker
93 Great-crested grebe
94 Kestrel
95 Marsh harrier
96 Pheasant
97 Skylark
98 Stonechat
99 Peregrine falcon
100 Bittern
101 Great spotted woodpecker
102 Stock dove 
103 Razorbill

NDCP patch :
50 Jay

WOW patch:
49 Lesser black-backed gull
50 Pied wagtail