Saturday, 31 January 2009

A Rock and A Workplace.

You all know my routine for a Saturday, off early to Craster to fill the car with the aroma of smoked kippers for another week. I took the coast road up today for all the good it did me, Rooks nests were about the only observation on the way up.
I remembered that there are normally one or two Rock Pipit hanging around the small harbour at Craster, so after loading the kippers with no time to spare I parked illegally and started scanning the big rocks on the south side and the tide line. Not a peep, a single Turnstone fiddled with the piled seaweed, and I thought , here we go another bird that I can add to my 'Not Found in January List'.
Just as I turned back to the car, already on the verge of being late, a Pipit called from the north side of the harbour as if to say "I'm over here idiot". Sat on the ledge, sure enough a single Rock Pipit.
It wouldn't be Saturday without a Common Buzzard so today's birds were two displaying just west of Lesbury, one in a field near Howick and another tucked into the shelter belt on the outskirts of Longhoughton.

Friday, 30 January 2009

The Journal Live

I've picked up another blogging gig in the last few days. I am now The Journal's offical birding blogger at their Journal Live site. It's unpaid but i'm hoping it will drive some traffic to the Bird North East pages (when they get round to adding the link) and hopefully that will help me realise some of the plans I have for the Bird North East brand.

Not quite sure how I'm going to fit it all in when I have a proper job but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Birds Have a Day Off.

With Spring in the air a mild sense of panic set in over which of the huge number of winter visitors not on my list to try and squeeze into the almost non existent birding time over the next few days. If I am about to be distracted by Cranes and Hoopoes and other such tarty Continental spring migrants I need to get my skates on with Bitterns and White winged Gulls and Twite and why has nobody found a Shore Lark yet?

So with reports of Iceland and Glaucous this month as well as the odd Snow Bunting and a hot cup of tea and extra hands 100yards away at my parents I headed off after the school drop to Blyth South Harbour.

Now I lost my cherry in Blyth South Harbour, metaphorically (and close in real life too!). It was my first birding location, growing up within a two minute walk It was my playground in the Seventies. Kittiwakes roosting on the jetty opposite the Harbour Master's office and Cormorants, gull roosts and high tide wader gatherings were all absorbed into my subconscious. Tide line corpses and Gannet skulls, 'Skemy's' eggs, Linnets in the sand dunes and oiled Guillemots often brought home for safe keeping were all part of growing up.

Sadly it has changed with the old wooden fish sheds filled with lobster tanks now a distant memory and the fishing fleet decimated. The cormorants have moved from a jetty on the North pier to a pontoon in the South Harbour. On the positive side the Eider population seems to have grown, I counted over thirty today and I was struggling to recall ever seeing more than half a dozen when I was a lad. The old Nautical school site which is to be developed for housing currently looks like prime migrant habitat and worth a sniff once things get going. I remember often having small falls of winter thrushes in the allotments just north of the site when I was a kid.

Unfortunately the Birdguides blog was right, Spring has obviously arrived as in full sunshine there wasn't a white winged gull or a sniff of a bunting to be had. In fact the best bird of the day was a freak, a Pied Wagtail without a tail, which made it look kind of Dipper-ish when it flew.
With fifteen minutes spare late afternoon, I pitched up at the top of Whorral Bank and had a quick recce for Skylark and Meadow Pipit or maybe even an SEO. Barren landscape. I think I manged one distant Crow although it could have been a Rook. I came home to slaver over the explosion in Bittern numbers in the North East with birds now appearing to occupy almost every puddle with a phragmites sticking out of it and tomorrow is work.

Sod's Law

This from Birdguides is a classic example

11:41 29/01/09 Glaucous Gull Northumbs Blyth

of Sod's Law.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Buttons & Brambling

A spare hour yesterday afternoon and a drizzly day, so I nipped off to see if I could see some cows, sheep and horsies. Or at least that's what I told the twins ,otherwise I would have to put up with whinge, moan, scream etc etc. A quick stop for provisions, Cadbury's Buttons, keep the kids bribed and also occasionally useful as a biodegradable alternative to lob into a bush to move that sticky passerine along, old fashioned fieldcraft.

Sure enough eventually, close to Netherwitton a couple of finch flocks, the first one was a little distant up a farm drive even with the scope and with the kids on board I could do without the local estate workers confusing me with a pheasant poacher, so I moved on.

Over the river Font and on the other side there's thirty odd Fieldfare patrolling in the field. A Great Spotted Woodpecker moved from telegraph to Hawthorn before flying off strongly East. Up ahead as the road goes up another finch flock, so I get parked up nearby, double dose of Buttons for the kids and wind the window down. Over a hundred Chaffinch in this one and near the top and back of the oak, a couple of these.

images courtesy Sergey Yeliseev

A half mile later and a Common Buzzard lifted from its roadside perch and gave good views as it glided down a slope to a safer distance. Needing to be back for school chucking out time I had just enough time to slide up the road toward Newton Underwood to look for Tree Sparrow. There weren't any of course but it wasn't an entire waste of time as I still needed Yellowhammer for a year tick.

Who are you Kidding?

First one of the year, we haven't even cleared January, still mobbed by white wing gulls and wintering Bitterns but doon sooth it's Spring. If I had 50p for every blogger that will use "spring is in the air" between now and April 1, I'd retire rich.
They should know better at Birdguides shouldn't they, read their own news service, Spring birds let me see Waxwing, Waxwing, Glaucous, Iceland, Waxwing.....nope don't see it.

An absence of Owls

The week has started dull, yesterday was almost bird free, the highlight being ten Blue Tit mobbing one of the local cats as it took a short cut through the garden. I think that ten is new garden maximum count, had it been Sunday I could have swelled the numbers of the RSPB Big Garden Watch or whatever it is. I shall await the published results eagerly to see whether my ten points for Blue Tit would have effected the result.
Last night we had an extra six year old for tea who needed to be returned under cover of darkness to the far side of Morpeth. Eager to boost the still meagre 2009 year list, I decided to come back 'the long way round' by driving to within spitting distance of Mitford and then taking the sharp right up to Fairmoor and from there a short trek up the A1 to the Hebron/Longhirst turn.
"Lets look for owls" I'd said to Stumpy my own six year old.
So we drove with full beam lighting up every hedge and overhanging branch, we stopped twice and I tried in vain to whistle up a Tawny till my mouth was dry. We shone our headlights into empty barns and over gateposts for a Barn or Little but by the time we arrived home Stumpy had decided that owls only exist in pictures and stuffed on the top of coat stands (roadkill).
Today has been only slightly better with five Goldfinch and now six Siskin lurking around the big willow and the apple tree. My single albino feathered female Blackbird is still around as well so I may be forced to write a note on Single Feather Albinism in Blackbirds if things get much worse.
That's it then as I'm off to do some work on some maps for Bird North East as I am planning to do monthly county maps summarising what was where each month.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

A Wren Out

When my first son was born I was twenty two, luckily the labour started in darkness in February otherwise the birding may have got in the way of attending the birth. I was a fool. By the time my second son was born in 2002 I was in the middle of my second wind of birding, patchmeister for the Northumberland Local Patch List and Newbiggin stalwart. I decided things would be different and second son would come birding with me, I wouldn't leave him behind and miss out. I would head out expecting to do a two hour sea watch and be back after forty minutes frustrated because he wouldn't sit still or stop crying in the cold cruel wind. My expectations were too high. I was still a fool.
In 2007 when our twins were born and at the enlightened age of 42 I abandoned all hope of ever birding properly again. I lowered my expectations, I became an armchair birder, reading about other people's birds.
I tell you all, hardened birders and Glaucous -winged veterans alike, this tale so you might understand when I tell you I went out with three kids and a pair of dusted off bins today for a Wren and came back triumphant. Expect nothing and everything becomes exciting.

Hugh Harrop

All those budding and/or semi pro bird photographers will already be aware no doubt of Hugh Harrop. The very name conjures up an almost mythical archetype of the English Birdwatcher or is just me?
Hugh now has a blog as well as a website, well worth checking out here.
Some of the pictures are to die for.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Wader Minute

After the last few days I stepped gingerly outside today into the fresh cold morning and took a deep breath, probably the first one that hasn't had the faint whiff of child vomit this week.
Up the A1 and overnight Northumberland has been carved in two, west of the A1 it's as if someone has taken a large paintbrush and a tin of white paint. every field and hill dusted with snow, an inch or so by the time I got up higher toward Swarland and Newton on the Moor.
To the East as soon as you drop to the coast it could be Spring in the sunshine.

I changed my usual delivery route today to go and sniff around the beach at Boulmer, an absence of seal carcasses left me less worried that one of those gulls would be enticed as my back was turned.
High tide and a joy to catch up with a kerfuffle of waders milling around the few exposed rocks opposite the lifeboat house. Twenty or so Bar-Tailed Godwit were resplendent in the sun, small groups parading up and down in the air. Oystercatchers wandered hither and thither, a few Grey Plover amongst small numbers of winter plumage Knot.
image courtesy & copyright MarjK

Along the tide line Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Dunlin mingled interwoven, the occasional bird lifting noisily in the air. The odd Redshank patrolled a solitary inspection further up the beach.
A female Stonechat flicked from seaweed to sand snapping at unseen prey. A Pied Wagtail rocked along in it's own world.

The sea was fairly calm with little about except a few gulls and several Common Eider until I caught sight of three chunky black ducks with bold white wing panels powering north about 50m out, my first decent seabird of the year, Velvet Scoter.
image courtesy& copyright Lawrie Phipps.

Proper seabirds always give me a lift, so before heading back to work I took a quick look at the mouth of the Aln just in case there was a stray diver or auk (ever hopeful), the best I could muster here were four Common Scoter riding the waves.

Friday, 23 January 2009

I Vorry Gull

Sat earlier today jealously reading the news of a second Ivory Gull on the US East coast. 'Most likely cause being a reduction in food supply' I thought.

'Maybe we might get one over here' the thought process continued before it wandered off into the realms of fantasy about the wind directional changes required to get one this far up (or down) the North Sea and how far the smell from a seal carcass can travel etc.

Later roaming around the birdosphere suddenly not one but two of the tinkly whites, one on the Western Isles and another on the French Coast. Now this bird on the French Coast is interesting because my theory is it's going to head North at some point which at least offers a glimmer of a possiblity that it could scrape the East Coast so if anyone knows of a local seal carcass supplier.....

Oh no, now I can fret that the Professor and his young assistant are going to grip everyone with a flyby at Newbiggin (again), or worse the mackems will glimpse it at Whitburn before it disappears into the mists.This means, yep here's the punchline folks, it's become an I Vorry Gull.
The blog author would like to apologise for this blatant use of other people's birds, images and reputations to cover up the fact that apart from a Barn Owl hunting at 8.45am 1m south of Ulgham he has seen no birds worthy of a post today.
image courtesy Tim

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Siskin & Diarrhoea

The mid winter gloom hit hard this week, three of the five in our house went down with various combinations of vomiting and diarrhoea. As a result Monday & Tuesday were spent in the house taking care of family and occasionally glancing into the garden whilst they slept.
There's the rub though, all may have been gloom indoors but Birding is one of those hobbies that can be scaled down or up to meet your circumstances on different occasions. Top of the two day list were three Siskin one male and two female that were using a neighbour's feeders but repeatedly passed through my apple tree on the way.

image courtesy Sergey Yeliseev

Two Woodpigeon were unusual visitors as we are more used to Collared Dove, these two fed on the lawn for a few minutes on Monday. Up to twelve Blackbirds feeding on Pears have been regular all winter but a female with one white covert feather was a new visitor. The usual array of Blue, Great & Coal Tit came and went over the two days. Four House Sparrows this morning just over the fence were more unusual.

Today I managed to nip out to Botahl & QE2 for an hour midday. Whilst the pond at Bothal was quiet there was a small Thrush flock in the west field with Fieldfares, Redwings and four Mistle Thrush.

About 500-600 gulls greeted me at QE2, parking and viewing from the south side in strong sunlight was a good choice although finding a section of footpath more than three feet from a dog turd was more difficult. The gulls were predominantly Herring with a few smaller gulls and the odd G B B gull. Scoped through them twice but couldn't find anything unusual. A Sparrowhawk lay in wait in the hedge at the end of the garden when I arrived home. image courtesy Sergey Yeliseev

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Curious Expeditions

As a birder who spends much of his time trapped indoors I often wander the world via the web checking out the plethora of bird pictures and information that is freely available these days. It still amazes me that so much has changed in twenty years as very little of this was available or accessible when I first started birding. One of the more curious sets of images I found recently came from the flickr photostream of the aptly named Curious Expeditions.

As can be seen they are not your typical bird images, yet they possess a strange quality that seems to draw my attention. After getting past that unearthly feeling these images have like any birder I immediately wanted to identify them, not an easy task although I'm sure it could be done by most given time.

The images were all taken at the Natural History Museum in Berne Switzerland and form part of some interesting photo collections that these Hungarian photographers have produced. Their website, whilst offering a greater diversity of material than natural history is also interesting for those with curious minds.

images copyright and courtsey of Curious Expeditions.

More Saturday Morning Buzz

Another trip to Craster and more Common Buzzard although unusually not one of the three I saw this morning was carrying a Grey Phalarope in it's talons.
Two in a field 1m east of Little Mill and one in exactly the same location north of Longhoughton as last Saturday morning.
The media attention on the pictures of CB taking that Grey Phal is a mixed bag as you would expect. Having done a bit of a tour I found little to complain about, most of the media seem to have stuck to the facts and have not been too over the top with the headlines. The Overblown Headline Award goes to Times Online with "Horrified Twitchers watch as Starving Buzzard Kills Rare Phalarope"
The birdwatchers in question were so horrified that not even wads of cash as their images have been sold to the UK media was compensation.

As expected the Anti Raptor Lobby have used it as an opportunity to leap to the defence of the favoured victims of the shooting fraternity farmland birds. A typical example from comments in The Scotsman
"More propaganda and lies from the RSPB.Buzzards do nothing but kill other birds and in fact have killed almost all the common partridge in Aberdeenshire.Buzzards also systematically destroy the nests of ground nesting birds such as lapwings and golden plovers.The population explosion of buzzards is unfortunately upsetting the balance of nature (in this area at least) and it is high time that a serious cull of that predator was instigated."

Yes, clearly someone who understands prey/predator relationships.

Friday, 16 January 2009

New York Air Crash

I saw the news yesterday and I bet like every other birder the first question on my mind was "wonder what species it was?" Go on admit it I bet you all thought that too. After a little digging today it seems that the US authorities think it was probably Canada Geese. This news probably means that there are several hundred thousand Americans that think the Canadians had something to do with it because they have always had a chip on their shoulder about the US.
I have come across some wonderful quotes whilst looking at this though so I thought I'd share one or two here:

"Any time you get an open field and grass, you’ve got birds,” said Robert W. Mann Jr., an aviation industry expert in Port Washington (obviously an expert). from NYT.

"As a last resort you have to do lethal control to convince the rest of the flock that we mean business,” said Russell DeFusco (last resort means after trying and failing to lure the birds to an offshore detention camp) from NYT

"The risk is real," Curtis says, "Birds are a threat every day." (absolutely, why only the other day I was harassed by a Mallard) from Time

"Abrams rode around the runways with a megaphone, a horn, a starter pistol, and a shotgun. " (unfortunately this article didn't detail what Abrams was riding but I bet he wore a stetson.)
from Huffington Post

"Birds are less able to hear or see modern aircraft." (mmm, must be the cloaking devices).

I'll leave you with two facts from CNN

Commercial aircraft are certified to be able to withstand engine strikes by single birds up to four pounds.

Thirty-six bird species in North America weigh more than four pounds -- many traveling in flocks.

From the Car

Friday and I'm driving about in daylight again. Two Waxwing looking longingly East in a treetop at the side of the A1 just past the Hebron turn were unexpected but this seems to have been a good year for them judging by reports elsewhere.
A quick scan on the flooded field adjacent to the road into Alnmouth about 9.30 produced a rich variety of common birds although nothing exceptional. The waders and duck were quite vocal in the morning sun so the sounds of Teal and Wigeon mingled with the bubbling calls of Common Curlew and the occasional alarm of the Redshank. A Dunlin flew up from a damp hollow and three Grey Heron lined the estuary along with two Shelduck.
With some deliveries to do in Foxton and Lesbury I managed to get a few minutes to look over the upper part of the estuary at "Foxton Bends" this added a couple of pairs of Common Goldeneye, one pair of Goosander, two Little Grebe and a Great Spotted Woodpecker to my day list. The latter was harrassed by a Kestrel and let out a hoarse alarm call that crackled drawing my attention to it, not a call I have heard from GSW in twenty years birding on and off.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Lunch & A Chat

I took my twins to lunch today with an old friend. It turned out to be a day for old friends as whilst I was shopping for lunch I was tracked into M&S by a wily old birder ADMC, who having spotted me, used a bit of fieldcraft to get close by the cooked meats. He's off to India with a bunch of other local lads in the next few days so I'll look forward to some exciting trip reports when they all get back.

I needed the twins to kip before lunch so I ended up driving around a bit to get them to have a nap. I eventually stopped at Old Hartley overlooking the bay and as I was scanning the sea, window down up popped this female Stonechat to investigate the noise coming from the car radio. Her partner was a little further down the fenceline.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Early Morning Buzz

Saturday means Craster for kippers at the moment, at least every couple of weeks to keep the business well stocked. Sometimes I'm surprised I don't arrive back at my car to find it encircled by gulls tempted by the lingering smell of smoked fish that hangs around for hours after each visit.
Setting off at sunrise an undulating male Bullfinch crossing the road at Hebron was the only noteworthy bird on the outward journey.

Turning from the Howick road toward Longhoughton a Common Buzzard rose from it's roost within spitting distance of the road. Looking out over Foxton bends a few minutes later another was stood sentinel like on a post surveying the river where little moved in the frostiness of the morning.

image courtesy and copyright NE Wildlife

Friday, 9 January 2009

Hawfinch at Lunch?

I had to visit the bank in Alnwick today so with 45 minutes to spare I thought I'd drop in to Hulne Park and check for Hawfinch. I have never had much luck with this species at this location but they have been reliably reported over the years.
On arrival my first bird was a Treecreeper with an identity crisis as it was creeping around the stone gatehouse feeding in the crevices. About to stroll through the entrance I noticed the signs "Hulne Park Closed to General Public Today", luckily the well stocked feeding station at the entrance continues to pull in the birds so over the next few minutes I had a Nuthatch, several Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chaffinch as well as a confiding Red Squirrel and a couple of female Pheasant.
Just north of here I stopped at the River Aln to check for Dipper but dipped, a single Great Spotted Woodpecker my only reward.
The absence of Common Buzzard was possibly more notable than seeing one would have been.
images courtesy and copyright NE Wildlife.

Thursday, 8 January 2009


My technology issues of a few months back have finally come around to bite my arse. Having had a multitude of problems I eventually replaced my hard drive after taking selected back ups where that was possible.
I have used Bird Recorder 32 a simple database program I acquired back in the early 1990's to maintain all my bird records, transferring everything over at least twice as a result of previous back up issues.
I think most if not all of my notebooks and written records have gone as a result of our quest for space over the last six years (three children).
I believed I had a backup on the stand alone hard drive, there is always a but isn't there, but it appears to be the program without the data.
Twenty years of records lost, life list, patch lists, times, dates, weather, numbers.

Gutted doesn't even scrape the surface.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Fieldfare Startled by Albatross (sp)

It's mid morning and i'm doing the dishes watching a garden year tick in the form of a single Fieldfare which has probably moved toward the coast due to the low temperatures and a dusting of white stuff up in the Northumbrian hills. Suddenly out of nowhere it gets startled by an "Albatross", watch the video and see for yourself.

I promise you there was no editing here, no jiggery pokery. Everything above is true, the "Albabtross" came courtesy of my 15 month old son switching on the hifi after fiddling with the volume control. Despite the Fieldfare being two frames of triple glazed glass and about 5m from the hifi it obviously heard the racket as can be seen by it's reaction.

Within three or four minutes a Long Tailed Tit and a Reed Bunting had both appeared in the garden as well completing a hat trick of garden ticks for the morning.

Two Med Gull on the beach at Newbiggin and a fine male Sparrowhawk on a hedge not far from Bothal Pond were the highlights of an early afternoon attempt to keep my kids asleep in the car for a little longer.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Thrush Twice and an Odd Pecker.

A later start meant leaving the house in daylight and a Mistle Thrush was an unexpected spectator sat low on a metal railing at the top of our street. Like buses I picked up a second one in flight, heading west near Wooden later in the journey.
Just passing the Cheviot food factory in Amble and I noted the characteristic undulating flight of a Great Spotted Woodpecker flying north into Amble alongside the A1068. Sure enough it crossed in front of me and landed in a mature tree on the left. Urban Amble not high on my list of where to see GSW's, just shows the comments in Birds in Northumbria 2007 "almost any woodland..."
Cheviot and Hedgehope looked invitingly white this morning in the early sunshine, I'll look forward to pictures elsewhere no doubt over the weekend.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Northumberland Homo Sapiens 2009

1.Sexton Stewart. - One sighting on territory.
2. Foggo Nigel - Two sightings, first at Longhirst Flash then Morpeth Collingwood Terrace, both with dog.
3.Mclevy Andy - two sightings, unexpectedly arrived in M&S and noted early March at the Gibbet.
4.Gilbertson Alan, associating with A Mclevy at the Gibbet, went off after Peregrine.
5.Anderson Marty, looking a little grey but returned to Bothal Pond in Spring.
6. Barclay Fiona, female, nervous constantly twittering.
7. Whitby Max, small round lacking head feathers, probing habit.
8. Dunford Dave, melanistic, occasional tweets
9. Hirst Andy large umistakeable, inland dweller avoiding coastal habitat.
10. Cromie John, grey moustachial stripes, endemic to Ireland.
11. Morrison Pete frequently found in North Sea, drift migrant in Northern Scotland.
12 Blake Trevor chunky Northern birder, regular on NTBC trips.
13. Thompson Alan, old male, often in company of Black Lab, frequently found around coastal habitat particularly East Chevington. Large Zeiss bins distinctive.
14. Birder (sp) (Dave ?) distinctive greyish white bearded appearance, Scottish accent so may be part of some form of re-introduction programme for Scots in Northumberland. Resident in Felton (?)
15. Steele JG this Scottish endemic wandered South many years back and can be regularly found in the Newbiggin area. With BBRC pedigree this is one birder worth listening to.
16. Holliday Steve uncertain tax-onomy, more frequent in SE Northumberland.
17. Bullough Brian regular in Northumberland, can be found in most areas.
18. Robson Iain unmistakeable in black and white stripes, can be raucous at times after one too many fermented berries.
19. Mcelwee Stef eye rings and round facial appearance make this birder unmistakeable, often mixes in loose flock with JG Steele.
20. Cadwallender Tom, bearded birder regular on surveys and Atlas work.
21. Cadwallender Muriel, female, small often has a bespectacled appearance, again turns up on surveys quite regularly.
22. Hodgson Mike, occasional vagrant more commonly found in Lesbos, Greece.
23. Knox Chris, tends to frequent coastal areas.
24. Kitching Martin, unmistakeable conbination of deep chest and grey sub moustachial area.
25. Barrat Sarah, female, Dunnock-like quiet habits, gingery wash around crown.
26. Mckeown Dee, large adult, greyish nape, poor eyesight relies on it's hearing to locate ticks.
27. Haslam Joe, occasional at coastal waters such as Cresswell Pond.
28. Sheppard Stephen, tall, rakish long legged appearance, faint moustachial markings.
29. Scimgour Cain young, grey hood and eye rings distinctive, one to watch.
30 Allott Phil another frequently found in SE Northumberland, black tousled crest gives a dragged through hedge look.
31. Fisher Ian chunky little bugger these days, often silent in the field, can show a fierce expression at times, look out for the silvery eyelids when perched.
32. Tams Tom spread out from urban areas into the surrounding countryside, often accompanies other species on passage, large robust looking specimen.
33. Jack Alan dark crown, eye rings, mostly plain black plumage, smallish head and thin looking.
34. Giloney Alan rotund apperance with dark stripes to sides of face, lacks crown feathers, perhaps the result of genetic adaption related to carnivourous food habits.
35. Stewart Paul small, often seen in pair with female walking in coastal habitats.
36. Cleeves Tim strange species with distinctive vocal twang, spends much of its time asleep.
37. Forster Roger hollow eyed look and moustachial stripes with ruffled feathers beneath chin combined with tall crane like gait make for a very distinctive appearance to this individual.
38. Bowman Graham used to be confined to a single site at Seaton Burn but quite frequently found elsewhere in recent years, closely related to Bowman Tony although tends to be smaller with a less prominent beak.
39. Robson Les small round headed pale individual with 'hooked nose' appearance, slurred vocal performance.
40. Newsome Mark Co Durham endemic, long legged with distinctive square headed appearance, often darts.
41. Ahmed Ross warm brown tones and greyish ear coverts with grinning habit make for a distinctive appearance. Regularly appears at migration hotspots.
42. Mowbray Mark dark crown with pale sides, stocky character
43. Reeder Keith deep chested, often with ruffled skin like appendages around tarsus, crouches frequently.

The Magnificient Seven

Like many my winter days are often a little like a vampires, in that I go out in darkness and return in darkness and see very little daylight in the middle. Today as has been the case for the last six years was one such day.
Whilst birders up and down the land were running around their chosen patch/route/county ensuring a healthy start to the LIST, I was working on my own list, a stock list as the end of the calendar year heralds the end also of my financial year and my self discipline dictates I should count stock rather than birds.
So my bird list was a meagre rather than magnificient seven, all from the car either en route or on the return. A Blackbird scampered out from under the headlights as I pulled away in the gloom. I didn't notice another bird for eight miles till halfway between Widdrington and Red Row not one but two wheeling Barn Owl broke my morning gloom as they crossed the road above me.
My working day done I retraced my steps, chasing the setting sun. From the road above Alnmouth two Mute Swan were the only birds visible in the estuary in the fading light. Jackdaws and Rooks made a final flight above Warkworth Castle making four and five. Hunched above the weir on the Coquet a solitary Grey Heron cut a forlorn figure, a single Carrion Crow it's only company in the tree behind.
Now the real excitement started, I had seven, the post title became obvious I just had to not see anymore birds between Amble and home. Ten miles with closed eyes, I shouldn't have worried not even a Starling broke the skyline and the bank holiday traffic was light.

Northumberland Year List 2009

This is my Year List for 2009. Think it's crap, you try birding with three kids under the age of six!

Red-throated Diver
Black-throated Diver
Great Northern Diver
Little Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Slavonian Grebe
Sooty Shearwater
Manx Shearwater
Northern Gannet
Great Cormorant
European Shag
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Glossy Ibis
Ruddy Duck
Mute Swan
Whooper Swan
Pink-footed Goose
Greylag Goose
Snow Goose
Canada Goose
Barnacle Goose
Pale-bellied Brent Goose
Common Shelduck
Eurasian Wigeon
Common Teal
Green-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Common Pochard
Tufted Duck
Common Eider
Long-tailed Duck
Common Scoter
Velvet Scoter
Common Goldeneye
Red-breasted Merganser
Western Marsh Harrier
Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Northern Goshawk
Common Buzzard
Common Kestrel
Red-legged Partridge
Grey Partridge
Common Pheasant
Eurasian Oystercatcher
Golden Plover
Grey Plover
Common Ringed Plover
Common Snipe
Black-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit
Eurasian Curlew
Spotted Redshank
Common Redshank
Green Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper
Great Skua
Pomarine Skua
Arctic Skua
Common Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Black-headed Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Little Gull
Sabine's Gull
Iceland Gull
Sandwich Tern
Roseate Tern
Common Tern
Arctic Tern
Little Tern
Little Auk
Atlantic Puffin
Feral Pigeon
Stock Dove
Wood Pigeon
Eurasian Collared Dove
Barn Owl
Tawny Owl
Little Owl
Long-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Common Kingfisher
Eurasian Skylark
Common Swift
Sand Martin
House Martin
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Water Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Bohemian Waxwing
White throated Dipper
European Robin
Common Nightingale
Black Redstart
Common Redstart
Common Stonechat
Northern Wheatear
Eurasian Blackbird
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Common Grasshopper Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Icterine Warbler
Garden Warbler
Common Whitethroat
Lesser Whitethroat.
Barred Warbler
Willow Warbler
Common Chiffchaff
Wood Warbler
Spotted Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher
Long-tailed Tit
Marsh Tit
Willow Tit
Coal Tit
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Eurasian Nuthatch
Eurasian Treecreeper
Great Grey Shrike
Eurasian Jay
Black-billed Magpie
Eurasian Jackdaw
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow
Tree Sparrow
European Greenfinch
Eurasian Siskin
European Goldfinch
Lesser Redpoll
Common Crossbill
Eurasian Bullfinch
Reed Bunting
Lapland Bunting

Total 183 species.
approx Birding Time 9 days, 14 hours, 40 minutes.
Last New Species : Great Northern Diver
Last Updated: 06 November