Cramlington has always struck me as a characterless town, typical unfortunately of 'New Towns' that were developed post WW2. Think Milton Keynes or nearer to home Killingworth. To be fair Cramlington is bordered by some excellent habitat such as Arcot Pond and the River Blyth and it's woodland ribbon just 1m to the North.
The town had a couple of stalwart 'founding fathers' as far as birds are concerned with Lyndsey Mcdougall and Steve Holliday. I think I'm correct that LMc is the only Cramlington birder with Terek Sandpiper ticked on his patch after the wintering Blyth bird began to wander in the company of Redshank before leaving in the early nineties. SH even managed to self publish a book many years back but looked away from his home patch for inspiration (Blyth's Birds).
Neither is getting any younger so it is good to see a new group of birders coming through. One of the best local photographers John Malloy currently counts Cramlington as his home patch. I've not met John but then that's hardly surprising as he seems to spend most of his time in exotic locations, check out his blog here to see for yourself. Another new and younger birder is 'Crammy Birder' who has been extolling the virtues of West Hartford pond for many months over at his cryptically titled Crammy Birder blog.
Between them with their daily tales of tame Short-eared Owl appearing Mr Benn-like and floating close enough to touch they forced me into a mini twitch last night. I re-routed back from my parents via West Hartford and wandered onto the edge of the soon to be fenced 'Business Park'. Someone needs to have a word with Cramlington's dog owners and perhaps explain that they seem to be taking the 'Business' bit out of context.
I was surprised to find the pond close by and not the one I thought I knew, which is further back. With low water levels and exposed mud it looks good for passage waders. I didn't have to wait long before a Short-eared Owl put in an appearance. It stayed at a respectable distance and wouldn't come to bread so you have to assume it's real.
I can see me going back to West Hartford when it turns up something big this year which it may well do. The law of unavoidable consequence means that it's most likely when a certain talented snapper is being dazzled by Drongos.