Saturday, 9 January 2010

Can It Get Any Worse?

Two days ago the snow was six feet from edge of the bank with a good amount of seaweed debris still exposed as well as a wide sandy margin. Many of the passerines that fed along Newbiggin Beach have departed, notably not a single Rock Pipit present today.

Newbiggin Beach north to Beacon Point
Several Redwing and Song Thrush continue to scrabble around the sandy banks digging under the grass roots where the ground is perhaps less frozen. Two Snow Bunting this morning (JGS/SMc had three in afternoon) and one or two Meadow Pipit left. Sadly a couple of Skylark on the beach, one actually trying to feed along the tide line must have been incredibly desperate.

On Beacon Point a party of 13 Pale-bellied Brent Goose were on the rocks, 10 more flew north prompting these to join them.

Pale-bellied Brent Goose
Still a good selection common waders including some Knot today along with Dunlin, Sanderling, Turnstone, Lapwing, Redshank, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover. As these tend to feed in the intertidal area they are probably not as affected, perhaps with the exception of Lapwing.

A call mid-afternoon from SMc to say that along with JGS they had found a possible 'Dark-breasted' Barn Owl of the continental race guttata along the Spital Burn. The bird was exhausted and in a bad way. By the time I arrived 15 minutes later at AP's where the bird had been taken they actually thought it was dead. I held the head briefly and it opened its eyes showing some sign of life. I'll be very surprised if it recovers though, as can be seen in this image it is completely exhausted. Not as dark as shown in the field guide JGS rang tonight after further reading and confirmed the general feeling that it is an 'intergrade', although given the location (200m from coast) and current conditions it may well be from the continent. It is certainly darker than any local Barn Owl I have ever seen in Northumberland as well having other features such as grey underwing coverts and a much greater extent of grey on upperparts (we estimated 70% grey, 30% buff).

Barn Owl showing characteristics of continental race guttata

I also paid a brief visit to Cresswell/Lynemouth today. A single Twite was in weeds along the fence opposite Bell's Farm, a few Greylag in the field north of Cresswell. Several Teal were in the small burn south of Cresswell Pond as was a Wigeon and several Common Snipe. In the horse field south of Lynemouth were six Curlew and four Grey Partridge.


The Liverbirder said...

How's the Owl this morning?

alan tilmouth said...

Sadly as expected deceased. Skin going to the Hancock I think.

The Drunkbirder said...

There was an article in BB recently with the BBRC's id criteria for guttata