Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Satisfaction

We all need aims and ambitions. As a young boy I wanted to play for Newcastle United, I was never going to be good enough despite the U11 League Championship win. In my late teens I wanted to be Keith Richards, my tone-deafness proved a barrier. The last couple of years nibbling at the edges of writing and birding and trying to find a way to use them to support a family, I have had many less lofty aims. As a blogger I've long held 10000birds in high esteem as the standard bearer for birding blogs everywhere, that's why I'm allowing myself to feel a tiny sense of achievment this morning at this.
Now where's that guitar....

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Cool to be Crap

Six days since I blogged. It's a lifetime in birding terms. Perusing my blog reader briefly between large mouthful's of wedding/birthday/constant (delete as applicable) cake I notice a distinct change in the air. In a nutshell it's cool to be crap, in fact if there was ever a good time to admit to your past errors it's right now as birders in the UK appear to have declared an amnesty on ID errors and the spirit of forgiveness and goodwill to all men has even reached into the recesses of the Rare Birds Forum on Birdforum.
The Punks have become 'Pants', albeit temporarily, and the mantra 'We're all still learning' is being chanted in hides across the land. So not one to miss a bandwagon I thought I would clear up a couple of oldies that have been lurking like mouldy cheese in the fridge.
First up my 1989 Alpine Swift, with hindsight maybe I got it wrong and a rejection was appropriate. Fresh back from watching them from the nudist beach in Crete, perhaps it was a case of having barely enough knowledge to be dangerous.
Then there was that incident with the Snowy Owl  white plastic bag, in my defence my Optima Super 60 scope was not the most distance friendly optical item I've ever owned and it was windy.
The 2000 Newbiggin Honey Buzzard, (sorry you didn't see it Stewart, I tried) was a Honey Buzzard and zeitgeist or not it's on my list and staying put regardless of water torture, reviews or intervention by minor deities.
So there, I'm out and it feels great and I never mentioned the Black-faced Bunting episode once, oops.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Half Empty or Half Full

My lunch time catch up with the latest news brought this nugget from Scotland. When you're in business you need what are called 'differentiators', that's those things that make a business stand out as a little bit different from all the others. They're hard to come by as everybody is looking for them. Now it strikes me that the Samson's have just been delivered a great big feathered differentiator if only they could see it. Instead of complaining about the loss of a few chickens, they should in my humble opinion, be looking at every possible way of using 'the eagle angle' to shift more product and bring in more customers. In the ten minutes since I read this news story I've managed:

- Eagle friendly Eggs
- viewing platform with scopes for Eaglewatch
- T-shirts 'I survived the Eagle' with a natty chicken design
- Eagle souvenirs

One would think that the RSPB would also have noted that they have a FARM SHOP, why not get some eagle-related RSPB product shifted through the shop, demonstrate the potential VALUE these birds have? This would probably go a long way to both compensating the Samson's for their losses and changing their view about the whole White-tailed Eagle Re-intro project.
If we want farmers to deliver biodiversity, we have to recognise that most will also want to see the implications on the bottom line. Ignore these opportunities and we will not achieve half what we would like to achieve when it comes to restoration and longevity of many of our species.

Short, Sharp Shock

Events caught up with me this morning and my planned twitch of the Greatham Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was buried under a mountain of mundane but must be done jobs.
A late afternoon collection of the kids hire suits for the weekend's family wedding saw me heading to North Shields. A third of the way there I seized the opportunity and joined the back of the queue south through the Tyne Tunnel accompanied by Joel.
Horrendous traffic resulted in us arriving at the small car park south of Greatham about 1 hour ten later. By this time many of the cars that whizzed by as we walked north to the Tidal Pool had dipped lights on such was the poor light.
With our target at the back of the Tidal Pool, views were distant, pictures impossible and what should have been a great bird a bit of an anti-climax as a result.

In fact the only redeeming feature was two Little Egret coming into roost in the small roadside wood adjacent to the car park as we stumbled back along the verge to the car as I think they provide a 'Self-stumbled' year tick.
To top the night off I now have pizza induced insomnia, hence the silly o clock blog post, I'll regret it in the morning no doubt.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Caspian Gulls - The New Birdflu

The BBC are carrying a story today that is sure to be picked up on by the 'popular' press and whipped up into the next big health scare. Portugese researchers analysed a very small sample of droppings from 'Caspian Gulls' and found one in ten harboured antibitotic resistant bacteria called vancomycin.
The speculation, as that is what it is, is that these 'migratory' birds pass on the anti-biotic resistance to other bacteria that might infect the weak and vulnerable (Daily Mail readers presumably?)

I'm not altogether sure that they don't mean michahellis as they would be the much more obvious study choice in Portugal, in which case whilst the rest of the country can panic the North East is at least safe as we only get two per annum. The Mail, bless their cotton socks, are at least calling it Yellow-legged Gull, but apparently they aren't just ordinary bacteria, no since I started writing this post they've evolved into superbugs.
How long before the first call for a cull goes out? DEFRA are allegedly studying the report with interest, I sense a risk assessment.

sources
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11374536
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1313848/Seagulls-carrying-superbugs-resistant-antibiotics.html?ITO=1490

Monday, 20 September 2010

It's Not Just Harriers

Some of the claims of the game industry that get regularly trotted out in defence of their profits sport is that many other species benefit from their stewardship of various habitats. In part some of these claims are true, it's fairly obvious that if you take out all of the predators then predation will reduce and some species will benefit in a small way.
I came across some interesting claims on the website of the Hare Preservation Trust about the way the game industry in Scotland impacts upon the Hare population there. The HPT claim that:

There is increasing concern about the status of the mountain hare with reports of it being virtually extinct in some parts of Scotland where it was previously abundant. In some areas excessive grazing by deer, sheep and cattle have depleted the heather so that less food and cover is available for the hares. However, they have also declined on moorland devoid of deer and sheep, leading to the conclusion that human interference is responsible for the decline in hares.

The mountain hare is listed in Annex 5 of the EC Habitats Directive (1992) as a species: "of community interest whose taking in the wild and exploitation may be subject to management measures." This means that certain methods of capture such as snaring are prohibited, except under licence. Mountain hares have historically been considered as "small game" but shooting is becoming increasingly commercialised. In one case a refrigerated van had been brought over by a party of Italian guns who intended to shoot 1,000 mountain hares and sell them in Italy to pay for the shooting holiday.
While the mountain hare is persecuted directly for sport it is also snared and shot in large numbers because it allegedly carries a tick borne virus which kills grouse chicks and is therefore seen as a threat to the grouse shooting industry. The Habitats Directive requires member states to ensure exploitation of Annex 5 species is: "compatible with their being maintained at a favourable conservation status." Since there are no official records of the number of hares being killed it is difficult to see how this requirement can be met. But anecdotal evidence of culling levels strongly suggests that EC wildlife law is being broken in Scotland.

I read claims like this and I see an industry and a group of people who seem to be able to operate in any way they see fit in order to protect their profits. You have to wonder how much more of this small island's natural heritage is to be sacrificed on the altar of profit (or in the name of sport).

Iranian Inspiration

I took a bit of a wobbler whilst out birding yesterday late afternoon and had to drop back home early, my occasional dizzy spells are either as a result of too much 'screen time' or the hereditary low blood pressure. It gave me an opportunity to take it easy for an hour or two though I logged back on late evening as there was a blog post I really wanted to continue reading.
I'm not quite sure how Jos Straford does it but his latest 'expedition' makes for inspirational reading. A month in Iran would be daunting for many folk, quite a few would probably not even consider Iran as a possible destination due to politics and the media view that gets touted about. However fresh back from a month long trip, Jos is writing, I can't call it a trip report as it wouldn't do it justice, an epic account of his adventures on his website.
Not for Jos an 'organised' group trip, nor a Ewan Mcgregor-style back up team; out in Iran on his own, often camping in the desert and hitchhiking his way around a country many westerners would consider hostile. You have to admire his style and his stamina to do it in late summer. His well-written, occasionally humorous account, packed with the fine detail that brings his journey and Iran to life is a must read adventure for any birder. Not only are the birds fantastic, I can't wait till he adds his pictures, but his experiences of and with the Iranian people will make you look at the country in a new light. Jos has put Iran firmly on my 'must do' list, go and read his account here and he might do the same for you.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Saturday

With my shift today being a late one, I managed a few hours at Newbiggin this morning. Two Lapland Bunting flushed from the path to Beacon Point, flew high south before returning and heading into the centre of the golf course. A Yellow Wagtail came in-off and pipits were very much in evidence with the first Rock Pipits of the autumn;  three, feeding in the foot high seaweed deposits left during the week. Several Meadow Pipit on passage too.

Rock Pipit (top) Meadow Pipit (bottom)

Offshore 17 Pale-bellied Brent Goose moved north, again my first of the Autumn; two Sandwich Tern south; good numbers of Kittiwake and Gannet moved north , most at distance.
I settled down to try and photograph the Turnstone, Dunlin and Sanderling that were mixing it on the seaweed with the pipits and the odd Wheatear. As usual it didn't take long before a dog appeared and checked me out, barking as it left, thankfully it didn't piss on me which they have a habit of doing. Another birder adopted some interesting field-craft, walking directly above me along the low bank on the skyline with predictable results.
Turnstone

Four 1st-winter Mediterranean Gulls were spread amongst a few Black-headed as I walked back along the beach. One of the Meds was colour ringed, (white LDE); this would appear to be a juvenile ringed at De Kreuper Island, Holland on 24/06 and previously spotted at Newbiggin on 22/08 (per STH). This was to be one of two colour-ringed birds this morning with a Kittiwake on the south beach also displaying a fine set of five rings, details are awaited. A further eight Mediterranean Gulls were at the north end of the south beach.
A brief few minutes at Woodhorn produced little except a few Chiffchaff, including a particularly scruffy looking individual; a Wren posed well for me amongst the autumn hips.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Birdlife - Are you part of The Community?

As hopefully most of you that drop by will know Birdlife International is the largest conservation partnership in the world. They've been beavering away and the community part of their website is looking fantastic (not that the rest of the site isn't pretty damned good either). Created in a blog style format to allow reader interaction the site is now a one-stop conservation conversation, with news, video and photographic posts from around the globe. If you're interested in the least in conserving the birds you enjoy watching the Birdlife Community is a great place for information and well worth bookmarking. I suspect that you will see some of their content appearing here and elsewhere in the future as they are in a unique position to cast a spotlight on many of the most important conservation issues we face.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Old Haunts

After a brief bit of excitement yesterday with a quick twitch of the Cresswell juvenile White-winged Black Tern, this morning provided sustenance in the form of some Muffin baking sans enfants.
I had an hour spare after lunch at my parents before the first of  4 days work kicked in so I headed off to one of my childhood haunts at Blyth Links Cemetery. I spent many an hour wandering the area surrounding the cemetery as a kid from about the age of 11 and birds often figured in those adventures. Whether it be the nests of numerous Blackbirds and Song Thrush in the Ivy covered wall that borders the northern boundary or flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare in winter pillaging berries or the spring displays of the Lapwing wheeling in the adjacent fields this place held some of my formative birding experiences.
There are other connections hiding  there too; my great grandfather in the southwest corner along with several other family members; my grandfather's brother whose blackberry surrounded, pigeon cree dominated, allotment was often a destination for childhood walks. I remember the pigeon's eggs, white and the musty smell of the cree as I was allowed to gently hold and release one of his prize pigeons.
Today as I expected there was little of note however, 12 Mistle Thrush moved from berries to bathe as I wandered around, a single Goldfinch the only other sighting. 11 Grey Partridge kept to the field edge on the south side as I left.
A final stop at Woodhorn South Pool produced two Wheatears in the field, 35 Coot and two Mediterranean Gull on the pool. Migrant Hawkers dived and dodged behind the sheltered hedge with at least six present and probably more.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Are the Cats Enjoying the Cream?

"A cross between Jack the Ripper and Banksy" is how one birder described the birding blog phenomenon that is Reservoir Cats. Rising from nowhere and wedging a huge slice of ironic humour in birding's arse, blog author(s) 'Mr White' has rapidly risen to cult status in the birding world.
The signs this week though point to the Cats selling out their cult status and heading down the road of commercialism like so many before them. Whilst it is perfectly understandable that the owner(s) of such an authentic, original and cult brand (because that's what it is) would seek to cash in on their status whilst the going's good I can't help being left feeling that the purity has been lost.
I could forgive them the T-shirts, just a way of letting birders and bloggers 'join the club' so to speak but this week's blatant soft advertising post 'sponsored' by RBA sees the Cats leap into the murky commercial pond of advertorial writing. It may have been loosely concealed behind mocking the lack of quality on Scilly but the commercial message 'bigging up' RBA pagers was strikingly obvious.
No doubt the conspiracy theorists will point to the possibility that the Cats were been blackmailed by dastardly Dick Filby, who having found out their true identities has forced our heroes into promoting a flagging technology. The truth is much simpler, the hard hitting Cats are beginning to enjoy the cream.
We can no doubt look forward to more product sponsored posts and a gradual watering down of the Cats style as they aim to appeal to an ever wider audience, a book launch and obscure 'At Home With the Cats' TV show is sure to follow and by the time Max Clifford gets involved we may even see a Stig-style restraining order as Mr White's identity is almost revealed to the world. Naturally that will be an anti-climax as some ex-Cambridge geek scientist from Thetford with too much time on his hands now the Atlas has finished is revealed as Cats creator.
Sadly though I tried to contact both Tom Logan and Arthur Balsam for some comment on the Cats commercial sell out neither was available, probably for the best.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

As Green As Grass

I seem to be slipping back into being a single patch birder. Loads of time spent contemplating other options and yet my car always seem to end up at the same place. I guess it comes with the knowledge of what has been and what might be when it comes to Autumn, I just can't seem to resist the lure.
With a strong westerly blowing this morning I thought I'd try something different, grasses. We don't pay enough attention to the grasses do we? It almost worked if it hadn't been for the pesky birds getting in the way. First up a general shot of the golf course rough ruined by a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits strutting around just as I lined up the shot.

Further up the coast path it gets a bit weedy and you get a great mix of grasses. I found a good spot and began to plan a few shots when this annoying Lapland Bunting kept darting into view everytime I took a shot, luckily I kept my focus firmly on the grasses ensuring that the LB didn't get its best side shown.


A stroll along the Ash Lagoon bank produced little of note with much of the grass long and discoloured, a Garden Warbler made a brief attempt to attract my attention by diving into cover but I was focussed.
 Re-tracing my steps I went back to the coast path where I'd earlier seen some great weeds swaying in the wind that I thought would make a fabulous subject. Yet again I was foiled, this time by an upstart Wheatear parading itself and getting arsey. I gave up and went home.


Oh and just in case any of you are thinking that I've contrived this whole post to hide my obvious lack of photographic talent and frankly abysmal shots of Lapland Bunting you couldn't be further from the truth I wouldn't dream of doing anything so obvious.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Sometimes Whoever Seeks Abroad May Find...

I've squeezed the most out of the past five days, it is Autumn after all. Thursday morning I abandoned the kids into child care and drove straight to the coast to meet a warm September morning. At the tree enclosed enclave of Newbiggin's Mound top I was greeted by four Speckled Wood tumbling above the Field Maple and a Spotted Flycatcher nipped between leafy branches. Two more Spotted Flycatchers darted back and forth from the highest tree tops on the east side.
The Ash Lagoon banks contained a further three Spotted Flycatchers and two 1st-winter Pied Flycatchers, Garden Warbler and Willow Warblers were also obvious. A single Redstart remained in the burnt gorse.
Back at the mound I moved off piste into the trees and another Pied Flycatcher flicked onto a dappled perch to check me out. As it moved back into the greeny shades of the Sycamore I noticed another smaller, greenish bird flit across the leaves, forty minutes later I had had one clear view and a couple of dozen snatched movements from a Greenish Warbler presumably the one JGS found the day previously.
Thursday night NTBC had an excellent talk delivered by Alan Davies & Ruth Miller from The Biggest Twitch, about their world record setting exploits during 2008. I had invited Alan & Ruth out the following day to do some birding whilst in the North East so I joined themn for breakfast around 06:30 on Friday (I offered them the option of a lie in but they declined preferring to make the most of the time to go birding).
First stop was East Chevington NWT, which was poor, a couple of Great Crested Grebes probably the pick of the birds here. Next up was Newton Scrapes as Tim Dean had been 'biggin them up' the night before, again much to our frustration we managed to pick probably the only morning in god knows how long that there hasn't been any waders. AD picked out a couple of overflying Ruff as we left.
Our main destination was Holy Island, in full knowledge that the best of the week had gone. A Wheatear flushed as we parked to walk to Snook House, several more awaited us as we got to the house accompanied by at least five Whinchat, two Spotted Flycatcher and Willow Warbler; several Meadow Pipit and a single Reed Bunting made up the numbers.

Ruth picked out a Pied Flycatcher in the sycamores at Chare End, the Straight Lonnen held others as well as further numbers of Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Chiffchaff, and Garden Warbler. A Barn Owl moved off towards the Crooked Lonnen just yards away.
A passing birder had indicated a secondhand report of Firecrest in the Willows at the end of the Straight Lonnen, but several Redstart later a flushed Lapland Bunting was the best we could manage. More Redstart and Whitethroat occasionally appeared from isolated Hawthorns as we passed the Kilns back to the car.
A short look at the waders picked out good numbers of Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit, single Knot and an AD found adult Mediterranean Gull.
I worked Friday and Saturday in the thick of Autumn reporting, envious of the newly found Isabelline Shrike of the 'Daurian' race L i isabellinus in Hampshire and happy we got it out as a possible ahead of confirmation after pictures, rather than the slightly more cynical alternative of Red-backed Shrike that the competition ran with without any evidence.
This morning a post school run exploration of Newbiggin's north beach yielded a single Wheatear and a Mediterranean Gull though had we gone further I've since heard there was a Lap Bunting on offer. Rain soon cut short our outing so whilst the kids coloured in Purple Kingfishers I banged a new blog header out and today is well over half way already.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Top Ten Blogs

After wasting several hours trying in vain to download an update to Iphone's operating system that has been squeezing my bandwidth narrower than an Arctic Warbler's super, I've given up trying to write an update of the last few days full on birding festival. Instead I'm offering the compromise of my current Top Ten Birding Blogs, the best reads out there for birders in the blogosphere, the blogs that give you just a bit more than clever titles and crap photos. These blogs are my daily inspiration to blog and to keep trying to blog a little differently. All of them are outstanding in their own way, either for their writing style, imaginative posts, superb images, varied topics and often all of these. Bookmark them, visit them, share them, enjoy them.

1. 10000birds - said it before but it's worth repeating, the benchmark in bird blogging. Kings of content, conservation champions and clever writers, 10k never lets me down.
2. Martin Garner - right now MG's new blog is essential reading, good images and insightful, useful ID comment from a knowledgable UK birder. If you want to find birds this is one to follow.
3. Jos Stratford - I find myself dipping in to Jos's archives regularly right now, great images from Lithuania, an endless supply of trip reports from great locations and an enthusiastic interest in butterflies and dragonflies, what more could you want.
4. Reservoir Cats - funny, edgy, dangerous, subversive, don't take yourself too seriously or Mr White will take you to town.
5. Laura Kammermeier - my favourite female blogger, birder and avid social media commentator, LK writes with intelligence and insight into two of my favourite subjects, occasionally takes a mean photo too.
6. Chris Gibbins - I couldn't not include a gull blogger and Chris is about as good as they get; if you like lots of gull eye candy to drool over this is the blog for you
7. Wanstead Birder - banker turned birder 'Jono' Lethbridge has a dry style that won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I empathise with his circumstances and I want his column in Birdwatch.
8. Not Quite Scilly - Gavin Haig has been on a bit of a hiatus recently but he's back and lost none of his wit and self-deprecating humour, he's a patch birder so he has the moral high ground.
9. Stuck in a Rutt - ex-Birdguides teaboy, has now been deported to Scotland; Steve's posts are crafted rather than written and you can sense there's a bright light shining behind the balding brow
10. Birding Mongolia - love the pictures and every time I go here, I want to go there, there can't be many birders in Mongolia so drop by and keep Axel company

Saturday, 11 September 2010

More Raptor Killing

The BBC are carrying a story that one of the recently released Red Kites has been recovered shot at Dentdale in Cumbria, see BBC story here. It certainly isn't the first time this particular area has had problems with wildlife crime. THe RSPB Birdcrime 2008 report highlighted a case of Ravens being shot in exactly the same area during 2008, the criminals got away with that one. Let's hope that this time the investigations find the perpetrators.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

I don't normally do 'non-nature' but I found this hilarious in a Chaplin-esque kind of way. Birders who struggle with pelagics may be best averting their eyes.

A Swift Three

With Ash working and the less than child friendly weather I managed three swift hours late afternoon early evening after everything had pretty much been cleaned up, booted, kicked and dissected. Aiming to find birds rather than chase after what had already been turned up can be tough when there are good birds on offer elsewhere.
My first site north of Newbiggin proved entirely fruitless apart from a couple of Meadow Pipit, so I headed for the golf course, accessing from the north and began to check the bushes at the north end of the dunes figuring most people concentrate on the south end. Two Common Redstart and a couple of Common Whitethroat later I moved down toward the Ash Lagoon Banks, more Redstart including a couple of males, Spotted Flycatcher and several Willow Warbler. Two Wheatear out on the golf course to the north and the sun was dropping.
I headed south to Woodhorn and managed a 1st-winter Pied Flycatcher along the railway line but again in poor light things were quiet. A quick look along the Spital Burn road turned up a little surprise with three Common Swift hawking over the allotments with a few Swallows. These are probably my latest ever Common Swift in Northumberland and possibly my first in September.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Lap-aroscopy

It's the bird on everyone's agenda, it's this week's Yelkouan Shearwater, Lapland Bunting. Not just any old Lapland Bunting though, with some amazing numbers recorded on the Northern Isles and individuals turning up from Fair Isle to Filey, the suggestion from those that know about these things is that these individuals are of the race subcalcaratus which is the North American & Greenland form of Lapland Bunting.

It would appear that separation, even in the hand, is a little tricky, very little in the biometrics. However in my opinion once you take some of the circumstantial and behavioural evidence into account it's patently obvious this current wave of Lap Bunt is of North American origin. European Lapland Buntings come over and melt away into the background, happy to settle in a stubble field they are unobtrusive and this behaviour helps them blend in with the locals. These latest invaders have turned up in their hordes and are really showy, obvious and in your face, some might say typically American. Take the four that went through Newton early this morning without stopping, classic American behaviour, visit Edin-bro and then straight down south for a little shopping, theatre and the White Cliffs of Dover.

Obviously without ringing recoveries my theory will remain just that. Despite positioning myself and the kids due south of Newton this morning, as we walked the classic Craster to Dunstanburgh path, we managed to hit on virtually the only Lapland Bunting free stretch of coastline in Britain. Every overflying Linnet was scrutinised for signs of Yank Lap potential but the peak of our combined bird finding abilities was a male White Wagtail about 500m south of the castle; subsequently flushed by two of my foam sword wielding offspring. Arnold's Reserve at Craster and the old quarry car park was awash with calling Chiffchaff but the kids were more interested in the profusion of unpicked Blackberries, a large quantity of which are now residing in our kitchen.

The kids asleep I'm left to ponder what we might try not seeing tomorrow.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

September Starts Scarce

I opened my eyes one minute before the 06:30 alarm, peered out of the window onto a grey inauspicious start to September, switched the alarm off and lay back down on the pillow. Uninspired by the lack of sunshine or overnight rain I did the 'should I, shouldn't I?' debate in my head for several minutes.
Eventually I remembered it was September and given the various non-birding commitments involving weddings etc coming late in the month I decided to go for it.
First stop for some unknown reason was the car park at QE2, I'm not sure what the hell I thought I was going to find and after a quick tot up of the car park Pied Wags (19) I moved on to Woodhorn. Remnants of last night's warbler frenzy clung on if a little sluggishly with the temperature at 10c, 3 Whitethroat, 3 Blackcap and a Chiffchaff. I'd had a brief chat with Uncle Jim last night whilst I was out and he had suggested that the Ash Lagoon banks were always a good bet in the morning, not that I really needed anything to add to the huge sense of hope that always builds up whenever I pick my way through the recently dumped children's toys/hoovers/carpets/mattresses (delete as applicable) that greet the casual visitor east of Newbiggin Mound as you access the Golf Course.
By the time I'd left the first bank-side scrub with the dizzy heights of Meadow Pipit and five Linnets the sum total of 15 minutes staring at the bushes, the hope was beginning to dissipate. I rounded the first gorse patch and flushed two Common Whitethroat from the recently burnt branches around the bend.
The middle patch of scrub beckoned, no more than 30m wide and 6m high but surely one of the most productive pieces of habitat our county holds, the list of species found here includes in no particular order Greenish Warbler, Sub-alpine Warbler, Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, Firecrest, Barred Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Red-backed Shrike to name but a few.
The first ten minutes were bird free and my thoughts drifted to the sea, I could see a procession of close in Gannets passing a short distance away over the golf course. I turned back to see a Whitethroat, a second and then a third began to zip around the bramble, before long I'd counted six. With a little action my focus was back on the scrub and a movement had me looking at this..


Pale grey and obviously chunkier than the Whitethroat, pinky base to the bill, it kept itself to itself and remained stubbornly difficult to get good clear views of, at least for half an hour. It did eventually reveal itself completely, though the views in the first three or four minutes were enough to pin it down as a juvenile Barred Warbler, a rather nice addition to my Self-Found List and a fine bird to get September started.

News out promptly to give others the opportunity, I had what I thought was an acrocephalus shoot across from behind me into the scrub. Tail in the air revealing streaked undertail left me puzzled for a short while, it popped back out again (see below) to reveal itself as a Grasshopper Warbler.


Out of time I had a cursory glance at the mound, a couple of Common Darter and two Speckled Wood were sunning themselves in the shady glades. A Chiffchaff through the garden as I cooked tea tonight rounded the day off nicely.