Sunday, 10 April 2011


Sprung indeed, not enough hours in the day to keep up with everything, work, photographs, birding. To be honest I've made a bit of an effort to spend as little time in front of the computer as possible in the last few days. Here's a quick round-up of the past few days.

After some splendid views of Black-necked Grebe my chauffeur for the day and I found ourselves hunting the upper reaches of the North Tyne for Mandarin. Approaching the riverside at the regular site at Ridley Stokoe two females exploded from the riverbank almost at my feet and wheeled away behind one of the wooded, shingle islands. A little further upriver a few minutes still on the bank produced a pair further upstream. Our main destination was the Osprey viewpoint and we couldn't have picked a better day, warm, sunny and pleasant. We spent about 1.5 hours in the morning without seeing anything remotely fish-eating though other distractions were many and varied Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Siskin and various vocally distinct Crossbills. We lunched on the Bakethin dam with a few Swallows for company. Here we were joined by a strange long-haired bloke in a trench coat with huge bins, who seemed to have made the journey to Kielder to let off bubbles over the lake (and they say birders are strange!). Andy picked out a blob on an orange buoy at the back of Bakethin which we eventually managed to turn into a Common Sandpiper when it flew.
Back to the viewpoint an Osprey sneaked onto last year's platform and stood on the adjacent post for a good 20 minutes before taking off and beginning to gain height. A couple of minutes later it was joined by a second bird and the pair proceeded to display high over the forest with some amazing dives with half tucked wings before moving off.
About 3 miles from home after a 90 mile round trip we were a tad surprised to have yet another Osprey come charging over the road ahead of us with an entourage of corvids snapping at its heels.

With an away match in the Under-Nines and my brother and family up ijn the afternoon Saturday was expected to be a bird free day. A couple of hours in the garden post lunch tidying up produced four Swallows overhead and singing Willow Warbler predictably in the nearby willows.

An early morning charge around Woodhorn and Newbiggin added Blackcap for the year to the patch list. Five Wheatears spread about the place, nest-building Chiffchaff, singing Willow Warbler. What was almost certainly a reeling Grasshopper Warbler heard briefly in the scrubby field next to Alcan before security arrived to frisk me and escort me out, citing concerns about industrial espionage; personally I think they may have beenn bribed by one of my fellow patch-listers.
Further up the coast, two Avocets remained at Cresswell Pond and a pair of Garganey, found at Druridge by others, were looked for but only the drake was visible tucked up on the weedy edge in front of the South hide late morning.

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