Sunday, 17 February 2013

First Half Of Feb

The year marches on, half-term already and the first half of February has slipped by. It's that time when there is a great mix of winter species and the first hints that Spring is rapidly approaching.

In keeping with January I have not traveled a great deal so far this month, most of my birding has been around Newbiggin trying to make some progress on the number of species seen for the patch competition. As expected the number of new species to be found in Feb is in sharp contrast to the first couple of weeks of the year and some of the visits have been rather sparse on the bird front.

So far I've added a further 11 species and now stand at a nice round 90 just ahead of the enforced rest brought on by the combination of school holidays and part of the work crew disappearing to California to look at gulls.

Best so far this month was a Long-tailed Duck north past Church Point on Saturday morning. Everything else has been mopping up typical winter species, a Knot here, a few Long-tailed Tits there etc. Coastal movement of Shelducks provided some newness this weekend.

The start of the month saw me entertaining Martin Garner and Tormod Admundsen after their inspiring talk at Northumberland & Tyneside Bird Club. On a very windy day re-finding a couple of Willow Tits near Linton Lane and a Barnacle Goose at Newbiggin were the birding highlights though the fish n chips at North Shields went down well and post-lunch visit to acquaint Tormod with the Kittiwake colony (or at least the site) led to some interesting discussion.
 MG & TA doing Willow Tits

Last week I stumbled on a small flock of Waxwings on the outskirts of Ashington, in poor light I came away with little to show other than satisfying one of the local cavemen I wasn't a paedophile. Still plenty of cotoneaster berries, though they always seem to avoid the variety at this site until there's nothing else to eat. This group commuted over to a puddle next to Kwik-Fit to drink several times before coming back to feed again, thirsty work.

In other news lots of the locals at Newbiggin seem to have been getting angsty about the horses that get tethered all over the village, appearing overnight on grass verges and roadsides. To be honest the horses have been a slightly eccentric part of Newbiggin as long as I've been going and I think it's only since a few newer small estates have been added that some folk are agitating. No doubt there has been the odd animal over the years that hasn't been looked after but I think I'd have to say I'd miss them if they were all forced out to create yet another homogenous town.  These were the product of a quiet birding day.

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