Monday, 16 September 2013

Working It

Anyone that's stepped outside on the east coast in the last few days can see it has been pretty uninspiring weather wise. There has been little in the way of obvious migrants around at Newbiggin but despite this I have somehow managed to dig out two new additions for the year.

Friday brought little more than a couple of Chiffchaffs along the Ash Lagoons while Beacon Point held two Purple Sandpipers and two Wheatears. I headed for the Woodhorn hedge as much to get out the wind as anything else. I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye while grazing on blackberries and looked up to see a Great Spotted Woodpecker flick off the dead tree above me and fly across into the big garden opposite.

Today seemed even more uninspiring but the dog needed to be walked so I headed back to the Ash Lagoons. The new fence around the former football pitch that has sprang up in recent days presumably to keep the horses in one area, has come on apace; plenty of new shrike perches for the Masked when it turns up.

By the time I had reached the gorse, the grand total of one Robin, one Dunnock and lazy group of Goldfinches seemed to confirm that the fence was probably the only new addition on the patch today. Then I heard it, that three note buzzy call 'zzz zzz zzz' from the broom and gorse along the main fence, half-expecting a Great Tit to stick its head up I was more than happy when a belting buffy Willow Tit whirred across the path just in front of me into a dog rose.

Only my second record since 1989 at Newbiggin, the last in August 2001 in almost exactly the same spot. Presumably a bit of post-breeding dispersal from local breeding sites a few miles inland. Just rewards for a bit of effort and brings up a respectable 140 for Newbiggin this year.

Four Wheatears and two Med Gulls around the north bay and a dark looking Meadow Pipit on the path were the meagre pickings from the reminder of the circuit.

Friday, 6 September 2013

September Rain

Having so far failed to add Sooty Shearwater to the Newbiggin Year List, this morning's brisk northerly and rain was too inviting to turn down. With the school run forcing a post-nine start i figured there would be little hope of one of the two dry seats in the house so I opted for Plan B.

Rather than head round to the traditional northern sea-watch at Church Point, I hunkered down behind the cemetery wall some 40m south and 20m further inland. Armed with a large golf umbrella (thanks Dad) my field of view was restricted to the 'southern' section of sea.

I managed two hours with a firm grip on the umbrella with one hand, not a classic day but enjoyable despite the weather and two new birds for the Newbiggin Year List.

Pick of the bunch was a juvenile Long-tailed Skua that pottered north over the rocks just 50m away. Three Sooty Shearwaters ended this year's long wait; all three were within 2-300m range too. Manx Shearwaters totalled 40 in the 2 hours. A single Great Skua lumbered north. A few Wigeon moving included one small group that had two female/juvenile Pintail tagging along at the back (2nd tick).

Just before I left a dozen Pale-bellied Brents came almost straight in to the Point and may have ended up in the north bay. There was also a Wheatear kicking about the rocks.

Afterwards a bit of grilling the gulls in the fields west of Woodhorn Flashes and north of QEII produced 41 Mediterranean Gulls, a decent 480+ Great Black-backed Gulls and an interesting juvenile, perhaps more on that later.