Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Mediterranean Gull Begins Good Day.

A peacefull summer evening at the pond. No one talking:-)

27th July. It was back to birding today and a preparatory run for a planned days birding with Aughton Birder (coming soon:-)). Dropped off at the Brier Dene car park, the long staying Mediterranean Gull, almost in full summer plumage was ticked almost immediately. Timed to perfection, so that just before someone in the car park started to feed the gulls and disturbed them all. Then the walk to St Mary’s Island brought not a lot apart from Swallow, Sand Martin and lots of Pied Wagtails.

I was hoping for Roseate Tern today and took a look on the rocks, but the tide was a little too far out so I took a walk around the wetland and found nothing of real interest apart from a calling Reed Bunting and a large flock of feeding House Sparrows. Someone I spoke to reckoned that a family of foxes has wiped out the birds on the wetland. I’m not so sure about that! I did find a good number of Curlews in the fields and had a good look for Whimbrel without success. As I was looking through the Curlew a flock of maybe 100+ Golden Plover (in various stages of plumage) appeared and eventually settled in the field with the Curlew. I found a solitary Dunlin in the bay. By now I was fancying an ice-cream, but put this off as I heard the calls of Sandwich Terns, so I headed along the promenade. Numbers of Sandwich Terns, many of them juveniles in a very attractive plumage, gathered gradually on the rocks. Occasionally, adults would fly in with a catch of fish and feed the juveniles. I spent seventy-five minutes here in the hope of a Roseate Tern appearing, during which time I spent watching the comings and goings of waders as the tide slowly engulfed them. By now the Golden Plover had appeared and were accompanied by Oystercatchers, Turnstones (of which there were large numbers), Redshank and Curlew. It had been a very warm day but I was beginning to feel the chill of being close to the sea and feeling I ought to move on when a couple of Common Terns joined the Sandwich Terns so I decided to give it a few more minutes. Just as I was getting ready to move I decided to check the northerly group of Sandwich Terns again and there it was a Roseate Tern had arrived. I watched it for several minutes before it vanished with some of the Sandwich Terns.

The walk along to Seaton Sluice didn’t bring too much although I did have my ice-cream before I set off, with the calls of terns over the sea. There was a sizeable close flock of Eiders in drab eclipse out on the sea and several Guillemots. The occasional Fulmar flew along side the cliffs and a small fishing boat had attracted the attention of numbers of Great Black Backed Gulls.

The walk along the saltmarsh and through Holywell Dene was eventful in that it brought a sandpiper sighting just before the road bridge. I only caught a brief sighting when I had stopped for a bite to eat and thought it was a Common Sandpiper. On reflection I did see it fly away and clearly saw the white rump so it was in fact a Green Sandpiper, of that, I now have no doubt. It flew down the burn after lifting from just under the bridge. Apart from this there wasn’t much of note about in the dene although the song of a Song Thrush and the constant calls of Wood Pigeons gave a real atmosphere to the warm evening. I did catch the call of a Kestrel and a very short blast from a Tawny Owl.

My hopes of seeing Barn Owl were dashed as I think I was too early. I did find a pair of Bullfinch, with at least one juvenile, and heard Yellowhammers singing, although not the full song in the main, as I got close to the pond.

Cloud that had been threatening to burst, by now dispersed to give a wonderfully sunlit summer evening. There wasn’t much in the way of excitement at the pond however. Numbers of Lapwing, Grey Herons, Little Grebe and gulls were amongst the usual residents. It was good just to sit and take the evening in. I’m usually there earlier in the day. Greenfinches were the only birds to appear at the feeding station. The cygnets that were raised nearby are quite a size now. Swifts, Swallows and House Martins hunted over the pond and above, and accompanied my walk into Holywell village where my walk ended. I had amassed a list of 57 species, including two year ticks. Only 23 more needed if we are to hit the target 80!:-)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Smardale NNR and More Butterflies.

Dark Green Fritillary
Scotch Argus

Common Blue and Small Skipper

Common Blue (female)

View from the viaduct

Small Skipper

Water Avens Geum rivale. A flower in my top ten.
Small Skipper

Scotch Argus

24th Jul. After the successful previous day at Bishop Middleham I was off today to Smardale NNR in the hope of more butterflies. I had targeted Scotch Argus and Dark Green Fritillary. I was with the Local Group today and the weather was once again kind to us. Birding got little more exciting than the Kestrel and Common Buzzard seen on the journey over to Cumbria, and the Common Tern seen as we crossed the Tyne. This is not to say that there isn’t some good birding to be had in the area of the reserve and individuals in the group had sightings of Raven, Redstart and Wood Warbler. At the reserve I had little more than Swift, hirundines and Willow Warbler, but I was again concentrating on the botany and butterflies.

The Smardale Reserve is close to Kirby Stephen and covers part of the disused Darlington to Tebay railway line, closed in the 1960s. It was well worth the visit and I point you to this site for details. http://www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/smardale-gill.html I am quite sure the locals and other visitors are not used to seeing a thirty-five seater coach parked in the small car-park, and to be honest I at one point thought we wouldn’t make it down the very narrow road. Our driver managed to negotiate the problem without knocking down the stone walls or denting his almost new coach, but only just! Anyway the natives were very friendly and quite happy that the coach be parked on the grass, once the horse had been removed to a safe area.

On the initial stage of the walk all that was seen was a Small White Butterfly, but the wildflowers were holding the interest and today included Water Avens and I found one only just coming into flower whilst all the others around it had long past flowering. Other interesting pants included Fragrant Orchid in some number, cranesbills of several species, Betony and Enchanters Nightshade. We had timed the walk in the expectation that given a decent day weather wise both Dark Green Fritillary and Scotch Argus would be on the wing. Just as we finishing our lunch the first Dark Green Fritillary Butterfly was found and gave hope that more were to come. More did come, giving everyone the chance of good sightings. It wasn’t too long before the sun and more open area brought out a number of Scotch Argus Butterflies. The reserve is only one of two areas in England where this butterfly can be found. Both these butterflies were lifers for me.

Amongst the other butterflies seen were Small Skippers, by the dozen. I have never seen so many. There were also lots of Common Blues and many of them female. Other butterflies seen were Green Veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Small Heath. One or two of our group reported seeing Northern Argus. I’m not fully convinced that they did, but perhaps I’m just jealous.:-) I have a feeling they might have been looking at the Common Blue females. Whatever, it was certainly a good butterfly day. On the return walk the rains appeared to be approaching from the west coast although we were back at the coach before there was any real shower. The benefit of the cloud was that the Scotch Argus Butterflies were settled and very easily photographed.
We do live in a small world and on the return walk we chatted to a lady who seemed to have a slight American accent. She was walking with her partner, and her mother who she was visiting. Last night I Googled Smardale and I came across a report on a certain bird forum which I won’t name.:-) It was a report from about six years ago from a Cumbrian lady who now lived in the USA, who was then visiting her mum. The lady’s latest post showed that she was presently in Cumbria. I’m sure that is the lady I spoke with. I’ve sent her a PM to say hello.
I'm now ready for some serious birding!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Bishop Middleham Old Quarry

Burnet Moth

Meadow Brown

Small Skipper

Green Veined White


Carline Thistle Carlina vulgaris

Small Tortoiseshell


Common Blue

I discovered this old magnesian limestone quarry a few years ago when I was just breaking new ground and showing an interest in plants. I fell in love at first sight, but don’t get down there very frequently. I’ve had a trip down there planned with Holywell Birding for some time now and today was the day. Yes, I was south of the Tyne once more. This is getting to be a habit and I realise my patch reports have been neglected recently.

Today’s visit was primarily to look at the plants and butterflies and thankfully the weather was on our side. It does get very warm in the quarry on a sunny day. There were a few birds about including Swift, Swallow, Sand Martin, Kestrel (in the working quarry), Willow Warbler and Yellowhammer. I saw no sign of the Green Woodpeckers. The recent rain seems to have encouraged general growth and because of this I felt some of the orchids were not showing quiet as well as on my previous visits. There was still a good showing of the Red Helleborines (some in pristine condition), Common Spotted Orchid, Fragrant Orchid (possibly more than one species of this as I know the Marsh Fragrant Orchid grows in here, as well as the Common) and Common Twayblade. The other flower that really caught the eye was the Carline Thistle and the quarry is the only area I have ever seen this plant. I remember being told that this plant grows to a far larger size in parts of Europe.

Cain and I had hoped for sightings of the Durham Northern Argus Butterfly, which I have found in numbers on previous visits, but we found none today. I found only a little of its larval food plant the Rock Rose so I wonder if there is any link. I have usually found large amounts of Rockrose in flower in the quarry. There was no shortage of Burnet Moths which were once again flying and settling everywhere, and there were large numbers of Green Veined White, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Common Blue and Small Heath Butterflies, the latter two species being very active and difficult to photograph. Small Skipper and Small Tortoiseshell were also seen. Cain found a female Common Blue Butterfly in the grass, unfortunately were not able to get a decent photograph as it was partially hidden with grass stems.

After leaving the quarry and returning again, these GPS things seem to play funny tricks, we did eventually arrive in Bishop Middleham.:-) We made for the Castle Lake of course. Not having a key for the hide we made for the back of the lake braving the herd of cattle, which I had seen a very large bull with last week! I checked out that it wasn’t there today! We didn’t see too much in the way of waders here today. Plenty of Lapwings and a Common Sandpiper was the sum total, although perhaps there was better to be had viewing some of the channels from the hide. I must get a key. Little and Great Crested Grebes were amongst the birds on the water. Every cloud has a silver lining however and despite not having use of the hide, having gone round the back of the lake we took a short walk along the marked path and found a single Corn Bunting on the wires. A welcome year tick and a very good day!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Kittiwake, Kittiwake!

North Shields.
A bit crowded this side of the Tyne!

Perhaps you could believe that the Tyne is industrialy active!

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Burnet Moths

The Jackdaws had been well fed!

Marsden Rock

Rest Harrow Ononis repens

19th July. I decided to take a chance with the changeable weather and jump on the ferry over to South Shields with the intention of walking at Marsden. I’ve been missing the ferries and water of my recent trip northwards and whilst the crossing on the Pride of the Tyne didn’t quite match some of my experiences in the northern isles, it was pleasant none the less. My first Kittiwakes were seen near the ferry landing.

By the time I got to Marsden it was very warm and I was beginning to think that sun cream may have been more appropriate that the waterproofs I had taken. The calls of the Kittiwakes were with me as I walked to Souter Lighthouse along the cliff top and then back to explore Marsden Bay. I’m aware that the population of Kittiwakes has fallen in recent years, but it was hard to imagine this when seeing the numbers about. The number of juvenile birds seemed large and I’m wondering if this has been a successful breeding year? Other birds seen included the Fulmars, Cormorants, Herring Gulls, and Sandwich Terns fishing out at sea. I assume that there were other species of tern around, but they were too far out to identify. I did spot a couple of Guillemots a good way out on the sea. The trip was worthwhile just to see the Kittiwakes alone!

The cliff scenery is interesting to say the least and it must be a very long time since I was down by the sea in Marsden Bay. I watched the Sand Martins in some number as they flew near to the colony. Swifts were about, and Swallows and House Martins flew over the sea.

The heat and sun ensured that the insect life was active. On a couple of occasions I was covered by small black insects and I assumed that these where what the Jackdaws were busy picking from the flowers on the cliff edge. I was still itching when I got home. Rather more rewarding were the numbers of butterflies. There were lots of Meadow Brown and Small Tortoiseshell along with the odd Green Veined White, Small Skipper, and Common Blue. They proved almost impossible to photograph, being very active and in the main right on the cliff edge. Most impressive were the numbers of Burnet Moths where one small area held high numbers of them feeding on the plants. These were generally more settled than the butterflies. The walk down to the bay brought a nice showing of Rest Harrow.

The darker cloud came over shortly after 1.30pm and a few raindrops fell so we made back to North Shields, noting Common Tern from the ferry. I must say that at £2 return the ferry is excellent value ad I hadn’t realised how busy it can get even on a Monday.

Back on the north bank we decided to give Christian’s fish and chips a miss and ventured to the Waterfront which has a notice saying that it won an award fro being the best fish and chip shop in the north east. Well, all I can say is the judges didn’t share my tastes! Neither the fish nor the chips can stand comparison to Christian’s. The chips had a greasy taste and feel to them, and I even left some on the plate. They were very slightly more expensive than Christians too, although you do get a biggest pot of tea. I won’t be returning. In any event in my mind the fish and chip shop at Seaton Sluice remains number one.

By the time I approached home which was late afternoon many of the roads had flooded such as had been the downpour. I had plans to go to Slaley one evening this week for Nightjars, but the forecast is suggesting that may have to be cancelled. At least the rain ensures I have a little more time for reading. Returning to the topic of Kittiwakes, I'm sure many are aware of the jailing of those idiots for shooting Kittiwakes in South Tyneside some months ago. I've just being reading of the human toll on Kittiwakes. Historically of course, both the birds and eggs were taken in huge quantities from areas such as Ailsa Craig and Flambourgh. These were taken for food, but even worse was the slaughter for sport. In the nineteenth century shooters would hire steamboats to take them under the cliffs at Flambourgh, the captain would sound the siren, the birds would lift, and the shooting would begin. One guy shot 80 Kittiwakes in an hour for a bet and another killed 500 during a day for the very same reason. Sadly I think that there are those around today who would do the very same thing if they weren't controlled!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Durham Adventure.

14th July. The Fog on the Tyne was at least partly mine, as I crossed the mist to the south bank. It was quite early, so my excuse for not ticking Kittiwakes as I usually do was that I was still half asleep. I was soon in the metropolis of Chester-le-Street where my mission was to find AK, of Foghorn Birding Adventures fame, and AR in Tesco’s car park. With a little assistance this mission was soon accomplished and we were off on a magical mystery tour of Durham. The other guys seemed to know where they were going, but I didn’t! The mist by this time had cleared. I had set AK the task of finding me five year ticks today.

First stop was Greatham Creek. The first bird seen of any significance was an overhead calling Yellow Wagtail, and there were a number of Common Seals around. There were Common Terns a plenty and it wasn’t too long before we caught sight of a single Ruff which delivered my first year tick. That brought the response of ‘oh, that’s a year tick is it’ from AK. Not sure what he meant by his remark! It was good to see the numbers of Avocet still about and in the same vicinity there were Redshanks and Dunlin. A juvenile Dunlin was thought to be of the northern race. I think AK was intent on having a look at this in flight but AR and I managed to drag him away without too much fuss. A Common Sandpiper was briefly seen in flight. As well as white species butterflies, there were a number of Meadow Brown, and I got my eye on one Small Heath Butterfly.

Next short stop was Saltholme Pools where I have to report that Coot numbers are doing very well. I thought at on point that I may have seen at least half the world population. We did get good sightings of four more Ruff and a Sanderling. Oystercatcher, Curlew, Lapwing, and Dunlin were amongst other waders seen here, along with both Greylag and Canada Geese. There were at least three Grey Herons sharing the pond with the Coots. There were more Common Terns. By now we were all getting peckish so we made for Dormans Pool and lunch. Over lunch we heard and momentarily glimpsed Reed Warbler. Whitethroat was also about. It was shortly after having had lunch that AK received one of his ‘local bird reports’. This was some rarity on Orkney. We did consider heading for Aberdeen and catching the ferry to the islands, but having just a couple of sandwiches, half a bottle of water and £7.09 between the three of us we decided not to bother. Who needs rarities anyway? This little episode did bring an hour or so of jokes about Northlink ferries, which I’m sure no one in their right mind would want me to repeat and you had to be there to see the funny side.

We were soon off again and this time didn’t stop until we were at Crimdon Dene. I began to have flash backs of a childhood visit here. I had been very hot during the day, but that was soon to change in the sea mist and wind. After an interesting chat with the warden we were off to look for the Little Terns. We soon found them and lots of them too. This was my second year tick which brought another retort of ‘oh that’s a year tick is it’ from AK! I can tell you now to avoid any suspense that there was not to be a third year tick for me. This young man once again promised so much, but delivered so little! :-) The Little Tern was my bird of the day and we watched them at some length, and at times there was Little Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Tern and Sandwich Tern on the beach in front of us. The Arctic Tern’s tail streamers showing really well. The usual gulls were about along with Ringed Plover and Sanderling over the sea were Gannets, Guillemots and a lone Manx Shearwater. Skylarks were singing over the dunes. There was some interesting plant life here, but the other guys didn’t seem too interested in them so after a while we headed off to Castle Lake.

Now I hadn’t been to Castle Lake since the hide had been built. I can understand why DBC are proud of it. We had a several waders here including Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper, Redshank, Greenshank and Curlew. We didn’t find the Wood Sandpiper and the Hobby didn’t put in an appearance either. A Sparrowhawk did fly through and we had seen Kestrel earlier in the day. Having took a while to focus in o a distant Stock Dove, one then flew right overhead! Just before we moved onto the A1 flashes three young boys had the cheek to walk down to the shore of the lake so we give out a yell and we were met by apologetic replies. A few minutes later there was a tap on the door. Could this be the boys seven foot, twenty stone fathers come to have a word, or worse, I thought. I opened the door ready to put my spectacles on and with the broom in one hand. The boys had come up to apologise. There is obviously good breeding and respect in the area! The A1 flashes brought only Grey Heron, Curlew and Lapwing and by now the skies were turning a dark shade of grey. There was good numbers of Skylark about, but no Corn Buntings were found. A Small Tortiseshell Butterfly was seen. As we headed back to Chester-le Street the rains came down. As I left the Tesco car park I noticed AK and AR cleaning out the part of the car I had been sitting in. Were they trying to tell me something I wondered!

I was quickly on the bus back to north of the Tyne and reflecting what had been another great day in Durham with a list of bird species seen totaling 64. Thank you AK, and thank you AR. I will return! :-)

Having denied any part in an offence, I referred the police enquiries concerning three men, one with a brush in his right hand, verbally abusing schoolboys, on to AK.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Birdsong, Music and Inspiration.

Castle at Mitford
I’m stepping down soon as Leader of the Local RSPB Group so as to allow myself more time to ‘be me’. I want to devote more time to my own interest in nature and birds in particular, but I also want to encourage and inspire, in particular, young people to take an interest in nature and their local surroundings. I’ve already began in a small way to do this with the help of friends. I was as you know involved in Holywell Birdings project with the scouts recently, and shortly afterwards I led a school eco-group, to whom I’d previously given a talk, through Holywell dene and St Mary’s Island.

I find it is the small things that interest the youngsters, but generally not LBJs, although certainly some from the school group were taken with the manic song of the Sedge Warbler at the wetland near St Mary’s. As I’ve said before, I think this area could be so much better given a little attention. Are you listening N T C? I suspect with forthcoming cutbacks you won’t be! Getting back to small things, I found what really got the kids interested were the things such as cuckoo-spit http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A812828 soldier beetles, especially the ones that were mating and perhaps not surprisingly the Carrion Crow which was dining on a young seabird. I'm pleased to that plants of various kinds have caught the imagination of some. In truth there were few birds about at the coast the day I was down there, but we did see such species as Cormorant, Eider Duck, Common Scoter, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Curlew, Common Tern and Sandwich Tern, along with gulls and other corvids. Birding was difficult in the dene because of the thickness of the herbage but we had the likes of Grey Heron, tits and finches. I found a Speckled Wood Butterfly which now seems to be more common in the dene. The weather has been kind too, with warmth and sun for recent ventures.

I was also out this weekend in a wood in Northumberland with a local professional musician who is looking for inspiration from bird song so as to write a musical piece. You will I think hear more about this in the future. I really found this interesting, and although there is little birdsong at the moment, I think the initial thoughts and plans are being put into place and I’ll enjoy seeing/hearing how this progresses. Of course much music has gained inspiration from birdsong http://www.colander.org/gallimaufry/Birdsong.html The only birds of note that we heard at any length were Chiffchaff (no one will have gone home failing to recognise that one in the future!), Blackbird, Wren, corvids and pigeons. I did catch sight of a Jay on arrival. I also gained some ideas as to where to arrange a future group local walk.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Down to Earth.

A Light Emerald Moth that I almost trod on.
Grey Heron at Druridge

One of the dead Moles.

Eyebright Euphrasia nemarosa

7th July. After my trips north to Scotland over recent weeks I’m afraid the patch has been rather neglected by me, as has local birding in general. I was out very briefly today, but only between other businesses, although I did find a Light Emerald Moth on the footpath and remembered instantly that it was the moth that I had found in the forest whilst in Dumfries and Galloway. The most notable difference on patch now is the lack of bird song. I heard very little today apart from the calls of Chaffinch and Wrens. I noticed lots of Common Ragwort was in flower in the area I often find insects, but on looking I found only one Small Skipper Butterfly.

I haven’t been totally inactive over the past couple of weeks. An RSPB Local Walk brought some interesting plants in the Rising Sun Country Park including one of my favourites the hemi-parasitic Eyebright. I noted also that there is a very good showing of Northern Marsh Orchids in the park this year. No doubt some hybrids amongst them. I found numbers of Common Blue Butterflies continue to be high in the park, and Small Skipper and Meadow Brown were also seen. Common Blue and Large Red Damselflies were over one of the ponds. My favourite pond for odonata has been ruined at least for now in an attempt to make a suitable dipping pond. In fact most of the small ponds seem neglected to me. We gave most attention to the plants as bird life seemed minimal, but we did in fact find thirty-four species and everyone had excellent views of the Sparrowhawk, which appeared on two or three occasions. We found two dead Moles and a dead Hedgehog, perhaps in this state because of the dryness and heat. I managed to get a decent photo of the Mole’s foot.

Anyone who reads the blog will know I enjoyed the time I spent in Holywell with Holywell Birding, Crammy Birder and the 19th Whitley Bay Scout Group despite me missing the Little Egrets and Hobby. I take consolation in having learnt a bit more about botanical issues myself, as I helped, I hope, in a small way to increase the scouts’ interest. I enjoy seeing people discover new things about nature as much as doing so myself, especially when they are keen, and these guys were. The preparatory day I looked at the pond it was pretty quiet it has to be said, but Cain and I did see the Little Grebes with young as well as other birds which included Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk, Treecreeper, Willow Warbler and Bullfinch.

I’ve been so busy I haven’t even written down a list for my trip to Cresswell and Druridge Ponds and East Chevington. I do remember seeing lots more Common Blue Butterflies and a Burnet Moth and a good showing of terns at East Chevington, which included Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns. A Grey Heron posed long enough at Druridge, even for me, to get a decent enough photo.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Mega Rarity Found at Holywell!

Holywell Birding shows the group his mega find. As you can see niether Cain nor the finch came to any harm. Many twitchers will, I know, regret the fact that the finding was supressed, even if it was done so for sound reasons. I hope the photograph will ease their pain of not 'ticking' the bird.
3rd July. Before I go onto discuss the mega find by Holywell Birding, I’d just like to say that the day he planned and organised so well for the 19th Whitley Bay Scout Group was a great success. It was a pleasure to be part of it and to see the interest and enthusiasm shown by all of the young people involved (and the not so young too:-)). It was a great day. Take a bow Cain and never let anyone tell you that young people can't be interested in nature!

Now, as if ordered for the day, the sun shone and birds of the likes of Hobby and Little Egret made an appearance at the pond, along with some notable Dragonflies. Sadly I was sweating in the dene at the time, so missed them. However I enjoyed showing the group some of the botanical interest down there and I was at least with them when we all had close up sightings of a remarkably rare and little known yellow finch. News of the birds appearance had been suppressed owing to the fact that there may be a pair attempting to breed in the area. I would plead with all twitchers that they refrain from attempting to find this bird and risking disturbance!

I have every faith in Holywell Birdings ornithological expertise, so I never had any doubt that he was onto something when he told me that he had discovered the bird the evening before. However there had been a little scepticism amongst a few of the scouts so Cain showed everyone one of the feathers he had found from the finch. I understand that this feather has today been sent off for DNA testing as there is some thought that this bird may be an entirely new species. If this is proven to be the case, someone has already suggested the scientific name of Carduelis megacainus and in high ornithological circles it is already being talked of as the ‘Scrimmy’ Finch.

Because of some perceived scepticism amongst the group, Cain took the group, me and Phil, aka Crammy Birder, down to take a look at the bird feeding. I noted that it feeds upside down and I learnt that it has already built a fierce reputation especially if disturbed when feeding. Unperturbed Cain took one of the scouts along with him to try and capture the bird for ringing purposes. So stealthily did they approach, I thought we might be here until Sunday, and thought about asking the scouts to pitch a tent. Crammy Birder will testify that we heard the finch singing as the two approached. Having put their field skills to good use they did eventually reach the part of the hedge where the bird was feeding and Cain pounced upon the bird. The bird appeared to take exception to this and at one point had Cain on his back and I heard a distinct scream. My heart missed a few beats at this point, as I thought the worst. However it wasn’t long before the calmed finch was being carried back to the group cradled in the arm of the scout. This was met by loud calls of ‘Rubber Duck’ by some of the group. I can only assume this is some kind of triumphant call that Scouts use!

So there you are. There can be no doubts about the veracity of the find which is backed up by my photo which I have no doubt will give the rarities committee something to ponder over as they take their coffee. Crammy Birder has already added it to his life list and is simply awaiting clarification as to whether it is a new species. I was thrilled to be a part of this. Only Holywell Birding, Crammy Birder, Killy Birder and the 19th Whitley Bay Scout Group saw this bird which no doubt will prove to be a blocker for many twitchers for many years to come. You’ll have to live with it guys!

I’ve included some quotes from the day below.

Holywell Birding…’I have no intention of parting with the yellow feather I found as it means so much to me, unless of course anyone come up with a good offer of more than fifty quid!’.

Crammy Birder…’This bird is on my life list as I speak, and as everyone knows, nothing dodgy goes on there………well at least not very often’.

Scout Jack…I never doubted that Cain had made a real mega find here, and the photo proves it!

Scout Vaughn…Wow, great stuff. I’m only sorry I couldn’t put it in my box with the rest of my collection and take it home. When I get home I’m gonna double check that Brian got all the flower names correct.

Scout anonymous… ‘I never believed this was a real bird until I saw it in Cain’s hands. Now I feel a little foolish, so please don’t name me!’

Scout anonymous…Ok, I know I moaned about having to walk so far in the dene, but being allowed to carry such a rare bird really made up for the exhausting walk and I’m proud to be one of the few to have seen this bird.