Thursday, 31 March 2011

All Weather Birders Out of the Mist.....Eventually!

It does look so different without frost, ice and snow!

A Room With a View.

A Poser

30th March. The weather forecast had been for poor weather today! When I met Tom and Cain at Killingworth Lake at least it wasn’t raining, so I was hopeful. The plan was that we were to pay a quick visit to Cresswell Pond to try for the American Wigeon. Before setting off we had ticked the usual lake birds including three Great Crested Grebes, Canada Geese, Oystercatchers, Reed Bunting and the one and only Sand Martin. The martins tend to be around in more numbers come the evening.

As Cain drove to Cresswell the mist seemed to thicken more and more on route. On arrival we found a number of Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit. We were soon heading for the hide finding once again, numbers of Tree Sparrow in the hedge. Although the light wasn’t wonderful at times, the mist in the main remained over the sea and there were only a couple of heavy showers of rain. The time here proved to be well spent indeed. There was still a number of Pink-Footed Geese about in the fields and a party of Greylag Geese flew in at one point around the same time as five Whooper Swans landed on the pond. There were a couple of Stock Doves in the field. Other birds on the water included Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveller, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Red-Breasted Merganser, Coot and Moorhen. Oystercatchers, Redshank, Lapwing and Curlew were around in some number. Grey Heron appeared at some point and another was seen on the small pond as we left. The American Wigeon was not going to make a quick appearance it seemed, as we all checked out the flocks of Wigeon, some of them way off in the distant fields. There were large flocks of Black Headed Gulls and our frustration at not finding the American Wigeon was eased a little by Tom’s sighting of an adult Mediterranean Gull. Certainly not regulars at Cresswell Pond I believe. Could Tom have recorded the first one? It wasn’t long before Cain got his eye on another and the two Mediterranean Gulls remained close together on the far side of the pond. A great sighting indeed. Lesser Black Backed Gulls were present too.

The Wigeon flocks kept moving from shore to pond as other flocks joined them. Still, there was no American Wigeon. Then someone in the hide called it just as I was beginning to feel that it wasn’t going to be our day. We all had good sightings of an American Wigeon to the field left of the hide. We had to leave soon afterwards, so it had timed things very well. Unfortunately Cain had to leave us soon afterwards, but dropped Tom and I off at Seaton Sluice as that mist remained over the sea. Thanks to Cain for the lift and company. It certainly beat the long haul bus journey!

Tom and I looked around the Sluice area in the hope of possible Wheatears, but found none. The tide was high by now so looked for Knot and Purple Sandpiper with no great optimism. They may have left anyway. We did manage to add Turnstone to the list. A sea watch from the area of the tower hide (haven’t got my new key yet) brought us some decent sightings despite the mist over the sea, and the sun was beginning to break through now! We found both Black Throated and Red Throated Diver quite quickly. Fulmars were about in good numbers. A single Kittiwake was seen as were other gulls including Great Black Backed. There were numerous small rafts of Eider Duck. Pleased with ‘our divers’ we took a walk along to the horse fields in the hope of finding Wheatear there. No luck again. We walked back and adjourned for lunch at the chippy.

After a filling lunch and cup of tea we set off in the sun and warmth towards the dene. The calories we had added had done the trick and seemed to be racing around our bodies causing a build up of warmth. In my case it may have just been the up hill walk towards Holywell! The odd shower was no problem for us. It was simply water off an all weather birders back.

It initially proved to be quiet bird wise. Once into the dene proper we did then pick up a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and one of the species we had set out to find, a pair of Grey Wagtails. There were the usual woodland birds but we failed to find either Nuthatch or Treecreeper. The odd Song Thrush was found and just before leaving the dene we had a brief sighting of Sparrowhawk. The sound of Chiffchaff had been with us as we had walked through the dene, and at least two Chiffchaffs had been seen. The dene was looking so different now that the winter has left us, that I think Tom had begun to feel we had taken a different route.:-)

The avenue provided us with Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and Linnet. I can’t remember seeing north pool with so much water in it. We found a pair of calling Little Grebe on the water along with Moorhen and Tufted Duck. Lapwing were displaying in the area. Two Grey Partridges were seen as they lifted from the fields on the right of us. We took a look across the farmland and began to hear the first of several Skylarks and we found numbers of Linnet, both in the hedges and the stuble field.

We eventually reached the pond. It had seemed to have been a long day in the field but in fact it wasn’t 3:30pm yet. There were at least four pairs of Little Grebe on the pond along with the likes of Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Teal and Goldeneye. The feeding station was fairly quiet, but still attracted birds such as Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Pheasant. One of the male pheasants was an especially attractive one from the torqatus group. I remembered the Green Pheasant Tom and I had seen last week at Cresswell. Does anyone know it these are likely to come from the stock of Japanese Green Pheasant?

Well after a cuppa in the hide it was time to leave. Tom was off to do some studying and I was off to have a kip! :-) Yet another great day in the life of the all weather birders. We’d actually beaten the weather today as it turned out rather nice on the whole. There was a ‘lifer in the day of Tom’, the American Wigeon, and our list of species by my reckoning came to seventy-three. After a short interval throughout April we will be back on the Holywell and St Mary’s route to try and break our record of seventy-six species. We are after eighty, but will confine this to the Holywell to St Mary’s Walk.

Looking forward to the NTBC talk tonight and pleased these winds did not come a day earlier.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Cool Evening

'You flash that camera in my face and I'll be up your trouser leg'............aggggggghhhhhhhhh!

28th March. Having been alerted by Holywell Birding to the fact that Sand Martins were flying over the lake yesterday, I finally got down there to look myself this evening. There were 10+ Sand Martins flying from lake to lake as the sun was going down. Quite an atmospheric evening with many Mute Swans and a number of Canada Geese flying up the lake with two calling Oystercatchers in flight too.

I took a walk to see if the Nuthatches had returned to the nest site used over at least the past couple of years. There was no sign of them. It had suddenly turned very cold so I made of home. Not surprising that my spider friends are seeking warmth such are these cold evenings. Unfortunately I think the above's mate may have disappeared accidentally down the sink! I often rescue them from the bath.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Spring onto Patch

Some signes of spring on patch.

23rd March. The sun, blue skies and heat all proved to be a bit of a shock to the system today as I wandered along the wagon-ways. It was a real pleasure to dump some of the layers. I found a decent patch of Colts-foot Tussilago farfara next to the pathway. This is one of the early spring flowers. One of its vernacular names, Son-before-father, refers to the fact that the plant flowers before the leaves have opened. The common name of Colts-foot refers to the hoof like shape of the leaves. The leaves were used as a cough medicine and Colts-foot rock was available at the chemist at one time. During the war it was apparently viewed as a cough treatment and not rationed. Not that I remember any of this I hasten to add!

A few days ago I failed to positively identify my first butterfly of the year, but today there was no doubt that I had seen my first Peacock Butterfly. This was followed within minutes by a Comma Butterfly. Both were near to my home and both coming close to examine me. I did get brief sightings of another two butterflies, I think again Peacocks, and one of those almost touched my ear as it flew around my head. Another nice sighting for the day was a Brown Hare which I came within a few metres of, as it seemed to feed and clean itself in the grass. I’m sure it was so pre-occupied that it hadn’t realised I was there. On my return it had moved along the hedge-way only slightly.

The air was full of birdsong today and this included a number of Skylarks. Strangely these have been the first Skylarks I have heard on patch this year. Unusually I have heard Chiffchaff before hearing the Skylark. Incidentally I did hear and see another Chiffchaff today. I’ve also been surprised this year by the lack of Lapwing taking up territories. There were none about today in the area that held them last year. I did eventually find four of them. Three of them appeared to be settled in the opposite fields from last year and one of them was near the small flash towards Holystone. The flash also held one Moorhen.

The pair of Kestrels met at one of the high pylons. The male immediately flying off to hunt over the fields, and the female landing on the pylon where she stayed for a few minutes before also flying off to hover over the opposite fields. A couple of Yellowhammers were in the hedge and I briefly heard another sing. Pheasant was heard and a number of Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch were both heard and seen. Nine Stock Doves lifted from the field.

As I was nearing home I heard the call of an Oystercatcher and I looked into the sky to try and catch sight of it but failed to do so. A sound which is becoming increasingly common in Killingworth. A Mistle Thrush was singing from high up in the trees. A song that can easily confuse I think. Very like a poor version of the Blackbird, and more repetitive. I remember last year listening to the ‘storm cock, at Holywell with Holywell Birding. Very soon afterwards both Cain and I were soaked in a storm! I have to say the weather didn’t look like taking a turn for the worse today. This Mistle Thrush flew off still in full song. It definitely felt like spring today!

Monday, 21 March 2011

All Weather Birders Enter the Mist Yet Again!

20th March. Tom and I were to meet Derek Y quite early this morning and travel up to Kielder. Originally this was to be with NTBC, but they had apparently decided to go on Saturday instead, a date we couldn’t make. Tom had found the juvenile Whooper Swan on the lake, so as we had a few minutes to spare we took a walk back down to have a look. Along with the Whooper Swan was the usual selection of birds and I was pleased to see that the pair of Great Crested Grebe are now united on the small lake. The day list had started well. The morning could almost pass as the first day of spring too. Little did we know what we were to face later!

As we journeyed to Kielder the first Common Buzzards was seen along with, in the main gulls, corvids and pigeons. The clouds seemed to be turning rather darker and descending as we approached Kielder. Unfortunately there now doesn’t appear to be anywhere to park near to the river, so our first stop was made to over look the reservoir and the hills hoping for a sightings of raptors, and in particular Goshawk. By now the mist was low on the hills and not giving good conditions for a raptor watch. Not to worry we thought as, we did tick off Crossbill and Sand Martins at this point. Other birds sighted included Goldeneye and a distant Pied Wagtail. I remember that we heard Song Thrush singing, but I can’t remember for the life of me if it was at this stop.

The Deadwater Fell area brought us another Common Buzzard. This time close to the road, as we rather optimistically watched the fell for signs of raptors. Conditions seemed to be worsening as Tom and I took a walk into Scotland! I’d left my camera in the car so couldn’t capture this event, although I’m sure we’ll be back.:-) Curlews were in the area as were numbers of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks in song.

Then it was up onto the forest trail road. Once out of the car I began to think it was mid February, such was the cold. We stuck this cold and mist for a time in the hope that an illusive Goshawk would appear. On the way up I had half convinced myself that the bird I saw briefly disappearing low into the trees (after having fed or watered) was a young Goshawk. I’m not entirely convinced it wasn’t, but neither am I certain it was. In the event we did count a few more Common Buzzards and listened to them mewing. Tom caught sight of a Raven. We all later heard the call of a Raven and all managed decent sightings of at least one pair. We also saw Greater Spotted Woodpecker and heard the yaffle of Green Woodpecker. Apart from this there was the odd Skylark, but little else about.

Tom picked up three or four more Crossbills before we visited the hide at Bakethin Resevoir. The rain was quite heavy by now, but the area was very quiet and atmospheric, and the water reflected pastel colours from the hills. I saw my first Goldcrest of the year here, just outside of the hide. Not as exciting as the Loch Ness Monster recorded by a previous visitor, but nicer to look at. We thought maybe the Sedge Warbler recorded the day before might have been as likely as the monster. A Goosander was seen as were a number of displaying Goldeneye. That neck stretch is something to see. I recommend that this is not attempted at home! Grey Heron put in an appearance as did Long Tailed Tit. The time spent here was a really nice part of the day I thought and I felt at peace with nature. I also felt rather damp and cold but that would be put right by a bite to eat and a cuppa.

After lunch we made back up onto the forest trail road. The Ravens were still about as was Common Buzzard. The mist was even thicker now and the cold even colder! We didn’t hang around to long so we decided to try and find somewhere by the river to park but it wasn’t possible although I did briefly see a Dipper as we drove towards Bellingham. It hadn’t been good conditions to visit Kielder but it had been enjoyable none the less, and there were few people about which always helps to make the day more pleasurable in my opinion.

We drove towards home via Sweethope Lough. The pretty route as Derek said. Lapwing was found. The day was far from over as we decided to visit Prestwick Carr and Big Waters.

Having given Prestwick Carr a good build up it turned out to be very quiet. We did record yet another Common Buzzard, along with the likes of Curlew and Yellowhammer. Note to self says that Prestwick Carr must be visited again soon! Big Waters was to prove more productive today.

It has to be said that the hide at Big Waters is very good indeed. The feeding station was very busy and we recorded the likes of Pheasant, Robin, Chaffinch, Tree Sparrow, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Geenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Stock Dove and Great Spotted Woodpecker which went off to drum nearby. It was quiet by now and I find this time of the evening a relaxing time to bird watch and to actually take in what you’re watching. Those Tree Sparrows really are attractive birds and the male Chaffinches were showing their intensive colours off to the full.

On the water the displaying Goldeneye were again catching the eye. I saw more Goldeneye today than for sometime! The male Gadwalls were also looking dapper and far more attractive than shown in the guide books. Other birds on the water included Great Crested Grebes, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Moorhen and Coot. Two Oystercatchers flew in and onto the small island and Cormorants where in the dead tree. Gulls present included a number of Lesser Black Backed Gulls. It was an enjoyable and relaxing way to end the day. Incidentally once we had left Kielder and travelled eastwards we were soon under blues skies and sun. It felt like we had entered from a different world.

We all agreed that it had been a great day and thanks go to Derek for providing the transport. The all weather birder team continue to face the elements with a smile. Weather……bring it on (but could Saturday be nice please?):-) My count came to a round figure of sixty bird species. I hope I haven’t missed anything. This included some new year ticks for all of us. The Goshawk can wait!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Chiff-chaff, Chiff-chaff.

19th March. I took a short walk onto the patch today and was soon listening to and watching Chiffchaffs in the area that they usually initially appear, south of the village. In 2010 it was 21st of March before I found them and in 2009 it was 20th March. I’m not too scientific about how I do this, so let me just say I know it’s about now that they appear. On the previous two years I had checked earlier days and found nothing. There was lots of other bird song today and Wrens in particular, were numerous.

I took a walk to the small lake. There are still at least three Goosanders on the lake. The Great Crested Grebe on the small lake appears to still be alone. I took a look to see if three Great Crested Grebes were still on the larger lake, reported Sedgedunum Warbler, and sadly found none at all there. I was in a hurry to get back to listen to the football so I probably missed them further down the lake. As it happens I should not have bothered rushing back, such was the result!

The Sparrowhawk was being mobbed by Jackdaws. Possibly one of the birds which has visited my garden recently. On the last occasion, making a successful kill.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

All Weather Birders Off Into the Mist

16th March. The all weather birding team left Killingworth for the long bus journey to the distant shores of Cresswell as the mists swirled around us. Tom and I had not given up hope of sun, migrants and butterflies! Would our hopes be dashed I wondered, and I had plenty of time to wonder as the bus seemed to take in every street between our departure point and the metropolis of Ashington. Yes you must change at Ashington. An uninterrupted journey to our final destination would be far too straight forward! I did pass comment later in the day that we could fly to Spain in the time it takes to get to Cresswell on public transport. Then later I remembered departure lounges, hassle and security checks and decided that Cresswell was in fact a better option.

The change over at Ashington wasn’t altogether unwelcome as we had hoped to find some remaining Waxwings. We didn’t find any and realise we wouldn’t have time to search all areas. A quick look was taken of the wooded area near to the QE11 reserve. I noted that there seems to be a good number of staff and volunteers employed here. They seemed to be arriving for work and the warden asked if we had spotted anything of rarity. The answer was no, but we had found the likes of Goldfinch, Greenfinch and singing Song Thrush. We were soon on the second leg of the journey. There were numbers of swans seen as we approached Creswell but from the bus we could only see Mute Swans and we were unable to identify the more distant birds.

The mist was down when we arrived at our destination, but we still held hopes of it lifting. It wasn’t bad enough to spoil some decent birding and in fact it was quite atmospheric. The sea watch was short as the tide was high and the waves rough. Eider Ducks, Oystercatchers and a few gulls were about all on offer. The walk to the pond hide was enjoyable however. I began to wonder why Tom had suddenly taken such a keen interest in the corvids, and then I remembered of course that one of our target birds was the Hooded Crow.

There were quite a number of calling and displaying Lapwings in the fields as we approached the pond. I remembered I have yet to see them back on patch! Redshank, Curlew and Moorhens were in the same area as the Lapwings and Snipe were also seen. Skylarks sang. A Stonechat was heard in its usual territory but we were unable to sight it. Three Stock Doves were seen in the field to the left of the pathway. The hedge which lines the path to the hide held numbers of Tree Sparrow. I’ve not seen them here before in such numbers. The pond looked quiet on first approach and the mist was not making for easy viewing. I’d been surprised to fine someone else in the hide on such a day. There was no way we were going to spot a Hooded Crow at the other end of the pond in these conditions. At times the mist did seem to begin to dissipate only to fall again.

After a while we did knock up quite a number of species on and around the pond despite conditions. Waders included Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Redshank and Dunlin. The pond held at least three Red-Breasted Merganser and two Goosander along with Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Moorhen and Coot. Oystercatchers were flying in all of the time we were there and the odd Cormorant was about. After a cuppa we decided to make of towards Druridge and into the mist which at this point in time we were still hopeful would lift. Those hopes began to recede as we became damper and damper on the walk.

We stopped a while at the brow of the hill to look for the Hooded Crow. Not easy in the mist. We’d been warned about the danger of parking the car here. We all weathers needn’t trouble ourselves about such things. We found the dead sheep which the crows were tucking into, but no Hooded Crow. As we walked further on Grey Partridges rose and flew on either side of us. One of the Pheasants that we spotted was of deep vivid green colouring. Skylarks were seen in flight, but the area was generally quiet. There were few cars on the road and even fewer people about.

We took a look at the area just before Druridge Pool and found Grey Herons, Shoveller and more Wigeon and Teal. Then we walked the plank through a pool on the pathway to the hide. Thoughts of falling into the burn were on our minds but there was to be no such mishaps today! Druridge Pool didn’t have much to offer today, but the hide gave shelter for lunch before we walked back towards Cresswell, this time along the beach. Tom had managed to find a bottle of water in the bottom of his bag, which he had forgotten about. I decided to blot from my mind all thoughts of what else might be lurking in the depths of that bag! :-) Having had our feet wet the last time we were up here I had made sure the tide was definitely going out this time. The sea was rough and we realised that there was little chance of finding much in the way of birds. The only sightings were Herring Gulls and Oystercatchers. We eventually rejoined the roadway for another chance to look for the Hooded Crow. By now the mist was thickening and we couldn’t even see the dead sheep. However we weren’t the only ones looking for the crow. The other three people we spoke to had had no success either. Then we were approached by a couple who had sadly lost a small terrier dog in the area. They have put up notices with contact details should anyone find it.

The all weather birders where beginning to tire a little such had been the exertions of the day. The outward walk had been atmospheric, but now it was simply damp and misty, and that mist was getting thicker. We decided that it wasn’t worth giving the pond another look so we made off towards the village with the intention of looking for waders on the rocks. I think both of us by now would have been happy to jump on the bus and make for home, but we had just missed it so a look for waders it was. By now however the mist was such that bird watching wasn’t really an option, although we did manage to add Turnstone to our list. We sat on the rather wet seat and had a chat until the bus turned up.:-)

Despite the conditions (it would take a lot worse to put us off) it had been another great day for the all weather birders and we’d managed to find fifty-one species. Not at all bad in such conditions. We both nodded of on the way home, but I kept a firm hold on my salted peanuts! We’re looking forward to the next adventure.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Nordic Jackdaw on Patch

14th March

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Having been alerted to the emergence of butterflies I decided to take a short walk and see if I could be lucky and find even one! I looked at the area behind the church grounds where I have seen early Peacock Butterflies in previous years, but there appeared to be nothing. Having stayed around a short time I did catch a very brief sighting of a butterfly in the undergrowth behind the church ground wall. I lifted my binoculars to catch a better look at it, just as a Wren took my eye away, and the butterfly was gone. Probably a Peacock. My short stop did allow me to watch the Wrens also in the undergrowth and flocks of Goldfinch and Greenfinch high in the trees.

I took a walk to the smaller lake, but I didn’t cross to the larger lake. The ground is still very much waterlogged. Gulls seen where Black Headed, Common and Herring Gull. I could still only find one Great Crested Grebe on this lake. The now regular Oystercatchers were at the side of the water. Other birds on the water were Mute Swan, Canada Geese, at least three Goosander, Mallard, Pochard, Moorhen and Coot.

I returned via the playing fields to the east of the Lake and behind the village. It was beside the area where there is building work in preparation that I finally caught up with the Nordic Jackdaw. I assume it is the one that has been reported over recent weeks. It was amongst the flock which appeared to be flying between the fields and the village.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Beans on Patch!

A meal interrupted perhaps.

7th March. Despite the sun which drew me out onto patch today it was deceptively cold as I made for the wagon-way. I noticed on the way that a very nice area of scrub and bush which attracted birds has been dug up and flattened. I guess we have more brick and concrete to look forward to! The noisy Long Tailed Tit I found in the hedge along the pathway took thoughts of concrete from my mind.

Once onto the wagon-way proper I spent sometime taking in a very good sighting of two Grey Partridges feeding along by the hedge-way, both in excellent light. At least three piles of pigeon feathers give away that a predator had been around recently. A little bit further along the path I found another headless pigeon and suspect disturbance had interrupted the meal!

I found the Greenfinches especially loud this afternoon, and in the trees just before hitting the roadway again there was a large party of feeding and calling Goldfinches.

Once over the road and onto the wagon-way leading to Holystone I found three Mistle Thrush and several Stock Doves in what had initially looked to be a deserted field. There was no sign of any Lapwings which I seem to remember had been around in numbers this time last year. I got my eye on two waterfowl in the distance down beside the small flash. They looked ‘different’ even at distance so I made off to take a closure look. They turned out to be a new patch tick. They were definitely tundra Bean Geese. I took special note of the dark colouring, the bill marking and structure, and I also had a brief sighting of one of the bird’s legs which was showing well in the sunlight and it was distinctively orange. Whilst I was taking in the sighting I heard a Kestrel calling. There were no other waterfowl or waders in the area. I noticed another guy taking a look at these birds from the wagon-way opposite. I had first seen the birds shortly before 15:20 and they flew off towards the Tyne area at around 15:45. I’ve been keeping an aye on this particular area since watching the Short Eared Owls here almost two years ago. Up until today I hadn’t found anything I could say was out of the ordinary here. I’m very pleased with this sighting however.

On my return walk a dog disturbed two Skylarks and they took off in front of me. I checked out the pylons and found a Kestrel on top of the tallest steel pylon. The bird soon flew down to a lower level. Gulls flew in number in the distance over what I think is a landfill area. It gave the effect of grey and white objects in the air as the birds manoeuvred.

As I neared the end of the circular walk I listened to the song of Song Thrush and watched another Song Thrush feeding on the ground. Another party of Goldfinches fed and called in the trees. I found a Lesser Black Backed Gull in the distance. Temperatures were dropping by now so I made for home.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


Reflections upon Tyne

1st March. I found myself on the south side of the Tyne today. The afternoon took in Clara Vale, Crawcrook, Prudhoe and surrounding areas.

I’d never been to Clara Vale Nature Reserve before but had heard a lot about it. If I’m honest I wasn’t impressed by it, but appreciate it may have more to offer at other times of year. I didn’t find the hide until I’d returned from a walk along the River Tyne. There wasn’t much to report bird wise apart from tits and commoner finches and of course the close up Grey Squirrels.

It was a beautiful sunny day with clear blue skies, so I found the walk along the path between the golf course and the River Tyne rather more enjoyable than the short time spent at the reserve. I didn’t come across Kingfisher but did find seven Goosanders on the river and numbers of Cormorant and Mallard. The reflections on the river were showing well.

Three Common Buzzards were picked out from the gulls over the landfill at Crawcrook and up on Hedley Hill a flock of over sixty calling Fieldfare was found. I ended the day in the woods at Prudhoe. By now temperatures were plummeting at speed under clear evening skies. It was never the less very atmospheric and the highlight of the afternoon found me standing in the woods listening to the far carrying calls of Tawny Owls and Pheasants, and the mewing of Common Buzzards, two of which had flown overhead just above the tree line. The song from Song Thrushes seemed to be coming from all directions so it would seem that this species is doing very well in that particular area. Sadly I learnt that some of the wooded land owned by the hospital trust has already been lined up for building.

The day hadn’t brought large numbers of birds and I was surprised not to see any Red Kites, but it had been a wonderful day to be out and I had caught up with a birding friend I seldom have the chance to meet up with these days. Spring begins officially on 20th March, but it certainly felt as if it had arrived today!