Abbey Meadows

Abbey Meadows

Friday, 31 December 2010

Back at the tip

NE corner lagoons..still frozen at the moment

Mobile Finch flock...perhaps there's an Arctic in there!

The only shots I managed

Poorly looking Kestrel

This morning was my first opportunity to visit Widdrington tip since the snowfall. I was down at first light but no 'hoped for' Owl activity but by the time it was light there were plenty of birds about. The best of them were Fieldfare (18), Grey Partridge (6), Woodcock (1) and a flock of over a hundred Finches comprising Siskin, Goldfinch, Lesser Redpoll and at least 8 Mealy Redpoll. A female Kestrel looked unwell sitting in a tree and allowed me to walk straight past it. Three Hares also present.
No ambitious plans for the new year but I'm going to bash the local patch where I grew up for all kinds of wildlife during the year as well as keeping an eye on all things local. I'm sure regular visits could turn up Water Rail and Green Sandpiper at the tip...ambitious eh! Happy new year.

Monday, 27 December 2010

No end in sight

I know we are not the only region to experience snow and sub zero temperatures but after a few weeks it becomes a bit wearing. It may look lovely but the practicalities of work, school and travel becomes a bit of a chore. The most frustrating thing is not getting to my favourtite places but there is a lot more water (or ice) to go under the bridge yet.

Pictured are a few snowy pics of Morpeth.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Arctic Tundra... but some good birds

Widdrington tip was like the Russian tundra with temperatures to match. Usually I see few birds when the 'carr' is frozen but there were plenty today. When I first went into the main Alder plantation I could hear a faint 'toot' of possibly a Northern Bullfinch. I recognise the call as I have seen and heard them before and I thought that it may be closer than it sounds unlike the heavier melancholic peuww of our own species. After five minutes I gave up as it went quiet and another species caught my attention.  Woodcocks began to fly in all directions. I only walked the length of the taller Alders and I counted 16. I took a few blurry shots but for real photos visit Richard Dunn's blog linked from Boulmer birder. There was a flock of 120 Siskin in here with about 15 Goldfinches but the star birds were Mealy Redpolls. 15 Redpolls flew over flying towards Stobswood but they looked like Mealy's in flight but I wasn't sure then I picked up five in the Alder trees and they were soon joined by another two. One of them was so white it looked almost like an albino!
A walk around the foot and mouth plantation produced small flocks of Fieldfare and Yellowhammers as well as 8 Grey Partridges. A Kestrel here was hunting unsuccessfully as time after time it went down it was straight up again with nothing. I can't imagine what any of these birds were feeding on as it was very cold and bleak. Other notables here were 80 Pink footed geese in the distance and 5 Snipe.

I decided to return to the Alder plantation to see if I could see the Redpolls again and try to get a pic but as soon as I walked in I heard the Bullfinch call again and this time I saw the birds responsible. Two male Bullfinches looked a bit disappointing, not by their beauty but they looked and sounded like our usual ones but I could still hear the faint tooting call and they were joined by a female which was a beast compared to the other two. Looking at it from behind the white rump completely merged into the undertail making it very bright and contrasting with dark primaries and a browner back. The views were brief as the birds kept moving and twigs and branches kept getting in the way. In the winter of 1995/6 me, Stewart and John caught a Northern Bully half a mile away in similar habitat, see Stewart's blog 'from the notebook' Nov 22 and Richard Dunn has calls of Northern Bully and our own resident species for comparison. I took notes and even drew them...thank God I don't have a scanner!