Saturday, 31 December 2011

Linacre Reservoirs - End of the year review.

Over the last 12 months I've visited Linacre on 42 occassions and, together with members of the Chesterfield RSPB Group and Sheffield Bird Study Group, recorded a total of 74 species of birds.

As regular readers of the blog will know, this year has seen quite a few changes around Linacre, as essential engineering works have meant that all three reservoirs have been partially drained since April. I've been very interested to monitor the effects of this on the bird life and, as far as I can see, the effects have been minimal for the vast majority of species and have even lead to a few new records, most notably Little Ringed Plover (see here) and Linnet (see here).

Little Ringed Plover

As far as breeding is concerned the birds to have lost out this year appear to be Coot (no evidence of any young), Moorhen (just 3 juveniles seen ), Great-crested Grebe ( 1 juvenile seen, but no evidence of breeding on site) and Grey Heron (no sign of nesting on the regular nest and no young seen). The first three most likely as a result of the low water levels and the last species most likely because of the very cold weather at the end of last year and the start of this year. In addition, the Pied Flycatchers arrived early this year and laid three eggs in one of the group's nest boxes, but unfortunately the female bird disappeared (presumed dead) and the eggs never developed.

The winners on the other hand included these species that were recorded breeding for the first time this year; Chaffinch (young seen), Jackdaw (in the chimney of the house), Coal and Willow Tit (both seen feeding young), Song Thrush and Blackbird (both seen collecting food) and Pied Wagtail (young seen). Mandarin Duck have been proven to breed every year since our recording began, but this year we actually found a nest with 9 eggs in one of the group's "owl boxes". The eggs hatched and all young fledged successfully.

Mandarin eggs

So, what does 2012 hold for Linacre and our group's recording? As you know, I've recently started bird ringing and obviously this will be taking up most of my free time next year. Hopefully, however I will still be able to get down to Linacre as often as possible in order to keep everyone informed about next year's breeding season. I'm particulary interested in following the progress of the two new owl boxes and, if my ringing trainer is in agreement, ring the juvenile Blue and Great Tits, as well as any other birds we can find. The monthly WeBS walks will also continue, so keep logging on and reading.

Thanks alot for you interest this year, have a wonderful New Year everyone and here's to a prosperous and happy 2012.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Linacre - 30th December 2011 - two Year Ticks

Today I went down to for a last walk before the end of the year and I'm glad I did because I got two year ticks and refound the Goldeneye.

The first year tick was a Kestrel, which was found perched on the top of a bush by the top reservoir. This bird is sometimes seen flying over the reservoirs and hunting in the surrounding fields, but this sighting is my first here this year. Last year a nest box designed specifically for Kestrels was put up on site, but it hasn't been used yet. Fingers crossed for 2012.

The second year tick was a Raven, which was heard "croaking" as it flew over the site. Unfortuntaely I was in the woods at the time, so I didn't see it. Again, just like the Kestrel, Raven is only recorded once or twice a year at Linacre, so today's sighting was very welcome.

As well as these two birds I also managed to refind the immature male Goldeneye on the midle reservoir. When I got home another bird, an immature female, had also been recorded, so two birds is a brilliant record.

Last but not least, today's walk also produce an amazing 145 Mallard - the year's highest count, 7 Coot, 6 Moorhen, 31 Black-headed Gulls, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 Great-crested Grebe, 25 Mandarin and 1 Grey Heron. Superb!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Return to Scarborough!

In January this year my family and I had a day trip to Scarborough (see here). We managed to see lots of super birds and have a good day out, so in the lull between Christmas and New Year we decided on a return journey.

First stop today was the most exciting place in Scarborough, the Holbeck Car Park! We always try to start a visit here as it is the place to see Mediterranean Gull and today was no change. The key to a good view is to arrive with some bread and throw it in the air. Within seconds the first birds appear, along with Black-headed Gulls, and fly down to take the food. The birds come within 2 metres and, with a little patience, it's possible to get some excellent views and pictures. All these are taken with a small hand held "point and shoot"camera, nothing fancy!

Adult, winter plumaged Med Gull

1st winter (with bread)

Being able to see Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls together (as below) gives us a great opportunity to look at the differences between them. The Med Gull (left bird) has a much heavier bill and the amount of black on the head is much more extensive than on the Black-headed Gull. Also the Med Gull's wings are completely white in an adult bird, whereas the BHG's wings have black in them (not seen in this photo unfortunately). The Med is also slightly larger than the BHG.

Adult winter (on left) with an adult Black-headed Gull

Enough of the lesson now, let's get back to the other birds seen today. After looking at the gulls we headed down to the town centre where we parked on Marine Drive. Looking out to sea we spotted a Harbour Porpoise swimming off shore and a Red-throated Diver fishing. Overhead were a few feral Pigeons and a fly-by Peregrine Falcon! Walking down to the harbour we saw 6 Turnstones feeding among the seaweed, several Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls, a Shag, 2 Great-crested Grebes, 2 winter plumaged Guillemots  and another Red-throated Diver.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Linacre - 26th December 2011

Popped down to Linacre for a couple of hours this morning for a very blustery walk around. Birdwise everything was pretty quiet with the usual species seen in average numbers: Mallard (104), Moorhen (7), Grey Heron (2), Black-headed Gull (67- highest count this year), Mandarin (11), Coot (6), Great-crested Grebe (1 adult).

Very few woodland birds were seen, but Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits were present along with Carrion Crows, Woodpigeons and a singing Wren.

Most notable was the increase in water levels on the middle reservoir, as the works come to an end. Here are a couple of pictures to show the difference over the last few months.

April 2011

December 2011

Svennson for Christmas!

Hello everyone, hope you've all a great few days and got everything you wished for. This year, as always, I've gone for "practical" presents, because I'm not that excited by "things". Having said that I do love a new bird book and winter hat for birding!

As you know I've just started ringing and one of most important things to be able to do is age and sex birds correctly. In order to do this with a degree of confidence you need a copy of "the ringers' bible" - Identification Guide to European Passerines by Lars Svennson.


I know it doesn't look much, but this book has details of all european passerines or perching birds which includes over 200 species! Obviously I won't be able to learn them all at once, but then I don't expect to catch many Cretzschmar's Buntings or Bimaculated Larks in Chesterfield. Perhaps I'll concentrate on species such as Blue and Great Tit to start with!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Pre Christmas birding.

Having finished school on Tuesday I thought I'd have a bit of birding before the festivities begin, so I set off to RSPB Old Moor and Pugney's Country Park with my daughter and nephew in tow.

We started the day "twitching" a Great Northern  Diver on the main lake at Pugney's. Also present here were Black-headed Gulls, Coot, Moorhen, Canada Geese and Mute Swans, including one colour ringed juvenile.

On arrival at Old Moor we headed straight to the hide overlooking the feeding station where a group of half a dozen Long-tailed Tits were feeding on the fat balls. Also seen from this hide were Blue and Great Tits as well as Blackbird and a very tame looking "homing pigeon".

Next stop was the Wath Ings hide where we were treated to dozens of Teal and whistling Wigeon, 6 Shelduck (my first here), several Gadwall and Shoveler and a sleeping Grey Heron.

Headless Grey Heron!

Moving onto the Wader Scrape and Family Hide we added Cormorant, Goosander, Lapwing, 1 Redshank, a Kingfisher,Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Coot and Moorhen to the day's tally.

Bittern Hide didn't produce a Bittern today, but we did manage a Water Rail skipping along the edge of the reedbed, along with a small flock of Reed Buntings and a few Mallards.

Water Rail

Last stop of the day was the Tree Sparrow farm where we saw Tree Sparrows (surprisingly!), Reed Buntings, Greenfinch, Chaffinch male and female Bullfinch and Yellowhammer.


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Happy Birthday dear Blog!!

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Blog, Happy Birthday to you.....!

Well it's now exactly one year to the day since I started this blog. Thanks alot to anyone who is reading this or to anyone who has popped in at any time during the last year. I hope you've enjoyed reading about Linacre reservoirs and, more recently, about my introduction into the world of ringing.

Hopefully you'll stick with me over the next year, when I will continue to keep you informed about developments in both areas of my "birding life".

Anyway, thanks again, and here are a selection of my favourite photos from my first year of "blogging".

Kittiwake (Farne Islands)

Citrine Wagtail (Lesvos)

Fieldfare (Clay Cross!)

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Linacre WeBS Walk - 17th December 2011

This month's WeBS walk took place this morning with 5 members of the Chesterfield RSPB group present. The weather wasn't too bad, with just a few rain showers, but the bottom car park was interesting to say the least, being covered in a thin layer of ice, which made parking fun!

Birdwise we did well with last week's Goldeneye still present along with 97 Mallard, 36 Black-headed Gull, 7 Moorhen, 10 Coot, 2 Grey Herons, 1 Great-crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe (doing battle with a fish), 22 Tufted Duck, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 15 Mandarins and best of all 6 Teal.

Birds seen in the woods included a lovely male Bullfinch and then, on the way out, a flock of 14 Lapwing were found feeding in the fields.


Sunday, 11 December 2011

Linacre Year Tick - 11th December 2011

Even at this late stage of the year it's still possible to see new birds and so it was this morning when, during a short walk, I found a male Goldeneye swimming around on the middle reservoir. To be fair this bird had been reported on Birdguides on Thursday, so I didn't really discover it, but nonetheless, it was a great bird to see. The last report we have was way back in November 2009 when a redhead (female or juvenile bird) was present for a short while. Hopefully he'll hang around for a while. He's a crummy picture of him.


As well as the Goldeneye there were excellent numbers of Mallard around (118- the highest count this year!), 4 Pied Wagtails were feeding on the bottom reservoir, 1 Grey Heron flew down the valley and  32 Mandarins, 29 Black-headed Gulls, 6 Moorhens, 19 Tufted Duck, 5 Coots, 1 Great-cretsed Grebe and 1 Little Grebe were also present.

The best was saved for last, however, when I spotted this gorgeous, pale Common Buzzard feeding in the "sheep fields" by the top most carpark. Quite often these magnificent birds of prey are seen feeding on the ground, presumably collecting earthworms and other insects. Today's bird was very confiding and I even managed to get a few photos. Enjoy. How anyone can want to harm these creatures is beyond me!

Common Buzzard

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Linacre - 4th December 2011

Another weekend of wind and rain put pay to any ringing again (drat!), so I had another walk around Linacre to see how the works were coming on and to see if anything exciting had dropped in. The works are coming on fine, but unfortuntaely nothing unusual was spotted. Last week's amazing Pied Wagtail count wasn't repeated with just 2 birds seen and heard.

Other waterbirds recorded on the reservoirs were: Mallard (110), Coot (7), Moorhen (9), Tufted Duck (22), Mandarin (16), Grey Heron (1 fishing on the bottom reservoir), Great-crested Grebe (1 adult), Little Grebe (2 on middle reservoir), Grey Wagtail (1) and Black-headed Gull (40).

The woods were quite quiet this morning, but there were 2 Common Buzzards feeding in the fields by the main entrance, Bullfinch were heard, but not seen, a Willow Tit was heard briefly and a Great-spotted Woodpecker was seen.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Linacre -27th November 2011- Record breaking Wagtails!

No ringing this weekend due to the high winds, so I popped down to Linacre for a proper walk around all three reservoirs. It's two weeks since I was last here and the first thing that struck me was the very low water levels on the bottom reservoir, at least half what they were on my last visit.

Lower reservoir

Despite the lack of water I did spot a Grey Heron down here and, to my complete surprise, an enormous count of 14, yes 14 Pied Wagtails!! Before this year Pied Wagtail has been quite a rare bird here, but since the water levels dropped, we've had an increasing number, with today's count being the highest ever. Long may it continue.

Other waterbirds present this afternoon were Mandarin Duck (22), Tufted Duck (19), Great-crested Grebe (1 adult), Little Grebe (1), Grey Wagtail (1), Mallard (100), Coot (12), Moorhen (13) and Black-headed Gull (13).

Woodland birds were in short supply today, presumably due to the high winds, but I did record the usual tits (Blue, Great and Long tailed), along with a screeching Jay, singing Wren and calling Nuthatch.

The building works appear to be making good progress as can be seen in the pictures below. Hopefully we should be able to get around the site properly in the new year.

The new bridge and overflow on the middle reservoir.

New path to the bottom reservoir.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Linacre WeBS Walk - 19th November 2011

A quick post to let you know about this month's WeBS walk, carried out by four volunteers. Thanks you to you all.

This month's sightings were: Mallard (75), Great-crested Grebe (1), Little Grebe (2), Coot (12), Moorhen (5), Tufted Duck (19), Grey Heron, Pied WagtailGrey Wagtail, Black-headed Gull (58) and Mandarin (1).

Apart from the Mandarin, numbers were pretty much "normal" for this time of the year. I'd love to know where they go. Any ideas?

Although the WeBS walk looks primarily at the water birds we also record any other wildlife seen including 2 very late Red Admiral butterflies, the usual woodland birds and Willow Tit, Goldcrest and Bullfinch.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

New ringing ticks!

Another weekend and another morning's ringing with yet more ringing ticks in the shape of Coal Tit, Dunnock, Robin and House and Tree Sparrow.

This morning's ringing took place at a farm near Belper and, after a quiet start, we ended up with 61 birds ringed. My personal totals were: Coal Tit (1), Chaffinch (1 female), Blue Tit (3), Dunnock (1), House Sparrow (2; 1 male and 1 female), Tree Sparrow (2 new and 1 retrap), Robin (1) and Wren (1 retrap).
Here are afew pictures of the sparrows ringed this morning.

Tree Sparrow

Female House Sparrow

Male House Sparrow

Monday, 14 November 2011

Ringing at the Avenue - 13th November 2011

Wow, what a morning - 88 birds ringed including a Jay, a Redwing and a Great-spotted Woodpecker! To add to this I also got the chance to ring my first birds which was a great feeling!


My first ringing tick was this Great Tit, which was aged as an adult, male bird. Sorry about the picture quality, but it was still quite dark and dreary when I took the photo and the camera double flashed.

Great Tit

Other birds that I managed to ring today, and which therefore, are ringing ticks were; Greenfinch (4), Blue Tit (1 + 1 retrap), Goldfinch (3), Chaffinch (1), Bullfinch (1), Lotti (1 retrap), Yellowhammer (1), Robin (1) and  Blackbird (1).

My first Blackbird ready for ringing!

The Blackbird was really good, because it was the largest bird I've handled yet and when compared to the Blue Tits and finches I've been used to it felt enormous! As well as this the individual that I had was an absolutely gorgeous adult male - lovely bird!

Other birds ringed by the group today were; Redwing (1), Willow Tit (1), Reed Bunting (3) and Dunnock (2).

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Linacre - 12th November 2011

Another hour long visit this morning was, on the whole, pretty quiet. There were however, 4 Teal on the middle reservoir, which could have been some of those seen earlier in the autumn, or possibly new birds. Whichever way, they seemed quite settled and will hopefully remain for some time yet. 2 Linnets were also spotted feeding on vegetation on the wall of the top reservoir, but didn't want to be photographed! Common Buzzard was heard, but not seen.

Other water birds seen today were; Mallard (81), Moorhen (5), Coot (8), Tufted Duck (17), Pied Wagtail (1), Grey Wagtail (1 heard), Black-headed Gull (5), Great-crested Grebe (1 adult), Little Grebe (1) and Mandarin (11).

Away from the birds, I managed to find a patch of Fly Agaric fungi and some other small fungi which I believe are Waxcaps.

Fly Agaric

Waxcap species

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Estonian Common Gull!!

No, not at Linacre, unfortunately!! The gull in the title is a coloured ringed bird that I spotted in Southend in Essex in August 2010, whilst looking for a Ring-billed Gull (which I didn't see!).

Common Gull

 For some reason I never got round to sending the details of the bird off until this week. I emailed the BTO the details of the colour ring (left leg, white with black writing P2R7) and was very surprised to get a reply the following day. The email I received was from someone in Estonia telling me that the bird I'd seen was an adult female Common Gull, that had been rung on 29th May 2010 as a breeding adult in a reserve called Matsalu National Park in Estonia- result!

As well as my sighting, the bird has been reported another three times; twice last year in Essex (August and December) and once again this year, back at it's breeding site (May 2011). This is great news, as it shows that it survived last winter's awful weather and made the return journey to breed again.

Getting this information really makes me want to go back to Essex to see if she's back again!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Lesvos - 22nd April 2011

Welcome back to Lesvos! The 22nd April was our second day in Lesvos and my 40th birthday as well. As a result the birding was amazing with another 7 lifers!

First stop today was a walk along the Christou (West) River, a short walk from the hotel. The first bird seen was a Great White Egret fishing in the sea, followed closely by Whiskered, Common and  Gull-billed Tern (3). A Mediterranean Gull (a young bird), was along the shore and several Black-headed Gulls were feeding in the river mouth. Along the saltmarsh and road were Whinchat, 2 Sedge Warbler, a male COLLARED FLYCATCHER, singing Corn Bunting, a pair of Kentish Plover, Great Tit and a Great Reed Warbler. 

Corn Bunting

On the river itself were 3 Squacco Herons, 3 Black Storks along with dozens of  Wood Sandpipers, 2 Greenshank, 1 Little-ringed Plover and a hunting Marsh Harrier.

After a spot of breakfast Jayne and I went for a walk around the hotel grounds where we found and photographed this amazing Spanish Sparrow.

Spanish Sparrow

Next stop on the birding tour was the Kalloni Saltpans. Driving down the west side we had a LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD hovering over the fields. A Black Stork  flew in and landed in the fields as did our first Purple Heron of the holiday. Waders on “the moat” were Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Ruff, Kentish Plover and Black-tailed Godwit. Black-headed Yellow Wagtail and Whinchat were seen on the bushes as was the ubiquitous Corn Bunting.

 New additions were RUDDY SHELDUCK (20+), 2 Little Tern, a Hobby and a distant kestrel species which could have been either Common or Lesser! A flock of 20+ Glossy Ibis were feeding in the flooded fields, and Little Egret,Great White Egret and Greater Flamingo were also present. On the drive back up a TAWNY PIPIT was spotted on the road with the Crested Larks.

A short drive from the saltpans and we arrived at Achlederi Forest, the
KRUPER’S NUTHATCH site, found “the tree” where they breed and got a view straight away.
We watched the bird return to this same site repeatedly over the next half anhour and even managed to see some display behaviour as the bird sat on the wire with wings quivering!

Krupers Nuthatch

Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Blackbird and Pied Wagtail were also spotted here as was a beautiful male Black-eared Wheatear (black throated form), an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and another male Collared Flycatcher.

Collared Flycatcher

What a birthday!

Linacre - 6th November 2011

Just managed an hour at Linacre this weekend and only looked at the bottom and middle reservoirs, but I still got some decent counts of the following waterbirds: Mallard (76), Cormorant (4; 2 adults and 2 juveniles), Mandarin Duck (28. including some very vocal male birds), Great-crested Grebe (2 adults and 1 juvenile), Moorhen (7), Coot (9), Tufted Duck (30), Grey Wagtail (1) and Black-headed Gull (4).

Great-crested Grebe

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Thrybergh Country Park - 5th November 2011

This morning's ringing session took me to Thrybergh Country Park in Rotherham. We arrived at 7am, got 3 nets up around the hide and caught 26 birds.

First bird in today was a Dunnock, which turned out to be a retrap, which meant I could read it's number and get my initials in the book. It also gave me an opportunity to learn the difference between a retrap and a control. Basically, a retrap is when a bird originally rung by the group is recaught, whereas a control is where a bird rung by other ringers is recaught. It turned out that this particular bird had been caught at Thrybergh last November when it was aged as a 3, or juvenile and was therefore just over a year old.

The next few rounds saw a few more Dunnocks, which allowed me to age them as juveniles using the obvious black tips on the primary covets as seen in the picture below.

Juvenile Dunnock

As well as the Dunnocks we also had the first of 6 Blackbirds, which included a mixture of adult, juvenile , male and female birds. Other birds caught today were: Greenfinch (2 super males), Chaffinch (1 female), Tree Sparrow (3), Wren (1), Great Tit (3) and Blue Tit (3, includinga retrap from last year).

Other birds seen or heard on site were: Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Canada Goose (c200), Black-headed Gull and Pied Wagtail.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Linacre - 30th October 2011

Two hours spent around the reservoirs this morning produced a great total of 5 Cormorants (2 adults and 3 juveniles), which is my highest ever count here.
Cormorant in trees on the bottom reservoir

In addition, a group of approximately 100 Lapwings flew over the top reservoir, and despite my best efforts to will them to land, they carried on and disappeared! 1 Skylark was heard flying over and 4 Linnets were disturbed feeding on the banks of the top reervoir.This is my first record of Linnet at Linacre. The Wigeon had unfortunately also moved on and for the first time in a few weeks there weren't any Canada Geese present either.

Mandarin numbers were quite low with just 16 spotted today, Tufted Ducks were also present (22), as were Mallard (109), Moorhen (6), Coot (8), Great-crested Grebe (3; 2 adults and 1 juvenile), Pied Wagtail (4) and Black-headed Gull (32).

Black-headed Gulls on the wall of the middle reservoir

Whilst counting the ducks on the bottom reservoir I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye and spotted a small stoat moving along the bottom of the wall. It disappeared down a hole in the wall and then reappeared about 2 minutes later, looked up at me and then ran off into the undergrowth - super!


Saturday, 29 October 2011

Sheffield Ringing - 29th October 2011

Spent a few hours at a private site in Sheffield with the ringers from the Sorby Breck Ringing Group this morning. Despite a reasonable forecast, when we got there the wind had already picked up which meant the nets were billowing and the birds were keeping their distance. Having said this we did manage a reasonable total of 24 birds and included a new species for me: Lesser Redpoll.

The redpoll were the last birds in the nets today, and we had 3; 1 adult male, 1 juvenile male and 1 adult female. Here's a picture of the male and female adults. Note the extensive red feathering on the male bird, lovely!

Lesser Redpoll

Other birds ringed this morning were: Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Tree Sparrow and House Sparrow.

Other birds seen flying over were: Redwing, Fieldfare, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Crow and Jackdaw.

In addition to the birds I managed to age and sex a Great Tit correctly (juvenile male) and  Ray, my trainer, said he thought it was time for me to apply for my trainee license- hurrah!! When this arrives I'll be able to get even more hands on and begin to ring the birds as well as checking any recaptured birds: recaps. Can't wait!!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Bamburgh and Seahouses - 24th October 2011

Our last day in Northumberland was unfortunately very windy, which meant that the birding was quite difficult to put it nicely! Despite the winds, however, we mananged a quick trip to Stag Rocks at Bamburgh and a look around the harbour at Seahouses.

Stag Rocks is one of my favourite places because, during the winter months, views of Purple Sandpiper are almost guaranteed. Today we managed to find a group of approximately 15 feeding with Turnstones and Oystercatchers. There were also a few Common, Black-headed Gulls, an adult Gannet and a late tern species. I managed to get a few photos of the tern, which had a short, black beak. When I checked Collins, it showed adult winter plumaged Common, Arctic and Roseate Tern all with black beaks, so I can't identify it with 100% accuracy. Any ideas?

Tern species

After about half an hour, we drove down to Seahouses, had some chips(!) and then scanned the harbour for anything blown in by the strong winds. Unfortunately nothing extraordinary was present, but we did see a raft of 10 Eider Duck, a Rock Pipit, Starling, several more Turnstones a Shag, 4 fly past Barnacle Geese (real ones most likely from Svalbard!),and Herring, Great Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls.

Great Black-backed Gulls and a juvenile Herring Gull.

Alnmouth Harbour - 23rd October 2011

After a lovely afternoon visiting Alnwick and Alnwick Gardens with the family, we dropped into Alnmouth for a quick look at the harbour and estuary area. As the time was getting on (4.00pm) there were several gull species roosting with 100+ Common Gull, 200+ Herring Gull and dozens of Black-headed Gulls loafing about on the sands.

In addition 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 30 Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Redshank and a very close Curlew were feeding. A large, female Sparrowhawk also flew low overhead.


Cresswell Pond - 23rd October 2011

I got up early this morning and drove down to visit Cresswell Pond, a Northumberland Wildlife Trust reserve at the south end of Druridge Bay, Northumberland. Two hours later I had notched up a respectable 37 species including a stunning "cream crown" Marsh Harrier hunting over the reedbeds, a summer plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit and a small flock of 14 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Red-breasted Merganser

Bar-tailed Godwit

Other birds of note were: a winter plumaged Spotted Redshank, 2 large skeins of Pink-footed Geese which flew over, half a dozen Tree Sparrows in the hedges by the hide and two Common Snipe feeding in the reeds- lovely!

St Mary's Island - 22nd October 2011

Following a morning visit to Warkworth Beach we had a drive down the coast and popped into St Mary's Island in Whitley Bay for a couple of hours. As always, good numbers of waders were around, as well as another Red-throated Diver and a male Common Scoter heading south.

First up were the 50+ Curlew that were feeding in fields by the entrance. After parking up I walked down to the coast where at least 500 Golden Plover were roosting, along with hundreds of Starlings, dozens of Lapwings, Oystercatchers and several Herring, Common Great Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls.

Golden Plover and Oystercatcher

Walking down onto the causeway we soon spotted several Dunlin, Redshank, 2 Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Turnstone and 2 winter plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit.

Bar-tailed Godwit

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Linacre - 25th October 2011 9 Wigeon and 4 playful Wagtails!

After a few days away in Northumberland I returned to Linacre this afternoon for a couple of hours. Despite the warm, settled weather, the reservoirs were pretty quiet and I enjoyed my first Wigeon since November 2008 (9 on the middle reservoir). Hopefully with the water levels much lower at the moment they should hang around for a while. Here's an awful picture of 4 of them!

4 Wigeon

As well as the Wigeon there were also 4 very playful Pied Wagtails flitting around the water tower on the top reservoir, 1 Teal and 2 skeins of approximately 150 Pink-footed Geese which flew over east.

Pied Wagtail

The woods were quite quiet with just Siskin of note, however the water held good numbers of the common waterbirds: Mallard (101), Tufted Duck (25), Grey Wagtail (2), Coot (10), Moorhen (7 adults and 2 juveniles), Cormorant (1), Black-headed Gull (39), Little Grebe (2), Great-crested Grebe (3 - 2 winter plumaged adults and a stripey headed juvenile), Canada Goose (54) and Mandarin (63).

On the way out I stopped to scan the fields by the main entrance and spotted 3 Stock Doves feeding along with approximately 50 Carrion Crows and 30 Starlings.