Tuesday, 30 November 2010

I like Tawny Pipit, but I also like Meadow Pipit..............

but which is better?

See video:

Fantastic humor for us birders.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Around the…..Patch? I think that’s what it’s called anyway

Contrary to what some of my followers might think I was once a very keen local patcher, in fact I rarely did any other birding than that of birding on my local patch. So on Saturday I decided I would have a walk around my local area to count the number of birds again like I did last week. Here are the results:

- 3 Goldfinch
- 20 Starling
-Great-black Backed Gull
-Herring Gull
- 20c Common Gull
- 1 Mediterranean Gull (Pub in Lumley)
- 20c Woodpigeon
- 40+ Redwing
- 2 Cormorant
- 40 Greylag Geese
- 15c Bullfinch
- 6 Long-tailed Tit
- 5+ Great Tit
- 3c Song Thrush
- 1 Mistle Thrush
- 1 Coal Tit
- 1 Wren
- 10c Magpie
- 5+ Blue Tit
- 3 Goldeneye
- 30c Siskin
- 15 Pheasant
- 5+ Robin
- Jay 1
- 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker
- 3+ Collared Dove
- 2+ Greenfinch
- 2+ Tree Sparrow

However the pick of the bunch were 13 Waxwings which I found in my own village toward the end of the walk. The birds showed well and in the snow, a dream fulfilled! I had always wanted to see Waxwings in the snow. They relocated to a location closer to home about 10 minutes later where they remained for an hour or so, allowing for David Kay a friend and DBC member from the village to connect with the birds and get some images. The birds showed extremely well and they are defiantly one of my favourite birds in the world.

On Sunday Davy rang me up to say that the birds were still there but they had grown from just 13 to about 140! I went to see them and it was superb to see such as large flock. What fantastic birds.

(Click on any of the images to enlarge them)

(Some of the Saturday flock - © David Kay)

(Some of the Saturday flock - © David Kay)

(Waxwing - © David Kay)

(Some of the Sunday flock - © David Kay )
Until next time, Foghorn out!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Bittern at Rainton Meadows

(Bittern - Rainton Meadows DWT - Andrew Kinghorn)

Taken between 03:15 - 03:45 in fading light.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Bird Sounds of Winter

Thought I would do something a little different for this post. But first I will update you on what’s been going on with my birding the past week or so. Yesterday I decided I would pop down for the Bittern at Rainton Meadows DWT and after about 4 and a bit hours in the coldest hide in the North East I saw it, it showed extremely well and was well worth the wait. What a bird! Superb bird to get locally, on my patch. Believe it or not I was once a very keen local birder, never really going further than a 5 mile radius of where I live. Always good to get the bread and butter stuff and get to grip with the commoner stuff first, rather than diving in the deep end. Though I have missed some superb birds because of that attitude! lol

Anyway, here is a small quiz to see how hot you are on your ID skill of some of out winter visitors. They are all birds; however some of the calls might not necessarily be made by the birds at THIS time of year. I decided to do it this way so I could include more species.

Please comment with your answers. Don’t be afraid incase you get some wrong, just have some fun trying to work out what call is what bird. Anyone’s comments that seem to be ridiculing others will be deleted form the post. I am sure that won’t be a problem though. So here goes!!!!!!!!

(The name of the species is placed on the sound file, so just press play, listen and then see if you can guess what the species is, don’t look because that is just cheating)

Mystery Bird 1

Mystery Bird 2

Mystery Bird 3

Mystery Bird 4

Mystery Bird 5

Mystery Bird 6

Mystery Bird 7

Mystery Bird 8

Mystery Bird 9

Mystery Bird 10


Until next time, Foghorn out!

Friday, 19 November 2010

BirdForum - Northumberland Scuacco

FIRST: Click on image to enlarge

Now imagine that the above picture is on your screen. You are viewing the Rare Bird Information section on BirdForum, you are reading the Squacco Heron thread. Imagine............

After reading this section, go down and click on "Play", watch the demo, then enjoy! (hint: when the game loads after you have pressed play click on any part of the computer, do this as many times as you like for most humorous effect):

(Best with sound on)

Scroll down to also see my latest updates on my birding.

This post was only a bit of fun.

Until next time, Foghorn out!


I better come clean and admit that I was up Northumberland last Saturday and dirtily ticked the Ross’s Goose in Wooler. Good contender for a wild bird I think, with Pinky’s and very wary and flighty. I also saw the Squacco Heron (R.I.P) again and the Waxwings at Ashington which were a year tick. Then on Sunday I had 19 Waxwings in Great Lumley which was a more than welcome addition to my village list, superb little birds. Defiantly one of my favourite birds in the UK.

But now we come to the title of my blog post “Whaticks?”, I had moaned and twisted about having never seen Bewick's Swans in the UK before. On Wednesday night after I had got back from dipping the Desert Wheatear in Northumberland I was greeted with news from Steve Egglestone that 7 Bewick's Swans were on Boldon Flatts. Sadly it was to dark and all I had to do was to hope they were still going to be there in the morning. Thankfully they were still there at first light the next morning and I enjoyed some simply fantastic scope views of these fantastic birds. Then eventually at 08:35 then took off and I got some superb flight views as the birds flew round in a circle above the Flatts and then flew off gaining height heading south perhaps never to be seen in Durham again. Thanks to Mark Newsome and Steve Egglestone for allowing me to use their photos. I see a new banner coming soon.
(Bewick's Swans - © Mark Newsome)

(Bewick's Swans - © Steve Egglestone)

(Bewick's Swans - © Steve Egglestone)

(Bewick's Swans - © Steve Egglestone)

Click on any of the images to enlarge them

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

I couldn't resist this beauty!

So Tuesday gone rolled around and I was sitting in University doing some C# programming (readers open Google) and I thought for a break I would check the bird news services to see what was about. When I saw that a Pied-billed Grebe was in Manchester I had to think about going for the whole of about 10 seconds, then I started making some calls. By the end of Tuesday night myself, Adam, and The Finch (Derek) had agreed we’d go twitching in Manchester the following day.

Wednesday rolled around and at about 11 in the morning we parked in the visitor centre car park at Hollingworth Lake in Greater Manchester, the short 15 minute walk took us to a small part of this lake that was devoted to being a Nature Reserve. There under the overhanging trees was a small, fantastic looking Pied-billed Grebe. At first I couldn’t get a good view until I realised it was good to be tall and managed to set my scope up viewing the bird between the heads of a few twitchers present. It didn’t do much at first but it then started to move around and swam towards us. It gave us a little flap and it gave me a good 5-10 minutes to watch the bird and study the key ID features. It was particularly interesting to notice the size difference between the Moorhen and the Pied-billed Grebe. The best moment was probably when it swam past and headed straight towards us and then out of view. Derek was in the hide and got within about 8ft of the bird, he came out smiling having had excellent views and pictures taken. I was a bit jealous, but in a good way as I was happy Derek was able to get some pictures. It was getting crowded and the news of a Squacco Heron back in Morpeth meant we decided to leave and head back up for that. So at about 11:45 we headed off back to the car for the long drive back north.

We arrived in Morpeth about 03:15 in the afternoon; I was stressed with the traffic and was getting agitated a bit with the lads for now reason (sorry lads). We got out at a place where I was going to try and get in touch with some mates for some information on where the bird was, however this was not needed as Derek laughed as he spotted the twitchers further around. We got out gear and walked briskly toward the crowd. Just as we were arriving the bird took flight and headed past me and landed on the vegetation at our side of the river. Superb views were had, but even better views were had when it flew back across to the other side and it must have been within 50ft for about 10 minutes where excellent scope and bin views were had by all.

What a superb day with 2 superb birds, both lifers for me and the Pied-billed Grebe was the first twitchable mainland bird for about 10 years. My only regret is that I wished I had got there earlier and spent more time studying the Pied-billed Grebe. Hopefully I will get another chance with this species in the UK in the future.

(Pied-billed Grebe - Derek Charlton)

(Squacco Heron - Derek Charlton)

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

2 Megas + 1 day = Happy Man

So there I was bright and early on a Wednesday morning sleeping peacefully in bed when a text came through from Newton Stringer asking me if I wanted to go for the American Bittern and Green Heron in Cornwall. It would have been crazy to say no so I said yes and we made arrangements to go on Thursday night/Friday morning. Thursday rolled around and it was still there, twitch on! Myself, Stringer, and a new friend I made called Kevin went on out way toward Cornwall.

We arrived in Cornwall early on the Friday morning after an epic 7 or so hour journey. Our first port of call was the American Bitter and so we headed for that first. We had to walk across a farmers muddy field to get to the hides on a reserve called “Walmsley Sanctuary”, it is a members only reserve but the Cornwall Bird Club had very kindly allowed this to be ignored for this fantastically rare American vagrant. WE had to queue to get into the hide but news of its presence relaxed us as we thought we would see it. We obtained some good views from the Tower Hide as it wandered about going about its daily business. Eventually we were satisfied with the views that we had and we made way back to the car. Stringer suggested we look from the smaller hide that was not elevated to see if we could see the bird. On arrival the 3 men inside said that they hadn’t seen it yet. Then after about 5 minutes one gentleman said he had it. Thankfully we all got on it and with patience we enjoyed prolonged and excellent close range views of the bird. After it had disappeared into the thicker cover we left extremely pleased with the views we had of the bird.

Our second and last port of call was the Lost Gardens of Heligan, here out aim was to see the Green Heron. We were not disappointed and the bird showed extremely well and I had some superb views.

Two fantastic birds, great company, and special thanks to the lads for letting this tight hard up teenager off a little when it came to the fuel bill. Cheers lads!

(Green Heron - Newton Stringer ©)

(Green Heron - Newton Stringer ©)
(Spot the Bittern - Newton Stringer ©)

(American Bittern - Newton Stringer ©)

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Epic Twitch

I went on a twitch on Friday to...........

More details to follow soon.