Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Goodbye for the time being


This is not a total exist for me (I hope) for this blog. I am sure at some point I shall return to my blog and start updating it again. I am not giving up birding, far from it. I just need a break and that includes from this blog.

Thanks and goodbye for now,

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Aren't I glad I didn't dash to North Wales

So Thursday started off as a normal day really, my car was due for some repairs and its M.O.T so it went into the garage early on in the morning. I then came home and had a relaxing day, as usual I was checking BirdGuides on a fairly regular basis hoping some news would come up. I wasn't quite expecting to see a large bold "R" next to a report of a Black Scoter of Stag Rocks in Northumberland. When I read the news it did go through my mind "It's going to be one", but I couldn't go up there as I had no access to my car and I could go all the way up there and find out it was a false alarm. Turns out Mr Tilmouth managed to get someone on the scene and eventually at about 2 o'clock the news was mega'd as a Black Scoter.

Surprisingly I strayed relatively calm, rang the garage and asked when I was able to get my car back and would it be today (Thursday) or tomorrow. Thankfully they informed me I would get it back about 3.30, excellent! I love light nights.

So I pulled up at Stag Rocks in Northumberland at about 5 and I was on the bird almost immediately. I think perhaps more distinctive than I was expecting having read literature on identification earlier on in the day. The neck was surprisingly thick and the yellow on the bill stood out a mile! Even though the bins I could make it out even though the bird was at a fair range away. Superb bird and it was great to have another long distance twitch, I love these twitches sometimes.

Also whilst on site I picked up my first Sandwich Tern of the year, I dipped White-tailed Eagle on the way home but did get 5 Avocet and a flyover Marsh Harrier at Cresswell Pond to round the day off. So all in all a excellent afternoons twitch/birding.

(Black Scoter - © Willie McBay)

Special thanks to Willie McBay for allowing me to use his images of the Black Scoter.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A blog worth reading.....

A friend of mine who lives in Cumbria has a cracking bird blog with plenty of sightings put on and some excellent quality photos.

Blog can be found here: http://www.freewebs.com/meg33/apps/blog/

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Spuralpine of the moment

You have to admire my attempt to be funny? Sunday saw me going for an afternoon visit to Holy Island after news broke mid morning of a Subalpine Warbler, I got two texts. One from BirdGuides and 1 from Steve Evans, nearly both at the same time! So after I had spent the morning in Church I headed off for the 1 hour 30 min drive up to Holy Island picking up a mate on the way. We were about 20 mins of arriving and my mate hadn't received anything on his pager about the Warbler since the initial report and then thankfully news broke it was still present and showing well, also news had broke it was a Western Subalpine Warbler rather than the rarer Eastern form. We arrived, parked up, and then a nice quick paced walk to the location. On arrival we were told it was frequenting a bush right in front of where the people had massed. After a few anxious minutes a bird flew in high from the east and landed in the bush. It was indeed the Subalpine Warbler that had flown into the bush in front of us. We didn't have to wait long until we enjoyed fairly prolonged views of the bird as it showed well feeding up on local insects it seemed to be taking a lot of spiders to me. It flew off but came back after about 30 minutes and we again enjoyed great views and then left happy. What a bird! What a twitch! I love Holy Island, something special about leaving the mainland to go a migrant hotspot to catch up with such a rare bird.

Photos of the bird are available on BirdGuides. This superb bird takes me up to 291 for my British list. Only 9 birds to go......

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Winter Gull'ing highlights: 2010 - 2011

I didn't really do much Gull watching in 2010, this is the first winter where I have had my car so that I am able to do some Gull watching of myself. My aim was to go out and find my own birds, I always feel encouraged with Gulls as you just don't know what could be lurking out there and anything could show up at any time. Desperate hoped the Slaty-backed Gull would head north were dashed when it remained in London and hasn't been seen for a good while now. So before I go onto the highlights here are the gloomy 'woe is me' parts of this seasons Gull watching:
- Slaty-backed Gull - I dipped this bird twice, why did I go all they way to London to see this again twice for?
- Iceland Gull - I missed a local bird that showed superbly well infront of the hide at Rainton Meadows.

So not to bad really as I am not so bothered about the Iceland Gull but I am very disappointed I dipped the Slaty-backed Gull twice! There will be others.....................maybe.

Now for the highlights. Undoubtedly taking number 1 spot was the Caspian Gull I had when I dipped the Slaty-backed Gull for the first time. It was a target bird for me this year so I am now happy that I have seen one of these cracking gulls. Sadly no images were taken and I just enjoyed watching the bird, the 'albatross like stance' is very noticeable.

Taking second position is the Glaucous Gull at Seaton Common tip in Teesside. I saw the bird on numerous occasions and yet still failed to get a decent photograph or video, thankfully Ian Forrest and John Bridges got some great shots of it. I hadn't seen a Glaucous Gull for over 2 years so it was a bird I was keen to see being a bit of a Gull freak.

(Glaucous Gull - © Ian Forrest)

(Glaucous Gull - © Andrew Kinghorn)

(Glaucous Gull - © John Bridges)

(Glaucous Gull - © Ian Forrest)

(Glaucous Gull - © Ian Forrest)

(Glaucous Gull - © Andrew Kinghorn)

Taking third position was the Iceland Gull for sure! It was a cracking adult bird which origins I believe to be Kumlien's Gull rather than Iceland. But hey it doesn't really matter because no matter what it is its still an Iceland! I saw the bird on several occasions and showed well on several occasions. Never yet did I see it on the common though, only ever on the tip. I also saw an Iceland Gull on the day I dipped the Slaty-backed Gull for a second time.
 (Iceland Gull - © John Bridges)

 (Iceland Gull - © John Bridges)

 (Iceland Gull - © John Bridges)

 (Iceland Gull - © Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Iceland Gull - © Andrew Kinghorn)

A self found Yellow-legged Gull on Seaton Common tip just before I stopped Gull'ing for the season was a bird I didn't expect to really see. A nice bird but didn't stick around long enough for me to grab a video or image, which I was gutted at!

I had a few Mediterranean Gulls during the past few weeks of Gull'ing I finally added a cracking partly summer plumaged bird to me Gull tip list. But the best bird was a bird found by John Bridges that was in full summer plumage (bottom video).  I also had the bird that spent the last winter in Great Lumley in Lumley again this winter, it was good to see him/her back.

(Mediterranean Gull - © Andrew Kinghorn)

(Mediterranean Gull - © Andrew Kinghorn)

(Mediterranean Gull - © Andrew Kinghorn)

Now lets move onto the 'natures accidents', the gulls that just aren't meant to be. The hybrids, the freaks of nature, the accidents, all of those could be used to describe these beasts:

(Hybrid Lesser black-backed Gull x Herring - © Andrew Kinghorn)

(Presumed Viking Gull (Glaucous x Herring) - © Andrew Kinghorn)

So all in all some excellent winter gull watching. Until next time, Foghorn out!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Get back to your treeless breeding grounds...

because winter is pretty much out and spring has arrived! Thats what I felt like telling the star bird of this weekend.

On Friday night Martin Finey and I decided to have a look down to Scaling Dam in North Yorkshire, Martin very kindly let me off again with the fuel bill (thanks Martin, thats two lifts I owe you now!). We arrived at Scaling Dam in North Yorkshire around about 10.30, the weather was bleak and the sightings board was optimistic (see image later). My hopes were slightly dampened when a quick scan produced nothing but a single Pink-footed Goose with a couple of Greylag Geese (always a good carrier species!). Martin picked up a fence hopping Wood Duck which to my delight sat asleep on the bank side as I can't really face any forms of duck seen at this famous escapee sight. We hadn't been in long when a flock of birds flew in most Greylags but another Pink-footed Goose was with them, so 2 Pink-footed Geese but no Bean Goose. Martin said he had it and I looked at the bird through my scope and thought he was going crackers; "its a Pink-footed Goose" I said! So I thought nothing more off it and started to scan the lake again hoping that the bird had just been overlooked. I checked the spot again where I had the Pink-footed Goose and to my delight there was the Tundra Bean Goose. I apologised to Martin as I had clearly been looking at the wrong bird, made clear by the fact the Bean Goose was swimming beside the Pink-foot I had been looking at. Doh! We enjoyed good views of the bird and then decided we would call it a day in North Yorkshire and head back to Durham to check out Teesside. Now I know what some of the 'old timers' are thinking; its Cleveland. Well I am afraid that place no longer exists, don't hate me because its just a fact. Anywhere south of the Tees is North Yorkshire and anywhere north is Durham.

(Fence hopping Wood Duck - on bank)

(Tundra Bean Goose - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Tundra Bean Goose - video grab - Andrew Kinghorn)
(The adventurous sightings board in North Yorkshire......Hen Harrier......hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm)
So after my trip to North Yorkshire we decided we would have a scout around Teesside and see if we could pick anything interesting up. We pulled up at Saltholme RSPB and my iPhone went off giving me a text. Would you believe it; Saltholme report. So with the news in mind we scanned and I quickly picked out some Pink-footed Geese feeding in the distance, however not before I had picked up some Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers on a nearby pool on back Saltholme. Martin picked up a Greenshank, I believe this is my earliest ever record of this species. We failed to locate the reported Ruff but it didn't really matter, there will be others this year in Durham and I have already seen a few when I twitched the Green-winged Teal at Bowesfield Marsh earlier on in the year.

Our next stop was Greatham Creek, with a report just come through of an Osprey over Sleddale I got excited hoping it would fly over Teesside. However it was not to be and all we had to show for our efforts was a distant Peregrine I managed to pick up flying above cranes in the distance. However we were delighted when we saw our first Swallows of the year, following them were a couple of Sand Martin. A colour ringed Redshank was nice and I took down the ring details and submitted them yesterday afternoon. Also present were 2 Little Ringed Plovers which put on a nice brief little display, and as always it was great to see the Avocets. There must have been no less than 10 visible just from where we were standing.

Our final stop in Teesside was Seaton Common where I nearly instantly picked up a distant Wheatear, another first of the year for me. From here we checked Hurworth Burn Reservoir where we had nothing but a Swallow and a couple more Sand Martins and a couple of Chiffchaffs, not the hoped for Red-legged Partridge and I didn't even see the Swallow or Sand Martins. Though I did get this video of a cracking Mistle Thrush:

(Mistle Thrush - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Mistle Thrush - video grab - Andrew Kinghorn)

Until next time, Foghorn out!