Lazza's 2013 list
OK, same story as last year, I plan to keep separate lists for each country I visit with a running total of all species seen here in this first post.
Norway: 18 (1*)
Netherlands: 22 (0*)
Spain: 91 (40*)
Switzerland: 34 (2*)
France: 27 (2*)
Denmark: 26 (0*)
Ireland: 29 (0*)
And, for the record:
- mammal total: 11
- amphibian total: 3
* unique species to that country's list
A feeble start, with a walk into town yesterday with my 5-year old girls the only time spent outside so far, but still, a list is a list:
1. Woodpigeon (first bird of the year, and the only species in the garden braving the rain)
2. Black-headed gull
Morpeth town centre (Carlisle Park)
5. Blue tit
8. Mute swan
10. Feral pigeon...sorry Rock dove!
And today, first day back in the office, so just 4 more garden species:
13. House sparrow
A dusk diversion past Bothal pond, just to try an get this list moving, but too dark to see very much, and not a lot there anyway. Nevertheless, a few more common species added:
15. Canada goose
16. Tufted duck
19. Little grebe
Feel rather worried about the complete lack of garden birds at the moment. Have even been out and replaced all the food in the feeders as so little seems to be turning up (and the continual damp conditions mean much of it has rotted/gone mouldy/started growing!) But still no sign of any tits or finches so far this year.
Finally a good number of birds in the garden over the weekend. I guess the birds don't like the crappy weather either.
20. Coal tit
21. Great tit
along with several blue tit, blackbird, sparrow and corvids.
Then, Saturday afternoon, took the girls for their first horse riding lesson in Forest Hall, and although I didn't get a chance to stop off at Killingworth lake, I did spot several
as I drove by, and the horse fields held
25. Herring gull
Then, a few hours at Plessey Woods on Sunday added
28. Jay (several heard, but seen only fleetingly)
And a drive by of Bothal pond added
A quick visit to Cresswell over lunch time added a good few more wetland species.
Passed by Bothal on the way, where there was
30. Grey heron
on the Wansbeck, and on the pond:
At Cresswell, the pool was quite busy with wildfowl and waders:
34. Long-tailed duck
40. Great crested grebe
as well as large groups of wigeon, mallard and tufted duck, and small groups of canada geese (on the pond) and greylag (flyover).
And there were several flyover groups of
42. Pink-footed goose
presumably due to the low-flying fighter jets or the small light aircraft that was buzzing around for a while.
And, as I was about to get in the car, a kerfuffle from the adjoining field drew my attention, where a red fox (1) flushed four
43. Grey partridge, and a
while watched from a post by a
A cycle down into Morpeth to the post office, via the wooden bridge east of the town centre at the bottom of Whorral bank added three new species to the year list:
47. Song thrush
48. Long-tailed tit
Still a few easy species not seen (goldfinch(!), wren, yellowhammer, pied wagtail) so still not a great start to the year.
Some good developments this weekend!
On Saturday, I had a brief cycle out on a loop round Guide Post, Sheepwash bridge and Bothal (smaller ponds and extremely wet farmland). Along with 36 woodpigeon on the Sheepwash road flashes, the bushes held a single
While the flooded fileds and small ponds south of the Bothal farmhouse held a good number of wildfowl, including gadwall (a first for these ponds for me), mute swan and coots. Also, a single
50. Lesser blackback gull
flew in harried by a couple of crows. Also a couple of small flocks of grey partridge.
On Sunday, I had a longer ride out to Newbiggin in clear but icy conditions, by way of Bothal Pond and QEII park/Woodhorn colliery museum.
Plenty of common species around including my first
of the year by the weir at the foot of Whorral bank west of Morpeth, followed immediately by another small flock out by Pegswood fire station, where there were also nineteen
52. Golden Plover.
Bothal pond and the lake at QEII park both held large numbers of ducks (gadwall, wigeon, tufted, mallard - including a beautiful blue-headed mallard standing out among the usual green-headed, goldeneye, and the canada goose flock at Bothal continuing to grow, up to well over 200 yesterday), including (at QEII park):
The feeding stations at Woodhorn colliery were very busy with tits and finches, including singles of
54. Marsh tit, and
(but only a single red squirrel (2) seen, briefly by the feeders at the car-park entrance).
Fiarly quiet at Church Point, Newbiggin, with the sea well out, but still several new birds for the 2013 list:
57. Ringed plover
Finally, as I arrived back at Stobhill manor estate, there was a single winter-plumage
61. Common gull
on the field by the roundabout.
Into Morpeth to the bank this lunch time, and with wood pigeon by the river was a single
62. Collared dove
Another visit to an icy Bothal pond over lunch today. Beautiful clear blue sky with lots of snow on the ground and lots of ducks on the pond. As well as plenty of tufted duck, mallard, wigeon, teal and coots, there were at least 2
Across the road in the horse fields was a single
64. Pied/white wagtail.
It looked rather tatty and had a slight yellow tinge to its white cheeks, which made it look very odd, but I presume means it was a juvenile(?)
Also had around 20 snipe fly into the long reeds over by the Ashington road.
A lot of finches descended on our snowy back garden today in bright sunshine, with first (garden) sightings of the year of chaffinch and goldfinch, a first ever garden bullfinch and only the second garden sighting of:
A brief stop at a 90% frozen Bothal pond this morning, there was a single
66. Great Blackback gull
among the black-headed gulls
Not the greatest conditions for being out and about, but a sledging trip to the park at the south end of Stobhill Manor estate, which looks out over farmland, showed that there were plenty of birds around. Didn't have my bins with me, so didn't properly ID much, but if I were a better birder, I'm sure I would have more to add than just
And a trip out in the car yesterday added not one but two
68. Common Buzzard
The first, at Stannington Station, was a very pale bird with a distinct dark belly patch, so I might go back to see if it is something "more interesting" (although probably not)
Went back to the park at the edge of the estate today, this time with bins, so managed a few more identifications...although they seemed easier anyway! As well as fieldfare, long-tailed tits, bullfinch, chaffinch and assorted other tits, there was a
69. Great spotted woodpecker
A very fruitful trip down to Cambridge this week.... both for business and birding. Had lunch with a client who is also a birder, who gave me some pointers for my trip home, so had a stop off at Rutland water, but before that:
70. Red kite
Two of them were circling over the A1 just north of Sawtry in Cambridgeshire, one clearly with a wing tag.
Had an hour at Milton Country park, where there was plenty of wildfowl and the woods were alive with singing and calling birds, but no new birds, but several rabbit (3) noted.
Then in the evening, while visiting my alma mater (Jesus College), an owl flew silently over me, but did not get a good luck at it. Then, as I wandered the courtyards, I heard it calling so went to investigate and got clear views of a silhouetted owl hoo-hoo-hooting!
71. Tawny Owl - a UK tick!
So, on the way home yesterday, I pulled off the A1 to visit Rutland Water. Started at the visitor centre, where all the small lagoons were frozen and frosty, but walked out to the north of the visitor centre, visiting each hid in turn, eventually finding open water at the larger lakes. And then things got interesting:
72. Kingfisher - a single bird flying between three perches at the corner of one pool.
73. Reed bunting - several feeding by one hide
75. Water Rail - a lifer!
The rail russled out of the reeds directly in front of "crake" hide and plodded around in shallow water for 2-3 minutes before disappearing under the hide. It then came out on the other side of the hide a minute later and slowly picked its way along the lake side, in and out of reeds, but being in view for another 5 minutes or so! Lovely!
Down in London this week but not much time to go anywhere promising. Nevertheless, after reading about it on the London bird club web site, I headed to Hyde Park, and in the reeds by the Diana memorial fountain added a second lifer in as many weeks!
76. Bearded tit
A very showy pair of birds seemingly unconcerned by passers by walking thir dogs no more than 8 feet away! Also, a brown rat (4) scurried across the path in front of me, and several grey squirrels (5) in the trees (moreso in neighbouring Kensington Gardens)
77. Ring-necked parakeet
79. Egyptian goose
Feburary off to a slow start (following a January list that was 23 species more than 2012's), but at last, on a diversion via Bothal pond on the way to the post office:
80. Mistle thrush
Took a roundabout route into Morpeth to the post office again today, heading to a couple of places I thought I would pick up some missing species. Targets were tree sparrow, yellowhammer and goldcrest... and got 2 out of 3 :)
First, along the track that passes east of Coopies lane industrial estate (past Dunces House(?)), there were a flock of
and at Park House Farm, just north of the far end of Coopies lane, a few
82. Tree sparrow
in the hedges (along with chaffinch and blue tit, and a gs woodpecker in a tree). Then at the wooden bridge over the Wansbeck east of Morpeth (East Mill?), a single
making fly-catching forays from the top of a fir tree.
Which already takes me to 3 more than my total at the end of February in 2012 :)
A roundabout cycle from home to Kirkley Hall on Saturday morning, setting off later than hoped, so not having a lot of time to linger at any point. Nevertheless, a couple of new species for 2013:
A pair were flitting and splashing around under the bridge over the River Blyth at the bottom of Hartford bank.
Then, along with an impressive number of other finches (bullfinch, goldfinch, greenfinch, chaffinch), reed bunting and tree sparrow, there was a single
85. Common Redpoll
at Kirkley Mill cattery.
My first foreign trip of the year took me to Norway, where I spent a couple of days in business meetings. However, had a little time to check out some more rural places, adding to the 2013 list and also adding 4 species to my Norway list.
Around Gardermoen airport were the most common species seen on the trip:
1. Hooded crow
3. Feral pigeon
The down to Halden, not far from the border with Sweden, where I added
4. Common redpoll
5. Great tit
6. Blue tit
The last three were on the first bit of unfrozen water I had seen - the river running through the town centre, while the redpoll was at the top of a tree right outside my client's offices.
The next morning, a trip to Lysaker, just south west of Oslo city centre, adding
13. House Sparrow
14. Herring gull
And then back to the airport via Fetsund at the top end of Lake Oyeren (where I had had a lot of success last spring), where there was rather a finch fest, with 20+ greenfinch and:
15. Goldfinch (10+)
16. Bullfinch (15+)
And finally, being too early for my flight proved useful, as I headed a little north of Gardermoen airport to the south of a lake called Hurdalsjøen (I think), where I was disappointed to only see a few more bullfinch and blue tit, until I was leaving when a beautiful sight flew in from the north:
18. Golden Eagle*
Visible for only about a minute, it slowly flapped and soared over the bottom end of the lake and out of site over the forests :)
* so, 1 species not already on the 2013 list.
Another work trip, closer to home this time, to Cheshire. A lunch break at Redes Mere included a kingfisher and 4 gadwall (all actually on the Capesthorne hall lake), along with
- a single male in moult (head browny-green and body patchy white/grey)
Then, heading home via Preston, I stopped off at Orrell Water Park just off the M6, adding:
88. Grey Wagtail
89. Willow tit
A train journey from Amsterdam to northern Germany last week gave no new species for the overal 2013 bird list, but still a fair number of birds, and one new mammal:
Between Amsterdam and Hilversum:
3. Mute swan
4. Carrion crow
5. Herring gull
6. House sparrow
7. Great tit
8. Feral pigeon
9. Collared dove
10. Blue tit
13. Song thrush
15. Long-tailed tit
21. Common buzzard
22. Tufted duck
Also, once in Germany, I spotted a hare (6) from the train just outside Osnabrück, although less birdlife, except for a very pale Common Buzzard flying over my employer's factory in Minden.
90. Short-eared owl
And also roe deer (7)
A bit of spring-like weather got me out in the garden tidying up some of last year's rubbish, and while out, my first singing
of 2013 was blasting out his twittering melody for nearly an hour. I didn't see it, but unmistakable (usually they are above the fields to the east of Stobhill manor, which are not full visible from my back garden!).
Then, finally, this year's bogey bird on a visit to the smaller Bothal ponds:
...along with at least 6 reed bunting.
A trip out to Creswell, which was exceptionally quiet, despite the high tide and rough sea. Only waders were a handful or redshank, lapwing and dunlin, and very few ducks either (although at least one long-tailed duck was about). However, shortly before I left, a single male
93. Red-breasted merganser
came out of the reeds right in front of the hide. Also, as I left, around 30 wigeon were on the small pond next to the parking area.
A long and tough ride out to Low Hauxley in icy wind and at times driving rain did not yield a great number of new species for the list, but there was still plenty of birdlife around.
Pinkfeet were pretty much everywhere, including 250+ at Stobswood (with 3 Canada Goose, and several curlew, lapwing, tufted duck and shelduck), 100+ near Acklington prison, 30 at Togston Barns and 50+ at High Hauxley (with 100+ Greylag).
But Low Hauxley itself was pretty quiet. Nevertheless, two additions to the 2013 list:
95. Bar-tailed godwit
Both were in among a mix of waders, which included 40+ oystercatcher, 11 curlew, 40+ lapwing, 30+ turnstone and a few redshank. Highlights on the water included 4 rb merganser, 6 shelduck and 2 gadwall among larger numbers of wigeon, mallard and tufted duck.
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