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Gill Osborne's 2019 List

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Old Tuesday 1st January 2019, 10:12   #1
Gill Osborne
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Gill Osborne's 2019 List

My birding life has been a bit rubbish for the past three years or so as longer working hours and the allotment took up the vast majority of my time This past year has been pretty stressful and I think it all just got to the point where I felt I was constantly trying to chase my tail. In late November things came to a head and I made a decision to take back my life!!! I've had a HUGE mental declutter, sorted out my work/life balance and for the first time in months I actually feel EXCITED and positive once more

The one thing I'm DEFINITELY going to put before anything else is the thing that keeps me sane - being outdoors with Nature. My 2018 Year List total was the worst EVER (82!!!) so this year I'm on a mission to completely and utterly smash through the 200 barrier! I've been SO impatient to get stuck in so without further ado (as they say).....

Gilly's Utterly Awesome 2019 Year List


I drew the short straw this year and was on newspaper duty so at work at 6am.

First bird of the year (and the same as last of 2018) was a Blackbird at 7.01am. I was standing at the entrance of the shop and he almost collided with my head as he zipped past just as I stepped out of the doorway to peer up the street!

Next birds were Rook and Herring Gull at 8am then a few more odds 'n' ends as it got light.

1: Blackbird
2: Rook
3: Herring Gull
4: Jackdaw
5: Woodpigeon
6: Starling
7: Collared Dove

I then went out at 9.20 to do a paper round and picked up a few more

8: Black-headed Gull
9: Carrion Crow
10: Magpie

Heard a few more 'smalls' like Robin & Dunnock, Blue Tit & Chaffinch but they're not going on the list until I get a visual.

Finished at 10am so now having a cuppa at my desk in front of the living room window so I can see owt flying past then we're off to the coast for a couple of hours.....I'd prefer more but Neil has a really bad bug so just a short walk and some lovely sea air it is.

11: Feral Pigeon
12: Sparrowhawk - soaring over Northumberland Street and being mobbed by a passing BLack-headed Gull
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Old Wednesday 2nd January 2019, 12:23   #2
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1st January (cont)

13: House Sparrow - usual 'gang' in the overgrown rambling rose in next door's garden which we always refer to as The Jungle. Two males were cheeping loudly at each other with much tail flicking and posturing.

14: Blue Tit

I convinced Neil that a walk at the coast would make him feel so much better (he's come down with the all-cough-and-snot bug that's doing the rounds in Alnwick at the moment). I had it last week and a walk at Stag Rocks on Christmas Day made me feel loads better. Whoops - Big Mistake!!! It just made him feel worse and he ended up with sore kidneys, sore neck, sore back....so my proper walk became a short stroll on the beach before e had to head back home and he went to bed for two hours.

15: Pheasant ~ in fields outside Denwick

Quite a few birds around once we hit the beach....

16: Great Black-backed Gull
17: Eider
18: Bar-tailed Godwit
19: Pied Wagtail
20: Redshank
21: Grey Plover
22: Sanderling
23: Ringed Plover
24: Gannet ~ 3 adults flying north
25: Turnstone

And driving back home....

26: Mistle Thrush ~ on top of hedge opposite RAF Boulmer
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Old Wednesday 2nd January 2019, 12:26   #3
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2nd January

Short morning shift at work and all finished by midday. Now off for two days so a chance to get out for a walk each day, possibly even into Hulne Park if it's open!

27: Coal Tit ~ one seen in tree opposite living room window
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Old Wednesday 2nd January 2019, 15:06   #4
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2nd January

Decided to have a short walk along to the Canongate Bridge which is always a dead cert for dippers But first, a walk around the churchyard of St Michael's as it has a lot of very old and tall trees which are generally very good for small birds in mixed flocks.

St Michael's Churchyard

28: Chaffinch
29: Nuthatch
30: Goldfinch
31: Great Tit

Then on to the Canongate Bridge which is always such a good spot for dipper, grey heron, mallard and grey wagtail. Today.....DEAD!!! Nowt looking downstream so I crossed the few yards to look upriver. After MUCH scanning I eventually found one Moorhen! Ten minutes later a second joined it and then a movement to my side revealed itself to be a Robin. A quick scan downstream gave me a single Little Grebe.

32: Moorhen
33: Robin
34: Little Grebe

This must be only the second time in 12 years I've never seen a Dipper at this site Perhaps they just decided to head upstream or further down.

In all it was a very quiet hour & half walk with a very still wintry feel to the day....though there was one highlight when a Great Tit was heard singing for a good few minutes. Along with earlier Collared Dove, Woodpigeon and a brief blast from a Blue Tit it won't be long before a lot more will be tuning up in preparation for the breeding season.
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2019, 16:23   #5
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Sunday 6th January

Couple of hours up on Alnwick Moor and picked up another couple of ticks. Was surprised there wasn't more but it was SO quiet and deathly still! Barely even a breath of wind which is most unlike this part of my patch.

35: Buzzard
36: Red Grouse
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2019, 16:42   #6
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Tuesday 8th January

Couple of hours along the Druridge area as it was my day off and way too nice to stay indoors and do housework!

37: Mallard
38: Grey Heron
39: Wigeon
40: Teal
41: Common Gull
42: Cormorant
43: Curlew
44: Oystercatcher
45: Lapwing
46: Red-breasted Merganser
47: Knot
48: Little Egret
49: Pink-footed Goose
50: Kestrel
51: Mute Swan
52: Gadwall
53: Canada Goose
54: Coot
55: Goldeneye
56: Tufted Duck
57: Smew
58: Dunnock
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Old Monday 14th January 2019, 13:12   #7
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Friday 11th January

Couple more ticks added from the living room window! Very mild and calm day and the birds seemed a lot livelier outside with a few starting to sing and chasing each other around.

59: Goldcrest
60: Long-tailed Tit
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Old Monday 14th January 2019, 13:14   #8
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Sunday 13th January

FINALLY.....those darned owls have started to call again! It seems to happen every year - they'll be hooting like crazy in the week between Christmas and New Year then on the strike of midnight on 31st they'll fall silent and keep me waiting for a week or more before I can add them to the list

61: Tawny Owl
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Old Monday 14th January 2019, 14:46   #9
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Monday 14th January

First day of a week off so whizzing through the housework and decluttering so s to leave the rest of the week free!

62: Greenfinch ~ 3 in sycamore outside
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Old Monday 21st January 2019, 11:49   #10
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Monday 21st January

63: Wren ~ briefly on twisted willow outside living room window
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Old Wednesday 23rd January 2019, 11:59   #11
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Tuesday 22nd January

A trip up to the Long Nanny in the hope of Shore Lark proved futile Very quiet overall - just nowt about! Not helped by my still having this godawful lurgy which has been knocking me for six since Christmas Eve.....wake me up in six months' time when I should be feeling better....or dead!

64: Song Thrush
65: Sonechat
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Old Friday 12th April 2019, 12:11   #12
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Work and dog-sitting for a friend have eaten into my birding activities this past couple of months but now dog has gone back home and I've walked out of my job (boss was an mentally-abusive arrogant jerk and bully!) so intend to relax for a month or two and just let Nature help my poor battered head recover

So....playing catch-up from notes scribbled into my day-to-day diary.....

Thursday 21st February

66: Greylag Goose
67: Goosander
68: Dipper


Monday 18th March

69: Whooper Swan ~ flock of 23 flying north over centre of Alnwick at 5.30pm


Thursday 21st March

70: Chiffchaff ~ 2 males singing along Ratten Row


Tuesday 2nd April

71: Blackcap ~ male singing in small wood next to Denwick Bridge, Alnwick
72: Skylark ~ singing & seen soaring at Peter's Mill, Alnwick


Thursday 4th April

73: Treecreeper
74: Grey Wagtail


Thursday 11th April

75: Red-legged Partridge ~ in field next to Lion Bridge
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Old Saturday 13th April 2019, 16:19   #13
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Saturday 13th April

That's better....couple of hours out this afternoon and pleased to find a new summer migrant just arrived. I see these regular every summer at the Canongate Bridge

76: Common Sandpiper

Last edited by Gill Osborne : Wednesday 10th July 2019 at 11:38.
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Old Saturday 27th April 2019, 16:58   #14
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Wednesday 17th April

77: Willow Warbler ~ one heard singing in Hulne Park as I pottered on allotment


Sunday 21st April

78: Swallow ~ 2 chasing each other around Alnwick Castle barbican @ 7.50pm

Last edited by Gill Osborne : Sunday 28th April 2019 at 08:20. Reason: Missed out willow warbler from Year List!
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Old Sunday 28th April 2019, 21:37   #15
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Sunday 28th April

Three hours in Hulne Park this afternoon.....mostly observing butterflies and my growing interest in solitary bees (god, they're HARD!!!!! ).

79: House Martin
80: Great Spotted Woodpecker
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Old Tuesday 7th May 2019, 18:58   #16
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Monday 6th May

81: Linnet ~ group of four in beech tree along Ratten Row
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Old Monday 13th May 2019, 13:20   #17
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Monday 13th May

82: Swift

Small group flying above Alnwick Castle at 12.45pm....plus another above the Market Place to. Summer has officially arrived in Northumberland!
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Old Friday 14th June 2019, 09:12   #18
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Tuesday 4th June

There's been a Baikal Teal working it's way round the UK and then it turned up local to me at East Chevington Nature Reserve! At first I thought it was just an escape but a LOT of the local birders were checking it out on their blogs and twitter so, for a change of scenery as I've been rather confined to birding in the Alnwick area due to not having a car and no spare cash as I'm taking a break from work for a few months, I decided to spend the day birding along Druridge and see if I could catch up with it.....as well as a few of the other commoner coastal birds that I haven't yet got for #My200BirdYear (which is still LOTS of common stuff!!!!). I worked out the bus timetable and got an all-day ticket so I could just hop on any bus to get home.

I started at Druridge Bay Country Park - my reckoning being that it would be less of a slog to nip through the car park to the back of East Chevington and the top hide in front of the islands and with the sun behind me the teal should be easy to find.

Well....lil' tinker had buggered off, hadn't he! *this is why I don't enjoy twitching!!!* but when I went into the top hide I was told by two other birders it had merely decamped to the next pond along at Druridge Pools. Nae hurry I reckoned....I'd see what was about on the North Pool first. Surprisingly quiet as regards terns with just a handful of Sandwich popping by. Lots of cormorant, Lesser Black Backed Gulls, a Little Gull in first-winter plumage (really chuffed with this one and I scored brownie points by pointing it out to the other guys) and then *my heart skipped a beat!!!* the call went up ''Bearded Tit!'' My bogey bird!!! For the past twenty YEARS I have chased these little horrors around Leighton Moss, Holy Island and, one particular Christmas Day, at East Chev itself but not a peep nor a tail feather have I seen. I sat for an hour getting teasing split-second glimpses as they popped up and, just as quickly, popped back down into the reeds.....not enough for me to genuinely count it as a tick! But then a FABULOUS view of a female fly in with a beakful of food and, moments later, fly off to a patch of reeds 100yds away. Good views of her tail and back and undeniably Beardie! �� After that I caught a few more views of her and then, obviously deciding she'd teased me enough, a lovely long view as she flew the entire length of the section in front of the hide....followed moments later by a juvenile! Chuffed to bits.....my first Lifer since the Long-billed Dowitcher at Cresswell Pond in November 2015!

But the excitement didn't end there!!! A squealing heard in the reeds was a Water Rail and just seconds later out she popped.....closely followed by two jet-black fluffy babies!!! At this point I may have squealed with excitement myself - a lot!!! One of my favourite birds and with babies as well - the first I've ever seen!

I eventually dragged myself away to walk along the track towards Druridge Pools and as I did so this HUGE bug flew past me and landed on the verge. Thinking it was some sort of big bee I immediately followed it and imagine my joy to find it was a Sextant Beetle!!! My second ever - the first being in my bedroom a few years back which completely freaked me out with it's buzzing in the dark!!!

https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=147266

I eventually made it to the Budge Hide at Druridge Pools and found it bursting at the seams!!!!! I've never seen it this busy ever! And there, right in front of the hide barely 100yds away was the Baikal Teal. Unlike the Beardies which had taken me over an hour this duck took literally seconds and left me feeling rather flat and ''is that it?'' if truth be known. Having only a basic wee camera I took a record shot and went on to check out the rest of the field whilst all the other folk with their swarovski bins and massive cameras focused on the Teal.

I got back home by 6.30pm and have had a lovely day but by 'eck my legs were seizing up after an hour on the bus!!!

83: Shelduck
84: Sedge Warbler
85: Arctic Tern
86: Reed Bunting
87: Reed Warbler
88: Whitethroat
89: Meadow Pipit
90: Great Crested Grebe
91: Sandwich Tern
92: Sand Martin
93: Lesser Black-backed Gull
94: Little Gull
95: Bearded Tit *Lifer No. 228*
96: Water Rail
97: Grey Partridge
98: Baikal Teal *Lifer No. 229*
99: Shoveler
100: Black-tailed Godwit
101: Yellowhammer
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Old Saturday 20th July 2019, 19:54   #19
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Friday 12th July

Mid-afternoon walk on The Pastures produced an adult Mediterranean Gull in amongst a group of 40+ Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Then, as I did a last scan up & down river from Lion Bridge, a Kingfisher flew underneath and down river! Awesome! Sent photo and message to Bird Club twitter account but no joy, obviously MY face doesn't fit as regards accepting records

102: Mediterranean Gull
103: Kingfisher

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Old Friday 26th July 2019, 12:03   #20
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Friday 26th July

104: Tree Sparrow

A single bird was perched on one of the overgrown roses in The Jungle (aka 13 Bailiffgate - house has been empty since at least 2007!) next door. I took a few pics only to realise after it had disappeared that there was no memory card in the camera!!!!! First Tree Sparrow I've had in Alnwick in the 13 years we've been here and a Garden Tick! Hopefully it'll hang around with my resident group of House Sparrow and I can get a photo.
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Old Saturday 21st September 2019, 16:58   #21
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Saturday 21st September

105: Raven ~ single bird flying overhead and 'cronking' as I was busy on the allotment
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