Thursday, 24 November 2011

24 November 2011

A quick afternoon visit around the main lake at Westport was pretty quiet, new in were another 8 Pochard to add to yesterdays 3 making 11, 62 Tufted Duck, 3 Great Crested Grebe, the usual 4 resident Mute Swans but no sign of yesterdays additional 2 or the Little Grebe, a adult Common Gull was among the black-headed Gull flock.

As Nick put it on Twitter zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Monday, 21 November 2011

21 November 2011

A very quiet morning around Westport again, it was misty but not as bad as yesterday, very mild, but I think the weather is about to change for the worse during the week.

52 Tufted Duck were on the main lake with 3 Pochard, also present the resident family of 4 Mute Swans and 3 Great Crested Grebes, a single Pied Wagtail was along the waters edge, in the nature reserve 8 Siskins flew over and in the Tit flock, 1 Treecreeper, 2 Willow Tit a couple of Bullfinches and a Coal Tit, the only other birds of note were 3 Mistle Thrushes and 4 Chaffinch by the visitor centre.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

20 November 2011

It's been a quiet week down Westport, which is lucky for me as I've been on early's all week, the Red-breasted Merganser was last seen last Sunday and very little else new has arrived.

Nick as usual made the afternoon visits all of which can be found on Twitter @WestportLake1.

I met up with Nick and George for a look around on Friday but it was all quiet, around 7 Collared Doves were roosting near the visitor centre, on the main lake 3 Great Crested Grebes, 58 Tufted Duck, 4 Mute Swans and a single Pochard, a Sparrowhawk flew through and a Mistle Thrush was near the visitor centre.

Yesterday we had already made plans for a day out, all week the Greater Yellowlegs had remained in Northumberland and had been our main priority however a Veery turned up in Scotland to make us think twice but we settled for the Yellowlegs, and so at 03.30 Nick and George picked me up and we headed off for Northumberland.

First stop was Durridge Country Park were the Yellowlegs had last been seen, we were one of the first on site arriving at 07.30, the main lake held a few Scaup and Red-breasted Mergansers but no sign of the Yellowlegs, after around 10mins someone shouted over that it was at Hauxley and we rushed off a bit further up the coast, we had been told it was showing well at Eric's hide and on arriving here found just one person present, he quickly informed us the Yellowlegs and everyone else had left to the hide we'd just past and so it was a quick walk down to the previous hide, everyone was in the bottom corner of the hide but the Greater Yellowlegs was tucked away and out of sight, slowly it made it's way along the edge and eventually right along the front edge of the hide providing us all with excellent views of this superb bird and a new tick for all 3 of us.

Also present here was a Bar-tailed Godwit, good numbers of Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatchers with small a small number of Wigeon, Snipe, Little Grebe and  singles of Goldeneye and Shelduck.

Just as we got back to the car Nick received a call from Jeff Jones to say that 2 Little Egrets were flying around the main lake at Westport, these are the first to be seen at Westport this year and still remains a Westport tick for myself.

Next stop was Holy Island and we made our way along the coast passing several castles along the way including Warkworth Castle below, this area of the country really is stunning in parts and well worth a visit.

As we arrived at holy Island the tide was nearly out and we only had to wait a few minutes before it was safe to cross, along the edge there were good numbers of Brent Geese and we saw both Pale-bellied and Dark-bellied during our visit here. as we crossed the causeway we picked up a Merlin carrying food which it dropped and within seconds it was picked up by a male Peregrine.

Arriving at the car park near the village we made our way past the school for our next target bird, the Eastern Black Redstart, only the second British record following on from the one in Kent this last week. We hadn't been here long when I picked it up along the edge of the black seaweed, and what a stunning bird it was, my photo below is rather distant and doesn't do it justice but who'll find some much better ones on Nick's blog.
There was a small flock of Turnstones along the sea line and out at sea 6 Long-tailed Ducks which were all males except for one, there was also a flock of Red-breasted Mergansers a couple of Eiders and a Red-throated Diver, we made our way over to the harbour side of the island were the views  of the coastline were rather stunning especially of the Lindisfarne Castle.

Near the harbour there was a small pool which had a couple of Spotted Redshanks, Dunlin and Snipe.

Leaving Holy Island we'd decided to head for the Lesser Scaup near Newcastle upon Tyne but along the way news of the Ross's Geese came through at Dunston Hill and so we decided to head for here instead, eventually we found a few birders at the end of a farm track but views were rather obscured as the Geese were feeding on a back field so we drove along the road to obtain better views, there were good numbers of Geese in the field and flying over and as well as the very noticeable Ross's Geese we also saw Pink-footed Geese, Barnacle Geese, Tundra Bean Geese and White-fronted Geese, a farmer put the Geese up and they flew low over us before heading back to the field.
It was a great end to a superb day and with 3 new birds for me making it a rather good day, only the Greater Yellowlegs was a full tick though with the others being sub species.

And finally to today at Westport, as usual after a full day out I didn't make it down so as usual it was left to Nick, unfortunately it was rather foggy, not good esp on duck count day but he did manage 3 Pochard, 51 Tufted Duck and a Little Grebe.

Lunt rung him with a unusual sighting on the top pool, with his description of a pigeon size bird but blue with a red bill and big feet the imagination was running wild, but on arriving it turned out to be a rather unusual turquoise pigeon, I'm not sure if someone had dyed it or what but it's rather strange either way!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

13 November 2011

On Friday morning I was woken from my deep slumber with a couple of text messages (you know who you are:-)) asking if the Red-breasted Merganser was still present, having been at work til 3am and rather tired I slowly made my way down to Westport to find the aforementioned Merganser still showing very well, also new in was a female Shoveler.

Saturday and I left Westport to Nick and co, having had a few late shifts at work I deserved a lie in, they had a pretty good morning with the Red-breasted Merganser still present. thanks to Phil Jones and Steve Seal for the photo's below.

Also present at Westport, and all new in was 3 Wigeon, a female Goldeneye and a female Pheasant on the old sewage works.

Eventually Nick & George picked me up and we made our way down to South Staffs to see what we could find on the gravel pits, along the way news came in of a Greater Yellowlegs at Northumberland and left us wondering if we should be heading off up north or stick and await news, in the end sighting were few and far between of the Yellowlegs and we'd made the right decision to stick local.

First stop was Branston Gravel Pits, we flushed 7 Red-legged Partridge as we made our way along the path and as usual Pheasants were everywhere, a couple of Tree Sparrows along the hedge was a nice record for here, on the scrape a single Green Sandpiper was in it's usual place (I don't think it's moved for a few months now), as we made our way through 'Dead Man's' Wood there were good numbers of Finches and Tit's which included at least 2 Goldcrests and a Marsh Tit which was a re tick for me in Staffs not being sure were I'd seen my last ones over 15 years previously!

The sky was full of Golden Plovers flying over, there were well over 500 including a good number on the sandy pit but with workers still on site and a couple of lads driving around with guns we were unable to do a proper count, also present on the sandy pit, 3 Ruff, 2 Dunlin, 8 Curlew and a Redshank, finally were made our way to the south pit were another 10 Curlew were present and 4 Little Egrets.

After lunch we headed off the our undisclosed site, bird of the day here was a nice adult winter Little Gull with a small flock of Black-headed Gulls, we counted the wildfowl which were in good numbers and also had another Little Egret and 2 Redshank, a nice day out and we didn't get wet!

Sunday at Westport and Nick had the Red-breasted Merganser still, there was no sign of the female Shoveler or Goldeneye but 5 Pochard were new in.

A new service for Westport is a Twitter service from Nick, just go to Twitter and search WestportLake1, here you can follow Westport news and have news sent direct to your mobile.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

10 November 2011

A quick walk around Westport this morning showed the 1st winter male Red-breasted Merganser is still present on the main lake, this time it was favouring the bottom right corner of the main lake, although not showing as close as yesterday it was still rather confiding, also on the main lake, the 1st winter Little Grebe which has been around for a few weeks now, 4 Great Crested Grebes, 34 Tufted Duck, 1 Pochard, 4 Mute Swans and a single drake Teal, no sign of the Wigeon Nick had yesterday afternoon.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

09 November 2011

OK, as you can see I haven't done a update for a while now, and I've recently had a few 'gentle' reminders about it (Mr Locker & Mr Seal)! It's been a bit of a rough ride this last month or so with one thing and another but today was a bit special for Westport and I just had to get this on the blog.

I received a text from Nick at 09.30 informing me that Jeff Jones had just found a Red-breasted Merganser on the main lake, within a minute the coat was on bins grabbed and the dog pulled along on the lead as i rushed down to Westport, I found Jeff by the boating ramp area and he soon pointed me in the right direction, the bird was close to the edge but up in the top right corner of the lake so we made our way around for a closer look, we soon picked it up and at times it showed down to 10ft!

We were soon joined by Steve Seal and who rattled off a few shots and Alan and Colin, the Merganser showed exceptionally well and is a immature male as you will see from the photo's kindly supplied by Steve (on the above slideshow as I can't get them to work on here), although there have been flyovers at Wstport this is the first on the lake since 2002 when Bill Low had 2 immature birds fly in from the south and stay for 15 mins.

A Westport tick for me taking me onto 102 for the year and Westport onto 118 for the year, both figures well down on last years totals.