Tuesday, 28 February 2012


After 5 previous blanks, my garden moth trap finally had its first visitors of the year last night. A couple of Hebrew Characters greeted me when I checked the trap this morning. Hopefully the first of many this year.

Monday, 27 February 2012


This weekend I had a very VERY rare weekend to myself, with no Ringing or CCG stuff going on at all. Saturday was spent doing housey/gardeney stuff and generally spending some time with Maria, but Sunday I actually took the opportunity to go out and do a bit birding!!! Something that is getting all too rare these days. So I had a lovely couple of hours down at Teesside, visiting a few old familiar sites. The days highlights included catching up with the Iceland/Kumleins Gull at Hartlepool Headland, seeing the lovely Black Redstart at Newburn, and seeing 4 Pintails at Saltholme, one of my absolute favourite Ducks. I ended the day with my annual visit to Ward Jackson Park to marvel at one of the most joyous sights of the birding world, the Ring Necked Parakeets. I know they obviously dont belong here, and they are probably one day going to be an utter nightmare, but I absolutely adore seeing these flying freely in our local parks. It looks so wrong but somehow feels so right!!!

Saturday, 25 February 2012


Admittedly this is a rubbish picture, but its the first Frog sighting of the year in my garden pond. I checked my notes from last year and the first sighting then was on the 24th, so almost exactly a year to the day!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


The final stage of the Whitburn Coastal Park Project began this week as the new contractors started work on the stone viewing screen. Weather permitting it is hoped that the work will be completed in around 10 days, which is very much ahead of schedule.

Monday, 20 February 2012


Adrian and a Short Eared Owl share a romantic moment in Valentines week!


After last weekends excellent Short Eared Owl catch, myself and Adrian went over again to have another try last night. Adrian decided to try a different tactic, instead of putting the nets out at the roosting area he put them out in their hunting area. Nearly 350 feet of netting was put up in two areas where they had regularly been seen hunting. Just before sunset Adrian watched a bird twice fly over the net, both times just avoiding being caught. Unfortunately after the sun went down we didnt see a single Shortie out hunting. However, our disappointment didnt last too long when we found this absolutely stunning immature Barn Owl waiting for us on a net check. Once again Adrian kindly gave me the pleasure of Ringing the bird as I hadnt done one before. I can honestly say it was by far my best Ringing moment since I took it up nearly a year ago. It was a beautiful bird and a privelage to hold. Despite the fact it was the only bird we caught I still went home absolutely delighted.
On friday a few members of the CCG spent an hour or so planting a load of Willows in Trow Quarry. We chose Willow as it is extremely easy to plant and it usually establishes very easily in most areas. It is hoped that they establish here, as a lot of plant species struggles. It would be a much needed area for passing birds to shelter in as they stop off on their long journeys north and south.

Monday, 13 February 2012


Another busy weekend just gone. It got off to another very early start on saturday morning with our second attempt at catching Gulls. This time we tried a different location, and also decided to get there a little earlier in the hope of getting the Gulls as they were waking! So we arrived at North Shields fish quay at just before 7.00am and set everything up. We put a lot of bait out for the Gulls, including some lovely looking fish bits, and prepared ourselves for the bountiful catch that was surely to come. Ha! Just like last weekend we waited and waited but it was all in vain. A few birds came and showed interest but they were all too wary to take the bait. We called it a day around 8.30am as more and more people were arriving and the Gulls had started to move on.
From North Shields I headed over to Whitburn Coastal Park to join up with a few of the lads from the CCG to add another bit of piping to the south pond and generally patch things up. While there we had a quick walk around the ringing mound and flushed a Woodcock, my first of the year.
On sunday myself and Adrian had a trip up to Northumberland in the hope of catching something altogether different, a Short Eared Owl. We both knew it was an extremely long shot but we thought we'd have a go anyway. When I arrived just after 12.30pm Adrian had already had the nets set up, so it was just a case of watching and waiting. As we scanned the surrounding fields we counted around six or seven individual Owls out hunting. It looked promising but we werent getting too excited as Owls are extremely difficult to catch. At one point we thought we had one as a bird clipped the net with its wing but frustratingly it bounced straight back out of the net. We were absolutely gutted to see it fly off. But then, just after 3.00pm, Adrian went to do a routine net check, and when he came back he had a fantastic little surprise. The nets had worked, we had caught a stunning adult Short Eared Owl! This in itself was superb, but even better was the fact that Adrian let me do the ringing. I was absolutely delighted! After ringing the bird and taking the relevant measurements, we had a few minutes to actually have a look at the bird itself. And what a gorgeous thing it was. Absolutely beautiful. I was really surprised at how much smaller it appeared in the hand. When you see it flying it looks a decent size but close up it was quite diminutive. We then allowed a couple of photographs to be taken before letting the bird go completely unharmed. It was a truly fantastic end to a very mixed weekend. Everybody went home happy!

Sunday, 5 February 2012


I got a fantastic message from John Brown this afternoon saying that our newly constructed ponds have officially had their first avian visitors! He had a quick pop over at lunchtime and was greeted with the sight of three Dunlins on the North pond. Its superb news, and makes all the planning and hard work worthwhile. Here's hoping there's many more birds paying a visit in the years to come.

Saturday, 4 February 2012


It was bitterly cold when I got up at 6am this morning, but that doesnt deter an adventurer like me! I'm made of sturdy stuff you know. Today myself, John and Adrian headed up to Blyth harbour in the hope of catching and ringing some Gulls. With a usual Gull roost of 200+ birds we were hopeful of getting at least a couple of individuals in the nets. But when we arrived it didnt look promising at all as there were very few birds around. Undeterred we put out a couple of nets, bated them with fish and bread and waited. And waited. And waited. Despite the offer of free food, nothing was tempted to take it. It was so frustrating! There were plenty of birds coming to have a nosey around but not one of them fell for our traps. We tried a number of different locations but today nothing seemed to work. It was just one of those days! Gulls are notorious for being very difficult to catch and we certainly found that to be the case this morning.