Sunday, 25 March 2012


It was officially the first day of summer today, and as if proving a point we were treated to easily the most glorious day of the year so far. It was a beautiful day on the coast today as the sun shone brightly in the bright blue sky, making this mornings Ringing a very pleasant experience indeed. Bird-wise it was very quiet with the usual Goldcrests and arriving Chiffchaffs being the norm, but the highlight was undoubtedly this stunning female Sparrowhawk that was caught on the final net-check of the day.
There was a new Moth in the trap for me today, a March Moth (below). The rest were the usual species like Hebrew Character and Clouded Drab etc.

Saturday, 24 March 2012


It was very misty at the Coastal Park today, but we still had quite a good Ringing session this morning. There were still a fair few Goldcrests on the Mound, and we also had our first Warbler of the year in this Chiffchaff. Two more followed shortly after. We also caught three Coal Tits, quite an uncommon bird in the Park.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


After a long and very boring winter away from the Coastal Park, the doors of the little green Ringing Hut were re-opened again at 6.00am on Sunday morning. And boy was it good to be back!!! It felt like we were back home. We all knew we wouldn't in any way get a big catch as the migrants have only just started to trickle in, but the fact that things WERE starting to trickle in meant we had to get the Ringing season underway. The weather was nice and sunny but was also quite breezy so we didn't put all of the nets out. As expected, things were really quiet with only a Blue Tit and Goldcrest caught in the first four hours, so we decided to pack up at 10.30am. Despite the fact it was so quiet it didn't matter at all, it was just great to be back and in the swing of things again.
It wasn't only the Ringing season that had re-started, but the Moth trap was switched back on this weekend as well. Quite a good number of Moths were caught on the Sunday morning, with the bulk of them being Hebrew Characters (41). There were also a couple of Common Quakers and Clouded Drabs.
On Saturday morning a few members of the CCG were back over the Coastal Park to knock up some fencing in the area where the stone viewing screen was erected. When the contractors put the screen up they had to knock down the existing wooden fence, and unfortunately the remaining gaps had led to the local kids nipping in and making a bit of mischief, so we popped over and plugged in the gaps. Its a shame we actually had to, but that's the sign of the times unfortunately.
While in the Nature Reserve I had a quick look in the Reedbed Pond to see how the Toads were doing, and frankly they are doing mighty fine! I was speaking to the local amphibian expert the other day and he reckons there are between 700 and 800 Toads this year, an incredible number, and really emphasises how important this place is.

Sunday, 11 March 2012


This afternoon, myself and Adrian were joined by Jimmy at a site not too far from Seaham as we had probably our last attempt at catching Owls this winter. We arrived at around 2pm and immediately had two Short Eared Owls fly over us as we were putting our nets up. This looked promising! Well, sometimes looks can be deceiving!!! Despite a few more flyovers the Owls went nowhere near the nets. We thought we may as well wait till the sun went down to see if we could get anything, but nothing was happening. So just after 7pm we decided to take the nets down, and thats when we found this little beauty! A gorgeous juvenile Shortie. We ringed the bird then took the weight and measurements and I managed to get quick picture before we let the bird go. This is the fourth Short Eared Owl that we have ringed this winter, which is a fantastic number. But thats probably going to be the last for now as John will probably be starting back at Whitburn next weekend. Lets see what the spring passage brings us!

Saturday, 10 March 2012


Today I had a nice little trip inland with Dougie to a couple of places I haven't been in a year or two. A nice early start had us on the Durham Moors just after 8.00am. Surprisingly we found Red Grouse really hard to come by despite a thorough search, and we were thankful to see three or four individuals. It was a different story altogether for their cousins, the Black Grouse, with an astonishing 50+ individuals seen from a couple of different areas. Its by far the most I have ever seen, and was an incredible experience. There were loads of Thrushes in the Cow Green area, including a lovely big flock of Fieldfares, and a pair of Dippers were seen well from the bridge overlooking the stream. It was also very nice to see my first Hare of the year, albeit as it sped away from us as fast as it could!
We then headed to Hamsterly in the hope of seeing displaying Goshawks. Unfortunately when we arrived the wind had picked up considerably and no hawks were seen today. We did have a leisurely stroll around part of the forest and struggled to pick up many birds, the highlight being my first Grey Wagtail of the year.
Our last stop was at Low Barns. It was nice to see a healthy population of Marsh Tits were still in the area, but less encouraging was the poor showing of Nuthatches, with only a single bird seen on the whole reserve. A pleasant surprise was a sleeping Egyptian Goose on the main lake. Apparently three were in the area. It was also a delight to see both Frogs AND Toads on the reserve. In one little pond the Frogs were getting down and dirty with each other, and there was also a huge clump of spawn in one corner. Great to see.
On the way home we had a very quick look in Trow Quarry before I dropped Dougie off, and we had a nice surprise of seeing the Med Gull in with the small gathering of Black Headed Gulls. Its almost in complete summer plumage now, and was a very splendid sight. A good end to a good day.