Sunday, 29 January 2012

Spotting a near miss Roe

Cold and frosty, -0.2C when I left this morning having already heard a Tawny Owl calling in the Hermitage Woods. Three Grey Lag Geese flew over  at dawn. A surprising amount of bird song with Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Collared Dove, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chaffinch all doing a bit of the vocals first thing. Jays were particulary conspicious today having a number of the usual fleeting glimpses as were Bullfinch.

3 Grey Lag  Geese at dawn

A Willow Tit was in the South Burn Woods, remaining hidden for most of its time but calling frequently, where the second new bird of the year flew over in the form of two Crossbill, which landed in the Sitka Spruce plantation.
I see Roe Deer not uncommonly on the fell, but I had two sightings today. Firstly 2 females, distantly beyond the far fence of Wanister Bog, then with a few walkers we watched a young one run across Waldridge Lane in front of, (though thankfully missing), a car.
The temperature just poked it's nose above zero by the time I returned home.
Birds now at 62 for the year

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Still here

No I haven't died, I'm still here,  but I have not seen anything of note the last couple of weeks. 10 Grey Partridge along Beaney Lane and Ivy-leaved Speedwell and Petty Spurge being the only things of even slight interest, the 2 plants pushing the January flower total to a meagre 26.

Today was no better. Beaney Lane had a huge flock of Wood Pigeon, well over 200, feeding in the fields and a Great spotted Woodpecker was calling by the house. This weekend is the RSPB garden Birdwatch weekend but the garden had nothing more than a few Wood Pigeon and a couple of Dunnocks, Blackbirds and Robins. A Wood Mouse did show briefly to bring a little variety in the sightings. Forecast is cold tomorrow but at least its not strong winds or heavy rain so it will be nice to get out and try and see something.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Frosty Crocus & Snowdrops

A heavy frost overnight still lingering this morning. There was no point putting the trap out last night, though I did a few nights ago. However, even though the minimum temperature was a sweltery 8.9C, there was virtually no cloud early on and a near full moon. The result was not surprising, zero.

A few flowers and birds added but not much in the way of quality - Early Crocus and Snowdrop, two garden escapes but quite well established were in flower on the fell. Also  added were a few more 'weedy plants', Hairy Bittercress, Nipplewort and Autumnal Hawkbit. Three more birds were also noted, Song Thrush, Nuthatch and Coal Tit.

Hopefully, a bit more time in the field tomorrow will reap better rewards

60 species of bird
24 species of flowering plant.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

A couple more grabbed

Off site most of the day but before I left I managed to grab another two. A Great-spotted Woodpecker flew over the house and by the A167 as I passed the sewage works at the riverside, an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull flew over. This is an excellent spot for winter LBBGs, I have had them here in winter on a good number of occassions before.

A Reed Bunting showed well in the hedge by the house when I got back.

Cock Reed Bunting

57 species of bird

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Plodding away

The wind dropped a bit for most of the day, though it did have it moments, and that allowed to get 11 species of bird new for the year. but still no Song Thrush, Coal Tit etc.
There have been some White-fronts and a Bean Goose not too far away in Gateshead and yesterday were seen to arrive from 'towards Chester-le-Street' so most of the time was spent checking the fields. I though the Tribly farm ponds area might have them, but of sourse they didn't. Still 2 Grey Lag and a Teal were new for the year here. 1, probably 2 Common Buzzard were over the fell which also had Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. An immature Grey Heron and 14 Lapwing flew over  and a small flock of mixed Redwing and Fieldfare were feeding on the Rowan trees. Grey Partridge and 2 Stock Dove made up the rest of the new birds.


Common Buzzard

Plodding away at the wild flowers and Herb-Robin, Hazel, Ox-eye Daisy and Oil-seed Rape were all found today.

Hazel catkins

55 species of bird
19 species of flowering plant.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Still struggling

Still very windy the last few days and this has meant the only new bird was a Grey Wagtail fly over.
Struggling, but managed a few more plants for the year, all very common things - Red Clover, Hogweed, Thale Cress, Scentless Mayweed and Ivy-leaved Toadflax - roll on the weekend and a drop in the wind (if only).

Scentless Mayweed

Red Clover

44 species of bird (I was on 73 at this time last year)
15 species of flowering plant.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Weather 2 Naturalist nil

Only had an hour or so to spare today and so just time for a quick walk around the Fell. I was only out for about 2 minutes when I fell like a big sack of tatties on my backside on the icy path. Only my pride was hurt and luckily no one saw me so I spent a few minutes regaining my composure before continuing. The (additional) fat on my rear end gained with all that eating and drinking over the festive period obviously cushioned the fall. But the ice also meant the ponds and much of the heath were frozen so no Snipe to be flushed today. In fact I struggled to get 6 species - Curlew, Reed Bunting, Bullfinch, Lesser Redpoll, Willow Tit and Long-tailed Tit but that was it. Ironically, a party of the latter were on the bird table when I returned home.

On the flora front, I added Annual Meadow-grass, Dandelion, Gorse and Cow Parsley (the Former and latter are species I did not see in December).

43 species of bird
10 species of flowering plant.

So soaked yesterday, crashed on the ice today, can't wait until tomorrow in the strong winds forecast.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A drowned rat

Not a new mammal for the year but what I apparently looked like when I returned home from my walk about this morning. Apart from at first light, it rained non-stop when I was out. I got absolutely soaked. Not surprisingly this did not help getting anything like a decent list. In fact, it was pretty poor at 37.
The usual birds were down the riverside but elsewhere there was hardly a thing to be seen. 3 Pink-footed Geese were by the river which had  4 Goosander and a Dipper but no Kingfisher today, despite a kindly local dog walker telling me he saw one here and photographed it just the other day.

3 Pink-feet
Walking back along from the Riverside Park  and through the woods by the A167 I saw nothing and I mean nothing, not even a waterprood gull flying over. Eventually I saw something, a male Pheasant, remarkably dry, especially compared to me. Passerines were virtuually non-existant, no Song Thrush, Redwing, Coal Tit, Woodpecker etc through I did see Goldcrest at 4 different spots.
A few plants were seen in flower today, despite the weather but did include a Dog Rose (Rosa canina) on the railway embankment. This is one species I didn't see last month.

So it finished with a total of
37 species of bird
6 species of flowering plant.

Oh and did I mention I got soaked .... Happy 2012