Sunday, 19 January 2014

From storming to struggling

After my storming start. I've been struggling to get new birds for my Chester-le-Street year list since. The fell produced a couple of new birds in the way of Skylark and Green Woodpecker but that's all. The latter species has been much scarcer the past few years as I have commented on before. From 7 pair here about 10 years ago, it looks like they are down to 2 pair now. In fact I failed to get them on my 1Km square list last year.

Apart from that it's been a couple of visits to the riverside and Houghton Gate Pond. I've just come back from the latter where there's a stack of birds but nothing new. There were 380 Grey Lag Geese, 400+ Curlew, a Black-tailed Godwit, 60 Lapwing, 100 (counted) Wigeon, a Shelduck, 2 Shoveler, 35 Teal, 55 Wood Pigeon and 7 Tree Sparrow.

So the year list stands at 81.

Monday, 6 January 2014

5 Ducks, a Goose, a Kite and a Godwit.

Yesterday a very quick visit to Lambton Pond to successfully bag 2 Black-tailed Godwit proved very worthwhile as it also produced five new duck species for the year with Shelduck, Gadwall, Teal, a Shoveler and 90+ Wigeon as well as a Red Kite (also new) and a Common Buzzard. Unfortunately I went straight past Houghton Gate without checking it to later discover that the 2 Greenland White-fronted Geese found at Lamesley by Paul Davidson in the morning had relocated here.

For a change,  my luck was in  and the White-fronted Geese were still present this morning in amongst a flock of nearly 200 Grey Lag. This goose flock is the same size as the Lamesley one so it's not difficult to deduce that the geese, and not just the White-fronts, are commuting between these two sites. A rather dodgy and uncountable, in my opinion, Barnacle Goose, again often at Lamesley,  was also present in the flock.

Thats 78 for the year, maybe 130 wasn't too optimistic - there I go again, I'm going to regret saying that.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

4 more, 70 birds for the year

4 more species for the year after a bit of the walk over a wet and occasionally blustery fell.

Tawny Owl calling at first light in the Southburn woods and a Woodcock flushed from there as I walked/crashed through them. Then Daisy Hill produced two more with several Common Snipe and two Meadow Pipit (but no hoped for Jack Snipe). Still 70 species on the 2nd here ain't too bad.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2014 - two new challenges

2014 - It's a new year so a new challenge (and list required). After last year's successful 1000for1ksq challenge, followed really by a month of virtually nothing, (and hence the lack of blog entries), I have looked at what I could attempt this year.

I have in fact, decided on two lists / challenges this year.
One will be to see how many species of birds I can see in Chester-le-Street in a year. Rather optimistically I am going to try for 130 species. As for the parameters I am going to use the old district council boundaries as my definition of Chester-le-Street so it will take be out of NZ2549 a bit which is what I needed after last year's challenge.

The other list will be on wild flowers. I have been a member of the Wild flower Society for many years but its a very long time since I sent any list or diary in. Again following my 1ksq challenge last year which gave me well over 300 species I am going to do a 10ksq list for NZ24 which of course includes Waldridge. Some people have been doing this for many, many years and have recorded over 1,000 plants in their square. With last year's effort being year one (which I submitted to the WFS the other day) I am going to start year two quite strongly and will try to get to 600 by the end of the year. Again this will be taking me a bit further afield (but not too far).

I'll still be doing my wanderings around Waldridge however looking at the different aspects of nature as it really is a great place and I want to spend a bit more time looking at Hoverflies and Mosses in particular. And I'll still be running the moth trap too.

So I started my "Chester" bird list doing my usual 1st January walk, down to riverside park, along the river, the A167 to Chester Moor then on to Waldridge fell, village and back home.

Quite a miserable day with light rain showers, grey skies and rather cold but I plodded on and got a decent start to the year with 66 species as listed below. The highlights being a Stonechat and Tree Sparrows,  the latter, not only in their now regular spot along Waldridge Lane but also between the houses and wildlife area at the Riverside Park, the first time I've had them here. Misses, very little,  no Tawny Owl, Skylark or Meadow Pipit but certainly nothing to worry about.

House Sparrow
Carrion Crow
Blue Tit
Mistle Thrush
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Tit
Feral Pigeon
Wood Pigeon
Collared Dove
Common Gull
Mute Swan
Pied Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Common Coot
Tufted Duck
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Little Grebe
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Canada Goose
Common Buzzard
Great Black-backed Gull
Greylag Goose
Grey Heron
Reed Bunting
Willow Tit
Song Thrush
Tree Sparrow
Long-tailed Tit
Coal Tit
Lesser Redpoll
Golden Plover
Grey Partridge
Stock Dove