Monday, 9 January 2012

Yesterdays South Tyneside bird race

Our team (myself, Jason and Paul Dan.) kicked the day off at Trow quarry as the light was just dawning and hardly a bird was active yet. As predicted a “No” Little owl show on this visit but you have to try especially before it becomes too busy here.
A few commoner birds did start our list off here and the only Reed buntings we encountered today on the mound here. Shags flew into the bay from the south that had probably been roosting on Marsden rock not long after I said “ nee shags!”. And our only Red throated diver flew across Sandhaven bay.
North Marine park was on our hit list next- Normal wildfowl on the lake to be ticked off and the treed area produced tit flocks(including 2 Coal tits), Green and Chaffinch, plus our first Woody “heard” but not seen.(this counts on these races).
Along to Marsden car park…..hardly a gull in here so went into Marsden old quarry next. Again “No” show Little owl.
Quick look at Marsden bay followed with very little showing on the sea area but a group of gulls where on the rocks in the north of the bay which I know to be where the “car park Med. Gull” hangs out. Jason spotted someone starting to feed the gulls in the regular car park for this gull here and gulls where leaving the bay heading for the free meal. Feeding frenzy here but managed to pick the Med. Gull out in this before it flew off back into the bay.(just as well as it’s the only one to my knowledge around here at the moment).
Quick look at Whitburn old church followed but was fruitless.
Boldon flats next stop off- all the expected species plus a bonus of a Peregrine which Jason and Paul seen before I caught up to them.
We drove along the Newton Garth farm approach road to view a certain field here which produced our only Grey Partridge 5/6.
Colliery woods- Quick look around the older plantation here and our only Lesser Redpoll seen on the eastern side of here. And thanks goes again to a local resident of the Cotswolds housing est. for keeping their garden feeders going here. Bullfinch and Willow tit ticked off.
The “western Boldon” area produced nowt for our team but the other 2 teams did better!
A new site to include on the bird race followed- Cock crow inn pond area. Female Goosander, Siskin and Jay added to our list here.
Quick look in on Saxon way- couple of Mistle thrushes added to the list(we where struggling thrush wise).
Slake road area- A Little grebe (sorry I still like the word Dabchick, must be my age I’ve been told.) was between Old Jarra bridge and Church bank. Shelducks and Herons in the usual spot viewing from the Don’s mouth….and our first Eider flew down the Tyne.
Jarra cem. The thrush count was starting to “nag” on our minds (along with other dips) by this time so a nice group of Redwings here was a pleasant sight. Also a couple of Woody’s flew over.
A quick look at Harton cem. on the way back to the coast didn’t add to our tally…I had hoped for Song thrush, the situation was getting desperate!
Marsden old quarry (again) still nee Little owl…the writing was on the wall “it wasn’t to be this year” with this species and a canny few others found locally.
Whitburn area- Visited here around this time of day today because of the tide (2pm-ish). This was about an hour before high tide and the wader numbers seemed well down since my last visit especially with Dunlin , but Shields pier has a canny “rest up” number (50ish) along with other waders around high tide so this could explain this. A few more birds for the list picked up here including- a single Barwit, Sanderling, Purple sands and Dunlin. A single Golden plover flew off towards the range field (the only one we seen!) and 5 Scoters on the sea here. But no Ringed plover! Marched the lads along to Jackies beach with the promise of seeing a Ringed plover here……Not a one in sight when we reached here. So off we headed down to Shields pier to see a Ringed plover next (desperate measures!). Thankfully a few where rested up on the side of the pier otherwise I would have been in the Tyne I think!..Nowt else picked up here.

We decided to call it a day after this and head back to the meeting point and maybe catch some of the Sunderland match in the pub. The car park here produced our final tick as 120 or so Pinkies went north as we waited here. A pretty poor total of 72 species recorded by our team and the Mc. brothers team. The winning team Mr Browns( inc. Andy W., Walter and Peter) picked up 78 species. Total of 88 species seen between the 3 teams.

Glaring dips by our team- Sparrowhawk,Pheasant, Song thrush, Auks and Little Owl. Dips by the other teams include- Med.gull, Golden plover, Barwit, Little grebe and Shelduck.

A great day none the less and hopefully next year the birds (especially over the sea) will be more plentiful.

And today one of the first birds I seen entering Marine park was a…..Sparrowhawk gliding thro- the trees here. And 2 Guillemots beside the pier…. Typical!.

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