April/May 2022

April kicked off on the beach at Newbiggin with a couple of Black Redstarts on the old war defences just north of the point. Further up the beach five littoralis Rock Pipits on the wrack on south side of Beacon Point and a count of 106 Sanderling on the beach.

Highlights over the next few days included a Long-eared Owl leaving one of the local roosts at dusk, 2 Garganey at Bothal Pond and a jammy Common Crane in flight at Bomarsund as Finn and I passed heading home from an away game. On 7th news of a northbound Osprey at the coast sent me to Pegswood Pit Top and fortuitously managing to get very distant views as it passed over Newbiggin mobbed by corvids. Two juvenile Crossbills at the pit top were a bonus.

Several hours in the field 7th-9th produced nothing of note other than a first willow Warbler of the year at Woodhorn Flashes. On 11th five Wheatears and a White Wagtail on Newbiggin Moor were at least some reward for a couple of hours. A sea-watch at Newbiggin Point (NP) on 12th produced the first Sandwich Terns with 49 passing in two hours. Other new birds that day included Blackcap along the Wansbeck and all three hirundine species at Bothal Pond.

Early morning 13th a Long-eared Owl was a nice find at Newbiggin Moor. On 14th a drake Ring-necked Duck at Widdrington Moor Lake found by Tim Dean had me head north, both Smew and Red-necked Grebe also still hanging about there. I nipped across to Druridge Pools afterward and picked up Spoonbill and Ruff. A Little Ringed Plover at Castle Island brought the first half off April to a close.

I biked out to the coast on 27th adding Lesser Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler to #localbigyear list and caught up with the drake American Wigeon that had been present for some days. Four Whimbrel at Druridge Pools and a Common Whithroat at Ulgham Lane on the return journey added to a good day for new year birds.

May began with a day trip up to Clennel with Suzanne for a good long walk up the valley, Whinchats were in evidence and a distant Ring Ouzel was noted on one of the slopes. A juvenile Dipper was already fledged on one of the small streams.

Whinchat, Clennel Valley, May 2022

I had a good wander around various sites at Newbiggin on 4th picking up Arctic Tern, 2 Grasshopper Warblers and a Garden Warbler whilst back at Bothal Pond a Common Tern was present. Early morning visits to one of the Breeding wader Survey sites produced four flyover Mandarin on 8th.

A Little Ringed Plover in suitable breeding habitat within 10km of home was a pleasant find on 11th as was a Curlew at a possible lowland breeding site. Out on the bike to Beacon Hill on 12th produced singing male Common Redstart, two Yellow Wagtails in cereal and seven singing Common Whitethroats. A Tawny Owl flushed from the roadside at Abshiels and a Tree Pipit was singing at Beacon Hill. Later that evening a Long-eared Owl was hunting an old paddock north of Morpeth.

Tree Pipit, Beacon Hill

On 14th the second Breeding wader site produced no waders but Common Redstart, Garden Warbler and several Sedge Warblers made the early morning worthwhile.

Singing male Sedge Warbler

23rd found me successfully twitching Alan Priest’s Common Quail calling from the Ash Lagoon banks, a full-fat Newbiggin tick and one I was pleased to get before the tinnitus takes both ears. 45 Ringed Plovers on the blast beach were likely ‘tundrae‘ race.

24th was spent in the extreme north of the 10km at Druridge Pools, a single Wood Sandpiper and three 1st-summer Little Gulls the highlights. On 26th a reeling Grasshopper Warbler at the west end of Pegswood Community Park, a regular site in Spring now. The month ended with another Newbiggin sea-watch, though little of note, 95 Common Scoter, 71 Manx Shearwaters and 9 Red-throated Divers in a three hour period.

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