Thursday, 21 June 2018

Semipalmated Sandpiper

With mid-summer doldrums having set in, the last couple of days have got the blood flowing again. Yesterday I'd barely taken my seat at Whitburn Obs when I picked up a White-winged Black Tern about 600m out. Already south of us, it was battling into the wind and allowed decent views for Paul and I for the next five minutes. This was immediately followed by the usual pod of about 30 Bottlenose Dolphin heading south.

This morning a quieter seawatch with the highlight a smart, close Roseate Tern. From there it was to Washington WT for the mystery peep. Seen almost immediately on arrival it was clearly not a Little Stint and good scope views of it on hard ground revealed the diagnostic semi-palmations of a Semipalmated Sandpiper. The day improved further when a Spotted Crake appeared just inches from the Sandpiper. Unfortunately this dashed into the sedge, having been seen by just three of us.

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Thursday, 31 May 2018

More Quail

After this morning's seawatch was spoilt by fog, I headed down to Hartlepool for another look at the Quail. It has taken to popping under the bowling green fence to feed on the edge of the town moor and allowed some stunning views out in the open.


Tuesday, 29 May 2018


Stuck at work while photo after photo of the Quail at Hartlepool forced me to drive down this evening. Cold and gloomy, it was a long wait before the Quail gave stunning views, just a shame that it was almost dark.


Saturday, 26 May 2018

Pec Sand

A after-work trip up to Druridge with fairly close views of the smart Pectoral Sandpiper. An excellent supporting cast of Glossy Ibis, Little Gull, Little Stint, Greenshank, Ruff, Yellow Wagtail and a very red Knot.

Pectoral Sandpiper
Little Gull

Friday, 18 May 2018


A quiet seawatch from Whitburn this morning saved by 30+ Bottlenose Dolphin heading north, the rear-guard continuously breaching as they passed.

Just as quiet around Gateshead with no sign of most of yesterday's good birds.

Late news that the Rose-coloured Starling had been pinned down in Ashington had me heading north. Stunning close views, hampered by having to view through the gaps between the planks of a fence.

Rose-coloured Starling

Rather than battle back through the rush hour traffic I headed up to Druridge. The flash pools to the north were superb with the Glossy Ibis, 2 Little Stint, a Garganey, a Wood Sandpiper and a Yellow Wagtail.

Glossy Ibis

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Great Northern

Seawatching from Whitburn over the last couple of days has been dominated by a northerly wind. Good numbers of birds, with Great Northern Diver the star species. Five yesterday, two today and all in spanking summer plumage. One was particularly close.

Great Northern Diver
Back in Gateshead this morning I picked out a drake Mandarin hiding in the sedge. I returned later when it eventually showed much better.

Checking a traditional site near Greenside turned up trumps with a singing Tree Pipit, still clinging on to a toe-hold in Gateshead.

Tree Pipit
Another difficult, once common, species for Gateshead was next with a Spotted Flycatcher in Chopwell Woods.

Spotted Flycatcher
At Burdon Moor my first Broad-bodied Chaser of the year was basking in the sun.

Broad-bodied Chaser

Monday, 14 May 2018


Two Avocet were found on the Tyne at Dunston this morning by RSPB staff viewing from the north bank. Messages from Ross A and Michael F had me abandoning a cuppa and hurtling down the hill. Difficult to view at first as they were hidden below the mud banks, they eventually showed well and spent the afternoon high tide bobbing around the flooded Timber Beach like Phalaropes. With only one previous record, way back in April 1984, this was a long over-due blocker.


A trip up to Dipton Woods was well worth it, with boat-loads of Green Hairstreak on a perfect spring day. 

Green Hairstreak