Tuesday, 3 April 2018


Some excellent views of the White-spotted Bluethroat at Newbiggin this morning, before it was flushed and disappeared for several hours. My first Wheatear of the year was briefly on the cliff top.


Little was at Cresswell other than a pair of Pintail, but 3 Mediterranean Gull were at Bell's Farm flash.

Druridge was more productive, with the reserve looking superb. 34 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Pintail along with plenty of Teal, Wigeon and Shoveler. A Chiffchaff was just outside the Budge Screen, but the star birds were 2 Water Pipit. Unfortunately the brighter of the two birds didn't come close enough for photos.

Water Pipit
Late on I popped into Shibdon while waiting for a curry. Pleased with a drake Goosander, but over the moon with a Great Crested Grebe fishing in front of the hide. The first Gateshead record since 2012. No camera, but I managed a phone-binned shot- not bad in fading light!

Great Crested Grebe

Sunday, 1 April 2018

White-winged Scoter

An excellent trip up to Musselburgh with Mike, passing a hunting Barn Owl just past Alnwick on the way north. Immediate views of the White-winged Scoter amongst a small flock of Velvet Scoter. Great conditions, but unfortunately the tide was right out and the birds were distant. Panning to the left gave equally good, but again distant views of the Surf Scoter. A few other bits and bobs, including a female Scaup and a Long-tailed Duck. Happy, we were on our way back south again by 9.

First stop was Newton, where we had brief views of a roof-top Black Redstart. On the scrape the Grey Phalarope was still present, spinning away at the closest point to the path.

Next it was down to Newbiggin, where the Bluethroat was flitting around the base of the cliffs below the caravan park.


3 adult Mediterranean Gulls on the south beach capped off a top day.

Saturday, 3 March 2018


An extra cold seawatch from Whitburn Obs in a stiff easterly produced little this morning. A Little Gull and a pair of Red-breasted Merganser were the star birds.

A stop-off at South Shields Pier was more productive with a Little Gull feeding with a flock of Black-headed, a Glaucous Gull and 3 wind-swept Snow Bunting.

Little Gull
Glaucous Gull
Snow Bunting
A check of the Tyne from Bill Quay upstream revealed little, other than 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull at Dunston and a Ringed Plover at Stella, where 3 Oystercatcher were displaying in the middle of the road. No sign of Darren's Guillemot from yesterday. 20 Wigeon were at a mostly frozen Lamesley.

An afternoon walk in the snow when a hunting Barn Owl flew past, almost brushing my arm.

Barn Owl
Late on at Shibdon the decent gull roost held nothing unusual, other than a 1st winter Lesser Black-backed Gull. Two pairs of Shoveler were back on the pond and there were single Jack and Common Snipe.

Common Snipe

Thursday, 1 March 2018

No beast from the east.

A bit of a dusting of snow has meant a couple of days birding close to home, mostly on foot. The first sign of the hard weather was the marauding bands of hungry Redwing and Fieldfare around Whickham.

The confiding Water Rail was still in residence yesterday in the outlet channel at Watergate, but absent or hiding today.

Water Rail

Shibdon Pond this morning held both Jack Snipe and Woodcock. Little else was seen in the heavy snow and stiff easterly wind. 

Jack Snipe

At Watergate my first Lesser Black-backed Gull of the year was with a large flock of Common and Black-headed Gull. No sign of any rare ducks pushed west by the weather, but a pair of Gadwall were a site-tick for me.

Lesser Black-backed Gull
A pair of Dipper were around the top of the waterfall along with a Grey Wagtail. Several Snipe were feeding along the inlet stream, both in the open area and into Washingwell woods, where I spooked a Woodcock.


Common Snipe

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Iceland Gull

Only about 150 large gulls on the Tyne at Stella this afternoon, but including a smart 2nd winter Iceland Gull. Just before this bird dropped in my first three Gateshead Oystercatcher flew upstream.

Iceland Gull

With high water levels since the turn of the year Dippers have been absent from usual haunts, but a pair were back on territory on the Derwent.


Wednesday, 31 January 2018


A quiet seawatch from Whitburn this morning, but enlivened by a pair of Pintail and then a flock of 37 Eurasian White-fronted Geese coming in from the east before heading north. This is the highest day total past the Obs.

From here it was down to Seaton Carew where the Lapland Bunting was feeding by the road with a very flighty flock of Linnet.

Lapland Bunting with Linnets
Lapland Bunting

Just a little inland at Windermere Road, Hartlepool I spent a fruitless hour looking through gulls and just as I was leaving the Iceland Gull swooped low over the car, before dropping down to bathe.

Iceland Gull

No sign of the parakeets at Ward Jackson Park so I headed north. A decent selection of wildfowl at Lamesley, but nothing out of the ordinary yet. Still no Dipper on the Derwent at Winlaton Mill with high water, but there were 2 Little Grebe.

Long-tailed Tit basking in the sun at Far Pasture

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Red-crested Pochard

My first seawatch of the year from Whitburn this morning. All quiet except for an odd-looking Black-throated Diver. All looked good with bill and head, but a short neck and a lack of white flank patches...

A trip down to Hardwick Hall was a success with excellent views of the Red-crested Pochard resting on the ice.

Red-crested Pochard

Just up the road at Bishop Middleham at least 2 Hawfinch were feeding in Hornbeams on the track up to Castle Lake.

Back in Gateshead for a few year ticks with Buzzard, Willow Tit, Grey Partridge and Little Owl. A Stonechat was at Burdon Moor.

On the 23rd I eventually caught up with the Black Scoter at Cheswick. The stiff south-westerly pushing the scoter flock north and out to sea, making viewing difficult. 3 Russian White-fronted Geese were at Woodhorn on the drive back south.