Saturday, 24 August 2019

Scilly Pelagics

This year's trip to Scilly for four pelagic trips 15th-18th August were good, but lacked the big numbers of large shearwaters from last year. Still, 18 Wilson's Petrel over the weekend was pretty impressive.

Wilson's Petrel

The most impressive bird of the weekend was a pale juvenile Long-tailed Skua that spent some time around the boat, after chasing Storm Petrels.

Long-tailed Skua

A pristine adult Sabine's Gull on the first night was a Scilly tick for me, but it didn't linger.

Sabine's Gull

A couple of Great Shearwater gave brief, but excellent views as they shot past the boat.

Great Shearwater


Ruff, Green Sandpiper and Greenshank at Porthellick
A Minkie, 30+ Common Dolphin and 30+ Harbour Porpoise were off Deep Point with large numbers of Manx Shearwater.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019


I've neglected the blog for a while, so here's a quick run through the summer.

An excellent find by Phil B, plus follow-up from Paul D gave us Gateshead's first Iberian Chiffchaff at Swalwell.

Iberian Chiffchaff

More to follow...

Sunday, 2 June 2019


The Baikal Teal moving from Cambridgeshire to Yorkshire was welcome, but work meant I was unable to get down until Tuesday 28th May. An early start saw me arrive at Hornsea Mere before 7 to negative news. Some gen from a local got me to the teal's regular haunts, but after 3 hours I was ready to give up. Good views of Hobby, several Marsh Harrier, Yellow Wagtail and a singing Cetti's Warbler were scant consolation. Luckily just before I got back to the car my phone beeped and I was hurtling back to the other side of the lake. The Baikal Teal was on a wooded island and occasionally showed very well as it wandered out into the open to feed. A nit distant for photos!

Baikal Teal

Heading home I stopped off just north of Scarborough at Harwood Dale where I was immediately rewarded with a singing Turtle Dove.

Turtle Dove

Closer to home a quick check of Lamesley revealed 4 Avocet. A site first and only the third occurrence in Gateshead.

The next day 2 Little Stint flew north past Whitburn Obs (the first spring record). An evening Red-necked Phalarope got me up to Newton where it showed well despite the gloom. A pair of Little Stint were possibly the morning's birds.

Red-necked Phalarope


Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Spotted Crake

A steady seawatch at Whitburn this morning, then down to Saltholme. A Little Stint was distantly on show on the causeway rom the road. Into the reserve and straight to the wildlife watchpoint where the Spotted Crake was immediately on show at point-blank range. Feeding just outside the hide window it did disappear into the reeds, before being chased out again by a Water Rail.

Spotted Crake

No sign of the Spoonbill, but there were 2 smart, adult Little Gull over West Saltholme.

On to Castle Lake where 2 Wood Sandpiper were feeding along the western edge along with 4 Ruff and a Common Sandpiper.

Wood Sandpiper
A bit of a search from the hide eventually picked up the Temminck's Stint creeping around among rocks. 

Temminck's Stint
I failed to see or hear a Corn Bunting, but there were several fine Yellow Wagtail.

Yellow Wagtail
A late look at Lamesley added Yellow Wagtail to my Gateshead year list. A real scarcity now.

The new Shibdon Meadows got its first scarcity on Monday with a juvenile Glaucous Gull. The occasional Long-eared Owl has continued to show around the borough.

Glaucous Gull
Long-eared Owl

Tuesday, 2 April 2019


A couple of local Long-eared Owl. Seem to be found in almost every suitable habitat locally, but not normally showing so well!

Long-eared Owl

March finished with a pre-work nip up to see the lone Bewick's Swan at Druridge and post-work Swallow at Lamesley and a Gateshead year tick Barn Owl.

Barn Owl
Bewick's Swan

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Tengmalm's Owl

My first visit to Shetland could easily have gone badly. Arriving from the ferry at Tresta to negative news, a further 90 mins of searching the Lea Gardens compounded the rising horror of a potential dip. Just as all hope was almost lost, a cry of  'it's here' went up. A dash through the trees and it was in view, partially obscured by evergreen leaves it stared down at us from just twenty feet away. Views were better than my photos suggest!

Tengmalm's Owl

Over the road were 4 Slavonian Grebe, 3 Red-throated Diver, 4 Red-breasted Merganser and a winter plumage Black Guillemot.

Slavonian Grebe
A drive south to Loch of Spiggie gave good, but distant views of the wintering Pied-billed Grebe and 5 Eurasian White-fronted Geese. A Twite gave a couple of fly-overs.

A bit of light dipping followed, with no sign of the Rosefinch or the Tundra Bean Geese. More success back in Lerwick with an adult Glaucous Gull, juvenile Iceland Gull and 3 Black Guillemot. Of the latter only a winter plumage bird was close enough for photographs.

Black Guillemot

Back at the owl for more another look and it was more active as it got closer to dusk. Plenty of preening and yawning, but unfortunately it didn't move out into the open. A 'real' Rock Dove was feeding in the gardens.

Rock Dove
An excellent trip!

Sunday, 24 February 2019


Thick fog this morning and a lie-in beckoned, but a call from George dragged me out of bed to see the family party of Whooper Swan that had dropped in at Shibdon. Normally just a flyover species in Gateshead, this was the largest group I've seen on the deck here.

Whooper Swan