Wednesday, 1 February 2017


A quiet seawatch from Whitburn was livened up by a fly-by Iceland Gull, but little else.

I called in at Washington WT on the way back and paid a tenner for cracking views of the drake Ferruginous Duck.

Ferruginous Duck

Back in Gateshead I failed again to see the Rock Pipit at Dunston, but the Waxwing flock was still at Swalwell.


At Lamesley there was a Barnacle Goose with the Greylag flock, plus 20 Wigeon and 7 Gadwall. By the oak tree there were 50+ Redwing, 20+ Fieldfare, 5 Mistle Thrush, 30+ Linnet and 15+ Greenfinch.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017


A strong south-southeasterly failed to bring much, other than good numbers of Gannet past Whitburn this morning. The crab sandwich team picked up a juvenile Glaucous Gull as it drifted south, just in front of the obs.

Glaucous Gull
An adult Mediterranean Gull was by the cliff-top car park at Marsden.

Mediterranean Gull
A stop-off at Primrose Nature Reserve on the way home gave point blank views of a drake Mandarin.


Yesterday I found a flock of 15 Waxwing on Whickham Bank, Swalwell while stuck in traffic on the way to work. Today the flock had swollen to 37, but stayed distant while I was there.

Shibdon remains quiet with just 8 Shoveler to speak of. A Pink-foot with the Greylag at Lamseley was a Gateshead year tick. Also here were 17 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall and 2 Shoveler.

Friday, 27 January 2017


Yesterday was bloody freezing. After Wednesday's sun, it was cold, grey and windy. Seawatching was slow, but produced a few good birds, with an Iceland Gull and an extremely early Manx Shearwater being the star birds.

Back in Gateshead at Lamesley there were 18 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler and 17 Snipe. At Saltwell along with 53 Tufted Duck there was a pair of Pochard. These were the first in Gateshead since November 2015. A far cry from the hundreds that used to winter at Shibdon in the 80s.


Wednesday, 25 January 2017


A pleasant day out in the sun, around Northumberland. Prestwick Carr was first up where the Great Grey Shrike eventually gave itself up. The bird was about 300m north of the sentry box and showed well, close to the path.

Great Grey Shrike

From here it was up to East Chevington where I was hoping to get some shots of the Shorelark and Twite, but unfortunately the beach had been cleared by a profusion of dog-walkers.

At Ladyburn Lake the Pacific Diver was still present, but spending much of its time sleeping or feeding far from the shore. I did manage a few shots to show the vent stripe and chin strap.

Pacific Diver

Next was North Shields Fish Quay for a quarter of Poor Bens, plus 3 Glaucous and an Iceland Gull.

Glaucous Gull

Iceland Gull


Sunday, 22 January 2017


After a nervous day stuck at work I was up to Ladyburn Lake at first light this morning. Luckily the Pacific Diver had done the decent thing and stuck around. On show immediately in the half-light, it continued to show superbly for the next couple of hours, sometimes just 20 feet off the bank.

Pacific Diver

Also here were 3 fly-over Crossbill, while a quick stop at Woodhorn on the way to work gave a flock of 15 White-front Geese, mostly Russian, but at least a couple of Greenland birds.

Wednesday morning was seawatching at Whitburn where the calm conditions gave a quiet session. From here it was through the tunnel to North Shields fish quay where 2 Glaucous and a Lesser Black-backed Gull showed well, but the Iceland failed to show.

Glaucous Gull
Back in Gateshead 7 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler and 9 Wigeon at Lamesley, while a Stonechat continues to hang on at Burdon Moor.

Thursday was down to Teesside where after quite a wait a Water Pipit eventually dropped in at Dorman's Pool. At Saltholme there was a Long-tailed Duck and 5 Scaup, but no sign of the Green-winged Teal. The wintering Spotted Redshank was on the Saltern and a Greenshank on Greenabella. A walk out to the Snook was rewarded with 40+ Twite and the Mediterranean Gull was on a lamp-post at Newburn Bridge.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017


A decent trip up to Druridge today, passing a flock of 7 Waxwing at Kingston Park on the way.

The Bittern failed to show in the two hours that I spent at East Chevington, but the crack was good and we were treated to several flybys by a ring-tail Hen Harrier. Also here were 2 Whooper Swan and a drake Scaup.

Hen Harrier

At the burn mouth the wintering flock of 7 Shorelark were showing very well at the top of the beach in bright sunshine.


From here it was down to Druridge Pools where 2 drake Pintail were on the Budge Field and a Ruff dropped in to feed with Redshank. Unfortunately too far for photos, an ermine Stoat was running along a distant fence-line, pure white, bar the black tip to its tail.

I was hoping to see Whit-fronted Geese at Woodhorn, but the entire goose flock had moved on.

Back in Gateshead a male Stonechat was at Burdon Moor, 12 Wigeon and 5 Gadwall at Lamesley.

A slower start to the new year with a return to work, but I did manage a couple of looks out last week. The first rarity of the year with crap views of the Black Scoter at Goswick was followed by clearing up most of the regular wintering birds.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Round Up 2016

Some of the many highlights of a stunning 2016 for me.

Siberian Accentor, Orkney 27th October. After all the associated trauma and panic, this was the moment!
Gyr, North Uist 8th April. Stunning close views. A beast.
Black-billed Cuckoo, North Uist 24th May. I never thought that we'd get another one of these.
Long-billed Dowitcher, Cresswell 19th April. The long stayer, in almost full summer plumage and in perfect light.
Red-eyed Vireo St Agnes, Scilly 27th September. One of two together. Will never tire of these!
Purple Swamphen Minsmere, Suffolk 2nd August. Not everyone's cup of tea, but I was impressed.
Subalpine Warbler St Mary's, Scilly 12th October. Initially elusive, this really showed well.
Pied Wheatear Redcar, North Yorkshire 30th October. Performing for a large crowd on the beach.
Whiskered Tern Saltholme, Durham 10th May. Ticked the night before in near darkness.
Lesser Yellowlegs St Agnes, Scilly 25th September. Just me and this beauty 15 feet away.
Caspian Tern St Mary's, Scilly 6th October. 3 hours of fretting on St Martin's, then a frantic dash from the harbour.
Dusky Thrush Beeley, Derbyshire 8th December. Awful weather, but a brilliant bird on a 2 tick day with...
Pallid Harrier Welwick, East Yorkshire. Fading light, but cracking views over the marsh.
King Eider Ythan, Aberdeenshire 29th June. My first drake, a bonus on the twitch for...
White-winged Scoter Murcar, Aberdeenshire 29th June. Effing miles away, but very satisfying!
Isabelline Shrike The Leas, South Shields, Durham 29th October. Seen the night before, but posing the next day in the sun.
White-rumped Sandpiper Amble, Northumberland 26th August. Point-blank views thanks to the tide.
Cory's Shearwater Pelagic, Scilly 19th August. Mountainous seas and terror, but wow!
Great Shearwater Pelagic, Scilly 20th August. Passing just a few feet from the boat.
Wilson's Petrel Pelagic, Scilly 20th August. The target of the trip, but a nightmare to photograph.
Pomarine Skua Pelagic, Scilly 17th October. 20 mins over the boat, just feet away.
American Golden Plover and Buff-breasted Sandpiper St Mary's, Scilly 29th September. 2 Yanks out of nowhere.
Sora Tresco, Scilly 3rd October. Out in the open all day.
Bluethroat Hartlepool, Durham 13th May. Performing well by the bowling green.
Eastern Yellow Wagtail St Mary's, Scilly. Not yet a full species, but a cracker like...
Eastern Black Redstart Skinningrove, North Yorkshire. How rare did these use to be?
Melodious Warbler St Mary's, Scilly 27th September. At last!
Caspian Stonechat St Mary's, Scilly 22nd October. A mad dash before the boat home.
With loads more and hundreds of hours seawatching, this was an excellent year. I had a blast.