Friday, 30 November 2018


A message from Paul D this morning that a Mandarin was in front of the hide at Shibdon dragged me out of bed and through the traffic. By the time I got there the Mandarin had moved off, but I did manage to pick up a Knot circling high over the pond. Eventually it dropped and landed on a small island on the west side of the pond. The last wader that I had on this island was the Black-winged Stilt back in May 2012. Knot are surprisingly rare in Gateshead with the last in 2011 and only a handful of records.


A trip up to Northumberland on the 27th gave distant views of the adult Bonaparte's Gull at Bamburgh, where there was also 2 Water Pipit, a flyby Snow Bunting and a Fieldfare that came in off the sea and landed on the seaweed.

Bonaparte's Gull
Water Pipit
At Buston Links the four Shore Lark took a bit of effort to find before eventually giving good views, until they were flushed by a dog walker.

Shore Lark

Monday, 12 November 2018

Little Swift

Yesterday I spent all afternoon stuck at work and praying that the Little Swift at Hartlepool would go to roost. Luckily it did ad I was there before dawn to see it sleeping below the eaves of a bow window on Cliff Terrace. As it got light it started to twitch, then launched itself into the air and towards the sea. After going missing for a few minutes it spent the next two hours bombing backwards and forwards along the promenade. Unbelievable views as it frequently flew past less than three feet away. Incredibly hard to photograph, the following were all I had from 1250 blurs.

Little Swift

Friday, 9 November 2018


Popped down to Dalton Park, Murton this afternoon where after a bit of a wait the Hoopoe popped out and gave reasonable views as it moved around the landscaped pit heaps. Shame it was so overcast that it was almost dark.


Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Dusky Warbler

Looking at my phone too late, slow traffic and fading daylight meant that I dipped the Dusky Warbler in Marsden Quarry. Better luck this morning, when after a bit of a run around with the bird constantly calling from thick cover, it eventually gave itself up. Good close views, but photos were hampered by foliage, bad light and drizzle.

Dusky Warbler

Yesterday a trip up to Amble gave instant success with the long staying Red-necked Grebe in the marina.

Red-necked Grebe

Last Wednesday an afternoon jaunt up to East Chevington gave good views of a pair of Bewick's Swan.

Bewick's Swan

Friday, 19 October 2018

Lark, Spotted Sand and Tern Tick

Still on a high from the Catbird I was back in Whitburn Obs on Tuesday morning. Pretty quiet for seabirds, but calling, flyover Short-toed Lark was a fine addition to the Obs list and an excellent id from Dave Foster.

From there it was over to Jarrow where the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper was happy to saunter past at close range as it fed along the banks of the River Don.

Spotted Sandpiper

With ragworm

Late on Wednesday a superb inland find from Ross Ahmed was a duo of Gull-billed Tern at a gravel pit to the north west of Hexham. Bizarrely it later emerged that someone else had found the birds some two weeks before, but supressed the news. Go figure..

Armed with information from Ross I was on site at dawn the next morning with just two others and was rewarded with both terns dropping in with gulls at 08.00. A bit distant and although good scope views, too far for photos.

Gull-billed Tern

A small flock Brambling on the way home were a welcome year tick.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

More Scilly and Catbird

No more posts while on Scilly due to infuriatingly slow WiFi.

The Barred Warbler mentioned in the last post continued to show.

Barred Warbler
The 8th was mostly taken up by tantalising views of a possible Aquatic Warbler that eventually showed itself to be a Sedge Warbler. A dash to St Agnes gave good views of the Greenish Warbler after it gave us a bit of a run-around. We were just too late for the Red-throated Pipit, but we took the opportunity to see the Red-backed Shrike at the Nag's Head.

Red-backed Shrike
Back to St Agnes for better views of the Greenish Warbler, the shrike and the elusive Wryneck.

Greenish Warbler

Birding hard, but with little reward and sore feet the 10th saw us regularly tripping over the flock of 4 Cattle Egret on St Mary's.

Cattle Egret
An early Richard's Pipit on Peninnis on the 11th gave us hope on favourable south easterlies, but we saw little else new until a Lapland Bunting with the relocated Richard's Pipit on the golf course in the evening.

Richard's Pipit
Barred Warbler
The 12th brought awaited storm with associated wetness and high winds. Seawatching from Peninnis gave little except Gannets, but a Leach's Petrel battling the gale was an excellent Scilly tick. Seawatching on the 13thwas much better with a Great, 5 Balearic and 10 Sooty Shearwater, plus another 2 Leach's Petrel and 15 Bonxie. There was an influx of Black Redstart and a Common Rosefinch, but no sign of the hoped for Yanks.

Black Redstart

Common Rosefinch

Back to lovely weather on the 14th and after a quiet morning on St Mary's we did a whistle stop tour of Tresco where we hit lucky when the Eastern Yellow Wagtail was relocated, the injured Red-breasted Flycatcher showed down to a few feet and the 5 Cattle Egret fed amongst cattle.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail
Red-breasted Flycatcher
Cattle Egret

The 15th was my final day of the trip, and gave time for a wander up to the riding stables for a look at potentially another Eastern Yellow Wagtail. Not as monochrome as the Tresco bird, but it sounded good and had long hind-claws.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail?

A smooth crossing with little to see until a Bonxie, Arctic Skua and a smart Sabine's Gull on the Penzance side. News of the Grey Catbird at Land's End broke as we crossed and a frantic drive by Cliff got us on site just too late.

Stopping in Penzance I was back on site by bus before first light. After a 2 hour wait and just 16 mins before my return bus the Catbird popped up. No longer the expected skulker, this thing was sitting out in the open, superb! Some snatched photos (with all the wrong settings) and I was running for the bus. An excellent end to the holiday.

Grey Catbird