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

Tuesday, 19 February 2019


A trip up to Wark on the Scottish border this morning was instantly successful with the long-staying juvenile Common Crane seen from the car, feeding along a field edge.

Common Crane

The trip up produced Scaup at Cresswell, Green-winged Teal & Ruff at Druridge and White-fronted Goose & Ruff at Newton. On the way south a couple of Crossbill were at Harwood and the Egyptian Goose flew in at Big Waters.

Monday, 24 December 2018

Hen Harrier

After dipping the Hen Harrier at Dormans Pool last week I decided to give it a bit more time today. A long wait from 08.00 to 13.05 before it finally showed, giving excellent views as it hunted over the reed beds. 3 Bearded Tits zipping over the reeds while waiting were a bonus and a county tick to boot.

Hen Harrier
On Saturday, after a quiet seawatch I had another look at the Richard's Pipit, but just brief flight views and strangely still not calling. At Blaydon the Waxwing flock that George had found had increased to 14 and were feeding in McDonald's car park.


Monday, 17 December 2018

Both Beans

A Great Northern Diver was the highlight of a quiet seawatch from Whitburn this morning in pretty pleasant conditions.

The Richard's Pipit was showing at the big mound, the Leas, South Shields. Typical views in flight and standing tall in the long grass. Strangely silent.

Richard's Pipit

From here it was down to Seaton Common where the 6 Taiga Bean Geese were just north of the Zinc Works Road.

Taiga Bean Goose

The 2 Tundra Bean Geese on Cowpen Marsh took a bit more effort, but I eventually got decent views as they fed with Canadas and Greylags. I missed the Hen Harrier at Dormans Pool by 2 mins and a search of the area gave no joy.

On the 6th December I had my best ever views of a Great white Egret at the Sunderland Academy. 

Great White Egret

The less said about Anglesey and Royal Terns the better...

I also had a less than successful day looking for Arctic and Mealy Redpoll, but this inquisitive Otter helped make up for it.


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