Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Grey Day

The drive north was disappointing with no sign of the Green-winged Teal or Bean Geese. A Grey Plover and 3 Pintail at Druridge were the highlights.

The first bird seen at Bamburgh was the Grey Phalarope, feeding in the wild surf. Easily seen from the car, but I braved the weather for some photos.

Grey Phalarope
Other highlights here were Black-throated Diver and Slavonian Grebe, but again no Velvets among the flocks of Common Scoter.
I stopped south of Swinhoe to scan a flock of gulls and a very distant owl shaped blob turned into a Barn Owl with the help of the scope.
Barn Owl
A few stops further south were uneventful, but 3 adult Mediterranean Gulls were among a large gull flock at Druridge Country Park.
Mediterranean Gull


Saturday, 25 January 2014

Bean There

Drove north via Cresswell and Druridge in the hope of some owls, but drew a blank again.

A quick search of the Alnmouth area and I located the herd of 23 Whooper Swan just to the south of Waterside House. The 3 Tundra Bean Geese flew in to join them, giving good, but distant views.

Bean Geese and Whooper Swans
The tide was in at Stag Rocks and gave Red-necked Grebe, Black-throated Diver and 7 Slavonian Grebe. There were 500+ Common Scoter, but again no Velvets.
East Chevington still held Slavonian Grebe and Common Scoter, but the Bearded Tit failed to show in the deteriorating conditions.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Lesser Whitethroat

Started in the freezing mist by the Derwent at Winlaton Mill. I heard a singing Dipper as soon as I left the car and picked up two birds on the river.

At Far Pasture the drake Pochard was back on the pond and the usual tits were around the car park.

I spent 40 mins staring into a Tynemouth garden before the 'eastern' Lesser Whitethroat appeared at the back of the garden. It showed well feeding on a fat feeder, but was frequently spooked by tits and Blackbirds.

Lesser Whitethroat
The Glossy Ibis was showing well only a few yards from the road at Lynemouth. No sign of the Green-winged Teal at Druridge, but now three Pintail.
Glossy Ibis
East Chevington held a Slavonian Grebe and a Common Scoter, but no sign of yesterday's Bearded Tit.


Saturday, 18 January 2014

A Blur

A cracking day in Northumberland, despite the weather. As my lens was left on close focus all day, the photos are all a bit of a blur. Idiot!

The day started badly with no sign of Glossy Ibis, Barn and Little Owl in the Cresswell area. An immediate improvement as I drove north, with a flock of 30+ Twite at Bell's Farm.

At Druridge 5 mins of scanning produced the Green-winged Teal on the far bank, before flying much closer. 2 cracking male Pintail were also new for the year.

Green-winged Teal
At East Chevington a distant Slavonian Grebe was picked up and 3 Long-tailed Duck were much closer with good numbers of Goldeneye.
Long-tailed Duck
A Bittern was preening in the reeds by one of the channels to the right of the hide. Not the best photo!
Next was up to Stag Rocks where a couple of hundred Common Scoter were thrashed about in the heaving sea with a couple of Slavonian Grebe. Large numbers of Kittiwake and Guillemot were on the move with smaller numbers of Gannet, Fulmar and Razorbill.
The Little Egret was at its usual spot at Waren Mill and a field to the north of Budle Bay had 200+ each of Greylag, Brent and Barnacle Geese.
Little Egret
Fenham Flats were quiet,with a total lack of Wigeon, so the American Wigeon was a non starter.
Back at Stag Rocks the tide had pushed the scoter much closer, but no sign of any Velvets. I parked by the golf course and picked out a Grey Phalarope fluttering south a fair way out. Luckily the bird moved closer and dropped into the wild surf to the south of the rocks. Not as confiding as last time, but I was pretty close standing ankle deep as the tide pushed it nearer.
Grey Phalarope
A male Stonechat was at the top of the beach when I walked back to the car.
With time getting on I headed south for another crack at the Glossy Ibis. Got the bird straight away from the car in a field north of Lynemouth just south of the entrance to Cresswell Home Farm. At least 2 second winter Mediterranean Gulls were among a large flock of Black-headed Gulls in the same field.
Glossy Ibis
Mediterranean Gull
Not a bad day!





Thursday, 16 January 2014


A trip out before work to Big Waters. Scaup was the target and was pretty much the first bird I saw when I arrived at the platform over-looking the lake. It was swimming with a Gadwall, so two year ticks for the price of one.
The sun came out when I headed off for work.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014


Battled through the traffic and arrived at Boldon Flats later than planned. The two Glossy Ibis had left their roost and it took over an hour to re-find them. Initially very distant, I later got them much closer and was able to get some photos. Will I ever get a sunny day off?

Glossy Ibis
Next was down to the coast and 21 Snow Bunting were feeding on the cliff tops at Marsden where there were already Fulmar back on the cliffs.

Snow Bunting
Despite plodging around the Leas I couldn't find any Lapland Bunting and had to make do with 8 Reed Bunting and 3 Meadow Pipit.
Reed Bunting
Now through the Tunnel to dip Lesser Whitethroat and Siberian Chiffchaff. Just a few roosting waders at St. Mary's and over 40 Eider at the Fish Quay.
Sanderling, Dunlin and Lapwing
Back to Gateshead and a lack of Jack Snipe at Lamesley. A Grey Partridge at Burdon Moor was a year tick. Further new birds for the year were Jay, Water Rail and Chiffchaff, all at Far Pasture.
Last stop was Shibdon where the Ruff and 6 Redshank were among several hundred Lapwing. A Sparrowhawk put everything up.


Sunday, 12 January 2014


After being too lazy to get my arse out of bed yesterday I was keen this morning and got down to Jarrow at first light. The usual urban birding uncomfortable feeling while wandering the streets with bins and camera, scanning trees in front gardens. Luckily few people were up and the curtains were closed. Good numbers of Mistle Thrush and Redwing were feeding on berries and were joined by a few Bullfinch. A fly-over Peregrine was a good urban bird, but it took an hour before the first Waxwing showed. This was quickly joined by a further four before the flock built up to 35. The murky light was not great for photos.

Headed home via Lamesley and 3 Pink-footed Geese with 100+ Greylag.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

No Wigeon

Some decent weather got me up to Fenham-le-Moor to hunt for the American Wigeon. A lack of Wigeon meant no joy, but it was a nice day mopping up some year ticks down the coast.

Fenham Flats- Meadow Pipit, Skylark & Ringed Plover.
Stag Rocks- Razorbill, Fulmar & Sanderling.
Budle Bay- Little Egret.
Long Nanny- Stonechat.
Druridge Bay C.P- Pochard.
Druridge Pool- Shoveler & Black-tailed Godwit.
Cresswell- Great Crested Grebe.
Prestwick Carr- Redwing.

Brent Geese at Fenham
Little Egret at Waren Mill

Monday, 6 January 2014

Grouse About Tits.

Awful weather so headed south to get some year ticks from the car. A few Red Grouse were hunkered down by the road side from Edmundbyers onwards. The rain was lashing down when I got to Langdon Beck, but 11 male Black Grouse were easy to get as they fed in the open fairly close to the road.
Black Grouse
Grousing over, time for some tits.
The feeding station at Low Barnes was fully stocked, but held only one Dunnock, so I headed into the reserve. After a hundred yards I picked up a small tit flock and 4 Marsh Tits were calling away. The main lake was quiet with just a few Mallard and Tufted Duck.
Far Pasture gave a Willow Tit with 3 Nuthatch and a bonus fly-over  Goosander.
10+ Brambling showed within a couple of minutes of getting out of the car at Greenside,
Sled Lane had 17 Wigeon and Shibdon 22 Snipe and 1 Dunlin.
Prestwick Carr was very quiet with the big flocks of Fieldfare having gone. A Reed Bunting was new for the year.

Sunday, 5 January 2014


A wander around Gateshead this morning. Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers at Watergate, but very little on the half frozen lake. Nuthatch at Far Pasture was new for the year, but no sign of the Willow Tits.

A call came through of 2 White-fronted Geese at Lamesley had me shooting over with time to head to work looming. The geese were feeding in a field fairly close to the road with Greylag. From the bill shape/colour and heavy black chest patches I presume Greenland.

White-fronted Goose
While watching the geese a Peregrine was a welcome addition to the Gateshead year list.

Friday, 3 January 2014


A big hole in my list was filled today. While on the phone to work a Grey Phalarope flitted over my head at Stag Rocks. It flew up and down before settling in the surf to the south of the rocks. As the incoming tide pushed the bird closer it was joined by another, less well marked, bird. Get in!

Before this I had had the three common divers, 20+ Long-tailed Duck and 6 Red-breasted Merganser.
A flock of finches contained Twite, Linnet, Greenfinch and Goldfinch. A Kingfisher on the rocks was a shock.

Short visits to Budle Bay and Fenham Flats were disappointing, but gave a few year ticks.

I called in at Hauxley for a quick look at the Slavonian Grebe in the fading light.

Thursday, 2 January 2014


Started work yesterday at ten, so only enough time for a quick thrash around Gateshead with little of note among 47 species, the Shibdon Ruff probably the star.

Work again today, but a 11am start meant that I could venture further. A start in the dark had me at Sadberge for just after 8 and immediately had the Bewick's and 3 Whooper Swans. Much closer than last week and would have got some decent shots if I had had the time to wait for the light to improve.
On the opposite side of the road was a flock of 200+ Pink-footed Geese.

Bewick's Swan
Next was up to Bradbury to try again for the Great Grey Shrike. Forty cold minutes were spent scanning hedges before one of the Cleveland birders picked it up on a distant tree. Buzzard and Peregrine were good fly-bys while waiting.
Great Grey Shrike
A drive over the top of Burdon Moor on the way home gave 50+ Fieldfare and a Red Kite.