Saturday, 31 May 2014


An early look around Gateshead hunting for Quail. No sign today and not much else so I headed down to Teeside. At the Calor Gas pool there was a Little Gull and the 2 Little Stint eventually showed well at the back of the pool.

The afternoon was spent hunting dragons and butterflies around Gateshead. Small Heath, Broad-bodied Chaser and Blue-tailed Damselfly were new for the year.

Small Heath at Kibblesworth
Dingy Skipper
Common Blue Damselfly ovipositing
Four-spotted Chaser newly emerged at Kibblesworth
Large Red and Blue-tailed Damselflies at Burdon Moor
Broad-bodied Chaser at Burdon Moor
Whitethroat at Burdon Moor


Friday, 30 May 2014


Headed down to South Gare first thing in hope of getting some better Bee-eater photos. It was not to be as it appeared the birds had gone over night. A Black Redstart was flitting about the sea wall.

Black Redstart
Not sure where to go next I decided to keep going south and headed for Wykeham Forest. After the long drive I arrived in the forest without a clue where to go. After driving around for a while I pulled over to ask a couple for directions. As soon as I wound down the window a Turtle Dove started turr-turring. Unable to get any directions a bit of aimless driving did the trick and I found the raptor watch point car park. A fantastic view point looking over the tree tops and valley beyond. Initially cold and grey it soon brightened up and the first Buzzard started soaring. A Honey Buzzard appeared high to east, steering with its tail like a kite. The bird put on a tremendous display, wing clapping for the next 5 mins. Next up was a pair of Goshawk soaring together with a Buzzard. Another prolonged display by the Honey Buzzard and I headed back north.

Honey Buzzard
News that the Bee-eaters had returned meant another stop at South Gare. I picked up a Bee-eater flying over as I drove, but unfortunately it landed a fair distance away. Photos worse than yesterday.

Next to Hartlepool Headland. The Icterine Warbler was picked up after a few minutes and gave brief, but excellent views. Also here was a Spotted Flycatcher and a Garden Warbler.

Icterine Warbler

Not a bad day!

Thursday, 29 May 2014


The plan was to head to north Northumberland and head south. News of a singing Greenish Warbler at Newbiggin led me astray and I spent a fruitless couple of hours staring at trees near the mound. I headed north and covered Druridge Bay. No sign of the Spoonbills or much else and I eventually succumbed to the lure of the Bee-eaters at South Gare.

By the time I arrived the birds had become very mobile and hadn't been seen for 20mins. After half an hour everyone began to drift off so I headed up the hill behind the scrap yard. A single Bee-eater zipped over calling and perched on a bush on the side of the hill. Great, but distant views (the story of the week!) before the bird was flushed by a Magpie. The Bee-eater reappeared a couple of times, but further away. A Common Blue was new for the year.

Common Blue
Next back over the river to the Calor Gas Pool by Saltholme. The Curlew Sandpiper was feeding with Ringed Plover, but again at a distance. Surprisingly not in full summer plumage.

Curlew Sandpiper
The Phil Stead hide held a few Gadwall and a drake Garganey was on the Fire Station field.


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A couple of spoons.

Nothing at all to show for a look around Gateshead on a cold and wet morning.

A launch up to Druridge Bay gave 8 Little Gull, 48 Black-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover from the hide at Cresswell. Up to Druridge Pool and a Spoonbill was on show from the Budge Screen.

Spoonbill at Druridge
Another look at Cresswell, this time the north pool, on the way back gave what I assume was another Spoonbill along with 4 Avocet.

Spoonbill at Cresswell

Monday, 26 May 2014

How far away is that?

The spate of 'distant views only' continued today. Arrived at Bothal Pond this morning and spent an unproductive hour searching for the reported Red-backed Shrike. Thinking it had just passed through I headed for the coast. Nothing at Lynemouth Flash and just 4 Avocet and a few Black-tailed Godwit at Cresswell. Put off heading further north by the hordes of bank holiday trippers I headed back home. Passing Bothal I pulled over for a quick scan of the hedges and immediately picked up the shrike, a cracking male, perched out in the open. Good views through the scope, but very distant.

Red-backed Shrike
Gateshead was quiet this morning with no sign of the wagtail or Wood Sandpiper. 3 Hare on Ravensworth Fell were the highlights.


Sunday, 25 May 2014


Headed south this morning after a sit in Shibdon hide, which was very quiet. Arrived at Nosterfield in Yorkshire and the Broad-billed Sandpiper was seen almost immediately. Good, but very distant views as the bird fed in and out of low vegetation. Also here were a few Avocet with chicks.

Broad-billed Sandpiper
A call from Paul D that he had just found a Grey-headed Wagtail at Lamesley had me heading back north. I arrived to find the bird had not been seen for a while, but the Wood Sandpiper was showing well. After a few minutes I picked up the wagtail feeding at the water's edge. Great scope views, but again too distant for photos.

Grey-headed Wagtail
Also here a Red Admiral was a year tick.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Osprey in the mist

The seawatch this morning was very much like yesterday. 2 Great Northern Diver being the highlights, one cracking close bird in full summer plumage.

A search of the Leas and Marsden Quarry was disappointing with nothing at all of note.

The flash at Lamesley still held the Wood and Common Sandpiper while a drake Shoveler was new on the water meadows.

Spent 45mins in Blanchland village, 15mins finding a Spotted Flycatcher and 30mins stood in the rain waiting for it to reappear for a photo.

Spotted Flycatcher
 Called in at the reservoir and an Osprey was perched up on the far side, looking pretty sorry for itself in the rain and fog.

Osprey in the mist
Called into my parents' in Whickham for a cuppa and a Spotted Flycatcher popped up in the garden. Nice end to the day.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Great Northern

A good seawatch at Whitburn with perfect viewing conditions. 2 summer plumage Great Northern Diver, a Little Gull and 50+ Manx Shearwater were the highlights and it was the first time I have had Shoveler on a seawatch. Further details on Paul's blog here,

Manx Shearwater
At Lamesley the Wood Sandpiper was again on the flash with a Common Sandpiper.

Thursday, 22 May 2014


Started with a soaking, as the first of the day's rain came as I was walking to the obs at Whitburn. My first proper sea watch of the year with a decent passage of Gannet, Auks and Sandwich Tern. Bird highlights were 3 Manx Shearwater and 2 Red-throated Diver, but the stars of the show were 8 Bottle-nosed Dolphin that moved north close in at 06.25.

Bottle-nosed Dolphin

A look at Lamesley gave nothing, but a pair of Gadwall.

A trip up north was unsuccessful. Hoppen Kiln Flash at Bamburgh was difficult to view in heavy rain and strong winds. No sign of the Temminck's Stint, but there were 3 Wood Sandpiper.

Newton was quiet with just a Lesser Whitethroat by the tin hut and a Common Sandpiper on the scrape. 2 Little Gull and 3 Avocet were at Cresswell.

Whinchat and Harrier

A late report for yesterday.

The Wood Sandpiper was still at Lamesley, having moved to the flash pool, but all quiet in the rest of Gateshead.

A look further north and a detour with news of a Wryneck at Newbiggin. No sign, but I did find a Whinchat on the ash lagoon bank.

At Cresswell 2 Little Gull were in front of the hide. A few more waders here today with 2 Grey Plover, 2 Avocet, 15 Dunlin, 1 Greenshank and a Common Sandpiper.

Little Gull
The north pool at East Chevington was very quiet, but a Marsh Harrier was hunting over the south. Also here were Small Copper and Blue-tailed Damselfly, both new for the year.

Marsh Harrier
Small Copper

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Successful Night

A look at Lamesley after work in the hope that the afternoon showers might have dropped a wader. Success with a Wood Sandpiper quickly seen and a Common Sandpiper feeding nearby.

Wood Sandpiper
After some food it was up to Slaley. Several Woodcock were roding in the half light and a Buzzard moved along the moor edge. 3 Cuckoo were still calling up until it was dark. 2-3 Nightjar started churring and 2 gave brief, but very close views as they flew overhead. It quietened down as it started spitting with rain, but I will be back on a better night.


Monday, 19 May 2014

More Dragons

A look around Druridge Bay was unproductive with 2 Grey Plover, 2 Dunlin and a pair of Yellow Wagtail.

Grey Plover
Back to Gateshead and another look for butterflies and dragons. Large Red Damselfly was new at Burdon Moor and Common Blue Damselfly was new for the year at Kibblesworth Brick Works.

Common Blue Damselfly
Common Blue Damselfly
Four-spotted Chaser
Dingy Skipper

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Butterflies and Dragons

Again no sign of the Osprey at Derwent Reservoir, but there were several Cuckoo and Tree Pipit above Blanchland.

Tree Pipit
Very quiet for birds around Gateshead, but plenty of insects out in the sun. At Kibblesworth Brick Works there were Four-spotted Chaser, Azure and Large Red Damselfly, Dingy Skipper and Wall.

Four-spotted Chaser
Azure Damselfly
Large Red Damselfly

Dingy Skipper
At Shibdon there were Comma and Speckled Wood.

Speckled Wood