Thursday, 31 July 2014

No Stilt

The plan was to nip up to Cresswell to get some photos of the Stilt Sandpiper, but the bird was not playing ball and had taken off overnight.

First port of call was Lynemouth Flash where there was a smart Greenshank with 6 Dunlin.

Despite extensive searching the Stilt Sand couldn't be found at Cresswell. There was 2 Spoonbill, 4 Little Egret, 5 Yellow Wagtail, 7 Knot, 2 Ruff, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Common Sandpiper, 50+ Dunlin and 30+ Snipe.

From the Budge Hide at Druridge there was 2 Ruff, 1 Greenshank, 1 Little Egret and a Yellow Wagtail. Two Marsh Harrier were hunting to the north and 2 Red Admiral and a Peacock were sheltering from the wind.

At Foxton Bends 8 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 2 Kittiwake and 3 Little Egret.

Newton Scrape is looking good with loads of birds, holding 2 Ruff, 1 Little Ringed Plover and a Kittiwake.

Back in Gateshead the Ruff was still at Shibdon and 3 Little Grebe at Far Pasture. The latter site held Southern Hawker and Ruddy Darter, but neither would settle for the camera.

Little Grebe
Paul got the results back for the colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit at Shibdon, a well travelled bird.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Stilt Sand

Cresswell this morning was not looking too promising. Scanning from the causeway Dunlin numbers were down on my last visit, with 2 Knot and 1 Ruff, but no sign of the Curlew Sandpiper. Stood chatting about yesterday's good fortune and the news came through that a Stilt Sandpiper was showing from the hide. A quick dash and the bird was on show on the sand bar, a cracking barred adult. The waders all lifted before I could get a photo and settled on the spit. It gave good scope views as it fed, but a bit far for a photo. The following crap photo is a heavily cropped phone shot, hand held through the scope.

Can you see what it is yet?
A look at Castle Island failed to turn up the pratincole, but there was a Greenshank and a Green Sandpiper.

At Shibdon there were 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Ruff and 6 Shoveler. One of the Godwits was colour ringed in Iceland and hopefully more information will follow.

Black-tailed Godwit
A Cormorant caught and struggled to swallow a large Flounder. The first Flounder that I have seen here for years. Small ones used to come in through the sluice, but never as big as this one.

Cormorant with Flounder

Monday, 28 July 2014

Collared Pratincole

A text just after 4pm announcing a Collared Pratincole at Castle Island. A frantic hour and a half until I could lock up looked to end tragically when news of the bird's departure came through. Thankfully news of it's return swiftly followed and I headed north. On view when I got there, it was a bit distant, but gave good scope views. Soon taking flight, excellent views were had as it showed it's copper underwing (brighter than I thought they would be) and thin white trailing edge to the secondaries. I timed my visit well, as the bird departed just a few minutes after I left.

Sunday, 27 July 2014


Stuck at work yesterday and then seeing the excellent Eels at the Sage last night meant waiting until this morning to try for the White-rumped Sandpiper at Cresswell. Arriving at just after 06.30 it looked promising with c100 Dunlin, 4 Knot and a smart moulting Curlew Sandpiper. An hour or so of scanning failed to turn up the White-rump, but a Little Egret and a young Marsh Harrier flew over. At least 3Yellow Wagtail crawled through the grass. An optimistic check of Lynemouth flash produced just a single Ruff.

A quick zip around Gateshead tonight gave the Ruff at Shibdon and an adult Kittiwake at Timber Beach. Lamesley is looking a bit better after last night's rain, but the only waders were a few Lapwing.


Friday, 25 July 2014


A spin round Gateshead tonight after work. Unfortunately there is a country and western weekend going on at Burdon Moor, so I went straight to Lamesley. Drying out quickly the only waders were Lapwing, we need some rain to top the pool up. Timber Beach held good numbers of Black-headed Gull and Lapwing and several family parties of Common Tern flew down river. A Common Seal was hauled up on the mud- the first for a few months.

Common Seal
Shibdon was quiet, with no sign of the Ruff. At Far Pasture a Kingfisher showed just outside the hide and a Little Grebe, 3 Teal and 4 Mallard were on the pond. A Buzzard drifted over mobbed by Swallows.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Painted Lady

Another early look up the coast on a mucho scorchio day. Lynemouth flash held just 1 Common Sandpiper and 4 Dunlin. At Cresswell numbers were also down, but there were 5 Little Egret, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Ruff, 2 Common Sandpiper, 11 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Avocet, 8 Snipe and 20 Dunlin. Druridge was much quieter than yesterday, but there were Dark-green Fritillary, Peacock and Red Admiral behind the dunes.

With things looking quiet I headed towards Derwent Reservoir for another go at Golden-ringed Dragonfly. I hit lucky immediately at Winnows Hill where one was buzzing around the pond, battling with 2 Common Hawker and eventually settling for photos. Also here were Emerald, Azure, Common Blue and Large Red Damselfly.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly
A Tufted Duck tended her brood on the pond while Siskin buzzed about the tree tops.

Tufted Duck
At Derwent Reservoir, near the hide a very washed-out and raggy Painted Lady was feeding on thistles.

Painted Lady

Over at Cronkley a Golden-ringed Dragonfly perched up by the road and 2 Little Ringed Plover were by the reservoir.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly having a poo break.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Standard Fare

An early look up the coast started at Lynemouth Flash where there was 1 Knot, 1 Common Sandpiper and 12 Dunlin.

Knot and Dunlin
A bit more variety at Cresswell than of late with 1 Spoonbill, 1 Little Egret, 1 Ruff, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 11 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Knot, 5 Avocet, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Snipe, 17 Dunlin and 1 Sparrowhawk.

At Druridge there were no Spoonbill for the first time in ages, but 2 Little Egret dropped in. A Barn Owl sat on a distant fence post. The Budge field looks great for waders, but with all the vegetation it is impossible to see everything. At least 3 Yellow Wagtail did show briefly.

Kibblesworth brick works was a bit quiet today, warm, but a bit cloudy. There were 4 Emperor, 2 Four-spotted Chaser, 2 Common Hawker, loads of Common Darter, plus plenty of Azure and Common Blue Damselfly. A couple of Purple Hairstreak danced around the oak tops.

Azure Damselfly
Common Blue Damselfly
A detour to Lowfell for a reported Scarce Tortoiseshell failed to even find where it was supposed to be.

Far Pasture gave great close views of a Kingfisher, Jay and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.


Thornley Woods gave plenty of Large Red Damselfly, but no dragonflies.

Large Red Damselfly
A late look around Gateshead gave 2 Ringed Plover at Timber Beach and a Common Sandpiper at Shibdon.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Blue-headed Wagtail

A good seawatch from Whitburn this morning with a cloudy sky giving excellent viewing conditions. Nothing rare, but large numbers of birds close in. Good views of 11 Arctic Skua, 2 Bonxie, 200+ Manx Shearwater, 2 Whimbrel, 5 Knot and 3 Red-breasted Merganser. There was a strong northerly movement of Arctic Tern, Sandwich Tern and Common Scoter. 8 White-beaked Dolphin moved quickly south at 06.20.

A look at the Northumberland coast was unexciting until Newton Scrape, which was covered with waders and looks, by far, the best site on the north-east coast. Wader highlights were 2 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 20+ Black-tailed Godwit and 50+ Dunlin. 6 juvenile Yellow Wagtail were feeding on the near shore with a slightly scruffy Blue-headed Wagtail.

Blue-headed Wagtail
Wood Sandpiper
A call from George had me call by Shibdon on the way home where a fall of Common Sandpiper had built up to 9 by the time I got there. Also here was the Ruff and a Kingfisher.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


Started the day at Shibdon where a Shoveler was new in and a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling by the A1. Plenty of Meadow Brown and a couple of Comma.

A look up to Blanchland again failed to turn up a Golden-ringed Dragonfly, but several Common Hawker showed along with a pair of Spotted Flycatcher.

Common Hawker
Spotted Flycatcher

Baybridge held a few Common Hawker and a basking Slow Worm.

The middle bit of a Slow Worm

Last chance for a Golden-ringed was Winnows Hill where there were several Common Hawker, loads of Common Blue Damselfly and a couple of Large Red and Emerald Damselfly. At the back of the pond a large dragonfly moved into view and gave a couple of passes. A stunning Golden-ringed Dragonfly which then perched up for photos. A walk around the open areas between the trees gave more Common Hawker including a mating pair.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Common Hawker
Kibblesworth held Emperor Dragonfly, Four-spotted Chaser, Common Hawker and Common Darter,plus good numbers of Common Blue and Azure Damselfly with a few Emerald. A couple of Purple Hairstreak played briefly around the oak tops, while Small Tortoiseshell were along the path.

Emerald Damselfly
Small Tortoiseshell
Common Darter

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Golden Dip

A good search around the Blanchland area this morning failed to turn up a Golden-ringed Dragonfly, but there were plenty of Common Hawker. Several Spotted Flycatcher were around the village car park.

Common Hawker
Spotted Flycatcher
A look up the coast was disappointing with 3 Spoonbill and 2 Little Egret at Druridge and a Greenshank at Hauxley were the highlights.

Called in at Shibdon for another find from George. The 2 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding in front of the hide with the Ruff and 60+ Redshank.

Black-tailed Godwit


Monday, 14 July 2014


George texted to say there was a Ruff at Shibdon. I called in after work to see that it was the Lamesley bird relocating. Much closer than at Lamesley, but hard to get a photo through the foliage. A very vocal Wigeon was on the pond, an odd record for July.


Saturday, 12 July 2014

Terned out nice

Hot and sunny from the word go. The big roundabout on the A1 at Chester-Le-Street was the unlikely venue for a butterfly twitch, but after just a couple of minutes White-letter Hairstreak was in the bag with two showing well feeding on thistles. Also in the same area was a cracking Banded Damoiselle and a Ringlet.

White-letter Hairstreak
White-letter Hairstreak
Banded Demoiselle
Kibblesworth brick works was the next port of call and the target, Grayling, was seen almost immediately. Other butterflies seen were Comma, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue, Small Heath, Meadow Brown, Large White, Green-veined White with Large and Small Skipper.

Around the ponds there were plenty of Dragonfly with 5+ Emperor, 1-2 Common Hawker, 10+ Four-spotted Chaser, loads of Common Darter with Common Blue, Azure, Blue-tailed and Emerald Damselfly. A Banded Damoiselle moved through the sedge-my first at this site.

News of a White-winged Black Tern had me down the road to Saltholme. On show from the hide as soon I got there, putting on a great show as it fed on Saltholme West. Also here were 2 Ruff and a Common Sandpiper.

White-winged Black Tern
White-winged Black Tern
White-winged Black Tern
White-winged Black Tern
The pools between the visitor centre and the hide held Emperor and Four-spotted Chaser.