Sunday, 28 September 2014

Watergate Wigeon

A quick spin around Gateshead before work this morning. Watergate lake held 2 Wigeon, 9 Little Grebe and 9 Tufted Duck. 3 Grey Wagtail zipped around and a Siskin flew from the scrub at the north end. A couple of Chiffchaff still called.

At Shibdon there were 3 Ruff, 2 Dunlin and 3 Grey Wagtail. A Common Seal was at Timber Beach, but very few waders.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Sea Harrier

Back to Whitburn again this morning. A juvenile Marsh Harrier drifting south, far out to sea, was the star bird today. Although it wasn't manic this morning there was plenty going past despite the light southerly and the clear blue sky.


Red-throated Diver    12n  20s
Puffin    4n
Manx Shearwater    7n  5s
Sandwich Tern    16s
Common Tern    45n  17s
Little Gull    200n  59s
Arctic Skua    2n
Common Scoter    88n
Red-necked Grebe    2n  1s
Pomarine Skua    1s
Golden Plover    3s
Arctic Tern    4s
Meadow Pipit    49s
Grey Wagtail    2s
Red-breasted Merganser    3s
Pink-footed Goose    150s
Bonxie    1s
Marsh Harrier    1s
Great Northern Diver    1n
Wigeon    1n
Sooty Shearwater    1n
Teal    1n  4s
Swallow    1s

Also 4 Skua sp. south together which were probably 2 Long-tailed and 2 Arctic, but too distant to be sure.

Back in Gateshead there were 6 Ruff and 3 Dunlin. On Thursday there were 21 Shoveler here, the biggest count for years.


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

No Fea's

As I was stuck at work on Sunday I am still a card carrying member of the No Fea's Club. Although one didn't go past Whitburn this morning it was a tremendous seawatch. A massive northerly movement was taking place with 5000+ Auks and 1000+ Kittiwake. With so much going past it was difficult keeping track and we must have missed a lot. Highlights were 11 Pomarine Skua (2 adults with full spoons), 1 Balearic Shearwater, 34 Sooty Shearwater, 303 Little Gull, 1 Black-throated Diver and 1 Red-necked Grebe. Five flyover Ring-necked Parakeet were a surprise Obs tick.


Manx Shearwater    138n  2s
Red-throated Diver    11n  50s
Sandwich Tern    11n  11s
Sooty Shearwater    32n  2s
Eider    2n  1s
Turnstone    3n
Arctic Skua    53n
Velvet Scoter   7n
Black-throated Diver    1n
Common Scoter    129n  3s
Teal    205n  4s
Red-necked Grebe    1n
Little Gull    303n  12s
Pomarine Skua    11n
Common Tern    39n  10s
Brent Goose 4n pb
Swallow    2s
Balearic Shearwater    1n
Puffin    5n
Wigeon    42n  3s
Bonxie    2n
Ring-necked Parakeet    5s
Goosander    1s
Grey Wagtail    2n
Kestrel    1s
Dunlin    6n
Red-breasted Merganser    2n

The walk back to the car gave a Yellow-browed Warbler in the garden with the yellow slide on the south edge of Shearwater Estate.

Back in Gateshead were 11 Grey Partridge at Lamesley, 6 Ruff and 2 Dunlin at Shibdon.

Saturday, 20 September 2014


Had to burn up a day's holiday so headed up to Holy Island. Started at the Snook at 0800 in light rain where the star bird was a Redstart at Half-moon Slack, with a few Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest , 2 Wheatear and 3 Snipe. Chair End was bird free, but it picked up at the Straight Lonnen with a Redstart in the patch of willows.

Redstart through the murk
A ring-tail Hen Harrier flew across the track- a belated year tick.

Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier
As the vegetation thickened up there were more birds with Lesser Whitethroat, Whinchat, Stonechat and 2 Wheatear.

The walk along the Crooked Lonnen gave 2 early Fieldfare and 5 Wheatear.

I got to the Lough to the news that the Siberian Stonechat had dropped out of view, but the Red-backed Shrike was showing well.

Red-backed Shrike
The Sibe swiftly reappeared giving excellent, but distant views, perched up on the fence-line.

Siberian Stonechat
At times the Sibe and the Shrike were sitting side by side.

Sibe and Shrike
The rump
Also here were Willow Warbler, Blackcap and 2 flyover Tree Pipit.

By the time I got to the Vicar's Garden the sky was blue and the sun was out. In the garden there were 5 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Pied Flycatcher and a Yellow-browed Warbler.

Spotted Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher
Next was a trip back to the Snook to get the Barred Warbler that I missed first thing. I flushed the bird as I approached the garden and had decent flight views, but despite an hour's searching I couldn't relocate it. While looking for the Barred all sorts popped up in the gardens. 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 3 Goldcrest and 3 Wheatear.

Lesser Whitethroat
South from the Snook
 A Little Egret was the only bird of note from the causeway. Stopped off on the way home at Budle point to try for better views of a Barred Warbler, but all I could find was a Garden Warbler and 2 Stonechat.


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Through the fog

Same again today. Trudged around Whitburn this morning with just 2 Chiffchaff and 1 Blackcap to show for the wet feet. The Leas hedge was much more promising with 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 2 Blackcap and 4-5 Garden Warbler. A Mediterranean Gull appeared out of the fog.

Marsden Quarry held a calling Yellow-browed Warbler and the hall had a Red-breasted Flycatcher with Blackcap and Garden Warbler.

Back in Gateshead at Shibdon there were 4 Ruff and a Kingfisher. A Wigeon at Lamesley and a Little Owl on Pennyfine Road.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Long Tail

A hard slog around Whitburn this morning with little reward. With no fall of new migrants the best was a Red-breasted Flycatcher showing well in the tree tops by the Shearwater estate and a Yellow-browed Warbler calling from the big mound. The elders at Marsden Hall held Blackcap and Garden Warbler, but not a hoped for Barred Warbler.

With the weather brightening this afternoon I had a seawatch. Not a lot was passing, but there was quality with both Long-tailed and Pomarine Skua at mid distance in excellent light.


Wigeon    111n
Manx Shearwater     7n
Common Scoter    4n
Long-tailed Skua    1n
Red-throated Diver    1s 2 on sea
Sandwich Tern    2n
Arctic Skua    1n
Teal    7s
Pomarine Skua    1s
Porpoise    1n

Back in Gateshead after a call from George and there are now 6 Ruff at Shibdon.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Eastern Starter

Autumn started properly today while I was stuck at work. After a post work dash to St. Mary's Island I managed to see both the Red-breasted Flycatcher and the Yellow-browed Warbler. Not the best views of either in the murky light, but nice to catch up with. Also here were 1 Pied Flycatcher, 6+ Goldcrest and several Chiffchaff.

Hopefully this is just the start.

Friday, 12 September 2014


A trip to Whitburn after work on the off chance that the Bonaparte's Gull would show turned out well. I got the news that the bird was showing when I was half way there and it was showing well, although distantly, when I got to the cliff top. The bird flew and drifted closer until showing superbly at the base of the cliff just below us.

Bonaparte's Gull
Bonaparte's Gull
Bonaparte's Gull
Bonaparte's Gull
A couple of bonus birds here were a flyover Yellow Wagtail and a cracking young Caspian Gull in flight.

Shibdon over the last couple of days has produced 3 Greenshank, 3 Ruff, Kingfisher and 2 Grey Wagtail.

Ruff and Greenshank

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Second Half

The first half of the day didn't go to plan. A call in at Cresswell produced just 1 Little Stint, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Little Egret and 2 Yellow Wagtail. Two hours at Hadston and no sign of the Wryneck, with just 1 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler and a few Goldcrest. At East Chevington the water is still too deep and the only bird of note was a Marsh Harrier. A brief look at Castle Island gave no Blue-winged Teal so I headed back to Gateshead where I could find no Black Darters at Kibblesworth.

The day improved when Mike pinned down a Black Darter at Kibblesworth Brick Works and another was seen in flight. Hundreds of ovipositing Common Darter, plus single Migrant and Southern Hawker.

Black Darter

Black Darter

With news of the Wryneck showing again I had another run up. After 20 mins of skulking the bird flew out and spent the next hour in the open feeding on ants.

On the beach here were young Mediterranean Gull and Kittiwake.

Mediterranean Gull
A call in at Shibdon gave 3 Greenshank and 2 Ruff.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Pec 2

Thought I would try Lamesley first this morning and almost the first bird I saw was a brand new Pectoral Sandpiper. This one a spanking juvenile with a strongly striped back. Unfortunately the bird flew to the middle of the reserve, as far away as possible from any vantage point, hence crap phone through scope record shot!

Juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper
Amazing, waiting for years for a Gateshead Pec and two come along like buses.

At Shibdon there were now 2 juv and 1 adult Ruff which were joined this evening by 2 Greenshank and a Green Sandpiper.

Juvenile Ruff

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Blue Wing

Managed to get up to Castle Island after work for the Blue-winged Teal. Initially I was on the wrong side of the river, but a bit of waving and pointing from the south bank got me to the right spot. Initial views were rubbish with the bird fast asleep and partially obscured, but still showing a bit of blue wing. After 15 mins it got up for a stretch, a waddle, a swim and a flight across the river, so excellent views were had. A bit late in the day again for photos, but you can see what it is. Also here 1 Spotted Redshank, 15+ Ruff, 1 Greenshank and a Kingfisher.

Blue-winged Teal

At Shibdon before work 2 drake Gadwall were new in. Also 2 Ruff, 1 Water Rail and a Grey Wagtail.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Not Pretty

With the year list stalling I had a ride down to Saltholme this evening for the Red-crested Pochard. Running late I didn't get there until after seven and with the murky weather the light was fading fast. Most times I check the east pool it has a scattering of ducks, but tonight it was rammed with Gadwall with smaller numbers of Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Mallard, Shoveler, Coot, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe. Luckily on my last scan before packing up I picked up the Red- Crested Pochard and managed a couple of shots at high ISO. Not the prettiest bird, but it got the year list moving.

Female Red-Crested Pochard
50+ Golden Plover were over the recently ploughed fields just outside Sunniside.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

No Migrants

Light south-easterlies aren't the best conditions for seawatching, but a bit was moving and it got me out of bed.


Turnstone    2n  3s
Common Tern    2n  11s
Shelduck    1n  1s
Teal    238n  4s
Shag    3s  1n
Redshank    19n  16s
Sandwich Tern     2n
Wigeon    32n
Curlew    3n
Red-throated Diver    1n
Knot    3n
Common Scoter    34n
Golden Plover    22s
Meadow Pipit    1s

The rest of the morning was spent searching for migrants. Very little was seen with 1 Whitethroat and 1 Willow Warbler at the Leas and 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler at Marsden Hall.

Back in Gateshead the day's lack of birds continued. The highlights at Burdon Moor were 2 Common Lizards and a Painted Lady. My Dad and I bumped into the Dragonhunter at Far Pasture where he showed us some Southern and Migrant Hawkers.

The Pectoral Sandpiper seems to have gone from Shibdon, with no sign since late morning. The 2 Ruff are the only remaining scarce waders.

Painted Lady
Common Lizard

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Great White

Popped into Shibdon this evening to check if the Pectoral Sandpiper was going to hang on for Paul's return from holiday. The bird is looking settled so should still be there tomorrow morning. Also here were 2 Ruff, 1 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper and 6 Shoveler. 2 Migrant Hawker zipped around in front of the hide.

All the waders lifted from the pond, so I stuck my head through the hide window expecting to see a Sparrowhawk. Directly over my head was a huge yellow beak attached to a huge white heron, quickly disappearing behind me. Great White Egret!!! I dived out of the hide, dragging my camera from the bag, but no sign of the bird. Swearing profusely I launched back into the hide to see the bird drifting away to the north. I managed to rattle off a few record shots. My second first-for-Gateshead in the space of a week! Get in!!!

Great White Egret
Great White Egret
Started the day at Whitburn Obs where there was a decent duck movement.


Wigeon    19n
Teal    392n    42s
Common Scoter    81n
Common Tern 7n  23s
Curlew    1n
Manx Shearwater    2n
Red-throated Diver    2s
Dunlin    6s
Arctic Skua    1n  1s
Shag    9n
Turnstone    3n
Shelduck    1n
Meadow Pipit    3s
Porpoise    1s

The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent looking unsuccessfully for migrants. 2 Willow Warbler at the Leas and 4 Chiffchaff at Marsden Hall were all that I had.

Monday, 1 September 2014


Called in at Shibdon first thing to check if anything had dropped in with last night's rain. Nothing new, but the Pectoral Sandpiper was still showing with 2 Greenshank, 2 Ruff and 1 Green Sandpiper. It looks like the Spotted Redshank flock has moved on.

At Cresswell I didn't get the close up views of the Little Stint that I wanted, but 2 were on show from the hide. Also here were 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Little Egret, 8 Ruff and 2 Yellow Wagtail. 2 Whitethroat, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler and 4 Stonechat were feeding around the reserve. A Merlin shot through and 2 Pintail flew north.

Curlew Sandpiper
Little Stint
Just as I left Cresswell I got the news of a shrike at Prestwick Carr. Initially seen distantly at dusk last night it was confirmed as a cracking Woodchat this morning. The bird performed well, viewed from the viewing platform as it moved up and down the fence line. It shared the fence with a Whinchat and a Greenshank flew over calling.

Woodchat Shrike