Friday, 31 October 2014

In the bag!

An emergency holiday was put in and I was back down at Brotton before first light. A crowd of 50 or so were waiting for the best part of an hour before someone got fleeting views of the Eastern Crowned Warbler. A couple of frantic dashes about the woods followed until everyone got onto the bird, which eventually showed very well in an ash by the road. Like an Arctic Warbler in build, it had a striking head pattern with the very dark eye stripe and cap framing the bright supercilium. Sadly, although I had great views, I couldn't get a photo through the foliage in the crap light. Judging by the cracking photos around the web, it must have shown very well this afternoon.

While waiting for the star of the show to reappear a very vocal Yellow-browed Warbler zipped around the wood and a constant stream of thrushes moved overhead.

No photos today, but I went home happy.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

So close

Spent this afternoon dipping the Eastern Crowned Warbler at Brotton. I did see the bird, but just fleeting views in silhouette and I can't bring myself to tick it. I came so close again, missing by seconds after being led down the wrong track and then stalled by a bloke unable to climb the fence across the path. "It's just dropped" were the words in my ear as I lifted my bins and that was it as the light faded. Good to get the heart pumping again after a lacklustre Scillies, but I would have preferred a better outcome.

Started the day seawatching at Whitburn. Highlights were 4 Pomarine Skua and a Fieldfare that flew in off just inches from the sea.


Goldeneye    4n  1s
Shag    1n
Wigeon    127n
Common Scoter    33n  1s
Mallard    16s
Little Gull    31s
Teal    6n
Eider   5n
Dunlin    9s
Red-breasted Merganser    1n
Shelduck    1n
Long-tailed Duck    1n
Turnstone    4s
Redwing    22 in off
Pomarine Skua    4n
Red-throated Diver    1 on sea
Great Northern Diver    1s
Fieldfare    1 in off

Huge numbers of thrushes were arriving all morning, but a good thrash around Marsden failed to turn up anything more exciting.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Dipper Dipper

Got a text from George this morning saying there was a Dipper at Shibdon- only the 2nd ever at the site. Unfortunately I was seawatching at Whitburn where it was very quiet with 4 Little Gull and 4 Red-throated Diver the highlights.

At Burdon Moor I had a Merlin hunting over the stubble field, my first in Gateshead for years. Also here were 150+ Canada and Greylag Geese, 30 Skylark, 3 Reed Bunting, 6 Yellowhammer, 50 Linnet, 1 Buzzard, 1 Red Kite and 2 Kestrel.

The usual fare at Far Pasture and Shibdon, but the Dipper was long gone.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

More Pipit

Started the day at Whitburn with a seawatch, but after an hour with just a handful of Red-throated Diver I headed for another look at the pipit. A small crowd was standing looking at the wooded slope, but it took another 30 mins before the bird crept into view. The bird gave cracking views as it worked up and down through the leaf litter, pumping it's tail as it went. Disappearing into the undergrowth only to reappear 20 mins later just 15 feet away, it eventually worked it's way almost to our feet, picking aphids from the underside of leaves. Crippling views and at times too close to focus the camera.

Olive-backed Pipit

With Aphid

What a stunner
Back in Gateshead a Wigeon was at Lamesley a flock of 150+ Canada Goose and Greylag on the fields above Burdon Moor contained 3 Pink-feet. Birds at Shibdon and Far Pasture were similar to yesterday.

Monday, 20 October 2014


For ten hours on the train from Penzance yesterday I was bombarded with news of the Olive-backed Pipit and Rough-legged Buzzard. I slept with fingers crossed and was down at Roker just after first light. Sunderland's 8-0 thrashing had obviously affected the weather as it was pretty gloomy staring up the slope under the vegetation. After a nervous hour the pipit eventually crept into view, crawling mouse-like through the leaf litter. An absolute stunner, giving cracking views down to ten feet. A shame it was so dark this morning as even at an ISO of 2500 it was a struggle to get a photo.

Olive-backed Pipit

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Although I should have hung around for the light to improve I was keen to see the Rough-legged Buzzard so headed off to Follingsby Lane. The bird was on show when I got there giving excellent scope views before taking flight. The bird had a very floppy flight on incredible long wings showing the white tail band and dark carpal patches. I drove along to the Gateshead end of the lane in the hope that the buzzard would fly over, but no such luck! I did have 5+ Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 20+ Redwing, 12 Grey Partridge and a Kingfisher.

Rough-legged Buzzard

On the drive back to Gateshead a flock of 200+ Barnacle Geese flew north over Lamesley. At Burdon Moor a Stonechat was at the bottom of the loop. Also here were 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Red Kite, 1 Kestrel, 13 Skylark, 6 Meadow Pipit,  Jay, 1 Yellow Hammer and 1 Bullfinch.

Far Pasture is looking superb now the water level has been dropped. No sign of the Jack Snipe, but there were 3 Water Rail, 28 Snipe, 48 Teal, 2 Little Grebe and 2 Grey Wagtail.

Water Rail
Shibdon still has 150+ each of Redshank and Lapwing with single Dunlin and Ruff. 26 Shoveler were on the pond with a single Lesser Black-backed Gull.

The last couple of days on Scilly added just Redwing and Merlin to the trip list. Views of Yellow-browed Warbler, Firecrest, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Mediterranean Gull were had around the island, plus excellent views of a Scilly Shrew.

Mediterranean Gull
Scilly Shrew

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

More Scilly Wandering

The wild weather blew through early this morning, but sadly didn't drop a load of new birds. With fabulous weather again we covered the southern half of St Mary's.

As the tail of the storm went through gull numbers built up in Porthcressa Bay and contained an adult Mediterranean and a second winter Common.

Mediterranean Gull
Up on to the Garrison via the pastie shop and a Ring Ouzel was picked up in a tamarisk, but didn't give good views,

Stunning view of Ring Ouzel
Fleeting glimpses of a Yellow-browed Warbler were followed by a cracking flyby from a young Peregrine and good views of a Wryneck.

Back on the Lower Broom Platform a Red-breasted Flycatcher was showing well by the path.

Red-breasted Flycatcher
Up by the health centre the Barred Warbler gave brief views before we carried on to a very quiet Peninnis Head where there were just 3 Wheatear. Dropping down to Old Town Bay and a Little Egret and a Greenshank were feeding at the water's edge.

Little Egret
Old Town Church was good for a Prickly Stick Insect, while 2 Holly Blue flitted around the ivy and a Firecrest zipped about.

Prickly Stick Insect
Back in Porthcressa and cracking male Black Redstart flitted between roofs and the beach where it fed alongside a Wheatear and Pied Wagtails.

Black Redstart
The last stop for the day was Lower Moors where a Jack Snipe was finally feeding out in the open.

Jack Snipe

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Walk in the sun

Today we covered the north of the island for scant reward. Snow Bunting, 2 Whimbrel, Sandwich Tern and 2 Firecrest were the star birds of the day and 6+ Common Dolphin and a Red Underwing Moth the best of the rest.

The pre-breakfast jaunt produced a Kingfisher and a Scilly tick in the form of a Reed Bunting. A build up of Water Rail with 6+ at Lower Moors and others dotted around the island.

Water Rail

Hugh Town
Hugh Town Harbour
Innisidgen Burial Chamber

Monday, 13 October 2014


Tough n the rare bird front again today. Started quite well with a Whitethroat and Jack Snipe at Lower Moors before breakfast and then a Spotted Flycatcher as soon as we got to the Garrison.

Spotted Flycatcher
Also here were several Blackcap and a flyover Spoonbill. 15+ Swallow were feeding overhead with single House and Sand Martin. Plenty of Red Admiral and a Clouded Yellow in the sun.

Red Admiral
Clouded Yellow
As we walked back into town a Hummingbird Hawkmoth put on a great show.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

On Peninnis the 2 Snow Bunting were showing well at point blank range and a Kestrel was hunting the headland while 6 Harbour Porpoises were off-shore. Speckled Wood  were basking in the sun on the track down to Old Town.

Snow Bunting

Speckled Wood
The first visit of the trip to Old Town churchyard where 2 Spiny Stick Insect were showing.

Spiny Stick Insect
At Lower Moors the Jack Snipe was again showing badly.

Jack Snipe- the best it has shown!
Between Lower Moors and Porth Loo the Red-breasted Flycatcher eventually showed well, but under the canopy so difficult to photo.

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Richard's Pipit

A very showy Richard's Pipit was on the golf course all day today. Running around on the short grass, it was good to see the whole bird, rather than the normal head and neck views.

Richard's Pipit

While on the golf course we had a Skylark and 2 Golden Plover. 4 distant Whooper Swan flew over Bryher and Tresco. A Black Redstart was acquired as we dashed through Porth Thomas en route for the Garrison. The Monarch had flown by the time we got there and despite a few false alarms couldn't be relocated. A Garden Warbler was here and a Spoonbill was seen by scoping across to Green Island.

Red Admiral
 At Old Town Bay there was a Common Gull, Little Egret and a flyover House Martin.

Common Gull
At Lower Moors the Jack Snipe showed very briefly with 5 Snipe and a Water Rail. 40+ Swallow and 3 House Martin dropped in to drink, obviously new in and a good sign for tomorrow.