Tuesday, 30 December 2014


Another day, another fish quay. Hartlepool was the venue this morning, where I spent a fruitless hour stood outside the fish quay gates scanning the shed roofs for the Glaucous Gull. A distant Viking Gull (Glaucous/Herring hybrid) raised hopes, but the coffee coloured wing tips were clear through a borrowed scope. A good bird though, with a stonking black-tipped, pink bill. The luck changed when the fish workers let us onto the quay and the first bird we saw was the Glaucous Gull, just 20 feet away. Posing for a while before a short flight around the harbour and down to a small rubbish heap where it fought off a few Herring Gulls.

Glaucous Gull
Viking and Herring Gull
As yesterday Gateshead was pretty lacklustre with nothing to shout about at Watergate, Burdon Moor or Lamesley. At Far Pasture there were 3 Chiffchaff feeding in the alder opposite the hide, one very pale bird probably Siberian, but a bit distant and I didn't hear it call. Hopefully it will hang around.

Monday, 29 December 2014


I woke at 4.30 this morning to the sound of a calling Tawny Owl, obviously fairly close to get through the double glazing. My first from home for 4 or 5 years.

No traffic this morning, so straight through to North Shields Fish Quay for the Iceland Gull. It took a while to find it, but after 45 mins I picked it up cruising through the harbour. It showed well on and off for several minutes, but on the south side of the sheds so difficult to photograph looking into the sun. Thankfully it was re-found sitting on the water within the harbour where I got lucky with some reflected colour from the fishing boats.

Iceland Gull

Back to Gateshead where despite extensive searching I couldn't dig out anything exciting. With frost and ice persisting all day the highlights being a Water Rail at Shibdon, a Buzzard at Burdon Moor and 20 Snipe at Far Pasture. The car park at Far Pasture held 2 Willow Tit and 2 Nuthatch.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Xmas Eve

Cold and windy, so although sunny there were just a handful of dog-walkers at Watergate this morning. 10 Bullfinch and 2 Redpoll feeding on the path and a Water Rail feeding out in the open at the north end. Still only 5 Tufted Duck, normally a flock of 30+ by now.

At Lamesley the Whooper Swan was near the hide with 2 Greylag. The 3 Wigeon also still here.

Whooper Swan with Greylag
Plenty of the usual suspects at Far Pasture car park with Willow Tit and Nuthatch showing well.

Willow Tit
The pond here continues to disappoint with just a handful of Mallard and Teal, but a Chiffchaff was feeding in the tree tops.

At Shibdon the Ruff was again present and a Sparrowhawk shot through.


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Soggy Gateshead

I didn't venture far from the car on a soggy tour around Gateshead this morning. The Whooper Swan was back at Lamesley along with 3 Wigeon and increased numbers of Teal and Mallard. Sled Lane gave 5 Goosander and 5 Goldeneye, but no Wigeon. Shibdon was quiet except for a large flock of Lapwing. Final stop was Far Pasture where a Kingfisher showed distantly and 2 Willow Tit were in the car park.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Garden Tick

Limited time this morning, so just quick looks at Lamesley and Shibdon. Nowt exciting at Lamesley, but the Ruff is hanging on at Shibdon, hopefully staying into the new year.

Leaving for work I had 3 flyover Grey Wagtail over the house, so stuck a foot back into the garden to get them on the Garden List.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Distant Shrike

Distant views of the Great Grey Shrike at West Hartford this morning. The wind had picked up by the time I got there, so the bird was keeping low in the hedge. Little else here, but a Stonechat was on a fence.

Great Grey Shrike
All quiet around Gateshead.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Wrong Wigeon

A trip up to Fenham Flats this morning after a bit of a lie-in. After several attempts for American Wigeon last winter I was optimistic today, but despite scanning every Wigeon several times, today was another failure. The Flats were covered in birds with large numbers of Brent Geese, Dunlin and Knot. A couple of Little Egret were feeding in channels and a Peregrine powered through at low level. A finch flock near the hide was made up of c80 Twite and c20 Linnet. A check through the Wigeon at Budle Bay again lacked the Yank, Another Little Egret was feeding here.

Holy Island castle from across the flats
Brent Geese
Twite and Linnet
Yesterday was spent around Gateshead where Shibdon's Bearded Tit failed to show. Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail and Dipper were in the outlet stream at Watergate. Lamesley still held the Whooper Swan along with a drake Wigeon.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Med Gull

Surveying waders in the Marsden area yesterday was a bit short on the wader front, with just 1 Purple Sandpiper and a handful of Turnstone. Best birds were close in Razorbill and Red-throated Diver, plus 3 Mediterranean Gull by the cliff-top car park.

Mediterranean Gull

Monday, 8 December 2014


A day spent dipping in the cold. The morning was filled by North Shields Fish Quay and Black Middens where the white-winged gulls failed to show. The highlight here was a bacon sarnie with a side order of poor bairns.

Via Lamesley (Whooper Swan) and Far Pasture (Willow Tit) I ended up at Shibdon where I received news of a Bearded Tit in the reed bed. The next three hours failed to unearth the bird, but I did manage 5 Water Rail, 2 Dunlin and the Ruff. A Weasel on the path was the highlight.


Sunday, 7 December 2014


A brief look out yesterday to Boldon Flats and Whitburn. The Bean Goose, 5 Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff were on show at the Flats, but no sign of any Water Pipit at Whitburn, just plenty of Rock Pipit and Sanderling.

A trip to Watergate before work this morning was disappointing with no build up of diving ducks yet. A Woodcock flying down the path was my first in Gateshead for the winter. A phone call from Lamesley sent me there for a Whooper Swan feeding across from the hide, a Gateshead year tick. Fly-throughs here by Buzzard and Sparrowhawk with a steady stream of Redwing overhead.

Whooper Swan

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Black Redstart

Distinctly colder today with a north-westerly wind. Started the day at Druridge Bay C.P. where there were a scattering of Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser. East Chevington held similar, with no sign of the Smew. The beach here held 30+ Sanderling, while 6 dark-bellied Brent Geese flew north.

Church Point, Newbiggin next where a crowd of twenty or so birders were huddled on the cliff edge. Just one Black Redstart remained, but this this showed well at close range as it fed along the cliff base.

Black Redstart

A few gulls on the beach with 4 adult and 1 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull, but no sign of yesterday's Glaucous Gull.

4 Mediterranean Gull