Saturday, 31 January 2015

Skuas and Waxwing

A tremendous seawatch this morning from Whitburn in a strong north westerly giving excellent conditions. A massive northerly movement of Fulmar was interspersed with some excellent birds.


Fulmar  600+n
Guillemot 200+n
Blue Fulmar 2n 1s
Gannet  100+n
Pomarine Skua  2s
Red-throated Diver 3
Great Northern Diver 1n
Velvet Scoter  5n
Little Auk 2n 1s
Red-breasted Merganser  1s
Goosander  2n
Eider  1s  1 on sea
Puffin  1s
Long-tailed Duck  1n
Bonxie 2s  1n
Iceland Gull  1n (1st winter)
Wigeon   15n

From here it was up to the Leas where a dark-bellied Brent Goose was feeding on the short grass. The prize here was the Waxwing that gave excellent close views in the hedge just west of the big mound.

More Waxwing
A bit of a flap
A bit of a scratch
Dark-bellied Brent Goose
Back to Gateshead where all was quiet, but this Kestrel was looking smart at Far Pasture.


Friday, 30 January 2015


A rubbish trip to Teesside today where the only highlight was the full-English at Saltholme Café.

Called in at Burdon Moor on the way home where there were some birds. 200+ Golden Plover were feeding with Lapwing on the top field. A Jack Snipe and a Snipe were flushed. I missed the Jack in Gateshead last year while I was on Scilly, so a good one to get on the year list.
In the stubble field there were 60+ Skylark, 20+ Fieldfare, 15 Yellowhammer and 6 Reed Bunting.

Jack Snipe

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Summer's Here

With a dusting of snow a Lesser Black-backed Gull at Watergate was the first summer migrant of the year, arriving four days later than last year. Not a great deal else here, but there was a small flock of Siskin.

Lesser Black-backed Gull
At Birtley reed beds the recently cleared areas held 2 Water Rail, 10 Teal and a Shelduck.

Lamesley held a pair of Gadwall and 4 Wigeon, while a few Redwing zipped over.

A very cold and windswept Burdon Moor held a hardy Heron while I retreated to the warmth of the car.

Far Pasture gave excellent close views of 15 Snipe while a Kingfisher was feeding at several spots around the pond.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015


I perhaps put on too many layers for my trip to Scotland and after three hours of traipsing up and down the banks of the Don I was sweating like a fat lad at a disco. Three miles up-river and almost back again with no sign of the Harlequin, I was starting to look on the phone for a place to stay. Almost back to Seaton Park I saw a bird drop from a log into the rapids. The Harlequin, get in! Excellent views were had. Not as close as some have had it, but I was more than happy after being so close to the dip.

During my three hours of patrol along the river bank I had cracking views of an otter as it swam past me and 5 singing Dipper.

Monday, 26 January 2015


A spin around a very quiet Gateshead this morning, where Sled Lane was the pick. On the lake were 10 Goosander, 3 Goldeneye and 7 Tufted Duck. A Green Woodpecker was calling and a Buzzard displaying over woodland.

At Far Pasture the Siberian Chiffchaff was showing well, but high in in the trees near the car park.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Black Scoter

Up to Cheswick in north Northumberland this morning to try for the Black Scoter. My first time here, but easy to find and straight ahead across the dunes to view the Common Scoter flock. Distant and poor light it took a few minutes to get my eye in, but between three of us we picked out the Black Scoter. Standing out on structure alone, a bulkier bird with a thicker neck, the swollen yellow bill was obvious in periods of better light. For a few minutes it strutted its stuff, with its tail held upright, while the other scoter dived around it. Also in the scoter flock were several Red-breasted Merganser, Long-tailed Duck and a Red-throated Diver.

At Stag Rocks the sea was like a mill pond, but held few birds. A Black-necked Grebe was close in to the rocks, while further out 6 Long-tailed Duck, 40+ Common Scoter and 2 Red-throated Diver.

At Newton the White-fronted Goose was with plenty of Greylag, Wigeon and Teal.

White-fronted Goose with Greylag and Teal
A trip to Amble failed to turn up the Black Redstart, but there was a very smart Mediterranean Gull.

Mediterranean Gull
No sign of the Green-winged Teal at Druridge .so I headed home via a Twite at Bell's Farm.

Saturday, 24 January 2015


Started the day at Burdon Moor which was pretty much deserted other than a single Kestrel. Two birds hunkered down in a field just outside Sunniside turned out to be Red-legged Partridge, my first of the year.

Down by the Tyne a male Peregrine was perched up on the lee side of a bridge, but shot off over Newcastle before I could get a photo.

A look up to Derwent Reservoir gave a male Black Grouse close to Winnows Hill. A Redpoll was by the hide, with Goldeneye and Goosander on the reservoir.

Derwent Reservoir
Far Pasture was again alive with Goldcrest and the Siberian Chiffchaff was showing well along with a Common Chiffchaff. The sewage pans again held 40+ Pied Wagtail, several Grey Wagtail and a Meadow Pipit. Buzzard, Red Kite and Kestrel were all overhead.

Friday, 23 January 2015

No Marsh

Cold and grey with the wind picking up through the day. A trip down to Low Barnes for Marsh Tit was disappointing. Excellent views of Nuthatch, Coal Tit and Goldcrest on the feeders, but no sign of any Marsh or Willow Tit. Two walks around the reserve failed to come up with the goods and little was seen except roving flocks of Redwing and Siskin.

Quiet again around Gateshead with the ponds still mostly frozen. Far Pasture car park was alive with birds, 10+ Goldcrest and 2 Willow Tit the pick. On the sewage pans there were 43 Pied Wagtail, 3 Grey Wagtail and a Meadow Pipit. A weasel dashed across the path to the hide.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

More Rosy

A walk around the Derwent Valley this morning yielded the usual woodland species. Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrow were feeding by Hollinside Manor. On the river below Kite Hill were Dipper and Little Grebe, while a Kingfisher zipped through. A Dipper was singing by Winlaton Mill.

Another look at Prudhoe gave excellent views of the Rose-coloured Starling.

Rose-coloured Starling
Quiet around Gateshead, but 3 Grey Partridge were new for the year.

Lapwing at a frozen Shibdon on Tuesday

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


A grey miserable day. Started the day in very light snow with a walk around Watergate with just a handful of Siskin and Bullfinch feeding in the alders on the walk down to the pond. Almost totally iced over, the pond was reduced to just a couple of small open pools. Tufted Duck have built up to 11 and 2 Little Grebe were in the inlet stream. Plenty of Black-headed and Common Gull, but still no Meds yet.

Lacking enthusiasm and inspiration I headed to Druridge with a detour to Newbiggin. With no sign of the Newbiggin Black Redstart or the Green-winged Teal at Druridge I decided to call it a day. A bonus on the way south was a finch flock at Hemscott Hill, mostly Chaffinch, but there were also Tree Sparrow and Twite close to the road.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Green Pecker

A snowy Chopwell this morning in search of Crossbill drew a blank. A good plodge about for a couple of hours did however yield a calling Green Woodpecker, a belated year tick. Several tit flocks around the wood all contained Treecreeper and Nuthatch. 4 Great Spotted Woodpecker were drumming while 2 Red Kite were constantly floating just above the tree tops.

Chopwell in the snow

Monday, 19 January 2015

Aint Exactly Pretty...

Falling snow this morning put me off seawatching so I had an extra couple of hours in bed before heading to Prudhoe. With better info and a hunch that the Rose-coloured Starling would use the leylandii hedge for shelter, I moved street to Cheviot View. After standing for the best part of an hour with wet feet in melting snow the hunch paid off and the bird showed briefly and poorly in the top of the hedge. 20 mins later and it showed well, although a bit more distantly, perched up and fighting with Starlings. A few other birds around the gardens with Tree Sparrow, Jay and Siskin.

Rose-coloured Starling

Sunday, 18 January 2015

More Seawatching

It was cold in Whitburn Obs this morning, but a much better passage of birds than of late. Highlights were Iceland Gull, Great Northern Diver, 6 Velvet Scoter and 4 Little Auk.

The afternoon was spent in Prudhoe, but despite the presence of several birders and plenty of Starling, the Rosie again failed to show.

Saturday, 17 January 2015


An early start at Newton Scrape this morning failed to turn up the Bewick's Swan. There were single White-front and Pink-foot with the Greylag flock and 100+ Wigeon were huddled together by the frozen scrape.

Headed north to Stag Rocks via a bacon sarnie in Seahouses. A bit better than of recent with Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver, 3 Slavonian Grebe, 2 Long-tailed Duck and 50+ Common Scoter. A flock of 16 Snow Bunting flew north, low over the sea.

Back to Newton where a small group of Mute and Whooper Swan had arrived along with a smaller bird asleep with its head out of sight. After a few minutes it woke and popped its head up to show it was a Bewick's.

Distant Bewick's and Mute Swans
An hour spent at Druridge sifting through the Teal again failed to turn up the Green-winged.

The last hour of daylight I headed up to Burdon Moor where I had a Short-eared Owl, 40+ Skylark, 20+ Fieldfare, 31 Yellowhammer and 3 Reed Bunting.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Black Grouse

The drive over the moors to Langdon Beck this morning was a bit unpleasant with the road covered in frozen slush. Good numbers of Red Grouse were at the roadside all the way there.

The Black Grouse were on view as soon as we got through Langdon Beck. Most of the 53 we saw were feeding distantly in fields but 3 females were sitting on walls and a male feeding in a roadside bush. 2 Buzzards and 2 Kestrels were feeding over the snow dusted moor here.

Male Black Grouse
Female Black Grouse
No sign of the Yellow-legged Gull at Elswick again today.

Thursday, 15 January 2015


A very quiet seawatch from Whitburn this morning. A Black-throated Diver north and a Red-breasted Merganser south were the highlights, but very little was moving.

At Lamesley the 3 Pink-footed Geese were in front of the hide along with the Gadwall and 3 Wigeon.

Sled Lane held 6 Goosander and 2 Goldeneye.

Again no joy with the Rosie at Prudhoe, hardly surprising with the wind keeping everything down.

Searching through the gulls at Stella, Dunston and Elswick failed to turn up a Yellow-legged.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Whole lack of Rosie

A brief and half-hearted look around Prudhoe housing estates looking for the Rose-coloured Starling revealed nothing.

Whittle Dene was more successful where I saw 2 Green Sandpiper feeding in the overflow channel. These I saw from the car, but I braved the snow storm to check the fields where I had 4 Whooper and 6 Mute Swan.

Green Sandpiper
Whooper Swans
Clara Vale had the usual array with several Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrow. A Kingfisher was feeding in the pond, while Great Spotted Woodpecker and Jay made brief visits.

At Lamesley the Gadwall was feeding in front of the hide, while the 3 Pink-footed Geese were feeding with Greylag.


Tuesday, 13 January 2015


Teesside this morning with Greenabella the first port of call. The cold, windy walk out gave a Spotted Redshank and c20 Black-tailed Godwit. No sign of the Whimbrel or Velvet Scoter on Seal Sands, but there were 2 Eider and several Red-breasted Merganser. On the walk back the Greenshank had joined the Spotted Redshank.

Spotted Redshank & Greenshank

A full English at Saltholme followed, with the plan to hunt for the Bittern and Green-winged Teal. News of 2 Shore Lark put pay to the plan and we headed for Hartlepool.

A thorough search of the area to the north of the Jewish Cemetery turned up nothing before the birds were relocated close to the car. Excellent views as the birds fed amongst the rubbish.


While in Hartlepool we popped across to Ward Jackson Park where 7 Ring-necked Parakeets were perched up. 3 Goosander were on the pond here.

Nothing much seen on a quick look around Gateshead.

Monday, 12 January 2015


The crap, windy weather continues. Eventually dragged myself out of my pit and headed down to Quarrington Hill to try for the Rough-legged Buzzard. Some excellent directions from Paul H meant that after a short walk I quickly picked up the bird soaring over the old tip. Excellent views with the bird hanging in the wind, but always facing away from me.

Rough-legged Buzzard

Also here was a Jack Snipe, flushed from the rough grass.

Jack Snipe
Back to Gateshead and Tree Sparrows were on the feeders by the hide. On the pool a Gadwall, 4 Wigeon and large numbers of Teal. 3 Pink-footed Geese dropped in and landed in fields to the east.

Pink-footed Goose wall art
Pink-footed Geese
At Burdon Moor 40+ Skylark were braving the strong wind and cold with 20+ Fieldfare. At Far Pasture a Kingfisher was perched in the reeds and 2 Chiffchaff moved through with a Long-tailed Tit flock.


Sunday, 11 January 2015


Difficult conditions again today in the strong westerly wind. Hopes to see the Green-winged Teal at Druridge came to nothing despite four visits over the day. Very cold and windy at the Budge screen, the only bird of note was a female Pintail. Success however on the Bean Goose front. 3 were showing well by the caravan site at Warkworth Lane, in a field with Canada and Greylag Geese plus 6 Whooper Swan.

Up to East Chevington and the Black-throated Diver was seen immediately along with the long staying Black-necked Grebe and Long-tailed Duck. An otter was again showing at the north end of the pond.

At Widdrington the Hen Harrier gave excellent scope views as it quartered the rough grass at the far side of the lake. Just a shame it was too far for photos.

Distant Hen Harrier
Called into Big Waters on the way home where I had brief views of a Brambling. Plenty of Tree Sparrow on the feeders here and 2 Willow Tit in the wood.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Watching Sea

Very little moving at sea this morning. A handful of distant Gannet and 2 Red-throated Diver were the best of the sea birds. 2 Peregrine gave excellent views as they hunted Golden Plover over the sea.

I checked the mobile flocks of Greylag at Lambton, Houghton Gate and Lamesley, but no sign of the Bean Goose. A Kingfisher was showing at Far Pasture.

A Woodcock behind Nissan was new for the year.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Marsden Med

Survey work between South Shields and Marsden Rock today in some wild wind. Waders were a bit thin on the ground with just 3 Purple Sandpiper seen all day. Highlights were Great Crested Grebe, Razorbill, 3 Stonechat, Grey Wagtail and 2 adult Mediterranean Gull.

A detour on the way home via Kibblesworth Grange gave my first Little Owl of the year.

Mediterranean Gull at Marsden