Saturday, 28 February 2015


35 Whooper Swan flew over north just as I took my seat at Whitburn this morning. Unfortunately it never really got going, but a Black-throated Diver south was nice.

Whooper Swan    42n
Shelduck    4n
Gannet    11n  12s
Cormorant    9n  18s
Kittiwake    2n  16s
Porpoise   1n
Red-throated Diver    6n  2s
Common Scoter    2n
Black-throated Diver    1s
Goldeneye    1n  1s
Pink-footed Goose    85n
Shag    1s
Peregrine    1s
Skylark 3 flew east out to sea.

Not much around Gateshead with 13 Shelduck, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull and an Oystercatcher at Shibdon.

Friday, 27 February 2015


Down to Teesside and 8 Avocet were seen feeding on Greenabella, in the same pool as a Spotted Redshank. Also here were 4 Black-tailed Godwit and a Greenshank roosting up at high tide. A Stonechat was at the north end and the Whimbrel tried to sneak off, flying low over Seal Sands.

Avocet and Spotted Redshank
At Dorman's Pool the Green-winged Teal was showing distantly along with 12 Pintail.

Back up at Lamesley the 22 Pink-footed Geese were back with 84 Greylag, 6 Wigeon and 4 Shelduck. 2 Red Kite and a Buzzard were overhead.

Pink-footed Geese
Pink-footed Geese
At Shibdon an Oystercatcher was back.

Thursday, 26 February 2015


A jammy start to the day. Sitting in the car park at the QEII park, Ashington and a 1st winter Iceland Gull dropped down in front of us before heading north. Pretty quiet after that though with Black-necked Grebe at East Chevington the only highlight.

Back in Gateshead all quiet with 5 displaying Red Kite at Far Pasture plus 6 Wigeon and 3 Shelduck at Lamesley. 300+ Golden Plover were still on Burdon Moor with 50+ Lapwing.
Red Kite

Windswept at Burdon Moor

Monday, 23 February 2015


Started this morning in a snow shower at Watergate. On the lake were 2 Teal (rare here), 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 4 Tufted Duck and 2 Little Grebe. A Water Rail was at the north end and a Kingfisher at the south inlet stream.

Hunting for Pochard I had a look at Saltwell Park. No luck today, but there were 52 Tufted Duck. A bonus was a Greenfinch, the most obvious gap in my Gateshead year list.

A Lamesley 22 Pink-footed Geese were feeding with Graylag. Rare to see a flock on the deck in Gateshead, usually just seen passing over. 3 Wigeon were still here and a Buzzard was displaying in the distance.

Pink-footed Geese
A bit quiet at Shibdon, but 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull showed spring is on its way.

Lesser Black-backed Gull
At a very wind-swept Burdon Moor not a lot was showing, but the Golden Plover flock has built up to 300+ some well onto summer plumage.

Golden Plover
Under side
Burdon Moor resident

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Not the grebe we're looking for.

Whitburn for a seawatch this morning hoping for a Red-necked Grebe, but had to make do with a Great-crested. Plenty of variety, but a lack of quality.


Red-throated Diver    2n  1s
Guillemot  60n  8s
Common Scoter  8n  28s
Gannet  25n  10s
Razorbill  19n  5s
Goldeneye  2n
Cormorant  6n  13s
Rock Pipit  1n
Eider  3n  4s
Kittiwake  1n  1s
Shag  5n
Velvet Scoter  2n  2s
Golden Plover  85s
Heron  1n  1s
Red-breasted Merganser  1s
Wigeon  2n
Great Crested Grebe  1n
Shelduck  1s
Pink-footed Goose  19n

A tour around the hides of Gateshead in increasingly unpleasant weather yielded nothing exciting.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Grrr... Taiga

Teesside today. Despite some dodgy directions I ended up parked up by the Quorn factory at Haverton Hill watching a flock of Greylag, Canada, Barnacle and Pink-footed Geese. The closest goose was the Taiga Bean Goose, showing well until someone let their dog into the field.

Taiga Bean Goose
Bean, Pink-foot and Canada Goose
Dorman's Pool next where the Green-winged Teal eventually showed distantly, feeding with a small flock of Teal. Not much else here other than a handful of Pintail.

The walk out to Seal Sands was fruitless with no sign of the Whimbrel.

At the Jewish Cemetery the Shorelark continued to show well.


Thursday, 19 February 2015


Started the day at Watergate with a Tawny Owl roosting in deep cover being mobbed by tits and Chaffinch. On the pond were 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Little Grebe and zero Tufted Duck. 2 Water Rail were calling from the reeds.

A look down to Brasside Pond failed to turn up any Mandarin, but there were a few Goldeneye and a Willow Tit.

All quiet at Lamesley and Burdon Moor, but the return of the Ruff was a highlight at Shibdon.

Ruff with Redshank
Another look at the Tyne at Stella failed to turn up the Yellow-legged Gull, but there were 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Yellow-legged Gull

Started with a quick look around the Metro Centre which failed to turn up the Crossbill reported yesterday. Sled Lane next gave 9 Goosander, 12 Tufted Duck and a calling Green Woodpecker. No gulls at all at Greenside Tip so I headed down to the Tyne at Stella.

Only about 150 gulls were on the river, but I quickly got onto an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. Just to left was a sleeping gull with a darker back than the surrounding Herring Gulls and apparently (albeit muddy) yellow legs. A ten minute wait and the bird woke up to show a fairly hefty bill with an extensive red patch. A quick paddle and the mud washed off to show bright yellow legs. Twenty minutes later it had a good fly around to show the correct wing tip pattern. Yellow-legged Gull, a Gateshead tick for me.

Yellow-legged Gull
With Herring Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
On to Shibdon, but all quiet and no sign of the Ruff that George had had first thing.

This afternoon a trip up to Burdon Moor gave good views of the Stonechat. Although grey and windy spring is on its way with singing Skylark and the first Curlew back on the moor. 200+ Golden Plover were overhead.


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Working Waxwing

Doing survey work between South Shields and Marsden today unfortunately coincided with half-term. Loads of people meant few waders and almost all were pushed onto the southern edge of South Shields pier. Top counts were 72 Sanderling, 4 Purple Sandpiper and 4 Turnstone.

An adult Mediterranean Gull was by the car park just north of Marsden Rock and the Waxwing showing well in its bush on the Leas.

Mediterranean Gull

Monday, 16 February 2015

Gateshead Year Ticking

Started the day at Timber Beach, Dunston. A Common Seal was wallowing in the mud and my first Gateshead Oystercatcher of the year was feeding up-stream.

Common Seal
Sled Lane held 9 Goosander and 12 Tufted Duck. Shibdon had similar birds and numbers as yesterday with 5 of the Shoveler remaining. Just a couple of Wigeon at Lamesley.

News of a Stonechat at Burdon Moor meant an hour of frustration before getting very distant views as I was on the way back to the car. Also here were Red Kite, Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, Snipe, Sparrowhawk, singing Skylark and 2 Meadow Pipit.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Restricted viewing

Not much went passed Whitburn this morning with murk out to sea restricting viewing. A bit of a movement of Shelduck, but not much else.


Red-throated Diver    4n  1s
Shelduck    31n  3s
Curlew    1n
Gannet    4n  10s
Cormorant    3n  4s
Guillemot    18n  13s
Eider    3s
Goldeneye    1n
Common Scoter    2n
Rock Pipit    1s

In Gateshead all quiet at Lamesley and Burdon Moor. Usual bits and bobs at Far Pasture with Willow Tit and Nuthatch plus Kingfisher on the pond.

Willow Tit
Shibdon held far more than of late with 6 Shoveler the stars. Also here were 71 Teal, 10 Shelduck, 18 Mallard, 413 Lapwing and 5 Redshank.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Mackem Med

A last gasp Black-throated Diver was the star of a quiet seawatch off Whitburn this morning. Other highlights were a trickle of Red-throated Diver, 4 Red-breasted Merganser and a Goosander.

On the way home a look at SAFC Academy Pools failed to give the adult Iceland Gull, but there was a smart Mediterranean Gull.

Mediterranean Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Mediterranean Gull

Friday, 13 February 2015


On a grey, miserable day I put in a decent stint around Gateshead with little reward. At Watergate the Lesser Black-backed Gull was still on the lake with 4 Tufted Duck and 2 Little Grebe. A Dipper flew through calling and a flock of 50+ Chaffinch moved through the alders. Lamesley held another Lesser Black-backed Gull and 4 Wigeon. A Water Rail and 2 Grey Wagtail at Far Pasture and nothing of note at Shibdon.

Lesser Black-backed Gull at Watergate

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Green-winged Teal

Yet another trip to Saltholme for the Green-winged Teal, but this time successful. It wasn't looking good with no sign from the road and initially looking blank from the hide. A few ducks were flushed from the grass and luckily among them was the bird.

Green-winged Teal
Little else was seen here, but a Little Egret was fishing in front of the hide.

Little Egret
I did try again for the Black Guillemot, but it was even more distant than last time.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

What a Laugh

A horrendously early start this morning saw us at New Brighton before first light. The Laughing Gull was quickly located on the marine lake in near darkness, but it unfortunately flew off before it was worth getting the camera out. An unsuccessful search along the beach followed before the bird returned to the lake. Coaxed with a couple of crusts the bird came within a few feet, just a shame the light was so poor.

Laughing Gull
Laughing Gull
Laughing Gull
We arrived at a very cold and grey Leighton Moss mid-morning and although we gave it a good four hours our haul was a bit disappointing. A singing Cetti's Warbler and a flying Bittern were new, while several Marsh Tit were seen and heard. Peregrine and Spotted Redshank were also seen, but no sign of Harsh Harrier or Bearded Tit, probably because of the awful weather. Still an excellent day out.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Black Guillemot and Shorelark

A pretty successful trip to Hartlepool today. I arrived just in time to see a white dot disappear around a corner, but a dash into the fish quay compound gave good scope views of the Black Guillemot. It did try to come closer, but a few gull attacks pushed it further away.

Black Guillemot
A few Turnstone were showing well in the fish quay compound.

It took three visits and a wait for the fog to clear, but I eventually got decent views of the remaining Shorelark at the Jewish Cemetery.

My bad luck with Green-winged Teal continues with two visits to Saltholme West today, only for the bird to turn up an hour after I had headed home. Next time! There were 2 Little Egret and 2 Pintail here with 12 Pintail on Dorman's Pool.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Crossbill and Raven

The first birds that I saw at Harwood were 2 Crossbill perched on the national park sign as I pulled into the layby. They flew off to Winter's Gibbet before I could get the camera out.

Unfortunately very little else was seen here with just a distant Buzzard and 2 fly-over Meadow Pipit, but the views were good.

View from the Gibbet
The drive back south gave 2 fly-over Raven near Rothley, plus a Red Squirrel scampered across the road.

In Gateshead the Lesser Black-backed Gull was still at Watergate with just 3 Tufted Duck and a Kingfisher at Far Pasture.