Tuesday, 31 March 2015


Two rubbish days around Gateshead. The cold wind keeping the migrants back, hopefully not for much longer.

Chiffchaff from the hide at Lamesley

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Just sheep

No sign of the eagle today, just sheep.

The highlight of today
One more from yesterday.

White-tailed Eagle

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Where eagles dare

After four and a half hours sitting in a gale battered car above Stanhope I got a call to say that the White-tailed Eagle had reappeared. A short panic drive and the car was abandoned to follow two figures up onto the moor. As we were thrashed by 40+ mph wind an enormous bird appeared to our left and drifted over our heads at about 30 feet. Amazing views, but difficult to photograph as the wind was wild, but these will do!

White-tailed Eagle


Not much else seen from my vigil on the moor, but plenty of Golden Plover and displaying Snipe and Curlew.

Golden Plover
No sign of the shrike at Stanhope, but there was a Toad on the path.


Friday, 27 March 2015

No Eagle

A tough day saved by two great birds at the death. A morning slog around a birdless Gateshead was followed by a fruitless search for the White-tailed Eagle in Weardale. A distant Ring Ouzel at Bollihope was followed by fantastic views of the Great Grey Shrike at Stanhope. Initially singing from deep inside a hawthorn the bird moved up to the top showing beautifully in the evening sun.

Great Grey Shrike

Ring Ouzel

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


A trip over the moors this morning to Stanhope was a success with the Great Grey Shrike showing well as it flitted around the quarry. Luck left us after this as we had no Wheatear, Ring Ouzel or Black Grouse, but it was a nice day to be out.

Great Grey Shrike

Red Grouse

Monday, 23 March 2015

Big White Stuff

I started the day at Burdon Moor and was barely out of the car park when 33 Whooper Swan flew north calling. By far the biggest flock that I've had in Gateshead. With Paul's 7 yesterday at Timber Beach and Mike's 9 over Birtley Reedbeds this morning it must count as our best ever passage.

Whooper Swan
A bit wind-swept at Burdon Moor, but there were 2 Red Kite, a Buzzard and 300+ Golden Plover. No sign of yesterday's Stonechat.

Watergate was quiet with some noisy tree shredding going on, but there were 2 singing Chiffchaff and a Grey Wagtail. A Snipe was flushed by a dog chasing Mallards through the reed beds.

News of a Great White Egret and up to Castle Island where the bird was quickly picked up roosting on an island, showing best from the south side of the river.

Great White Egret
A return to Gateshead, but all quiet at Lamesley.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Sand Martin & Whoopers

It went slightly less light for a couple of minutes at Burdon Moor in a chilly wind. No birds though with a couple of Red Kite the only highlight.

Lamesley was the place to be today. 5 Whooper Swan dropped in and spent the day on the pond. Just as they landed the first of three Sand Martin scooted north. A Chiffchaff was just outside the hide, plus a flock of Tree Sparrow in the hedge. Raptors today were 3 distant Buzzard, 3 Kestrel and a couple of low passes from a Sparrowhawk.

Whooper Swan
All 5 Whoopers
The first Sand Martin of the year.
Tree Sparrow

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


An excellent trip over the border today. An early start got us past Edinburgh before the worst of the rush hour and onto Largo Bay in Fife. Half an hour of scanning produced 8 Velvet Scoter, a Puffin, 3 Long-tailed Duck, a Red-necked Grebe and eventually the target female King Eider. Showing well not far off the rocks, constantly displaying to male Eider. Just a shame the overcast murk didn't make for great photos.

King Eider

Displaying to male Eider
Despite much scanning we were unable to find the Surf Scoter and were pushed from the point by the rising tide, so headed for Dunfermline.

We pulled up at Townhill Country Park and immediately had the adult Ring-billed Gull flying around the lake. It then perched up distantly before settling on the water.

Ring-billed Gull

A spot of lunch and then off to the Esk mouth at Musselburgh. The drake Surf Scoter was quickly picked up giving excellent scope views. Plenty of good birds on the sea with 3 Slavonian Grebe, 3 Great Crested Grebe, a Red Necked Grebe, a Long-tailed Duck and 22 Velvet Scoter. 4 Gadwall on the sea were unusual.

The final stop of the day was Barns Ness where unfortunately the Water Pipit was a no-show. A littoralis Rock Pipit showed well on the beach with a couple of Skylark and several Stonechat. Also a fly-over Greenshank and a Barn Owl by the approach road.

Male Stonechat
Female Stonechat
Thanks to Andy for driving and an excellent day out.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Weasel & Owls

All quiet in Gateshead for the last couple of days with an easterly wind making it cold and grey. A singing Chiffchaff at Birtley reed beds was a sign of spring, while the Short-eared Owls continuing to show at Burdon Moor along with a Weasel.


Short-eared Owl

Friday, 13 March 2015

Wild goose chase?

A trudge around a cold and wet Gateshead revealed nothing this morning.

A run down to Teesside quickly gave the Snow Goose feeding at Saltholme with Canadas.

Snow Goose
A stop off at Dorman's Pool and a distant Marsh Harrier was seen through the murk. Also here was the Green-winged Teal and a few pairs of Pintail.

Marsh Harrier
 Last night 2 Short-eared Owl put on a good display, but it was a Long-eared that stole the show, catching a vole and then evading the attentions of two Carrion Crow.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Whoopers and Owls

I started the day with another try at Swalwell for the Starling. Another dip, but I did have a Little Grebe, 2 Grey Wagtail and a drake Goosander on the Derwent.

Up to Tanfield where there was no sign of any Corn Bunting, but there was a good flock of 50+ Yellowhammer, c20 Fieldfare and 2 Redwing.

Burdon Moor was cold and windswept, but still held a male Stonechat.

The Tyne at Timber Beach was the place to be, where 2 Whooper Swan were taking a break from their trip north and sharing the mudflats with a Common Seal. While watching these a pair of Peregrine dropped in, displaying and swooping low over the mud.

Whooper Swan
Common Seal

All quiet at Shibdon and 20 Lesser Black-backed Gull at Stella.

The action was all at Burdon Moor this evening with Red Kite, Buzzard and 3 Kestrel hunting when I got there. After a few minutes the Short-eared Owl show started up. 3 birds hunting and battling for over an hour.

Short-eared Owl

On Ravensworth Fell 2 Long-eared Owl were hunting as darkness fell.

Long-eared Owl