Tuesday, 30 June 2015


The hunt for the Temminck's Stint at Derwent Reservoir this morning took longer than expected. Unfortunately with the low water, its favoured haunt for the last two summers at Cronkley is now a grass field, a long way from the water's edge. No sign here, just a few Ringed and Little Ringed Plover, plus a couple of Common Sandpiper. An hour in the hide eventually produced the goods when I picked up the bird in flight and it landed on the large area of exposed mud at the southern end. Pretty active for a Temminck's Stint, all others I've had have crept around low to the ground while this was behaving more like a Common Sandpiper. It will be interesting to see what the reservoir looks like after a couple of weeks of hot weather, as the water level is already about 15 feet below normal.

Some excellent views of 2 male Redstart near the hide, plus a game of hide and seek with a couple of Stoat, one of which climbed 15 feet up a birch.

After a second breakfast a trip back over the A68 quickly produced the target, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. 10-15 were flitting around, in and out of the sedge, but it took a while for one to settle on a thistle for photos. Also here was a Tree Pipit.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
A trip up to Winnows Hill was perhaps a bit early for Golden-ringed Dragonfly with just lots of Common Blue and Large Red Damsels.

Common Blue Damsel
Large Red Damsel
A late afternoon trip to Kibblesworth Brick Works gave loads of dragons. With the hot weather they were racing around the pond with 50+ Four-spotted Chaser and 3 Broad-bodied Chaser.

Four-spotted Chaser

Monday, 29 June 2015

One that got away

A large shearwater went south past Whitburn this morning, infuriatingly too far out to identify. It took a good 15 mins to pass, gliding a meandering path with the occasional burst of 2-3 wing beats to keep it aloft. A small white patch at the base of the tail could be made out, but it was too distant to get any further detail. After watching a few videos on Youtube I think it was most probably a Cory's, but it will remain one that got away.

Not the best conditions for seawatching, but it was nice being warm sitting in the obs. As well as the mystery shearwater, a bit went past. 6 Manx Shearwater, a Red-throated Diver, a Grey Wagtail and 4 Whimbrel were the highlights.

This afternoon I was on my way to Derwent Reservoir when I got the news of a White-winged Black Tern at Saltholme. After an about-turn the bird was showing well, although distantly from the road on Back Saltholme. Constantly on the move, hawking low over the pond, it was looking splendid in its spanking summer plumage. My first year tick for ages.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

No birds

A distant Peregrine at Shibdon was the only bird of note today, so it was down to butterflies and dragons to fill in the day.

At Kibblesworth Brick Works Common Darter and Ringlet were new for the year. Also here were Four-spotted Chaser, Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damsel, Meadow Brown, Large Skipper and Small Heath.

Common Darter
Large Skipper
Meadow Brown
This evening a trip to Shibdon gave a single spike of Bee Orchid. Still a few butterflies enjoying the sun with Ringlet, Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown, Large Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock.

Bee Orchid
Speckled Wood

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Second Prize

Another week of working in Scotland, with more Scottish weather, less wind, but more midges. Golden Eagle, Black-throated Diver and Ptarmigan, but a dip for Dotterel.

Black-throated Diver
Yesterday's return of the Squacco Heron had me up early and at Haverton Hole at 6.30 this morning. I gave it four hours, but it remained a no-show. A call in at Boldon Flats gave the American Wigeon as a consolation prize.

American Wigeon through the haze
Common Blue at Kibblesworth Brick Works

Friday, 19 June 2015

Working hard

A week working in the far north west of Scotland. It was cold, wet and windy, even for Scotland. The week started well with a Golden Eagle and finding an eyrie complete with chick. A walking survey high in the mountains had the expected Dunlin, Golden Plover and Greenshank, but also cracking close views of an Otter in a stream at 1500 feet. It initially swam off, but quickly came back to a few feet away and lay in the water blowing bubbles at me.

Otter blowing bubbles
Six hours of Wednesday was spent surveying from a vantage point in some horrendous weather. Hunkered down behind a rock for three hours when I heard a flapping sound and looked round to see a Golden Eagle looking at me from 10 feet away, before panicking at flying off. After spending a couple of minutes displaying it soared off across the valley.

Other work highlights were 2 summer plumage Black-throated Diver and a Wood Sandpiper displaying over its breeding grounds.

Black-throated Diver

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Nemesis slain

I wasn't very optimistic and it felt like I was going through the motions as I drove to Grindon Lough this morning. Last night's hope that the Red-necked Phalarope had just gone to roost had been slightly reinforced by a call from Paul D to say that he had left the bird showing well, just 5 mins before I'd got there last night. Arriving in light drizzle I scanned along the south shore and quickly picked up a small wader swimming in the shallows at the western end. A swift jog up the road and excellent scope views were had as it bobbed about picking insects from the surface and feeding along the muddy edge. After a prolonged period of preening it disappeared, not showing again over the next hour. Just a shame it was a bit far from the road for photos as it was a stunner.

Red-necked Phalarope
The 2 Little Stint were still here, looking excellent in summer plumage and a couple of Cuckoo could be heard singing at Muckle Moss.

Friday, 12 June 2015

More phalarope fail

At lunch time today I was up a hill near Aberdeen, basking in the sun, watching a displaying Goshawk. By 7pm I was back home and news that the Red-necked Phalarope at Grindon Lough was still present had me heading out west. This is very much my bogey bird and true to form there was no sign when I got there. 2 Little Stint creeping along the far bank were no consolation. A lot of the waders had gone to roost, so there is hope for tomorrow.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Dragon hunting

Warm and sunny so spent most of the day dragon hunting. First up was Stargate, always good for Broad-bodied Chaser. Like everywhere, this site is suffering from the lack of rain fall and was very quiet at first with just a handful of damsels. After a while we brief fly-bys from male and female Broad-bodied and a single Four-spotted Chaser, but with no real chance of a photo we headed for pastures new.

With the Dragonhunter in tow we headed to Far Pasture where he immediately picked up a resting male Broad-bodied Chaser that allowed some distant shots.

Broad-bodied Chaser
Broad-bodied Chaser
After good, close fly-bys from 3+ and 1+ Broad-bodied Chaser we left the Dragonhunter to it and headed home.

A few chores and it was out again. Burdon Moor was a little breezy, but after a few minutes I had brief fly-bys from single male and female Broad-bodied Chaser.

The sheltered Kibblesworth Brick Works was much better with loads of damsels in the margins and 20+ Four-spotted Chasers zipping around the reeds. Several of the chasers perched up between forays to give photo opportunities.

Four-spotted Chaser
Four-spotted Chaser
Leaving the main pool I came across a very fresh Black-tailed Skimmer on  small patch of earth.

Black-tailed Skimmer
The dragon was unable to fly and a closer look showed that the right wings were overlapping and stuck together.

Showing the 'glued' wings
A finger
With the dragon doomed if it couldn't fly I picked it up and managed to prise the wings apart. A happy ending as it was able to fly off strongly

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


Another look up to Northumberland this morning. A single Spoonbill remained at Cresswell along with 2 Avocet. A load of Tree Sparrow feeding around the hide here. 31 Black-tailed Godwit were at Druridge and the Little Gull flock at East Chevington had built up to 19. A male Marsh Harrier was patrolling the north pool reeds here.

Spoonbill at Cresswell
Very quiet around Gateshead this evening with just a few Wall enjoying the sun at Burdon Moor.


Monday, 8 June 2015


A 90 min seawatch from 05.20 this morning at Whitburn gave a good movement of birds. Nothing startling, but 35 Manx Shearwater and 283 Gannet were heading north and 53 Sandwich Tern heading south. At least 4 Porpoise moved north.

Up into Northumberland and 2 Spoonbill were snoozing at Cresswell, but only 3 Avocet remained, with no sign of any chicks. Druridge held 5 Black-tailed Godwit and a Little Ringed Plover. East Chevington had 7 Little Gull. A scope from the dune tops north of Hauxley managed to pick out a few Roseate Tern over Coquet Island.

Sunday, 7 June 2015


A quiet few days with just a few damsels at Kibblesworth Brick Works.

Azure Damsel
Blue-tailed Damsel
Blue-tailed with lunch
Common Blue Damsel
A dash, this morning, resulted in a dip of the singing Common Rosefinch at Whitburn Obs. The consolation was a Common Buzzard over the sea, harried by Crows.

Common Buzzard
A trip to Stargate for dragons was fruitless because of the strong wind, but I did get my first Common Blue butterfly and Large Skipper.

Large Skipper
Common Blue
Another go for the Rosefinch this afternoon, after it had relocated to Mere Knolls Cemetery was a success. Singing loudly, it could be heard from a 10 yards away, but never showed well, always partially covered by foliage.

Stunning Common Rosefinch

Thursday, 4 June 2015


A lack of shrikes at Whitburn this morning, but a Blue-headed Wagtail flew north over the Shearwater estate. A pair of Greenfinch showed well in the sun.


A lunchtime trip to Muggleswick proved successful with Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Wood Warbler and Cuckoo. A male Redstart was by the hide at Derwent Reservoir.

Male Pied Flycatcher
Female Pied Flycatcher
Burdon Moor was quiet with just a couple of Large Red Damsel and an Orange Tip.

Orange Tip
The first warm, still night meant a trip up to Slaley for Nightjar. While waiting we were entertained by a pair of Spotted Flycatcher, Cuckoo, Siskin, drumming Snipe and umpteen roding Woodcock.
The Nightjar put on an excellent display, wing-clapping and churring at close range. At least 3 churring males were present. Just after leaving a Barn Owl flew over the road.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Phalarope Fail

News of a Red-necked Phalarope at East Chevington came too late last night, so an early start had me up there at 04.20. Unfortunately the bird had already flown and checks of the country park and Hauxley drew a blank. Highlights were 8 Little Gull, Bearded Tit, 3 Barn Owl, Marsh Harrier and a late Whooper Swan at East Chevington, while 31 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Mandarin were at Druridge. The Whooper Swan had a distinct kink in the neck and had been seen flying north past Whitburn on Monday.

Barn Owl at dawn
Sleeping Mandarin