Friday, 31 July 2015


Five days working in the north west of Scotland. Hard slogs over peat hags and lonely vigils on cold, windswept hillsides revealed few birds, but fly pasts by a Golden Eagle cheered me up. In brief moments of almost sunshine a few Large Heath limped over the moors.

Golden Eagle

Large Heath
Bog Asphodel
More Scotland

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Caspian Gull

A lazy day yesterday watching the Tour de France on the telly with a quick look out last night to see the Black-tailed Godwit at Shibdon and a Common Seal at Timber Beach.

Common Seal
A normal early start this morning at Shibdon where the 24 Black-tailed Godwit remain along with 4-5 Water Rail.

Up to Cresswell where a Barn Owl briefly patrolled by the causeway. Very quiet here today with just 2 Little Egret and 2 Dunlin. A Whimbrel flew over as I got back in the car.

Barn Owl
Quiet again at Druridge where there were 7 Snipe and 4 Dunlin. On the north pool 2 Yellow Wagtail were feeding just outside the hide.

Yellow Wagtail
Heading back home I had just stopped off at Bothal when I got a tweet that last year's Caspian Gull had returned to Amble. An about turn and luckily Steve H was still on site as all the gulls were asleep on the groyne. After a few minutes it woke up, and eventually stood up to show its long legs. Other than a few short naps, the bird showed well for the next hour or so, even going for a few short flights. Just as we were leaving it flew over-head calling- a distinctly different call to Herring Gull.

Caspian Gull

Friday, 24 July 2015

Curlew Sandpiper

Nothing new at Shibdon this morning, just the Black-tailed Godwit flock hanging around, so back up the coast.

At Cresswell the Wood Sandpiper was showing well to the north of the causeway along with 6 Yellow Wagtail.

Juvenile Yellow Wagtail
Wood Sandpiper
Up to Newton and almost the first bird seen on the scrape was an adult Curlew Sandpiper, moulting out of summer plumage. Also here were a Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 15+ Dunlin and a pair of Stonechat. Just north of the scrape a Hummingbird Hawk-moth flew from the valerian growing by the cottages, unfortunately not stopping for photos.

Curlew Sandpiper

Not much seen on the way south, but 3 White-beaked Dolphin went south past Snab Point.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Yellow-legged Gull

Shibdon first thing where 24 Black-tailed Godwit remained and a young Water Rail scurried about.

Up to Cresswell where the Wood Sandpiper was again showing well to the north of the causeway. Also here were 2 Ruff, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Avocet, 2 Little Egret, 20+ Dunlin and 2 Yellow Wagtail.

Not much at Druridge where a caravan park has sprung up behind the pools. 5 Goldeneye dropped onto the north pool and 2 Marsh Harrier hunting to the north. Plenty of Dark-green Fritillary out of the wind.

Dark-green Fritillary
Kibblesworth was a bit disappointing today as it was fairly cloudy and windy. Plenty of Common Darter in the long grass and a smart Emerald Damsel.

Common Darter
Emerald Damsel
I had just finished my tea when a text got me up to Derwent Reservoir for an adult Yellow-legged Gull roosting opposite the hide. Also here were a Whimbrel, 2 Golden Plover, plenty of Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover and 7 Dunlin.

Yellow-legged Gull

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Wood Sand

A quiet few days around Gateshead with just the Black-tailed Godwit flock at Shibdon continuing to show.

Headed for the Northumberland coast this morning. A lack of waders at Newton with just 1 Ruff, 1 Little Ringed Plover and 20 Dunlin. East Chevington had a Little Gull, Little Egret and a juvenile Cuckoo. Cresswell was the pick with a Wood Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Avocet, 3 Little Egret, Common Sandpiper and 20+ Dunlin.

Wood Sandpiper

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Petrel Stop

Popped down to Whitburn last night to watch the Storm Petrel ringing. Only stopped for an hour as it was way past my bedtime, but managed to see one get caught and ringed. Amazing to see how small they are. A crap shot from myself and a couple of good ones by Lee Harris.

Storm Petrel
Thanks to Lee Harris
Thanks to Lee Harris
Gateshead was quiet this morning with a Dunlin and the 27 Black-tailed Godwit at Shibdon. At Costco I found this wasp that I think is Ancistrocerus gazella (pretty rare up here). Thanks to Joe and Darren for id.

Anicistrocerus gazelle
The sun came out late this afternoon, so popped down to Winlaton Mill and had 2 White-letter Hairstreak nectaring on thistles.

White-letter Hairstreak
White-letter Hairstreak and Soldier Beetle

Saturday, 18 July 2015

No Cuckoo

A tweet from Derek that he had a Cuckoo at Shibdon had me racing for the door. Unfortunately I was held up by Metrocentre traffic and the bird had flown by the time I got there. A good crack though with Derek and a fly-through Yellow Wagtail (the first here for years) made it worth breaking away from the cricket. The 27 Black-tailed Godwit were still here.

Black-tailed Godwit

Friday, 17 July 2015

Tyne Whimbrel

A couple of hours seawatching at Whitburn this morning with a brisk south-easterly stirring things up.

05.55 - 07.55
Manx Shearwater    3n  11s
Common Tern    4n  8s
Great Crested Grebe    1 on sea
Whimbrel    2s
Knot    37s
Bar-tailed Godwit    1s
Puffin    13n  2s
Teal    1s
Common Scoter    611n
Sandwich Tern    119s
Swift    6s
Arctic Tern    15s
Mediterranean Gull    1n
Eider    7n
Tufted Duck    1n

The Tyne at Dunston held 3 Whimbrel and 5 Ringed Plover, while 2 juvenile Kittiwake were flying up and down river.

Ringed Plover
At Shibdon the Black-tailed Godwit flock had grown to 27.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Red-footed Falcon

A very early start got us down to Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, near Stoke, for 06.45. As we leapt a fence for post drive wees, a small dark falcon flew over our heads and landed on a telegraph pole. Tassel away, bins up and onto my first Red-footed Falcon, an absolute cracker in grey and red. Great, close views in less than ideal light before the bird took flight, disappearing and not returning before we left at 09.00. Brief views, but well worth the trip. Also here were Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, plus my first Gatekeeper for a couple of years.

Red-footed Falcon

A drive around the south of the Peak District and back north to Hatfield Moor near Doncaster. Disappointing on the bird front with the White-rumped Sandpiper gone and no sign of Hobby or Crane. Superb though for Dragons and Damsels. On show were Emperor, Four-spotted Chaser, Broad-bodied Chaser, Black-tailed Skimmer, Common Darter, Brown Hawker and Southern Hawker. Damsels were everywhere with Common Blue, Azure, Blue-tailed and Emerald. Brown Hawker was a tick for me and were very impressive, bossing the sky on shimmering, bronze wings. My new favourite dragon! Plenty of Gatekeeper here too.

Southern Hawker
Gatekeeper by Joe Dobinson
Thanks to Andy for driving. An excellent day out.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Blackwits Again

The 26 Black-tailed Godwit were at Shibdon all day today, showing well in front of the hide this morning. A look around Chopwell Wood failed to refind the Crossbill flock.