Monday, 30 November 2015

Late Balearic

Another seawatch from Whitburn this morning. The westerly gale had dropped to zero this morning and the sea was like a mill pond. It was tough going with very little moving, but we managed to eke out some good birds. A late Balearic Shearwater was the star bird and 7 Porpoise were the most we've had for ages.


Red-throated Diver    11n   17s
Turnstone    15s
Eider    2n
Shag    2n
Little Auk    2 on sea
Balearic Shearwater    1n
Porpoise    7
Great Northern Diver    1n
Little Gull    1 feeding offshore

Sunday, 29 November 2015

More seawatching

With some pretty grotty weather forecast, I didn't fancy braving the elements, so headed again for Whitburn Obs for a seawatch. I wasn't expecting much, but at least I didn't get wet.


Red-throated Diver    11n   14s
Eider    1n   1s
Redshank    7s
Little Gull    1n
Pomarine Skua    1n
Porpoise    2
Little Auk    2s
Common Scoter    1n
Shag    4s

Saturday, 28 November 2015


An icy windscreen as I set off for Whitburn this morning in a strengthening westerly. A chilly couple of hours in the obs revealed a few good birds and some good crack.


Red-throated Diver    7n   13s
Golden Plover    800+s
Kittiwake    3n
Black-throated Diver    2n   1s
Common Scoter    1n   2s
Eider    5n   1s
Fulmar    1n   1s
Little Gull    2s
Snow Bunting    1n
Bonxie    1s

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

No Bonaparte's

A try for the Bonaparte's Gull in north Northumberland. This bird gave me the run around a couple of years ago, so I wasn't that confident. No Black-headed Gulls in the Seahouses area or at Monk's House, so I headed up to Stag Rocks. Good numbers of Black-heads were feeding on the sea and moving through, but unfortunately no sign of the Bonaparte's.

There were however plenty of good birds, with perfect light and a flat sea. Over a couple of hours I picked up Great Northern Diver, Black-throated Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver, Red-necked Grebe, Long-tailed Duck, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and a handful of Common Scoter. Roosting on the rocks were 161 Purple Sandpiper, by far the largest number that I've seen.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Slow down

With the wind turning westerly overnight, today's seawatch was never going to be a patch on the weekend's action. Still a good watch though, with some good birds.


Eider    16n
Little Auk    16n
Red-throated Diver    14n   22s
Golden Plover    300s
Teal    4n
Red-necked Grebe    1n
Greylag    1s
Mallard    3n   3s
Whooper Swan    2n (including bird with kinked neck seen last winter)
Common Scoter    11n   1s
Grey Plover    1n
Long-tailed Duck    2n
Red-breasted Merganser    3n   1s
Woodcock    1 in off
Goldeneye    16n   4s
Fulmar    2s
Shag    1n   9s
Great Northern Diver    1n

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Great Northern

Another superb seawatch this morning from Whitburn. The wind dropping off, but still northerly, so bringing an excellent selection of birds. The highlight was the new record of 17 Great Northern Diver that all flew north.


Common Scoter    112n   7s
Goldeneye    24n   2s
Little Auk    85n
Wigeon    132n   1s
Red-throated Diver    46n   20s
Long-tailed Duck    15n
Dunlin    250+ n
Velvet Scoter    6n
Fulmar    40n   42s
Manx Shearwater    5n
Kittiwake    69n   29s
Eider    13n   4s
Great Northern Diver    17n
Short-eared Owl    1 in off
Shag    1n   38s
Knot    7n
Bar-tailed Godwit    1n
Sanderling    3n
Pomarine Skua    2n
Teal    106n
Red-breasted Merganser    7n
Shelduck    17n
Grey Plover    1n
Tufted Duck    8n
Pink-footed Goose    100+ s
Iceland Gull    1s
Black-throated Diver    1n
Purple Sandpiper    1n
Brent Goose    2n (1 db & 1pb)
Bonxie    5n
Mallard    25n
Red-necked Grebe    3n
Mediterranean Gull    1s
Pintail   3n
Kingfisher    1n
Goosander    1n
Great-crested Grebe    1n

Short-eared Owl
Long-tailed Duck

Saturday, 21 November 2015


Winter arrived with a bang over night with howling northerlies. An excellent seawatch from Whitburn this morning in wild seas and frequent snow showers.


Long-tailed Duck    25n   1s
Dunlin    250+n
Goldeneye    65n
Little Auk    277n
Kittiwake    62n   7s
Red-throated Diver    15n   2s
Wigeon    144n
Knot    1n
Bar-tailed Godwit     8n
Eider     5n   4s
Shag    3n   8s
Bonxie    6s
Fulmar    5n
Little Gull    2n    1s
Velvet Scoter     6n
Red-breasted Merganser    8n
Brent Goose    20n (19 pb & 1 db)
Tufted Duck    8n
Pintail    1n
Teal     8n
Common Scoter    20n   1s
Goosander    3n
Shelduck    2n
Curlew    3n
Turnstone    3n
Mallard    16n
Great Northern Diver    1n   2s
Grey Plover    1n
Great Crested Grebe    1n
Jack Snipe    1 in off
Iceland Gull    1n
Sanderling    4n
Mediterranean Gull    1n   1s

Iceland Gull

Monday, 16 November 2015

Water Pipit

Seawatching this morning from Whitburn in a strong WSW. Not a great haul, but enough to keep me entertained for a couple of hours.

Common Scoter    6n   2s
Black-throated Diver    1n
Whooper Swan    52s
Red-throated Diver    3n   15s
Fieldfare    1 in off
Teal    11n   6s
Golden Plover    61s
Pink-footed Geese    350+s
Wigeon    5n   1s
Goldeneye    1n
Bonxie    1n

Pulled up at Boldon Flats on the way home to see the 3 Greenland White-fronted Geese and was immediately shown a Water Pipit that had just been found. This showed superbly as it fed in short grass along the water's edge, allowing some phone scope shots. The White-fronts were on show further back.

Water Pipit

Greenland White-fronted Geese
Hoping for a Gateshead Water Pipit I then checked Lamesley. No pipit, but there were another 2 Greenland White-fronted Geese, only the second record for Gateshead.
Greenland White-fronted Goose

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Crag Martin

My double dip of Crag Martin at Flamborough last spring was weighing heavy as I stood, in the cold, staring at the crooked spire of Chesterfield this morning. At last, after three and a half hours the bird appeared out of nowhere to a cheer from the restless crowd of 300+. Moving at great speed the bird spent the next forty minutes zipping around the spire. Tremendous to watch, but a nightmare to photograph. Of 373 shots only about 30 contained a bird and all were out of focus blurs.

Crag Martin

During our vigil we saw a Peregrine, 85 Pink-footed Geese and a Sparrowhawk that luckily took no interest in the martin.
An excellent day out and thanks to Andy for driving.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Great Northern

An extra hour in bed and I missed the best of the seawatching from Whitburn Obs. Still managed a good couple of hours with a summer plumage Great Northern Diver the star of the show.


Pink-footed Geese    365s
Common Scoter    24n
Velvet Scoter    1n
Arctic Skua    1n
Great Northern Diver    1s
Red-throated Diver    6n   21s
Whooper Swan    8s
Kingfisher    1n

Pink-footed Geese

Thursday, 12 November 2015

No Pallid

News of a fly-through Pallid Harrier at Seaton Snook sounded better than a trip to ASDA, so I shot down. Unfortunately, in ever-strengthening wind, there was no sign, but I did have a mobile flock of 40+ Twite. An optimistic check of Greenabella failed to turn up a harrier, but I did manage distant view of a perched Merlin.

Phone scoped Merlin

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

More Dowitcher

News that the Long-billed Dowitcher was feeding by the road got me out of bed and into nose to tail traffic. Eventually got to Cresswell where the bird was just to the north of the causeway. With the rain lashing down, I managed to get a couple of shots from the car, but with little success due to the near darkness. The dowitcher swiftly relocated to the far side of the main pool and although I gave it a couple of hours, it didn't come any closer.

Other birds of note were 29 flyover Whooper Swan and a Merlin that shot through the car park.

Long-billed Dowitcher

Monday, 9 November 2015

Long-billed Dowitcher

A quiet few days with some pretty miserable weather. Highlights were a flyover Hawfinch at Marsden Quarry on the 5th and Great Northern and Black-throated Diver from Whitburn Obs on the 6th.

AI walked into the Obs this morning put me onto two Merlin coming in off and taking prey on the way in. Not a great deal was passing in a gale force south westerly, but there was a late Manx Shearwater heading south. A bigger surprise was the female Marsh Harrier that went north, low over the sea.

Almost home when news of a Long-billed Dowitcher came through, so I was off to Cresswell. The bird showed well on the far shore, but it was a bit distant and dull for photos. The following my best phone-scoped shot.

Stunning shot of a Long-billed Dowitcher

Tuesday, 3 November 2015


Another look at the Arctic Warbler at Marsden Quarry this morning. Unfortunately it was cold and foggy, so although it showed well in its chosen sycamore, it was difficult getting a photo in the poor light.

Arctic Warbler
A quick look at Burdon Moor failed to turn up any owls, but there were 150+ Golden Plover.

A good find by David A was 4 Pochard at Watergate (following 4 Whooper Swan yesterday). By the time I got there it was almost dark, but the Pochard was still present with flyover Redpoll, 6 Redwing and Grey Wagtail.


Monday, 2 November 2015


Started the day at Whitburn Obs in thick fog. This slowly cleared to give blue sky and a few birds. Highlights were 12 Whooper Swan and a Little Gull south, plus a Bonxie on the sea.

A call from Dave F with a possible Arctic Warbler at Marsden Quarry quickly halted the seawatch. After an hour of searching with nothing other than a couple of Chiffchaff to show for it, it was looking like it had moved through. Thankfully the bird reappeared in small trees at the back of gardens to give tremendous views at close range and the identification confirmed. The bird continued to show, off and on, all afternoon, but sticking to a well leaved sycamore.

Arctic Warbler

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Fudge zoo

Friday, I waited for the rain to stop then headed down to Shibdon where there were still 8 Black-tailed Godwit. Up at Burdon Moor a Short-eared Owl was showing pretty well, a darker looking bird to the one yesterday.

Black-tailed Godwit
Saturday is best forgotten with much time spent dipping Ferruginous Duck at Washington and Pallid Swift at Marsden.

With no sign of the Pallid Swift this morning I headed down to Whitburn Obs. Spending more time out than in, with warm sunshine it was a pleasant couple of hours. Highlights were 3 Lapland Bunting, 2 Little Gull and a Mediterranean Gull. About 300 Pink-footed Geese flew south, but no sign of the Snow Goose.

News of a Swift at Marsden had me back north, but it drifted off before I got there. An hour or so scanning produced nothing more than 4 Buzzard and a distant flock of 80 Pink-footed Geese. A Chiffchaff moved through the scrub.

It was then off to the zoo. With the Ferruginous Duck pinned down in the Ferruginous Duck pen at Washington WT all I had to do was pay the money and turn up. A flap of two full wings to show its credentials and it was in the bag.

Ferruginous Duck