Monday, 29 February 2016

Squirrel & Crossbill

All a bit flat at the moment, with nothing new happening and continuing quietness around Gateshead. As usual for the time of year, Little Owl are popping up all over the Ravensworth Fell area and 4 Gadwall are hanging around Lamesley. The odd Oystercatcher is moving through along with a slow build up of Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Following some excellent photos on Twitter, this morning I popped up to Powhill at Derwent Reservoir. Unfortunately the light was crap, but I managed some excellent views of Red Squirrel and Crossbill.

Red Squirrel


Thursday, 25 February 2016

Return to Caspania

It looks like the Rufforth Caspian Gulls have headed home. We did see one (a smart adult), but it took six and a half, cold hours to get it. Looks like the last trip down there this winter. Also seen were 2 Iceland Gull and 2 Glaucous Gull.

Adult Caspian Gull
Juvenile Glaucous Gull 1
Juvenile Glaucous Gull 2

Monday, 22 February 2016

Very dirty twitching

Washington WWT was the venue this morning to year tick the Ferruginous Duck. It took an age for the correct bird to flap two whole wings and flash unadorned legs. It felt ridiculous standing by the edge of the pen, surrounded by displaying Eider.

After my sordid year tick I returned home, but was dragged out again with news of a European White-fronted Goose at Lamesley. With the first Gateshead record only in December 2011, still a rare bird here, this being only the sixth record.

European White-fronted Goose

Sunday, 21 February 2016


A tough few days around Gateshead with very little to talk about. Highlights today were a pair of Gadwall at Lamesley and 2 Little Owl (my first in Gateshead for the year).

Back in the house with feet up and listening to the cricket, I got the news of 2 Richard's Pipit at Blackhall Rocks (an excellent find by Graham Stoker). It was a bit grey, with the odd spot of rain, but I managed excellent flight views of both birds as they called overhead. Not great conditions for getting flight shots!

Richard's Pipit

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Rufforth Thursday

Its Thursday, so it was off down the road to bother some seagulls. Another good haul, despite difficult viewing in the bright sun. Results were, 8 Caspian Gull ( 6x 1st winter & 2x 2nd winter), 3 Iceland Gull ( 1x 1st winter, 1x 2nd winter & 1 adult) and 3 Glaucous Gull (all 1st winter).

Glaucous Gull
Glaucous Gull
Iceland Gull (1st winter)
Caspian Gull (1st winter)

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Nowt from the north

A bit of a northerly attracted a few into Whitburn obs this morning, but unfortunately the birds failed to turn up. A Velvet Scoter was the only highlight of a very quiet seawatch.

Back in Gateshead a frozen Lamesley was deserted and Shibdon was again very quiet. At Stella there were fewer gulls with the tip being shut, but the adult Iceland Gull was still present. An afternoon run took in Watergate where there were 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, the first of the year at this site, 3 weeks later than last year.

Iceland Gull

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Gateshead Iceland

My continuing hunt for a Gateshead Caspian Gull drew a blank, but I did find a cracking adult Iceland Gull on the Tyne at Stella this morning. It took a few scans of the 300+ large gulls before I picked up the bird, just as the heavens opened with torrential rain/sleet/hail for the next twenty minutes. Luckily it brightened a bit, allowing some photos. This is the first Iceland Gull seen in Geateshead since 2nd June 2012. Also present was a single adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Iceland Gull

Thursday, 11 February 2016


Back down to Rufforth for more gulls. A significant drop in the number of gulls meant that we only had 4 Caspian Gulls (3x 1st winter and 1x 2nd winter). What were excellent were the white-wingers with one Glaucous Gull (1st winter) and a superb 5 Iceland Gull (2x 1st winter, 1x 2nd winter, 1x 3rd winter and a smart adult). Also several oddities and hybrids, plus a few adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. There were flyovers from Buzzard, Red Kite and Sparrowhawk.

1st winter Caspian Gull
On the way back home I popped into Boldon Flats, where I got excellent views of the Green-winged Teal. There was also a drake Pintail.

Green-winged Teal

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Summer's on the way!

It has been slow going around Gateshead and my search for a Gateshead Caspian Gull have come to nought. Searching through the gulls at Stella and Shibdon today did produce adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, the first of the summer migrants.

Lesser Black-backed Gull
A look up to Burdon Moor was curtailed by the icy wind, but there was some good crack and a brief Short-eared Owl.

Short-eared Owl
Having seen a few photos of the Stag Rocks 'Black Scoter', I've decided to remove it from both this and last year's year lists. The pictures show an odd Common Scoter with a large amount of bright yellow on its bill, but not the swollen blob of Black Scoter. The distant views I've had in both years (last year was at Cheswick) have been of a very dominant bird with a thick neck and a large amount of yellow on the bill. I'm convinced that I've seen the same bird both years and have yet to speak to anyone who's had close views of a confirmed Black in either year. I hope to be proved wrong.

Monday, 8 February 2016


Popped out to pick up a couple of year ticks that I was missing. Firstly down to Tynemouth where I had dipped the Black Redstart in foul weather, at the start of the year. This time I was lucky, as the bird was flitting around the base of the pier with a Grey Wagtail and a couple of Rock Pipit.

Black Redstart
Up to Cresswell where the Ruff was on show, on the sand-bar in front of the hide. Also here were 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, but no sign of the Long-billed Dowitcher. In the fields just to the north a large flock of Pink-footed Geese held 4 White-fronted Geese.

Bar-tailed Godwit
It took a couple of goes, but I eventually caught up with the Waxwing a mile north of Widdrington. It was feeding on a berry-laden Hawthorn on the east side of the road, but spending much of its time in trees over the road.


Saturday, 6 February 2016

Not tits!

A glutton for punishment I headed back to Saltholme hoping to get the Penduline Tit. After almost 3 hours sitting in the hide, watching the rain and discussing every 80s movie ever made, all hope had gone. A call of  'I've got it' was followed by a dash to the left of the hide and blind panic from me as I searched the reed tops in vain. I eventually picked up the now two Penduline Tit feeding low in the reeds, giving excellent scope views. The birds showed well for about 15mins and then an hour later for a couple of minutes, but never close enough for photos.

Penduline Tit
Not much else was seen, but a Bittern did a couple of distant fly-bys.

Friday, 5 February 2016


Spent most of the afternoon at Saltholme today. Sadly there was no further sign of the Penduline Tit that had been seen and photographed this morning. Still, it was warm and dry in the hide and the crack was great. Hopefully more luck before the rain tomorrow.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

More Casps

After two fruitless days around Gateshead it was back down to Rufforth today to see some gulls. Another very successful trip with 18 Caspian Gull (13x 1st winter, 4x 2nd winter and an adult), 1 3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull, 2x 1st winter Glaucous Gull and a 2nd winter Iceland Gull.

In over 8 hours of gull watching we saw thousands of gulls and as well as the above there were several hybrids and oddities, including a 1st winter Viking Gull. New rules at the airfield mean the gulls are more distant, so even less scope for photos. I was chuffed with digging out the Yellow-legged Gull, my first ever 3rd winter.

2nd winter Caspian Gull
2nd winter Caspian Gull

2nd winter Caspian Gull

3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull (Dave Foster)