Saturday, 26 March 2016


Within two minutes of arriving at Burdon Moor this morning the hoped for Wheatear popped up on the fence line. Despite some pretty cold weather, this is a lot earlier than last year when the first wasn't until April 6th. Another Wheatear appeared and then 2 Stonechat, the strong southerly definitely doing the trick. Also here were 6 Redpoll, a Red Kite and 600+ Golden Plover.

Nothing new at Lamesley, but there were still 7 Gadwall. No sign though of the Little Egret.

At Far Pasture my first Sand Martin dropped in, with 7 over the pond. 4 Chiffchaff were singing, while Buzzard and Red Kite displayed overhead.

Sand Martin
Red Kite

Friday, 25 March 2016

Almost Spring

No rush of migrants yet. A White Wagtail at Lamesley flash pool today was the best I've had. 2 Chiffchaff were singing at Birtley reed beds and a total of 13 Gadwall were spread between here and Lamesley water meadows (a new Gateshead record). Dipper, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail were on the River Team. The Little Egret continues to tour the Lamesley area, today it was on the water meadows, which it shared with a Little Grebe (rare here). a couple of Small Tortoiseshell were out in today's sunshine.

Burdon Moor yesterday still felt wintery with 40 Fieldfare and briefly 20+ Redpoll.

While running on Tuesday near Sunniside I flushed a Woodcock which was my 99th species in Gateshead for the year. Roll on the migrants.

Little Egret
Short-eared Owl

Monday, 21 March 2016

Gateshead Year Ticks

First up was to Gibside to try for the Crossbill that Sacha had heard yesterday. A pleasant stroll in the sun with Buzzard and Red Kite displaying overhead and just as I got close to the bird hide I heard the 'chip chip' of a small party of Crossbill. A few minute wait and 2 male Crossbill dropped into the trees in front of me. Walking back to the car I heard another small flock, high in the pines.

Following an unsuccessful trawl around Gateshead I got a text from Brian S to say he had a Little Egret at Lamesley. Kicking myself as I'd just left Lamesley, I dropped back down to see the bid hunched down on the bank of the Team. It flew from here to the flash pool for some distant photos.

Little Egret
This evening a tweet from Lee H got me back up to Burdon Moor where the Stonechat was waiting for me on the fence line. I hung until dark fell, but the Woodcock weren't roding in the cold wind.

Great to have the birds lined up for me, but hopefully I'll find something myself!

George has had a Herring Gull at Shibdon that was ringed at Rufforth on 26th February. Hopefully a Caspian Gull will follow.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Wild Guillemot Chase

A tweet from David A of a Guillemot at Dunston Staithes caused a bit of a rush to the Tyne. A chase downstream ensued and I managed to see it through a fence, just east of Gateshead College. I jumped on the car bonnet to grab a photo over the fence, unfortunately the bird dived just as I got balanced. To the chagrin of Paul and Mike (who both missed it at Bill Quay) it disappeared from view and despite extensive searching couldn't be re-found.

Better luck this morning when Mike picked up the bird from the Newcastle side, just in front of the Baltic. Unfortunately Paul and I were well down-stream. A hurtle back up-river followed as the bird was swimming at a rate of knots. We cut it off at Dunston, where eventually it swam towards us, giving cracking views.


Lamesley is looking great at the moment, a Pink-footed Goose dropped in this afternoon (my first in Gateshead for the year). Also here were a Gateshead record 8 Gadwall. Waders here were 6 Redshank, 4 Oystercatcher, 102 Curlew and 50+ Lapwing. Not long now for the first Little Ringed Plover.

Pink-footed Goose

No Wheatear at Burdon Moor yet, but a Short-eared Owl was quartering the fields.

Short-eared Owl

Tuesday, 15 March 2016


After a tantalising glimpse of spring, it was back to winter today. Mist, drizzle and a cold north-easterly were the order of the day. A trip up to Cresswell, where the Dowitcher was hiding, was marred by the mizzle blowing in through the hide window, but an Avocet dropped in for the year tick.

At Bothal Pond the Great White Egret was showing well. So rare not long ago, now annual and expected.

Great White Egret
All a bit quiet over the last few days and I managed to miss the Whooper Swan flocks as they flew over Gateshead on their way home. Plenty of Little Owl still on display and a Short-eared Owl continues to show at Burdon Moor.

Little Owl
 Saturday night I managed to add Long-eared and Tawny Owl to my Gateshead year list and a couple of toads were out in the dark.

Common Toad by head-torch

Tuesday, 8 March 2016


A pretty crap start to March, with some grim weather and no new birds. My flat has a Hedgehog infestation.  A trip on the 1st to Scotland resulted in a dip of Surf Scoter and just missing a Scottish Caspian Gull at Dunbar, with just a flyover Iceland Gull as compensation. Most of the rest of the time has been spent trawling around Gateshead with nothing to show for it. A couple of trips to Sunderland academy gave excellent views of Water Pipit and 4 litoralis Rock Pipit (a couple looking stunning in summer plumage).

litoralis Rock Pipit
Today, after a hard day gardening, I was enjoying a cuppa and walnut whip when a tweet from Ross came through- Guillemot at Bill Quay. A frantic and frustrating dash through rush hour traffic followed and I startled an amorous couple as I launched from the car upon reaching the Tyne. A frantic search along the Tyne in fading light quickly gave up the Guillemot and I managed to rattle off a few shots. Possibly not the best Guillemot photos, but the best taken in Gateshead!

Guillemot- a Gateshead tick