Sunday, 27 November 2016

Perked up

Some cold, settled weather has meant lacklustre seawatching, but some over-night northerlies perked things up for today. No massive numbers, but highlights of Pomarine Skua, Sooty Shearwater, Little Auk and more Long-tailed Duck. Full results here.

In Gateshead the Lamesley area is looking excellent with plenty of flood water. The flash pool has held 20 Black-tailed Godwit over the last few days and a Whooper Swan for the last two.

Whooper Swan

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

A blow from the north

Another excellent seawatch from Whitburn helped by the northerlies. A very slow start with rain and mist to the south stopping any movement, but an superb selection once this had cleared. Close views of Sooty Shearwater, Great Northern Diver and Scaup were the highlights, but there were more Skuas and plenty of ducks. Glaucous Gull and Sandwich Tern gave fleeting views. A incoming Blackbird twice landed on the sea as it struggled towards land. It's fate was hidden from view by the hut. Full results here.

Great Northern Diver
Sooty Shearwater
Long-tailed Duck, Wigeon and Teal
On the way back to the car a very tame, fresh-in Chiffchaff was feeding along the fence-line at the south end of the Shearwater Estate. It didn't call, but looked every inch Siberian.

Siberian Chiffchaff

Monday, 21 November 2016


A north-easterly made it pretty cold and unpleasant in Whitburn Obs this morning, but it brought the birds. Only the third Red-necked Grebe of the year headed north late on, but before this there were Great Northern & Black-throated Diver, Long-tailed Duck, Pomarine Skua, Velvet Scoter and Little Auk amongst loads of Kittiwake and Guillemot. A Peregrine was hunting auks about two miles out to sea. Full results here.

Long-tailed Duck
Long-tailed Duck
Velvet Scoter

Yesterday's star bird was a Black-necked Grebe, a very rare bird from the Obs, but the second this year.

Quiet in Gateshead with the Whooper Swan not seen since Wednesday. A Stonechat at Burdon Moor on Saturday the only notable bird.


Friday, 18 November 2016

A taste of Spring

Seawatching at Whitburn has quietened down to standard Winter birding, with a few better birds coming through, with Great Northern Diver and Long-tailed Duck. Whooper Swan and Pink-footed Geese are still passing, while two Sandwich Tern that went north today were either very late or even earlier!

Whooper Swan
Pink-footed Geese⍣

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Late Yellow-browed

A better than expected seawatch from Whitburn this morning, with loads of ducks still moving and birds arriving in-off. Full results here.

Pale-bellied Brent
From here it was down to Roker to have a look at a Yellow-browed Warbler that had had been heard to give a Hume's like call, but looking like a rather bright YBW. A male Blackcap was also moving through the scrub.

At Lamesley the Whooper Swan remained along with 2 Wigeon among huge numbers of Mallard and Teal. Surely we are due a Pintail.

Friday, 11 November 2016


Seawatching has unsurprisingly died-off, but still the odd bird to keep the interest going, before the next storm.

In Whickham the Waxwing infestation seems to have peaked, with now about 300 birds and a dwindling supply of berries they may soon move on.


At the traditional site of Jackie's Plantation, Greenside there were 10+ Brambling, giving me another Gateshead year tick.

Very quiet at Sled Lane, with just 2 Goosander and 2 Tufted Duck.


At other sites around Gateshead there were 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 15 Shoveler at Shibdon. At Lamesley the Whooper Swan remains along with loads of Mallard with 150+ birds. About 300 Golden Plover were circling Burdon Moor.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Cory's and King Eider

A tremendous day's seawatching from Whitburn today. The first standout bird was a Cory's Shearwater that went north at 08.28. Distant and occasionally difficult to follow as it was swallowed by troughs I was able to get the other two lads onto it, for by far the latest Cory's past the Obs. We assumed this was the large shearwater flagged up off Long Nab yesterday.

Duck numbers started to build up, most noticeably the biggest Eider passage for ages. A 11.03 Dave continued to follow a flock of 8 north and alerted the now full Obs, with plenty of shouting and swearing, to the third bird in the group. Smaller than the other seven, more black on the back and a blue head, my first King Eider in England and a massive pull-back after missing the bird on 23rd October.

Loads more was happening, with excellent numbers of ducks, 3 species of diver, plus Shorelark and Snow Bunting in-off. Full results here.

Back in Gateshead the Whooper Swan was still at Lamesley and the 100+ Waxwing still at Whickham.


Monday, 7 November 2016

More from the north

Some more excellent seawatching today in some more less than pleasant weather. The first Iceland Gull of the winter was the star, but there were loads of birds, including 2 Short-eared Owl and a Woodcock in-off. Full results here.

Iceland Gull
Back in Gateshead a lone Whooper Swan was at Lamesley. A welcome Gateshead year tick.

Whooper Swan
Only other birds of note in Gateshead were 7 Shoveler at Shibdon, until I was almost home. In Whickham I picked up a flock of Waxwing at the northern junction of Fellside Road and Parkway. Initially 30+ birds, but these quickly built up to over 100. Loads of berries here, so they'll hopefully hang around.


Sunday, 6 November 2016

Sooty invasion

Excellent conditions for seawatching today with a force 6 north-northeasterly and full cloud cover. Unfortunately it also meant that it was bitterly cold with some unpleasant weather coming through the window. Luckily, after a slow start, the birding was superb with loads of Sooty Shearwater and Bonxie, plus an excellent supporting cast. Full results here.

Yesterday was spent at Bolam Lake, where in some horrendous weather about 130 of us failed to see the Eyebrowed Thrush.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Another EBR

The wind had dropped, but so had the temperature and today's seawatch felt very wintery. The first two Little Auk of the winter went north early on and there was a constant arrival of winter visitors coming 'in-off', including 2 Waxwing and 5 Woodcock. A pretty big duck movement was taking place, along with a few Brent and a flock of 19 Whooper Swan. Full results here.

Whooper Swan
From here I popped down to Hartlepool to see the Eastern Black Redstart. I wasn't expecting to see another so soon. A fly-over Woodcock was the only other bird of note.

Eastern Black Redstart

Wednesday, 2 November 2016


It felt like winter at Whitburn this morning with a north-northwesterly blowing. Excellent numbers of divers, Goldeneye and Long-tailed Duck were the main movers, but loads of variety, including a cracking male Peregrine. I managed to miss the lone Waxwing that flew in-off, but overall an excellent watch. Full results here.

A family party of 6 Pale-bellied Brent touched down on the Obs field, the adult shielding the kids from a Carrion Crow.


Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Almost Winter

An excellent late autumn seawatch from Whitburn this morning. A bit of northerly was blowing, bringing the temperature down and plenty of arriving Whooper Swan. Plenty of divers were passing including 6 Great Northern. Star birds were passerines, with both Shorelark and Snow Bunting passing. Full score here.

Back in Gateshead, very little to see, with the only highlight a Wigeon at Watergate.