Friday, 30 December 2016

Round Up 2016

Some of the many highlights of a stunning 2016 for me.

Siberian Accentor, Orkney 27th October. After all the associated trauma and panic, this was the moment!
Gyr, North Uist 8th April. Stunning close views. A beast.
Black-billed Cuckoo, North Uist 24th May. I never thought that we'd get another one of these.
Long-billed Dowitcher, Cresswell 19th April. The long stayer, in almost full summer plumage and in perfect light.
Red-eyed Vireo St Agnes, Scilly 27th September. One of two together. Will never tire of these!
Purple Swamphen Minsmere, Suffolk 2nd August. Not everyone's cup of tea, but I was impressed.
Subalpine Warbler St Mary's, Scilly 12th October. Initially elusive, this really showed well.
Pied Wheatear Redcar, North Yorkshire 30th October. Performing for a large crowd on the beach.
Whiskered Tern Saltholme, Durham 10th May. Ticked the night before in near darkness.
Lesser Yellowlegs St Agnes, Scilly 25th September. Just me and this beauty 15 feet away.
Caspian Tern St Mary's, Scilly 6th October. 3 hours of fretting on St Martin's, then a frantic dash from the harbour.
Dusky Thrush Beeley, Derbyshire 8th December. Awful weather, but a brilliant bird on a 2 tick day with...
Pallid Harrier Welwick, East Yorkshire. Fading light, but cracking views over the marsh.
King Eider Ythan, Aberdeenshire 29th June. My first drake, a bonus on the twitch for...
White-winged Scoter Murcar, Aberdeenshire 29th June. Effing miles away, but very satisfying!
Isabelline Shrike The Leas, South Shields, Durham 29th October. Seen the night before, but posing the next day in the sun.
White-rumped Sandpiper Amble, Northumberland 26th August. Point-blank views thanks to the tide.
Cory's Shearwater Pelagic, Scilly 19th August. Mountainous seas and terror, but wow!
Great Shearwater Pelagic, Scilly 20th August. Passing just a few feet from the boat.
Wilson's Petrel Pelagic, Scilly 20th August. The target of the trip, but a nightmare to photograph.
Pomarine Skua Pelagic, Scilly 17th October. 20 mins over the boat, just feet away.
American Golden Plover and Buff-breasted Sandpiper St Mary's, Scilly 29th September. 2 Yanks out of nowhere.
Sora Tresco, Scilly 3rd October. Out in the open all day.
Bluethroat Hartlepool, Durham 13th May. Performing well by the bowling green.
Eastern Yellow Wagtail St Mary's, Scilly. Not yet a full species, but a cracker like...
Eastern Black Redstart Skinningrove, North Yorkshire. How rare did these use to be?
Melodious Warbler St Mary's, Scilly 27th September. At last!
Caspian Stonechat St Mary's, Scilly 22nd October. A mad dash before the boat home.
With loads more and hundreds of hours seawatching, this was an excellent year. I had a blast.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Christmas Goose

A four-letter word has thwarted my birding this week, so there has been no chance of looking for the Bean Geese at Lamesley until yesterday. Unfortunately there was a lack of geese all day and just 8 Greylag flew in to roost. There were however 10 Wigeon, a Gadwall and briefly the female Pintail.

Better luck this morning and the 3 Tundra Bean Geese were with Greylag on the flash pool. The Barnacle Goose was also on the main reserve.

Tundra Bean Geese

Greylag and Barnacle

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Rock Pipit

A couple of good Gateshead birds over the last few days. First up was a Barnacle Goose that Lee H. had dropping in at Lamseley, just as the light was fading on the 11th. A dash over and we were still able to pick it out of the Greylag in the near dark. The female Pintail was feeding with Mallard in the small pool in front of the hide.

Next up was the Rock Pipit that David A. found at Dunston on the 16th. A couple of hours the next day failed to turn up a bird that I've hoping for and put in a fair bit of effort looking for over the last few years. It was looking like another dip yesterday, but as I was standing on the promenade talking to David the Pipit dropped in. It was flitting along the edge of the promenade wall, so no chance of a photo before it disappeared. Here's one of David's from the 16th.

Rock Pipit (David Atkinson)
Seawatching has been a bit curtailed with Christmas shopping, but I managed a good watch on the 15th with Pomarine Skua, Bonxie and Great Northern Diver. Full results here.

The Barnacle Goose was again at Lamesley today along with the Pintail, 4 Wigeon and 5 Gadwall.

Barnacle Goose

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Dusky and Pallid

An early start and down to Beeley in the Peak District this morning. We were caught up in traffic through Chesterfield and arrived in the half-light and rain to news that the Dusky Thrush had already shown. A tense ten minutes then cracking views as it moved around the orchard. Unfortunately the light was so bad that even at ultra-high ISO my photos were just blurs. Fortunately after we had tucking into sausage sarnies the rain stopped and the thrush reappeared. Difficult to photograph, as it stuck to the apple trees, but you can see what it is...

Dusky Thrush

From here it was across country to Welwick at Spurn. A few minutes wait until a Hen Harrier drifted through and two Merlin were sitting on posts on the marsh. A Water Pipit flew over and then the prize, a cracking juvenile Pallid Harrier.

Pallid Harrier

Hen Harrier
An excellent day out. Thanks to Dave for driving and Metallica for the sound track.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016


With a warm southerly we were not expecting much on this morning's seawatch. We stuck it out and were rewarded with 2 Black-throated Diver and 2 Glaucous Gull. Full results here.

Glaucous Gull
Back in Gateshead, Lamesley finally paid off with a female Pintail, my first in Gateshead for years. Also here were 5 Gadwall and 4 Wigeon.

At Burdon Moor, no sign of any Jack Snipe, but the two Stonechat were still hanging around. 2 Buzzard and a Red Kite drifted over.


Seawatching has been steady away, but we have managed to set a new December day record of 6 Sooty Shearwater and an all time day record of 50 Long-tailed Duck.

A trip up to Bolam on the 1st produced distant views of the Smew and a fly-by Kingfisher.