Sunday, 23 April 2017


Slow migration with the continuing lacklustre temperature, but I was pleased with a Whimbrel on the top of Burdon Moor tonight.

Last night a quick run up the coast after work started well with an Iceland Gull low over the car at the outskirts of Ashington. The Black Tern was still at East Chevington initially sitting on a rock in the north pool before feeding with Common Tern. Also here were 2 Whooper Swan and a reeling Grasshopper Warbler.

Phonescoped Black Tern
A quick stop at Cresswell gave great views of a Barn Owl.

Barn Owl

Mid-week the Green-winged Teal eventually showed at Hauxley, along with 2 Spoonbill at Druridge.

Phonescoped Green-winged Teal
In Gateshead the Iceland Gull has been off and on Lamesley and there has been a scattering of Common Sandpiper here and at Shibdon.

Common Sandpiper

Monday, 17 April 2017


A drake Scaup found at Shibdon this morning did the decent thing and hung around until I had finished work. This is the first in Gateshead since another drake commuted between Shibdon and Watergate in the Spring of 2012. Also here was a Black-tailed Godwit.


Yesterday I managed to catch up with the Iceland Gull at Lamesley, where a couple of Black-tailed Godwit have spent the week. Also here was my first singing Sedge Warbler of the year.

Iceland Gull
Black-tailed Godwit
A slow start to April with the odd decent bird. An Osprey over Marley Hill and a brief Harrier species at Burdon Moor on the 5th were the best local and a Crane in the dark at Druridge the best of the rest.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Ring-necked Duck

An excellent morning up in Northumberland. The Ring-necked Duck showed almost immediately at Hauxley in the only sun of the day.

Ring-necked Duck
Down to East Chevington where there was a Slavonian Grebe and 9 Scaup on the North Pool.
A male Marsh Harrier was getting bombarded by a Carrion Crow around the South Pool.

Marsh Harrier
At the burn mouth there were still 3 Shorelark and 32 very showy Twite, until flushed by dog-walkers.


At Druridge a Water Pipit was on show from the Budge Screen. This bird was a bit tatty in mid-moult to summer plumage, but this was joined by another in almost full summer garb. Unfortunately only the tatty bird was close enough for photos.

Water Pipit
The Great White Egret was very distant and also on show were 3 Pintail, 4 Little Egret and a White-fronted Goose.

Great White Egret
6 Avocet were at Cresswell when I had a quick look on the way back south.

This evening the 2 Garganey were still at Shibdon, this time much closer to the hide where they could be heard singing as they displayed to a female Teal.


Last night at Shibdon, as well as the 2 Garganey I saw my first Sand Martin and Jack Snipe of the year.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Glauc pull-back

A couple of morning seawatches from Whitburn, where due to tardiness and leaving early I've managed to miss most of the good birds. Still, I managed my first Sandwich Terns of the year.

A Toad on the Obs path

I've given Gateshead a good thrash, with mixed results. Yesterday's only highlights were a huge flock of 250+ Siskin at Watergate, where a drake Goosander was taking advantage of the lack of dog walkers due to the foul weather. Today I year-ticked Red-legged Partridge at Lamesley before hitting lucky with the juvenile Glaucous Gull just over the Gateshead boundary at Birtley Brick Works. My luck was in when the flock took off and headed north and into Gateshead. I arrived at Lamesley in time to see the Glauc low overhead before it headed high towards Kibblesworth.

Glaucous Gull
A new Gateshead record of 18 Gadwall were also at Lamesley.

I again dipped the Rock Pipit at Dunston for the umpteenth time. The two drake Garganey were still at Shibdon, where they are looking at home and were both displaying to a female Teal.


Monday, 20 March 2017

Like buses

I called in to Shibdon at dusk last night to check for gulls. No gulls, but just as darkness fell I picked up a drake Garganey at the far side of the pond. The first in Gateshead since May 2012. Mike managed to twitch it in the dark, but with no chance of photos I returned this morning.

This morning the one turned into two. One awake, but distant and the other asleep on the main island. Hopefully this is a good omen as last time we had a Garganey, a Black-winged Stilt turned up the following week.

Sleeping Garganey
Some of 35 Shelduck
Paul D had a juv Glaucous Gull at Lamesley at lunch-time, so a bit starting to happen.

Thursday, 16 March 2017


A good seawatch from Whitburn this morning with departing Whooper Swan and 2 Little Egret heading south. The latter still a rare bird from the Obs and the first multiple day-record. With a bit of warmth and a steady south-westerly there was a decent movement of passerines, mostly pipits and wagtails, but also a Snow Bunting.

Not a great deal back in Gateshead, but a tweet from David A got me down to Dunston in time to see the Iceland Gull that he'd found on the Tyne mud. Also here were the 2 Ringed Plover that have been hanging around for the last week.

Juvenile Iceland Gull
A good record at Shibdon was a day-flying Woodcock, presumably disturbed from reserve. I also had at least 5 of these last night, roding at Burdon Moor along with my first bats of the year.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

American Wigeon

A bit chilly this morning, but the conditions looked ideal for displaying raptors, so I headed up to the wilds of Northumberland. Unfortunately the birds weren't playing ball. Hunting Buzzard and Kestrel, plus a very brief Goshawk were all I saw in the first couple of hours. I was then treated to prolonged (though distant) views of a pair of Goshawk chasing each other low over the woods and through the clear fell areas. Also several Crossbill, including a young male drinking from a small puddle in the middle of the road.

From here it was down to Grindon Lough where the American Wigeon eventually gave itself up after two hours scoping in an icy wind. Also here were 13 Russian White-fronted Geese and 3 Pochard.

American Wigeon

Sunday, 26 February 2017


A cracking Whooper Swan at Kibblesworth brickworks this morning. Found yesterday by Chris Bill, this is possibly the bird kicking around Lamesley at the turn of the year. Having spent some time with the local Mutes it is far from timid.


Decent numbers of wildfowl at Lamesley with 27 Wigeon and 9 Gadwall, along with the first returning 3 Redshank of the year. A couple of Lesser Black-backed Gull were on the mud at Dunston while a Mute Swan made a few fly-pasts.

Mute Swan
A quiet month with a couple of trips to Rufforth to see the seagulls. Difficult this year, with all birds distant and jumpy, but we did manage 2 Caspian, a Yellow-legged, plus decent numbers of Iceland and Glaucous. A handful of seawatches at Whitburn have been lacklustre, but a Slavonian Grebe north on the 15th was a star bird.

The best bird in Gateshead has been an Iceland Gull found by Paul H on the playing fields opposite the Cardinal Hume School. This bird has been covering a fairly large area, flying around the roof-tops of the Wrekenton and Low Fell.

The Rock Pipit on the Tyne at Dunston has continued to give me the run-around.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017


A quiet seawatch from Whitburn was livened up by a fly-by Iceland Gull, but little else.

I called in at Washington WT on the way back and paid a tenner for cracking views of the drake Ferruginous Duck.

Ferruginous Duck

Back in Gateshead I failed again to see the Rock Pipit at Dunston, but the Waxwing flock was still at Swalwell.


At Lamesley there was a Barnacle Goose with the Greylag flock, plus 20 Wigeon and 7 Gadwall. By the oak tree there were 50+ Redwing, 20+ Fieldfare, 5 Mistle Thrush, 30+ Linnet and 15+ Greenfinch.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017


A strong south-southeasterly failed to bring much, other than good numbers of Gannet past Whitburn this morning. The crab sandwich team picked up a juvenile Glaucous Gull as it drifted south, just in front of the obs.

Glaucous Gull
An adult Mediterranean Gull was by the cliff-top car park at Marsden.

Mediterranean Gull
A stop-off at Primrose Nature Reserve on the way home gave point blank views of a drake Mandarin.


Yesterday I found a flock of 15 Waxwing on Whickham Bank, Swalwell while stuck in traffic on the way to work. Today the flock had swollen to 37, but stayed distant while I was there.

Shibdon remains quiet with just 8 Shoveler to speak of. A Pink-foot with the Greylag at Lamseley was a Gateshead year tick. Also here were 17 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall and 2 Shoveler.

Friday, 27 January 2017


Yesterday was bloody freezing. After Wednesday's sun, it was cold, grey and windy. Seawatching was slow, but produced a few good birds, with an Iceland Gull and an extremely early Manx Shearwater being the star birds.

Back in Gateshead at Lamesley there were 18 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler and 17 Snipe. At Saltwell along with 53 Tufted Duck there was a pair of Pochard. These were the first in Gateshead since November 2015. A far cry from the hundreds that used to winter at Shibdon in the 80s.


Wednesday, 25 January 2017


A pleasant day out in the sun, around Northumberland. Prestwick Carr was first up where the Great Grey Shrike eventually gave itself up. The bird was about 300m north of the sentry box and showed well, close to the path.

Great Grey Shrike

From here it was up to East Chevington where I was hoping to get some shots of the Shorelark and Twite, but unfortunately the beach had been cleared by a profusion of dog-walkers.

At Ladyburn Lake the Pacific Diver was still present, but spending much of its time sleeping or feeding far from the shore. I did manage a few shots to show the vent stripe and chin strap.

Pacific Diver

Next was North Shields Fish Quay for a quarter of Poor Bens, plus 3 Glaucous and an Iceland Gull.

Glaucous Gull

Iceland Gull