After dipping the Hen Harrier at Dormans Pool last week I decided to give it a bit more time today. A long wait from 08.00 to 13.05 before it finally showed, giving excellent views as it hunted over the reed beds. 3 Bearded Tits zipping over the reeds while waiting were a bonus and a county tick to boot.
On Saturday, after a quiet seawatch I had another look at the Richard's Pipit, but just brief flight views and strangely still not calling. At Blaydon the Waxwing flock that George had found had increased to 14 and were feeding in McDonald's car park.
A Great Northern Diver was the highlight of a quiet seawatch from Whitburn this morning in pretty pleasant conditions.
The Richard's Pipit was showing at the big mound, the Leas, South Shields. Typical views in flight and standing tall in the long grass. Strangely silent.
From here it was down to Seaton Common where the 6 Taiga Bean Geese were just north of the Zinc Works Road.
Taiga Bean Goose
The 2 Tundra Bean Geese on Cowpen Marsh took a bit more effort, but I eventually got decent views as they fed with Canadas and Greylags. I missed the Hen Harrier at Dormans Pool by 2 mins and a search of the area gave no joy.
On the 6th December I had my best ever views of a Great white Egret at the Sunderland Academy.
Great White Egret
The less said about Anglesey and Royal Terns the better...
I also had a less than successful day looking for Arctic and Mealy Redpoll, but this inquisitive Otter helped make up for it.
A message from Paul D this morning that a Mandarin was in front of the hide at Shibdon dragged me out of bed and through the traffic. By the time I got there the Mandarin had moved off, but I did manage to pick up a Knot circling high over the pond. Eventually it dropped and landed on a small island on the west side of the pond. The last wader that I had on this island was the Black-winged Stilt back in May 2012. Knot are surprisingly rare in Gateshead with the last in 2011 and only a handful of records.
A trip up to Northumberland on the 27th gave distant views of the adult Bonaparte's Gull at Bamburgh, where there was also 2 Water Pipit, a flyby Snow Bunting and a Fieldfare that came in off the sea and landed on the seaweed.
At Buston Links the four Shore Lark took a bit of effort to find before eventually giving good views, until they were flushed by a dog walker.
Yesterday I spent all afternoon stuck at work and praying that the Little Swift at Hartlepool would go to roost. Luckily it did ad I was there before dawn to see it sleeping below the eaves of a bow window on Cliff Terrace. As it got light it started to twitch, then launched itself into the air and towards the sea. After going missing for a few minutes it spent the next two hours bombing backwards and forwards along the promenade. Unbelievable views as it frequently flew past less than three feet away. Incredibly hard to photograph, the following were all I had from 1250 blurs.
Popped down to Dalton Park, Murton this afternoon where after a bit of a wait the Hoopoe popped out and gave reasonable views as it moved around the landscaped pit heaps. Shame it was so overcast that it was almost dark.
Looking at my phone too late, slow traffic and fading daylight meant that I dipped the Dusky Warbler in Marsden Quarry. Better luck this morning, when after a bit of a run around with the bird constantly calling from thick cover, it eventually gave itself up. Good close views, but photos were hampered by foliage, bad light and drizzle.
Yesterday a trip up to Amble gave instant success with the long staying Red-necked Grebe in the marina.
Last Wednesday an afternoon jaunt up to East Chevington gave good views of a pair of Bewick's Swan.
Still on a high from the Catbird I was back in Whitburn Obs on Tuesday morning. Pretty quiet for seabirds, but calling, flyover Short-toed Lark was a fine addition to the Obs list and an excellent id from Dave Foster.
From there it was over to Jarrow where the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper was happy to saunter past at close range as it fed along the banks of the River Don.
Late on Wednesday a superb inland find from Ross Ahmed was a duo of Gull-billed Tern at a gravel pit to the north west of Hexham. Bizarrely it later emerged that someone else had found the birds some two weeks before, but supressed the news. Go figure..
Armed with information from Ross I was on site at dawn the next morning with just two others and was rewarded with both terns dropping in with gulls at 08.00. A bit distant and although good scope views, too far for photos.
A small flock Brambling on the way home were a welcome year tick.