Friday, 9 April 2021

Spring underway in style...

 Despite less than ideal winds, spring has slowly started to get going since my last blog post. The undoubted highlight was the male Citrine Wagtail at Lynemouth Flash on the 3rd. An usual record being so early in the spring, and also because it turned up at exactly the same place as the showy female in 2017

Other nice sightings have included the Todd's Canada Goose again, as well as an adult Greenland White-front and 3 Russian White-fronts, all in the Cresswell area, a Black Redstart at Snab Point, Glaucous Gull past East Chevington and my first Willow Warbler of the year. 

Citrine Wagtail - please view the video in HD at 1080p

Todd's Canada Goose with the Pink-feet west of the hide at Cresswell

Black Redstart

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Back in business...

After restrictions were loosened earlier in the week I was keen to get back out to Druridge. I visited both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, with the latter being especially enjoyable with a nice selection of migrants around...

My first stop on Tuesday was at the north end of Cresswell Pond. A couple of smart male Wheatears were immediately on view, and a group of 6 Barnacle Geese were among the Pink-feet in the field north-west of the causeway. A scan of the rest of the pond from the north end provided a nice surprise in the form a pair of Garganey snoozing in the south-west corner, although, despite eventually going for a swim, remained out of view from the hide. 

Heading north to Druridge Pools, a look from the south-facing hide provided some nice views of the Water Pipit seen earlier in the day. A smart individual, starting to show some pink and blue tones to its plumage. Some of the 23 Black-tailed Godwits present were also starting to show some summer plumage, and my first Little Ringed Plover of the year was nice to see. 

Continuing to East Chevington, the number of Sand Martins feeding over the North Pool was impressive, perhaps numbering as many as 200, and I eventually managed to pick out a Swallow. A female Scaup was on the pool, while a lone Whooper Swan dropped into roost. I noticed that the sea was extremely calm so decided to have a scan from the dunes. This proved to be a good decision as a Black-throated Diver was offshore, and as many as 54 Red-throated Divers and 16 Red-breasted Mergansers were visible on the glassy water. Three more Wheatears were a nice way to round Tuesday off. 

On Wednesday a sea fret had arrived, giving a much more wintery feel to the weather. The highlight was a group of 44 Whooper Swans on Cresswell Pond, as well as a couple of Sandwich Terns flying over.

Water Pipit

Whooper Swan coming into land at East Chevington

Sand Martins


Whooper Swans on Cresswell Pond

A few phonescoped photos...



Distant Garganey!

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Bothal waders...

It was nice to round off my 5 mile list with a Knot on the east side of Bothal Pond on Friday, especially as it gave some really good views close to the hedge on the south side. Just the second one I've seen there in 10 years of regular visits. The long-staying Spotted Redshank was present too. 

Saturday also gave a final surprise with an Osprey over Morpeth...


Spotted Redshank (with Common Redshank in the last photo)


Thursday, 18 March 2021

Still going...

 It's been over a month since my last blog post and, while still largely limited in where I can go, it's been another decent month for local birding. Here are some of the best bits since mid-February, the first two taken with my DSLR...

Woodcock during the cold spell in mid-February

Tawny Owl

And some phonescoped pics of varying quality...

The really smart drake Bufflehead at Cresswell Pond 

Bothal Pond's first Red-necked Grebe

Tundra Bean Goose with the Pink-feet at Longhirst Flash...

...later joined by a group of 7 Russian White-fronted Geese

Sunday, 7 February 2021

Lockdown images

Here are a few of my highlights from the current lockdown (some taken with my DSLR and some phonescoped). It has been surprisingly productive despite having not been outside the five mile radius of my house!

Todd's Canada Goose with Pink-feet in the fields near Longhirst Flash on the 29th of January - likely the same bird that I found at Hadston in December. I didn't expect to come across it again!

A nice juvenile Iceland Gull along with the returning Hooded Crow near the entrance to Linton Pond this morning. 

One of at least six Twite with the Linnets at West Shield Hill.


Female Goosander

Thursday, 31 December 2020

12 images from 2020...

 Despite all the other problems with 2020, the birding has been memorable, in fact it may have been my best ever in terms of quality and quantity. Splitting my time between home in Northumberland and uni in Norfolk certainly helped with that too! Choosing twelve photos has been difficult but here they are, and will hopefully be a good overview of an great year of birding...

Back when car sharing was still allowed, being offered a lift to see the male Black-throated Thrush at Whipsnade Zoo in January was a highlight of the first part of the year. 

My highlight of the spring lockdown was finding a pair of Willow Tits nest-building close to home - one of Britain's fastest declining birds.

After the frustrations of lockdown, June provided some of the birds of the year. The superb Asian Desert Warbler on Holy Island was an unexpected first for Northumberland.  

I was able to catch up with the incredibly showy Blyth's Reed Warbler at Far Ings NR in June. Don't think I'll ever get better views of one!

This Greater Sand Plover hung around at Tyninghame Bay until Scottish travel restrictions were lifted in July, allowing us to make the short journey from Northumberland into Lothian to catch up with an attractive bird. 

My highlight of the year was getting stunning views of the Sooty Tern at Cullernose Point in July. Having seen a brief flyby at Newbiggin last year, getting prolonged views of it flying around and on the cliffs just below us was memorable!

A fortuitously timed family holiday in the west of Scotland during the summer provided a memorable encounter with a group of summer plumage Black-throated Divers on a sea loch. Having positioned myself in some rocks, I was able to watch as they made their way closer and closer while hunting for fish. I was able to finally decide on my favourite British bird! Other highlights of the trip included Golden Eagles, Hen Harriers, Storm Petrels, Pine Marten, Minke Whales, Common Dolphins and a Northern Emerald dragonfly.

The smart adult Pacific Golden Plover at Longhoughton Steel was a highlight of late summer. Meanwhile, a productive period of seawatching included Long-tailed and Pomarine Skuas, Sabine's Gull and Black Terns.

The Brown Shrike at Warham Greens was an early indication of a good autumn, and gave excellent views as it hunted for insects from the low vegetation. Other early autumn highlights in and around Norfolk included Caspian and Gull-billed Terns and two Honey Buzzards.

An excellent period of birding in late September and through October gave me the chance to see a couple of my Northumbrian bogey birds - this Radde's Warbler in Southwold and a Rustic Bunting in Lowestoft.

A Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin at Stiffkey was something I certainly didn't expect to see in mid-October! Other autumn rarities and scarcities included two Red-flanked BluetailsSteppe Grey, Great Grey and Red-backed Shrikes, two Stejneger's Stonechats, Pallas's and Barred Warblers, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Lesser Yellowlegs and Long-tailed Skua, as well as numerous Yellow-browed Warblers and Caspian Gulls. Then it was back into lockdown again!

I was able to return home in early December and was pleased to find this Todd's Canada Goose at Hadston Carrs on the 9th. A distinctive bird, it hung around for most of a week, giving local birders a chance to catch up with it. 

So there's twelve of my favourite birds during 2020. However, narrowing it down to these meant I wasn't able to include many other great birds during the year! 

I hope everyone who reads this has also been able to take relief in Britain's birds and wildlife during a difficult year, and has a happy and healthy 2021!