The highlight of January was the 1st-winter male Desert Wheatear which I saw at Newbiggin on the 2nd. Bean Geese were seen at two sites in January with the biggest number being 10+ at Budle Bay on the 15th. A drake Ring-necked Duck was at Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park on the 21st. On the 21st I saw a Iceland Gull at Tynemouth.
On the 17th of February I finnally caught up with the Kumlien's Gull at Hartlepool Headland and three days later I saw the Great Grey Shrike at Prestwick Carr.
|Kumlien's Gull (right)|
March got underway with a Goshawk which I saw at Harwood Forest on the 11th. A week later I saw a Glossy Ibis at RSPB Saltholme which was rung as a nestling at the Coto Donana, Spain in 2009, and the same day, a Green-winged Teal at nearby Dorman's Pool.
|Green-winged Teal (left)|
A second-summer Crane near Cresswell on the 2nd got April underway.On the 4th I saw a summer-plumage Water Pipit at RSPB Saltholme as well as a Bittern. A 'Continental' Cormorant was at Bothal Pond on the 17th and a Hooded Crow was at Cresswell on the 29th.
A stunning male Red-backed Shrike at Low Hauxley on the 11th, got May underway and was followed the next day by a Nightingale at Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park. On the 17th I managed to see the summer plumage White-rumped Sandpiper at Holy Island as well as a 'Taiga' Bean Goose and a Osprey the same day. I also saw my first Pearl-bordered Fritillaries during May.
At the begining of June I went on holiday to Norfolk via Woodwalton Fen in Cambridgeshire, where i saw 15+ Red-eyed Damselflies. Two days later I saw 2 Stone-curlews at Weeting Heath as well as a male Golden Oriole , 3+ Scarce Chasers, 20+ Hairy Dragonflies at Lakenheath Fen. On the 6th I saw 10+ Norfolk Hawkers at Upton Broad and a Swallowtail and 2 Variable Damselflies at Strupshaw Fen. I also managed to see a female Black-winged Stilt at Cley though it took 4 attempts.The next day I managed to see the extremely showy Marsh Warbler at Hadston Carrs.
|Golden Oriole record shot|
July got off to a great start with a summer-plumage female Red-necked Phalarope on the 1st. A week later I saw another male Red-backed Shrike at East Chevington, which was followed by a Pectoral Sandpiper at Cresswell on the 15th. 10+ Northern Brown Argus were at Bishop Middleham Quarry on the 23rd.
My highlight of 2012 came on the 6th of August when I saw the stunning adult Stilt Sandpiper at Low Newton. I also saw 2 Purple Hairstreaks and a White-letter Hairstrak in North Yorkshire the same day. From the 11th to the 18th I went on holiday to Islay in the Inner Hebrides, where the highlights were: a Golden Eagle, at least 50 Chough, 4 Hen Harriers, 3 Ospreys, 5 Common Dolphins and 8 Basking Sharks. On the 28th I visited a reletive in Gloucestershire when I managed to see the adult Long-billed Dowitcher at Slimbridge.
|Stilt Sandpiper (photo by S Clifton)|
On the 8th I saw a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper at RSPB Saltholme. On the 15th me and my Dad found a Yellow-legged Gull at Budle Bay and I saw a adult Long-tailed Skua flying past Hadston Carrs as well as a Red-necked Grebe. The highlight of September came on the 29th when I saw the Arctic Warbler at Holy Island. I saw another Long-billed Dowitcher at Cresswell the next day.
My first trip out birding in October on the 13th resulted in a Blyth's Reed Warbler at St. Mary's Island as well as a Red-breasted Flycatcher and a Yellow-browed Warbler. A week later I finally managed a good view of a Jack Snipe at Cresswell Pond. I also saw a Bittern the same day. On the 27th I got a long awaited tick, in the form of 21 Little Auk at Cullernose Point. I also saw 5 Sooty Shearwaters, 7 Velvet Scoters, 2 Snow Bunting and a Woodcock the same day. I saw another 202 Little Auks at Snab Point two days later.
I saw one of the best birds of the year on the 4th - a juvenile Bee-eater, which showed very well at Seaburn, Co. Durham. It was followed by 44 Waxwings in my garden from the 8th to the 10th. A trip to the Long Nanny on the 18th resulted in a Long-billed Dowitcher and 25 Twite.
|Long-billed Dowitcher (right)|
Me and my Dad found a Great Northern Diver on the 1st at Bothal Pond. I saw my Red Squirrel in Northumberland for quite a long time on the 9th, when I saw 3 at Woodhorn Colliery. I saw a very confiding Jack Snipe in North Yorkshire on Christmas Day.
|Great Northern Diver|
Overall: 230 (Including 8 BB rarities; Desert Wheatear, Black-winged Stlit, Stilt Sandpiper, 3 Long-billed Dowitchers, Arctic Warbler and Blyth's Reed Warbler)
Top 5 birds of the year
1. Stilt Sandpiper - Low Newton
2. Bee-eater - Seaburn
3. Marsh Warbler - Hadston Carrs
4. Little Auks - Cullernose Point & Snab Point
5. Red-necked Phalarope - Backworth Pond
Targets for 2013
I have two target species for 2013, which are Great White Egret and Red-rumped Swallow. I would also like to see a White-tailed Eagle fishing when I go on holiday to Mull in July.