Sunday, 15 October 2017

Patch awesomeness!

With a sunny, relatively warm morning we decided to have our fourth attempt at seeing or at least hearing the Cetti's Warbler which had been singing at Chevingtonfor the last few days...

We arrived at the hide in the SE corner of the north pool and sure enough the Cetti's Warbler was singing from the reeds. My dad picked up a Bittern flying above the reeds which I managed to get onto just as a gull forced it to land in the reeds. Our first of two juvenile Marsh Harriers of the morning also appeared over the reeds and a Grey Plover flew over our heads calling.

We were all stood listening to the Cetti's when a rolling 'kwip' came from above us. In my head I thought to myself that that sounded a lot like a Bee-eater but this was October in Northumberland. I looked up just in case and got a bit of a shock when I saw the distinctive undulating flight and spiky shape of a Bee-eater overhead. My dad also got onto the bird at this point and we called it to get the other birders onto it.

Thankfully everyone was quickly onto the Bee-eater when I suddenly realised there was another a short way behind it. Wow.

I got them in my scope and watched them for perhaps four or five minutes as they made their way north. They were just silhouettes for the most of the time, but every now and again the sun caught their plumage as they banked, revealing the black-bordered orange underwing, yellow throat and bright green upperparts of the two juvenile Bee-eaters.

All eight birders were left feeling a bit incredulous that we'd just seen two Bee-eaters fly over East Chevington in the middle of October!

* Check out Stewart Sexton's blog for his great account of the days events, complete with sketches here. The nine birders who saw the Bee-eaters were JF, TF, ADMc, SS, JWR, AC, BB, GW, CB.

Everything else was slightly forgotten about although a juvenile Black Tern gave a brief flyby and Peregrine was over Druridge.

PWC 2017
Species: 180
Points: 271

It's already a record year for me doing Patchwork Challenge, could it get any better..?

Pink-footed Geese heading south

The juvenile Red-necked Phalarope also remains at Druridge Pools.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Goose-fest 300...

We headed out the house this morning with the intention of seeing my 300th species for the county. Our target was the Richardson's Cackling Goose in Budle Bay although we weren't too hopeful on the way as we'd only heard negative news so far...

When we arrived the difficulty of the task was apparent immediately. There were a minimum of 5000 Barnacle Geese and 2000 Pink-footed Geese and they were all very distant from the Harper's Heugh viewpoint. Eventually though a Canada-type was picked up asleep on the estuary. 

Once it finally woke up it was hard to tell whether it was the Cackling or Todd's due to the extreme distance. However, this was made much easier when another birder picked up the Richardson's Cackling Goose in a much closer flock of Barnacles in one if the fields. It was quite distinctive when views were reasonable. Also at this point the Todd's Canada Goose woke up and walked around a bit.

Over the next hour or two the Cackling Goose returned to the bay before once again flying into the fields. My dad also picked up another Todd's Canada Goose in the bay feeding alongside a Greylag.

All photos and videos below were taken by S. Clifton and used here with permission. The videos should be viewed in HD...

Richardson's Cackling Goose - note how it is a similar size to the Barnacles, with a short neck, compact shape, square-looking head and a short bill.
The first Todd's Canada Goose - very distant on the mudflats, this was the smaller of the two Todd's though still noticebly bigger than the Barnacle. It's rear end was quite long, while it's neck appeared shorter than our 'native' Canadas. The breast also appeared quite dark. 
Todd's Canada Goose number two - the larger of the two birds, its shape looked more similar to our normal Canada Geese, although it was visibly smaller than the nearby Greylag. British Canadas are almost always larger than Greylags. 
And a video of each bird...

On the way home the Red-necked Phalarope at Druridge while a Slavonian Grebe and Velvet Scoter were off Chevington burn mouth. 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017


Was great to watch this smart juvenile Red-necked Phalarope doing its thing at Druridge last night - video should be viewed in HD at 1080p

Great White Egret flying around Chevington on Sunday evening. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017


This Barred Warbler was one of three sylvia warblers in an elder at the entrance to Druridge Pools this morning...

As well as this Garden Warbler and a female Blackcap.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

More decent birding...

Yesterday we had another really enjoyable day's birding and it was hard to pick a highlight...

Juvenile Long-tailed Skua in the gloom at Goswick.

An educational adult White-winged Black Tern off Stag Rocks. The views were better than these suggest! Videos should be viewed in HD at 1080p. 2 juvenile Black Terns were also offshore.

A reuturn visit to the Ryhope SCOPS OWL with my dad...

Spotted Redshank at Cresswell Pond

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Cryptic duo...

Really wasn't expecting to see this combination in an evening. Not complaining though!

The SCOPS OWL in Ryhope - video should be viewed in HD at 1080p

Nightjar at St. Mary's Island
Also worthy of a mention was the Quail flushed while walking through the dunes at Hadston last week. A lifer we've been trying to see for a long time!

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sabine's Gull

After seeing some good reports from elsewhere on the coast we decided to head out for a bit of seawatching at Snab Point this afternoon. We stayed for about an hour and a half, with close Great and Arctic Skuas good to see, as was one of the Sooty Shearwaters being reasonably close inshore.

However the highlight came at 4:26pm when I got onto an interesting gull coming north. We quickly realised that it was a juvenile Sabine's Gull and I was able to take some record video of the bird as the slow flight and long range meant it was on view for a good few minutes.

Our totals for the 90 minutes included 3 Sooty and 3 Manx Shearwaters, 8 Great and 7 Arctic Skuas and a lone Pintail and male Velvet Scoter.

Highlights of two and a half hours at Newbiggin yesterday included 4 Sooties, 29 Manxies, 6 Velvet Scoters and 4 Taiga Bean Geese expertly identified by some of the other birders on site.

I've had to stablise the video which means it doesn't look as high quality as it should, although it is best viewed in HD by selecting 1080p on the youtube website or app.

Sabine's Gull

Thursday, 14 September 2017

North and South Uist - August

Here's a very late selection of photos from our trip to the Outer Hebrides in early August...

Hebridean Song Thrush
Hebridean Wren

Juvenile Redpoll

Golden Eagle vs Buzzard

Juvenile Hen Harrier
Ringed Plover

Great Yellow Bumblebee
Corn Bunting

Friday, 1 September 2017

Red-necked Grebe...

Probably my best ever views of this species just off Druridge Links this afternoon. It looked stunning through the scope, the videograbs again fail to do it justice...

Video should be viewed in HD at 1080p