Sunday, 14 July 2019

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Sooty Tern!

This morning I was pretty relaxed when I got up, even when reports of a Sooty Tern moving north in Yorkshire started to emerge. I felt that even if it did make it to Northumberland then it wouldn't be until later in the day. However, the speed of the reports coming in from different locations perhaps suggested that the bird was moving faster than I expected.

Soon the report I was waiting for came through - it had been seen at Whitburn. I got straight into the car and set off to Newbiggin. The drive felt a lot longer than usual and I seemed to get stuck behind slow moving traffic for the whole journey, but thankfully I reached the small crowd at Church Point at around 10:50.

I had just enough time to set up my scope and have a couple of scans before, out of nowhere, the SOOTY TERN was flying in front of us at incredibly close range. The views were stunning and the bird unmistakable with its head pattern, bill and colouration being very striking.

By the time I had reached for my camera the bird was more distant so the photo below is pretty rubbish, with much better being taken by others when the bird was at its closest (these can be seen on Twitter). However, this was one of those moments when photos were an afterthought and I just enjoyed such an awesome view of a much wanted lifer!

Monday, 8 July 2019

Canary Islands Stonechats

Canary Islands Stonechats - taken at Barranco de Rio Cabras, Fuerteventura - 20th February 2019

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Friday, 28 June 2019

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Spanish Sparrows...

Now exams are over and the birding has quietened down a bit, I have more time to go over the rest of my photos from Fuerteventura earlier in the year...

Spanish Sparrows - Los Molinos Reservoir, Fuerteventura, 20th February

Monday, 10 June 2019

An exciting couple of weeks...

So, having complained a lot about how poor this spring has been for birding, the last few weeks (basically since our day on Holy Island on the 18th) have been much better. Here's a few of the best bits, excluding the Baillon's Crake I posted about previously...

On the 2nd of June we had a day down on Teesside. The highlight was getting a brief view of the singing Great Reed Warbler, although this was proving difficult in the wind. There were also impressive number of Avocets in the area and we had our first Little Terns of the year.

The next day, the roaming Baikal Teal turned up at East Chevington. We headed up to see it for insurance as much as anything! I'm not overly keen on its credentials so will be keeping it off my list for now. If it gets accepted in the end then I may well put it on however! I have also seen the Teal at Druridge Pools where my first Little Gull of the year was present.

On Saturday, we got up ready for a day on Holy Island, but on seeing the weather outside, decided to go out in the evening instead. However, word came through of a White-billed Diver passing Whitburn so I made the short journey to Newbiggin. A short wait ensued before I picked up the White-billed Diver flying north, and while a bit distant, it was still distinctive.

We did head up to Holy Island mid-afternoon but failed to find a single migrant. A Spoonbill from the causeway was some consolation. On the way home we called into Cresswell Pond where we got some decent views of the Marsh Warbler in the north end willows. Another Spoonbill was here too.

Finally, yesterday I made an evening trip to Druridge Pools after IR relocated the male Red-backed Shrike seen there earlier in the day. It gave stunning views as it sang from the bushes just north of the turning circle and providing me with my best ever views of a male bird.

Red-backed Shrike at Druridge Pools

Marsh Warbler at Cresswell Pond
Baikal Teal
Spoonbill at Cresswell
Little Gull at Druridge

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Baillon's Crake at Monks House!

By 5pm yesterday I had been up since 9am doing revision, and I was bored. Very bored.

That all changed at 17:55 when news came through of a Baillon's or Little Crake at Monks House Pool. I love crakes with their speckled blue and orange-brown plumage along with their skulking and hard to see nature, so the twitch was a no-brainer really. 

Dinner was hastily eaten, and I promised to continue my revision in the car. We arrived 40 minutes later to find a crowd of about 20 local birders waiting on site. A drake Garganey was showing nicely and calling but nobody really thought we'd see the crake. 

However, my dad suddenly picked it up lurking in the rushes. Panic ensued, though I was able to get onto it pretty quickly, and it wasn't long before everyone had it in their scopes. It was a superb BAILLON'S CRAKE without a doubt and started to preen right in the open. Everyone was stunned to be seeing this at all, let alone in Northumberland.

Over the next half an hour or so, the Crake continued to show on and off as it worked its way around the thick vegetation at the north end of the pool, and came out into the open again to preen on at least two occasions. It was awesome seeing one of my most wanted birds for the UK so well and a lot better than my photos below suggest!

With exams the next day we had to leave, but it still hasn't been seen again since we last glimpsed it running between two rushes...

We've actually had a decent couple of weeks in the NE and more on that when I get time...

Baillon's Crake - video should be viewed in HD at 1080p

Monday, 20 May 2019

Broad-bill and Red-spots...

With such a quiet spring, we were pretty looking forward to Saturday and the promising weather charts. There's really only one place we go when the conditions look like they did - Holy Island.

We arrived on the island for around 7am, and started at Chare Ends. It was immediately apparent that the fall of common migrants we'd hoped for had not taken place, and in fact, we didn't see a single migrant for our first hour and a half on the island!

Things picked up when we got word of a Bluethroat at the Excavations. We were nearby so headed straight there. When we reached the area, the bird had gone to ground, but after a bit of searching, the male Red-spotted Bluethroat reappeared and showed nicely if briefly.

We continued on and made our way towards the Lough, picking up a Cuckoo and Spotted Flycatcher on the way. On reaching the bushes, a smart male Pied Flycatcher was sat on the fence along with a Redstart. Two showy Lesser Whitethroats were in the bushes by the hide.

The Crooked and Straight Lonnens provided a further Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and a couple of male Whinchats. It felt like there was more to be found so (unusually for us) we decided to stay on the island over the high tide and this proved to be a good decision!

Next, we decided to head to Snipe Point where another male Red-spotted Bluethroat had been found. This bird proved much more cooperative, giving superb views as it sang from a dead log on the beach and nearby dunes.

Just after we left this bird, we saw a message from RA about a Broad-billed Sandpiper he'd found on the north shore near the Snook. This is a bit of bogey bird for me having missed them at Druridge, Teesside and North Yorkshire so I got there as quickly as possible.

Having survived the 800 metre run across the sand, we arrived just in time to look through the finder's scope at the Broad-billed Sandpiper before all the waders started to move around with the incoming tide, and the Sandpiper disappeared. Over the next two and a half hours, it was looking unlikely that we would get any better views, but out of nowhere it appeared right in front of the three of us still scanning. We were treated to excellent and prolonged views down to just 15 metres at times  (it was so close we could identify it by the naked eye!!) before it took off and flew north, and it is yet to be seen again. A stunning end to an excellent day!

Broad-billed Sandpiper - video should be viewed in HD at 1080p

Red-spotted Bluethroat - stunning male at Snipe Point

Red-spotted Bluethroat - the other male at the Excavations. Notice the white streaking behind its left eye and much more intense orange breast band compared to the Excavations bird. 
Pied Flycatcher
Lesser Whitethroat
Whinchat - male.
Just a quick note, my A-levels are rapidly approaching so my blog updates may be a bit sparse over the next month or so. I do have plenty of photos from this spring to go through over the summer, which will appear on here at some point. These include more from Fuerteventura, Black-necked Grebes and butterflies from Yorkshire...