Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A review of my birding in 2013

2013 started off quite quietly. With an pure white Stoat at Wallington on the 1st. A trip to Teesmouth on the 3rd produced about 35 Snow Buntings and the long staying Black-throated Diver at Hartlepool. The highlight of January was a Cattle Egret which I saw at Holy Island on the 31st.


Black-throated Diver

Cattle Egret

February got underway with White-fronted Geese at Druridge Pools and Grindon Lough on the 16th and 17th. A trip to Teesmouth on the 19th produced a number of good birds: a Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Glaucous Gulls, a Green-winged Teal, 3 Smew, a Bean Goose, a Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank.

Glaucous Gull

March was very quiet with a Smew at Chevington on the 2nd and a Glaucous Gull at North Shields a week later. 43 Waxwings were at Ashington on the 17th.

Glaucous Gull

Things began to pick up in April with my first White Wagtail of the year at Low Newton on the 2nd. The next day I saw a drake Lesser Scaup at Saltholme as well as 3 Glaucous Gulls at Seaton Common. On the 4th I saw 11 Black Grouse at a farm in North Yorkshire.

I saw my first Wheatears and Chiffchaffs on the 7th. I got my first my tick of the year on the 10th when I saw the brilliant male Little Bunting at Elba Park in County Durham. A Black Redstart was in Whitely Bay Cemetery on the 14th.

On the 21st I found a female Blue-headed Wagtail at Bothal. I also saw 13 Yellow Wagtails that day as well as 6 White Wagtails, 4 Marsh Harriers, a Garganey and 2 Long-tailed Ducks. I also found a drake Scaup at Bothal on the 23rd which stayed until the 4th of May.

7 Yellow Wagtails were also at Bothal on the 23rd. A stunning male Blue-headed Wagtail was at St. Mary's on the 29th with at least 7 White Wagtails. Another look at Bothal on the 30th produced a Black-tailed Godwit, the Blue-headed Wagtail, at least 10 Yellow Wagtails and 2 White Wagtails.

White Wagtail

Lesser Scaup

Glaucous Gull

Little Bunting

Black Redstart

Blue-headed Wagtails

Yellow Wagtail


The May of 2013 was undoubtedly the best spring month's birding I've ever had. It started off with a great Purple Heron at Chevington on the 4th followed the next day with a Great White Egret at Hauxley.

I saw 2 Temminck's Stints on the small flash north of Druridge Pools on the 6th as well as a Whimbrel and singles of both White and Yellow Wagtails. 6 Yellow Wagtails and 4 White Wagtails at Cresswell the same day ended a great spring for Wagtails.

Bird of the spring came on the 8th when a stunning male COLLARED FLYCATCHER was found at Low Newton. A Lesser Whitethroat fed alongside the Flycatcher at times.

I had a brilliant day migrant hunting at Holy Island on the 19th, where the highlights were: 3 Red-backed Shrikes (one of which was found by my Dad and the other two by me), an Icterine Warbler which was found by Dad and a great male Lesser Grey Shrike. On the way back I also managed to see a Great Reed Warbler at Chevington.

2 Wood Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers and a Redstart were at Allen Banks on the 27th.

Great White Egret

Red-backed Shrike

Lesser Grey Shrike

Icterine Warbler

Collared Flycaycher

Wood Warbler

The month got underway with 3 Little Gulls at Druridge Pools. On the 9th we had a trip to Cumbria where we managed to see Small Blue at Workington, Marsh Fritillary at Finglandrigg Woods as well as White-faced Darters at another site.

On the 28th me and my uncle started a trip to the Midlands and Wales by going to see a drake Ring-necked Duck at Catterick in North Yorkshire. On the 29th at Barkbooth Lot in Cumbria I saw a female Beautiful Demoiselle and a Small Pearl-bordered Frtitillary. Later that day I saw my first Silver-studded Blues at Prees Heath in the Midlands.

The next day we saw a first-summer male Common Rosefinch at Porth Eilian in Anglesey, as well as a Hairy Dragonfly at nearby Cors Goch. At a site in Snowdonia we saw our first Scarce Blue-tailed Damselflies and a few Keeled Skimmers.

Little Gull

Small Blue

White-faced Darter

Marsh Fritillaries

Beautiful Demoiselle

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Silver-studded Blues

Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly

Common Rosefinch

On my first trip out birding in July I managed to see the stunning adult BRIDLED TERN at Chevington. I also saw it two days later at Cresswell. 33 Black-tailed Godwits were also at Cresswell. On the 21st I saw at least 8 White-beaked Dolphins past Snab Point. Four days later at Chevington there were: a Wood Sandpiper, a Green Sandpiper, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, 2 Little Egret and a Water Rail.

On the 27th I arrived on Mull, where on day one I managed to see 3 White-tailed Eagles, 2 Otters and a Hen Harrier. The next day I saw 2 Golden Eagles. On the 29th I went on a boat trip to try and photograph White-tailed Eagles, which was a success with 9 being seen throughout the day. The 31st saw 3 more Golden Eagles as well as 2 juvenile Cuckoos and a Golden-ringed Dragonfly, and on the 31st I saw a Corncrake on Iona.

Bridled Tern

White-tailed Eagles


The first two days of August were spent on Mull where in those two days the hightlight was a Northern Emerald dragonfly. On arriving back home I rushed to Chevington to see the Spotted Crake. It continued to show into September and quite well at times. 8 Little Gulls were seen throughout August with the highest count being 4 at Chevington on the 5th.

On the 10th I saw a juvenile White-winged Black Tern at Chevington and on the 18th we saw a adult Pectoral Sandpiper at Low Newton as well as a Garganey at Cresswell. A Mediterranean Gull was at Bothal on the 23rd. While unsuccessfully looking for the Booted Warbler at Hadston Carrs on the 25th I saw a Red-necked Grebe fly north. A Black Tern was also at Chevington that day as well as a Spotted Redshank.

A seawatch at Stag Rocks on the 28th resulted in my first Balearic Shearwaters as well as 2 Black Terns, 5+ Sooty Shearwaters, a Little Gulls and 15 Roseate Terns. On the 31st I saw my highest count of Ruff with 65 at Chevington and my highest count of Black-tailed Godwits with 61 also at Chevington.

Little Gull

White-winged Black Tern

Pectoral Sandpiper

Roseate Terns

The first bird in a great month was an adult White-rumped Sandpiper at Chevington on the 2nd. One of my highlights of the year was self-finding a Thrush Nightingale at Holy Island on the 7th. Also on the 7th at Chevington as well as the White-rumped Sandpiper there were: the juvenile Spotted Crake from August again, 3 Little Stints, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, 5 Ruff, 5 Black-tailed Godwits, a Black Tern and 3 Pintail.

After the excitement of the 7th my Dad found a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper at Bothal two days later as well as 2 Garganey. On the 20th I saw an adult American Golden Plover at St. Mary's, which showed really well. Another juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper was at Cresswell on the 22nd.

Yellow-browed Warblers were at St. Mary's on the 26th, 2 were at St. Mary's on the 28th and 3 were at Whitburn also on the 28th. On the 28th 3 Richard's Pipits were at Whitburn as well as a Whinchat.

White-rumped Sandpiper

Thrush Nightingale record shot

Black Tern

Curlew Sandpiper

American Golden Plover

Pectoral Sandpiper

Richard's Pipit

The first good bird of October came on the 5th when I saw a immature male (Eastern) Subalpine Warbler at Druridge Pools. It was followed a week later by me finally seeing a Pomarine Skua, which flew past Snab Point. A trip to Holy Island on the 13th resulted in a Great Grey Shrike and a couple of Mealy Redpolls.

A teacher strike on the 17th allowed me to go to Teesmouth, where we had a great days birding. First of all I saw my first Western Bonelli's Warbler, followed by my second Coue's Arctic Redpoll and then by my first Pallid Swift. At least 8 Mealy Redpolls and a couple of Brambling were also seen on the 17th. Another great bird was a first-winter female Siberian Stonechat, which showed brilliantly at Howick on the 20th.

Eastern Subalpine Warbler

Western Bonelli's Warbler

Coue's Arctic Redpoll

Pallid Swift

Mealy Redpoll

Siberian Stonechat

On the 3rd we went to the Long Nanny to look for Shorelark, and although we failed to find any Larks we did manage to find 7 Snow Bunting, 30+ Twite and a Jack Snipe. We had a good day at Chevington on the 10th, where I found a Glaucous Gull and a Jack Snipe and Water Rail were also present. At Cresswell the same day there was a Black-necked Grebe and 2 Scaup.

On the 16th we saw a first-winter Lesser Grey Shrike at the Long Nanny; my second of the year. It was followed by a adult Bonaparte's Gull at Stag Rocks the same day with 2 Velvet Scoter, a Slavonian Grebe and 8 Long-tailed Ducks also from the rocks.

Lesser Grey Shrike

Bonaparte's Gull

My first trip birding in December on the 8th was highly productive with a juvenile IVORY GULL being seen. It showed brilliantly at Seahouses Golf Course.

On the 15th I visited Lingham Lake, Nosterfield in North Yorkshire to look through the Gull roost. The highlight was a first-winter Caspian Gull. A Yellow-legged Gull and 2 Mediterranean Gulls were also present.

I eventually got out birding again on the 28th, when I found my first Black-throated Diver in Northumberland at East Chevington, which was shortly followed by an incredible flyby by a Bittern.

Ivory Gull

Caspian Gull (photographed by my Uncle)


Black-throated Diver

Overall: 231 (exactly the same as 2012!) (Including 12 BB Rarities: COLLARED FLYCATCHER, Lesser Grey Shrike (x2), Great Reed Warbler, BRIDLED TERN, Thrush Nightingale, 'Eastern' Subalpine Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Pallid Swift, Siberian Stonechat, Bonaparte's Gull, IVORY GULL)

Top 5 birds of the year
  1. Thrush Nightingale (Self-found) - Holy Island, September
  2. IVORY GULL - Seahouses, December
  3. COLLARED FLYCATCHER - Low Newton, Many
  4. BRIDLED TERN - East Chevington & Cresswell, July
  5. Purple Heron - East Chevington, May

Good self-finds in 2013 (A combined list of me and my Dad)
Yellow-legged Gull, Blue-headed Wagtail, Red-backed Shrikes (x3), Icterine Warbler, THRUSH NIGHTINGALE, Garganey (x3), Pectoral Sandpiper, Black Tern (x2), Balearic Shearwater (x2), Glaucous Gull, Black-throated Diver (good Northumberland record).

Targets for 2014
In mid May to late May I am on holiday in Suffolk, so I might get another shot at ticking off Woodlark. Something even rarer would be nice, like a Savi's Warbler or Red-footed Falcon. At home my two target birds are Red-rumped Swallow and White-billed Diver.