Sunday, 20 October 2013


We received a text about a first winter female Siberian Stonechat at Howick early this afternoon, so about an hour later we headed up there. It showed well all the time we were there and came very close at times.

Siberian Stonechat

Friday, 18 October 2013


One of my relatives found a Western Bonelli's Warbler at Hartlepool Headland earlier in the week. A handily timed teacher strike gave me the opportunity to go and see it. Almost as soon as we arrived at Hartlepool it was on view and continued to show well for the next three hours or so.

We then went to Saltholme but received news that a Coue's Arctic Redpoll at South Gare. That also showed well as soon as we got there. Then we got a text about a Pallid Swift at Hartlepool, so we rushed back to the Headland. That was the third bird to give brilliant views, feeding at about rooftop height. There is now some discussion on birdforum to whether the bird is a Pallid Swift or not, but I'm still leaning towards Pallid with my photos (below) and the views we got in the field. Also seen at various sites were half a dozen Mealy Redpolls and the same number of Brambling.

Note: After some internet debate the Pallid Swift has been reconfirmed (Common fully eliminated).

Western Bonelli's Warbler

Pallid Swift (?)

Coue's Arctic Redpoll (compare the rump to the Mealy Redpoll below. the Arctic is the left hand bird in all three photos)

Mealy Redpoll

Great Spotted Woodpecker


Thursday, 17 October 2013

What a day!!

Had a brilliant days birding in Cleveland today. I got two ticks: Western Bonelli's Warbler and Pallid Swift. Other birds seen include Arctic Redpoll, 5+  Brambling and 6+ Mealy Redpoll. More info and some pics to come tomorrow.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

This weekend's birding

After great seabird counts on Friday we headed up to Snab Point for two and a half hours on Saturday afternoon. The highlight was ticking the commonest bird I hadn't seen; Pomarine Skua. One juvenile flew north close in with two Arctic Skuas. The totals were:

1 Pomarine Skua - north
145 Common Scoters
3 Teal
2 Manx Shearwaters
2 Brent Geese - north
4 Arctic Skua-all north
13 Great Skua
2 Velvet Scoter - north
1 Great Northern Diver - north

The weather forecast looked like it might bring down some migrants so this morning we went to Holy Island. There were a few birds moving, but we failed to spot anything rare. The highlights were a Great Grey Shrike which sat on a bush near the harbour for a few minutes and a couple of Mealy Redpolls which showed extremely well on the Crooked Lonnen. The full totals at Holy Islands were:

30+ Goldcrest
45+ Redwing
2 Woodcock
10+ Song Thrush
20+ Chiffchaff
2 Mistle Thrush
2 Fieldfare
6+ Great Spotted Woodpecker
2 Mealy Redpoll
4 Brambling
3 Siskin
1 Great Grey Shrike
2 Grey Plover
2 Black-tailed Godwit

Mealy Redpoll

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Grey Shrike record shot

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Druridge Subalpine Warbler

An early morning twitch for the Subalpine Warbler gave great views as it fed in a blackthorn bush. Afterwards we went to St. Mary's where we briefly saw a Firecrest and 3 Yellow-browed Warblers.

Subalpine Warbler (I attached the last photo because I'm not sure if the tail pattern helps assign the bird to race).