Sunday, 21 September 2014


Every time someone asked me what bird I'd most like to see I would always reply with Fea's Petrel, though I didn't really expect to ever see one, and still thought that when one was reported off Flamborough this morning.

But then it was seen of Seaham. We couldn't resist. Once we got there we heard that it had been seen of Whitburn... Then St. Mary's. Surely we couldn't miss it?

There was an anxious wait and then behind a Sooty Shearwater, the FEA'S PETREL appeared. I almost felt like cheering as it flew north in great light. What a bird!! It was unmistakable with all the main features visible.

While we were there 6 Sooty Shearwaters also flew north, all pretty close in, as well as 7 Manx Shearwaters, 4 Mediterranean Gulls, 4 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and an Arctic Skua.

Not a bad day...

After all the easterlies last week, I have been hoping to have a trip up to Holy Island, and when Saturday came round I was hoping some of the birds seen on Friday might still be there.

We started on the Snook and eventually we found a Yellow-browed Warbler and 2 Redstarts at the Half Moon Slack. At the Snook House a Barred Warbler showed briefly.

As pulled up in the main car park, we got news that the Siberian Stonechat was still at The Lough, so we made our way there via the Crooked Lonnen, where a juvenile Hen Harrier did a nice flyby. On reaching The Lough we found the great first-winter male Siberian Stonechat on view, and before long it was joined by the Red-backed Shrike, which at times sat right alongside the Stonechat. From the hide a stunning Firecrest was showing just outside the hide windows. 2 Whinchats were also on the same fence as the Siberian Stonechat.

We continued round to the Straight Lonnen, where two more Redstarts were in the willows at the north end, with another at Chare Ends.

The Vicar's Garden was a hive of activity with at least 3 Spotted Flycatchers, a Pied Flycatcher and plenty of phylloscs in it.

On the way back to the car another two Pied Flycatchers were in the village along with a calling Yellow-browed Warbler and a Brambling.

Here's the full counts from Holy Island...

1 Siberian Stonechat
1 Red-backed Shrike
1 Firecrest
1 Barred Warbler
2 Yellow-browed Warbler
1 Hen Harrier
2 Whinchats
5 Redstart
3 Pied Flycatcher
3+ Spotted Flycatcher
1 Brambling
1 Lesser Whitethroat
1 Whitethroat
3 Song Thrush
2 Blackcap
1 Reed Warbler
4 Willow Warbler
2 Siskin
5 Wheatear
7 Goldcrest
8 Robin
10 Chiffchaff

On the way home we stopped at Low Newton where a very active and vocal un-ringed Red-breasted Flycatcher was behind the Tin Church. Unfortunately I managed to mess up what could have been a decent photo of this bird.

Siberian Stonechat (with Red-backed Shrike and Reed Bunting!)


Red-backed Shrike

Yellow-browed Warbler

Spotted Flycatcher

Hen Harrier

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Monday, 15 September 2014

RB Fly

Before today I had seen three Red-breasted Flycatchers in Britain, and if you totalled the time I'd spent watching them it would come to about five seconds, so I was keen to see another.

I got back from school and saw that the bird at Druridge Pools had been photographed, so that was our target.

We arrived at the plantation and there it was. We got some very nice views of the first-winter Red-breasted Flycatcher over the next five minutes, but unfortunately the light was terrible, so I'll have to make do with this record shot...

Also a Greenshank flew over and a Barn Owl hunted in the dunes.

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Monday, 8 September 2014

Waders, Wryneck and a Duck

More easterly winds and a bit of rain over Friday night made us think that it might be worth a look at Low Newton for migrants. It soon became apparent that there weren't many there, so we went to have a look at the scrapes. The number of waders there was impressive, best of all were the Ruff. Here's the highlights...

104 Ruff !
9 Curlew Sandpipers
2 Little Stints
16 Black-tailed Godwits

Also in the area were...

1 Peregrine
1 Willow Tit
4 Wheatear
2 Blackcap
4 Yellow Wagtail
1 Whimbrel

On the way home we stopped in at Castle Island to have a look at the reported Blue-winged Teal. It was still present and showed nicely on the ground and in flight. A hybrid hasn't been completely eliminated yet. There were a few more wader at Castle Island...

1 Spotted Redshank
3 Greenshank
1 Little Egret
5 Ruff
5 Black-tailed Godwit

1 Kingfisher

Note there is no white trailing edge, it's only a highlight in the last photo.

On Sunday I had a cricket match in Alnmouth, so we stopped for an hour at Hadston to try and see the Wryneck. At first it was quite skulking in the long grass, but it then flew up into a nearby bush and gave some great views. Wrynecks are surely one of my favourite birds!