Tuesday, 30 August 2016


We were visiting relatives on Teesside this afternoon so decided to leave a bit early and stop at RSPB Saltholme on the way. Before we arrived a Marsh Harrier flew west over our car on the A689 near Wynyard.

On reaching the reserve we headed to the Saltholme Pools Hide where 3 Little Stints were feeding in front of the hide, however two of these birds flew off. At least 15 Black-tailed Godwits, 7 Ruff and 10 Little Egrets were also visible from here along with 2 Pintail and a juvenile Garganey.

Someone strimming in front of the Phil Stead Hide meant that no birds were on show from here, however 2 Greenshank were on the Fire Station Fields along with 2 Green Sandpipers which flew towards the visitor centre.

Our final stop was the hide at Dorman's Pool. A further 6 juvenile Little Stints were here along with 4 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers, 7 Ruff and 2 Black Swan.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Quiet on Holy Island...

Back up to Holy Island this morning with the overnight rain and light south easterlies, however these once again failed to produce a scarcity. Here's the migrant counts...

11 Willow Warbler
2 Whitethroat
1 Spotted Flycatcher
1 Redstart
1 Goldcrest
1 Chiffchaff

Other highlights included a flock of at least 150 Goosander visible off the north shore of the island from the Excavations and an Osprey sat on the Pilgrim's Way marker posts with a fish.

We took a slight detour on the way back and stopped at Budle Bay where the highlight was 2 Spotted Redshanks (a moulting adult and a juvenile). Other birds included 7 Black-tailed Godwit, an adult Mediterranean Gull, a Pintail, Knot, 3 Little Egrets and 2 Goosanders.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Another good morning...

We suspected that the juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was still around Amble so headed there this morning...

On the way we called in at QEII where the juvenile Black Tern was showing really well, however the poor light prevented any really good photos. We arrived at Amble where an adult Curlew Sandpiper was feeding in the seaweed and the returning adult Caspian Gull dropped in.

It was a while before my Dad picked up an interesting gull sat on one of the staithes. We walked to the marina to get a better look and when we got there it was quickly apparent this was the bird. Whether it is a Yellow-legged or not we're not sure about.

While watching the gull the adult White-rumped Sandpiper which I found yesterday was spotted which also gave great views near the lifeboat station before flying upstream. A really good looking bird and my dad even managed to photograph it's white rump in one of three photos he took of it!

On the way back we called in at Druridge Pools for an hour. 5 Curlew Sandpipers and 2 Little Stints remained on the Budge Fields and 2 Spotted Flycatchers were in the pine plantation by the entrance along with a number of Willow Warblers and a few Goldcrests. A Redstart was also feeding along the fence on the east side of the farm building.

Just as we were driving home to get some lunch we spotted an Osprey flying low over the road between Druridge Pools and Widdrington village. It headed off in a south-west direction. A patch tick and an excellent end to a decent day!

PWC 2016
Species: 105
Points: 203

The Amble gull
Caspian Gull

White-rumped Sandpiper

Black Tern


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Sunday sandpiper...

Our intention this morning was to have a family walk on the beach and see the Yellow-legged Gull in Amble harbour on the journey there. It didn't quite go to plan, but not in a bad way...

When we arrived at Amble Harbour it was soon apparent the Yellow-legged Gull had moved off, however the returning adult Caspian Gull was snoozing on the mud and there were also 17 Goosanders on the river. In the distance we could see a number of gulls near the braid so we headed there for a brief look...

I had a quick scan of the gulls and couldn't see the YLG so decided to look at the waders. No sign of any Curlew Sands but looking east I spotted a very interesting looking wader. Despite it being quite distant the grey and long-bodied appearance as well as the obvious supercilium meant I already suspected its identity.

We walked east and stood right in front of the Coquet Yacht Club where the bird was showing really well just across the river and we were able to get final confirmation that it was an adult White-rumped Sandpiper. It continued to show well for the next hour while we were there and showed its rump several times in flight. A great day and nice to get a decent find!

White-rumped Sandpiper

The bird as feeding across the river just behind the boat with the large sail


Saturday, 20 August 2016

More Curlew Sands...

Holy Island was our first stop this morning though it was very quiet with just a single Pied Flycatcher and 8 Willow Warblers, so we headed to Druridge Pools.

As soon as we arrived in the Budge Screen it started pouring down although the birds more than made up for the miserable weather. There were 9 Curlew Sandpipers which included an adult in mostly winter plumage as well as 2 Little Stints, 20+ Ruff, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, a Common Sandpiper and a Yellow Wagtail. 6 Knot also made a brief appearance. We're really enjoying having so many waders here.

Pied Flycatcher

Friday, 19 August 2016

Waders still on the up..

3 Curlew Sandpipers at Cresswell Pond this morning were our first in Northumberland since September 2014 and we beat our record county Little Egret again with 16 at Cresswell this morning along with 25+ Black-tailed Godwit (several flocks flew over without stopping), 2 Knot, 4 Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Avocet, a Water Rail and a Mediterranean Gulls also at the pond. A large flock of Black-headed Gulls visible in the distance from the car parking area held at least 30 more Mediterranean Gulls.

One of the first birds I looked at from the Budge Screen was a Wood Sandpiper in the north-east corner of the Budge Fields and it disappeared into the grass after a few seconds. We later walked along the path to the two hides and saw the Wood Sand again from here While we were stood here a Sparrowhawk flew over flushing the waders, most of which landed back on the fields, so we headed back to the screen. There were now 4 juvenile Little Stints walking around together (although quickly split up again), at least 22 Ruff, 25 Dunlin, 4 Black-tailed Godwits and a fly over Greenshank. It's amazing how many waders can stay invisible in the tussocks. We were also quite surprised to see a female Goosander land in front of the Budge Screen. They occasionally visit the big pool but we've never seen one actually on the Budge Fields before! 3 Common Sandpipers on the north pool were our first on the ground on the patch this year.

Our final stop was Castle Island where the water levels were unfortunately back to normal, though there was still good numbers of waders including a Curlew Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, 29+ Black-tailed Godwit and 6 Common Sandpipers along with 6 Little Egret.

PWC 2016
Species: 152
Points: 199

Two of the Curlew Sandpipers at Cresswell
Goosander - unusual habitat!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Waders on the move...

Our first stop was Chevington this morning to look for terns at the burn mouth but unfortunately the beach was tern-free and the north pool. Sadly the water level looks to high here to attract any rarities this autumn.

Druridge Pools is looking much better and today there were 6+ Ruff (there had been 10 yesterday evening), 8 Black-tailed Godwit, flyover Greenshank and Yellow Wagtail as well as a Goldeneye on the big pool. We were also a bit surprised to see a flock of 7 Pintail drop onto the big pool. They had a short bathe before flying off north - fresh in?

Cresswell Pond once gain held 7 Little Egrets however today this included a colour-ringed bird (photo below) as well as 2 Greenshank and 9 Avocets. 5 juvenile Black-tailed Godwits dropped in and a flock of 5 Whimbrel appeared to come in off the sea before flying south over the hide.

The day's highlight as Castle Island where the water levels were the lowest we've ever seen them. With the low water levels came the waders with a minimum of 46 Black-tailed Godwits, 6+ Ruff, 4 Common Sandpipers, a Knot (which we were told was the first here for twenty years!), a Green Sandpiper, a Little Ringed Plover and 2 Avocets among the commoner species. Little Egrets were also out in force with a total of 14 birds being my highest ever count in Northumberland.


Juvenile Cuckoo
Colour-ringed Little Egret

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Spotted Sand!

We headed to Hauxley for the open day hoping to catch up with the Spotted Sandpiper which had been on the reserve for the past week. We were especially keen to see it after missing the Alnmouth bird in 2013.

When we arrived in the top hide we had missed the bird by ten minutes. It was seen to fly off so we headed around to the wader hide only to see everyone pointing out of the window of the Top Hide! We rushed back to the hide and thankfully the extremely smart adult summer Spotted Sandpiper was showing well on the spit in front of the hide and continued to do so on and off for the next couple of hours.

Also while we were on the reserve we saw a juvenile Marsh Harrier flying over the car park where a Red Squirrel was on the feeders. Twos of Whimbrel and Pintail were also around.

A juvenile Marsh Harrier was also at Widdrington Moor Lake along with a Mediterranean Gull.

The juvenile Little Ringed Plover was still at Druridge Pools along with 5+ Ruff and Greenshank and the number of Black-tailed Godwits had increased to 24.

Spotted Sandpiper - sadly the light and distance meant I could not do the bird justice.

Little Ringed Plover
Juvenile Little Owl

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

More seawatching...

Did a couple of hours seawatching from Snab Point this evening from 17:45. It was quite enjoyable despite the constant rain...

3 Sooty Shearwater
44 Manx Shearwater
5 Arctic Skua
1 Grey Plover
17 Common Scoter
C. 20 Teal
1 Red-breasted Merganser
1 Goldeneye

Wader numbers were up at Druridge Pools and it looks good for something rare. Today's highlights were 7+ Ruff, 9+ Black-tailed Godwit, a Greenshank, 2 Ringed Plovers and 30+ Dunlin.

Friday, 5 August 2016

A couple more days...

Yesterday evening we headed to Cresswell Pond for the evening. The highlight was three Little Stints, which comprised of two juveniles and a colour-ringed adult from Norway. Other waders included 2 Ruff, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Common Sandpipers and 3 Avocet as well as Mediterranean Gulls (one juvenile), 3 Yellow Wagtails and 9 Little Egret. The field to the north of Bell's Farm held 14 Mediterranean Gulls with the usual gulls.

This morning we decided to have a seawatch at Newbiggin which produced the following birds over two hours...

1 Sooty Shearwater
35 Manx Shearwater
1 Velvet Scoter - drake north.
1 Common Scoter
3+ Roseate Tern

The bay at Newbiggin held a minimum of 46 Mediterranean Gulls. Unfortunately the water level at Castle Island had risen so there wasn't many waders. Finally 2 Green Sandpipers were at Bothal Pond.

Egret influx...

Here's a late blog post about our trip out birding on Tuesday and we were surprised how many Little Egrets were around...

We started at Castle Island where there were 7 Little Egrets and waders included a Ruff, Little Ringed Plover, 3 Avocets, 5 Common Sandpipers and 19 Black-tailed Godwits.

Cresswell Pond was still looking good and when we looked out of the hide there were 8 Little Egrets sat in the mud in front of the hide. However they soon split up as a juvenile Peregrine flew low over the pond. Other highlights here included a Greenshank, Ruff, Whimbrel, 4 Black-tailed Godwits and 2 Common Sandpipers.

3 Greenshank remained at Druridge Pools along with a first-summer Mediterranean Gull

Little Egrets and two Black-tailed Godwits

Peregrine record shots - too fast and too close for me!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Iceland - The birds

We saw a total of 40 species of bird in Iceland and I've decided to write a mini trip report about them here...

Whooper Swan: Relatively common, seen on a number of rivers including a group of 30+ on the River Ölfusá. One individual at Tjörnin (Reykjavik) throughout our stay.

Pink-footed Goose: One at Tjörnin Lake (Reykjavik) on 25th.

Greylag Goose: Common.

Mallard: Common on coastal lakes.

Wigeon: One at Tjörnin Lake (Reykjavik) on 25th.

Tufted Duck: Breeding on Tjörnin Lake (Reykjavik).

Scaup: Several females with young on Tjörnin Lake (Reykjavik) along with a few other adults.

Eider: Three seen in Reykjavik old harbour on 25th and common on the coast between the city and Keflavík.

Harlequin Duck: Female with four chicks on the River Sog near Steingrímsstöo power station on 27th.

Red-breasted Merganser: Females with young seen on Tjörnin Lake (Reykjavik) as well as Lake Pingvallavatn.

Great Northern Diver: Numerous adults including some with young seen on the River Sog (27th) and Lake Pingvallavatn.

I think the adults were one of the best looking birds I've ever seen.
Fulmar: Numerous offshore and a few seen around high cliffs a few miles inland. One 'Blue' Fulmar seen on the whale watching trip out of Reykjavik on 25th.

'Blue' Fulmar

'Light' Fulmar
Gannet: A few offshore in Faxaflói Bay from the whale watching boat on 25th.

Cormorant: One in Flaxaflói Bay from the whale watching boat on 25th.

Merlin: Four seen around the River Sog on 27th; a lone adult male followed by three juveniles later in the day.

Ringed Plover: One at Vatnsmyri (Reykjavik) on 25th.

Golden Plover: Common around inland moors.

Dunlin: One at Vatnsmyri (Reykjavik) on 25th.

Redshank: Common on coastal pools.

Black-tailed Godwit: Two near Lake Pingvallavatn on 26th and flying over the lake in 27th.

Whimbrel: Common away from the coast. One even seen sitting on a lamp post!

Snipe: Several drumming at Vatnsmyri (Reykjavik) on 25th.

Red-necked Phalarope: Seen on several roadside pools including a group of 25+. Seven at Pingvellir National Park on 26th.

Arctic Skua: Three seen in Faxaflói Bay from the whale watching boat on 25th. Also four inland around the River Sog on 27th.

Black-headed Gull: Common.

Kittiwake: Common around the coast.

Herring Gull: One near Keflavík on 24th and one over the Blue Lagoon on 28th.

Lesser Black-backed Gull: Common.

Arctic Tern: Very common, frequently breeding around people.

Sat in the local park in Reykjavik
Puffin: Common offshore.

Guillemot: Two in Faxaflói Bay from the whale watching boat on 25th.

Feral Pigeon: Common in Reykjavik.

Meadow Pipit: Common.

White Wagtail: Common in Reykjavik.

Icelandic Redwing: Common around any area of vegetation.

We found that the Icelandic race was notably darker underneath than the race we get in Britain.
Blackbird: One in Reykjavik on 26th.

Wheatear: Two near Lake Pingvallavatn on 26th.

Raven: Common away from coast.

Starling: Common.