Sunday, 30 October 2016

They don't get much better...

After an anxious wait of about an hour and a half this morning, eventually the stunning SIBERIAN ACCENTOR appeared feeding on the its favoured track. While everyone stood still the bird would happily work its way along the path to within about ten metres of the crowd, and not only did it become extremely close, the sun was also out and the Accentor was in really bright, smart plumage. What a bird!! A Great Northern Diver also flew over high, heading inland while we were there, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the bushes.

Videos best viewed in HD at 720p/1080p

Saturday, 29 October 2016

A Showy Izzy...

Headed to The Leas in South Shields this morning for what would turn out to be our easiest twitch with the Isabelline Shrike of the race isabellinus or Daurian Shrike showing superbly in great light. We were able to watch the bird at close quarters as it caught flies and bees around the low vegetation.

Heading back north of the Tyne, we failed to find anything of interest around the beach just south of the power station so gave Cresswell a look. 2 Greenshank were on the pool today, along with 4 Little Egrets, a Red-breasted Merganser and a young male Merlin which flew across the pond before landing on a post at the north end.

The north pool at Chevington held good numbers of ducks this afternoon and we were able to find 5 Scaup (one adult female, two first-winter females and two first-winter drakes) as well as 23 Pintail.

Isabelline Shrike - videos best viewed in HD at 720p/1080p

Sunday, 23 October 2016

A visit from the King...

We were on driving through Ashington this morning on our way to check the bushes at Lynemouth when news came through of a King Eider passing Whitburn. Ten minutes later we had arrived in the car park at Newbiggin. After running down to the end of Church Point, it was another ten minutes before my dad picked up the drake King Eider flying north close inshore (at around 09:02). For a change, given last week, we seemed to be in exactly the right place at the right time, and I was happy to add Northumberland's first King Eider for 19 years to my county list. We did not feel the bird was a full adult drake as we thought the head markings were a bit subdued and the upperwings were mostly dark, however this was hard to judge as we were largely looking into the sun. We were also pleased to hear that the bird was tracked flying further up the Northumberland coast being seen at Cullernose Point, Beadnell, The Farnes and then Holy Island.

Cresswell Pond was a lot less exciting with a Greenshank, Water Rail, Red-breasted Merganser, a Dark-bellied Brent Goose and 2 Little Egrets. A Great White Egret was on the Budge Fields and was our third sighting of one of on the patch this year. A Greenshank and Little Egret were also present.

At Chevington the obvious highlight was a female Velvet Scoter on the north pool which was my first on freshwater. Nice to get a chance to view one at relatively close quarters. Continuing the duck theme to the day, the pool also held a Pintail and a Red-breasted Merganser, and Bothal Pond played host to a couple of Scaup.

Video best viewed in HD at 720p/1080p

Friday, 21 October 2016

Baird's revisited

After a disappointing morning on Holy Island today we stopped at Low Newton on the way home for some more views of Baird's Sandpiper on the scrapes. The bird was showing really well, especially when walking around the grass on the close shore. Unfortunately we were looking into the sun, which made photos difficult. 15 Whooper Swans also flew over calling.

Baird's Sandpiper - best viewed in HD at 1080p

Also, here's a few photos from Holy Island last Saturday (15th)...

Siberian Chiffchaff
Ring Ouzel
Lesser Whitethroat
Song Thrush

Great Grey Shrike - best viewed in HD at 1080p

Sunday, 16 October 2016


We headed straight to Hendon in Sunderland this morning with news of the bird being found. We had a short wait once we arrived before the stunning SIBERIAN ACCENTOR perched up in a tree before dropping down again. A great bird and one that I've been hoping to see since the start of this autumn's influx!

Siberian Accentor

Sunday, 9 October 2016

A great day on Holy Island...

Saturday proved to be one of those classic days on Holy Island with loads of common birds and a few more interesting species. We arrived before the sun had risen so waited in the car for a while before looking around the village. As soon as it got light the large numbers of Goldcrests and Robins on the island were impressive, and we soon heard our first Yellow-browed Warbler and Brambling of the day. On reaching the Vicar's Garden another Yellow-browed Warbler was showing and a late Sand Martin flew over.

After this we walked down the Straight Lonnen, seeing an extremely smart Great Grey Shrike and 2 Black-tailed Godwits just to the east. My dad also found a mobile Red-breasted Flycatcher in one of the elders beside the path. We kept on walking and another Red-breasted Flycatcher was in the willows at the north end of the Straight Lonnen, with this bird being much more obliging, showing down to just a couple of metres and calling a lot. A Short-eared Owl also flew over.

We had a thorough search of the dunes around the Quarry and Excavations but were unable to find yesterday's Little Bunting. However another Yellow-browed Warbler was feeding in some tiny hawthorns, 2 Redstarts were around Chare Ends and a Goldcrest landed on my tripod leg! We then heard news of a Pallas's Warbler in the Vicar's Garden so headed there next.

On arrival the garden was a hive of activity with numerous Goldcrests, several Blackcaps and a Garden Warbler. It took a while, but eventually the Pallas's Warbler was relocated and we got some brief but good views of this stunning bird. We waited another hour to see if the bird reappeared with little success but two Yellow-browed Warblers appeared alongside each other. We headed back to the car but decided to stop at the Snook on our way out.

This proved to be a great decision as on reaching the Snook House Plantation my dad got a brief view of a wing-barred phyllosc which he assumed was a Yellow-browed. However, I soon got onto the bird and noticed a very distinct central crown stripe. I told my dad that I thought it was another Pallas's Warbler, who quickly realised I wasn't joking when it flitted upwards revealing a striking bright yellow rump! A great bird to add to our self found lists!! Another Yellow-browed Warbler joined the Pallas's, with a further 2 YBWs on other parts of the Snook, along with a Redstart, Short-eared Owl and Merlin. Here's our final migrant totals...

2 Pallas's Warbler - hadn't had a decent view of one before today so nice to see two well in a day, and even find one!
2 Red-breasted Flycatcher
1 Great Grey Shrike
7 Yellow-browed Warbler
165+ Goldcrest
125+ Redwing
45+ Blackbird
50+ Song Thrush
2 Fieldfare
70+ Robin
1 Barn Owl
2 Short-eared Owl
15+ Chiffchaff
6 Blackcap
4 Brambling
1 Sand Martin
2 Lesser Whitethroat
2 Black-tailed Godwit
3 Redstart
1 Garden Warbler
1 Merlin
c.1000 Brent Goose
50+ Barnacle Goose
2 Little Egret

Self found Pallas's Warbler at Snook House

Pallas's Warbler in the Vicar's Garden

Red-breasted Flycatcher in willows at north end of Straight Lonnen

Great Grey Shrike

Yellow-browed Warbler

Lesser Whitethroat

Saturday, 1 October 2016

American double...

With news of a Baird's Sandpiper turning up at Boulmer last night, we headed straight there this morning, at least once we'd taken delivery of  a new wardrobe!

On the way there we were disappointed to hear that it had been flushed by a Peregrine however on arrival in the car park we were told that it was back. We started walking along the path towards its favoured stretch of beach when a microlite came over, flushing all the birds again.

Thankfully it wasn't long until the Dunlin starting coming back in, and soon the juvenile Baird's Sandpiper had joined them. We enjoyed some great scope views of before the Peregrine returned scaring off all the birds again and the Baird's didn't return while we were there. I was really pleased to add this species to my British list after spending a whole day one step behind a Baird's Sand on Teesside in 2012. Other birds seen in the area included 4 Pale-bellied Brent Geese flying north and 3 Mediterranean Gulls.

We still had some time to spare so headed south to the patch in Druridge Bay for a few hours. The Spotted Redshank which we had missed last weekend was back on the Budge Fields along with 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Ruff, a Greenshank, Little Egret and at least 500 Pink-footed Geese.

Finally we called in at the north pool at Chevington. Initially I was most interested in the number of Pintail, with at least 22 present today, but then I picked up a wader feeding on small patch of mud on the west side and realised it was a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper - our second american wader of the day. A Wood Sandpiper then appeared feeding alongside it and a Scaup was on the water.

The batteries in my digiscoping camera were all dead when I took it out of the bag this morning, so I had to resort to phonescoping to get any photos.

PWC 2016
Species: 160
Points: 216

Baird's Sandpiper
Video best viewed in HD at 1080p

Pectoral Sandpiper - the worst photo I've ever put on my blog?? Although I think with the help of the video you can just about see what it is!?
Peregrine hunting waders (taken with the DSLR)