Sunday, 31 December 2017

Out with a bang!

With just a few hours of daylight left this evening, we decided to head to Druridge Pools in case we could add a final new bird. A look off the dunes was very quiet and it was largely the same from the screen, although 7 Black-tailed Godwits were new. We just arrived back at the car to head to Chevington when I checked my phone and was pretty surprised to see that a Ross's Gull found at Boulmer!

The sun had already set but we still thought we could make it, especially with the head start we got from already being at Druridge. We arrived about half an hour later and then ran as fast as we could from the village to Longhougton Steel about 800 metres to the north.

At first it wasn't looking good, the light was going fast and the bird had disappeared into the flock of hundreds of gulls, many of which were sat down or behind the rocks. Luckily though I was scanning through the flock when something about one of the gulls caught my attention. Just I got onto to it, it took off revealing the stunning plumage and structure of the adult Ross's Gull. Thankfully it dropped back into the flock where it stayed until the light finally went. What a way to end 2017!

Spot the Ross's Gull!

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Parrot Crossbills in Derbyshire...

On Thursday we had a trip down to Howden Reservoir in Derbyshire with the hope of catching up with some Parrot Crossbills. When the sun was out and it wasn't snowing, the 12 birds would show well, along with a good number of Common Crossbills in the area...

Parrot Crossbill
I also managed some record videograbs...

Parrot Crossbills - Videos should be viewed in HD at 1080p

And for comparison...

A Common Crossbill at Druridge Bay Country Park in April 2016

Saturday, 23 December 2017

12 photos from 2017...

Pacific Diver at Druridge Bay Country Park - my first lifer of the year and the first of just three 'BB' rarities we saw in Northumberland this year.

Pine Bunting at Dunnington (N. Yorks) © S. Clifton - a very successful twitch for this smart bird in late February.
Yellow-browed Warbler on Holy Island - this singing male was perhaps our most unusual find of the year.
Citrine Wagtail at Lynemouth Flash - bird of the spring and a serious contender for bird of the year.
Audouin's Gulls on Mallorca - perhaps my favourite bird of the trip. Other highlights included Balearic and Moustached Warblers, Black, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Tawny Pipits, a Scops Owl and an extremely confiding Little Bittern.
White-winged Black Tern at Druridge Pools - one of a great selection of birds on the patch this year. I'm hoping to do an account of 2017 on the patch in the next week or two...
Long-billed Dowitcher at Boulmer
White-rumped Sandpiper on North Uist - it was great to find this then have views down to just two or three metres at the scenic RSPB Balnarald.
Scops Owl at Ryhope - my rarity of the year.
Bee-eater at Druridge Pools - almost certainly one of two Bee-eaters we had flying over East Chevington the weekend before which were definitely our most exciting find of the year!
Hawfinch in Morpeth - just my second sighting in the county.
Little Auk at Snab Point - great to get good views of this bird which briefly landed on the end of Snab Point. Other seawatching highlights throughout the year included 2 White-billed Divers, Cory's Shearwater, Sabine's Gull, 2 Grey Phalaropes and a Storm Petrel
A few stats up to 23/12

235 (including 5 BB rarities: Pacific Diver, Pine Bunting, Long-billed Dowitcher, Scops Owl, Richardson's Cackling Goose, Ross's Gull)

We've another really lucky year in terms of finding birds. The singing Yellow-browed Warbler was the best of the spring, while the autumn was more productive with White-rumped Sandpiper on North Uist, 2 Pectoral Sandpipers, Sabine's Gull, Quail, Bee-eaters at Chevington and Grey Phalarope. It was also nice to finally fill the hole of Garganey on my finds list!

I've just passed 200,000 blog views so thanks to everyone who reads it! 

Merry Christmas!