Thursday, 20 October 2016

£4:40 Well Spent

My first proper twitch in ages! I even parked in the car park and paid my £4:40 ticket from 'Rip Off NCC inc.'.  First views distant in poor light, second view 10m range but brief ... THEN stonking views down to 3m no need for cropping the photos!

X marks the spot where it disappeared in very little cover but it obligingly returned to feed on rocks near the sandy path.

Having had a brilliant time I decided to pass on the Firecrest at the Snook and head home ahead of the high tide. Driving off the Island I noticed SR heading back on to the island. I pulled in to check phone messages and with the help of JD and AC I headed back to the Snook to get good flight views and a very distant through the branches photo. Well worth the u-turn.

Whilst watching the Isabelline Shrike an interesting conversation was taking place between HG and others about a funny Wheatear. Sadly the tide was rising so I headed home.

Tuesday evening and photos appeared on Twitter showing Isabelline Wheatear! I hedged my bets and waited until today (Thursday) before returning. I was in luck. After an anxious wait, it duly appeared and gave very good views. 

It is a very bright bird but the tail pattern is spot on. Several photos by other birders show the tail, underwing and allula are perfect. I'm not sure I would have been brave enough to call it, but well done to those with keener eyes on a great find. (Also to Peter Monroe (spelling?) for finding and reporting the Accentor, which I must remember is pronounced Aksentor.)

Oh and the Firecrest had lingered and allowed one quick snap today.

The supporting cast over the last week haven't been too shabby either.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

I Need a Break

Apart from the 'not so nice' person that crumpled my front wing today at Chevington, it has been a good few days birdwise.

I'll just list them: Brambling, Redstart, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Yellow-browed Warbler, Redwing, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Woodcock, SEO, LEO, Siskin, Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Robin, Kingfisher, Chaffinch, Wheatear, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Sparrwhawk, Merlin, Marsh Harrier, Pomarine Skua, Manx Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater and Velvet Scoter.

Oh, and Pallas's Warbler!

Best I could manage of this mobile little Pallas's Warbler (E Chevington)

Lots of these flying over the reed bed pretending to be moths.

A Fall of Rock Pipits

With the migrants we also get migrant predators. Don't think this was the Hawk Owl though.

Finishing the day with a heart-stopping 'big yellow bunting'!

Monday, 10 October 2016


Well what a few days we've had in Northumberland.

Dipping a Little Bunting when within touching distance is hard to take.

Then finding a Red-flanked Bluetail which proved almost impossible to relocate.

Yesterday having covered my patch early because of the Cross Country races, I headed for Druridge then Snab and finally home for lunch. I needed to get out again but where to go? I avoid Newbiggin because there are often bikers in the dunes and I couldn't do my patch. Amble of course ... check the woods at the Marina Car Park then do the dunes South of Amble.

Obviously lot of thrushes had just arrived and plenty of Robins When I got round to the sheltered, sunny side of the main wood a bird flew into view and landed in front of me. I lifted my binoculars fully expecting to see a Robin but my field of view was full of rich blue and orange. The image is still so clear in my memory. A dazzling bright blue tail, orange flanks and the bird turned its head towards me before flying upwards into the canopy.

Red-flanked Bluetail (ad Female or more likely,1st Winter)

Instead of following the bird and trying to get photos (mistake) I rang, texted and tweeted assuming a gathering crowd would quickly relocate the bird and then I'd get my photos.

One and a half hours and no sign. AC and I spotted a bird fly in high which looked a good candidate almost immediately TF pointed to the same area and he had just had the briefest (but that's all you need) of glimpses to clinch the ID. I lingered hoping for another view but to no avail.

(Just down the coast in Cleveland birders were being treated to another RFB sitting on the beach and the photos are stunning.)

Today a trip to Holy Island and signs were good 100 Redwing in one field, Goldcrests, Peregrine Falcon, Yellow-browed Warbler (Vicar's Garden) and Great Grey Shrike.

It was clear however that most birds had moved out and the weather was gloriously sunny. 

Merlin, Sparrowhawk and Barn Owl were nice additions before I headed South myself. I spent an hour in Amble but failed to see the RFB.

Lots of Robins (5 together on the Vicar's lawn)

Rarely captured on Holy Island these two Lindisfarne Bustards were on the far end of the Snook. (OK Pheasants)

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Shortest Twitch

Toothache almost prevented a visit to Holy Island, but the pain had gone early morning and my plans for Tynemouth birding and a ferry crossing to my Dentist in South Shields were put on hold. Waiting for the tide to fall I managed this snap of Grey Plover and my first Barnacle Geese of the Autumn dropped in to join the Brents.

Looking at the plan of Holy Island and the wind direction I headed for the walled garden and the walls leading to the Lough. (Lancy in mind!) I was beginning to regret my choice as apart from an obvious fall of thrushes, a few crests and Brambling calls thee was little to see. In the Lough Hide I found this roosting Long-eared Owl. I texed DD to see if he was on the island and got an excited call back through breaking signals to say someone was watching a WHITE'S THRUSH on the straight lonnen.

Badly out of breath I arrived and waited. Well over 30 minutes elapsed before the bird showed well although distantly from the lonnen. I managed a few shots and we were then treated to a 'fly past' as the White's Thrush flew a circular path around the Willows and back to the same spot. The under-wing pattern is really special!

The supporting cast on the island also picked up with: Goldcrests (lots), Blackcaps, Ring Ouzel (4), Yellow-browed Warbler (4), Brambling, Song Thrush (lots), Blackbird, Robin and Redwing.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Got There ... Eventually

Angle Shades

Migrant Hawker


Trying to find the ringing project for this one. None match on CR bird site. May be Polish?

Waders seem to have been the big news recently. It took three attempts for me to catch up with the Baird's Sandpiper. It was however worth it, with five minutes of super close action (camera in the house of course).
Thanks to CB for the call.

JF and TF found a Pectoral Sandpiper at Chevington and next morning it gave good but distant views.

News also that MD had 2 Yellow-browed Warblers at Chevington (after I had covered the patch all morning). It seems the birds were arriving all day along the coast, or at least being discovered later.

So this morning, first stop Chevington, first sound 'chsweep', first bird this fab Yellow-browed Warbler. At times it was less than 1m away and at eye level.

After searching the dunes all the way to the Country Park I finally found one of my own (Y-bW that is). The light and pose almost make it look like a different species.

A walk along the railway at Cambois was disappointing but that may have been due to the presence of both a male and female Sparrowhawk. Nice coffee break at STa's and met 'Ace Dipper' BB at Druridge.

An afternoon walk from Hadston to Chevington Burn did not produce any new birds but I did get views of a juv Marsh Harrier. The North Pool is teeming with wildfowl and the sounds are amazing.