Saturday, 11 November 2017

Pallid Not Quite

Lesson Learnt?

News of a Pallid Swift on RBA interrupted my coffee break and had me heading to Hauxley.  I decided to park at the south end and couldn’t believe my luck as I saw the swift before getting out of the car.

Strangely there were no other birders present. I rang RBA, tweeted and texted. I desperately tried to get some photos and watch this amazing November bird. After about 15 minutes the Swift disappeared and  I looked at the photos.

A few more birders arrived and I showed them the photos and commented that it looked dark . I also checked RBA and noticed the second report was of a Pallid/Common Swift.

Surely I should have twigged … dark does not mean Pallid. There were some other factors; the harsh lighting, shadows and some atypical plumage features (just my excuses). At home studying the photos I was in need of help. Thankfully MPF, JF and JB came to the rescue and said it was a Common Swift. MPF also suggested Common Swift form pekinensis.

I dug out Ian Lewington’s article Birding World Vol 12, Num 11 p.450. His paper made interesting reading.

So now I’m happy it is a Common Swift. If you scour the notes in the Advanced Bird ID Guide (Nils Van Duivenduk) the photos can show some features of Pallid but if you forget the fine detail and look at the overall bird it is a Common Swift. My third November Swift (1 in 1970s at Tynemouth, 1 last year Amble and now this Hauxley bird.)








These last two photographs have been lightened on the computer.



Apologies to anyone inconvenienced by my posting on RBA and Twitter.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

New Birds Still Being Found


Snow Bunting sightings are increasing. This one was at Newbiggin and I also had views of another at South Shields (9h Nov).


I watched a few Fieldfare arriving, one only just had enough energy to get to the shore. Most however continued inland without pausing to rest.


Shore Lark numbers double (to two)








A trip to Gibside made a welcome change from the coast.



Early morning before my trip to Gibside I visited the pier at South Shields to look for the Grey Phalarope. Unfortunately the gate was still locked when I had to leave at 08:15.


On my return in the early afternoon the Phalarope was very close to the pier and one photographer who ventured on to the rocks found the bird kept swimming towards him.


'Who are you looking at?'


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Still Plenty to Enjoy


Nice to see a Lapland Bunting on the ground. This was my fifth of the Autumn but the only one to spend time on the ground. (The others 3 on Holy Island and 1 at East Chevington. All flying over and calling apart from a brief landing of one of the HI birds after an unusual interaction with a Starling.)







This Brent Goose landed on the cliff top path at Newbiggin.


The seed on the beach is attracting Twite, Shore Larks, Photographers and Birders. The Twite flock reached 120 last week and the lone Shore Lark was joined by a second on Friday (3rd).


Long-tailed Duck (Juv?) 
This bird commutes between the N Pool Chevington and the Sea. Also on the sea; Red-throated Divers, GC Grebes, Auks, Common Scoter and Red-breasted Mergansers.



First proper frost this Autumn (5th). The Bee-eater is still in the North East. At Whitburn last week and now back at Tynemouh. Close observations of the hedgerows and plenty of Wasps were still in evidence.


Fresh Water Mussel from N Pool


A rare trip to Linton Lane ponds to see the Red-necked Grebe. Good to see the NWT have cut back the vegetation in front of the hide.



Cetti's Warbler still singing at Chev and a suppressed Cetti's still at Druridge. Keep up the good work lads!

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Hornbeam and Hawfinch




The Hawfinch was always high up in the trees and in poor light. These record shots will have to do until I revisit on a brighter day. Thanks to JB for the directions to the site!



Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Dipping Again ...



An early start at Low Newton on Monday looking for a Little Bunting. The early morning skies were quite striking. 


First bird on show as the light hit the tops of the trees was a Reed Bunting (although this one appears to have a crest (probably just the twig behind)).



After 2-3 hours of trying to ignore the Yellow-browed Warblers, Blackcaps, Godcrests, and incoming Thrushes, couple nearby were on a bird, it was a Bunting and I got a brief view. The bird that flew off according to PS looked too large. I was happy to accept the couples ID but after considering my view and the fact it was never seen again I have to admit I didn't see a Little Bunting. The only birds returning to the Sycamore were Reed Buntings.

The whole morning was not a complete wash out because of the birds mentioned earlier. In addition; Bramblings, Short-eared Owl, Merlin and Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen.


When I got home I noticed a huge flock of Gulls over a ploughed field just yards from my house.  checked the skies for a predator. Then noticed this Juvenile Peregrine on the ground with what looks like a Common Gull.


At first I thought it might be a Saker with all the pale feathering on the head  but eventually decided it was a Peregrine.


Looks like it is trying a new pair of wings.


Eventually it carried its kill to the other end of the field away from the road.



This Twite was sheltering from the wind at Newbiggin. It didn't budge as it was surrounded by food.