Wednesday, 12 December 2018

December ... 2018 nearly over

A good month to visit places away from the patch (briefly).


Purple Sandpipers (100+) the highlight but Long-tailed Ducks, Slavonian Grebe and Razorbills added to a pleasant if chilly morning.

Oh ... back on the patch a second Smew. Another brief visitor although it now seems fairly well settled on Widdrington Moor Lake.

Tynemouth and North Shields Fish Quay next. A fairly uneventful trip probably due to the lack of fishing boats at the quayside. I did however manage to get some proper smoked fish instead of the bright yellow dyed stuff in the supermarkets.

Fontburn Reservoir

Amazing how satisfying it can be to observe flocks of birds over a longer period. I watched this flock of Redpolls (170+) for over two hours. Searching for the 'white ones', getting showered with seed remnants as they fed above me. The bickering and bullying was amusing and my unfortunate cough would send them fleeing the tree and then settling a little further away. 

You can't beat a good patch...

... and mine is one of the best. Rough seas washed millions of tiny crustaceans (shrimps at a guess) ashore. A couple of weeks ago there was a similar event but they were the larval stages much smaller. This bounty led to a feeding frenzy and gave me the chance to sift through the gull flocks. Sadly no unusual gulls but a great way to fill a few hours. When the gulls left there were still lots of shrimps left. The Resdshanks took over but most were abandoned by the birds.


Still on patch. The Twite flock feed before flying to a clear part of the sandy beach to digest the food and have a 'toilet' break.

This is rather annoying as almost every photo contains a small white package.

... or two


This Redshank was ringed on Humberside  in October 2018. Six birds ringed on the Humber are all now North of their ringing site.


Then to Newbiggin.

This Oystercatcher was ringed as a three years+ bird in 2013, in Oslo. So it is at least 8 years old.

So it is time to start planning for the New Year.

I think the blog has run its course and is starting to get repetitive so I'm wondering what to try instead or how to make it different. Maybe a website? Twitter is also becoming less useful but what to do (not sure any of the other social media platforms would suit me)?

One thing is for sure ... I'll be out birding (guess where)!

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Still Plenty To Keep Me Busy



The country park (Druridge) has a good variety of birds and is a welcome place of shelter on a wet and windy day.

M.E. found this splendid Great Northern Diver on Ladyburn Lake.

Several trips to Newbiggin during the last two weeks. Water Pipit, Woodcock, Velvet Scoter among the highlights.

Seal in South Shields harbour enjoying a rather sizeable Sea Trout.

Hooded Crow at Linton

Grey Heron

Smew. This is becoming a scarce bird in Northumberland , so it was nice to see one at East Chevington even if it did keep its distance.

Water levels remaining low have ensured there are always plenty of birds to check through.

Monday, 5 November 2018


Thanks to JF for finding these Bewick's Swans. Originally giving distant views at East Chevington, they later relocated to Warkworth and gave splendid views.

Best comparative shot I could manage, juv Whoopers and adult Bewick's. 

Whoopers. Plenty of Juveniles this year.




My first beach walk produced a Wheatear but not a rare one. This poor bird has a damaged or diseased bill. It also looked a little dishevelled. Five more beaches were checked and although no Wheatears were found they all produced good birds including; Purple Sandpipers, Snow Buntings and Twite.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

It's a Tough Time for Some.

Whoopers returning along with increased numbers of Goldeneye at East Chevington.

Late October and the winds are finally from the East for three days. Birders turn up on the coast to do a bit of sea-watching. Hours on end sat on chilly headlands waiting for Pomarine Skuas and Petrels. I used to be a fanatical sea-watcher in the seventies and many a long cold day was spent at the hut at Whitburn. Nowadays they have a 'luxurious' hide where as Northumberland offers very little in the way of protection from the elements. My best attempts are from the car at Snab, Cresswell.

The Easterlies also get birders like myself walking long stretches of coastline hoping some wayward passerine will pop up unexpectedly. Thrushes, Goldcrests and Woodcock are common occurrences but is always the hope that something a tad rarer will be found.

This Goldcrest was at Newbiggin right on the cliff top. Sadly after this c6 gram bird had travelled across the sea from Norway it fell as easy prey to the Kestrel. A sad sight but that's the way of nature. It just goes to show it is not just birders on the look-out for these new arrivals. Similar stories of Little Auks and Storm Petrels being killed by Great Black-backed gulls are also common.

Another new arrival was enjoying better luck as it sheltered in a small patch of vegetation.

Even in my garden the bird feeders are a mixed blessing for the birds. They quickly attract a large number of House Sparrows, a few Collared Doves and occasional other species. However, they are now the target for a Sparrowhawk and I have witnessed a few close shaves this week.


Druridge Bay Country Park is currently hosting a few new birds. In addition to 3 Chiffchaffs, 10+ Goldcrests and numerous Tree Sparrows there is a small flock of Crossbills and a couple of Brambling. A bright sunny morning and they can be found drinking from the car park puddles. This morning I got great views but never close enough for a decent snapshot.