Friday, 31 October 2014

Where are the Thrushes?

Post holding telephone cables Druridge. (Tree without branches as far as this Woodpecker is concerned.)

The light quality recently has been poor, as a result lots of grainy photographs.

This was a surprise find flying over the reedbed and into he trees.

Thoughts of American Wigeon as I scanned and found this green-headed bird. However a quick glance showed it had a lot of Malard characteristics. (Wigeon x Mallard hybrid)

The birding has been hard this week but I've still managed some good common finds: Woodcock, Twite, Short-eared Owl, Bearded Tit.

This year I haven't found anything really extraordinary and yet I've had more time to look. I think it goes to show that finding unusual birds is 99% luck. Right place, right time!

Even today as I walked round the last cove at Newbiggin, a bird with a white rump flew away from me. October 31st it had to be good. Surely not my fourth? I carefully made my way around the point and there it was ... 'Bog-Standard' Wheatear. A late bird and good to see ;-)

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Glass Half-Full

8 Whooper Swans on Saturday, replaced by 10 on Sunday. (The first flock had a family party with 2Ads 3Juvs) the 10 on Sunday appeared to be all Ads, however close inspection revealed the bird below. According to the Collins Field Guide; Icelandic 1st winter birds acquire a whiter look more rapidly than birds from Fenno-Scandia or Russia.

Saturday's family party.

This Long-tailed Duck has taken up residence on the small pool at Hauxley (Ponteland Hide).

It's all about the bill, bout the bill, bout the bill ...
no dabble.

(apt considerng the bill)

Tufted Duck


The ducks are finishing their moult,are easier to identify and are more pleasing to look at! So get looking! Every chance of Ring-necked, American Wigeon, Black Duck and American Coot over the next couple of months.

My previous prediction of Kildeer wasn't bad (Norfolk not Northumberland). Also as expected the other American Beauties turned up on the West Coast. The Willet on the Azores could easily make it to Britain (or N France on the current wind system).

Finally if you go to Chevington make sure you scan the Western shore of the South pool. The muddy edge is attracting waders (8 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Redshank, 6 Snipe) and looks perfect for a Crake.

(... and another thing Otter at Druridge ... there really isn't much happening this time of year is there?)

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Mobile Technology/Bird

A missed call, a bad signal for the call back, finally voicemail R-l B just 5 minutes from the house. (Thanks to AMc).

News that the bird had been seen yesterday evening, across the road from my house, was a bit of a surprise. After a rather mixed up morning I finally got news of the Buzzard. When I arrived it had disappeared South out of view. After10 minutes it reappeared from a different area and gave initially good views before drifting high and North.

Despite searching it wasn't relocated. I am sure it will turn up again.

Pied Wagtail


I'm going to keep photographing these until I gt a good shot. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

OBP ... From Russia with Love

No excuse needed. Ha!

Dental Appointment in South Shields and shopping trip with Mum, were the perfect excuses to drive via Roker,  Sunderland to view this little bird.

Olive-backed Pipit (because of its olive back)
Indian Tree Pipit (because it winters in India and flies from the forest floor into trees to escape predators).

I’ve seen hundreds before but never in Britain, so it was intriguing to see it. Rummaging among the leaf litter (sadly in the shade and hence the rather poor photos) behind a petrol garage in Sunderland. Probably a bird from NE Russia, heading South for India and blown by the Easterly winds (last week) and deposited in Britain. Amazing how these birds are ever found/seen.

The present gales from ex-hurricane Gonzalo are bringing Westerlies. Will they deposit some stray from America. Let’s hope so! The most likely places will be on the West coast. However some birds (waders) may make it to the East. My prediction … Kildeer in Northumberland. (Probably in a field near Branton) ;-)

At times it remined me of LouisianaWaterthrush (without the bobbing motion).

The day ended with a mixture of birds to confuse the seasons. Long-tailed Duck, Displaying Eider, Arctic Tern and House Martin. 

Monday, 20 October 2014


Whifling Pink-footed Geese

 No postings for a week mainly because the poor light has made photography almost impossible. Along with the total clearout of migrants and the wind conditions in Northumberland brought little new.

Contrast that with the arrivals at Spurn, we haven't been very lucky.

Wildfowl numbers are increasing however. 2000+ PFG, Slavonian Grebe, Whooper Swans and returning Goldeneye may bring a stranger with them.

This week it is a visit to the dentist and organise jabs and malaria tablets. Car servicing and get myself organised for my holiday. The weather is unlikely to produce any rarities (although you never know) before Thursday. I might drop in to Sunderland on Tuesday if the OBP is still around.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


A frustrating few days. Checked out most of the sites but little new to report. Apart from my first Bonxies (Great Skuas) of the year and a Jack Snipe.

Tomorrow .. the Island .. High Hopes!!!!

Friday, 10 October 2014

It's in There, Somewhere ...

Yellow-browed Warblers

These tiny birds have been pushed acrss the North Sea in huge numbers this year. You'd have to be unlucky not to find one along the coast somewhere this week if you went out looking (and listening for their suueezzzt call).

Once found, getting good views requires a bit of patience and getting a picture requires a bit of luck.

As you'll see they hide behind branches or leaves giving tantalising glimpses of supercillium, wing bars, broad pale-edged feathers, pale legs and pale lower mandible. But rarely all in one view.

You can imagine how happy I am therefore with this snapshot of a very lively bird.

On the other hand Chiffchaffs just show off :-)

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Ringed ... Ringed Plover

Thank you very much to Kjell Mork Soot. I emailed my sighting yesterday and received this vey rapid response.  I will add some of Kjell's other projects at the end of this post. Keep looking!

Thank you very much for taking the time to report to us details of the sighting of a flagged Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) This project is a collaboration between  Giske Ornithologiocal Station  (=OS) (run by Sunnmøre RG), Revtangen OS and Jomfruland Bird Station.  Information about the bird and its movement is given below:

Ring no : Stavanger 8B45111
Yellow flag  NEH ( Left tarsus : metal ring . Left tibia red colour ring .Right tibia: yellow flag   engraved with three black letters NEH).
Age/sex: 1K / 1cy (hatched 2014).
Ringing date: 24.08.2014, 15  hrs.
Ringing place: Makkevika (62.30N-006.02E) Giske, Giske, Norway.
Controlled: 31.08.2014 , 22 hrs, same place. 0-0-7 (7 days after ringing.)
Remarks: Caught by mist net  at our wader station, Giske OS.
Ringer: Kjell Mork Soot / Sunnmøre Ringing Group.

Finding date:  07.10.2014, 15 hrs.
Observed : East Chevington (55.16N-001.34W) Northumberland, England / UK.
Distance : 914 km SSW.   Direction: 212  deg.
Time: 0-1-13. (1 month-13 days after ringing).
Remarks:  Photodocumented and telescoped.

So this bird hatched this year and has already travelled 914km ( including crossing the North Sea).

Little Stint still at Cresswell. Yesterday's high tides mean the water level is now very high and the causeway is flooded.

Remember I said no more chasing rarities. Don't believe everything you read in my blog!

Today I ventured to Newton. In search of a bird reported late yesterday six hours after the priveleged few were informed. Despite protestations on their websites, they too should be taken with a pinch of salt. As expected the bird failed to materialise but it made for a rewarding morning and an affirmation of ......

Back at Chevington and the Shorelark remained on the beach. The 'man flu' has hit the really annoying coughing stage, where the coughing causes a headache. I guess standing around in the cold will not help.

Kjell's other projects

We are colour ringing  waders and  passerines  in Norway   and at Svalbard  . I will mention the projects here:

Sunnmøre Ringing Group has been colour ringing the species mentioned below for some years. From season 2014 there is a colloboration between Sunnmøre Ringing Group (Giske Ornithologiocal Station )  (located in  northwestern Norway, 62.30N-006.02E),  Revtangen Ornithologiocal Station   (located in southwestern Norway, 58.45N-005.29E) and Jomfruland Bird Station (located in southeastern Norway, 58.52N-009.36E).

We hope, of course,  that you will look for flagged Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) ,  Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleuca) , Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) and Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) in the future ! All these species have red colour ring on left tibia and yellow flag on right tibia engraved with 3 black letters.

 Little Stint (Calidris minuta) : (Metal ring left tarsus. Red cr-ring above the metal ring. Right tarsus yellow ring engraved  with 3 black letters).

 Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) : yellow colour ring and orange  flag engraved with 3 black letters.

 Curlew (Numenius arquata) (mostly pullus)  : orange plain ring on left tibia and orange ring engraved with 3 black letters on right tibia.

Passerines: Rock Pipit  (Anthus petrosus), Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba)  Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) , Stonechat (Saxicokla torquatus)  and Grashopper Warbler (Locustella  naevia)  with yellow ring engraved with 3 black letters on right tarsus. Dipper (Cinclus cinclus): lime (light green) ring on right tarsus with 3 black letters engraved.

Svalbard (Arctis Ocean) (Longyearbyen Feltbiologiske Forening / Norsk Polarinstitutt  in collaboration with Sunnmøre RG):
At Svalbard (Artic Ocean) we flag Purple Sandpiper (Calidris  maritima) :
 a) Longyearbyen: orange colour ring and light green (lime) flag with 3 black letters .
b)  Longyearbyen: orange colour ring and (dark) green flag with 3 white  letters.
c) Sørkappøya (South Cape Island) : yellow colour ring and orange flag, 3 black  letters .

We also have started to flag Dunlin (Calidris alpina)  at Svalbard: orange marker ring on left tibia, and orange flag engraved with 3 black letters on right tibia.

Summer 2012 we  also  started flagging  Common Ringed Plover  at Svalbard: Yellow marker ring at left tibia, and orange flag engraved with 3 black letters on right tibia.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Shortlist, Snowflake ... Shorelark

Some birds just have to be photographed. After the 'Man Flu' and rotten weather of yesterday, I was so pleased to get out today. I walked miles. he weather kept getting better and eventually I headed to Newbiggin. I came across three Wheatears, this one was so confiding, even my basic camera got some good results.

Redshank (shank = legs)

By this stage I was getting very frustrated by ignorant people on the beach and my mood was blackening. I headed for Druridge.

Slightly out of order these shots were taken early morning.

This colour-ringed, Ringed Plover was at East Chev. It had a yellow flag with clear lettering on and I'm trying to find more details.

Star bird has to be this Shorelark.
At Druridge I met Hector who had just found this Shorelark. I tried to tweet and text a few friends as I worked my way over the dunes. Sadly predictive text took over and many garbled messages went out. Eventually I settled on the beach and waited for the bird to approach. The result some half-decent photos but as the tide rose it became more unsettled. It was eventually seen at Chevington, and the very high tide left it little space to evade the people on the beach.  

Monday, 6 October 2014

Wet Breaks?

Well today is ideal for a blog update. Two aborted attempts to get some fresh air and a lingering dose of' 'man flu' mean I'm inside and catching up with some TV viewing.

Why the flowers? Well this is what happens when the migration madness starts. Yesterday a small bird flew into this tiny patch of flowers n the rocky shore at Snab, Cresswell. I waited for it to emerge. It didn't. Closer inspection still nothing came out (thoughts of bluethroat, rubythroat pg tips). I reached down to part the flowers and out popped a Robin. I guess it must have been hunting spiders.

This morning I hoped to beat the rain to Newbiggin ... no chance. A very brief walk around the headland and back to the house for a mug of Bovril.

Plan B .. a walk in the park. DBCP was sheltered and allowed a bit of a leg stretch. The howling wind meant bird calls were impossible to hear apart from the high pitched Goldcrest's call. The feeding station held a few birds but really it was a hopeless exercise. The positive from these high winds will be that if birds do appear later in the week the lack of leaf cover will make them easier to find.  

Wet Breaks refers to those awful times at school when the pupils are stuck inside at lunchtime with no opportunity to burn off some energy ready for the afternoon slog. Today will be one of those days .. poor teachers ;-)