Monday, 28 December 2020


Well 2020 is nearly over. Despite all the problems it has still been a good birding year. Some amazing Northumberland rarities and a couple of rare breeding records.

The last week for me has been as good as many this year. Mealy Redpolls (2) in the country park. An inland Little Egret, Wintering Marsh Harriers, singing Cetti's Warbler and 'birds of the month'; singing Dippers.


Friday, 25 December 2020

Thursday, 10 December 2020

South Shields Pier

This Snow Bunting (one of four) was sporting a white ring with E3 code. It may be a bird ringed in Calais in 2013. (Another code E0 was ringed then and appeared on South Shields Pier in  March 2013 I think.) So I'm awaiting details.

Great to get a quick response from Quentin. Just arrived early evening. This bird is at least 7 years old! Any birders checking the South Shields Buntings should check to see if the others are ringed. This was in a small flock of 4 but the others avoided close scrutiny.

The Turnstones on the pier have become very tame. I'm wondering if local toggers are feeding them be cause the followed us everywhere as you'll see from Mum snapping them with her iPhone.


Monday, 7 December 2020

Dull December ... I think not!

Otter (female and 3 kittens) If the video works you can also here the Cetti's Warbler. Two Water Rails, Pintail, 3 Long-tailed Duck, female Marsh Harrier and 23 Little Grebe. Offshore another LTD, Great Northern Diver, Red-breasted Mergansers and Guillemots.


Thursday, 26 November 2020

Early Morning Magic


Oops Video Fail

An early visit to see the Starlings leave the roost was well worth it. The sound of several thousand starlings stirring is amazing. Two harriers then took flight and the nearby starlings moved along the reeds. Then a flock of c500 left the roost. A Barn Owl was nearby and the harriers continued to stretch their wings. Eventually a flock of 3000+ starlings left the roost. The video above showing a part of that flock.

Excitement over I took the telescope to the other pool. Another Barn Owl did a close flyby and the Cetti's burst into song. 14 Whoopers whooping! A flock of 14 Long-tailed Tits left the roost near the hide. Ah, excitement over now?

Well not quite. A return to the North Pool had a Barn Owl perched opposite with a drooping wing. I met up with a local photographer who had witnessed a raptor attack the owl. I looked at his photo and it revealed a Buzzard pinning down the owl. The Barn Owl made it to the trees and was 'licking its wounds'. It later flew off unseen. I hope the injuries were not too bad.

Finally I went to the beach and scanned a flock of Common Scoter. Nearby, there were Red-throated Divers, a single Black-throated Diver, Great Crested Grebes, Razorbills and Red-breasted Mergansers. On the shore a mixed flock of Ringed Plover and Sanderling fed along the receding tide line.

Beat that for a morning! (Then back home for a coffee at 10 am)

A few pictures from earlier in the week.

An amazing year for me not seeing the rarities. 
A visit to Amble the day after the AB-bP left :(

I wonder how many of these star birds I photographed this year. There are lots of Stonechats along the coast. I hope it isn't too severe a winter for them.

Grey Heron

A dull name for such a magnificent bird.


Monday, 9 November 2020

November in the Bay



Velvet Scoter

Some fabulous mornings in the Bay during the last few days. The advice to stay at home (except for ...) had me looking forward to my daily exercise from home. However with broken stiles, overgrown footpaths and nearby Pheasant Shooting it makes me think I will be using my car to do short trips to a starting point for my walks.

Bar-tailed Godwit

It still amazes me how many people, so wrapped up in their own little worlds, still refuse to make space when passing by on footpaths. They don't respond favourably when I ask them for more space.

Grey Plover

Birders and Photographers are just as much to blame. How many of them have been to see the Newbiggin Shorelark, Newbiggin Black Redstart and the Morpeth Hawfinches? Goodness knows what will happen when a rarer bird is discovered. Well if it is on my patch you won't hear it from me.


One morning recently I had the good fortune to get brief views of Bittern, a close (and I mean close) encounter with a Barn Owl, three different Kingfishers, a hunting Marsh Harrier and a Singing Cetti's Warbler.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Birder's Tides

Well finally with no really big news and a good weather forecast (for birding rather than finding birds) I decided to go to Holy Island. The Brown Shrike was reported as still present on Saturday but with clear skies I didn't expect it to stay any longer.

Birder's tides (Get on island before dawn, tide comes in and the island remains pretty quiet for most of the morning!)

Tourist's tides (Tides go down at 9:00am, people flood on, and the whole day is busy)

The Brown Shrike was still present and distant as most people had reported last week. Sitting on the Straight Lonnen for well over an hour watching this bird were rewarded with some closer views. Never really close but with the warm light it was brilliant to see.

In addition to the Shrike there were; 2 Sparrowhawks, 3 Kestrels, 1 Merlin and 1 Peregrine.


A super flock 50+ Twite on the Snook and an impressive raft of Brent Geese.

When I left there was a queue of traffic almost back to Beal Barn (waiting to come on the island).