Thursday, 19 December 2013

Summary of 2013.

2013 has been an excellent year all round, Northumberland has been incredible! I've had a total of 32 British Ticks and have managed to put a top 10 together, the top 2 was a battle in my mind, but the Bridled Tern can't possibly be beaten I'm afraid, best bird I have ever seen by far. Spent the year in some fantastic company, thanks to everyone who made it so. Here it is!
  • 10 - Bluethroat, St. Mary's Island - 25/9/13
  • 9 - Long-Tailed Skua, St. Mary's Island - 24/5/13
  • 8 - Siberian Stonechat, Howick - 21/10/13
  • 7 - Dotterel, Cairn Gorm - 25/5/13
  • 6 - Spotted Sandpiper, Alnmouth - 27/7/13
  • 5 - Sardinian Warbler, Mire Loch - 6/10/13
  • 4 - American Golden Plover, St. Mary's Island - 20/9/13
  • 3 - COLLARED FLYCATCHER, Low Newton - 8/5/13
  • 2 - IVORY GULL (2), Seahouses - 7/12/13
  • 1 - BRIDLED TERN, Inner Farne - 1/7/13
Some photos from 2013:

 By far Patch Bird of the Year, American Golden Plover found by James Spencer, quality.
 Black Redstart (1 of 3 seen at St. Mary's this year), this one found by Dan McGibbon.
 Blue-Headed Wagtail found by myself at St. Mary's in April.
 Cracking Bluethroat found by Nick Dales, huge lifer for me, and at St. Mary's again!
WOW. Look at that. No words can describe how good this really was. BRIDLED TERN on the Farnes. Big thanks to Mike Hodgson and Gary Woodburn for gaining me access to this bird! Found by Will Scott, beauty.
 One of my all time favourite birds, Corncrake from North Uist.
 Dotterel found by me and my dad on Cairn Gorm in May, class.
 Firecrest at St. Mary's, another lifer and long overdue! Well found by John Malloy and Phil Allott.

 Impressive Beasts. Golden Eagles on North Uist.
 Great White Egret at Druridge Pools to complete the 3 Egrets in one year in Northumberland!
Hawfinch at Sizergh Castle, another species I have been chasing for a long time and caught up with for the first time this year.
 Hen Harrier on North Uist, always fantastic!

 Very narrowly missing out on Bird(s) of the Year!! 2 IVORY GULLS at Seahouses Golf Course found by Gary Woodburn initially, simply incredible!

Pallid Swift at Hartlepool Headland, found by Simon Parnaby, a record up for discussion but happy to have it myself!
Cairn Gorm Classic! Ptarmigan at the Ski Centre. 
Grip-Back! A bird I have missed 11 times before this one, Red-Backed Shrike FINALLY seen at Seaton Sluice this year, found by Nigel Tinlin. Also had one at St. Mary's later in the month! 
Female Scaup on St. Mary's Wetland found by myself, later on saw 4 on the sea. 
Siberian Stonechat at Howick, been desperate to see one for years now, and got 2 in 2 days with the North Yorkshire bird the day before! 
Western Bonelli's Warbler at Hartlepool, very good NE record! 
A year wouldn't be complete without these beauties, Yellow-Browed Warbler at St. Mary's, another good year for them.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Double Act...

On Friday night, I was set to go to Lancashire for the Baikal Teal, but in a bizarre turn of events involving a faulty burglar alarm in our house that kept me awake until 4 o'clock, I decided to stay at home, and what a decision that turned out to be.. At half 12 on Saturday, I noticed a tweet from Will Scott in a mad panic after coming off the Farnes, saying he was watching an Ivory Gull at Seahouses! Panic set in, and an hour later, me and Dan were there and getting fantastic views of it on the golf course, flying 10 foot away from us at some points!! Then the bird went out of sight for 5 minutes, and after a while it drifted back over from the trees with another gull, I didn't even look at the other one, until I heard the shout 'THERE'S TWO OF THEM!!', followed by many expletives, and there was a second juvenile IVORY GULL with the first!!! They drifted off towards Beadnell, so everyone piled back into their cars and headed along the road, and following another report saying they were both on the seaweed at Beadnell Beach, we were watching them again on the beach!! 2 IVORY GULLS TOGETHER IN NORTHUMBERLAND?! Fantastic day! And a win at Man United, perfect!


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Past few days on the patch..

Nice week or so at St. Mary's, with the arrival of my new scope, I was itching to get it out. To kick things off, I located the Med Gull with the Black-Head flock yesterday, and today found a cracking juvenile Scaup on the wetland! I was over the moon with this bird, and only the second time I have seen one on patch, the first time being seawatching fly-bys! Wetland first! Also had a Black Redstart on the rocks on the island last week.

 Black Redstart

Med Gull

Monday, 21 October 2013

This Weeks Birding

Thursday saw me heading for Hartlepool Headland early doors with Tom M and Dan McG for Western Bonelli's Warbler, we gained some excellent views of that bird and also managed Mealy Redpoll in the hand there. Sunday saw me back at Hartlepool Headland for the Pallid Swift, Dusky Warbler and Bonelli's again, getting good views of all again! Me and Dan then went with Andrew K and Michael M to North Yorkshire for the Siberian Stonechat, and got some excellent views of that as well! However we dipped Hoopoe in Notts later in the day thanks to an ignorant photographer who thought 10 feet wasn't close enough, wow. Today saw me flying up to Howick for another Siberian Stonechat which showed even better, becoming my second in two days after only life ticking it yesterday! Excellent few days birding.

Western Bonelli's Warbler

 Mealy Redpoll
 Pallid Swift

Siberian Stonechat

Friday, 11 October 2013

Mad Seawatch 11/10/13

(7:15 - 12:15) and (15:30 - 17:45) seawatches today from St. Mary's - Totalling 7 Busy Hours! Highlight Day Totals:

Sooty Shearwater - 38
Manx Shearwater - 28
Common Scoter - 241
Arctic Skua - 4
Great Skua - 125 (!)
Red-Breasted Merganser - 3
Brent Goose - 20
Red-Throated Diver - 18
Pomarine Skua * - 2
Goldeneye - 5
Velvet Scoter - 3
Long-Tailed Duck - 2
Black-Throated Diver - 2
Great Northern Diver - 3

Can't get enough of this fantastic passage, back for more tomorrow!! Also a couple of grounded migrants today, hopefully more tomorrow, but did get the long-staying Firecrest again and a patch yeartick in the form of Stonechat, putting me on 156.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Patch Mega!

After a report from Alan C of a RB Fly on the patch today, I went straight down for a look. It was a fruitless effort however as nobody on site saw the bird, and there was only one observer at 9:30, no further sign since. I managed to hear a Firecrest (2 Still Present), 4 YBWs and a Redstart. While looking for the RB Fly, I got eyes on a Large Raptor coming in off the sea. After I got my bins on it, I come to the conclusion that it was a Harrier sp! I presumed it was Marsh Harrier because there had been a few about and it was most likely, however after having a good look at the shape, I decided it was a HEN HARRIER! I shouted across to Bob, Brian and Darren who were standing with a few other birders who all got on the bird, and came to the conclusion that it was in fact a Hen Harrier, as a couple of the birders there had the Harrier in their scope and got the white rump showing nicely! One of the birders also managed a nice shot of it as it was flying away, my 2nd ever on patch, fantastic!! Better have another prediction as is tradition now! With these westerly winds coming in, I'm not hopeful, but Red-Breasted Flycatcher re-appearing would be nice...

Hen Harrier

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Mini-Fall 2-3/10/13

Visit to patch this evening prove very productive! Me and Daniel McGibbon had a wander around the bushes and on our way to the willows, we got eyes on a female-type Redstart that dived in near the 2nd viewpoint. In the end, we had 2 Blackcap, Redwing, Song Thrushes and a few Goldcrest in the bushes. A Jack Snipe also flew over while we were scanning. The wetland held an absolute mega on the patch in the form of a COOT! My second of the year! Just as we were leaving, we were told to hurry along the track towards the 2nd viewpoint by PA and JM, and when we got along there, they told us they had just got eyes on a Firecrest, a full lifer for me and Dan! On waiting a few moments, we got some smart views of it, although elusive, excellent bird and a cracking find!

I went back down this morning to try and get some photos, and apart from 3 YBWs calling loudly from the bushes, there was very little else around. However, after a while the Firecrest was re-seen and I managed to get it in front of my camera in the willows near the wetland, showing well at times! Also had patch yeartick number 153 in the form of Little Grebe on the wetland, a cracker! Back for more tomorrow, I'll try this again... RBFlycatcher tomorrow please?


Thursday, 26 September 2013


Following yesterdays Bluethroat, I headed to patch this morning. Dipped Bluethroat before I got a chance to see it, but found another Yellow-Brow in the Gut, and also patch yearticked Short-Eared Owl that came in off the sea, brought me up to 149. Not aiming too high, but some flycatchers tomorrow please? Any kind would do!

Yellow-Browed Warbler

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Bluethroat please...

As a follow-on from yesterday's post, my last line was "What will tomorrow bring? Winds once again looking very good, Bluethroat please...". This morning my wish was granted, I got up early and found a Yellow-Browed Warbler in the willows north of the wetland. I then left and went to college, only to get a phone call from Alan Curry to tell me Nick had found a Bluethroat on the 3rd Mound, which panicked me! As soon as I got a chance, I was back down! Absolutely cracking views of a female Bluethroat on the 2nd Mound - lifer!! Showing down to about 6ft and showing off to the crowd. I then moved to the island and got some cracking views of at least 4 YBWs on the island, also got a Brambling which was a full patch tick, mega!

Totals from the patch today:

10 YBWs (at least)
6 Redwing
6 Goldcrest
Loads of Chiffchaffs and Robins
Black Redstart (female)
Blackcap etc etc.


Tuesday, 24 September 2013


It's not autumn until the Yellow-Brows start arriving, and that's just what happened today. After promising numbers building up on the continent, it was only a matter of time before they hit Britain, and the winds overnight and today brought them in. I saw 2 at St. Mary's this afternoon. What will tomorrow bring? Winds once again looking very good, Bluethroat please...

Yellow-Browed Warbler

Saturday, 21 September 2013

American Goldie 20-21/9/13

At the start of the year when I said the words 'I fancy an AGP on patch this year', I never thought for a second it would happen, but thanks to James Spencer, I have added it to my British Life List and Patch List. Excellent bird, unfortuantely I couldn't get down for it on the 19th, but was there first thing yesterday and today. Back for more tomorrow! Magic!

My Best Efforts so far.

Also managed to finally patch tick Buzzard this afternoon with 2 hunting over near the railway line, 73 Pink-Feet went over at 11:00 and added Coot to my Patch Yearlist, only my second ever on patch, MEGA! 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Algarve Birding

I have been away in Portugal for the last couple of weeks with the family, but also managed to get some birding in including a bird tour through Simon (The Algarve Birdman)So here goes, I got no less than 17 lifers, including:

• Southern Grey Shrike (20+)
Caspian Tern (4)
Little Bittern (5) (Big Target)
• Common Waxbill (Common!)
• Black-Headed Weaver (Common at Quinta Do Lago)
• Cory's Shearwater (seen Scopoli's before but spent hours watching Cory's yesterday for East Coast experience! Also got a lot of experience on Balearic Shearwaters and saw over 300 in 2 hours)
• Black Kite (3)
• Honey Buzzard (3)
• Little Bustard (6, big target of the trip)
• Red-Necked Nightjar (another target species, sitting in the middle of the road at dusk)
• Thekla Lark (everywhere)
• Woodlark
• Short-Toed Lark (3)
• Spectacled Warbler (3)
• Melodious Warbler (4)
• Western Bonelli's Warbler
 • EAGLE OWL (fantastic looking bird! Spent hours waiting when it finally flew across and landed on the opposite cliff where it posed for 2 hours!)

Also got endless numbers of Woodchat Shrikes, Blue Rock Thrushes and Black Redstarts. Red-Rumped Swallows were fantastic as well and spent a long time attempting to photograph them.

 Azure-Winged Magpie
 Black-Headed Weaver

 Common Waxbill

 Little Bittern

 Little Bustard
 Melodious Warbler

 Red-Rumped Swallow
Thekla Lark
Eagle Owl