Welcome to my birding blog - first launched 12th March 2012...


4th November ff

November 27, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Twelve to go!*

Well, in my dreams...

November 4th: Blacktoft

A nice afternoon and nothing special about nearby so I decided that it might be nice to photograph the white-tailed lapwing in the sunshine on what I think was its 71st day at Blacktoft. Took me a while to find it hiding behind one of the small ephemeral islands at Xerox.

A black-tailed godwit was enjoying the sunshine too...

...and a marsh harrier added to my afternoon's entertainment.

November 8th: Flamborough and Hornsea

The plan was amazingly simple: Flamborough South Landing for a red-flanked bluetail and then on to Hornsea Mere for a couple of less common grebes. The plan worked out almost perfectly apart from one small hiccup which I managed to solve [if you can solve a hiccup].

I was able to park in the small YWT section of the car park at South Landing [so I didn't have to pay] and I strolled down to the picnic area. Probably about a dozen birders present well spaced out as they watched a small area of the woodland. I saw the bird almost straightaway in the darkest area of all. It's amazing what the 7D with the zoom lens and ISO 1000 in RAW can achieve. These photos looked like this when I downloaded them:

RAW gives you so much control it's almost as if you can go back and try again. Here's the photo processed: it may not be great but it's not bad at all.

Here's a few more of the photos taken in very poor light and then enhanced at home: 

Eventually the bluetail appeared on the woodland edge in good light. A pity about the branch of a young ash tree but otherwise I was pleased with my efforts.

I headed south for Hornsea Mere. A red-throated and a slavonian grebe had both been present for a few days. On arrival I found the gates to the mere car park and access to Kirkholme Point closed. Perhaps they always are on Mondays. I headed for the Hull road as it runs south of fields overlooking the mere. I took the path some way into the field and set up the scope. After a few minutes I was joined by a birder I've met a few times over the years. In fact I remember some years back watching a phalarope with him at the end of Kirkholme Point as the bird span like a top a couple of feet from us.

This time he greeted me with ''Hello, young man!'' although he's at least 20 years younger than I. I found a sleeping grebe and got my birding friend on to it. Eventually it stirred and we had a slavonian grebe. The birder wanted only two birds to get to 200 for the year. However he'd already seen a slav grebe. A few seconds later I picked up another grebe very close to the first bird. So close the birder said ''It's the slav again'' I panned and found the slav a bit further right and assured the birder I had got them both. He panned around and said '' They're almost next to each other!'' So he had his year tick and I had 3 for the day.

November 9th: South & North Shields

Sandhaven Beach from South Shields pier

I knew South Shields pier and the challenging car park machine from previous visits. So no trouble this time. The snow buntings flew past me as I walked down the pier.

So here they are. I saw 10 but I think there are more in the area.

An eider was chewing on a small crab...

...a small flock of teal were on the sea...

...and a brute of a GBB was watching for an easy meal.

An iceland gull was reported at North Shields fish quay so I headed there. In pandemic mode you no longer pay when you go through the Tyne tunnels; you now have to pay online later. Suited me very well as I don't pick up small change like I used to. Another pandemic effect.

No iceland gull: it had been a very brief visit. I spent some time looking and hoping for a return but to no avail. I snapped this drake eider in the oily waters of the fish dock.

November 11th: Whitburn and Seaton Snook

Strange how without going further north than Hartlepool for many months, two days later I was back. This time a trip to Whitburn to look for a pied wheatear on the cliff. Thanks to my tablet and the OS maps I found the entrance to a footpath leading from a housing estate out on to the cliff just south of the rifle ranges. Then I had to walk 200 metres. I could see a huddle of birders peering over the cliff as soon as I set off across the grassy clifftop. Here's the bird - a female or first winter.

The bird flew off round the outcrop so I moved south a few metres.

Then back south to Seaton Snook hoping for some twite. The sun was shining and the sky was blue with broken cloud.

The twite duly appeared but didn't hang about and never landed in the samphire flying off across the river towards South Gare. Here's a couple of flight shots.

Another big bird came over shortly after.

Here's a photo that got overlooked a few weeks ago - a monkey from Hartlepool Marina. [18th October]

November 24th: Greatham Creek and Saltholme East

The plan was to see a long-tailed duck. Unfortunately they failed to show although [of course] they were seen the day before and again the following day! Several of us were looking. Golden plover were wonderful and as I watched them a red-breasted merganser surprised me by flying upstream under the road bridge and kept going until out of sight. More mergansers were seen out at Seal Sands. My only year tick that day.

Twite at Greatham too - one locally colour ringed bird visible in this shot.

Zoomed in: top centre bird - pink ring.

Barnacle geese near Seal Sands roundabout...

...and eiders at the Fish Dock

Heading south  I pulled into the layby by Saltholme East and spotted a number of pintails. Lovely birds.

I drove to Redcar to Majuba Road to look for long-tailed ducks there. No sign but red-throated divers and common scoter seen.

Fun on Redcar sands!

Stop press: lots of action on our garden feeders this morning [27/11] with tits and chaffinches. I was thrilled to suddenly spot a brambling in with the goldfinches, greenfinches and chaffinches. First one in the garden for some years. Just shows it's worth a good look when the weather's really bleak! [38 species in the garden this year so far]

188* UK 2021

18th October 2021 ff

October 31, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Second time lucky!

October 18th: Hartlepool Marina

I was hoping for a black-throated diver but somehow or other I failed to find it although I walked all round the marina and met other birders who had been equally unsuccessful. I found a friendly guillemot so I made do with this bird for the afternoon.

A cormorant was struggling a little to swallow a large fish.

October 20th: Hartlepool Marina and Headland

I tried again and found the black-throated diver almost as soon as I arrived. It was swimming near the neglected museum ship, Wingfield Castle. I noticed a circular ripple of water and wondered what had caused it so I watched and up popped the diver. 

An arctic warbler had been frequenting the trees near Borough Hall on the Headland. Birders were photographing something when I arrived so I walked over. No warbler had been seen but a group of brambling were in the trees.

October 27th: Hartlepool Headland and Ward Jackson Park

This was a much brighter day. The Headland from the lifeboat station.

Second time lucky! Although it took me a long time to 'get on it' with my bins eventually the 7D with the zoom lens proved the ideal combination. Very pleased to see and photograph this bird.

A little time left although the light had dimmed a little so I decided to try Ward Jackson Park for the parakeets. Various previous visits this year had drawn a blank but I am a persistent birder! I was walking down to the lake when I heard that unmistakable sound. Five parakeets raced across the sky before I could react. A couple of minutes later two more landed in a tree close by.

181 UK 2021

7th October 2021 ff

October 17, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

There's still good birding to be found!

October 7th: Dorman's Pool and Redcar beach

Walking to the hide at Dorman's I quickly snapped sea aster and common toadflax.

Pinkfeet on the pool.

A couple of green sandpipers at Phil Stead's place, Saltholme.

Sanderlings on Marske beach - there's a dunlin in there too.

October 9th: St. Aidan's 

Time for one of those ridiculous 'cuckoo' shots as I call any bird photo where the bird is barely visible! Scope views of the long-toed stint [UK lifer 446] were at best all right: camera shots were awful but I tried!! The target bird is left of the far lapwing near the water's edge. Honest!!

I've zoomed in a bit!

October 15th: Staveley

A very brief visit as I had to leave early. Only photos taken were of a buzzard. I've included one just for the record.

October 16th: Hartlepool Headland and the Zinc Works Road

My plan was to see purple sandpipers as I kept missing them for some reason and then to go to Seaton Common to see short-eared owls. Partial success only I'm afraid. Tide was high and I spotted a long line of turnstones on the main breakwater. Camera all ready for action I headed closer hoping some purple sands might be amongst the turnstones. They were.

Curlew on the Headland sands

A little later at Newburn Bridge I eventually spotted another purple sandpiper.

There were sanderlings there too.

Next was my long wait on the Zinc Works Road. I'm sure the owls did show but I had to leave before they appeared, alas. Consolation stonechat coming up!

175 UK 2021


20th September 2021 ff

October 05, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Old Man's Wanderings

September 20th: Adel Dam YWT and Golden Acre Park, Leeds

I'd been meaning to go for a long time to visit Adel Dam. Can't imagine why. It seemed neglected and pretty lifeless. The first hide proudly announced  that hopefully it would soon get an upgrade. There was little to see and it looked overgrown. The second hide was closed for repairs and the lake was covered in unpleasant looking algae. I saw a heron and a dunnock during my visit. Plus 27 squirrels of the verminous variety.

So far so bad...

Don't despair however. Golden Acre Park is well maintained and as soon as I reached the lake by the so-called Duck Hut I saw  mandarins - females and juveniles. I'm guilty of being chronologically inaccurate however as I had to go through the park and past the lake before I reached Adel Dam. If I'd stayed by the lake I'd see what I came for without the longer walk! When I came back from Adel Dam the drake mandarins were everywhere. The drakes must be late risers as befits their high status as mandarins!

Here's some pics!

Juvenile drake's head visible on right.

September 21st: Greatham Creek, Hartlepool and Seaton Snook

I was late in arriving and the tide was low. The best birds had moved on. I found black-tailed godwits and a spoonbill by the creek. The Headland was quiet and the purple sandpipers had flown. I was glad to see Barry on the Headland. I decided to head for Seaton Snook and a long walk on wet sand. Barry headed for Ward Jackson Park where [as I learnt later] he saw parakeet. That would have been a tick for me! No ticks as the bonxie had gone south but still I had a good time.

Sandwich terns are still present.

Guillemots and razorbills in huge numbers on the river. Very strange.

I saw one dead guillemot along the waterline.

Some frighteningly loud explosions somewhere in the industrial area put everything in the air [except the auks]. Knot I think.


The birds soon settled down again on the sands. Knot on right hand edge.

An arctic skua appeared.

Time was pressing so I began the walk back but was cut off from my preferred route by the tide that had started to come in again. That was lucky as I now headed back the way I had come along the samphire path. To my surprise I saw these three truants...

More wanderings later, I hope!

169 UK 2021

17th September 2021 ff

September 19, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Good Old Yorkshire!

September 17th - Blacktoft rules!

Blacktoft is certainly having a purple patch! Ibis, white tailed thingy and now a bluethroat. Not the easiest bird to see as it hides in the reeds at the back of Marshland lagoon along with a robin. [Can't say I've ever seen robins at Blacktoft before but I may be forgetting...] Anyway on my second visit I got some photos although the bird was still a long way off!

The ruff came nice and close. Attractive birds.


The white-tailed plover has been present for 3 weeks now. All the crowds! It's exhausting!

September 18th - a morning stroll round North Cave Wetlands

I went thinking I might see something good. I knew a mandarin had been reported but there was no sign. However, half way down Dryham Lane near the gate on the right where there are feeders I spotted movement in the grass. Green woodpecker. The car and camera were 200m away. I made my way quickly to the car and drove down, parking just before the gate. Camera ready, I walked quietly over. The bird was still busy feeding. It's a juvenile and it made my day.

168 UK 2021