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


11th May-25th May 2023

May 29, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Hartlepool to Blacktoft Sands...

...and places in-between

May 11th: Hartlepool and Seaton Carew

I started at Hartlepool Headland which seemed very quiet. I spotted a couple of waders further along on the rocks so I drove in their direction. Delighted to find they weren't curlews but a pair of whimbrel.

Seaton Carew beach has been the new home for the local little tern colony for a couple of years now and it is well monitored and protected. Most birds had gone fishing but there were a few little terns around...

...and common terns at Holme Fleet.

May 12th: Sutton Bank in very gloomy conditions. Two turtle doves seen but not photographed as they didn't linger thanks to disturbance by innocent visitors who walked past at the wrong moment! I settled for a yellowhammer.

May 15th: Tophill Low

I walked to North Marsh hide confident I would see reed warblers from the hide. No sign. A kingfisher did land just in front of me however and I was very happy to see him.

May 24th: Tophill Low again. No kingfisher but a rather shy reed warbler was seen. Otherwise quiet. A pair of mute swans were parading their young family along the channel.

A female orange tip [no orange on the female] posed for me as did a confident song thrush as I walked through the woodland.

May 25th: Blacktoft Sands for an afternoon. Canada geese can look very bulky when they're coming straight at you!

Old man with a stick

183 UK 2023


















































April 27th - 9th May 2023

May 11, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

From Nosterfield to Sutton Bank  - a spring miscellany!

April 26th: Nosterfield

A brief visit to Flask Lake where a blackcap was spotted briefly along with a song thrush but finding the Bewick's swan proved challenging.

The Bewick's was located later on Langwith Lake, a lake which I didn't know. It's about 700m down Moor Lane just over Lady Bridge looking west.

April 27th:  Langdon Beck

I tried several times to find the hoopoe at Langdon Beck. I did see a willow warbler and a dipper on my walks along the beck but I never managed to spot the target bird. I spotted a black grouse a little closer than on my last visit, a friendly snipe and a donkey! I spotted the snipe as I drove along: I had a camera on the passenger seat so I drew up quite close and wound down the passenger window - the snipe was unconcerned.

April 28th: Blacktoft Sands

An afternoon visit. Dull weather so I didn't expect much. Certainly not the Cetti's warbler as I entered the reserve.

I settled down in Marshland hide and in an unplanned way I got absorbed in trying to photograph the hirundines that were busy over the water. Marsh harriers were around too.

Approaching the hide I saw the bench that commemorates Joe Gilleard a Blacktoft birder who was also key member of the family that have provided so many hides around the country. [Poor chap has a screw loose!]

May 1st: Saltholme and Low Newton by the Sea

I was birding near Saltholme trying to photograph a spotted redshank when I saw a report of a grey-headed lapwing at Low Newton-by-the-Sea.


I'd never heard of a GHL. Still it seemed to be getting everybody very excited so I abandoned my original plan and set off north. A first for Britain and lifer 448 for me. [I hoped] 

Parking was fraught as the car park had never seen the like. A uniformed local authority official was present and was making sure all cars were displaying their tickets! I set off down the hill.

May 3rd: Around the Saltholme area

Quiet. Eider on Greatham Creek; common sandpipers from hide at Dorman's Pool.

May 6th: York University

Black-winged stilts from first lagoon. One photo features all 4 stilts and a moorhen.

Kestrel at York university

Almost back at the car when I spotted this rabbit.

May 7th: South Shields and Blackhall Rocks

Hoopoe found by New Sundial pub in dunes at South Shields. In a heavy mist which produced an unusual light.

The bird was elusive so I photographed some linnets while I wandered the dunes waiting for the hoopoe to loom out of the mist.

Still, here it is - a bird I was thrilled to finally encounter. [Split infinitive - who cares!]

I called at Blackhall Rocks on my way home and saw grasshopper warbler, whitethroat and cuckoo. Only white throat managed to get onto the memory card along with a few other bits...

Looking down onto the beach from the cliff top I saw this remarkable huge stone image that must have taken hours to create. No idea what it is though!

May 9th: Sutton Bank

Turtle doves had been reported so I went on a morning visit. No sign but yellowhammer showed nicely and I was pleased to locate a garden warbler by 'the finest view in Britain' as the signposts name it. Here is the view itself.

And here are the birds.

A buzzard flew past at eye level.

Early purple orchids

178 UK 2023

April 8th - April 24th 2023

April 26, 2023  •  3 Comments

The Persistent Birder Rides Again!

This story begins on the 27th of March when I went to Old Moor for my first attempt to see the elusive ring-tailed duck. Between March 27th and April the 24th I tried 4 times [in total] to track down this bird. Persistence sometimes pays off...

April 7th: Old Moor

No ring-necked duck seen by the assembled crowd. Spoonbill in the mist on Wath Ings and a great crested grebe from Wader Scrape hide.

April 8th: A trip to Ossett

A pair [i.e. two - not necessarily male and female as far as I know] of adult black-crowned night herons were reported on the River Calder.

Views of the location from the bridge.

Part of a bit of an influx across the country. The first bird seen was determinedly fast asleep whilst a crowd of birders watched in hope for a bit of action. This came when the second bird flew in.

April 13th: Bishop Middleham and Saltholme

Bishop Middleham was quiet. Best sightings were fieldfares and a bullfinch.

Saltholme has distant Mediterranean gulls through the visitor centre glass plus a kestrel being escorted off the premises by an angry black-headed gull.

Stock dove

Herring gulls by the Lifeboat Station, Hartlepool.

April 13th: Adwick upon Dearne

Avocets and a kestrel sheltering from the wind. A lucky finding.

April 23rd: Blacktoft Sands to try for the three black terns that were reported on Marshland scrape. They obliged! [There's a swallow in the mix too!]

I only got one photo showing more than one bird.

I walked down to Ousefleet. A pair of yellow wagtails were in the ploughed field.

April 24th: Another old Moor Escapade

I wasn't too hopeful but I had news the ring-necked duck was on Willow Pool. This was confirmed by the girl on duty. we had a fun conversation. i'm pretty deaf and she had laryngitis and could barely speak! Willlow Pool is the far left-hand section of Wath Ings - to the left of the line of trees that stand in the water. A cormorant was perched there all afternoon. I spent all afternoon watching the hirundines, pochard and other ducks whilst hoping Mr. Elusive might appear. Few other people came. It wasn't warm but I had promised myself I'd stay until 3.30. Round about twenty past three I said [very loudly] to the empty hide: 'It's there! It's there!'

It was.

I walked back content and ready to face the A1 at Wentbridge. I passed a pair of LBB miscreants on my way.

161 UK 2023

19th March-4th April 2023

April 06, 2023  •  4 Comments

Meeting up with some old friends...

It's probably just me but when I'm out birding and I see a species I haven't seen for a while I feel reassured that in spite of everything going on in the world some things are still ok. Well, just about.

March 19th: Bempton Cliffs and a drive down to Kilnsea

I hadn't yet seen razorbills or puffins so they were birds I hoped to spot. I was lucky to spot several separate groups of red partridge on my drive towards Bridlington and a skylark as I approached the reserve. I also saw kittiwakes as well as the two auk species.

A barn owl was flying near the car park at Kilnsea Wetlands.

March 21st: Adwick-upon-Dearne

A drake garganey was reported and found quite easily as a group of birders were staring hopefully at something in a pool some yards from the main path.

The garganey was fast asleep to the right of the teal. After about half an hour I decided to go for a walk hoping the bird might stir itself later. I saw chiffchaffs,  quite a few avocets, tufted ducks and some black-tailed godwits.


The garganey meanwhile woke up and flew across to the main pool.

March 24th: Oliver's Mount, Scarborough

Named after Oliver Cromwell but any connection with the great man is almost certainly apocryphal. Still the site provides a great view over the town and sea and was the ideal spot to watch the high speed flypasts of two alpine swifts. I wasn't having a good day as I panicked when I parked the car and discovered I had no phone, no wallet and no pager. I began to search the car but I soon realised the missing items were at home. I had simply forgotten them. Fortunately I had a couple of pounds in the car and plenty of diesel to get me home. Attempts to photograph the swifts didn't go well. The Canon R7 has its flaws and I struggle with the electronic viewfinder to follow fast moving birds against any complex or changing background. These are alpine swifts but I hope for better pictures one day....this year's influx was very unusual.

Oh well. You can't win them all! Still a good tick and great to watch in the bins. 

I saw ruff at North Cave later that day and on March 27th after not seeing the ring-necked duck I watched some other photographers trying to photograph four bearded tits. It looked hopeless and I didn't linger. It was raining.

March 28th and 31st: Blacktoft Sands

Quiet afternoons at Blacktoft with the regular birds. But a couple of nice surprises too. The R7 was in a good mood that day .... or perhaps I was!

Redpoll by Reception

Pied wagtail in flight at Marshland

Something disturbed the birds at Reedling hide

April 3rd: Grouse and Hartlepool

I drove up to Langdon Beck to see black grouse. Only two birds seen distantly from the road side. I headed to Cow Green reservoir. 

Kittiwakes at the lifeboat station. One bird was showing off its jewellery!

A firecrest at the Putting Green in Hartlepool was too quick for the camera to lock on to due to the many branches that were in the way but a sleeping little gull at Saltholme kept me sitting watching it until I decided to move on. All it ever did was move its head. Apparently five minutes before I arrived it was flying around but was being pestered by the black-headed gulls. Once on the ground they left it alone.

April 4th: North Cave

Little owl through the scope and little ringed plover also [but not at the same location]. LRP on Cell 2a; owl down in trees by the farm.

Ruff, lesser black-backed gull, shelduck, avocet, reed bunting and coltsfoot!

152 UK 2023

2nd - 15th March 2023

March 18, 2023  •  3 Comments

Waiting for Spring...

Things have gone rather quiet lately here in Yorkshire coupled with some unpleasant weather...

March 2nd: North Cave

A few trips to North Cave this month didn't really deliver although I did spend some time there peering down into the reeds to try and see a bittern as it crept almost horizontally through the dead reeds. I did see the bittern but attempts at a photograph were a complete failure! A water rail in the same spot did show.

A couple of other birds from North Cave...

...plus an unusual iris from the garden.

March 15th: Blacktoft Sands

A nice afternoon at Blacktoft with plenty of things to see. Plus a particularly good sighting within reach of my lens. More of which a little later.

People don't photograph greylags because, I expect, they're rather ordinary. So I don't suppose the next bird would be too popular either but it's a bird, it's living its life and we should still respect it.

A few ducks 

Greylags again and a huddle of snipe

A mute swan

Marsh harriers

Sitting in Singleton Hide these four geese sailed into view from behind the large island to the right of the middle channel. They came closer and closer. Here they are. Russian white-fronted geese.

133 UK 2023

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