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


June 6th-8th 2024

June 13, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

So this is summer!

Been rather quiet on the birding front. Malcolm [younger son] helped me rebuild our decking down by the pond as old age had induced a lot of rot. All done now. Also, I endured the nightmare of getting a new phone that didn't want to talk to my old phone. Still, got there in the end. No really exciting birds since the indigo bunting.

Blacktoft Sands - June 5th

A quiet afternoon's birding. I tried to photograph swallows and swifts. A wood pigeon was desperate to be included too!

As I reached the car park at the end of the afternoon a pied wagtail was ushering two youngsters off the main driveway to the safety of the roped off grassed area.

South Gare, Redcar - June 6th

On June 6th I went to South Gare to see some sandwich terns - or so I hoped. I chose a time when the tide was high and the birds would be pushed nearer the shore. And so it was but the terns were on the rocks on the seaward side and getting a clear view proved tricky. I sat on the uncomfortable rocks and waited. A ringed plover came to see what I was doing.

Although the bird was quite a long way out in the bay a sandwich tern did oblige and put on a nice display for me. I liked the pastel colours of the background of buildings at Marske.

Walking back to the car I could hear [new hearing aids] a skylark somewhere above me. Directly overhead as it turned out.

Saltholme - June 8th

I walked a very long way to the location of the pool that the night heron was frequenting. About a dozen birders staring at the reedbed. Plenty of house martins to watch and it did make a pretty picture . Only downside: the night heron was hiding somewhere out of view.

I walked back with Peter Garbutt and I commented on the display of marsh orchids on the meadow.

175 UK 2024

9th May to 18th May 2024

May 21, 2024  •  3 Comments

I thought it was blue!

May 9th: Blacktoft

It was a day for big birds - herons, spoonbill and egrets, in particular the great white. A sedge warbler got a look-in too.

I think this is a little egret and a great white egret.

May 10th: North Cave

Just one bird I hoped to see. The white winged black terns were present but finding a spot for a good view was a challenge. Both birds visible in last [poor] photo.

May 14th: Saltholme to Hartlepool

I had been told it was with 7 barnacle geese. So look for seven barnacle geese then! I went to Paddy's hide. A few birders looking round aimlessly. I tried to cover the whole area and a woman asked if I wanted her to move. I apologised and said that I was just trying to get a better look at the red-breasted goose. Suddenly everyone wanted to know where it was. I explained, took some photos and left everyone to admire the bird.

May 17th: Denaby Ings and Saltholme!

Osprey at Denaby Ings with its back resolutely turned to me.

I then drove to Saltholme as a couple of decent birds had been reported. I set off from the Visitor Centre to walk to Haverton viewpoint. I didn't think for a moment I might see [or even hear!] the Savi's warbler but the red-backed shrike was a possible. As I walked I heard a 'Good morning, Chris' from behind me. I then walked with Peter Garbutt and his birding friend. Although distant we soon saw the shrike. Much cropped, it's in the centre of each photo!

I set off to walk via Paddy's and the short cut to the electric gate and on to Saltholme Pools hide. The Temminck's stint was waiting for me.

Common tern back at the centre and then I rounded off the day on the Headland with some kittiwakes and eider drakes.

Ooops! I nearly forgot the sedge warbler by the electric gate on the way to  Saltholme Pools hide.

May 18th: Whitburn

Down the garden when Sheila arrived with my pager in her hand. Whitburn, Lizard Lane. Indigo bunting. Mega. Lifer. Five minutes later I was on my way.

When I arrived I found somewhere to park [lots of double yellow lines in the area] and decided to have a bit of a walk round to assess the situation. I took no bins or camera. I saw no activity at number 15. So I asked someone outside number 10 and they told me to go up the drive and knock. When i got to the front door [which was on the side!] there must have been 20 0r 30 pairs of shoes on the driveway outside the door. The door opened and I took my shoes off and went in. Peter Bell told me it was showing. It certainly was!!

Someone took this photo from inside the house. I'm the bald chap!

Now I'm sure you've seen the photos of the wonderful indigo bunting. I saw it on the feeder outside the window. I went back for my camera but the bird had gone flyabout. I later managed this 'Well, I was there' photo of the bird atop a tree in Marsden Grove. Not brilliant but I was satisfied to have a picture.

174 UK 2024

27th April to 2nd May 2024

May 05, 2024  •  2 Comments

Wags and Tits!

April 27th: Adwick upon Dearne

One of those days when you don't see what you hoped to see but nonetheless see something just as good. A black swan was some way away but flapped its wings showing off the white panels on them. I kept walking to the pool nearest to Bolton upon Dearne where I picked up a couple of yellow wagtails, my first of the year. A welcome find.

April 30th: Saltholme area; Hartlepool Headland and Blackhall Rocks

Egyptian geese close to the road at Holme Fleet. 

Next stop would be Seaton Carew beach in the hope that some of the little terns were around and hadn't all gone out to sea to fish. The roped off area was deserted but I soon found some little terns on the shoreline nearby.

Just in case there was something interesting around I decided to call briefly at Hartlepool Headland. Near the entrance to the fish dock I spotted a dark shape near the end of the old pilot pier so I parked and walked down to check it out. Common scoter.

Something on the pager tempted me to go for a walk at Blackhall Rocks. I knew that with my hearing the chances of finding a grasshopper warbler were slim but whitethroat might be possible. It was mild with little wind so I set off. 

I hope you can identify everything! Thanks to Carolyn Ferry and her friend I did see a very cooperative 'gropper'!

May 2nd & 5th: St. Aidan's RSPB

May 2nd I saw 2 bitterns in flight plus a bearded tit.

On May 5th a reported black-winged stilt made me pop over to St. Aidan's again but there was no sign and I met no one who was looking for it. However I did see 4 swifts and that certainly made my day. First of the year taking me to...

164 UK 2024


9th April 2024 ff

April 26, 2024  •  3 Comments


April 9th: Blacktoft Sands

I went for an afternoon visit and as I approached reception Ian, a volunteer I've met a few times, came running pointing down towards Singleton hide. Eventually I gathered three cranes had been seen but hadn't come into view where he expected. He suggested I walk down towards Singleton hide. In fact I had only gone about a quarter of the way when three birds appeared in the sky. A case of shoot first and ask questions later. 

Cranes and harriers

Otherwise the reserve was quiet - waiting perhaps for the tidal surge to close it down for a while and leave the wildlife in peace. 

An avocet slept at Marshland and a Cetti's warbler frightened me by bursting into song next to where I was standing. I tried to focus but I was too close and when I started to move away it flew. [See blurred photo below]


April 11th: North Cave Wetlands

Great crested grebes displaying, little grebes including a floating [just about] nest below South hide.

April 14th: Nosterfield and Saltholme

A long time since I saw so much water at Nosterfield. Common sandpipers seen and a ruff over on the far side Later I headed for Saltholme.

I sat for a while in the Wildlife Watchpoint hoping for water rail but no luck there. Little grebes swam past and pochard too.

Moving on to the meadow I realised there were many wheatears in the grass. At least fourteen. Mostly a bit out of reach of my lens.  Here's a couple of one that came a little closer.

Barnacle goose and LRP from Saltholme Pools hide.

April 20th: North Cave

I had a good walk round the reserve but the only year tick I could positively identify was this blackcap.

April 21st: Nosterfield

Main targets were yellow wagtail and ruddy shelduck. Ruddy shelduck distant on Stoneybeck Lake. Bison resting on the hillside beyond the lake. They looked quite at home there. A long walk later round Castle lake produced no yellow wagtails unfortunately.

April 25th: Hartlepool

I parked about 300 metres from Wasdale Close and wandered through this modern housing estate. No sign of activity until I turned a corner near number 39 and saw about 30 birders keenly watching all the bushes and trees in the area. The bird had disappeared.

Birders are quite determined to get their bird whatever tactic is required. Like espionage...

...and someone had alerted the ladder brigade.

But Kevin, the house owner, invited people into his house so Peter Garbutt and I went in. I got a nice comfy seat near a window. And guess what else turned up!

Driving slowly South I called at the Zinc Works Road. White wagtail and a lapwing with a very erect crest. Note to driver: switch engine off before pressing shutter! Focus prefers it that way!!

Pied wagtail at Phil Stead hide, Saltholme

153 UK 2024

19th March to 3rd April 2024

April 06, 2024  •  3 Comments

North Cave to Lockwood Beck

March 19th: North Cave, Scarborough and Bempton

Let us begin at North Cave Wetlands. Coltsfoot and a cattle egret - increasingly common at reserves these days.

Black-headed gulls.

Peregrine on the cliffs on Marine Drive, Scarborough.

Razorbill, fulmar on the cliffs at Bempton.

Kestrel near the Visitor Centre.

March 25th: Visits to Blacktoft and St. Aidan's. Marsh harrier, black-tailed godwits and garganey at Blacktoft.

Sand martins at St. Aidan's. 

When I arrived one of the little owls was visible but was partly masked by wires and metalwork of Oddjob. When I returned it was more in the open.

Blackthorn blossom.

April 2nd: Tophill Low. In Search of a kingfisher... View of reception hide, chiffchaff nearby, goldeneyes.

I met a man who told me the kingfishers were nesting up at Hempholme again so I didn't turn off for North Marsh but carried on through the woodland. Petasites hybridus or Butterbur.

Fritillary growing in a damp part of the woods.

Imagine my surprise when suddenly I spotted a large brown pig! The fencing for the enclosure for the two pigs is very low and one could easily imagine the pigs are simply on the loose. However it had no interest in me and grunted along quite happily.

When a bulrush finally explodes to shed its seeds the result is reminiscent of an eruption of toffee flavoured ice cream [a bit over the top perhaps!]

I reached the hide and waited about half an hour. 

Male with an all black bill.

Rather pleased with the next two shots even if the tip of the bill is missing. 

Changeover time. Female with orange on the bill.

April 3rd: Kildale and Lockwood Beck

Parked at my normal spot at Kildale. Wheatear seen briefly but no sight or sound of ouzel or red grouse. Lots of meadow pipits. This one seemed quite pale.

Back in the car and two grouse flew past me then, later, on the Three Howes Rigg road approaching Lockwood Beck from the South a red grouse was walking in the road as I approached. It flew off safely.

Lockwood feeders. Bramblings, siskins and greenfinch.

I had a two hour wait for the mealy redpoll. Only seen in the cage of this one feeder. When it flew it didn't perch within view so my photos are not as I would have liked. But it was good to see a mealy redpoll.

 In the kitchen window   

141 UK 2024

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