Going out that day was probably not the best idea. Conditions were unpleasant. I spent a while watching the wild sea at Newburn Bridge...
...and then photographing the waders that were sheltering below the car park - eyes tight shut in many cases hoping, perhaps, that it was all just a bad dream.
It's a wonderful name for a quiet narrow country road leading to Stone Creek [or Stoney Creek as one sign post puts it] - a dead end that isn't quite a dead end. My target this day was to be a rough-legged buzzard together with supporting cast which included kestrel, buzzard, marsh harrier and hen harrier - a real raptor jamboree.
The rough-legged appeared while I was unpacking the camera!
The hen harriers [there were at least two] were much more distant and flew so low that getting a focus lock proved very difficult. In retrospect I should have used the 7D with a bigger lens. Goldfinches too!
November 6th: Hartlepool Marina and Harbour
Razorbills and a great northern diver in the marina
Eider, slavonian grebe and a shag from the pilot pier.
November 7th: Pickering Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre!
Well, in the car park actually. But when I arrived it was a bird free zone. I decided to walk into town [about 100 yards away]. The pretty little churchyard was deserted [apparently another preferred location] so I wandered back. Off to the right were a couple of fairly new houses. A small rowan grew in the garden of the nearest house where two men were working. Then I saw them - about thirty - at the top of a tree at the town end of the car park. Waxwings!
13th October: Spurn
Report of a jack snipe - a bird I love to see bobbing away and so often remaining difficult to see - tempted me to go to Spurn. In some ways a successful visit as I did see a jack snipe at the Canal Scrape but the weather deteriorated rapidly until the rain was so intense I decided there was nothing for it but to leave. Within a few miles west of Easington and the weather had cleared but I suspect conditions on the coast were unchanged.
14th October Redcar
There was no sign of a possible glaucous gull but I was content to photograph the bar-tailed godwits and sanderlings in the sunshine.
19th October Hartlepool
I went for one particular bird: a black redstart that had been seen around the old Friarage building on the Headland. The old Friarage Manor House was the workhouse from the late 1770s and became part of a hospital from 1865. The hospital was built around the manor house which dates from the 1600s. In 1967, it became known as St Hilda's having previously been called Hartlepool's Hospital as it served both Hartlepool and West Hartlepool. The hospital itself was demolished in 1987 leaving behind the derelict manor house which is now undergoing some restoration work.
It took several walks back to the manor house as I wandered the headland on foot before I got a photo of the black redstart although I had seen it briefly several times. Here it is.
A rock pipit showed well on the rocks [where else!]
Meanwhile at the Putting Green were many thrushes - black-billed blackbirds, song thrushes and lots of redwings.
A grey wagtail at Borough Hall [along with raindrops].
A skittish olive-backed pipit was seen at various sites around the headland and this resulted in crowds of elderly men scampering all over the place like panicking young rabbits. I saw it briefly on the rugby field before it dropped into long grass over by the Moor Terrace wall. I did photograph a pipit on the old manor house scaffolding but even in the poor light I can tell it wasn't the o-b pipit.
October 1st: Bempton Cliffs
It was time for a lifer and so I was full of hope at Bempton when looking for the elusive red-eyed vireo. I did see the bird in the Dell very briefly but it was much later when I was lucky enough to catch a photo of the bird [or part of it!]
A dragonfly from the Dell...and a rather distant short-eared owl from nearby.
October 2nd: Hemingbrough Gravel Pit
A grey phalarope was reported from Hemingbrough so I decided to go and have a look. A short walk and there it was although it liked to hide up against the east bank of the pool.
October 8th & 9th: Hartlepool Harbour
The slavonian grebe proved very hard to find that first morning. They are pretty small! Against the rock armour by the lifeboat station it looked minute.
However, I do like this photo.
It eventually gave only slightly better views from the lifeboat station side of the harbour entrance. Much cropped!
Whilst I'm near the lifeboat station it's maybe worth mentioning that road access to the lifeboat station has been blocked by concrete roadblock. Wheatear on the fence by the roadblock.
You can still walk through to the spit but even lifeboat crew have to abandon their vehicles and walk. In an emergency this seems very strange. The tractor at the lifeboat station is effectively blocked in and deliveries would face a 300 yard walk. Perhaps it's only temporary but a local seemed to think the Port Authority can act unopposed and do as it likes.
Red-throated divers [at least three in the harbour or just outside] and a couple of velvet scoters were also obliging.
Not easy getting a different and interesting photo of a cormorant! Surfacing...
Anyway, walking back to the car the wheatear popped up again.
October 9th: Hartlepool Harbour
I went to Redcar to hopefully see some Brent geese. They were there, on Bran Sands, but at high tide they were a very long way away on a beach to the south-west near the entrance to Middlesbrough dock. So no photos - nor for that matter of the bird that was attracting a group of birders' attention: a red-necked grebe, my second of the year.
I read a message that the slavonian grebes were still showing well, so I decided to call back at Hartlepool harbour before heading home. As I walked down the pilot pier past the Andy Capp tribute art I spotted a slavonian grebe flying back into the harbour.
One was over by the Town Wall so I wandered down until I was very close but unseen by the bird.
Kilnsea was quiet in terms of rarities but there were plenty of birds. Among all the greylag geese I picked out some pinkfeet.
A juvenile spoonbill was trying to persuade its mother to feed it but she'd had enough and clearly thought it was time for the youngster to fend for itself.
Back-lit roe deer in the field behind the hide.
Wandering slowly north to Blacktoft was my next plan but a mega announcement on Bird Guides woke me up as the mega was at Blacktoft. I was short of time and the world and his friend were at Blacktoft when I arrived. I headed for Singleton, knelt down and watched the sharp-tailed sandpiper before taking some shots. Then after brief chat with Ian who said he'd been trying to get in touch with Barry about the sandpiper I headed home.
Among my photos was a curlew sandpiper
The sharp-tailed sandpiper
Longer walk than some of the reports suggested but it was a lovely morning near Long Nab north of Scarborough and I soon spotted the group of birders on the cliff top overlooking the gully.
Here's the eastern olivaceous warbler - first view. Someone said 'By the white flower!' I laughed as there were many white bindweed flowers to choose from but, I presume, looking through his scope the speaker could only see one white flower!
Zoomed in! Although very active we had excellent views of the bird in the shrubs just a little below us in the gully.
September 14th: New Flash, Fairburn
The report on my pager said there were 14 cattle egrets at Fairburn. I re-read the message. Was it for real? I decided to go and have a look just in case. It was indeed a spoof message as I only saw 13 cattle egrets!! Probably more in one shot than I'd ever seen before in total in my life.
Here's the whole group.
September 15th: Bempton
I headed to Bempton hoping to see the short-eared owls that have been showing well in the area behind Bartlett viewpoint.
After standing by the cliff but facing inland [which seemed to mystify some of the visitors] I detected movement with an owl- like flight pattern. Very distant so I headed up the path that runs alongside the owl fields. I had already selected where I might stand. No-one there when I arrived. Here are the shorties.
Plus a tree sparrow.
September 16th: Newburgh Priory lake
Report of wood ducks at Newburgh was interesting although any birds would be of doubtful provenance. I was sufficiently curious to have a look. Female or immature. Eventually a smart looking male appeared.
September 20th: South Gare
I went three times to South Gare in the hope of seeing the booby up close. The first 2 visits were in the afternoon and were unsuccessful. A wryneck also evaded my attempts to spot it near a sycamore on cabin rocks. So the third [a morning] attempt was to be my last. The weather deteriorated as the morning progressed. I resorted to snapping ships...
...a passing juvenile gannet, a great black-backed gull...
By now I was sheltering from the gale under a building and occasionally going back to the car which I had positioned in view of the old pilot pier. Suddenly I saw two men get down flat on the ground, supporting their cameras on propped elbows. I had seen no new birds arrive watching through the bins in the car. I hurried down the slope. It was now raining. Then hailstones. Looking through the viewfinder I was unsure what was what but the general excitement was enough. By the way the photos seem to manage to not show the weather conditions at all although admittedly I have brightened the images where necessary.