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


16th August - 1st September 2021

September 04, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Exciting times

August 16th, Blacktoft

Quiet. Another water rail jaunt but this one was successful! A  juvenile not quite bold enough to pose for a photo however. So had to settle for a greenshank, snipe and a ruff.

August 24th: Poppleton P&R; South Gare; Cowpen Marsh and Seaton Snook

Started at the Pool of Destiny as it has been named locally [amongst other names] In the last month I have seen on this 'puddle' a remarkable list of birds: gulls; moorhens; teal; mallards; green sandpiper; 5 greenshanks at once; willow warbler; pied and grey wagtails; swallows; little stint, ruff and curlew sandpiper. On this occasion it was quiet but I was very happy to see about 12 grey partridge!

On to Redcar for a look around South Gare. The highlight for me was a group of bottlenose dolphins.

Cowpen Marsh common terns

Seaton Snook to see the arctic skuas. My first visit wasn't really successful as the tide was coming across the sand rather fast and I retreated to the dunes section of the Snook and admired the Robinson Crusoe 'hide' overlooking the tern roost.

One skua departed out to sea.

Rather worn wall and common blue butterflies on the walk back to the car.

August 26th, Blacktoft

White-tailed lapwing/plover on Marshland. Saw my first years ago at Leighton Moss. [2007 apparently] 

August 29th: Saltholme and back to Seaton Snook

For me this was a very exciting day - one of the most exciting experiences I've had when birding...

I began at Saltholme as I had driven north to see a couple of juvenile black terns. Finding them was easy. Getting a lock on them with the camera [using 100-400 zoom lens] was another matter! And when you did get a focus lock, was it on the right bird...




Seaton Snook, second visit to try for skuas...

Sandwich tern

On more than one occasion the skuas dropped the fish they had stolen. This sequence of silhouettes [due to shooting into the bright light] is all of the same bird/fish and probably only lasted a few seconds...

Damn! Dropped it!

Fish still visible...

Got it!

August 30th - taking a break

Sweet peppers and aubergines doing well in the garden this year...

...and a daisy to brighten your day after all this constant cloud!

Last lap: September 1st

Hornsea Mere to see the little gulls and an arctic tern...

The little gulls were numerous - over 250 when I arrived and I think there had been even more earlier.

A black-headed gull serves to show just how small little gulls are.

Juveniles can be very smart.


There was no sign of an arctic tern until, quite suddenly, it materialised on the jetty with the little gulls. Amazing looking bird!

In flight it was remarkably easy to locate and keep track of.

Later I headed for Blacktoft hoping for better/closer views of the white-tailed lapwing. Closer it was at Xerox but too much vegetation clutter made the results disappointing.

159 UK 2021



26th July - 12th August 2021

August 14, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

I need to get out more!

26th July: tried to find mandarins on the pool at Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park. No sign when I was there. Goatsbeard seed head and a rose growing in the woods made me wonder just how it ever got there.

27th July: Flask Lake, Nosterfield second attempt - I had hoped to see an osprey but no sign that afternoon. [At the moment 'no sign' is becoming my calling card it seems!] Lords and Ladies - arum maculatum in fruit.

4th August: Nosterfield Flask Lake third attempt. A nice early start. The little owls were just relaxing in their usual spot. 


I like the early morning light on these pictures.

The osprey was already there!

Early morning mistiness.

When it flew it went the wrong way!

Butterflies - red admiral and painted lady.

10th August: Blacktoft. Hoping for water rail but no sign even after being there all day. Still the waders were good. 10 species seen. Here's some of them. Dusky Maiden bottom right.

Young wagtail

Hawkweed oxtongue - does well at Blacktoft.


12th August: Saltholme and Greatham Creek. Another failure to find the elusive water rails that are, apparently, abundant this year! I settled down to wait at the Wildlife Watchpoint.

It was very quiet.

So I had to settle for a friendly sedge warbler.

Eventually I walked Greatham Creek. At the pool by the main road a greenshank and a wood sandpiper were showing nicely.

Two seals were having a race down the creek.

Peregrine, godwits and the like seen on Seal Sands. Seals watched us as we passed by.

152 UK 2021

14th July 2021 ff

July 22, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

How can I follow Albert?

I can't. But no matter, all birding is good - even the days when nothing much shows.

So here goes: July 14th Blacktoft and Alkborough

Blacktoft was pretty quiet, I saw a greenshank at Marshland but it was too far to get a proper shot. Grey heron. Greenshank was the only year tick that day.

I walked straight down the track from the original car park at Alkborough. I noticed the hide has a name on it: 'Prospect'. Ironic as the reeds are now so tall you can't see anything out of the hide! I photographed this thistle as I returned to Tiggy2.

July 16th: Marske, South Gare, Hartlepool Headland/lifeboat Station, Ward Jackson Park and Saltholme.

A busy morning as I was home for 2.30pm.

Common scoters scoped from Marske layby by Bedales School. Nice to see the sandwich terns on the football pitches with the gulls and lapwings. Possible red-throated divers but I didn't count them as I was unsure in the bright hazy light and they were well out. Sanderlings and little terns on the beach at South Gare [7.15 before the dog walkers]; kittiwakes photographed at the Lifeboat Station.

Nothing at Ward Jackson Park. Have the parakeets moved on and, if so, where to? Saltholme quiet but I only called at Phil Stead hide before responding to a sighting at Hurwoth Burn Reservoir.

The reservoir is about 7 miles west of Hartlepool and because several gaps have been closed on the A19 my satnav couldn't cope and it took me some time to get there... Be warned.

Hurworth Burn Reservoir - view from the footpath

Two birders only carrying bins assured me one scaup was still present so I set off with camera and bins. This is the best I could manage...

...but it was a good year tick.

Tuesday 20th July - drove to Nosterfield and spent an hour watching the osprey nest site but saw nothing especial. 

Thursday 22nd July: having seen the report of a pectoral sandpiper the previous evening I was ready for an early start if the bird was reported still present. Harlington Flash is the easiest pool to reach on foot at Adwick upon Dearne and a group of three birders were watching the pecsand. Not super close but near enough for decent views. 

Supporting cast of redshank and a LRP...

...and a duckling.

Butterflies - gatekeeper and comma. Comma likes horse manure!

148 UK 2021

9th July 2021

July 11, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

A Wonderful Day at Bempton!

Let every picture tell the story!





Very naughty



Black-browed Albatross

142 UK 2021

11th June ff

July 02, 2021  •  1 Comment

North Cave Wetlands - in search of a Med Gull

June 11th: I know it's there - it's listed every day on the sightings report. I couldn't find it and I reckon I'm reasonably good at recognising these birds so we'll have to make do with some other snaps taken with the 100-400 zoom lens.

This goldfinch was watching me intently.

This reed bunting was no doubt about to feed its young.

This dragon [probably a black-tailed skimmer] was resting on the path in front of me.

Focus practice

A well fed marsh orchid.

Ragged robin

Common whitethroat


Black-headed gull. Looking smart but not quite up to adult med gull standard!

June 14th: Wykeham Raptor Watchpoint where nothing appeared other than a common buzzard. But a willow warbler showed as did some crossbills. Drizzle drove me away.

I headed for nearby Forge Valley where I watched a jay coming to fat balls. I got the camera and wound down the passenger window ready to get the jay on the fence next time it came. It didn't. Suddenly I spotted 2 juvenile great spotted woodpeckers through the car windscreen. Because of the sloping glass and a very poor shutter speed the pictures aren't sharp but I thought I'd include them. We can always imagine they're lesser spots!!

Hilla Green - 'Dipper Bridge'

The dipper was some way away hiding in a tangle of branches trapped on a bend in the stream when the water level had been much higher. I tried to get a little closer.

Pheasant in the meadow at Hilla Green Farm.

June 20th: Walked out to the Cheesecake hide at Bank Island to see two tiny birds [I had no scope with me!] A wood sandpiper and a green sandpiper but there's so little water now and the birds were a long, long way away... I photographed a singing reed bunting en route plus some nice poppies.


June 23rd: South Gare, Marske, Skinningrove, Kildale and Harwood Dale. Quite a busy day with limited success. Rock pipit, common gull and, best of all, a spotted flycatcher at Kildale Churchyard. First spotted from the station platform, I crossed the bridge to the churchyard to get these photos.

At Harwood Dale the turtle doves failed to turn up to my party. I kept myself amused attempting to photograph a great spotted woodpecker!

June 24th: long walk to new island lake about 400m west of Crosslands hide, North Cave. Two pairs of Mediterranean gulls seen.

June 25th: Blacktoft - a brief afternoon visit. Little egrets at Marshland - 8 of them.

A shy and elusive sedge warbler

Whitethroats including a juvenile

June 28th: A jay in our garden

Plus some trail camera footage

June 29th & June 30th: Bempton. Tried for the albatross but I couldn't pick it out even when it was eventually seen as it returned from a spell sitting on the sea towards Filey Brigg. I probably did see it but I didn't if you see what I mean. I consoled myself with some typical Bempton shots.

Next day I returned. The bird spent the whole time superglued to the cliff over by Staple Newk. Not that you could see it from Staple Newk... You had to observe it long range from New Rollup viewpoint. So here it is!!  This is a crop from the picture above. The albatross is roughly centre image. Sadly it tucked its eyebrowed head out of sight for the photo. All rather difficult to judge till I got home. Even big lenses can't work miracles. Many birders got some wonderful photos during the bird's stay in Yorkshire and I enjoyed seeing them all. I did see the eyebrow in the scope myself! Made my day.

July 1st: another brief visit to Blacktoft

Little to report. Yellow wags, greensand at Marshland. Tree sparrows near the entrance gate...

...magpie sunbathing. Unusually tame - too hot to be bothered!

142 UK 2021