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


4th February-13th February 2023

February 16, 2023  •  5 Comments

Here, There and nearly Everywhere!

I'll start at the very beginning...

February 4th: Stoneybeck Lake; Holme Fleet

A brief visit to Stoneybeck Lake near Bishop Middleham to look for the two ruddy shelducks reported there. They were seen very distantly. The photos were actually taken later on February 13th when I passed on another trip.

Same day, at Newburn Bridge, I watched a single dunlin among the ringed plovers but it remained steadfastly fast asleep so I didn't try to photograph it. North of the pipeline at Holme Fleet I spotted a miserable looking great white egret out on the marsh.

February 5th: Bank Island

A brief call at the Tower Hide by the centre where I watched a group of 4 tundra bean geese. Hiding in short reeds eventually they swam out into full view. Watched with a scope.

February 6th: Blacktoft 

The new Reedling hide

An afternoon visit. Wigeon in the sunshine.

A barn owl flew past the new Reedling hide. Farewell Xerox! The owl eventually hid in the scrub by the hide. My camera was unable to distinguish the bird properly because of all the branches obstructing the view.

February 7th: Wykeham Raptor Watchpoint; Hilla Green; Tophill Low

One goshawk watched as it headed slowly west along the valley top. Plenty of crossbill sightings along with chaffinches and siskins.

From there I drove to Hilla Green hoping for a dipper. I got out of the car and walked over to the bridge. A dipper was on a stone in the middle of the river. I went back to the car for my camera. When I returned the bird had left and was not seen again although I waited quite a while. Moral: always take the camera with you!

To end my day out I drove to Bempton but all the auks had left again as they do at this time of year. Solitary gannet photo!

 So I decided to pop down to Tophill Low as I thought there would be time to walk to North Hide and see if any kingfishers were about. Nearly everything has changed north of the centre but the hide was still there. I settled down on my own to watch and wait.

A kingfisher did appear but stayed some way off. A pair of Cetti's warblers were chasing among the dead reed flattened on the island [well, I assume it's an island] in front of the hide.

February 10th: Lemonroyd Sewage Works and Swillington Ings

Eventually a water pipit was seen along with a single meadow pipit and a multitude of pied wagtails. A couple of chaffinches, a few magpies and a lone grey wagtail made up the full cast. I left and drove the short drive over to Methley. Walking in along the causeway I can't logically justify it but when I start at the causeway end I think I'm at Swillington Ings but when I park up by 'Oddjob' it's St. Aidan's!

Anyway, I eventually located the black-necked grebe. A friendly birder told me where to go but I couldn't find the bird at all nor could a chap on a bike. Wrong information or, of course, the bird flew. They do that! I walked rather vaguely to the areas where I had seen them in previous years...

...a few shovelers attracted me when, suddenly, a black-necked grebe popped up alongside the shovelers and tufted ducks.

February 11th: In our garden.

After a long birdwatch from our back bedroom window I was rewarded with my first goldcrest of the year.

Mimosa [acacia dealbata] in our garden. Can't be many miomosa trees like this as far north as we are.

February 12th: Fairburn Ings

A brief visit to a reserve that seems somewhat neglected. Empty feeders, more than one path closed off. Reeds at Pickup hide were the only sign of life plus a great spotted woodpecker who was noisily excavating the very top of a dead tree. Somehow it managed to be almost invisible to the family that were trying to locate it. 

Rufforth Lakes

I've seen Tweets calling them this. There are 4 lagoons. Only birds I saw that day were tufted ducks, mallards and coots.

February 13th: Bishop Middleham; Willington Water Treatment Works and Sandhaven Beach, South Shields

I spent a couple of hours on Fourmarts Lane, Bishop Middleham craning my neck up into the hornbeam trees to try to spot a hawfinch. Neither I nor any of the other five birders saw anything other than long-tailed tits and blue tits. A song thrush was quite confiding on the grass. 

Willington Water Treatment Works produced the Pallas's warbler, goldcrests and bullfinches accompanied by the noise of parakeets. The warbler stayed behind the blue fence, often low down, and no-one was able to get a photo while I was there. Others have done really well. A bullfinch was proudly shaking a leaf in its bill [or was it trying to get rid of it?]

Sandhaven Beach at South Shields is often good for snow buntings. I couldn't find any near the pier or on the rocks but eventually along the path that fronts the dunes I found four. They were very much in the shade and flighty.

A pristine herring gull...

...and some runaway sanderlings.

Not sure where I took this. Hazel catkin. Male catkins plus a tiny red female flower. The female flowers often occur separate from the males.

122 UK 2023


9th January -28th January 2023

January 29, 2023  •  22 Comments

I just love to be out birding...

January 9th: Bempton Cliffs were quiet apart from the fulmars that were already well-established on the cliffs.

A robin sang to me in the car park and linnets were flying around over the set-aside crop area.

Goldfinches on the wire at the set-aside.

January 11th: Lockwood Beck feeder station held the usual regular birds plus a few bramblings.


January 18th: Cowpen Bewley and Saltholme

Treecreeper, tree sparrow


January 18th: Seaton Snook and Saltholme

Twite photos were not really any good but these are twite in flight. You may just about detect their yellowish bills...

...but I was quite pleased with the golden plover photos as it's not a bird I have ever found it easy to approach.

Lunch break. Starling in the car park at Newburn Bridge. Fox on the ice at Saltholme

January 18th: The Zinc Works Road and Saltholme

Grey partridges. The partridge were really distant and the photos are extreme crops. I'm impressed you can tell they are grey partridges! 



I called briefly at Cowpen Bewley.

A water vole showed nicely at Saltholme Wildlife Watchpoint.

January 20th: A largely uneventful afternoon visit to Blacksoft Sands.

January 22nd: Saltholme again! Mallard and water rail on the ice

January 24th: Bempton Cliffs

Fulmars, very distant gannets. I was grateful to the two RSPB guides who pointed out the shag swimming in the deep shade below the cliffs.

A bridled bird

January 27th: A brief afternoon visit to Swillington Ings, starting at the Methley end. The causeway was stilll flooded and I retreated. Grey wagtail and meadow pipit at Lemonroyd sewage station but no sign of water pipit.

A light engine provided the only photo of the day!

I drove round to Oddjob but there was little to see. 

January 28th: Ingleby Barwick and The Rings. The waxwings were found relatively easily but getting decent pictures was difficult as the birds were perching in rather dense hawthorn and ash so I got lots of pictures like this one!

Quite happy with these!

107 UK 2023


31st December 2022- 3rd January 2023

January 05, 2023  •  6 Comments

'Thor' sees the old year out!

Scarborough harbour hosted a one day visit by Thor, the touring walrus

House sparrow on the lobster pots and a fulmar hiding on the cliff

Smew the star of early January

All round the Hartlepool area on January 1st

January 2nd: Askham Bog, North Duffield, Tophill Low and Blacktoft

72 UK 2023

26th December 2022

December 30, 2022  •  65 Comments

Boxing Day in and around Hartlepool

I had been trying for months to bump into a red-breasted merganser so I was leaving things a bit late to spot my 2022 sighting! Eight seen in the Pilot Pier area along with eiders.

Cowpen Bewley Country Park feeding station.

Ward Jackson Park

Reminds me of a curling stone [carved in the shape of a tuftie!]

220 UK 2022

3rd December 2012

December 07, 2022  •  9 Comments

A Stranger Inland

December 3rd: Moor Lane Bridge, Naburn

A walk both sides of the bridge along the Transpennine Trail. Regular thrushes and tits seen but no bramblings. Nuthatch and coal tit photoed on baited fence post.

December 4th:  in the garden

Sparrowhawk caught a sparrow outside our kitchen window. Quickly grabbed Sheila's phone...through glass...

December 6th:  Swillington Ings

Colour photo into the sun. Shann House bridge.

From the birders' viewpoint near Shann House Bridge, Swillington Ings. An arctic skua was on a spit near a group of cormorants.

Eventually it flew to chase a gull round the site. Everything flew up.

219 UK 2022

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