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


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 


4th June ff 2021

June 10, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Life's just a blur...hmmm

4th June: Saltholme & Greatham Creek

I had problems that day with the camera and I still don't quite know why. Heat haze may have been a factor or I had nudged a setting accidentally and the focussing distances were wrong. I don't know. The following day I did test shots after checking everything over and all seemed fine. Great white egret at Saltholme. Greatham Creek was quiet. A rather stunted marsh orchid and a posing skylark.


Any birds with vulnerable young had better watch out...

7th June: Blyth estuary, then Dorman's pool

An early start to head north to Blyth to the confluence of the Rivers Blyth and Sleek Burn. A group of waders were favouring the mud where the two streams meet. Ringed plovers, dunlins, a little stint and the red-necked stint all seen. Best viewed from the north side but I didn't fancy the 35 minute each way walk so opted to scope the birds from the riverside path on the south side - as did the overwhelming majority of the other birders present. 

Also present were a large number of goosanders [over 40 seen] including these few near where I was watching the stint. Eiders with a creche of young: the males slept!

Purple heron also seen at Dorman's Pool on my way home but I was watching the bird in my bins and wasn't quick enough to get a photo before the bird vanished back into the reedbed. This lesser black-backed gull looked hungry!

9th June: Blacktoft Sands and Alkborough

Nesting avocets at Marshland

Reed bunting

Little grebe


Excerpts from a food pass - although I was never quite sure who was passing it to who...

Shovelers. The mighty bill!

128 UK 2021


24th May ff 2021

June 03, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

35 this year; 6 last year!

Explanation: number of year ticks in May this year compared with last year

May 24th: another jaunt up to Hartlepool. Not very successful but I did see the little terns - a bird I really like to see. Also spent some time watching the commons at Holme Fleet. Tide was very high at Greatham Creek and Newburn Bridge and both areas were pretty bird free. 

May 27th: trip out to Blacktoft Sands to see some little gulls down at Ousefleet. A long way out from the hide with a black-headed gull and a couple of headless avocets! Here are two of them...

...and an avocet near the hide.

May 30th: last outing in May - this time to Bank Island and North Duffield. Lapwings and a chaffinch at Bank Island and a garganey drake at North Duffield from Geoff Smith hide.

June 1st: Greatham Creek and Saltholme. I began walking down the south side to Seal Sands. Other than common terns I saw very little [i.e. nothing!] and I suspect I should have walked down the north side to find spoonbills on one of the pools. These two common terns were on the mud near the seal colony. They were quite entertaining. The female was unimpressed and eventually flew off. Perhaps the male didn't have a big enough present to offer her!

There were lots of meadow pipits about.

Eventually I found a spoonbill on Back Saltholme. Swishing its bill around energetically. 

Finally for this post, here's a nice ammonite fossil my son found at Port Mulgrave recently.

120 UK 2021