Sunday, 16 November 2014

Eastern Crowned Warbler

I was off work over the half term week and spent most of my time making flat pack furniture or playing Risk Legacy (I won!). Fortunately I had organised a day birding on the Friday. On the Thursday pm an Eastern Crowned Warbler was found in the correct part of Cleveland at Brotton. I crossed my fingers and got up there for first light and manage to connect with top views as it was in a tree in front of me showing all its salient ID points including the central crown stripe and lemon undertail as well as its Arctic Warblery front end before it then alighted in the tree immediately above Andy Hood and myself. I bumped into a few familiar faces including Steve Lawton and Jim Welford who both connected. LEGO was also present for comedy value but kept a low profile. A couple of Yellow-browed Warblers were knocking about calling their heads off.

Pic courtesy of Richard Willison
The ECW was brit tick number 350 almost 5 years on from number 300 and also 5 years on from the first one which I missed due to the arrival of my daughter, Isabelle. Bless. It also takes me onto 305 for Yorkshire, There was a brief Blackpoll at Spurn on the Sunday which disappeared quick smart thankfully as I wasnt getting there. 

Up in Newcastle I had a brief seawatch last Thrusday which precipitated a few Little Auks and a tonne of thrushes coming in off. Little Auk was a patch tick and Fieldfare was a patch year tick so all good!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


So I was the proud owner of the Somerset Avocet record count for 24 hours. I managed 387 on Monday beating the day old record from the WeBS count of 368. Today a colleague managed 420 and I'm assuming this will only go up. Yesterday we managed to get between us 5 Water Pipits, 2 Woodlarks, a Lapland Bunting, 2 Short-eared Owls and a possible Short-toed Lark. Of this lot I got 1 SEO. Rubbish!

Today was wet and virtually birdless and whilst one of the guys upstream pulled out a Rose-coloured Starling juvvie the only bird of note for me was a goodie - a moulting adult Great Northern Diver which plopped down infront of me before flying off towards Bridgwater. There was infact another out near Stert Island which is a shock as we had one last winter as well which was the first for 20 years apparently. 

Ooooh arrrrrr!

Or alternatively ‘I'm a cider drinker’. I'm back in Somerset and hoping for the Pallid Harrier that has been seen at Steart Marshes over the last three weeks. It's appearance has been intermittent in the last few days but I am hoping that is weather and lack of coverage rather than anything else. The area has bags of potential so I am looking forward to this one. Nothing much to report today other than I won a side comp in Fantasy Football so I don't need the heinous Theo Walcott stretcher photo as my profile pic for a fortnight. Just thinking up something horrible for Mark in the unlikely event I win next time out.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

First for North Tyneside

On Friday me and Pete went for a seawatch at St Mary's taking advantage of amazing light conditions if not ideal winds... A handful of Red-throated Divers, Common Scoter and a single Great Northern Diver whizzed by. At 08.30 I picked up a scoter flying south close inshore. It gave amazing views in perfect viewing and proved to be a female Surf Scoter. Rather incredible this species has never been recorded in North Tyneside before so this should prove to be the first record. I hadnt yet got my camera out of the car so I have had to prove that I cant draw for toffee!

Just prior to the Surf Scoter I had very brief views of a Minke Whale including a rarely seen blow - pathetic is the best word to describe it but the millpond sea and absence of wind gave me my first views of this despite seeing tens of Minke's before.

About ten minutes after the Scoter approximately 15 Bottlenose Dolphins made their way slowly north in a pod containing several young animals. Sadly not too much frolicking but always an awesome sight and I managed a couple of videos.

 David Elliot managed some distant photos of the Rough-legged Buzzard I found at Widdrington Moor whilst looking from West Chevington (closer to where I was). Good for some corroboration and significantly better views than I managed.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Suited and Booted

Dealt severely with one of my bogey birds this morning when I got crippling views of a Booted Warbler at Torness Power Station. It was doing a bit of sub-singing which I guess makes it a male. Also a Siberian Lesser Whitethroat in the same place.

Rolled up to the office and heard a Yellow-browed Warbler calling which is odd as we are in the middle of Gosforth, Newcastle. I managed to get Pete on the call but neither of us saw it.

Headed out for the afternoon and found a male Scaup at East Chevington and then a Rough-legged Buzzard over Widdrington Moor. Madness.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Pan-species Listing

So today I managed to bring 700 species up on my pan-species list with a pair of spiders around the house. One was a bolt from the blue. Well actually from the brown bin where we recycle the vegetable matter from round the garden. And the second was a couple of spiders on the garage door which I have been meaning to look at properly for ages.

The Rabbit Hutch Spider Steatoda bipunctata was on the bin and is one of the native false widows (and not the introduced scare spider S. nobilis). A very smart spider showing the distinctive dimples on its abdomen.

The second was the Missing Sector Spider Zygiella x-notata which came out just before dusk. ID was thanks to Africa Gomez who managed to set me right. Number 700.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Masked Shrike!

Finally got away to see this late on today and had great views as it worked the hedge with a couple of Redstarts. Terrible photos but some bad video as well!

A bonus Redstart messing about below. I also managed very brief views of the Red-breasted Flycatcher.

Ornithological Idiocy

How brains and birds become mutually exclusive