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Post Info TOPIC: North East England


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RE: North East England


Having seen Scops Owl in the UK before, a bird in Oxford q.a few years ago, I wasn't in any hurry to race up to Durham to see this one. However seeing one in the daylight, as opposed to the flashlight views we had of the Oxford one, was very appealing. So when a mate offered a lift up yesterday I jumped at the chance, not only is it a great bird it gave us the chance to catch up after a while of not seeing each other, I always love the social side of birding too smile

A pager message that it was back in its favourite elder roost after 2 days absence had us splanning the trip. I joined him off the M6 j27 and we swapped cars. Just 2.5hrs later we arrived in Ryhope just south of Sunderland in the sunshine. A five minute walk had us watching this cutest of owls as it roosted just 20m away from an appreciative crowd of about 40 birders. This Scops Owl is still attracting good numbers even though it has been here a comparatively long time. I settled in and took lots of picture, hoping that the leaves would blow away from in front of the owls face on some of them! It was always quite concealed but gave fabulous scope views to all. It is nice, now that I have seen 2 in the UK and that I have had Scops Owl in daylight, at nightime, calling and in flight when combining the two sightings, I've got to be very happy with all that smile

Small, low res picture file attached



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RYHOPE, CO DURHAM. 3.30-7pm.

SCOPS OWL, great views as it sat in its favoured tree, obviously it didn't move much until just before 7pm when it fully opened its eyes & moving its head around looking at something.
other birds around...
barred warbler showed briefly, others had it in the same tree as the owl whilst I was looking around.
spotted flycatcher
2 reed bunting
on the sea...
40+ red-throated divers, in groups of 4, 5, 7, 8, the largest group being 18.
2 eider
several gannets.




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Had super views of the Eastern Black Redstart just north of the jetty at Skinningrove at 10.30. Also 2 Stonechat, 6 Fulmar

Tootled up to Whitburn coastal park where a Glaucous Gull was fighting the waves and showing well..3rd winter? Also 3 distant Divers, 3 Eider, 2 Gannet, Guillemot.

Bolden flats produced 2 Little Egret, 16 Curlew, 40 Lapwing, 2 Redwing 

South Shields quarry near dusk had a Stonechat and very confiding Turnstone.

Add a few Red Kite from the M1 near Wetherby and it makes for a great day of birding. 



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Skinningrove 10.00 - 12.30

To see the Eastern Black Redstart which has been faithfull to a small area of granite boulders for 50+ days, A very confiding bird showing down to several metres at times, Its plumage is looking rather dull and worn when compared to the early images I saw, However fingers crossed it's looking like it may possibly over winter in which case another visit in the spring may be something to look forward too.

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Started our last group trip of the year at Skinningrove for the Eastern Black Redstart. Great close views on the rocks to the north of the jetty. Also here:
1 Robin
2 Wren
2 Rock Pipit
Meadow Pipit
Stonechat on the seaweed piles
Turnstones ditto
3 Fulmar off the hillside behind the beach

on to Redcar for
1 Long-tailed Duck
1 Great Crested Grebe - all close in to the beach near Strays Cafe with two moderately sized flocks of Common Scoter further off-shore
16 Velvet
c 30 Eider

headed home from here via Welwick

-- Edited by Ian McKerchar on Sunday 4th of December 2016 10:11:10 PM

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North East England invaded.


Eastern Delight on the East Coast. 30/10/2016

   After debating where to go at the weekend our minds were suddenly made up for us when a Pied Wheatear was re-identified late on Saturday evening. It was thought that it was originally a Desert or Black Eared type of Wheatear. An early start from Rochdale was required as I was meeting up with the York crew at 7-30am. Mark K, Nigel S and Paz with Mark driving. News of the Pied Wheatear being still present at Redcar came through on our way there. I have never been to Redcar before and it was a bit of a surprise to realise that it was a seaside resort, mind you the steel works put me off a bit! The Pied Wheatear showed really well and apart from the dismal light conditions lots of pictures were taken by the assembled throng of birders. Lots of familiar faces were again seen during this really memorable autumn period for migrant birds, what will turn up next?

   An Eastern Black Redstart has been around a few days at Skinningrove also in Cleveland (Yorkshire, really) so we headed up to another place I have never been to before. Again a big iron / steel works and a sharp drop into a beautiful coastline with lots of potential for migrant birds. We admired the various sculptures around the car park and all headed off to see the redstart. The bird was busy feeding in and around the coastal defence boulders / rocks but with patience showed really well at times. What a little cracker this bird was, much brighter than the Holy Island bird of a few years ago. A Twite was seen by Paz and duly pointed out to us, well done Paz! Time for sandwiches and a coffee break as we returned to the car.

   News again came through that the Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike was showing really well in South Shields, Tyne & Wear at a place called the Leas, famous for once having a Lesser Kestrel there and the place where the Great North Run ends (for the more energetic amongst us) We had to go, blue skies and very mild weather made the journey up quite enjoyable. On arrival we could see a few birders watching the shrike and after a 200 yard stumble we reached the bird. It showed really well down to 10 yards at times but was quite active catching insects etc. We all managed lots of pictures of the bird and all enjoyed the bird. A very late Whinchat was also in the area then, Mark told us of a roosting Little Owl sat in a gully on a rock in the sea. It was the first time for all of us to watch a Little Owl with the sea in the background!  A trip to pay homage to Trow Quarry, famous for the Eastern Crowned Warbler twitch a few years ago, made up our birding for the day. We then spent a few minutes feeding the local gulls with Nigel S hoping for a rare gull to drop in.

     What a day out, we managed to see all three headline birds without having to wait very long. Mark got us back to York very smartly and I got back to Rochdale without too much bother on the M62 around 6-30pm. Thanks lads for a great day out.

Dave O.



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Sunday 30th October with Chris Chandler.

A brilliant day with some cracking birds seen, up close too, and we met some really nice people throughout the day. Well worth the 405 mile round trip and like I said to Chris..some of the best roads I've ever driven on!

The Leas, South Shields, just north of Sunderland.
- Isabelline / Daurian Shrike adult female (Lifer)
Very showy, very active, caught a few Bees whilst we were there, I even witnessed it eject a pellet. Cracking stuff.
Not impressed by the big camera brigade though, they kept scaring the bird off whilst trying to get to within feet of it, how close they needed to get I don't know...it was showing really well ???

Other birds...
- 2 Stonechat
- 2 Meadow Pipit
- Goldfinch flock (1 perched up with the Shrike)


Redcar, Cleveland.
- Pied Wheatear (Lifer)
Another showy bird, very active on the beach around the Regent Cinema in the Majuba Road area.
It showed close up and this time it was good behaviour from all birders present. I was told by a local that photographers who got too close earlier were told to either move back or jog on!

Other birds...
- 1 Velvet Scoter flying north along the beach tide line close up, well spotted Chris
- few Common Scoter (distant)
- 6 Common Eider (5 drakes 1 duck)
- 1 Red-throated Diver close in
- 6 Turnstone on the tide line
- Sanderling flock in winter plumage


Skinningrove, Cleveland.
- Eastern Black Redstart (Lifer)
What an amazing looking bird, showed to within feet on the rocks on the sea-front. I hope this gets separated as it really is a spectacular looking bird in its beautiful plumage.

Other birds...
- 1 Rock Pipit
- 1 Meadow Pipit
- 1 Robin
- 1 Red-throated Diver
- few distant Common Scoters



-- Edited by Rob Creek on Tuesday 1st of November 2016 06:47:04 AM

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Having seen Steven's excellent photos showing the bird "side on" these certainly trump my own impression concerning the breast pattern; - the rufous underparts do indeed hook up at the breast side, consistent with the form rufiventris, (which apparently in the literature is the longer distance migrant, wintering as far S.E. as Myanmar but exceptionally also in Thailand).

You have to be impressed;- what an October!

 



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Saturday 29th, 12.45-3pm at skinningrove, Cleveland.

Eastern black redstart showing really well on the north side of the jetty, as mike mentions in his post it was in the company of a robin & 2 rock pipits.
1 red throated diver close in on the sea.

for some strange reason I did not manage to go & see the shrike in south shields hmm

news of the pied wheatear in redcar came in when I was home.



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Sunday 30/10/16 14.00 

Having spent the morning walking the RSPB Saltholme trails, we undertook a rare excursion into S.Cleveland, arriving at Skinningrove for 14.00 to study the Eastern Black Redstart apparent "semirufus" particularly as this would be of a form we had never seen anywhere before. 

The bird was settled, and flitting/ foraging amongst the large boulders yards from the surf, and keeping company with a robin and two rock pipits.

The plumage characters are clear cut and distinctive, being an exact match for the illustration in the Collins fieldguide (page 263 in my very old copy) and while superficially this rather brings to mind a "cross between a Common Redstart and a Black Redstart" I personally consider talk that this is a real contender for a "split" to be well founded, - (certainly far less fanciful than possible future splits in the Stonechat complex?).

The semirufus form is not shown in Handbook of the Bird's of the World; the closest match here being ssp. rufiventris, but this latter illustration differs from the actual Skinningrove bird in that the black of the breast hooks up at the side, (much as a Common Sandpiper's gorget does).

En route home we took in the Pied Wheatear at Redcar. This bird is settled on and around the old Regent Cinema which stands on a concrete base rather precariously constructed on the actual seashore. It was said by one wag amongst the observers that the bird has attracted a rather larger crowd than the cinema has managed over recent years.

Regards,

Mike & Barbara



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Saturday -29/10/16

The South Shields Leas Isabelline Shrike was present again today to at least 15.40, when we were leaving.

It was a nice surprise to find Mr. & Mrs Adderley enjoying the bird and further adding to their respective Durham lists.

(Could they already be closet members of the 300 Club??)

Regards to all,

M L & B P



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Dear Mr. Passant

Sadly the invitation failed to arrive. The messenger has now been shot.

Regards
H, J, K, M, M and M (not to be confused with M&M's)

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Dear Mr Chorley,

Our early warning satellite system tracked your incursion yesterday into N E airspace and you could (but for our diplomatic efforts) have been denied entry, as you know full well that your multi entry visa expired last month.

Mindful of your appreciation of the finer things in life we did organise a garden party here with catering staff plying guests with champagne, an assortment of caviars, and lobster butties;- where were you?

Regards,

M and B



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Pleasant morning's birding at Saltholme with the usual suspects for our Oldham+ Birders trip

The 2 Whiskered Terns were still around, commuting between Paddy's Pool and the pool next to the Visitor Centre (No 3?), giving good views both perched and in flight.
A Little Gull was over the main Saltholme Pools at around 9.30 am but flew off over the tern raft towards the west.
Also around the reserve:
Great Crested Grebe
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Mute Swan
Greylag Goose
Canada Goose
Shelduck
Mallard
Gadwall
Wigeon
Shoveler
Pochard
Tufted Duck
Moorhen
Coot
Oystercatcher
Avocet
Lapwing
Black-headed
Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Common Tern
Skylark
Swallow
Sand Martin
Sedge Warbler
Reed Warbler
Common Whitethroat
Tree Sparrow
Goldfinch
Reed Bunting




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Wednesday 11/05/16

Saltholme RSPB- allotment pools area, Great Reed Warbler heard and seen approx 6.45 by Martin Blick; - being searched for but as yet not seen/heard since.

For my part, I really need to get on with some work!

Cheers,

Mike P

 



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Our second visit to Teesside in three days, (seaward end of the Zinc Road) involved waiting some 20 minutes, but with a bit of patience was rewarded with more than adequate views of a female Citrine Wagtail which proved to be quite flighty, and which delighted in disappearing behind thick tussocks as more birders full of eager anticipation, joined the viewing group, (in contrast to a more settled male Yellow Wagtail trying to assert itself "centre stage").

Back at Saltholme RSPB, Saturday's star arrivals, two Whiskered Terns, continued as the main attractions in front of the main Saltholme Pools hide, with a support cast of a Black Tern, five Spoonbills, two Little Gulls (sec. cal. yr .), and a drake Garganey;- we failed to relocate a reported Little Stint, but hell's bells, who's complaining?

Cheers,

Mike and Barb



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Originally posted today by Dave Ousey:

 

   A quickly arranged trip up to see the Penduline Tit`s at Saltholme Pools, Middlesbrough on Easter Sunday ended with us being disappointed! Four of us met at 6am (with the the clocks going forward it was 5am really) in Newhey and with a plan to get back early, surely it was just a question of going up to see the birds and do a bit of general birding. Well, that did not happen. We reached the dried up pond, facing the fire station, with the wind blowing everything about, including us, with only another 4 birders for on site. After around an hour with a Chiff-Chaff for company, we decided to go to Hartlepool Headland. Nothing on the sea but a few Purple Sandpipers, Eider and Turnstone made up for that. After a pleasant stroll around the headland and reliving some of the great birds we have seen in the area we called in at the Jewish Cemetery in Hartlepool and saw a couple of Shore Lark in flight only and my first Ringed Plover of the year. This area will soon be being built on, so we said goodbye to a very productive migration area!  We returned to Saltholme Pools, the news, off course, was that the 2 Penduline Tits showed around 9-30am, it was now 10-15am. We thought they had been blown away.

  Another hour spent  waiting for them to show was brightened up by meeting Nigel from York. He told us that they could be fairly difficult to see, yes they were okay! We called in at North Gare to catch up with some Wheatear that had been reported earlier, you guessed it, we didn`t see any.

   We headed south and called in to a churchyard that had  lots of wild Daffodils  growing in it( I had a little nod as I was driving) We reached the final birding spot near Harewood House, Yorkshire and found out that the Penduline Tits showed quite well at 2-30pm, is was not too be!  We were soon enjoying up to 30 Red Kites in the area. What great birds they are. We reached home by 4pm a little deflated but we enjoyed the day out.

Dave Ousey.



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This morning (Sunday March 13th) dawned foggy but promising, so we cruised eastwards to Saltholme RSPB on a second attempt to catch up with the two Penduline Tits which have now been around for some five weeks.

my previous experience of the species has been minimal: - my first at Blacktoft on Dec 4th 1981, which I had to run for in order to catch a quick 5 second view of it perched before it flew off. This was a milestone in itself, as that was my first attempt at running since having my plaster cast removed as a result of breaking my ankle in the September, performing on a punchball machine on Blackpool Pleasure Beach. My only other encounter has been in Israel in April of 1987.

Nevertheless, I still got to the Blacktoft bird ahead of my companion, a certain Mr. Rayner, ( though in truth, I did enjoy a 50 yard start).

However, I shouldn't stray too far from today's account. The birds were in the same area as reported yesterday, opposite the fire station (before the entrance to the RSPB complex), so it was viewing from the road into an extensive phragmites reed bed, within which there is a generous scatter of bulrushes, - these latter very much liked by the birds, which are fond of probing and pecking at the heads. Within 10 minutes both birds appeared and showed very well to an admiring crowd of 18/20 observers for 3/4 minutes; - a great start to the day.

Regards,

Mike and Barbara



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Cleveland's Isabelline Wheatear continues to please this morning and apparently is now the latest ever recorded in Britain by a fortnight; - a sign of the times?

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Originally posted today by Dave Ousey:

Whilst visiting the Isles of Scilly in October 2009, a real "mega" bird had turned up at Trow Quarry, South Shields, Tyne & Wear. The bird, an Eastern Crowned Warbler was a first for Britain. So as we made the long journey home from Scilly, Bob K remarked, "That`s one we have missed, it will be a long time before another one of them turns up". We did agree with him! Fast forward to last Thursday afternoon and the news broke of another Eastern Crowned Warbler, that had been found in Brotton, Cleveland, the long time had ended then? Too late to go on Thursday, but some phone calls later and a trip was planned for Friday morning. A very mild morning in late October greeted us, as myself and Bob K left Rochdale at 6am with myself driving. The M62 held no fears for us at that time and once on the A19 it was all fairly plain sailing. A check of the news on Rare Bird Alert by Bob K revealed that the bird was still present, twitch speed time! (all strictly within the law) We got to the seaside town of Saltburn by the Sea and got stuck behind a JCB that must have been stuck in a slow gear! Our directions took us to a housing estate near Hunley Golf Course in Brotton and as we tried to park one of the locals told us to not park in front of her house, did she really own the road ? A few birders were milling around in a small wooded area with lots of Sycamore`s in it. We were then directed by one of the locals, who said, "Go further into the wood and the bird is showing well". We hurried down into the wood but the bird was not on view, we met some of the lads from York who told us we had missed the bird by about 5 minutes, curse the JCB time! A few false alarms in the following hour, mainly involving Chiff chaffs and then suddenly, Bob had tickable views of the bird, I just could`nt get onto to it though. After about an hour and half on site, the difficult to see bird finally gave itself up and stopped for a rest (after dashing from tree to tree and not giving anyone a good sighting really) and perched in a sycamore and gave really good views for 20 minutes or so and what a real cracker it was! It reminded me of the halcyon days of twitching with lots of running about and large gatherings of birders! Around 150 birders where present when we where there. A return to the car for a well-earned sandwich & brew. We decided to head up towards Sleddale near Commondale and search for the Rough Legged Buzzards. It's a lovely area, that we have visited before and upon arrival two Rough Legs were showing really well for about 15 minutes. One of them was a very pale bird and looked impressive in the sunshine as it flew towards us. A Peregrine and two Common Buzzards made up the raptors seen. Instead of going home along the A19 we headed along the B1257 towards Helmsley, what an outstanding and picturesque area that is. As we reached the M62 news of a few Friday afternoon problems surfaced and a crawl back to Lancashire ensued. We got home by 3-45pm and both of us will remember the day for a long time!

Dave O.

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The hope is that Cleveland's Black Scoter will appear north of the mouth of the R. Tees to become tickable for Durham listers and that the Bridled Tern reported on the Farnes will move south into Durham airspace (for those of us who were away when the last one was briefly available at Saltholme Pools).

All this going on, and it's not even autumn yet......

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Any Pratincole species impresses, and so yesterday's Black-winged Pratincole at Low Hauxley, Northumberland was doubtless appreciated by the lucky few who saw it during its all too short stay of a couple of hours.

It was almost predictable that it would appear in Durham airspace subsequently, - and so it duly did this morning, - at RSPB Saltholme.

It spent even less time there; - barely a half hour, before zipping off south high over the River Tees, and so wasn't at all twitchable for those of us who live 45 mins inland.

This constitutes yet another great new species for both Durham and Cleveland, (and, as regards Cleveland, must rank as "bird of the year" so far).

- Only possible consolation would be if it set course for Elton......

Regards,
Wistful of Wolsingham



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Despite looking straight into the early morning sun, we (Riggers, John Rayner, Karen Foulkes and I) had great views of the Myrtle Warbler at High Shincliffe this morning, with the bird moving up and down the hedge, feeding on the coconut halves & fat balls, flitting up into the higher branches to pose for all to admire its' lemon yellow rump, occasionally calling and at one point perching in the tree over our heads. Early on, it made a couple of forays "out of bounds" into the housing estate, but by the time we left around 9.15 a.m. it seemed fairly settled into the hedge. Well worth the Handelian fanfare which greeted the bird's appearance, thanks to someone's mobile phone biggrinbiggrin
Good to see Melanie, Warfy, Si Johnson, John Tromans and his friend Jim among the throng.

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Despite the awful forecasts I headed over & up to High Shincliffe, Co.Durham today as it was my first chance to try for the Myrtle Warbler since news of the location was released. Setting off at 5am the journey was fine until I left the M1 at jctn 61, then I hit the snow!! The roads were like ice rinks with compacted snow & it was too early for traffic to have cleared them so it was very careful progress to the village. Enter the village on Whitwell Acres & park immediatley on you right down a dead end road with no houses on it, this stops local being peed off by road blockages etc. Walk along Whitwell Acres to just past Apperley Avenue and in the hedges opposite there is a fatball feeder and at least 3 fat-filled coconut halves. This is the area the bird always returns too even if it goes missing in gardens at times. You are only about 10m from the bird and it can be scoped really easily showing up the subtle yellow markings and stunning yellow rump. We stood and watched for an hour in the snow, it turned up at c.8am as it had done for the last 2 days. It seemed to have a love/hate relationship with a Robin. It followed the Robin all over the place but the Robin seemed to dislike it's attentions & chased it off a couple of times!!

The bird flew off high over the houses into the gardens so we walked further up Whitwell Acres, round the corner & caught up with 1 of the Waxwings that has been feeding in a rowan by the road. The berries were nearly all gone so a new favoured tree needs to be found if folk are going to be able to add Waxwing for the trip list! Given the imminent awful weather coming in I beat a hasty retreat back over the M62 to get home by midday, better safe than sorry! The heavy rain & very strong winds were already making driving problematical so I was pleased to get back even though it meant my stay with the bird was shorter than I would have liked.

Most locals seemed fine, I chatted to several & wished more a good morning. A couple of them were a bit grumpy but we al behaved well & all but a couple parked where requested at the start of Whitwell Acres in the dead end road. The problem with release of news was that the bird was in gardens & residents didnt want birders peering in at them. The feeders in the hedge were put there by the RSPB and once the bird started feeding here (when viewing them you have your back to the houses) the residents were appeased & the location was released. Hopefully the bird, which has already been around a few weeks, will carry on feeding here & everyone who wants to see it will eb able to, I know that if it had moved on or not been seen again then there would have been a right rumpus!! But hopefully it will stick for everyone now smile

If you are visiting then firstly, good luck, patience at the feeders should pay dividends. If you are fit enough then park down the dead end, it's a 5 minute walk to the feeders & appeases locals, and if you plan a trip tomorrow it is bin day so will get busier & noisier!!

p.s Mike I would have been miffed too if I lived up there to find this had been suppressed on my doorstep, understand totally how local birders 'not in the know' must have felt cry

-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Wednesday 12th of February 2014 04:19:07 PM

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The Myrtle Warbler has been seen and showing well all morning from a public road and there were no parking problems at all. It is understandably at the drabber end of the plumage spectrum as a wintering individual, but that by no means detracts from the significance of what is a splendid record.

The news could quite sensibly have been released far earlier, and the untoward delay has given rise to quite understandable criticism from within local circles here.

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Durham has scored again (!) with the first county record of an American wood warbler; albeit one of the commoner ones to have reached Britain previously, and which many will have seen over the years in Scilly.

Durham's Myrtle Warbler (wintering, and around for at least two weeks) was seen well both yesterday and this morning at High Shincliffe just south of Durham City. Taking the A177 south, turn left into "The Avenue" into a residential estate and the bird was being watched along Apperley Way by some forty birders before 8 am. "Google" the estate in order to navigate round.

We have not been "in the loop" and only found out yesterday about this bird, which we therefore hope to catch up with later...

Good luck to any Manky birders who make the effort today as many of you who have to work would perhaps get no further opportunity until next weekend.

Best Wishes,
Mike

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John Rayner wrote:

Also of note ... a colour ringed Curlew which I have reported to Euring.





It has taken a long time but I just got a report on the colour ringed Curlew seen on Hartlepool Headland last October.

"NY GN (BTO metal ring number FH48628) was ringed at Seal Sands on 21st July 2012. The tall white on the left tarsus signifies the bird was ringed by Durham University/Tees Ringing Group at Teesmouth. There has only been two previous sightings of this bird since ringing, both at Parton Rocks, Hartlepool Headland. Both sightings were also in October but in the previous 2012. This may suggest the bird largely forages during the non-breeding season away from the Tees estuary. Radio tracking and colour-ring sightings have shown some birds to forage inland by day (e.g. near Hurworth Burn Reservoir, Nunthorpe and north of Hartlepool) and roost by night at Seal Sands, Teesmouth."

Cheers, John



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Mike Chorley wrote:

Another good showing this morning from both the Pallid Swift and the Western Bonelli's Warbler for Miss Foulkes & Messers Ausberger, Rigby, Rayner, Stanley and self.




Also of note were 4 Purple Sandpipers showing nicely on the headland rocks and a colour ringed Curlew which I have reported to Euring.

Cheers, John

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Another good showing this morning from both the Pallid Swift and the Western Bonelli's Warbler for Miss Foulkes & Messers Ausberger, Rigby, Rayner, Stanley and self.

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Great views of the Pallid Swift clinging onto the side of the Church tower at 6:50 am! Finally left the 'roost' at 7:40 and very quickly gained height.

The Western Bonelli's Warbler was also showing well.

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The Western Bonelli's Warbler was apparently showing well again this afternoon, though I myself was busy watching the latest goody,- a Pallid Swift which was first noted at about 13.50.
It's nice to have made the right decision for this week (i.e. to stay in the N.E.)

I arrived at 17.25 (despite the efforts of the rush hour traffic to thwart me). Fortunately the bird was flying around over the roof tops when I arrived and made several low passes at only 25/30 ft overhead or so during my 25 minutes with it. It has been well photographed and was seen to go to roost (as we expected) by the clock face on St Hilda's church.

If any intrepid Manky birders fancy a twitch, get there before dawn to allow for traffic, and enjoy!

Regards,
Mike P.

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Hartlepool Headland provided the goods this morning in the form of a Western Bonelli's Warbler; - most surprisingly, this long overdue species is a first record for both Cleveland and Co. Durham and so attracted a good turn out.

By the time I arrived to see a "Bonelli's sp." several reliable observers had already heard it call, and it was accordingly assigned as "western". (I had been hoping it would be "eastern").

During my hour it didn't call at all and on my own I couldn't therefore have confidently i/d'd it as to form other than trending towards western on the basis of an olivey green mantle (as opposed to greyish) as it was for the most part giving jigsaw views in the canopy of the largest tree in the area). Being rather flighty it moved between the croft (opposite Verrill's chippy, which today did excellent trade), the putting green, and the large Borough Hall sycamore (for those of you who know the area), and was easily lost periodically despite 40 or so observers present.

I know many Manky birders in the recent past saw the Derbyshire bird (frustratingly close to the G M border), and accordingly will find this of only passing interest; - it may be however a harbinger of better things to come over the next week or so?

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Stay calm; - North East England has not been invaded as yet.

Nevertheless, mindful of the weather pattern (esp. the wind direction), we are poised over coming days in hopeful anticipation that anything could turn up between Northumberland and Norfolk. It's a case of pick your dream bird and keep your fingers crossed.

Any takers for Siberian Blue Robin, Rufous-tailed Robin, or indeed "just" a Rubythroat? - Personally a European encounter with any one of them would give me my particular bird of the year; - given a choice, I'd settle for another Rubythroat in Co. Durham, (one we all got to see this time!).

In the meantime, I just daren't venture down to Manchester.......

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This morning heralded an addition to the Durham avifauna in the form of an Iberian Chiffchaff, just along a dirt road across from Boldon Flats, near Whitburn. - A nice find by Andrew Kinghorn.

The bird was giving a textbook vocalisation quite freely every minute or two when we turned up at around 15.15 and was accordingly best located on this basis. It was frequenting hedgerows of well grown hawthorns on a smallish circuit. (Earlier it had gone missing for a while, possibly disturbed by a passing train).

A Lesser Whitethroat (our first of the year) performing some 100 yds further along the same hedge, made this an enjoyable little break from some laborious garden chores.

Regards,
Mike P.

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With all the photos of the Bee-eater I couldn't resist the lure, so Mike R and I went up on Sunday.

Stunning views of the Bee-eater followed by a superb afternoon at Seal Sands/Greenabella where 3 Short-eared Owl, 4 or 5 Barn Owl and 90+ Twite were amongst the attractions.

I also saw a probable Bearded Tit but couldn't nail it.

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Myself, Alex Jones and Mike Duckham headed over to Sunderland early this morning for the reported Bee-eater.

After a wait of around 10 minutes with the other birders present, the bird was soon located perched on a TV aerial on Thorburn Street and then treated us to some great views as it hawked insects overhead along with the local Starling flock.

More good views were had on various TV aerials around the vicinity, before eventually, it perched in a tree in one of the nearby gardens to show off it's amazing plumage in great light conditions. A real stunner and a long-awaited lifer for the three of us.

No sign of the Little Bunting at Elba Park in the hedgerows amongst the Reed Buntings present, but a nice flock of 100+ Pink-footed Geese flew over on our way back to the car where we then headed home very happy.









-- Edited by Phil Owen on Saturday 10th of November 2012 06:39:11 PM

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The first cal.yr. Bee eater continues to entertain in the suburbs of north Sunderland today, (Thorburn Street, Seaburn, to be precise) perching on TV aerials and garden trees between sallies overhead after passing insects.
It has been well watched since it turned towards the end of last week but with freezing nights now, hopes are that it will head off south soon for its own good.

A few miles to the south west at Elba Park the somewhat rarer Little Bunting (in Durham terms) was showing briefly but well on its third day between 2 p.m. and 2.15 p.m. coming to grain put out by the finder and local patch stalwart Mick Heron.

I recall Geoff Lightfoot (finder of the Adswood Tip bird of 1983) doing the same, which surely encouraged that bird to stay10/11 days.
The Elba Park Little Bunting has been a Durham "tick" for many of us "oldies" including Dave Britton, and until today was one of only 8 species I have on my (modest) Gr. Man. list but not on my Durham list, now reduced accordingly to the "magnificent seven":- Leach's Petrel, Pied-billed Grebe, Ferruginous Duck, Collared Pratincole, Grey Phalarope (surprisingly), Corncrake, and Quail (which I've only ever heard but not seen in Durham).

Regards,
Mike P.

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At last, after a rather disappointing October so far up here (we do perhaps expect a little too much at times?) some eastern appetizers with a Pallas's Warbler (phylloscopus, not locustella) at Whitburn mound and a Dusky Warbler reported from Hartlepool today, despite the absence of any solid easterly airflow out of Russia.



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Great account Mike I was north of the river itching to get accross to Whitburn! Unfortunately I didn't risk the journey as I wouldn't of made it in time for the release. And that mound can make them disappear especially a PG tips.
In scant consolation I had my barred warbler again at least 4 yellow brows ( safe estimate) scattering of common migrants and late on a probable view of my red breasted fly. Which someone else had good views of!
Oh well I live in hope that the PG will decide to head this way!!!
Nice on Mike!
Kev

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Bedlam (or mayhem?)- Take your pick; either word accurately sums up today!

With some relief from the winds and the rains expected today, I was always going to be somewhere on the Durham coast this morning. The White's Thrush on Inner Farne was already history, but a support cast of Yellow-browed Warblers and Red -breasted Flycatchers still held out hope of something better, waiting to be found.
I decided to pay my first visit of 2012 to Whitburn, the target being one of the commoner species to have so far avoided my Durham list - yesterday's Common Rosefinch which had been showing well yesterday morning to the coast dwellers.
However, many common birds had moved on from yesterday, including of course the Rosefinch. With birds unexpectedly thin on the ground mid morning, I was soldiering on, determined to find something when a 'phone call had me scurrying to the car; -news of a Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler at Hartlepool in the Jewish Cemetery; a location I had earlier been toying with visiting had it not been for the lure of the wretched Rosefinch!

I covered the 35 miles feeling tense, only to be greeted with the sight of birders scattered about talking or wandering around aimlessly. Three or four people had seen and identified the bird only for it to vanish into extensive deep cover.
I quickly relocated a Yellow-browed Warbler while scouring adjacent cover, noting Common Wheatears and Redstarts; - all scant compensation though.
I wandered into the cemetery, noting more of the same. After several minutes birding alone, I noticed beyond the wall a scramble of people running for their cars and disappearing somewhere! I vaulted the wall and asked if any hot news had broken, but five people standing around remarked that they had all gone probably because they were bored. I retorted that they had all got bored at the same time and with remarkable urgency!
Then the news hit: - a second Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler trapped and ringed at ..... Whitburn !!!

It was to be released at 13.50. With almost no hope of getting there in time, I shot off (as you would; mindful of course of the speed limits). It was though arguably the fastest I have moved since I turned 70.
The A19 seemed to have doubled in length, and all the traffic lights of course seemed set on red, dustbin lorries held up progress, but at least the Bolden level crossing was open.
I screeched onto the car park by the Whitburn lighthouse ringing station at 13. 59, dived out of the car to the question being asked of a crowd of birders "Have you all seen it now?"
"No!" I yelled, with sufficient of a pleading tone as to engender sympathy.
I was ushered to the front of the admiring crowd, and admired the beast, eyes popping, and asked specifically to see its tertials! What a relief; to have missed two in a day wouldn't have born thinking about. One lucky birder Chris Bell has seen both, in the same county in the same day; -possibly a first in itself?





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Went for a walk in strong easterly winds this morning and driving rain, just in front of the in laws place in Tynemouth. A small flycatcher caught my attention but quickly vanished before I could get an id. Whilst trying to relocate it a barred warbler emerged and began shaking off the rain and preening giving brief but excellent views before diving into deep foliage. After a walk in search of more migrants around the pier and priory/priors park edges etc., nothing of note around. Returned to the barred warbler spot where the flycatcher was skulking low. Eventually got good views a red breasted flycatcher probably first winter bird! Two self found lifers in awful weather, not bad at all and more easterlies to come once they die down I'm sure lots of birds are waiting to be found.i watched as a stream of birders came to connect with my finds but none had any luck. Later in the day though one birder refound the red breasted flycatcher and got excellent views. I've popped out a couple of times to help them relocate them but only that one birder so far has had good views.
Roll on tomoro!

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- News today of a White's Thrush on Inner Farne; though no boats are sailing presently due to the weather. Prospects hardly seem better for tomorrow, but we live in hope.
The potential problem is that when the weather improves sufficiently for birders to get to the island, the bird will most likely have moved on beforehand to somewhere with more cover?

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True to form, like an old friend, the annually returning adult Bonaparte's Gull appeared yet again yesterday at Whitburn Steel (on the Durham coast a few miles N. of Sunderland).

I wonder where it spends the rest of the year?

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Sandhill Crane; - Latest update:-

Was seen still heading south, over Hartlepool Docks at 12.17.

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A fine addition to the Durham County list this morning in the form of the Sandhill Crane, which entered Durham airspace (South Shields) at 10.55 and was watched by competent observers for some 8 minutes, passing over Cleadon Hills still heading south but slightly inland.
The bird had earlier been tracked heading south through coastal sections of Northumberland, (Newbiggin, Blyth, and Whitley Bay and so south over the R. Tyne).

- No further updates at time of writing; though doubtless many Teesmouth birders will be out looking......

Cheers,
Mike P.

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Just back from a week away to learn that the putative Sooty Tern was nothing of the kind!
Apparently the observer (whoever he/she is) "withdrew the record"; - all totally baffling, as such a distinctive bird "said to be showing well" at Colt Crag Reservoir, would seem to be pretty hard to get wrong (other than being mistaken for a Bridled Tern perhaps).

Today, resisting temptation to head to Aberdeen, we headed instead to Hartlepool and were rewarded with views of the Black Guillemot still lingering with it's commoner congeners offshore. This is a tough species to meet with in the North Sea.

At Saltholme Pools looking to the causeway from the roadside, we saw a Little Stint and a Pectoral Sandpiper, before heading for the Allotment pool on the RSPB reserve and at last saw the Blue-winged Teal eclipse drake showing more readily and confidently now that it can very likely fly again. This has been a notorious skulker these last few months.

We await October with bated breath.....

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For the latest info (both positive and negative) on the putative Sooty tern sightings in Durham/ Northumberland, please look on the "Mega News" thread.

Cheers,
Mike P.

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The eclipse drake Blue-winged Teal is also still present at Saltholme RSPB, seen on Allotment Pool, Haverton Hole from 3.20-3.25pm then flew out of sight. Sounds an elusive beastie but another bird if anyone's going up :)

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News this morning of another Sharp-tailed Sandpiper on the tidal pools at Greatham Creek, Teesside, close to where the last bird was in fact.
(I haven't heard whether it's adult or juv. yet).

Other quality birds in the Whitburn area (to the north) are the adult American Golden Plover and the adult Bonapart's Gull, both seen again yesterday, (if anyone wants more precise updates and may be contemplating coming up tomorrow please PM me this
evening when I shall likely know more).

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The 'Dream Team' of Rigby, Rayner, Foulkes and Chorley had better luck on this month's longer invasion of the North East.

Despite Mr Rayner's efforts to reintroduce Double Daylight Saving Time, we made speedy progress to Saltholme's Allotment Pool where we had good views of the White-winged Black Tern. A cracking bird, just begining to moult out of summer plumage.

The Blue-winged Teal was living up to its' reputation for being an elusive little...eclipse so we headed over to the Causeway pools to rendezvous with Mr. Passant (Nice to see you again, Mike) Having failed to conjure any Cetti's Warblers from the reed beds at Dorman's Pool Mike set off to look for the Tern and Teal while we headed for Seaton Pool.

It was more trouble to find the pool than the Red-Necked Grebe! Again, a nice summer plumage bird giving good views. After a close encounter with an excellent specimen of Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar we headed further north to Trow Quarry for brief but satisfactory views of the summer plumage Woodchat Shrike before it headed into the sycamores to shelter from the rain.

A return visit to Allotment Pool on our way home brought even better views of the Tern but still no Teal. Despite this, an excellent day's birding in mostly good weather and great company. As well as 55 species of birds (also including Marsh Harrier, Little Egret, Water Rail, Red Kite and Cetti's Warbler) we had 3 species of moth, 7 species of butterfly, 29 plants and 1 fungus (Shaggy Inkcap)

As Karen might have said 'Fandabbydozey, you dirty rat'

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