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Post Info TOPIC: North East England


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RE: North East England


South Gare, Redcar. A first time visit here for me.

Nice to finally meet you as well Rob!

The Brown Booby (lifer) was sat on the green buoy for a while then had a good fly around for a few minutes when it was constantly harassed and chased by gulls that obviously didnt like it. The booby also gave a few loud calls as it was trying to escape the gulls. It settled on the water distantly for a while and then flew back and settled on the red buoy giving better views.

Managed a few heavily cropped hand-held phonescope photos



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Sunday 10th Sept

South Gare, Redcar.

Good to meet Steve Nelson, finally!

- Brown Booby
Having had a few fleeting glimpses and views of one flying away from me in Cornwall a few years ago, it was nice to catch up with this one. The bird was showing on arrival on the green buoy no.5 and didnt move whilst I was there.
Distance and heat haze makes for not particularly good images but it is more than identifiable so I was happy with the views I had.

Plenty of auks around and a probable juv Great Northern Diver but it kept diving and I lost it.



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Decided to have a big twitching day today so headed over to the north east. Set off at daft oclock to make the most of the day. Weather was wet virtually all day.

A Red Kite over the A1 on the way was a nice start.

First stop: Long Nanny
The Grey-headed Lapwing (first for Britain) was the target. It was mostly very distant and quite flighty and ranged widely over the fields. Lifer.
Also in the fields were 7 Pink-footed Geese. 1 Avocet and lots of Curlew. 3 Wheatears in the dunes.
I also had a stop at the nearby tern colony. Lots of Arctic Terns 4 Sandwich Terns and 3 Little Terns.

2nd stop: Bouler
Cracking male Red-backed Shrike showing well. First time Ive seen a male.
Also here: a few Stonechat and a Little Egret over. The rocky shore and sea had a few Eider, Turnstone and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit. A nice flock of 15 Barnacle Geese flew over heading north.

3rd stop: Amble for a sea watch over to Croquet Island:
I hoped to try to pick out a Roseate Tern on and around the distant island and Im fairly certain I managed to pick out two or three candidates but the distance and the poor weather meant I couldnt be 100% certain. But lots of Arctic Terns, Puffins, Kittiwakes, numerous Eiders, 2 Gannets and a few Fulmar.

4th stop: Druridge Pools
The Temmincks Stint was eventually located after a lengthy search and coordinated team effort by the local birders. Also here were 1 Garganey (male), 12 Whimbrel, c20 Ruff, 1 Barn Owl hunting, 6 Swift, a Water Rail was heard.

5th stop: see Cumbria thread!


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Second Winter male King Eider still showing well if distantly from Redcar lifeboat station at 12.30 today. Luckily it's with the closest group of Common Eider and relatively easy to pick out.

Further West along the beach were 2+ Red Throated Diver, 100+Common Scoter, Kittiwake, 7 Sanderling, 9 Turnstone.



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The 2w male King Eider, that has been in the South Gare/Redcar area since 27 November, was still present around midday today. Conditions were fine, cold and clear, -1*c but felt much colder. Viewing was difficult, as the tide was well out, and the bird being in amongst a group of Common Eider, just beyond the breakers. As such, the bird was up and down in the swells, mainly out of view. I saw it briefly, on four occasions, in the one hour that I was there.

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Greater Sand Plover at Redcar, Yorkshire (or Teeside if you prefer) 26/8/2022

    Its been a long 34 years since I saw my last Greater Sand Plover in Britain on Walney Island, Cumbria (or Lancashire, if I prefer) So, when one was found on Redcar beach last night around 7-30pm, I alerted a few of my rare bird enthusiast friends. This bird is probably the same bird seen last week in Aberdeenshire, now making its way south hopefully finding its way back into the Middle East for the winter. First thing this morning a message to tell us that the plover was still present. Just me and Kevin C, who was suffering from a slight over indulgence, left Castleton around 8-30am. We headed along the M62 unhindered, apart from the unusual road works (never see anybody working there) near Leeds. Onto the A1 and then the A19 towards Redcar/Teeside, news was that the bird was still present was well received. Parking on the Prom in Redcar, about 50 birders were spread out on the seaweed strewn shore. Grabbing our gear we headed to see the gorgeously plumaged adult male Greater Sand Plover. It was feeding in amongst the seaweed and rocks as the tide was out and finding plenty of prey items to build itself up for the long journey south. At about 25 yards distance the bird showed itself to the admiring audience, other waders seen: - Sanderling (some in almost full breeding plumage) Turnstone, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Curlew. We enjoyed the birds feeding, resting until the tide began to start coming in. It was hard to leave the spectacle and the seaweed, complete with its own smell. We began the journey home just before noon and hoped the traffic would be kind, but as lots of Jolly holiday makers had joined the throng on the A19/A1 junction. The result was stop start traffic from Wetherby until after Huddersfield, what a slog, we got back around 2-45pm. It was worth it really!

Dave O.



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Managed to see the very obliging Woodchat Shrike near Scaling Dam in North Yorkshire yesterday. 

A short walk from the car park around the lake was also productive with 2 Whinchat, 2 Stonechat, Tree Pipit, Red Grouse, 4 Curlew, 4 Lapwing, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap and 2 Chiffchaff. 

A single Black Grouse was seen on moorland edge just outside Whitby.

Image of Shrike attached 



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Sat/Sun 15th/16th May Beadnell to Bamburgh & Budle Bay

Am spending a week away, based at Seahouses and for the first couple of days have just been checking out familiar local birding spots. Farne Island trip booked for Tuesday morning and hope to get to Coquet Island later in the week (if the Boat operators ever respond).

Sat 15-May - Beadnell
- c20 Eider
- 2 Ringed Plover
- 2 Whimbrel
- 1 Fulmar
Plenty of Auks and Gannets, plus Terns some way offshore

Sat 15-May - Seahouses/North Sunderland Harbour
- c20 Eider
- Kestrel
- 100+ Kittiwake
- 10 Ringed Plover
- Turnstone
- Redshank
- 2 Dunlin
- Grey Heron

Sun 16-May - Budle Bay
- 5 Whimbrel
- c150 Sandwich Tern
- c70 Shelduck (no sign of the Ruddy Shelduck reported in the area)
- plenty of Gulls and Oystercatchers
- Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Linnet, Meadow Pipit in coastal dunes and vegetation

Sun 16-May - Bamburgh & Castle
- Fulmar
- 4+ House Martin
- Colony of c20 pairs of Rooks

Sun 16-May - Monks House Flash between Seahouses & Bamburgh
- c20 Sand Martin
- pr Shoveler
- m Gadwall
- Stonechat
- 2 Sedge Warbler
- Usual Gulls and waterfowl


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Sunday 9th May.

Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland.
An early hours start and was back home before 12, nice sunny weather whilst I was there, and met some nice people whilst there.

- Northern Mockingbird (Lifer)
Arrived well before the gates were open at cafe, but another bit of open land/car park nearby looked promising, and within minutes of arriving the bird popped up into view in a berry tree albeit a bit obscured but it soon moved and showed well for the 5-6 of us there.
Fed well on berries at one point, then disappeared for a few minutes, then appeared on a tv aerial, then dropped into a garden out of sight again, then popped up on a fence, and so it continued for a while doing its rounds.
It suddenly dropped out of sight and a female Sparrowhawk flew through, dispersing Starlings, Pigeons, and a few Blackbirds. (A tweet on Saturday stated the bird was killed a Sparrowhawk which was untrue).
It disappeared for a little longer which prompted us to see if the gates were open and try that area. They had just been opened and after putting a few quid in the donation bucket, I walked into the viewing area and within a minute or so the Mockingbird flew up from a garden onto a house roof, onto a tv aerial, down onto a fence and into a garden again, into a tree, back on the roof (you get the picture)...showing extremely well!
A corker of a bird!

House Martins, Swallows, a few Swifts and a flock of Dunlin over whilst watching the Mockingbird.




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Northern Mockingbird in Northumberland 8/5/21

  The travel tales of this bird carried on, after its trip across the Atlantic, then Devon, Sussex and now Northumberland in the well looked after town of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. It has been in the area for a couple of weeks until a resident birder reported its presence and viewing was arranged. With a couple of our team not having made the trip down to Devon, a trip to see the bird was arranged. The weather forecast was pretty miserable from 10am onwards, so an early start was called for. By 8-45am we arrived and after following on site instructions, we were soon watching the Northern Mockingbird sat in some brambles in a garden! The lads got some good pictures of the bird as an hour soon passed, the promised rain then swept in from the sea making conditions quite unpleasant. We took sanctuary in a nearby bakers shop and sampled their products before we tried to do a bit of sea watching. Bad idea, more rain had us running for the car!

   After a no show of a Black/Grey headed Wagtail at Bothal (it was refound later) we decided to go to a place none of us had ever been to before, Grindon Lough between Hadrian`s Wall and Haydon Bridge in Northumberland. We hoped to see an adult, female Red necked Phalarope. The rain seemed to be getting worse as we crossed the hills, we eventually reached Grindon Lough and again ventured into the rain. We were greeted by a few birders from Greater Bolton who soon had us watching the distant Phalarope, which was unusually feeding on the mud banks, out of the water, with a Dunlin! The weather began to become even worse, so we loaded up and headed for home via the A686 towards Penrith and onto the M6, passing through some lovely scenery. We all had a good day out and as we got into Lancashire it stopped raining!

Dave Ousey



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09/05/21 Sunday,

Barbara joined me for the pleasant 62 minute drive up to Newbiggin, arriving on site at about 10.45. Our target of course was the Mockingbird which after a 3 minute wait appeared on the fence between the yard and the private gardens beyond, before flying up and obligingly perching on a nearby TV aerial for several further minutes.

We then enjoyed exploring the seafront in very agreeable weather, and at 12 noon headed for Ladhars Fish Bar (on recommendation by the locals). Our only complaint was that the delicious Haddock was enormous. If any of you go there, take a knife and fork each and buy and split one portion of fish and chips for the two of you, which would equate to £3+ per head.

The chippy is located some 40 yards south and opposite the Endeavour Cafe, which itself is immediately next to the gates to the yard where you stand to await the birds appearance.

The key to getting to Newbiggin is to get onto the A189 heading north to the outskirts of Newbiggin, then at the roundabout following the sign onto the B1334 which becomes Front Street, plenty of free parking is available in this most welcoming little town.

Good Luck if you give it a go.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



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19/11/20 Amble, Northumberland

We enjoyed the first fine clear day for some time by driving up to Amble primarily to see a first for the N/E, a Buff-bellied Pipit foraging along the rocks and tide rack and despite the breeze, obligingly from time to time perching up on a sandy mound at the foot of the dune system, providing excellent eye level scope views and good photo opportunities. It tended to avoid the Rock Pipits, though some observers had earlier noted that it was a little intolerant of its congeners unless they kept their distance.

It struck me as a rather classic example with the eye ring and open faced look sufficient to warrant a closer inspection, with the rather uniform mantle contrasting with the well streaked flanks and buff based breast, shading to whitish on the belly.

Surely a better name should be Buff-breasted Pipit?

After that, and a very pleasant stroll along the beach opposite Coquet Island, fish and chips at the Harbour Cafe went down rather well.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 



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Doc Brewster wrote:

Looking at the finer details myself and all assembled today are sure that this will be pronounced as Stejneger's rather than Siberian. A sample of faeces has been taken so confirmation should happen soon.


 

I'd missed the announcement re this bird, which happened just as Lockdown 2.0 started and I was furloughed !! This bird has, as expected, been confirmed as Stejneger's Stonechat from DNA analysis smile

 



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With the Taiga Flycatcher indisputably nailed via the sonagram (as per my previous post of 16th Oct biggrin ) I decided to head back up to the NE for another bird that needed it's ID clinching, but which was another potential lifer!!

This time my destination was South Gare, Redcar, Cleveland. Again an early start was in order so that I arrived on site not long after first light. Pulling up just past the 'Shrike Bushes' I approached the reedbed and immediately a small chat was visible over on the far side, its breast glowing in the reflected sunlight. Scope up and I was watching the putative Stejneger's Stonechat that had been present for over a week. A couple of ordinary Stonechats were also in the vicinity and I wonder how many birders had turned up seen one of these and walked away thinking that they had seen the Stejneger's?! I took my time scoping the bird and got excellent views of the plumage details including rump and tail colour and pattern and the black axillaries, this was the 'Eastern' Stonechat for certain.  Looking at the finer details myself and all assembled today are sure that this will be pronounced as Stejneger's rather than Siberian. A sample of faeces has been taken so confirmation should happen soon. Several record digiscoped shots were taken and I headed off to do more birding. On local gen I headed to a small group of bushes further along the Gare road. Here sevearl photographers were gathered but the target bird hadn't been seen today, but my luck was to continue as a shout went up and there in a lone sueda clump was a stunning male Firecrest showing exceptionally well in the sun on the outside of the bush. I then continied to the Gare End for my next bit of birding.

Here I got to a point where I could hunker down in shelter and in the sun for a seawatch, with a brisk breeze and an elevated position it felt good. I then spent the next 2-3 hours scanning the sea and was duly rewarded with some great birds, but the best of all, and the best sighting of the whole day wasn't a bird - see the wildlife thread for that report!! Over the next few hours I logged a Black-throated Diver, 2 Red-throated Divers, a very distant Manx Shearwater with several Gannets, an Arctic Skua, 27 Eider, a Fulmar, a few Kittiwakes, 2 Guillemots and a few Shags. On the shoreline I had a nice Bar-tailed Godwit, a Rock Pipit and a Dunlin.

A return visit saw the Stejneger's Stonechat still showing well but the breezy conditions were keeping it mobile and despite trying really hard I couldn't get a closer shot so I gave up and headed home after a superb day.



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Saturday 17th Oct.

Trow Quarry, The Leas, South Shields.

A bit of a crazy journey, on the road at 5.30am (ETA 8.05am) a car fire on the M62 meant J22-J24 was closed, one of the diversions was over the Moors at Denshaw all the way to Pole Moor, firstly in pitch black then thick fog and fine rain for miles, and a nut job in a van tailgating me with one headlight out and the other one badly misaligned dazzling me! This set me back a good while, ETA 8.45am.

Then I pulled over for fuel and call of nature on the A194(M) at 8.20am. It was pouring down and no reports of the Taiga Flycatcher. I sat there for about 10 minutes contemplating driving home. Then at 8.31am the report came through the bird was showing.

- Taiga Flycatcher (?) Lifer
I was on site and watching the bird just before 9am. Its a little belter, whatever it is. Only around 20 or so people present and seemingly following COVID guidelines, but a few were insistent on following the bird backwards and forwards round the quarry.
Its a strange one Mike, it does appear to show the pale fringes of the tertials and the black uppertail coverts, but I had a few good scopes views of an ever so slight orange tinge to a small part of the throat and I must agree with you and Doc that there is a certain warmth to the brown tones. I think the bill would be difficult to ascertain (in my view) just how black it is as opposed to how much of the base could be brown, but it certainly looks mostly black.
Lets see what happens.

A quick seawatch produced...
- 1 Arctic Skua
- 3 Red-throated Divers
- 3 Common Eider
- small flock Common Scoter with what looked like a couple of Long-tailed Ducks amongst them
- small pod of Dolphins - possibly Bottle-nosed.


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Taiga Flycatcher - aftermath

Well, having seen good video footage and photos of the bird, its time for a taste of humble pie for me; - the bird quite clearly shows no trace at all of any red in the throat, and does show tips to the greater coverts, indicative of it being juvenile, so clearly I was mistaken. There is some warmth shown on the flanks about which I commented to Peter Bell whilst discussing the photo with him but that doesnt necessarily mitigate against the identification and felt that the bill, head, and uppertail coverts were consistent with Taiga.

I just hope that any subsequent DNA analysis serves to underpin the identification, otherwise the established criteria would be turned upside down.

-With thanks to all you photographers.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 



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Not being able to head up yesterday I decided that I would risk an early start and try for the Trow Quarry flycatcher today. Arguments on on-line forums were casting much more doubt on the ID last night, with several favouring Red-breasted Flycather now, but the bird to my inexperienced (with Taiga Flycatcher) eyes looked interesting so I decided to still go anyway. Mike says it has the potential to be Durhams first Taiga Flycatcher but to put it into context on a national scale there have only previously been 3 accepted Taiga Flycatchers in the UK before - a bird in 2003 at Flamborough Head, another in 2003 on Shetland Mainland and finally in 2009 one on Fetlar, Shetland. The first two stayed just 4 days each and the latter stayed 26 days!

I was up at 5.15am and on the road from Cheshire before 6am. The route up was easy, no traffic and I arrived at the coast road in South Shields by 8.45am and easily found a parking spot opposite the Bamburgh Pub as advised by the RBA pager message. News from RBA was positive so I strode across the grass to drop down on the path to the seaward side of the quarry which it favours, made obvious by about 15 birders there (fewer than I'd expected). As soon as I walked up it was showing low down on vegetation and the rocky outcrops of the cliff and within 30secs I had it in my scope. The flycatcher continued to show very, very well and continuously for the next hour feeding non-stop and moving along the cliff face and then back several times with us all in tow!! It was oblivious to the birders but got hammered by a Robin every time it reached a particular bare elder that was the Robin's territory!

I was able to grill the bird for all the salient features that pointed to it being a Taiga rather than a Red-brested Flycatcher. Mike has covered these features well in his post so I won't repeat. The bird to be honest did look pretty buff-coloured which is slightly against Taiga, but other features were pro-Taiga. Behaviour is hard to judge in a single individual but this bird didn't behave like any 'RbFly' that I have ever seen and my gut feeling was that it was different! It sounds like I chose a good day compared to Mike's experience, the bird showed extremely well, was well lit and we got good close views, especially through a scope. I even managed to get some decent digiscoped shots, I amazed myself given how mobile the bird was (1 attached rather than swamp the forums with multiples of the same bird!).

A lone Redwing was on the same cliff face as well as at least 3 Stonechats. I also did a short seawatch which had the bonus of a returning fishing boat which attracted easily over a hundred gulls. With all that action it wasn't surprising that an Arctic Skua was actively joining the melee. A brute of a Bonxie powered in to have a look, but for some reason just carried on through and out to sea. Having used up all the batteries on my Contax camera and filled my sd card I decided to head home and avoid the rush hour. Also there were now about 30 or so birders present so it was getting a lot busier. I made even better time on the way back and clocked 366mls for the twitch, as I've said before these trips are in lieu of holidays for me this year as I've taken none.

Good news greeted me when I switched on my pc with news that a sonagram of the call had been obtained and it best fits Taiga Flycatcher rather than Red-breasted Flycatcher - result

 



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Friday 16th of October 2020 05:02:49 PM

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15/10/20 - Putative Taiga Flycatcher - South Shields

An alert last evening had me rising early this morning heading for Trow Quarry, South Shields.

A photo taken late afternoon on 14/10/20, which I hadnt seen, (and briefly circulated) of an assumed Red-breasted Flycatcher caused raised eyebrows at the likelihood that this was Durhams first Taiga Flycatcher.

Upon arrival I saw a well spaced line of about 60 observers peering towards the base of several hundred yards of cliff on the seaward aspect of the quarry, - so the setting was far less sheltered than the nearby landward amphitheatre of cliffs graced by the first Eastern-crowned Warbler of a decade ago.

Viewing was from about 50 yards, in breezy conditions not ideal for 8x42 bins, so I used my scope as far as possible but regularly lost the bird between bins and scope. It was tending to stay quite low, seldom perching for ten seconds and was easily lost but with the consolation that others picked it up further down the line.

From what I could perceive on admittedly rather unsatisfactory views it showed a whitish throat immediately under which what seemed to me the residue of a smallish orange/red lower throat with underparts showing rather cold greyish white tones, and I could not make out any greater covert tips and suspected accordingly that it should be an adult. Had I been alone I would have halved the distance and enjoyed more convincing views.

What was far more conclusive was sight of yesterdays photo which Peter Bell showed me on his phone:- an excellent shot showing the bird back on with head slightly turned. The upper tail coverts clearly blackest part of the plumage, (and supposedly the I/d clincher) fore crown tinged brownish capping a diffuse greyish supercilium and sporting a black bill. The tertials fringed narrowly off white. Nobody I spoke to had heard any calls, though this would be difficult in the conditions today. In Thailand I do hear calls from the birds quite readily at similar distance however.

Hopefully more quality shots will materialise showing the underparts and throat area in clearer detail. One guy managed to spot the bird excreting and later gingerly retrieved the excreta for later DNA analysis. The bird is not in an ideal location here and may well depart sooner rather than later. 
Rather a disappointing encounter but people turning up later with rain coming on possibly might have struggled even more?
Regards,

Mike P.

 

.

 



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4th to 6th October - Durham / Northumberland coast

A scatter of quality species along the coast, with Sunday being outstanding. One friend who enjoyed the Masked Shrike on Saturday (with this bird also well seen and photographed on Sunday in more amenable weather), saw a support cast on Sunday of Red-flanked Bluetail, male Bluethroat, Blyths Reed Warbler, one of 2 Raddes Warblers, and a Little Bunting. He missed out today on a Barred Warbler at Dawden.

Barb and I made an overdue visit to the coast in view of the weather, resolving to enjoy fish and chips at Verrills while listening out for one of yesterdays Raddes Warblers in the Croft gardens. No luck there and we assumed that it had probably moved on but then news broke that it had been netted behind St.Marys church. The ringers showed it briefly to a smallish fortunate gathering prior to release. This was the commonest species I hadnt previously seen in Durham/Cleveland, though from my regular encounters with Raddes in Thailand it was like seeing an old friend, but some 8000 Kms off course. 
- Truly mindblowing how these little waifs ever get here at all!

Regards,

Mike P.

 



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North East Birding. 17th February 2019

     A Pallas`s Warbler and a Firecrest had been seen fairly regularly at a sewage works in Fishburn, County Durham and had been present for around 2 weeks. With Kevin C freshly returned from the colonies, Steve B, we planned a trip to try to locate the birds. A decent drive up the A1 managing to see a Red Kite on the way soon had us in the sleepy village of Fishburn around 8-30am. A muddy walk to the northern end fence line of the sewage works, then finding another 6 other birders meant we were in the right area. After about an hour of watching Goldcrests, Chiffchaff, Blue and Coal Tits the Pallas`s Warbler was seen. You wouldnt say it showed well, but most of the birds features could be made out as it made its way through various Larch trees. The Firecrest was not seen and as Kevin C looked like he could use a warm drink we headed back through the mud to the car.

   We headed south to Teeside and visited Dorman`s Pool, Saltholme RSPB area hoping to see either Green Winged Teal, Glaucous Gull or Caspian Gull that had been seen the day before. Guess what? None of the birds were present when we were there! Better news about the roosting Long Eared Owls from the Haverton viewing platform though, about 3 birds had been seen this morning. We got to the correct area and enjoyed decent sightings of these enigmatic (mysterious) birds. At the Seal Sands area 2 freshly arrived Avocets reminded us that spring is only around the corner, a Grey Plover and a Greenshank near a flock of moulting Black Tailed Godwit`s were also nice birds to see. As we made our way past the visitor centre at Saltholme, a flock of 50 or so geese were seen that later proved to be Barnacle Geese.

   One of Steve B`s trip`s over the tops followed, passing through the immortalised village of Goathland of Heartbeat fame (one for the older readers) managing to see lots of Red Grouse and a fly over Merlin was an added bonus. Our plan was to visit the (in) famous Wykeham Raptor Viewpoint (soon to be twinned with Swanton (No birds) Novers) near Scarborough that had produced 9 Goshawks on Friday, 7 on Saturday, surely we couldn`t fail to see at least one of this species? We saw lots of Buzzard`s, Crossbill`s and enjoyed the stunning scenery but after one and a half hours we had no luck with of target species. The usual shenanigans on the A64 slowed us down considerably as we headed for home after another good day out.

Dave O.



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North Yorkshire Birding. Sunday 20th January 2019

    Some days you make plans and they go wrong and other days they go to plan, this was one of those good days. Almost everything we planned to go to see was seen, apart from White Fronted Geese near Scaling Dam etc, so a good day was had by myself, Steve B and Chris B who drove. An early start around 6-30am had us heading along the M62- A1- A19 reaching South Gare near Redcar, North Yorkshire at 8-30am on a gloomy January morning, it was cold but not too windy. A Great Northern Diver was seen close into the South Gare breakwater then a large flock of Twite were seen numbering 60+, good start to the day. We had a walk to the end of the breakwater seeing a couple of seals, Shag and two Guillemots. As we searched the sandy, vegetated area a flock of around 30 Snow Bunting, including two cracking males, began flying about. We met a local birder who told us where to look for the Lapland Bunting that had been in the area for a few days. It did not take us very long to locate the bird as it sat on the breakwater along with Linnets and Skylarks. We again watched it a bit closer from the breakwater as it fed on the ground and showed quite well. The backdrop of the various industrial buildings, steel plants against a gloomy sky gave the whole area an eerie feel about it.

   Next stop was on the front at Redcar searching for Velvet Scoter and Long Tailed Ducks, without success, but we managed Common Scoter, Red Throated Diver and Sanderling all seen in tricky tidal conditions. We headed along to Scaling Dam area hoping to connect with White Fronted Geese that had been seen the day before. After a good search around we gave up and headed for Scarborough hoping to see another Great Northern Diver that had been seen in the harbour. We saw around ten Purple Sandpipers but no diver, Steve and Chris had some chips for lunch. A few Fulmars were seen sat on the cliffs. The Holbeck area of Scarborough, has always had a few Mediterranean Gulls present in the winter months but, as we got there none could be seen. As a few food items were revealed six Mediterranean Gulls arrived and showed really well.

    We headed for Forge Valley near Hackness and enjoyed close views of the Willow Tits that feed on the bird tables along with various tits, finches and a very noisy Nuthatch. Our last call of the day was to a place that two of us have never visited before, Castle Howard, to hopefully see a Red Necked Grebe that has been present for a while. It was looking a bit gloomy as we located The Great Lake and hundreds of Black Headed Gulls that had arrived to roost there. It looked like a snow blizzard on the water with the amount of gulls on the water. As we saw the magnificent Castle Howard house on the hill Chris located the Red Necked Grebe fairly close in, we enjoyed good views of the bird. A few Mandarin Ducks were also seen distantly under the trees. All in all a very good day`s birding trip, we headed for home reaching a damp Rochdale by 6pm.

Dave O



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Hartlepool Headland and Swillington Ings. Monday 12th November 2018  

  What are the chances of a Pallid and Little Swift turning up together at the same spot in England? Give up, well they appeared together on Hartlepool Headland, County Durham on Sunday afternoon. Plans to witness this spectacle were put into place with Bob K, Kev C and myself leaving Rochdale at 6am. As we all know Swifts are notorious for leaving the area but the Little Swift had been seen going to roost on a house on the headland. After 1.5 hours driving the news broke that the Little Swift was still present and feeding over the headland, Bob K seemed to be going faster now. It wasnt long before we parked up and saw a modest crowd watching something flying about. We rushed to join the ranks of birders and there it was, a cracking Little Swift! It would come within 10 feet of you as it chased prey items around and it was a real pleasure just to watch the birds antics without the use of binoculars for a change. Photographing the bird did seem to be quite difficult though as the speed of the bird was quite fast. The bird began to range around the headland area and was not seen after about 11-00am. There were no sightings of the Pallid Swift in the area. We had a nice walk around the headland and met Rob Lambert, his wife and babe in arms recently returned from the Scilly Isles. Always good to have a chat to a proper northern lad from Bolton.

   After contacting a birding friend of mine from Yorkshire for some information, we decided to call at a water treatment area near Swillington, Leeds. After searching from outside the gated area we finally saw a Water Pipit, it was hitching a ride on one of the arms that spread the water onto the filter beds. Brought back some happy memories of bird watching at various local treatment works. Lots of Pied Wagtails around also with a fly by Red Kite. We called in at Swillington Ings bird hide just as one of the members was opening up, we enjoyed a nice hour or so chatting away about various aspects of birding also seeing; - Bittern, Lapwing, Little Egret, Golden Plover, Dunlin, but not the hoped for Kingfisher. We all got home by 2-30pm after a good day out.

Dave O.



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Northumberland 24th October and Spurn 30th October & 4th November 2018

   The appearance of two first winter Gull Billed Terns in Northumberland was a bit of a shock to say the least, with Kevin C needing to see that species a trip was planned. The birds frequented Haughton Strother gravel pits which are just north of Hexham. With Bob K, Kevin C and myself driving a trip up the M6 to Penrith then a lot of miles around lots of twisty roads followed until we reached the gravel pits. A short walk along the main road (B6319) then along a path to view the water area. The two birds were soon located in amongst Lapwing, BH Gull and Common Gulls and gave good, if a little distant, views. After 15 minutes of watching the terns a Land Rover pulled up and 2 more birders jumped out of the back of it, the driver was the local gamekeeper! Now Bob K and gamekeepers dont really mix so, I was surprised when he offered us a lift back to my car as he said he was going that way anyway. We jumped in his Land Rover and he deposited us at my car, what a nice chap he was (not sure if Bob K agreed though). It was our intention to stop and have a little look at Hadrians Wall, but we didnt find much of it left! On our way home we called at a good spot to see Black Grouse in Arkengarthdale in Yorkshire. Two birds duly obliged us and we headed for home.

30th October

  With strong winds blowing and quite a good number of Little Auks having been seen the day before passing Spurn, a visit was planned and with a good supporting cast of Pallas`s Warbler, Snow Bunting etc. Steve B, Kev C, Bob K and myself headed to Spurn through the wind and rain. A quick call at Vicars Lane, Easington to get a glimpse of the Pallas`s or Eastern Lesser Whitethroat revealed nothing. At the crowded sea watching hide it was standing (sheltering) room only. We managed about 1.5 hours seeing: - 4 Little Auk, 3 Great Skua, Little Gull and lots of the more common seabirds, quite spectacular really. By now we were all very cold and headed for the car to warm up a bit, after that we went to see the single Snow Bunting behind The Riverside Hotel. We again called at Vicars Lane, Easington but after an hours wait left at 3pm and still no sightings of the Pallas`s Warbler. We headed for home and guess what was seen at 3-15pm? Yes you are all right, it was just not meant to be!

4th November

   A nice trip out to Spurn in better conditions than our last weeks effort with Bob K, Chris B, Kevin C and myself. A Water Rail showed well and made various sounds, as they do, at the Canal Scrape and a nice Siberian Chiff-Chaff near the obs started us off well. Next was the long walk out to the north end of Beacon Pools to search for the Shore Larks that have taken up residence. Around 10 people were searching for the birds as we arrived in the correct area but nobody had seen them. We decided to walk down the pool sides and beach in a bid to locate the birds, we were soon watching two rather smart Shore Larks. As we headed back to our car a fellow birder said, Do you know about the Dusky Thrush in Easington We soon headed off to Vicars Lane in Easington to try to see this smart thrush. All the regular Spurn birders were already assembled in the garden and were watching a long line of fallen apples where the Dusky Thrush had been seen 30 minutes ago. After a 2 hour vigil the bird did not put in an appearance. The Eastern Lesser Whitethroat, which had been present and seen by many other birders was also nowhere to be found. Time for home.

 

David O.



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Sunday 11/11/18

A mid afternoon telephone call from Doug Smith had me driving off immediately for Hartlepool headland, fearful that I might be overtaken by failing light.

On arrival at 15.45 only about 40 people were still present which was a liittle surprising, but delightfully, both target species were performing beautifully at close range. I then enjoyed the surreal experience of seeing both Pallid and Little Swift in Britain skimming by to within 5 feet in close company and often in the same binocular view together.

We were standing on the seaward edge of Town Moor (some 200 yards north of the famous bowling green, famous as hosting the Western Orphean Warbler and the White-throated Robin within the present decade), and able to look down on the Little Swift to great advantage as it zoomed by repeatedly along the promenade below. 

The Pallid Swift was more problematic (for me at least)- apart from its paler throat the light was such that I could not pick out any underpart scaling in the fading light, and there will most likely be some useful photographs on line shortly. However this was my 4th in the NE and the Little Swift was my prime objective, being a first for Durham.

The Little Swift went to roost under a bay window of a nearby house. The Pallid Swift of October 2013 went to roost on St Hildas church spire, only some 800 yards from where these latest Swifts are, so the current Pallid Swift may well follow in its predecessors claw steps.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 11th of November 2018 07:08:19 PM

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Sunday 9th September 2018.

Due to family commitments I couldn't make the trip here until early afternoon but to be honest the timing couldn't have been better. Weather was changeable with sun, then dull and overcast, then sunny again, but above all it was blowing a gale! Never been here before but lots of good habitat around the old factories on the private approach road.

- adult Pomarine Skua
Only ever seen 1 adult at Flamborough a couple years back and that one was flying away from us whereas this one was flying towards me and then flew within touching distance over my head, a real stonker of a bird that put on a show and was a pleasure to watch.
I'd read a Twitter comment that it probably isn't well and that's why it hangs around the fishermen for scraps, I thought am I missing something...they are scavengers after all, it's taking advantage of a free meal, it's flight was fast and agile, it could turn on a sixpence and put the burners on and I also witnessed it mobbing large Gulls so certainly typical Skua behaviour was exhibited, and in my view (and others present who'd also read that comment) it showed no signs of being unwell. There is damage to an outer primary feather but it didn't seem to bother the Skua.

- Arctic Skua 1 dark phase (juv)
Always difficult with Skuas I think but considering what I saw I'm sticking with Arctic. It flew fairly close in then sped off towards the Tern colony.

- Roseate Tern 2 adults (and a juv was reported but I didn't see that)
Lovely to see these, I picked them out firstly by their call amongst the screaking of the Common and Sandwich Terns. Then when you are on them they look really white.

Other birds of note...
- 1 drake Common Eider
- 1 Wheatear
- 1 Sand Martin thru
- steady stream of Meadow Pipits over
- plenty of Linnets around the area
- Guillemots and Gannets
- nice selection of Waders around incl Oystercatcher, Knot, Sanderling and Dunlin

-- Edited by Rob Creek on Wednesday 12th of September 2018 01:07:17 PM



-- Edited by Ian McKerchar on Wednesday 12th of September 2018 03:11:55 PM

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Tiddly Om Pom Pom beside the seaside. 9/9/2018

    An adult Pomarine Skua had taken up residence at South Gare near Redcar/Middlesbrough during the previous week, a place I have not visited for quite a long while, so a trip to see it was planned. It was a full car of 5 occupants, with Chris driving that left Newhey in wet conditions at 6am. As soon as we passed over the Pennines into Yorkshire the rain stopped and the sun came out! The road down to South Gare passes some old factories and with a backdrop of chemical plants it is not quite as charming as might be expected. The news of the Skua was good upon our arrival so, after we had all armed ourselves with cameras, telescopes etc we began a short walk to the beach area. The bird performed really well sitting on the sand and allowing the admiring crowd of birders to approach it down to 20 yards. Cameras clicking merrily away as the bird had a few flights off towards the end of South Gare, having a few coming togethers with the various passing terns before landing back on the sand. As the tide went further out the bird spent a little more time at sea. What an absolutely cracking bird to watch at such close quarters. It truly was a bird that you will remember for a long time! Roseate Tern, Gannet, Guillemot and various gulls were also present with a couple of very large seals made up an impressive visit to South Gare. We also met up with the lads from Leeds, Darren W and his merry men, always good company!

   News of a Red backed Shrike in the coastal park at Whitburn was our next calling spot although we had been warned about the traffic that would be attending The Great North Run, we went anyway! A couple of hold ups as we neared Whitburn held us up a little but we soon made it into the park and the place was packed with cars, but no birders. Luckily, one of the car parking stewards told us where to see the shrike and we headed down to a viewing screen and there the bird was. It was distant and never made the effort to come closer (not like the Skua) We headed away from the area as the roads were likely to become very congested after the race and headed south.

   We had a call into RSPB Saltholme in search of some Curlew Sandpipers that had been seen in the morning but were unable to find them. Nice reserve with a lovely garden area to attract bees, dragonflies etc. Home beckoned after a really unusual day out.

Dave O.



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Sunday 5th August 2018.

Blackhall Rocks / Durham Heritage Coast.

Tried my luck for the Surf Scoter and Velvet Scoters as they'd been showing most of the week. I arrived around 8.30am before high tide, but neither were seen from 7am and I've not seen any reports since.
Nowhere near the large number Common Scoters reported (1400) I'd say around 250-300 max seen in 2 rafts so probably many more further out to sea. Myself and 2 other birders scanned both groups and we all agreed they were all Common Scoters.
They made it easy to scan at one point as they formed a long line leaving none hidden.

Other birds of note...
- 1 juv Pomarine Skua (being followed by a Sandwich Tern)
- 96 Common Eider
- 2 Great Crested Grebe
- 18 Turnstone
- 2 Grasshopper Warbler (1 gave exceptional views)



-- Edited by Rob Creek on Tuesday 7th of August 2018 03:37:47 PM

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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.




smile

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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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