Monday, 30 August 2010


Unfortunately, no wildlife for me this weekend. I've been a bit under the weather and spent the weekend on the couch feeling sorry for myself. Still, it gave me a chance to swat up on the birds I might come across in Egypt next week. You can never be TOO prepared! Obviously there are 1 or 2 species I wouldnt mind seeing, especially the Sandgrouses and the Sinai Rosefinch at St Catherines Monastery, but I'm just gona take things as they come and not set myself too many targets. Any new birds would be welcome!

Monday, 23 August 2010


Another message from Steve had me popping over to The Leas after work today to look for a migrant ICTERINE WARBLER. The last one I saw was in 2006 at Cresswell Pond so this was a bit overdue. When I got there the rain was lashing down and not a single person was around, so I trudged through the foliage getting absolutely drenched looking for the bird. At first there were no signs of any life, but after ten minutes I just happened to have a look behind me and saw a bird fly out from a bush and onto an exposed perch. It was an obvious big warbler and I instinctively knew it was the Icky. Checking it through my binoculars confirmed it. It flitted about in the open for a good 20 minutes giving me excellent views before eventually flying off to some thick bushes to the far right of the mound. As the rain was getting heavier I decided to head off, but not before watching a calling Whimbrel fly low overhead.


I suppose it was always going to happen sooner or later. As my interest in all things that flew grew it was inevitable that I moved onto moths at some point. Its such a daunting prospect for the beginner (which I am!) as there are well over a 1000 moths in the UK! But I'm nothing if not keen. So, about 3 weeks ago I bought myself a basic moth trap, and have had a couple of go's in the back garden. I have to say its both extremely exciting and extremely frustrating in equal amounts. There are tonnes of similar looking species and making a positive i.d. is sometimes exceptionally difficult! So far I've managed to identify 19 different species that I've trapped, but many more have gone unidentified. I suppose it'll get better with experience, and nobody becomes an expert overnight. By far the commonest species is the LARGE YELLOW UNDERWING. There's always loads of them in the trap, and sometimes can be a right pain cos they very rarely settle for very long and disturb everything else in there. The prettiest one so far has to be the BRIMSTONE. Its a beautiful yellow colour, and is also reasonably common. The one's I'm really after are the Hawkmoths. Martin trapped one a few weeks ago and I'd love to trap one myself. Hopefully its just a matter of time!









Sunday, 22 August 2010


Had a pleasant couple of hours out today. First I headed down to Saltholme for an hour or so. Amazingly the Whiskered Tern is still around, now into its third week. Its fascinating to see its plumage changing! There were plenty of waders on show, including Ruffs, Black Tailed Godwits, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper and a pair of SPOTTED REDSHANKS - my first of the year. It was great to meet up with Seggs and Jan and have a good old chinwag.
From Teesside I headed back up the coast to Whitburn Steel. Again, plenty of waders were on show including a huge flock of Golden Plover. But it was the Tern flock I was more interested. I had gotten a text to say a juvenile BLACK TERN had been seen in amongst the flock so I got my scope out and started scanning. As expected the Common Terns dominated, with a handfull of Sandwich Terns and even a couple of Roseates dotted about, but no Black Tern. I checked again. Then a third time. Definately no Blacks. Then without warning the whole flock lifted and took to the sky. Nightmare!!! The majority flew away to the right and never returned. A small flock however circled and came back down. I decided I'd have one last check then head home. Unbelievably the Black Tern was there. No idea how it happened but there it was, in amongst the remaining Common Terns. Another nice year tick, taking me to 205 for the year.


Saturday, 21 August 2010

LIFER #815!!! SPOTTED CRAKE 19-08-10

The chance of a brand new bird had me heading over to Gateshead today. A SPOTTED CRAKE had been seen at Shibdon Pond, and as soon as I had finished work I was on my way! Gateshead isnt an area I go to very often, so I was desperately hoping someone would already be in the hide as I dont have a key to get in! I neednt have worried. I quickly settled in and began to scan the area. A couple of common waders and ducks were scattered about, and a single Little Egret was on the far side, but the target bird wasnt showing. Thankfully I didnt have long to wait. After less than 15 minutes another guy in the hide spotted the Crake on the far bank and I quickly located it in my scope. It was making a total mockery of its reputation of being shy and elusive, and was happily feeding and foraging out in the open! We were getting outstanding views (albeit through scopes, it was too distant for bins only). We then had a pleasant surprise when a pair of Water Rails joined the Crake and began feeding in the shallows. It was nice to see the two species side by side, for comparison and also for the fact that its something you very very rarely see!!!

SPOTTED CRAKE (top & middle) and WATER RAIL (bottom)


A text off Steve saying there was a WHINCHAT in the hedges on the Leas had me whizzing over there straight after work. It was a gorgeous sunny evening and I enjoyed a slow leisurely stroll, and it didnt take long to locate the bird. It was very flighty and wasnt allowing me to get anywhere near it so decided to leave it in peace after a couple of minutes. A migrant Willow Warbler was also in the same hedge area. The Whinchat was #202 for the year. WHINCHAT


While searching Jackie's Beach area of South Shields for a Cuckoo (which I failed dismally!) I came across a couple of these little beauties. Its surprisingly the first time I've seen any this year. On saying that theres a few species I've not yet seen including Painted Lady and Comma.

Sunday, 15 August 2010


Sometimes you just never know what you're gonna get! My brother had to go over to Chester to pick up something for his wife, and he asked me if I fancied going along for a bit of company. He sweetened the deal by saying there was a nature reserve close by that we could pop into for an hour while there. So, with nothing better to do I agreed to go with him. After doing what he needed to do we made our way to the nature reserve - Inner Marsh Farm RSPB. Its somewhere I'd never even heard of never mind been to so had no idea what to expect. When we got to the visitor centre I had a look at the board to see what was around and one name immediately jumped out - LESSER YELLOWLEGS! Wow, this would be a British tick if I could see it. (I've seen them in Arizona and Tobago). I had a quick chat to the warden who told me it had been feeding outside the main hide on the morning but had since gone to a different pool, but it usually came back to the main pool in the evening (it had been there for a few days). So we got to the hide to see what was about and to wait to see if the Yellowlegs put in an appearence. There were lots of birds present; Redshank, Ruff, Black Tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Lapwing etc but no american waders. After about an hour and a half we were getting ready to leave when a bird flew in from the right and started feeding on the waters edge - BINGO! Lesser Yellowlegs in the bag, and giving exceptional views. We enjoyed it for about 30 minutes but time was getting late and we had to head back home. On the way back to the car park I spotted a GREEN SANDPIPER on a different pool. Like I say, sometimes its nice to go somewhere with absolutely no expectations!


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

BIRD # 200 FOR THE YEAR!!! 07-08-10

A text from Steve had me racing over to Boldon Flats today. A flock of Greylag Geese had a hanger-on in the shape of a nice EGYPTIAN GOOSE. Finally reached 200 species for the year. Seems to have taken much longer this year for some reason. Maybe married life is holding me back!!! Dont worry, I'm safe in the knowledge that she doesnt read this blog!

ONE GOOD TERN!!! 30-07-10

Had a look over at the Tern colony that is building up nicely at Sandhaven Beach. Pleased to see four species on my visit, including the scarce ROSEATE TERNS. There were 6 individuals amongst the mixed flock, which also included 3 ARCTIC TERNS. These numbers were modest compared to the big numbers that Seggs has been seeing on his regular visits, but I certainly wasnt complaining! We are so lucky to live in an area where the Roseys are a reasonably regular sight at this time of year.
Spot the difference!


Having seen my first ever WHISKERED TERN at Saltholme last year, I was delighted that another had turned up at exactly the same place again this year. Lets hope it becomes an annual event! When I arrived there were four birders already there with their scopes on the bird. One bloke kindly let me see it in his scope before I set up my own. It was resting on the spit of the main Saltholme pool and giving exceptionally good views. It was there for a good half hour before it took to the air and lazily headed over toward Back Saltholme.


Had my first trip of the year to this terrific little place today, and was rewarded with my biggest number of MARBLED WHITE BUTTERFLIES that I've ever had. The weather was very kind to me, being nice and sunny with just the occasional cloudy spell. The Marbled Whites were quite spread out today, not just in their usual spot just before the quarry itself. In total there must have been at least 15 individuals which is an excellent number for me, I've never seen them over double figures before. This is one of my absolute favourite species of butterfly and easily one of the prettiest. But it wasnt just the Marbled Whites on show today, I had 13 different species of butterfly in total, Small White, Large White, Green Veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Ringlet (another of my favourites), Small Heath, Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown, Small Copper, Comon Blue, Large Skipper and Small Skipper. Its a wonderful place for butterflies and I always enjoy my visits here. RINGLET

Sunday, 1 August 2010

BIRDS #194 & 195

Two new birds for the year down at Teesside today. A GREENSHANK (well 3 actually!) at Saltholme and a WHIMBREL at Greatham Creek. Just a flying visit as I had domestic duties today! Greenshank



Had a message on my phone to say that a DOTTEREL had been seen at Crimdon Dene today so after work I whizzed down as fast as I legally (liar) could. I was actually due a visit here anyway to see the LITTLE TERN colony, so I hoped to kill two birds with one stone! I'd only ever seen Dotterel once before, at Danby Beacon last year so was hoping for an excellent county tick. On arrival I headed straight to the fenced off Tern colony and had excellent views of the Little Terns, along with a few Ringed Plovers. Target number one complete. I then headed for the beach and started to walk north as that was where the Dotterel was last reported. Luckily, two guys with scopes were walking towards me and told me the bird was still around, and one of them kindly put his scope up and showed me where it was. Very nice of him! It only took 5 minutes to get to where the bird was, and I enjoyed outstanding close views for a good half hour before some horse riders got a bit too close and scared the bird off. It seemed to head toward the Tern colony but I decided to head home and get some tea! I was delighted to see this species again, its one of my favourite waders. It would be nice if it was annual sighting!

BIRD #191 05-07-10

Bird 191 for the year today at the Marsden coast, COMMON GUILLEMOT. Cant believe its taken this long to see this bird! Other birds seen included Gannets, Razorbills and Kittiwakes.