Wednesday, 11 October 2017


Porthellick today for the possible Wilson's Snipe. Whatever this turns out to be it was certainly striking, almost monochrome compared to the 'golden' nearby Common Snipe. The Jack Snipe-like constant bobbing was something that I have seen for a few seconds in Common Snipe, but never for prolonged periods like this bird did. Hopefully under-wing and tail shots by Jim Almond and others will clinch this.

Wilson's Snipe?
Common Snipe

On the way to Porthellick we had brief views of a Rose-coloured Starling at Buzza and stunning close (sub 10 feet) views of a Spotted Crake at Lower Moors. Should have had a cracking photo, but ISO was way too low for the dull conditions.

Spotted Crake
After vacating the hide to allow others views of the snipe, a quick visit to the beach was in order for the confiding American Golden Plover. Cake followed.

American Golden Plover

Monday, 9 October 2017

More Waxwing

Another visit to St Agnes to improve on my Waxwing photos. A frustrating wait, but eventually I got the shots I wanted.

Cedar Waxwing

An added bonus was excellent views of two Hawfinch, a Scilly tick for me.


Friday, 6 October 2017


A bit less frantic for the last three days and time to pick up a few other birds (new and lingering), plus some slightly better shots of the megas.

Cedar Waxwing
Cliff Swallow
American Golden Plover
Yellow-browed Warbler
Vagrant Emperor
Isabelline Wheatear (ever present, always distant)
Portuguese man o'war
Birds that didn't get on film were a flyby Purple Heron and a brief Spotted Crake in the near dark tonight.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Cedar Waxwing

Another manic Scilly day. Started the day with decent scope views of the Isabelline Wheatear at the airport and we were almost at Porthellick when news broke of a Cedar Waxwing on St Agnes. A swift march and the 12.15 boat followed, only to arrive with the bird having gone to ground. Over four hours of searching and it looked like we were going home empty-handed. Luckily the bird gave in and gave excellent, prolonged (though distant) views to the ecstatic crowd.

Cedar Waxwing
Back on St Mary's a walk over Peninnis gave the Cliff Swallow as it moved north over the island with a House Martin flock.

What will happen tomorrow?

Monday, 2 October 2017

Cliff Swallow

An exciting first afternoon on Scilly, involving three islands, dipping, a speed boat, a sprint across Tresco and eventually stunning views of a Cliff Swallow in some horrendous weather..Not the best conditions for photos!

Cliff Swallow with House Martin
Cliff Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Turtle Dove on St Agnes
Manx Shearwater from Scillonian III
Hopefully more tomorrow...

Wednesday, 27 September 2017


Wow!! A call from Mark N this morning meant that the seawatch came to an abrupt halt. In blind panic I started shutting the shutters before telling a bemused Paul H why we had to leave. " Scops Owl... somewhere in Ryhope" and off we ran. Luckily better directions meant we were soon on site, where Paul A was on hand to point it out. An amazing find from Tom M. Get in!!!

Scops Owl
Yesterday was also right place/right time when an animated Dave F ran up to the Obs window. "Arctic Warbler calling just behind you..." and out we trooped. On cue the warbler started calling constantly "tzick". A couple of minutes wait and the bird bounced through the branches and into view. It certainly looked like Arctic in the flesh, but in the only photo I managed the 'super' doesn't look right. Luckily Dave got a sound recording, which will hopefully confirm its identity.

Arctic Warbler

Wednesday, 16 August 2017


A trip to Trow Quarry after a quiet seawatch this morning (2 Roseate Tern the pick). A great display from the juvenile Cuckoo that has been drawing admirers for the last few days.


The regular Mediterranean Gull was by the cliff-top car park at Marsden.

Mediterranean Gull

An unexpectedly good Skua day yesterday, with 4 Pomarine and a Long-tailed. Some excellent scope views, but not so great photos...

Pomarine Skua
Back in Gateshead 4 Green Sandpiper have been at Lamesley and up to 3 Whinchat at Burdon Moor.


Monday, 7 August 2017


An expectedly quiet seawatch from Whitburn in a steady westerly this morning. Star bird was a north-bound Great-crested Grebe, surprisingly rare from here.

Almost home when news of a White-rumped Sandpiper had me heading to St Mary's Island. Showing well on arrival, viewed from the promenade as it fed with Dunlin and Sanderling.

White-rumped Sandpiper

Up the coast to Druridge where a Spotted Redshank, 2 Green Sandpiper and a Ruff were playing hide and seek. No sign of the Caspian Gull at Amble in a brief look.

Quiet still in Gateshead with Green Sandpiper peaking at Lamesley on the 4th with four birds, when a Greenshank spent the morning here.

3 of 4 Green Sandpiper

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Night Heron

Yesterday a trip to Whittle Dene after work to fill a gaping hole in my British list- Night Heron. ' In view' as soon as I arrived. High up in the canopy of a pine belt, views were less than satisfactory.

Night Heron
After a two and a half hour wait it took flight and landed in the open, but only a silhouetted arty shot available.

It then headed off high to the north before returning south, giving cracking flight views as it tried to evade the angry attention of a Grey Heron, several gulls and Common Tern, plus at one stage a Swallow. 

The day had started off with a Common Sandpiper and juvenile Water Rail at Shibdon before work.

Seawatching over the last week or so gave the first adult Long-tailed Skua of the year and some year-tick Sooty Shearwater. The star of this morning's watch a summer plumage Black Guillemot heading south.

Friday, 14 July 2017


An earlier than usual start yesterday in hope that the Albatross would drift past Whitburn. No Albert for me, but some compensation in the form of a Cory's Shearwater. I picked the bird up heading south at about 06.10 just south of straight out. Paul got quickly onto it and we were able to watch it until out of view to the south. Pretty scarce up here and not recorded every year.

An evening seawatch again failed to turn up the Albatross, with the highlight being a smart summer plumage male Ruff.

Called in at Lamesley on the way home, no birds but 4 Purple Hairstreak dancing around the oak tops in the evening sun.

Purple Hairstreak