Saturday, 31 October 2009

Just can't get enough

A couple more from last Sunday... I had been back to the quay yesterday but only a brief view was had. I think I need to expand my birding horizons as I'm becoming a bit obsessed with this beauty!

A trip north is planned for today... more on that later.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Sabs' in flight

The sabine's gull spent the latter half of my Sunday visit feeding in the harbour at North Shields - and despite extremely close views (fly pasts of a couple of meters!) it was tricky to photograph - a smaller lens would have been much more useful. Light was poor to say the least, but maybe there will be another opportunity with better conditions as the gull appears to be lingering in the area.
The two images here are presented as an alternative to the standard flight view...

Monday, 26 October 2009


Another week of nightshift beckons for me - yawning is something I'll be joining the sabs' in doing very soon...
No birding today, I played catch up with some photograph processing and installed a wireless printer ...using a wire... which makes it pretty useless as of now.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Super Sabs

I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours at North Shields this afternoon in the company of Phil watching and photographing an immature sabine's gull.

Normally a pelagic species when recorded in Northumberland, this beauty gave itself up resting on the beach and later feeding in the harbour area.

A great deal of photographs were taken, so first up (as there is beer to tackle...) is a standard portrait shot, taken on the beach adjacent the car park.
I'll apologise in advance as I'm sure to post a few more images over the next few days - there is 7gb to work through first... with a few quirky shots that might amuse.

This bird was successfully twitched by a good number of the Northumberland birding community, even Mr & Mrs Birdingsometimes Seniors had a look!

It's been quite a good few days...

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Eastern Crowned Warbler / Autumn Colours

Fridays selection of images can only be regarded as record shots as the bird barely filled the central focus spot with the 500mm & 1.4 extender. However the colours of the sycamore leaves in the photographs provide a subtle distraction from the notequiteascloseasI'dliketohavebeento phyllosc.

My journey to seeing the bird was not quite as normal as... normal. I'd been on a pager-less nightshift on Thursday, so it wasn't until I was leaving work at 5am on Friday morning that I discovered that this mega was present via a bunch of text messages. Panic set in - I was due back to work at 13:30 and I needed some sleep. Do I stay awake and go there straight away. Do I dash home and have a power nap. Do I risk waiting till Saturday. Do I assume it's not going to be there....?
A tawny owl flapped past the car as I approached Cramlington

I woke up just after eight and much headless chicken mode ensued when I read that the bird was still present and apparently showing well.

After a quick call to arrange a pick-up of Dad we were off. Thankfully the Tyne Tunnel commute traffic had eased, so we arrived not long after nine. As I drove along the Leas looking for a parking space I spotted Mark heading back to his car - so the omen was good - I doubted that he'd leave the site so soon without the tick. A quick call confirmed it's presence and guidance for the best viewing.

First bird on view was a dapper yellow-browed warbler, closely followed by the eastern crowned. Result!

We spent the next three hours amongst the crowd of 150 - 200(?ish) listening to a variety of banter describing past twitches, near-fights, rapid journeys to the north-east and the strange and curious characters that this past-time attracts. It's fair to say that these sort of megas do attract the oddities of the human race. Readers of this blog excepted of course. ;-)

Friday, 23 October 2009


Record shot of an amazing bird. Eastern crowned warbler, Trow Quarry Co Durham.
1st for UK and only twenty minutes from home. Sweet!
More pictures to follow when I've calmed down...

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Wednesday Show Night

Had a great night on Wednesday at the O2 Newcastle watching Jack Whites' latest project - The Deadweather.

The band features Alison Mosshart (Kills), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age), Jack Lawrence (Raconteurs) and Jack White (White Stripes/Raconteurs).

An amazing performance, especially Mosshart, who not cotent to stand still and spent a great deal of the show navigating the monitors on the front of the stage. 15 hours since the show and my ears are still buzzing away!

Good to see that some migrants are starting to turn up after the favourable easterlies, Holy Island is reaping rewards this morning with radde's / pallas's / yb / barred warbler reported. Someone is having a good day!
Looking forward to the weekend for the haul...

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Lesser 'throat & Pec

No sign of the presumed eastern lesser throat so far today, so here's another record shot from Saturday. For the record, this photo was taken at 17:55, ISO 1250 (should have bumped it up actually), 1/50th exposure, 500 + 1.4 extender, manual focus, fill flash.
Early Sunday afternoon saw me back at St Mary's - taking in distant views of the Pectoral Sandpiper on the wetland, then migrantless trudging around the north end and near-by cemetery.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Halimodendri Lesser Whitethroat

Visited St Mary's again today after news of a central asian lesser whitethroat was released on the pager.

This presumed halimodendri individual was very mobile and ended up spending most of its' time feeding high up in the willows at the north end of the wetland. The image here was taken late afternoon - 17:30 ~ 17:50 ish, and when natural light was extremely poor.

Camera focus was done manually and fill flash was used - without which I would have got no record at all.

There has been very little photoshop work in these images in an attempt to keep the as shot details of plumage as accurate as possible.

Hopefully the bird will stick and give another opportunity to get usable images...

Birding World has a good article on this form in volume 14 number 1 (January 2001 review). The bird here at St Mary's seems to match the bird in Sweden that was discussed, with reddish tone to mantle and rump, and hind-crown. Ear coverts grayish, slightly darker than crown, narrow white crescent under eye and dark lores. The bird did call once in my 4 hours spent at the site - a single high pitch "che".

If time permits and better images are not obtained, I'll post some more from this late afternoon session ...

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Wednesday lo-lights

Birding on Wednesday was confined to an hour at St Mary's.

Weather was very mild but skies were grey and it was a bit damp. The wetland was heaving with newly arrived blackbird and redwing - all very active and vocal. Lesser numbers of robin were present but more elusive. Only one 'crest - a gold was in the northern willows, while the "gut" was very quiet.

The evening was spent at a dark Newcastle Academy with the Editors ~ a wonderful night.

Sunday, 11 October 2009


A late morning/early afternoon visit to St Mary's Wetland produced glimpses of both firecrest and yellow-browed warbler. Both species were camera shy. Plenty of redwing dropping in, but were very skittish and quickly moved inland and only one goldcrest was seen.

The cemetery at Whitley Bay prove to be quiet, I could not relocate the yellow-brow that had been reported earlier and made do with further redwing, mistle thrush, grey wagtail, great and blue tit.

It was annoying to hear that the radde's at Druridge had been booted a bit this morning after being battered with mp3... anyone remember fieldcraft and patience? Or is that not convenient for "listing" in this day and age?

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Right place, right time. Totally Rad!


Having had the ibis and greenshank "fill" Mark and I headed back to the car, noting the increase in robin numbers - several were "ticking" along the track back from the Oddie hide. Coffee poured and the BBRC 2008 report in hand we began planning our route to the inevitable Amble chippie... would we stop at East Chevington for the black redstart? No.

A very pleasing shout of "Radde's" from Ian had us (well, me, Mark was a bit more cool about it) walking (trotting?) rather quickly in the direction of the ringing team just up the road from our parked car to have a grill of a fine radde's warbler!

This was a great twist to our morning out, and after the bird was processed and a few photographs were taken, the bird was released none worse for wear.

This was only my second radde's in Northumberland, following the 1991 bird at Tynemouth.

It was interesting to see that further radde's were reported at Holy Island, Spurn and Filey today... along with many yellow-browed warbler... maybe there is a real biggy waiting to be found?

Druridge Oddie

It was a mild morning today, and after another check of the northern pool at Cresswell (BBS-less), it was off to Druridge so that Mark could have another look at the glossy ibis. True to recent form the ibis was feeding right in front of the Oddie hide, albeit in poor flat light. This certainly did not stop the admiring crowd, and inevitably the hide reverberated with camera shutters every time the ibis looked up. Probably more satisfactory was the presence of two obliging greenshank feeding in the vicinity - a delightful species.

With our ibis and shank quota full it was off back to the car for a quick cuppa and...

Friday, 9 October 2009

Cold Cresswell

I spent a couple of hours hanging around the north part of Cresswell Pond this (cold) afternoon in an attempt to hit lucky with the mobile buff-breasted sandpiper. Mission unsuccessful. 22 whooper swan included eight immature birds and eleven dunlin, one grey plover and a few redshank were my lot. I must try harder...

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Ibis again...

Late afternoon flight in front of the Oddie hide

A reflection
There are a lot of nice images of the Druridge glossy ibis appearing now that the bird has finally settled into a routine feeding in front of the Oddie hide - so here's a couple more from my session on Sunday 4th.

I wonder how long it will stay? Will it be part of the county furniture in a year or two time? a Northumberland "Sammy the stilt"... a "Dunge" ibis?... or will it disappear and become a memory of distant past, avoiding the county for another 20 years?

I'm hoping to have a go at the Cresswell buff-breasted... just need to finish these darn nightshifts...

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


Just back from a busy two day visit to London where I had the pleasure of watching Pixies performing their doolittle album at Brixton. Awesome gig with all the doolittle b-sides and a few extras thrown in for good measure. It had been 19 years since I last saw them!

This afternoon I had a half hearted look for the olive-backed pipit at Newbiggin and heard gripping tales of the buff-breasted sandpiper at Cresswell. It's all getting very exciting.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Sun and Gloss

A beautiful day in the north-east of England... I spent most of it at Druridge admiring the much more photograph-able glossy ibis that had chosen to feed directly in front of the Oddie hide. Result!!

I was very glad to finally get close enough to this bird for a decent photo-session without the need for an extender.

This random image is one of 7GB taken today... it's going to take a while to sort through the rest of the files, but it at least provides an insight to the wonderful plumage of this species. I love the iridescent greens on the wings!

I might post another later in the week... there is the small matter of the Pixies gig at Brixton to contend with first though!

Two greenshank were also feeding in the vicinity but my camera did not wander in their direction.

Thursday, 1 October 2009


Ended September at the Newcastle O2 Acadamey watching Massive Attack. And very good they were too.

Thursday morning was spent at Druridge - watching the distant glossy ibis in very good light while pink-footed and barnacle geese flew over in loose flocks.