The big dip in County Durham

Setting off at 4.50am, I made the 300 mile round trip with Alan Daws & Steve Routledge to South Shields, County Durham to see the 1st Eastern Crowned Warbler for the UK - shame we weren't to know the bird had cleared off during the night. Welcome to the world of twitching, some you win and some you lose. 3 Redpoll & a Tree Pipit were the only birds we saw there. We did have better luck twitching the drake Blue-winged Teal at Port Clarence Pools - a long awaited UK tick for me. A Peregrine played with the local corvids and 2 Little Egrets were also there.

We weren't the only ones who stared at Eastern Crowned Warbler-less bushes

South Shields

I guess she's new to birding

Alan "Sheepie" Daws (with Steve in the background looking in vain for the eastern gem)

Those little gems - Firecrest & the Seven-striped Sprite

With rain in the night and winds remaining SE, hopes were high that some good birds would have made landfall along the coast. For once I gave the Donna Nook/Pyes area a miss and concentrated on the Sea View & Saltfleet areas. Today highlighted how birding can be a hobby of ups & downs. The morning was poor. I dipped on a Firecrest that had been showing 20 mins previously and then a Shorelark that flew off when I was within 5 mins of it. After covering plenty of ground, birds of note at this point were Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, Siskin, Redpoll & 3 Brambling. In the afternoon it was onto Toby's Hill and a calling Chiffchaff was soon picked up, from then on the day got better & better - a calling Firecrest was soon pinned down & soon revealed a 2nd bird with it - what stunning birds, especially when one raised it's crest to show how the bird gets its name. Then news of a Pallas's Warbler at a private site (where I had access) in Humberston eventually had me on my way back up the coast. After a worrying spell when it seemed like the "Seven-striped Sprite" had moved on, the bird gave itself up and gave some great views. A Grey Wagtail & House Martin were also noted at Humberston.

Donna Nook/Pyes Hall 20/10/09

Walked from the car park to Pyes but didn't stay long as it soon became clear that the strong SE wind hadn't brought anything in. A Pale-bellied Brent was the best on offer in the company of 240 of it's Dark-bellied relatives. Peregrine, Merlin & 5 Pintails also seen.


A Barn Owl was between Conisholme & North Somercotes at first light.
Between Donna Nook RAF base & Pyes Hall: Yellow-browed Warbler at Pyes, 12 Whooper Swan through, 250+ Brents out on the mudflats, Common Buzzard, Peregrine, Merlin, Whimbrel, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, 2 Chiffchaff, single Goldcrest, 2 Brambling & a flyover Twite.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker was at Sea View along with a Merlin & 2 Redpolls in off.
A Peregrine tried to catch a Redshank off Sea Lane, Saltfleet, but eventually gave up the chase.
The annual seal circus began today with the car park full by dinner and the burger van back for business - a reminder that the time is fast approaching when I look for somewhere quieter to bird, as the hordes of seal worshippers descend on Donna Nook.

Noon Flies (Mesembrina meridiana) basking in the sun at Sea View

Donna Nook/Pyes Hall

I was unable to get out yesterday when there was clearly an arrival of thrushes, Yellow-browed Warblers & Firecrests, so today I was on the patch for first light. 2 Yellow-browed Warblers & a Black Redstart were the top birds of the day. Also seen: 11 Whooper Swan & 120 Pinkfeet went south at exactly the same time either side of me, 24 Little Egret, 55+ Brent Geese, Marsh Harrier, Merlin, Grey Wagtail, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, 2 Brambling, Snow Bunting as well as a few Redwings & Song Thrushes dotted about.
No Firecrests were reported in the area today.
Nearly forgot, I had a Barn Owl close to Tetney village at first light this morning.

Horseshoe Point to Pyes Hall

Walked from Horseshoe to Pyes today. The winds were westerly which meant nothing in the bushes but there was a good showing of raptors with 2 Common Buzzards together, 2 Marsh Harrier (inc one that gained height & drifted south), Peregrine & Merlin. 72 Pinkfeet went through & 6 Brents headed upriver. Also seen: Greenshank, Whimbrel, Kingfisher, Stonechat & a Siskin through. A weasel showed well in Horseshoe Car Park & several Small Tortoiseshell butterflies on the wing today.

Mablethorpe Seawatch

With moderate NW's forecast for one day, myself, Tony Housman, Adrian Royle & Ian Shepherd all descended on Mablethorpe & stared at the sea for a total of 6 hours. Star bird was an adult Glaucous Gull (my earliest ever) that drifted south with Herring & Great Black-backed Gulls. Also seen were: 3 Pomarine Skua, 1 Great Skua, 14 Arctic Skua, 14 Manx Shearwater, 35+ Red-throated Diver, 191 Pinkfeet, 12 Brent Geese, 93 Common Scoter, 10 Wigeon, 22 Teal, 3 Shelduck, Peregrine, plenty of auks & Gannets, as well as good numbers of Sandwich Terns heading north with at least 5 Common Tern. A Common Snipe, 28 pipits & 3 Skylark came in off.

Donna Nook/Pyes Hall 30/9/09

140 Pinkfeet, Whimbrel, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Kingfisher, Redstart & 5 Wheatears were on the patch today.
It's not often I see the RAF practising their bombing runs at Donna Nook as this is done on weekdays when normally I'm at work, so I couldn't resist having my first ever go at photographing a plane...

Harrier GR.9 from 41 (R) Squadron, based at Coningsby, Lincs

bombs away!

Common Darter - these & the Small Copper below are still on the wing in good numbers in more sheltered spots.