Thursday, 19 January 2017

Year list update...

Red necked Grebe and a Bonxie went south past Whitburn Obs by 10 am today. It was another flat calm day with little or no birds passing, plenty of Porpoise on view but my Glaucous Gulls have dried up for now.
In 2015 my January list ended on 78 and in 2016 a massive 86 so i was happy to add three new year ticks today to bring me onto a healthy 76. Yes Song Thrush,  Knot and Red necked Grebe kept me ticking over
This is what i saw in order of appearance

Thursday 19th January 07.50-10.05 W1 cloud 8/8

Curlew 145s
Redshank 14s
Common Gull 1s
Porpoise 7
Black h Gull 6n 2s
Cormorant 1n 4s
Red th Diver 12n 4s
Eider 7n 1s
Fulmar 6n 2s
Pink footed Goose 12 in/off
Red necked Grebe 1s 08.35
Turnstone 9n 31s
Bonxie 1s
Dunlin 70s
Knot 2s

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Lucky for some.......

Great White Egret, Black throated Diver and 3 Great Northern Divers passed Whitburn Obs this morning. My Obs year list was in the doldrums and yesterdays sea watch had been less than inspiring but from the off today had a different feel. It was a bit dark and dank but visibility was ok and i had full cloud cover. By the time the crab sandwich boys arrived id had three species of diver and a good supporting act so by this January's standards a cracking watch. Hoggie had hardly sat down and hadn't had time to ask if the tide was coming in when i called a Glaucous Gull going south close inshore (3 more needed for the record) even Walter with bins only got great views.
 Pink Floyd and Unlucky Dave arrived just as i called ten Brents going north, things were really starting to happen. I saw two Ducks coming north and called them as Scaup then had second thoughts as they headed toward us, couldn't quite nail them but they came closer and blow me over they landed in front of the Obs. As it often proves my first call was the right one.
Pink Floyd called a large skein of Pinks going north then a close Peregrine, phew we were breathless.
At 11.30 i decided to call it a day and headed off crab sandwich in hand (thanks Wal) id just reached the south east corner of  Shearwater when i stopped to ring the wife and i heard shouting, the guys were all on the Obs mound beckoning me. As i got closer Walter shouted run, well if you knew me you would know that I'm crocked and i don't do running, at this stage i didn't know what the bird was. As i got on top of the mound Unlucky Dave gave me directions and i saw the Great White Egret flying south fairly close in. I wont be able to walk for days but it was worth it thanks guys.
I later learnt that Unlucky Dave who really now needs to be called Lucky Dave, called a Little Egret flying south Hoggie got on it and realised it was Great White Egret and the rest as they say....
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Tuesday 17th January 08.00-12.00 SSW1-2 cloud 8/8

Black h Gull 3n 7s
Cormorant 2n 6s
Fulmar 15n 6s
Guillemot 31n
Red th Diver 51n 9s
Common Scoter 58n 7s
Porpoise  3+
Curlew 101s
Shelduck 23n
Black th Diver 1n
Scan Herring Gull 1n
Common Gull 6n 4s
Razorbill 1n
Turnstone 8n 9s
Shag 10n 1s
Kittiwake 1n
Goldeneye 1n
Gannet 3n
Great Northern Diver 3n
Eider 3n 1s
Grey Heron 2n 1s
Glaucous Gull 1s juv 09.30

Brent Goose 10n (2 pb rest db)
Scaup 2n 1st w drakes

Pink footed Goose 180n
Bar tailed Godwit 1s
Peregrine 1n male
Great White Egret 1s 11.39

Monday, 16 January 2017

Is the tide coming in....

Glaucous Gull and little else passed Whitburn Obs by 10 o'clock this morning. The juv Glauc brings our tally to 12 just 4 short of a new record of birds seen in a year. Now that might sound like a sure thing as its only the 16th Jan but keep in mind i didn't see one until the 5th of November last year...the tap can turn off.
A well known local sea watcher always asks within minutes of arriving 'is the tide coming in', i wont name him but lets just say his other catch phrase is 'couldnt have been nowt else'. I mention this as at one point this morning the waves were crashing in and i wondered.....
It wasn't but i had a chuckle
This is what i saw in order of appearance

Monday 16th January 08.00-10.10 NW2 cloud 8/8 rain mist drizzle yuk

Black h Gull 12n 30s
Cormorant 1n 4s
Common Gull 10n 7s
Fulmar 31n 4s
Scan Herring Gull 8n 2s
Glaucous Gull 1n juv 08.35

Shag 1n 1s
Red th Diver 2n
Gannet 6n
Wigeon 3n

Sunday, 15 January 2017

And a Blue Fulmar....

2 Great Northern Divers a Bonxie and a Blue Fulmar passed Whitburn Obs by 11.15 today.
Stevie Thunder was a surprise visitor today as we settled down to try and get our Glaucous Gull record. We've seen 11 and need 16 to set a new annual passage record and with all the birds seen on the east coast yesterday it was a cert......
That's birds for you, no white wingers seen but plenty of quality passage. We commented on how its always good to put out sea watching news with the coda 'and a Blue Fulmar' ala Flamborough and were pleased we got one
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Sunday 15th January 07.50-11.15 W2 cloud 8/8

Fulmar 267n 6s
Guillemot 545n
Black h Gull 26n 33s
Scan Herring Gull 7n 1s
Common Gull 15n 25s
Red th Diver 14n 3s
Shag 2n
Porpoise 1n 2s
Velvet Scoter 1s
Cormorant 11n 12s
Razorbill 9n
Grey Heron 2n
Long tailed Duck 1n
Gannet 3s
Bonxie 1n
Blue Fulmar 1s L
Eider 2s
Common Scoter 2n
Turnstone 2n
Great Northern Diver 2n

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Glaucous countdown...

180 Pinkfeet and a Glaucous Gull passed Whtburn Obs by 10.30 this morning. The record for  sightings of Glaucous Gull in the year is 15. The number of records so far this month is 11, its a countdown to a new record and the way we are going it could be this month. Saint Mark and Boy Wonder joined me today to pick over the northerly leftovers and we did ok by January's standards so far this year. The bright sun was challenging and i wouldn't be surprised if some white wingers sneaked past undetected...
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Saturday 14th January 07.45-10.30 NW3 cloud 3/8 at its best

Black h Gull 199n 89s
Cormorant 7n 12s
Golden Plover 120n
Common Gull 41n 156s
Goldeneye 2n 1s
Shag 4s
Red th Diver 17n 10s
Fulmar 21n 4s
Razorbill 1n 1s
Common Scoter 12n 1s
Scan Herring Gull 5n 3s
Gannet 10n
Curlew 4n
Eider 3s
Glaucous Gull 1n juv dark one
Kittiwake 1n 1s
Turnstone 1n 1s
Pink footed Goose 180s

Friday, 13 January 2017


4 Glaucous Gulls and a Blue Fulmar passed Whitburn Obs by 11.30 today, tho probably only 3 different birds were involved. All but one were close inshore and gave stunning if brief views. I didn't manage any video so will use other recent film. Pink Floyd beat Magic Mark and myself in this morning, the worst weather ever as forcast did not materialise tho it was a white out in more ways than one
I recently set a new day passage record of three Glaucous Gulls in the same day. We certainly equalled that but we felt one of our four was seen twice
It was cold but fun and this is what we saw in order of appearance

Friday 13th January 08.00-11.30 NW5 cloud 6/8

Black h Gull 44n 5s
Common Gull 53n 21s
Gannet 62n 79s
Guillemot 82n
Eider 1n 1s
Redshank 13n 1s
Scan Herring Gull 1n 1s
Turnstone 1n 11s
Glaucous Gull 2n 2s all juvs

Bonxie 1s
Red th Diver 2n 3s
Shag 2s
Cormorant 7s
Whooper Swan 1s
Blue Fulmar 1n

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Cetacean surge....

 Velvet Scoter and Long tailed Duck passed Whitburn Obs by 10.45 today. The birds were quiet but our cetacean encounters more than made up for the lack of birds. From the off we were seeing Harbour Porpoise on a flat calm sea and an estimate of 10 is probably an understatement. A few sightings had been logged when i came across a pod of 6 going north but our attention was drawn to bigger fish when i saw the first Dolphins so no certain count was made.
Both Marks quickly got onto the Dolphins as i described the southerly movement, in the end it was 20 plus. They were distant and Bottlenose, however one sighting in particular of a Dolphin showing a lot of pale on the flanks but not on the saddle as per White Beaked had us puzzled. Magic Mark explained to me that Bottlenose have a lot of variation and it could have been one showing pale shoulder blaze.
We may never know for certain as they were distant and we could not nail it, but following on from recent sightings of  Orca and Common Dolphin it may not be long before we add another member of the Dolphin family to out growing Whitburn list. The animals today were a bit distant for video so ive attached some i made earlier
This is what we saw today in order of appearance

Sunday 8th January 07.45-10.45 W1-2 cloud 3/8

Black h Gull 3n 57s
Fulmar 6n 5s
Cormorant 9s
Common Gull 2n 12s
Porpoise 10 plus
Red th Diver 13n 23s
Shag 1s
Eider 10n 2s
Common Scoter 3n
Turnstone 5n 4s
Bottlenose Dolphin 20s 08.23-09.45

Gannet 7n 1s
Scan Herring Gull 2s
Med Gull 1s ad
Wigeon 1s
Mallard 2s
Kittiwake 1n 1s
Shelduck 1s
Razorbill 1n
Velvet Scoter 3n
Long tailed Duck 1n
Stonechat 2