Monday, 31 August 2015


1 Pom 5 Great and 13 Arctic Skuas passed Whitburn obs in 12 hours today. It was a full house with the obs manned all day and as i left Stevie Makem was starting the late late shift. MH, PHo, WM, CW,and DC had all contributed and we had a special guest in the lovely Maid Marian paying a visit from Notts, and Stoney was in the house
These are the totals for 12 hours today Monday 31st August in order of appearance, sort of

Black h Gull 80n 59s
Shag 21n 21s
Curlew 28n 1s
Whimbrel 1n
Common Gull 5n 7s
Sandwich Tern 41n 99s
Red th Diver 5n 2s
Common Scoter55n 6s
Teal 884n 84s
Little Gull 16n 20s
Redshank 55n 131s
Wigeon 107n
Common Tern 25n 33s
Arctic Skua 10n 3s
Sooty Shearwater 1n
Heron 4n
Purple Sandpiper 2n
Knot 25n 15s
Manxie 12n
Grey Wagtail 2s
Turnstone 18n 5s
Arctic Tern 9n 1s
Dunlin 10n 5s
Swallow 98n
Puffin 2n 1s
Bonxie 5n
Tufted Duck 2n
Ringed Plover 1n
Pintail 3n
Velvet Scoter 1n
Pom Skua 1n
Leucistic Fulmar 1s

More Teal Vicar........

Sooty Shearwater and 32 Little Gulls passed Whitburn Obs by 11am. 'More Teal Vicar', the old ones are the best, it was the start of autumn wildfowl movement today with good numbers of ducks and more species than of late. The northerly helped to get things moving and with good coverage today we could get a decent day total of Teal with 764 north when i left for a break
I was joined by Saint Mark and Stoney was in the house, this is what we saw in order of appearance

Monday 31st August 05.45-11.00

Black h Gull 60n 47s
Shag 15n 17s
Curlew 26n
Whimbrel 1n
Common Gull 3n 5s
Sandwich Tern 13n 37s
Red th Diver 2n 2s
Common Scoter 51n 6s
Teal 764n 7s
Little Gull 12n 20s
Redshank 6n 105s
Wigeon 58n
Common Tern 23n 37s
Arctic Skua 9n 3s
Sooty Shearwater 1n
Purple Sandpiper 2n
Knot 22n 16s
Manxie 8n
Grey Wagtail 1s
Turnstone 1s
Arctic Tern 9n 1s
Dunlin 2n 5s
Swallow 66n
Puffin 1s
Bonxie 3n
Tufted Duck 2n
Ringed Plover 1n
Pintail 3n

Sunday, 30 August 2015

You Bustard You.....

I'm just back from a week long family holiday in Fuerteventura, my first visit to the area. As always i was looking to fit in a spot of birding along the way especially as i needed Fuertaventura Chat and Houbara Bustard, since its split from the birds i saw in Israel years ago.

I always go birding from first light on holiday and meet the family for breakfast and that's just what i did along with a couple of excursions. My walk out of Corralejo south through the Dunas de Carralejo Parque National to Riu Oliva Beach became a daily routine allowing me to get a 5 euro taxi back from the Riu hotel to breakfast and still have enough energy left to play in the pool with my Granddaughter Aimee.. Birds were thin on the ground but Berthelot's Pipit and Desert Grey Shrike were not hard to find so that was a good start. Also recorded were Raven, sometimes groups of 5+, Kestrel and Hoopoe. The shoreline held a few waders and i recorded Whimbrel, Grey Plover and Little ringed Plover.  Atlantic Yellow legged Gulls were common along with the odd Lesser black Backed and Audouin's.

A free flying Budgie added to the exotic flavour of Ring necked and Monk Parakeet. I saw a few Linnet, House and Spanish Sparrows but didn't connect with any Trumpeter Finch on the whole trip. It became obvious that i was going to need a buckets full of luck to find my target birds or a change in strategy.
So I booked a day trip on a Jeep Safari off the beaten track and it paid off....

We (6 jeeps) set off on a route around the north and north west of the Island. It could be best described as a hit and run event with a number of sites to be visited and little time at each site to be enjoyed, in fact some were 5 minute photo stops. We headed off west into barren volcanic Dessert and i soon had my first reward for the change in strategy with a Barbary Falcon overhead.

The first stop was to look into a volcano close to Corralejo. We trekked up a steep narrow stone path to a viewing area and many of the 6 jeeps passengers who were wearing sandals and flip flops and had young kids with them were struggling on the rough and sharp volcanic rock...
I was scanning the hills id seen the Falcon over when someone asked if id seen the Barbary Ground Squirrels that were coming very close at the viewing area, i hadn't so turned around to take some photos, a couple of small birds were feeding on the rock and i was overjoyed to see they were a pair of Fuerteventura Chats!
Fantastic but brief views were given as they quickly headed out of view. Sadly it wasn't safe to follow away from the platform. Lots of peanut kernel's were on the ground at the platform due to tourists feeding the Squirrels and i wonder if the Chats were feeding on them.

The break neck tour continued but our driver had little interest in birds so mentioning a Buzzard on a wall or a Desert Grey Shrike yards away did not bring the vehicle to a halt. We visited an Aloe Vera Museum in La Oliva, i did not enter the building but birded around and found Barbary Partridge on the wall.

It was frustrating to be very near the site at La Oliva that historically held good numbers of Bustard as described in the Gosney finding birds in the Canaries guide but our convoy had to move off at speed again.....

Realising how close La Oliva was to my hotel i decided another visit was required. I bribed the family and booked a Taxi the next day and got dropped off near the Rosade los Negrines at 2ish and told my driver Phillipe to pick me up at 6 o'clock
I never stopped scanning and working the area but had little of interest, certainly no Bustards so headed back in my Taxi and drowned my sorrows in cold beer. It cost circa 20 euro's each way, well worth it for the experience of birding this unique habitat

Next day was an Atlantic Adventure to Playa Blanca in Lanzarote with my family we had good views of Cory's Shearwaters and flying fish

I called for a taxi on my penultimate day and headed to Tindaya to continue my quest for the Bustard. It was close to the former site but had produced birds more recently. Antonio my driver stopped in Tindaya to check we were on the road to Punta Paso Chico as we had seen no sign posts. We called at the Los Podomorfos restaurant and chatted with the owner who spoke perfect Spanish and was English. Our route was confirmed and we agreed to meet back here for my return journey to my hotel.

As i approached the copse of fig trees mentioned in the Gosney guide i scanned the terrain and nearly fell over when the first bird i saw was an Houbara Bustard. It was a little distant and heat haze was unreal but i managed some record shot photos and video. I birded the area for a few hours in the hope of finding Black bellied Sandgrouse and Cream Coloured Courser but could not. After a few hours i decided to head back to my rendezvous point and try to get an earlier taxi before the heat took me.

My bilingual host rang the taxi company for me as my mobile phone had drowned in the swimming pool at my Hotel,  and managed to arrange an earlier pick up, phew and thank you
Much beer, Sangria and Rum and Coke was drank in celebration. My family were happy as i would stop being grumpy, job done you Bustard you...

A big thanks to Dave Gosney and Richard Howard who's 2015 report i used. This is not a full report i did see Plain Swifts and a few other species, its more a description of my quest

Good to be back.....

18 Little Gulls and 4 Arctic Skuas passed Whitburn Obs by 10.30 this morning. Yes it is good to be back after a week in Fuerteventura, sadly i missed Kingfisher, Yellow legged Gull and Greenshank while i was away, but still time to pull back a few. I was joined by Saint Mark with a guest appearance by Foss. The lack of wind didn't help but otherwise we are not complaining. We managed to record Dolphin, Porpoise and Lobster toward the NT big count today. This is what we saw in order of appearance

Sunday 30th August 05.40-10.30 SW1 calm sea light cloud

Black h Gull 6n 78s
Dunlin 34s
Turnstone 5n 4s
Little Gull 13n 5s a mixture of adults and juvs with some nice close birds
Teal 23n 2s
05.50 White beaked Dolphin 4+ till 06.45
Curlew 11n 3s
Common Scoter 27n 26s
Eider 4s
Common Tern 19n 38s
Arctic Tern 7n 2s
Sandwich Tern 9n 32s
Manxie 3n 12s
Redshank 5n 53s
Knot 42s
Arctic Skua 4s
Peregrine 1s
Red th Diver 1n 2s
Shag 34s
Common Gull 3n 6s
LBBGull 2n
07.15 White beaked Dolphin 3plus
Ringed Plover 3s
07.30  White beaked Dolphin 4 and 1 juv
Wigeon 6n
Porpoise 4
Grey Heron 1n
Swift 3s
Sparrowhawk 1n

Friday, 21 August 2015

May all of your Terns be black.......

Spotted Redshank and 3 Whimbrel went south past Whitburn Obs this morning on another good day for wader passage. The Spot Shank was another Obs year tick bringing the list to circa 146. Stoney was in the house and we did our best to find a Black Tern after yesterdays record passage at Hartlepool but to no avail. Light conditions were difficult with the heavy cloud and the heat haze was unreal. This is what we did manage to see in order of appearance

Friday 21st August 05.30-07.30 S2 poor light and heat haze

Teal 86n 48s
Common Tern 2n 95s
Common Scoter 39n 13s
Black h Gull 19s
Sandwich Tern 14s
Common Gull 1s
Oyster Catcher 11s
Golden Plover 4s
Whimbrel 3s
Sanderling 25s
Redshank 1n
Spotted Redshank 1s
Knot 2n 7s
Wigeon 3n
Dunlin 22s
Turnstone 3s
Red th Diver 2s
Swallow 12s
Ringed Plover 3s

Thursday, 20 August 2015


Bonxie and 2 Arctic Skuas passed Whitburn Obs by 7.30 this morning. I was joined by Magic Mark and Stoney was in the house.  WWW, Whitburns wave of Waders, we've had such a good year recording wader passage this year and it continued this morning with good numbers passing, sadly i had to leave for work. Don't want to think about what they will see now I've left..

Thursday 20th August 05.30-07.35 S2 full cloud cover till just before i left

Teal 81n
Knot 57s
Oyster Catcher 90s
Curlew 1n
Common Gull 3s
Common Tern 13n 27s
Common Scoter 74n 2s
LBBGull 5s
Turnstone 4n 5s
Sandwich Tern 37n 6s
Black h Gull 3n 4s
Arctic Tern 1s
Whimbrel 2s
Dunlin 50s
Manxie 1s
Redshank 54s
07.03 White beaked Dolphin 1n
Bonxie 1n
Arctic Skua 2n
Sanderling 3s
Ringed Plover 4s

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Green for go....

3 Pom, 5 Arctic and 2 Great Skuas passed Whitburn Obs by 7.40 this morning but sadly no Long tail for me yet. Stoney was in the house and it was an interesting watch, you always felt anything could happen and it did when a Green Sandpiper went south to get my Obs list on the move again. That's four ticks in as many days.
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Wednesday19th August 05.30-07.40 SW1-2 full cloud cover till we left, heavy swell

Black h Gull 2n 2s
Manxie 11n
Common Gull 2n 3s
Arctic Skua 4n 1s
Teal 6n
Pom Skua 3n
Whimbrel 6s
Common Scoter 17n
Arctic Tern 1n
Shag 1n
Eider 1n 2s
Sandwich Tern 19n 11s
Common Tern 20n 9s
Velvet Scoter 1s
Med Gull 1s 2nd sum
Sparrowhawk 1s
Bonxie 2n
Red th Diver 1n
Green Sandpiper 1s
Wheatear one on the way back to car

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, its off to...............

8 Velvet Scoter and a Merlin passed Whitburn Obs by 07.30 this morning. Despite the northerly wind and promising bird passage i had to leave for work, and leave the Obs empty This is what i saw in order of appearance

Tuesday 18th August 05.30-07.30 N2-3 full cloud cover, rain started as i left

Kittiwake 5400n
Common Gull 7n 1s
Black h Gull 10n 2s
Redshank 25n 1s
Arctic Skua 1n
Common Scoter 3n
Max Shearwater 12n
Knot 5n
Velvet Scoter 8n
Common Tern 6n
Sandwich 3n 4s
Grey Plover 1n
Sanderling 1n
Teal 5n 4s
Arctic Tern 3n
Eider 1n 2s
Shag 1n 22s
Merlin 1n
Med Gull 1s 2nd sum

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Billy no mates again......

3 Little Gulls and 2 Arctic Skuas passed Whitburn Obs by 9 o'clock this morning and the Whitburn Whitebeaks were on show most of the time. No helpers today, it was just little old me so just as well it was quiet. With little wind to encourage birds to get up it was very quiet after the initial morning rush hour. As usual the Dolphins stole the show on a calm sea, tho they were distant further north but not difficult to see.
My Obs year list got an unexpected boost with Great spotted Woodpecker following on from a Pintail yesterday. Bringing my year list to circa 144, its not looking like a record year but you never know.......

Sunday 16th August 05.30-09.00 SSE1-2 then 1, flat calm sea light cloud

Redshank 19n
Dunlin 18n 8s
Knot 2n
Black h Gull 12n 7s
Common Scoter 2n
Whimbrel 10s
Arctic Skua 1n 1s
Sandwich Tern 2n 32s
Common Tern 9n 51s
Manxie 2n
Arctic Tern 5n 3s
Little Gull 3s 1 ad
Eider 1n
Turnstone 2n
Porpoise 1

07.10 White beaked Dolphin 7+ north still visable feeding to the north when i left

I headed off to WWWT to look for the reported Hawfinch.....but thats another story

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Hello Kitty......

Sooty Shearwater and 2 Little Gulls passed Whitburn Obs by 10am this morning. I was joined by Magic Mark, Stevie Thunder, and Stoney was in the house. At first light they were like a snowstorm teaming past, Kittiwakes going north, we had 8500 by the end of the watch. This is what we saw in order of appearance

Saturday 15th August 05.15-10.00 W2-3 cloud cover early on but clearing

Black h Gull 14n 5s
Arctic Tern 20n 7s
Kittiwake 8500n
Common Gull 3n 1s
Gannet 1260n
Manxie 45n 10s
Little Gull 1n 1s ad
Sandwich Tern 29n 33s
Golden Plover 3n
Curlew 1s
Common Tern 18n 66s
Eider 4n 1s
Sooty Shearwater 1n
Grey Heron 1n
Common Scoter 45n
Med Gull 1s ad
Velvet Scoter 1n
Shag 3n 1s
Pintail 2n
Wigeon 1s
LBBGull 2n
Ruff 1n
Oyster Catcher 9s
Porpoise 1
Goosander 1s
Arctic Skua 1n
Fulmar 120n
Sparrowhawk 1s

Friday, 14 August 2015

It might not rain until September.......

Arctic Skua 15 Manxies passed Whitburn by 8am. Its northerly and it didn't wait until September
Magic Mark joined me and this is what we saw in order of appearance

Friday 14th August 05.20-08.00 N2-3 rain

Common Gull 2n 3s
Common Scoter 64n 45s
Sandwich Tern 95s
Black h Gull 1n 4s
Gannet 574n
Manxie 11n 4s
Shag 3n 16s
Arctic Skua 1n
Common Tern 20n 16s
Teal 23n
Bar tailed Godwit 1n
Knot 1n
Arctic Tern 13n 2s
Wigeon 3s
Sanderling 3s
LBBGull 5n
Curlew 1n

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Dolphins in the dark......

Whitburns Whitebeaks were back on show this morning, 7 ish went north close inshore feeding along the flagline.The heavy low cloud made it almost dark but i still managed to get some half decent video. Not much bird movement today except for a movement of Shag south
This is what i saw in order of appearance

Wednesday12th August 05.10-07.00 NW1-2 broken cloud 6/10

Curlew 5n
Black h Gull 1n 1s
Common Gull 2s
05.23 White beaked Dolphin 7 north till 06.25 feeding along the close flag line
Common Tern 4n 9s
Arctic Tern 6n 9s
Shag 51s
Manx Shearwater 6n
Sandwich Tern 5s
Dunlin 3n
Whimbrel 1s
Redshank 2n
Common Scoter 2n
Soveler 1n

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Record breakers.......

Pom Skua, Little Gull and a Blue Fulmar passed Whitburn Obs early morning. The record breaking team of  Magic Mark, Saint Mark and myself were back in action. We recently set a new Obs record for Redshank passage in a day and today it was the turn of Dunlin. 340 Dunlin went south by 10.10 beating the previous best day total of 290 set in Nov 2005. We left Saint Mark in the Obs no doubt adding to our total
It was a busy morning and the wind encouraged birds to move after yesterdays dead calm
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Sunday 9th August 05.10- 10.10 SSW 3 cloud cover early on then broken cloud

Common Gull 9s
Black h Gull 9s
Common Scoter 219n 9s
Pom Skua 1s
Sandwich Tern 8n 580s
Manxie 1n 49s
Common Tern 30n 120s
Shag 2n 9s
Dunlin 340s
Ringed Plover 10s
Turnstone 10s
Knot 4s
Oyster Catcher 16s
Shoveler 3n
Teal 24n 4s
Redshank 23s
Blue Fulmar 1s L
Sanderling 26s
Arctic Skua 2n 2s
Bonxie 1n
Kestrel 1s
Curlew 4s
Black tailed Godwit 2s
LBBGull 1n 1s
Whimbrel 2s
Little Gull 1s ad

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Having a Whale of a time....

33 White beaked Dolphin went south past Whitburn Obs this morning our highest ever count. Yorkshire was keeping all the Minke's for itself and having a Whale of a time, so maybe tomorrow...Somebody must have told them the National Whale and Dolphin watch was over, they all came out to play. Thanks to everyone who took part in the survey, we did ok, two species of  Dolphin and Porpoise recorded
It was a perfect Cetacean sea dead calm and flat but no cloud and bright sun made viewing difficult.I was joined by Saint Mark and Pink Floyd and this is what we saw in order of appearance

Saturday 8th August 05.10-10.00 NW1 then dead calm, clear sky bright sun, flat .sea state

Curlew 1n 5s
Dunlin  10n 36s
Oyster Catcher 2n 8s
Manx Shearwater 54n 13s
Sandwich Tern 83s
Common Tern 3n 76s
Common Scoter 111n
Arctic Tern 10n 4s
Shag 3s
Redshank 2n 2s
Grey Heron 1n
Ringed Plover 2n
Whimbrel 1s
Teal 1s
Knot 1s
Wigeon 3s
Black h Gull 1n 1s
Turnstone 5n

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The tide is Terning........

Roseate Tern and 2 Little Gulls went south past Whitburn Obs by 8 o'clock this morning. Magic Mark joined me and we thoroughly enjoyed our sea watch. Conditions were excellent with good light and enough wind to encourage birds to move. Terns are heading south at an increasing rate of knots and i will be sad when they have gone, but for now enjoy....
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Wednesday5th August 05.05-08.00 SW2-3 cloud cover, calm sea

Common Gull 16s
Black h Gull 16s
Curlew 1n
Sandwich Tern 12n 75s
Arctic Tern 3n 27s
Common Scoter 21n 9s
Common Tern 27n 225s
Oyster Catcher 12s
Swift 7s
Peregrine 1s
LBBGull 1s
Redshank 7s
Arctic Skua 2s
Roseate Tern 1s juv
Little Gull 2s 1ad 1 1st sum
Dunlin 1s
Porpoise 1s
Knot 14s
Red th Diver 4s
Whimbrel 2s
Puffin 1n 1s

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Coming up Rosies.....

Balearic Shearwater and 2 Roseate Terns passed Whitburn Obs early morning. Sea watching conditions were difficult early on with bright sun and a stiff SEasterly wind and rough sea. I was having trouble getting on a bird that wasn't a Kittiwake. When Stoney arrived it took him 10 minutes to make his first note and things did improve. Two pairs of eyes are better than on. We saw our now daily Rosy Terns and Rob saw his first Balearic of the season, alls well.......
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Tuesday 4th August 04.55-07.05 SSE3-4 clear sky and rough sea

Sandwich Tern 32n 21s
Common Scoter 7n 5s
Black h Gull 12s
Bar tailed Godwit 2s
Knot 2s
Common Tern 6n 4s
Common Gull 4s
Oyster Catcher 14s
Arctic Tern 3n 4s
Roseate Tern 2s 1ad 1juv
Swift 3s
06.30 Balearic Shearwater 1n
Porpoise 1n
Red th Diver 1 on sea
Arctic Skua 1s

Monday, 3 August 2015

Lora Lora Birds......

A Pom Skua and 2 Roseate Terns passed Whitburn Obs on my early watch today. I was joined by Aggie Gordon and Stoney was in the house. The fantastic bird movement from yesterday continued and the extra eyes were important. Tara Cilla
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Monday 3rd August 05.05-07.05 SSE2-3 cloud cover clearing by 07.00

Common Scoter 245n 38s
Common Gull 1s
Black h Gull 1n 2s
Sandwich Tern 27n 94s
Common Tern 15n 18s
Dunlin 9s
Whimbrel 4s
Teal 17n 9s
Eider 3n
Manxie 5s
05.45 Dolphin sp 1 seen through the flags but not i d'd
Arctic Tern 3n 15s
Knot 2s
Sanderling 2s
Pom Skua 1n ad
Bonxie 1bn
Peregrine 1 feeding/chasing waders
Red th Diver 1s
Roseate Tern 2s 1ad 1juv
Arctic Skua 1s
Swift 3s
Curlew 3n
Little Gull 1n 1st sum

Sunday, 2 August 2015

A bit of Ruff......

Pom Skua and 2 Roseate Terns passed Whitburn Obs this morning on a busy sea watch. I was joined by Magic and Saint Mark and later Hoggie and Walter. Despite the nothing conditions we managed to see a load of birds, its on days like this you wish you wernt doing the log. Star birds were the Ruff,  a new Obs year tick on a good wader day.
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Sunday 2nd August 05.05-10.05 SW1-2 then SE2 cloud cover

Curlew 4n 2s
Sandwich Tern 12n 65s
Ringed Plover 3s
Common Tern 12n 168s
Common Scoter 171n 57s
Arctic Tern 35n 38s
Manxie 12n
Common Gull 4n 5s
Dunlin 2n 80s
Teal 8n 3s
Black h Gull 10n 7s
Redshank 6n 9s
Whimbrel 23s
Puffin 14n 5s
Eider 5n
Red th Diver 1s
Turnstone 1n 1s
Sanderling 30n 10s
Grey Plover 1sArctic Skua 2n 4s
Little Gull 1n 1s ads
Roseate Tern 2s 1 ad 1 juv
Knot 1s
Pom Skua 1n adult with spoons
Ruff 2s
Bar t Godwit 2n 1s
Great n Diver 1 on sea drifted north

Saturday, 1 August 2015

No (R)Egrets........

6 Little Gulls a Velvet Scoter and no Egrets passed Whitburn Obs by 10.45 this morning. We knew the Great White Egret had gone north over Harlepool, thanks for the news guys, and waited for it, a mega Obs tick. It never came and we soon heard it was at Boldon Flats. I was joined by Saint and Magic Mark this morning and later by Pink Floyd and Desperate Den. This is what we saw in order of appearance

Saturday 1st August 05.05-10.45 SW2 broken cloud

Whimbrel 3n 10s
Common Tern 37n 14s
Teal 27n 4s
Black h Gull 11n 4s
Curlew 13n
Sandwich Tern 33n 15s
Arctic Tern 160n 4s
Little Gull 4n ads 2s ad and 1st sum
Common Scoter 619n 42s
Common Gull 2n 3s
LBBGull 1s
Manx Shearwater 27n 2s
Velvet Scoter 1n
Puffin 13n
Porpoise 1
Shoveler 5n 2s
Dunlin 1n 16s
Knot 3s
Ringed Plover 5s
Redshank 1n 1s
Kestrel 1s
Swift 1n
Sanderling 6s
Mallard 2n
Siskin 2s
Med Gull 1s 2nd sum
Bar tailed Godwit 1s