Saturday, 30 April 2016

Thank you and goodbye...

Manx Shearwater and 23 Arctic Terns passed Whitburn Obs by 10 this morning . Saint Mark,  Boy Wonder and Stevie Thunder joined me for a decent watch. Yes its goodbye to April a productive year list month with 24 new species including Marsh Harrier, SEO, Slav Grebe Nuthatch and Ringo. I finished the month with another patch tick Yellow Wagtail
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Saturday 30th April 05.25-10.00 WNW2 bright sun then part cloud

Sandwich Tern 17n 101s
Gannet 121n
Common Gull 47n 41s
Black h Gull 7n 7s
Puffin 2n
Sanderling 2n
Shelduck 2s
Arctic Tern 16n 7s
Common Tern 9n 9s
Red th Diver 7n 6s
Eider 1n 1s
Tufted Duck 2n
Common Scoter 6n 5s
Manx Shearwater 1n
Curlew 1n
Turnstone 6n
LBBGull 5n
Shag 7n 1s
Gadwall 2n
Skylark 3 in off
Yellow Wagtail 1n

Friday, 29 April 2016

Four seasons in one day...

9 Arctic Terns and a Blue Fulmar passed Whitburn Obs by 10 this morning. Magic Mark joined me and later Pink Floyd. At times the weather was like mid winter and then like spring no wonder the newly arrived Whitethroat outside the Obs didn't know whether to sing or not.
This is what we saw this morning in order of appearance

Friday 29th April 05.15-10.00 WNW2 rain,sleet, snow, bright sun....

Eider 7n 5s
Common Gull 283n 142s
Sandwich Tern 11n 217s
Black h Gull 14n 11s
Gannet 45n 37s
Arctic Tern 3n 6s
Red th Diver 3n 3s
Common Tern 10n
Puffin 2n
Common Scoter 13n 3s
Turnstone 20n
Purple Sandpiper 1n
LBBG 5n 1s
Shelduck 2n
Pintail 1n
Blue Fulmar 1 south then back north
Dunlin 1n 2s
Whimbrel 3n
Curlew 1n
Sand Martin 3n 1s
Red br Merganser 1n
Wheatear 4 newly arrived birds

Monday, 25 April 2016

Calm before the storm....

Marsh Harrier went south past Whitburn Obs this morning on a quiet sea watch. Stoney was in the house and we did our best not to fall asleep. My second Marsh Harrier of the year was a bonus but well distant.
Conditions were very calm but we could see the storm coming from the north and just got to our cars as the rain started. Am going back later to enjoy the gale force winds and see if they blow anything my way
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Monday 25th April 05.20-09.00

Gropper reeling by obs
Common Gull 65n 137s
Sandwich Tern 14n 34s
Arctic Tern 2n 1s
Gannet 168n 23s
Teal 2s
Red th Diver 1n 5s
Black h Gull 4n 6s
Eider 11n 7s
Carrion Crow 10n
Shag 2n
Sand Martin 3n 1s
Dunlin 3n
Ringed Plover 2n
House Martin 1n
Swallow 1n
Common Tern 2n
Marsh Harrier 1s 07.55
Whimbrel 1n
Pied Wagtail 1n

Sunday, 24 April 2016


Blue Fulmar and a Manxie passed Whitburn Obs by 09.30 this morning. Magic Mark and Foss joined me and Stoney was in the house. Boy Wonder was AWOL enjoying the latest edition to his family, congrats Ross. It was more of the same again today but with better light except for a bit of proper wader passage early on before the cloud broke
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Sunday 24th April 05.20-09.30 NW2-3 full cloud cover early on then broken

Gropper 1 reeling
Gannet 191n 22s
Common Gull 136n 42s
Fulmar 356n
Eider 2n 4s
Common Scoter 3n 4s
Red th Diver 4n 3s
Black h Gull 5n 1s
Arctic Tern 2n 1s
Bottlenose Dolphin 2s 06.00
Puffin 4n 1s
Turnstone 15n
Sandwich Tern 2n 143s
Sand Martin 1n
Teal 2n
LBBGull 1n
Whimbrel 3n
Shelduck 1n
Manx Shearwater 1n
Swallow 1n
Pied Wagtail 2n
Shag 1s
Curlew 1n
Golden Plover 1n
Sanderling 12n
Wigeon 2n
Blue Fulmar 1n

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Dream on...

Cape Gannet, Sooty Tern and Surf Scoter were all discussed at Whitburn Obs this morning as we failed to see much of note. Chat turned to dream birds and dreaming of birds. It was a busy Obs with Magic Mark, Boy Wonder, Foss, Pink Floyd, and Stoney was in the house. Saint Mark was abroad again and lucky for him he missed nowt. We scrutinised every Gull, Tern and Duck but...
This is what we did see in order of appearance

Saturday 23rd April 05.20-10.30 NW2 part cloud

Gropper reeling
Common Gull 75n 76s
Fulmar 185n
Sandwich Tern 14n 89s
Black h Gull 5n 14s
Eider 5n 1s
Gannet 109n 17s
Common Scoter 6n
Red th Diver 2n 4s
Shelduck 2n 2s
Sand Martin 5n 2s
Tufted Duck 1s
Wigeon 6n
Crow 2n
LBBGull 1n
Common Tern 1s
Bottlenose Dolphin 2s 07.25 and back north 07.40
Goosander 1n
Dunlin 1n
Teal 2n
Shoveler 2n
Shag 1n
Puffin 1n
Red br Merganser 1n
Shelduck 2n 2s

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Here comes summer......

Slavonian Grebe went north past Whitburn Obs by 07.15 today. It felt like summer had arrived this morning, bright sun not much wind and a calm sea perfect for seeing Grebes. Slav Grebe is an Obs mega with a couple a year at best so i was well pleased to watch one flying north early morning. A few more Terns are starting to move and with a good mix of wildfowl species thrown in it was a good watch, just the bright sun spoiling it
This is what i saw in order of appearance

Thursday 21st April 05.40-07.15 W1-2 bright sun calm sea

Common Gull 51n 28s
Eider 1n 5s
Sandwich Tern 2n 181s
Black h Gull 1n 1s
Tufted Duck 2s
Shoveler 1n
Slav Grebe 1n 06.08
Common Tern 1n 10s
Arctic Tern 1n 3s
Gannet 6n
Red th Diver 1n
Red br Merganser 2n
Teal 2n
Shelduck 3n
Willow Warbler calling near obs (patch tick)

Monday, 18 April 2016

Happy Mondays....

Marsh Harrier and Short eared Owl passed Whitburn Obs by 10 this morning.All Mondays are happy for me now as i no longer work them, but today was especially so as i had another 3 Obs year ticks. Getting both Marsh Harrier and Short eared Owl in the same day was like winning the Lotto and House Martin made a welcome return bringing my list to 125.
This is what i saw in order of appearance

Monday 18th April 06.00-10.00 W2-3 and 3-4 at times cloud cover clearing to 50%

Common Gull 437n 132s
Eider 7n 4s
Common Scoter 7n 2s
Gannet 15n 2s
Black h Gull 30n 12s
Sandwich Tern 12n 14s
Whimbrel 13n 1s
Shelduck 3n 3s
Short eared Owl in/off 06.45
Sand Martin 1n
Shag 3n 1s
Grey Wagtail 1s
Pied Wagtail 3n
Marsh Harrier f 1n 08.50-09.00
House Martin 1n
Curlew 1s
Dunlin 2n

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Moorland Magic....

Stonechat, Wheatear and Buzzard were my breakfast birds today but no not in the Obs, I was up on the fantastic Durham Moors. It was the first of my two visits on the BTO Breading Bird Survey so i thought i would give you an update on how things looked today. My square is near Edmunbyers and its always one of the best days of my birding year being on the moors from dawn. Its all about Meadow Pipits,  Grouse and upland waders but sometimes i get a surprise.
 Today the first bird i heard was a singing male Wheatear, mind it took ages to find as he was sitting low down and singing for a mate. Most years i dont record one on my square so it was a great start. I would say most birds had similar populations to recent years. 2 displaying Lapwings is my norm but good numbers of Curlew and Golden Plover were a bonus. Grouse numbers seemed low and only one Snipe was disappointing
I came across a new species for my square, a pair of Teal came up off a mooland stream, a mega!
Biggest disapointment was no Skylarks, i normally get half a dozen, i know its early but i always do my first visit near this date. Lets hope they are just late arriving. When i first started doing this survey a decade or so ago Wrens were common on the moor but after a hard winter they disappeared. Last year i recorded them for the first time in ages and im glad to say i had one today. The adjacent square has a nice stream running down it in a bit of a valley and a quick look gave me ten singing Wrens but none seen they know how to hide. Stonechat and plenty of Wheatears were also in this area shame they didnt pop up the road to my square, what i would give for a Stonechat

Saturday, 16 April 2016

April showers...

Little Gull and 4 Blue Fulmars passed Whitburn Obs by 10.30. I was joined by Magic Mark, Boy Wonder, Chinchinery, and Stoney was in the house. Yes we had April showers, rain showers, sleet showers and snow showers however we were not showered in quality. The birding was lacking a bit of qulity for a northerly tho the Long tailed Ducks were mega and stole the show
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Saturday 16th April 05.40-10.30 NNW3-4 rain,sleet,snow,broken cloud

Gropper reeling 05.40
Common Gull 57n 8s
Gannet 79n 5s
Kittiwake 1130n
Fulmar 454n
Eider 10n 4s
Sandwich Tern 9n 99s
Red th Diver 1n 3s
Shag 2n
Common Scoter 4n 1s
Blue Fulmar 4n (2xL,2xD)
Canada Goose 2n 1s
Goldeneye 3n
Little Gull 1s ad
Red br Merganser 1s
Pied Wagtail 1s
Black h Gull 1n 2s
LBBGull 1n
Long tailed Duck 2n pr
Grey Heron1s

Friday, 15 April 2016

Bingo Ringoo....

8 Arctic, 3 Common and 110 Sandwich Terns passed Whitburn Obs by 10.30 this morning. My day started with a Gropper reeling as i entered the Obs and just got better. Stoney was in the house and later unlucky Dave was quite lucky. It turned out to be another bumper day . I went outside for a scan and found a Ring Ouzel sat in a bush by the mounds of dung. Rob and i went to try and get some photos and found a second bird, bingo double ringo. We had our first Arctic Terns of the year and the birds just kept coming, my obs list is on circa 121 for the year.
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Friday 15th April 05.50-10.30 NE2 then NW cloud cover calm sea

Grasshopper Warbler 1 reeling on eastern edge of Shearwater Estate
Common Gull 221n 4s
Black h Gull 12n 2s
Fulmar 182n
Gannet 49n 2s
Alba Wagtail 2n
Sandwich Tern 55n 55s
Shelduck 4n 6s
Red th Diver 3n 4s
Sand Martin 4n 2s
Common Tern 2n 1s
Bonxie 1n
Puffin 1n
Ring Ouzel 2
Pied Wagtail 1s
Red br Merganser 2n
Tree Pipit 1s
Goosander 3s
Carrion Crow 12s distant birds over the sea
Scan Herring Gull 1n
Shag 1n 1s
Manxie 1n
Curlew 1n
Swallow 2n
Goldeneye 5s
Wigeon 2n
Sandwich Tern 55n 55s

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Wader Wonderland...

28 Black tailed Godwits passed Whitburn Obs by 8am today. I was joined by Magic Mark and we enjoyed a fantastic sea watch with lots of birds moving north close inshore into the northerly wind.Mark picked up the first group of 22 Godwits well out but the second group of 6 were close inshore and even the Razorbills looked up in admiration. Ive been checking the rifle range for a while now looking for an illusive Grey Plover  and did again today and saw a Fox causing havoc with the birds and just then Mark called a Grey Plover going north. I gratefully year ticked it and it makes you wonder was it the same bird thats been avoiding me.
Sadly i had to leave Mark and head to work.....always dangerous
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Thursday 14th April 05.50-08.00 NNW 3 rain and mist at times

Common Gull 105n
Fulmar 129n
Gannet 90n
Scan Herring Gull 1n
Sandwich Tern 11n
Puffin 3n
Curlew 1n 3s
Black h Gull 21n
Shelduck 7n
Sand Martin 2n
Goosander 1n
Black tailed Godwit 28n
Wigeon 3n
Red th Diver 4n
Goldeneye 1s
Swallow 1n
LBBGull 2n
Grey Plover 1n

Monday, 11 April 2016

Normal service resumed...

2 Blue Fulmars went north past Whitburn Obs by 10.30 this morning. It was back to normal, well you cant see obs mega's everyday. We always say time=birds, well maybe not.
Hoggie was in today after the horse.., and Sir Ian later
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Monday 11th April 06.05-10.30 NE2-3 cloud cover clearing later

Fulmar 78n
Common Gull 34n 124s
Razorbill 125n
Guillemot 250n
Kittiwake circa 1000+n
Red the Diver 3n 3s
Gannet 53n 41s
Eider 12n 8s
Shelduck 4s
Red br Merganser 3n
Alba Wagtails 7n 2s
Black h Gull 1n 36s
Blue Fulmar 2n
Shag 8n
Sandwich Tern 2n 1s
Common Scoter 18n
Puffin 3n
Sand Martin 1n

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Going Nuts.....

Hooded Crow and 20 Whoopers passed Whitburn Obs by 11.30 today. I was joined by Saint Mark and Boy Wonder and it turned out to be a totaly nutty watch. Nuthatch is an Obs mega and was unexpected not like the Hooded Crow. Hoodies have been seen on the east coast to the north and south of us so when i saw one flying south it was welcome but not unexpected. It landed on a fence post on the firing range so i wandered down to try for some better video of it. Typicaly just as i got to the right spot it flew off north and out to sea with a dozen or so Carrion Crows and didnt come back. As i hobbled back to the obs on my damaged right leg Boy Wonder was frantically urging me to hurry and then to run, not easy for a man unable to walk across a room unaided. As i arrived the Nuthatch wasnt in view it then flew straight toward me before heading off swiftly north and out of view, phew. Well done Saint Mark
All in all it was a fantastic watch with other obs megas Buzzard and Bullfinch(thanks to Fos), the list is on circa 115
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Sunday 10th April 05.55-11.30 W2 early cloud clearing to bright sun

Common Gull 50n 27s
Eider 15s
Sandwich Tern 5n 4s
Alba Wags 3n 2s
Common Scoter 6n 6s
Gannet 9n
Black h Gull 8n 8s
Teal 4n
Pink footed Goose 159n (13,4,6,110,13,3,10)
Red th Diver 5n 2s
LBBGull 2n
Turnstone 1n
Hooded Crow 1s 08.00 flew back north 08.20
Nuthatch 1 by the obs then flew north
Shag 6n
Shelduck 3s
Swallow 1n
Goosander 1n
Sand Martin 6n 2s
Meadow Pipit 32n
Canada Goose 4n
Red br Merganser 1n
Common Buzzard 1 soaring
Kestrel 1
Bullfinch 2s
Sarrowhawk 3
Whooper Swan 20n

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Welcome to the house of fun....

Manx Shearwater and Long tailed Duck passed Whitburn Obs by 10am this morning. I was joined by Saint Mark, Boy Wonder and Pink Floyd and boy did we have some fun. Our first Manxie of the year and our first Common Tern, a big Diver and much more. Add to that a variety of wind directions.....
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Saturday 9th April 05.55;10.00 S3 then W2 then N2-3 full cloud and rain at times

Common Gull 201n 36s
Gannet 38n 11s
Black h Gull 22n 14s
Eider 14n 7s
Common Tern 1n
Sandwich Tern 6n 22s
Common Scoter 22n 21s
Shelduck 2n
Puffin 3n
Manxie 1n
Red br Merganser 4n 1s
LBBGull 7n
Red th Diver 3n 6s
Redshank 1s
Pied Wagtail 1s
Goosander 2n
Shag 2n
Sand Martin 1n
Great n Diver 1n
Grey Heron 1n
Long t Duck 1n

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Hat-trick Hero....

Little Gull, 2 Whimbrel and 3 Scaup passed Whitburn Obs by 10.30 this morning. After dipping Grey Plover on April fools day it was nice to get my year list back on track. I had already added Moorhen and Chiffchaff when Boy Wonder called the 2 Whimbrel that went north fast and high, just got on them, what a hero. They are the earliest recorded from the Obs by 8 days when they were seen in 2008 on the 10th
It was a packed Obs and we saw a good selection of birds in the rain. The Bottlenose Dolphins showed not once but twice. Ian Mills had them yesterday and mentioned one had a floppy fin, and sure enough it was in the pod today. They went south close inshore then came back north less than an hour later, they were fantastic.
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Saturday 2nd April 06.25-10.30 S3 full cloud cover with light rain

Common Gull 7n 182s
Gannet 5n 12s
Black h Gull 17s
Eider 9n 3s
Common Scoter 19n 3s
Sandwich Tern 6n 5s
LBBGull 1s
Chiffchaff 1calling by obs
Redshank 5s
Little Gull 1s ad
Reed Bunting 1s
Shag 1n 1s
Red th Diver 1s
Turnstone 2n
Skylark 3s
Whimbrel 2n
Scaup 3n
Pintail 4n
Bottlenose Dolphin circa 12s 09.25-09.32 then north 10.07-10.15