Friday, 31 March 2017

Ebony or Ivory.......

Iceland Gull and 70 Pink feet were from Whitburn Obs this morning. It was a very pleasant watch with loads of variety and a nice early Swallow south. My March year listed total ended on 113 better than the 108 last year so on track.
Just over a week ago I blogged about a large Diver that could have been White Billed so i thought i might give a bit more detail of what i saw as that blog has had a lot of hits.
Pink Floyd called a Diver north and i got my scope on it and said its a large Diver. That is Obs speak for its not a Red throat so everyone will look at it. It was passing at a nice distance and a second smaller Diver was flying directly under it. My first impressions were of an average size Great Northern one of the other observers said it was a Black-throated but i said not it was a big diver. For some reason i started at the feet and worked back to front checking it out. Its feet were not particularly large and certainly not club like as some White-billed I've seen. Its belly wasn't massive either in fact nothing was remarkable about it. I noticed some white starting to come through on its mantle and back and was surprised not to see any obvious neck collar. When i got to its bill it was getting well north and i was a bit taken aback as it was ivory, not dark or grey. It had its bill held open in flight a feature i have seen on the majority of White-billed but i have seen once on a Great Northern.
I put the news out in the hope that someone further north would clinch it but both sites who reported it just said possible as i had. Why did i not notice the ivory bill earlier....don't know
This is what we had today in order of appearance

Friday 31st March 06.30-10.15 S2 8/8

Grey Partridge calling
Common Gull 117n 24s
Black h Gull 1n 28s
Eider 6n 12s
Fulmar 21n 7s
Common Scoter 21n 2s
Alba Wagtail 13s
Cormorant 8n 26s
Yellowhammer calling
Gannet 6n
Grey Wagtail 3s
Red th Diver 2n 3s
Meadow Pipit 11s
Shelduck 1n 3s
Swallow 1s
Wigeon 2n
Chiffchaff 1 calling
Turnstone 26s
Pink footed Goose 70n
Teal 2n
Sandwich Tern 1s
Greylag Goose 3n
Wood pigeon 5s
Shoveler 1s
Kestrel 1s
Sky Lark 2s
Shag 3n
Ringed Plover 1s
Pied Wagtail 1n 4s

Thursday, 30 March 2017

You can't beat a White Arse.........

Osprey and a Great Northern Diver went north at Whitburn Obs in 3.5 hours this morning. It was a very slow start this morning with lots of heat haze, it wasn't till 08.20 when i saw two Tern sp going north high up that things started happening. I got the scope on them and confirmed Sandwich but picked up on a large raptor going north further out. I could make out the white underparts and face of an Osprey, not as exciting as last years close bird but a welcome tick. The bird that won star bird at this stage was my first Wheatear scoped on Jackie's beach, as i said its nice to see your first white.... video attached. As it turned out that half hour spell brought most of the decent birds i saw,  till later....
This is what i saw in order of appearance

Thursday 30th March 06.30-10.00 S2-3 6/8 heat haze

Cormorant 3n 5s
Common Gull 1n 25s
Fulmar 26n 21s
Eider 2n 13s
Gannet 3n 3s
Alba Wagtail 3s
Shag 6n
Yellowhammer 1
Common Scoter 2n 6s
Black h Gull 1n 11s
Grey Wagtail 1s
Greylag Goose 2s
Sandwich Tern 2n
Osprey 1n 08.20
Peregrine 1s sub adult
Raptor sp 1s large and dark 08.40
LBBG 1n
Great Northern Diver 1n 08.53 winter plumage
Shelduck 2n
Wheatear 1 scoped on Jackie's beach
And that should have been that, two Obs year ticks one miles out the other showed well. I had just walked back in the house and still had my thermals on from early morning when Mark Newsome rang me at 12.23 with news that Geoff Iceton had an Alpine Swift moving north from Hartlepool, he'd had a call from Tom Francis so back in the car in seconds and off to whence i had been. All the lights were in my favour no train at Boldon i flew through within permitted speed limits of course and hobbled to the Obs mound. I had carried my scope and it was just as well as i picked the bird up scoping well south it was east of Roker Lighthouse and higher than the lighthouse. I called out the cloud colour as you do trying to get the guys onto it. Hoggie dashed for his scope and i relocated the bird further west but still very distant not coming our way and lost it again i think it may have gone up the River Wear. It was a shame because some birders north of us were looking with bins but it never came close enough to be seen with them. So thanks to Geoff, Tom, and Mark i have a fantastic addition to my Obs all time list. Its overdue really just a shame it didn't keep coming up the east coast. It was my 5th in County Durham, and tomorrow......

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Mr Sandman build me a home.....


Sandwich Tern and Sand Martin both went north past the Obs this morning but I'm still waiting for the Obs first Wheatear. It was a canny sea watch but nothing special was going on so i was out scanning for migrants, sadly i left before the rain so maybe tomorrow. I saw my first Sand Martin flying above the guys working on the construction of the new Sand Martin nesting bank, hurry up it was saying...
The National Trust team do a great job at Whitburn and in August (date to be confirmed) Jason will be doing a ringing demonstration for members of Durham Bird Club.


This is what i saw in order of appearance

Wednesday 29th March SW2 06.30-10.00 6/8 drizzle at times

Cormorant 11n 15s
Common Gull 5n 20s
Fulmar 144n 8s
Gannet 17n
Black h Gull 2n 12s
Goosander 1n
Grey Heron 1s
Eider 5n 7s
Red th Diver 6n 1s
Puffin 1s
Sandwich Tern 1n
Shag 6n
Alba Wagtail 3s
Red br Merganser 1n
Shelduck 2n
Velvet Scoter 3n
Turnstone 4s
Common Scoter 1n
Lapwing 3s
Sand Martin 1n

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Silence is golden.....

Great Northern Diver and a Peregrine went south at Whitburn Obs early morning. I've not had much to blog about for a few days so today is a bit of a summary as well as today's birds
Saint Mark managed his 100th species on his patch at Whitburn on Sunday, this Mute Swan went south then north again as well as landing on the sea in front of the Obs. Its a scarce bird from here with Whooper being the common Swan
Mark also found our now resident Yellowhammer another very scarce bird only my third in five years. Yesterday i sat hoping for the fog to clear but had to give in eventually and the only bird that showed well was the Hammer, video later in the blog

Tuesday 28th March 06.40-10.15 SE2-3 8/8 some mist

Common Scoter 2n
Cormorant 12n 23s
Common Gull 6n 89s
Fulmar 22n 8s
Guillemot 205s
Razorbill 1n 16s
Curlew 69s
Redshank 2s
Black h Gull 1n 3s
Peregrine 1s mucky sub ad
Great Northern Diver 1s winter plumage bird
Red br Merganser 1n
Eider 5n 7s
Turnstone 31s
Red th Diver 4n 4s
Gannet 2n 1s
Shelduck 1s
Alba Wagtail 1n 2s
Goldcrest 2 in off
Yellowhammer 1 still outside the Obs singing this is yesterdays video in the fog



Saturday, 25 March 2017

If i had a Hammer.....

Iceland Gull went north at Whitburn Obs on this mornings sea watch but little else of note. The mass surge of birds from a couple of days ago has gone and both Marks joined me for a leisurely Saturday sea watch. Star bird was a Yellowhammer that Saint Mark found in the hedge by the Obs, a true Mega, well done Mark
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Saturday 25th March 05.55-09.45 W1 1/8

Cormorant 18n 22s
Porpoise 2s
Fulmar 32n
Common Gull 74n 27s
Eider 5n 14s
Meadow Pipit 35 in off
Chiffchaff 1
Redshank 8s
Common Scoter 16n 2s
Wigeon 1n
Alba Wagtail 8 in off
Black h Gull 2n 29s
Red th Diver 2n 1s
Goosander 3n
Grey Wagtail 1s
Greylag Goose 1n 1s
Goldcrest 2
White Wagtail 1s
Tufted Duck 1n
Skylark 1s
Iceland Gull 1n 2cy
Gannet 1s
Yellowhammer 1


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Diver cock up........

Storm Petrel, Long tailed Duck and 3 Blue Fulmar passed Whitburn Obs by 10.30 this morning. As yesterday i was watching on a close line sheltering behind the north shutters, brrrr. Many birds were passing close in going north, both Kittiwake and Fulmar numbers were up.I picked up on a Storm Petrel coming north close inshore, never heard of a Stormie this early before and it was quickly lost in the troughs. Plenty of quality birds on show today but the big one probably got away. Pink Floyd called a Diver coming north it was at a nice distance and i said it was a large Diver but it was already north of me when i got on the bill and it was ivory, it was held open in flight so its angle wasn't easy to see i needed more time. I put out the news in the hope someone further north could nail it.
Another bird of note today was a very large Accipiter that went north low in front of the Obs, biggest Sparrowhawk? I've ever seen. Oh well just one of those days and great fun.
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Thursday 23rd March 06.05-10.30 E3 7/8

Fulmar 443n 13S
Kittiwake 1105n 2S
Gannet 101n 9s
Curlew 1n
Common Scoter 38n 1s
Storm Petrel 1n -6.40
Blue Fulmar 3n (1xL, 2xD)
Red th Diver 3n 5s
Cormorant 9n 1s
Shag 7n 1s
Sandwich Tern 1n 1s
Shelduck 10n
Scaup 1n dr
Alba Wagtail 2n
Dunlin 3n
Tufted Duck 3n
SEOwl 1n (thanks to a call from Saint Mark)
Red br Merganser 1n
Black h Gull 9n 4s
Eider 16n 6s
Sparrowhawk? 1n the video is a different bird from the Obs

LBBGull 3n
Goosander 2n
Carrion Crow 21n
Wigeon 2n
Peregrine 1n
Large Diver sp 1n 09.47
Long tailed Duck 1n



Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Diana Dors.....

3 Whooper Swans, 3 Velvet Scoter, and a Blue Fulmar went north at Whitburn Obs by 10.30 this morning. I was welcomed to the Obs by a strong cold easterly and rain so partially hid behind the north shutter to start my sea watch. I was hoping for my first Sandwich Tern as predicted by Magic Mark and i was not disappointed as two went north during the watch. Its is a welcome return as the daily Tern movement keeps me going when nowt else is passing and i probably see more Sandwich Terns than any other sea watcher in the North East. Stoney was in the house and between the two of us we managed a few good birds. Sadly he left just before the star bird went north, a cracking Blue Fulmar close inshore Diana Dors would have been proud of these DD's 
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Wednesday 22nd March 06.00-10.30 E2 8/8

Cormorant 13n 10s
Common Gull 102n 12s
Fulmar 101n 14s
Kittiwake 480n 12s
Gannet 52n 33s
Grey Wagtail 1s
Ringed Plover 6s
Red th Diver 7n 2s
Grey Heron 1n
Sandwich Tern 2n
Common Scoter 41n 23s
Eider 1n 2s
Puffin 1n
Velvet Scoter 3n
Shag 2n 1s
Porpoise 2n
Teal 1n
Black h Gull 21n 1s
Whooper 3n
Blue Fulmar 1n DD

Monday, 20 March 2017

Chiswick flyover.....

17 Whooper Swans went north at Whitburn Obs this morning binging this months passage to 348 beating last years record count of 337 in March. Even Saint Mark managed to see them from his house which is more than he saw from 7 hours of sea watching in the Obs this weekend. The other feature of the morning was the 'chiswick' call of Pied Wagtails passing as for the second day running they arrived in off with Pipits
This is what i saw in order of appearance

Monday 20th March 06.05-09.30 SW2-3 6/8
Grey Partridge 1 calling
Cormorant 8n 4s
Black h Gull 27n 168s
Common Gull 29n 59s
Redshank 17s
Turnstone 27s
Eider 7n 1s
Gannet 6n 3s
Common Scoter 7n 36s
Red th Diver 2n 1s
Curlew 1s
Chiffchaff 1 calling
Porpoise 2s
Whooper Swan 17n 07.42
Meadow Pipit 73 in off
Pied Wagtail 18 in off (all of the birds i could see well were Pied though some could be White)


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Full flaps......

Iceland Gull was seen off Whitburn Obs today for the second day running, a 3cy bird but little else on a quiet day. When we have all the eastern facing shutters open in the Obs we refer to it as 'full flaps', today we had the north facing shutter open as well as Foss had rang to say the Iceland Gull was flying our  way. It did arrive eventually though that is not the reason why we were 'full flaps'. Saint Mark has only seen two Whooper Swans this month mainly due to work (not recommended), whilst i have seen 307 due to not working (highly recommended) so we were giving him every possible chance of seeing Swans. In addition the Obs has logged 331 Whoopers so far this March only 6 behind the 2016 record March passage of 337.....Did he get any Whoopers...
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Sunday 19th March 06.10-09.30 SW2 cloud 6/8

Common Gull 16n 8s
Gannet 18n 9s
Black h Gull 10n 147s
Red th Diver 7n 3s
Turnstone 54s
Ringed Plover 4s
Shag 3n 1s
Cormorant 7n 26s
Teal 1s
Eider 4n 12s
Shelduck 1n
Porpoise 1n 2s
Meadow Pipit 20 in off
Pied Wagtail 15 in off
Common Scoter 5n 2s
Greylag Goose 1n
Chiffchaff 1
Wigeon 1n
Velvet Scoter 1s
Iceland Gull 1s 3cy


Friday, 17 March 2017

Waxing lyrical....

Great Northern Diver, Glaucous Gull and a load more Whoopers passed Whitburn Obs this morning. I was joined by Magic Mark and later Sir Ian. It was not as frantic a watch today just a slow steady passage of birds but when you look at what we saw you would think I'll take that. Star birds though were the Waxwings in my street when i got home. It was great to see them feeding on the deck and I've included a bit of video and more will be on my YouTube channel
This is what we saw today in order of appearance

Friday 17th March 06.00-10.30 W2-3 cloud 7/8

Black h Gull 11n 57s
Common Gull 23n 62s
Cormorant 13n 26s
Common Scoter 17n 13s
Eider 6n 4s
Red th Diver 9n 5s
Gannet 70n 12s
Canada Goose 3n
Chiffchaff 1
Porpoise 5n
Greylag Goose 2s
Red br Merganser 1n
Redshank 22s
Turnstone 41s
Curlew 2s
Great Northern Diver 1n
Whooper Swan 40n (17,2,16,5)
Meadow Pipit 5 in off
Great Crested Grebe 1n
Grey Heron 1n
Pink footed Goose 24n
Glaucous Gull 1n juv
25 Waxwings in Chipchase Oxclose Washington




Thursday, 16 March 2017

Whooping with joy.....

109 Whooper Swans and 2 Little Egrets were among the wide range of birds we had past Whitburn Obs by 10.20 today. Stoney was in the house and the first Whoopers were going north as he walked in, now that's good timing. I called the second group but they were distant and needed checking and at that point the 2 Little Egrets flew straight over our heads luckily i picked them up as they went south. Probably the same birds that turned up at WWWT later on. I was a very happy camper its a tricky bird to catch up with from the Obs and joins the Great White i saw as my second Egret species of the year just need Cattle now.
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Thursday 16th March 06.05-10.10 S2 then later SW3 cloud 4/8

Eider 2n 11s
Common Scoter 18n 4s
Common Gull 17n27s
Cormorant 12n 18s
Black h Gull 27n 26s
Red th Diver 7n 2s
Grey Wagtail 1n
Shag 11n 1s
Greylag Goose 3n 4s
Pied Wagtail 4n 3s
Gannet 18n 3s
Porpoise 1n 7s
Whooper Swan 109n (4,65,5,6,29)
Meadow Pipit 19n 7s
Little Egret 2s 07.05
Goosander 1n
Ringed Plover 1s
Oyster Catcher 3n
Siskin 1s
Scaup 1s dr
Pock Pipit 1s
Bar t Godwit 3s
Redshank 8s
Pink footed Goose 1n
Knot 1n
Turnstone 2n
Curlew 2n
Snow Bunting 1n

Not todays bunting it was flying north

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Swan Song.....

28 Whooper Swans and a Peregrine were the best birds from a quiet early morning sea watch today. Can't be many more Whoopers to come so was this the Swan Song...This gives me the chance to let you know of a recent Whooper error. We did not set a new day record passage on the 10th of March we had a double count in error so the record day passage still stands at 138 only 128 went north on the 10th not 190 as i reported. Still it was a good number but we must be running out...I did get some video of today's Swans see link below
This is what i saw today in order of appearance

Tuesday 15th March 06.30-09.00 SW2 cloud 7/8

Black h Gull 23n 19s
Common Gull 30n 9s
Common Scoter 5n 1s
Whooper Swan 28n


Eider 3n 3s
Cormorant 5n 17s
Redshank 14s
Turnstone 38s
Gannet 2n
Porpoise 3s
Ringed Plover 1s
Wigeon 2n
Red th Diver 4n
Grey Heron 1n
Peregrine 1s



Sunday, 12 March 2017

Ton(s) of birds....

Short eared Owl, Common Buzzard and a Blue Fulmar were seen from the Obs today, all shouts from Magic Mark at his magical best. Saint Mark started well calling a drake Scaup our first duck species of the day and his first year tick. Later a pair of Pintail went north and were my 100th species of the year...Ton Up.
It was a great day loads going on with a light southerly and bit of mist. I had missed SEO earlier in the year so when Mark called it i was very happy, a pull back. It was distant for video so I've included some video from late last year. The Buzzard over Shearwater Estate was a bonus and shows the benefit of a comfort break­čśĆ. These are both tricky species to catch up with from the Obs. Finishing the day on 102 species was fantastic and shows the benefit of team work
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Sunday 12th March 06.10-10.30 S1 cloud 4/8 early mist

Grey Wagtail 2n 1s
Scaup 1n dr
Common Scoter 29n 5s
Fulmar 290n
Gannet 24n 11s
Common Gull 6n 10s
Shag 3n 1s
Porpoise 6
Razorbill 11n 2s
Goosander 5n
Blue Fulmar 1n
Wigeon 29n
Red th Divwe11n 10s
Ringed Plover 1n
Black h Gull 14n 18s
Cormorant 5n 14s
Siskin 1n
Starling 36 in off
Eider 3n 6s
Shelduck 6n
Dunlin 6s
Pintail 2n pr
LBBGull 1n
Teal 2n 11s
Turnstone 13s
Mallard 1s
Pied Wagtail 1n 3s
Common Buzzard 1
Grey Heron 2s
SEOwl 1s

Friday, 10 March 2017

Whoopers Whooping.....

 190 Whooper Swans went north passed Whitburn Obs this morning a new record day count beating the previous record of 138 on the 26th March 2016. When the first 10 went north at 07.05 i tweeted a big movement could be on the cards with a fresh southerly blowing and I'm happy to say i was right. I was on my own most of the watch but luckily Unlucky Dave called in on his way to Jackies Beach and saw a couple of herds go up. Even better he logged the last group of 62 that broke the record after i had left for the day. Maybe more will be seen as the crab sandwich boys hadn't arrived when i left and they like to have lunch in the Obs.
It was all about the Whoopers today the last group of 40 were right overhead and were whooping. I had tried to get video earlier but the poor light made it difficult to focus, tho i did get a little of the last group see if you can pick out the Bewick's.......
This is what i saw in order of appearance

Friday 10th March 06.20-10.30 S3 cloud 8/8

Cormorant 14n 19s
Canada Goose 3s
Common Scoter 5n 11s
Fulmar 36n 3s
Razorbill 20n
Common Gull 22n 65s
Red th Diver 4n 14s
Kittiwake 118n 26s
Guillemot 10n 1s
Gannet 3n 1s
Black h Gull 15n 45s
Grey Wagtail 1s
Porpoise 3n
Eider 20n
Shag 3n
Whooper Swan 190n (10,32,4,20,22,40,62)

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Nervous 90's....

2 Bottlenose Dolphins went south passed Whitburn Obs, thanks to @elliottatchev for the heads up.I had to leave early on some family taxi business and just managed to fit them into my busy schedule. How did i manage when i worked.  The birds were less exciting and my Obs year list has limped onto 99 so a bit more passage would be useful. In recent days I've added Stock Dove, Grey Wag and Grey Partridge. It would be nice to get an early Sandwich Tern or Sand Martin this week...
This is what i saw in order of appearance

Wednesday 8th March 06.25-09.10

Fulmar 58n 3s
Common Gull 35s
Meadow Pipit 1s
Gannet 6n 3s
Guillemot 8n 6s
Cormorant 6n 9s
Blue Fulmar 1n L
Razorbill 8n
Black h Gull 4n 11s
Scan Herring Gull 1s
Pink footed Goose 37n
Red th Diver 5n 1s
Shelduck 8n
Shag 3n 5s
Eider 2n 5s
Common Scoter 2n
Porpoise 2s
Bottlenose Dolphin 2s 09.00-09.10

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Tickety doo dah...

Arctic Skua went south passed Whitburn Obs by 10 o'clock this morning our first of the year. I was joined by Saint Mark and he was on top form calling the Skua. It was a nice early record but even more important for me he called a Stock Dove flying south behind the Obs a tricky bird to catch up with. Thanks Mark.
This is what we saw in order of appearance

Sunday 5th March 06.35-10.10 SSW2-3 cloud 3/8

Black h Gull 11n 24s
Common Gull 7n 31s
Cormorant 2n 11s
Eider 6n 4s
Red th Diver 1n 1s
Kittiwake 83n 52s
Gannet 14n 2s
Shag 1s
Shelduck 3n
Razorbill 2n 1s
Porpoise 1n 2s
Pink footed Goose 2 on the rifle range and 140n ( a 60 and an 80)
Grey Partridge 2 flew into the nature reserve as per MH hopefully i will catch up with them soon
Pied Wagtail 1s
Skylark 2s
Stock Dove 1s
Arctic Skua 1s