Saturday, 25 October 2014


Ive been missing out on a few birds of late, Ravens at Tynemouth, Snow Bunting at St Marys, Olive Backed pipit at Sunderland, serves me right for twitching, but its been a quiet Autumn with all these west winds. So apart from a few birding jaunts its mainly been a cultural tour of our wonderful museums and galleries.

Friday found me at the Hancock, ( you can stuff your Great North Museum) for a talk by Richard Crossley, author of the Crossley Guides. Entertaining, enthusiastic, encompassing speaker, great to hear such a dynamic birder for a change.

A trip to Big Waters solved the problem of where all the birds from Killy Lake have gone, they are all here, so whats gone wrong at Killy, ?. Still a few Migrant Hawkers on the wing, and 3 Otters put on a brief show, with a foxin the feeding station early on. Did miss the brief fly-by by the Kingfisher, so another dip for moi.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Disappointed 2

Had a loose day as no migration weather, so off to the Baltic for a gawk at the modern art. What a waste of time, only two floors with owt on, one a film using honey bees was only operating occasionally and the ground floor consisted of about 8 objects seeming made of plaster of paris covered cloth over shapes. Is this really what passes for modern art ?

The building itself looks neglected, loads of lamps out, cables hanging loose on the staircase areas closed off, as i worked on this building i could not help feel its in need of a bit of TLC, the staff scattered about looked bored, and the shops seemed stocked with tat.

The views from the top were worth the trip, but im afraid its gone downhill as a gallery, over the bridge to return home, as ever the quayside was busy, but the bus service was very poor, seemed to be few buses on the go. Is it the cuts or does someone need a boot up their backside, gannin backwards. At least the Toon managed a first win, and even better the Makems were slaughtered 8 - 0.

Although it would be a lifer there was no way i could stand next to the Stadium of Plight to see the Olive Backed Pipit, my conscience would not let me  :):):)

Friday, 17 October 2014


Last couple of days at patch have looked good but failed to deliver in what appeared to be perfect conditions for migration. Thursday had a howling easterly gale with rain, but birdwise there was little about, single Redwing in the cemetery and little else.

Down early Friday morning and more Redwing and Blackbird showed there had been an influx, so down to the wetland with the mist slowly lifting, and plenty of feeding birds along the track. Dunnocks, Blackbirds, Robins,  Redwings, and many Reed Buntings. As the sun came through many birds cleared off, still i searched as many areas as i could and slowly added species to the days total, Chiffs, Crests, Chaffs, Mippits and Skylarks all apperead with regularity and a flyover Siskin was the first of the year for me down here.

Best find was a brief view of a Lesser Whitethroat, quite a pale bird but as to race i cant be sure, it was located later in the day, hopefully someone may grab a pic.

A couple of skeins of Pinkfeet added to the Autumnal atmosphere, as did a Common Whitethroat. Single Red Admiral butterfly seen.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


Past couple of days have found me seawatching from St Marys Island, using the hide usually with a few other birders, its good as many eyes scanning the sea helps to pick up the birds.

Not classic seawatching by any means, but a steady trickle ensured something of interest during the days. A Strong North Easterly on both days and cold, not so many birders around as some are on Shetland and the Scillys so room in the hide.

Day 1 and all four Skua`s seen, manxies, velvet scoters, red throated divers passed by and still loads of Little gulls in the sea, did go home too early as a adult Sab`s gull was seen 20 mins after i left.

Day 2 good start as and adult med gull came off the links on too the wetland. At the netties 3 Great northern divers passed close and a SE owl was picked up by AC coming in off the sea, i love this kind of viz mig.

Onto the island when the tide dropped enough, waves were stronger but less activity still birds passed by, lots of common scoter, and a few velvets, wigeon passed in groups 3 pintail picked up in these flocks and a single long-tailed duck and tufted were spotted.

Many more great skua today 15 at least and a similar number of rt divers, + 3 brent geese 3 sooty shearwaters and 20+ manxies, harly any kittiwakes, no l gulls or fulmar seen.

Could be a couple of interesting days ahead if the rain arrives.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Old notebooks never die.

Just found an old notebook from 2002, my first attempt to add drawings to my fieldnotes, in an effort to pad out my simple list. The first year i recorded birds for Migration watch at St Marys. This later turned into Birdtrack which i still do today.

Dodgy pics of Pectoral sandpiper.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Oct 2010 dreambird.

In Oct 2010, a birders bird graced St Marys, Red-flanked bluetail. Admired by many this active little bird dodged the less than friendly Robins, intrusive photographers, twitchers and visiting wildlife group to pluck caterpillars from the vegetation before continuing its migration.

Glass raised.


"Salt Of The Earth"

Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's drink to the lowly of birth
Raise your glass to the good and the evil
Let's drink to the salt of the earth
Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
Spare a thought for his back breaking work
Say a prayer for his wife and his children
Who burn the fires and who still till the earth
And when I search a faceless crowd
A swirling mass of gray and
Black and white
They don't look real to me
In fact, they look so strange
Raise your glass to the hard working people
Let's drink to the uncounted heads
Let's think of the wavering millions
Who need leading but get gamblers instead
Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter
Empty eyes gaze at strange beauty shows
And a parade of the gray suited grafters
A choice of cancer or polio
And when I look in the faceless crowd
A swirling mass of grays and
Black and white
They don't look real to me
Or don't they look so strange
Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's think of the lowly of birth
Spare a thought for the rag taggy people
Let's drink to the salt of the earth
Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's drink to the salt of the earth
Let's drink to the two thousand million
Let's think of the humble of birth

Only time will tell.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Idiot or Savant.

Perhaps both.

Two slight variations, graphite, colour pencils.


A visit to the seaside to take in the air and have a sewatch as an aid to my ills, only to find that im not alone in the not ower well department as more and more birders arrived complaining of similar afflictions. Get well soon everyone, we need your eyes on the ocean.

So as people came and went, i stuck to my seat  watching out to sea, dedicated yes but also knackered and not able to wander about very much.

It was steady on the incoming tide, Sandwich and Common Terns still about in small numbers on the rocks, and a cracking adult Med gull among the Black-headed gulls.

Passage at sea was light, with wildfowl like Common Scoter and Teal the most common all North, several Red-throated divers and 3 Red-breasted mergansers headed South

Kittewakes, Gannets, Eiders,  and Auks passed by regularly, and quite a few distant terns evaded an ID, 2 Skylarks flew from my viewpoint straight out to sea, and one earlier in the fields was in full song.

The wetland held only Widgeon and Coot smaller birds were in short supply. Wader species were down on recent visits, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Sanderling added to the days birding.

Several times Starlings and Waders erupted and balled up in flight, but i could not find a predator.

Decent day, hoping for a few more in the next few weeks.

Thursday, 2 October 2014


Now over two weeks since i became unwell, missing Autumn and some great birds, so frustrating. Not much i can do about it so watching films, reading books,loads of radio and bed at the moment. Occasional attempt at drawing,hard to get motivated when you cant smell. taste, and are struggling to breathe, bugger.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

How to age Birders.

Fully Fledged.

Recently left the nest, hence the slightly ragged plumage, and not fully developed submoustachial stripe. If found in this condition, do not pick up as the parents may still be around keeping an eye on the offspring. Above all do not feed as it will eat anything, not always in its best interests.

Breeding plumage.

Much more fully developed, display includes chest plumage that allows ID of sub species, ( Frankie Says, Ban the Bomb, Che Guava, etc.) Please note moustachial stripe well developed by now.

Post breeding.

Often flocks with other birders once its breeding potential is over, always handy as grouping can provide better feeding opportunities and defense from predators.  Observe the use of camouflage so it wont stand out in said group.

Fully Mature.

By now said specimen is fully mature, spends a lot of time in hiding only emerging to add to its list which seems to be important for reasons we cant yet understand. By now its once bright appearence has turned to a overall dull and sombre look. Its calls harken back to earlier times mimicking obscure prog rock.