Thursday, 20 December 2012


My previous and last blog post said I would be leaving my blog until further notice, or words to that effect. I had taken a break from my blog last year before I returned, I am doing the same again! However this time on my return in the New Year I won't be posting as often as I used to. So I won't be posting my life story of birding, I discovered if I were to actually do this I would not have enough time to write the blog! There are way too many highlights, so in the future my blog won't be as active as it used to be but it will be active!

But I won't be returning until the New Year, so this is a Christmas post as I said I would do one.

I love Christmas time for many reasons, I don't push anything down anyone's throats but this year, as always, my Christmas message and supplied song is Christian related:

Dear Readers,

Merry Christmas 
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
- John 3:16

God bless,
Andrew Kinghorn 

Posts to follow in the New Year,

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Thursday, 29 November 2012


Hey all,

For the foreseeable future I am closing the blog, it will remain open for viewing but I won't be updating it until further notice. Its served its purpose; I've met and made some great friends in birding, I am now keener on my birding than ever before. But for a few reasons in my life right now I will not be updating the blog until further notice (if ever). I am sure I'll return.

You may get a Christmas message though!

Until whenever, Foghorn out!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Winter Geese

Sorry its been a while since my last post but I have been really busy with university work and had other things on, then trying to juggle all this with birding can prove to be a problem for the blog! But it would appear the blog is still popular so I will be keeping it on for the foreseeable future.

On the 17th of November I was over in Dumfries and Galloway for some twitching, birding opportunities were few on the day as time was against us (it is winter now). Arrived early on at Whitrigg in Cumbria to look for the Red-breasted Goose that had been found there the previous day. On arrival a familiar sight greeted me with thousands of Barnacle Geese, awesome but daunting! I set off scanning the flocks on deck while I assigned 'The Sleeper' the task of scanning the birds that were flying in. A while passed and I had checked the geese thoroughly a number of times and had only turned up a few Pink-footed Geese and a few leucistic Barnacles which were cool. I then started to scan the flocks flying in as well, didn't take long until a large flock of birds appeared out of nowhere over the horizon and started flying toward the field. They were dropping in behind the hedge, however one of the close flocks came to circle round before landing and lo and behold the Red-breasted Goose was with them. Kieran managed to get on it and we watched it fly down into the field, a few minutes later I drove around and picked the bird up amongst about 1,000 Barnacles. Thankfully the bird showed really well!

(Red-breasted Goose - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Red-breasted Goose - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

But the question I have is have I seen this bird before? I think I may have, its possibly the Scaling Dam bird returning to where it spent the winter last year (or at least near). It was an adult and so I do wonder if I have seen 2 Red-breasted Geese or just the 1. But I think I can safely say they will put this one through so have added it to my BOU list and will take it off IF it is rejected (of course).

Next was Southerness in Dumfries and Galloway, on Facebook the previous evening a photo was posted on Mike Youdale's wall of a Canada Goose type from Southerness. Opinions were asked and I jumped; Richardson's. We arrived and were greeted by a carpet of distant Barnacles where I knew the bird was (thanks to Mike Youdale), the task started of scanning. As expected the Barnacles got worked up in a nearby field and joined the already massive carpet of birds meaning the task got even harder. After about 1 hour 15 mins I finally picked the bird up amongst the Barnacles near the back end by the golf course. The golfers would be getting mega views! Though distant I could really appreciate how small the goose actually was! A fantastic looking bird and a species I had been keen to see for a while. I thought I was going to have to go to Islay to see one, though not so! Richardson's Canada Goose is part of the Lesser Canada Goose variety and is already split, as far as I am aware the great and good are reviewing the records and making a gue..I mean will informed decision as to the origin of the birds that have occurred  So no doubt this bird will be accepted as being of wild origin, probably one of the best credential mainland Richardson 
Canada Goose there has been in a long while?

(Richardson's Canada Goose - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

On the video the bird is central back, a little box does pop up in the video to show you where the bird is.
(Richardson's Canada Goose - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

OH and myself and Kieran found some Waxwings at various locations in Cumbria, but then we are all sick of Waxwing reports but NOT sick of Waxwing.

Stick around soon for some gull action, I said gull.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

More Waxwing action

Day out yesterday saw me successfully missing the Great Grey Shrike at Greenabella Marsh, though this was the first time I had ever seen 3 Barn Owls together. Views best had by throwing stones into the box I have found, OK; a bit naughty but this sort of activity wouldn't surprise me from the stories I've been hearing.   Photographers getting some flak lately, but just like in birding, some people know exactly where they are doing and others haven't got a clue! Mind you would think that if they knew a Barn Owl can hear a vole rustling in the grass they can hear someone approaching no matter how quiet they think they are being. I have witnessed this with Long-eared Owl, these birds use their hearing mostly when hunting so even if we are 20ft away and being as quiet as a mouse they know we are there. Bit of a ramble on there....

Some Waxwings at both Saltholme and the Calor Gas Pool were most welcome! Again I had a go at sexing and ageing, the latter one is easy but the former I am finding not so in some birds.

 (1st winter female, this one isn't so bad)

 (Another easy 1st winter female)

(A nice and easy adult male, plenty of red appendages, white primary tips from outer to inner web, and thick broad tail band; smart bird!)

First time I have knowingly seen an adult male Waxwing, rather stunning wing pattern. Now I have an excuse to check for Cedar Waxwing, so sexing and ageing Waxwings does have its benefits. 

A check today around Church and Vets in Washington proved that the berry trees are still chocka' (heavy laden), no doubt as always the one day I don't check somewhere the Waxwings will be found. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Bee-Eater and Waxwings the headline

This week I seem to have seen more of the Bee-Eater than the local Magpies, with the uni literally 3 mins away it is really rude not to call in and have a look-see. Anyway, its still performing well but I fear we may get a really good view very soon; if you know what I mean? Forecast not looking good and not catching nearly as much as it was last week.

I have also seen my first Waxwings of the year this year at Blaydon, I also found some this morning at Washington in the company of David Kay. Always a pleasure to find my own Waxwings, the year is not really complete without such an event! Only 6 birds present but very approachable, appearing to be all 1st year birds. I have been inspired by Boulmer Birder in regards to ageing and sexing Waxwings, now it may appear I am just thoroughly bored and trying to avoid my impending uni assignment at all costs, however I was genuinely interested to know to age and sex them.

I've always had a soft spot for them, I saw my first birds in Jarrow on the 22nd of November 2008.

So I took some of my typically wonderful photos of the 6 Waxwings today, only managed some half decent shots; surprise! So here's some general waffle, folk can correct my incompetence in comments below if I do happen to make a mistake; which is likely I am sure.

 (1st year female Waxwing - due to fairly narrow tail band, lack of deep yellow on outer webs of the primaries, 'blurry' edge to lower edge of bib, and only a few red appendages, clearly less than a male should show)

(Foreground: 1st year male; many waxy appendages, with broad yellow tail band, other photos show a clear cut lower edge to the bib. But first year due to lack of intense yellow on outer webs of primaries and also lack of white edge running along base of primaries toward inner web.
Background: 1st year female; lack of numerous red appendages with little yellow in outer edge of primaries as well as clearly a duller tail band)

(1st year male - guess work! But looks to have a clear cut lower edge to the bib as well as a broad yellow tail band)

Cool birds. Until next time, Foghorn out!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

November dawns

Busy, busy, busy right now! Spare time I have had has been spent out and about or doing extra univeristy work; the joys of final year.

Some notable highlights since my last blog post, plenty of common stuff and a few goodies thrown in for good measure. I tried to go and see the Richardson's Canada Goose some weeks ago in Cumbria and failed, though I called in and saw a local Great White Egret which was nice to see. However all was not lost from that trip, a Todd's Canada Goose was picked out amongst the Barnacles, so can I add Todd's to cat A of my British list now? Who cares? Nice bird and the fact it was a vagrant made it semi-cool.

The Little Auk passage was good but didn't last all that long, always a delight to catch up with this species in the UK. However Saturday just gone was a fantastic day, the highlights being a cracking Little Bunting and a cracking Bee Eater, on Sunday I tried for the Lesser Kestrel but despite being there for early doors the species was nowhere to be seen. Apparently a reader of this blog was one of three individuals present and managed a photograph, as to whether or not Michael F will post his photo online remains to be seen. We would certainly like to see it, seems a bit strange that the photo should be held back as the other two observers sadly didn't have any equipment to take photographs with and so cannot supply any photographs.

Anyway here are some photographs and video of the weekends stars.

(Bee-Eater - © Andrew Kinghorn)

(Bee-Eater - © Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Little Bunting - © Mark Newsome)

(Little Bunting - © Mark Newsome)

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Warbler Fest

What a busy week, have been having to juggle university commitments and birding a lot this week, but it has thankfully worked well. On Saturday the 20th I decided I would go and see the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler in Fife, I saw the bird at Flamborough Head on the 1st of September 2010. However I did not see this bird well at all and I had said to myself that if another turned up I would go and see it. Therefore when a bird turned up in Fife and was showing well I could not resist, the bird performed very well with tail pumping seen and the bird constantly ‘tacking’. Whilst there we were informed a Radde’s Warbler had been found some 100 yards away, after an anxious and fairly long wait the Radde’s Warbler showed well with great views allowing to see the apricot underparts and broad and obvious supercilium. On the way out I also stopped to see the Red-breasted Flycatcher which performed really well and was another great bird to see.

 (Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - copyright Mike Thrower)

(Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - copyright Mike Thrower)

Monday started well when a Pallas’s Warbler was trapped and ringed at Whitburn Coastal Park, some minutes later I was standing at the ringing hut at Whitburn and was soon presented with a stunning Pallas’s Warbler. This is the first one I have ever seen in Durham, I also heard Brambling going over but I did not see it. Later on in the day a Red-breasted Flycatcher was trapped and ringed, this was a bird I had not previously seen in the hand and was an absolute pleasure to see. I did see the Pallas’s Warbler in the field sometime after its release briefly as it flitted around with some Goldcrests, was a bonus to see it in the field as I managed to get cracking views of that lemon yellow rump flashing about as it moved around the sycamores.

(Pallas's Warbler - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Pallas's Warbler - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Red-breasted Flycatcher - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Red-breasted Flycatcher - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

Tuesday saw a Dusky Warbler trapped and ringed, later on in the day a Rustic Bunting was seen briefly but then not found later on in the day. At the coastal park a Ring Ouzel was also trapped, was great to see this species up close and personal after having seen it many times in the past over in the Durham dales. I haven’t actually seen many coastal Ring Ouzels so this was a welcome treat to see up so close.

 (Dusky Warbler - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Dusky Warbler - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Ring Ouzel - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Ring Ouzel - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

Wednesday was generally not very productive with only brief views of the Dusky Warbler but little else except a Jack Snipe and a Common Snipe. However some new Chiffchaffs were fresh in and hanging around with the tit flock. Today (Thursday) I had good views in the field of the Dusky Warbler and also heard the bird ‘tacking’ as it went about its business. I also had a very good view of my first and only Black Redstart of the year in the Souter Lighthouse garden. A Barred Warbler was nearby but I did not see it, apparently around feeding on elderberries across the road from the lighthouse.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Autumn thus far....

Its been a fairly long while since I have updated my blog, the birding has been good and I am now back at University and so the workload had gone from zero to a ridiculous amount, I am also trying to get on top of writing my species accounts for the Durham Bird Club annual report. Just got the Owls to do!

Since my last post I have as always done lots of birding; however I have nothing generally to report apart from prolonged periods of boredom finding very little. If there’s nothing at the coast and the weather is poor it’s a bit of a washout, though I imagine I am preaching to the converted.

A few Saturdays ago I made the decision to head down to South Yorkshire to see the female Pallid Harrier. I am a bit of a fan of BOP’s and I had never seen this age or sex of this species anywhere in the world so I went for a look. The bird had roosted the previous evening and so I was on site for dawn, at around 7.00AM the bird came out of the roost, flew up over the surrounding fields and away out of sight. It was all over so suddenly but the chance to enjoy the bird was not missed, it was clear to see the unstreaked lower belly, dark underwing contrasting with the pale hand, and of course the 4 primaries all counted and accounted for. Nice! I spent the rest of the day dipping a Rose-coloured Starling in Notts that had turned up whilst I was stuffing my face with McDonalds junk (sponsor me? Get in touch). Turns out that after 3 hours of unsuccessful searching the bird was seen in October…..2011! DOHHHHHHHHH! Now that’s late news, so close and yet so far.

Little action took place until Friday when on my day off Uni I decided to investigate the rather early and unseasonal arrival of a Hume’s Warbler at Cambois in Northumberland. After around an hour the bird started calling and was located, I had pretty good views of the bird which did appear to be quite bright but did call perfectly for Hume’s Warbler on more than one occasion. I then spent the afternoon dipping on another Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler in Whitburn, but the fact I had seen on in the hand really did not make this dip painful at all.

Saturday was an interesting day, the day started off with a call from Stringer. Much to my delight there was a Paddyfield Warbler at St Mary’s Island. I shot off down and was soon at St Mary’s Island and after a short while a bird gave itself up. In true typical ‘acro’ style the bird shot across in from of the crowd, perched in a willow before diving down into cover. I had to wait a while until the bird finally gave itself up. It showed well, allowing for study. It was evident that from these views this particular bird was not the Paddyfield Warbler but a Blyth’s Reed Warbler. The short primary projection was evident and the plain tertials and white underparts made the bird stand out, the lack of any strong head and facial markings eliminated Paddyfield Warbler from the mix. I saw the bird again on one more occasion well and also saw a Reed Warbler during the twitch. A Yellow-browed Warbler was consistent in its calling and I got good views of the bird in the willows briefly before it flitted off going back to feeding actively. Pretty decent afternoon, Blyth’s Reed Warbler is also a British tick for me. Score!

Sunday was a fairly uneventful birding day, with little really of note. Then at around 3ish news came through of a male Pied Wheatear on Holy Island. I got that twitchy feeling and had already decided so long as I could get across I would go and see the bird, I was sort of hesitating due to tide times but decided I could probably get across to Holy Island, rush along to the bird, enjoy it for a while and then leave contented. That’s exactly what happened. What a fantastic bird! The images and video really (as always to be honest) don’t do the bird justice. Another lifer, what a weekend! I've had a good autumn so far. 

Even a Gannet turned out to twitch the Pied Wheatear:
 (A rather friendly Gannet! - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Gannet - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Pied Wheatear - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Pied Wheatear - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

Monday, 1 October 2012

Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler

This bird has certainly left a lasting impression on me, its' just another one of those species I was not expecting to see. I really like locustella warblers and so the chance to see this magical rare bird was a real treat indeed. Mostly people just glimpse these birds, however to get one in the hand in your own county is rather special.

I knew the species was a bit of a Shetland speciality, however when doing research I soon realised just how rare the species was away from Shetland! Providing the most recent 3 records are accepted here are all the British records of Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler away from Shetland.

1976 - Norfolk - Cley 
1985 - Northumberland - Farne Islands
1993 - Orkney - North Ronaldsay
1996 - Dorset - Portland
2001 - Norfolk - Blakeney Point
2001 - Northumberland - Newbiggin-by-the-Sea
2008 - East Yorkshire - Spurn
2009 - Outer Hebrides - St Kilda
2010 - Durham - Whitburn
2012 - Durham (also Cleveland) - Hartlepool 
2012 - Durham - Whitburn Coastal Park
2012 - Aberdeenshire - Mains of Slains

Now lets strip the ones that were not on the mainland; birds that were on an island and so harder to get than mainland birds:

1976 - Norfolk - Cley
1996 - Dorset - Portland
2001 - Norfolk - Blakeney Point
2001 - Northumberland - Newbiggin-by-the-Sea
2008 - East Yorkshire - Spurn
2010 - Durham - Whitburn
2012 - Durham (also Cleveland) - Hartlepool
2012 - Durham - Whitburn Coastal Park
2012 - Aberdeenshire - Mains of Slains

Away from Shetland, Durham is not the best county in the UK in which to see Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, not just mainland but the whole of the UK. Just gives me more appreciation of the event.

(PG Tips - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Saturday, 29 September 2012


Can everyone remember what they look like? Before I get to the weeks highlights I best start off with last week.

Last Saturday saw me making the jouney north to Goswick in the afternoon, I was aware the Buff-breasted Sandpiper was around. I had only previosuly seen the species once back in September 2009 on Back Saltholme (if I have remembered that correctly?), it was distant and views were poor. I like seeing pics of Buff-breasted Sandpipers and I am often a little envious when looking at images of them close up and affording observers mega views, with this in mind I went up to Goswick and managed to connect with the bird after around 45 mintutes. I picked it up flying in from the south and landing on the mud flats with 2 Dunlin nearby. Stalked the bird and was afforded mega views of this stunning Yank wader.

Poor video grab of a mega bird:
(Buff-breasted Sandpiper - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Buff-breasted Sandpiper - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

Sunday was quiet, a Lesser Whiethroat may have been a Headland tick? A seawatch was okay, though I had to go home and defrost afterward. Highlight was certainly the drake Velvet Scoters flying south past the Headland. Monday was an interesting day, I'll not go into the in's and out's of it all but I made a few stupid decissions. One did pay off though when I was having mega views of a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Zinc Works Road, quite unlike my first which was a skulker and murder to get good views off. 

Tuesday things started to kick off, was very frustrating though. I am now back at univeristy and so time to birdwatch is limited, I wanted to be out looking for migrants but instead I was stuck indoors 'studying'. I break in the uni stuff provided me with a long awaited lifer when Mark Newsome found a Common Rosefich at Whitburn Coastal Park. When I arrived there was no sign, however some patients provided the goods and the bird flew in from high and landed on the berries and started to feed, I had good views and returned later for even better views! They looked bad in books but actually juveniles aren't all that bad; they have something about them, maybe its just the wing bars. Marsden Hall produced my second Red-breasted Flycatcher but there was no sign of the Barred Warbler which had presumably moved on. 

Wednesday was a day to remember, my chance at a Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler at Hartlepool Headland was gone. Only 4 birders saw the bird, a real testament to time in the field. I was gutted, a species I knew I would probably never get a chance to see in Durham again. Then in early afternoon I got a phone call from Mark Newsome, I can remember 'Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler' follwed later on by 'caught at Whitburn'. AGGHHHHH PANIC! I was on site 10 minites later (I just left uni for the day) and was standing shaking with excitement and nerves, I calmed down a bit and waited until the bird was shown around. What an absolute beauty! I never thought I would be seeing a Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler anytime soon in Durham; if ever! 

Look at that!
(Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

Mega, mega, mega! Bird was released into the small mound and seen only by a few fortunate observers on the evening. I headed down to The Leas hedge where I had views of Yellow-browed Warbler and Whinchat, a good way of rounding of a memorable day. Congradulations to Chris Bell, who is now the only bloke in the to have ever seen 2 Pallas's Grasshopper Warblers in the same day in the UK. Both in same county as well.

Thursday was a lot quieter and a search for migrants after uni was in vain, though movement of Barnacle and Pink-footed Geese is always good to see. 

Friday...well you will have to wait till my next blog post.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

John it's looking at me!

The audio on this video is ace! Well spotted by RBA. 

Skip to 15 seconds in:
Ooooo.. it's, John its right out................ it's just come oot' (out)................................John its looking at me.

Brilliant, certainly this video is better than mine by about a factor of 9000 and the audio is brilliant. Think the bloke was happy with his sighting. Saw a Sabine's Gull today of Hartlepool Headland, not much else to report apart from a monster juvenile female Peregrine. A Black-tailed Godwit on Lambton Pond was new for me to that site, as was the Redshanks that have spent a two days present so far. 

Anyway enough waffle, until next time, Foghorn out!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Monarch Butterfly

I mentioned in my previous blog post that I had seen the Monarch Butterfly in Dorset when I was twitching the Baillon's Crake and Short-billed Dowitcher. I must say I was mightily impressed, I had seen the photos and had been thoughtfully gripped with the butterfly having turned up literally a day after I had just been in Dorset. I was very pleased to catch up with this stunning butterfly, I may not have had a really good view as many has done but I am just happy to have seen this beauty with my own eyes. In a way I kind of had really good views as I actually saw it doing something rather than just sitting and feeding on a buddleia.

 I can't moan, at least I actually saw it!

(Monarch - copyright Jake Gearty)

Royalty or what?

Until next time, Foghorn out!

More filthy twitching...

An interesting sort of week really, I have been busy with birding and other things that I haven’t had time to even start writing up my blog. Last Tuesday evening it was realised from pics that a Baird’s Sandpiper had been found at Seaton Snook in Teesside. It was surely still in the area? The next morning I was down for early doors standing on the sand at Seaton scanning around, I then got the news that the Short-billed Dowitcher that was ID’d at 11 the night before was still present. So I stood for a few minutes and pondered; no sign of the Baird’s, I didn’t need it for the UK, it might still be there tomorrow, and of course Short-billed Dowitcher is an absolute mega. At the time it was only the second for the UK. It didn’t take long “I’m off to Dorset”; I was greeted with some laughs before leaving. I arrived in Dorset at around 4.00 in the afternoon, I put 3 hours worth in the meter and then the message came through that the Short-billed Dowitcher was showing well. I sped up walking a bit, when arriving on site it was out in full view feeding. Folks who had been there all day were less amused that I had just rolled up and it was showing well after having been elusive for practically the whole day. Superb views of this fantastic looking wader. Spotting down the breast sides was obvious with a nice orange buff tone to the upperparts, cracking marked scapulars and coverts, but most importantly the tertials were spot on! I had amazing views of the bird and then headed off back for the long drive home.

 (Short-billed Dowitcher - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Short-billed Dowitcher - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Short-billed Dowitcher - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

The next day was spent dipping the Baird’s Sandpiper, I returned home with half of the sands of Teesside in my ears, eyes, and scope. I wasn’t put off, a good nights sleep and down for dawn the next day. Arriving on Friday there was little around, a single Whimbrel and a few Sanderling and Dunlin kicking about. It was suggested by Paul Raper and Co (sorry I don’t know your name) that we should try Newburn bridge as the waders roost there all the time and was one of the only suitable places for roosting. We headed on up to the roost, I wasn’t hopeful but as I arrived the flock was large and loads of Sanderling. I started scanning when Paul said “Andy, come and look at this…” I hurried over and took a look; bingo! I was grinning from ear to ear, my first Durham Baird’s Sandpiper and what a bird! The bird performed superbly but didn’t really do much, but it was fantastic to see the bird so close and get such good views. A cracking little wader!

(Baird's Sandpiper - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Baird's Sandpiper - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

Sunday was a more interesting day than Saturday, I had a good day with parents on Saturday and had a BBQ in the nice spell of weather we were having. On Sunday I was twitching, yet again! It’s a filthy rotten but addictive aspect of the hobby. First stop was at the Baillon’s Crake at Rainham Marshes RSPB. What can I say about Rainham? Well I dipped a Slaty-like Gull there twice, it’s an awful place, its depressing, it’s in London, and its miles from Durham. Other than that it’s a lovely place! But it did redeem itself as at first light, or just after myself and a few others managed to glimpse the Baillon’s Crake as it made it’s way up the channel towards the hide. Views were brief and indeed in poor light, we decided that time was getting on and so because the lads I was with needed to see the Short-billed Dowitcher that bird was out next stop. We arrived at a good time and were soon on site and only had to wait a few minutes before we were watching the Short-billed Dowitcher, was good to see again after a few days! Nothing much had changed plumage wise and it was a pleasure to see the bird again. Next stop was royalty, I missed it by a day on Wednesday and it was still about; the Monarch butterfly. When we arrived it had flown up high and was flying around the tops of the pine trees. It was good to see the upperwing and underwing pattern and it flew around, time was getting on so it was a bit of a flying visit and so sadly I didn't see the butterfly close up on the buddleia. But I was just happy to have watched it in my bins flit around in the top of the pine trees. It was agreed that we would head back for an evening session at the Baillon’s in the hope of getting better views of the bird. We arrived at around 6 and the local Hobby’s kept my amused, then the Baillon’s was called out. I scanned frantically and picked the bird up bathing in the water before clambering up and out of sight. I was sure that was going to be it, at around 7.20 the hide guide informed us the hide would be shutting at 07.30. At around 07.25 the Baillon’s clambered up on top of the reeds and rested. Amazing views at first in the scope, it then slid down a bit further into the reeds being more concealed. But at least I could say I had seen the bird well in the end, brief glimpses are better than nothing but can’t beat a proper good look at a first. Thanks to Oliver Metcalf for doing all the driving that day.

(Baillon's Crake - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

So all in all a pretty eventful week, in terms of birding I have nothing write home about really; Lambton pond still looks promising and is brining in the birds. On other news last night I did witness the event on Seaton Carew beach in Hartlepool, though no Semipalmated Plovers amongst the Ringed. One day perhaps…

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Previous posts

All my faithful readers and new followers; you will have noticed that for some bizarre reason my blog and/or Youtube seem to have been having fun with me. For example if you go back over previous blog posts videos are uploaded and the species show in the videos are not what they are supposed to be. So sorry about that, I could go and fix the problem but:
A) I can't be bothered
B) I could spend the time more effectively birding
C) I am lazy
D) I have blog posts to catch up on.

So sorry if you plan to look back at any blog posts and watch the videos as they are not now the correct ones. If you want to watch my Speilberg like footage then it can be accessed via my Youtube channel, there's a link to the right of this post.

Blog post regarding past week events coming soon.

Anyway, until next time, Foghorn out!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

2 Pectoral Sandpipers Video

I have some dreadful images and videos, I have published many of these over the years. However this time I feel I have surpassed myself, I believe I may have just uploaded the poorest and most distant video of 2 Pectoral Sandpipers you will have ever seen.

(Pectoral Sandpiper - not copyrighted Andrew Kinghorn)

Move aside Spielberg! 

Also tonight 7 Green Sandpiper and 3 Greenshank.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

2 Pec Sands

Lambton Pond is turning out to be a little gem, for such a landlocked site its doing amazingly well. Visit today from 12.15 to 01.15:

2 Pectoral Sandpiper - went down to 1 visible before I left. 
3 Green Sandpiper
3 Greenshank
370+ Curlew
120c Lapwing
and 2 Snipe.

Evening visit is in order I think!

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Corncrake, American Black Tern, and Arctic Warbler

Friday evening gone was very memorable; a Corncrake was trapped and ringed at Hartlepool Headland! I have only ever heard the species previously in Orkney and with much frustration had to give in and admit I wasn’t going to see it no matter how long I stood. It was more than a treat to see one in the hand; I must confess I was expecting something a little larger but the bird was still as spectacular as it looks in pictures I’ve seen.

(Corncrake - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

Saturday I went into dirty horrible rotten twitching mode, I foolishly decided to go for the American Black Tern on news. It turned up closer; but hardly! When I arrived I was charged about £9000 to park and had distant views of the bird alongside a Black Tern. Was a good comparison as it flew beside a Black Tern but viewing was tricky. Nothing else around, apart from every family and their screaming children, but not that many dogs. Then ‘The Chairman” rang to say Steve H had found a Pectoral Sandpiper on Lambton Flash, the one day I don’t check! Cest’ la vie! I decided to go and see that before going back home, then there was a rude interruption from a text that informed us that there was an Arctic Warbler on Flamborough Head; not a Greenish Warbler (as was reported). I was at Wetherby services and so I stuck in Flam Head into the sat nav and arrived at around 05.30.

(Arctic Warbler - copyright Martin Garner

(Arctic Warbler - copyright Lee Johnson)

Groans and moans all the way down to Old Fall plantation only to learn it wasn’t in that nightmare of a place, it had moved into Old Fall hedge. I first visited Old Fall plantation on the 1st of September 2010 to see the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and I visited again on the 1st of September this year; bit weird! Anyway on approaching the Old Fall hedge the bird was on view within seconds; it performed like an absolute dream. Deciding to perform on our side of the hedge as apart from 4 of us (Lee Johnsons pic below) everyone else was on the other side of the hedge! After it performed like a dream it went rather quiet and presumably was ready to do to roost. Smiles all around and a great bird, I was asked by Stringer during the week what realistic bird I would like to see in Britain in the Autumn. No prizes for guessing the answer, I’ll have to pick another now!

I did see the Pec Sand yesterday, showed better today though. Also saw the Boanaparte’s Gull again today; its moulted quite a bit! Anyway enough of my inane ramblings.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Sunday, 26 August 2012


Bit of a mixed week really, been birding pretty much everyday and nearly all day! Feel a bit guilty as I have a few things I need to catch up on which I need to do for various people (I know your reading!). Monday was a bit of a full on day, finally managed to see a Painted Lady butterfly while disgracefully twitching a Barred Warbler in Northumberland, I then headed down to Teesside for an evening stint but little of note was seen. Tuesday was also generally quiet but I did manage to get out on the evening I did miss the Broad-bill but saw it the next day, so on Wedensday I successful twitched the Broad-billed Sandpiper at Seaton Snook and then later saw the bird from Seal Sands but little else of note in the Teesside area so a visit to Bishop Middleham was more then fruitful; juvenile Mediterranean Gull moulting into 1st winter was more then welcome, as was the Red-crested Pochard first spotted by Michael M he was rather happy when I confirmed it was indeed a Red-crested Pochard, interestingly it means I have seen 2 in Durham in the same day after having seen 1 on Saltholme East earlier in the day. I went back to see the wader roost on the evening and it was quite spectacle with an extra 2 Black Terns thrown in for good measure and later on after I had left a Roseate Tern was seen. The Broad-billed Sandpiper departed high south around mid-evening but thankfully everyone had seen it by this point so there were no unhappy faces present.

 (Painted Lady - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Broad-billed Sandpiper - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Broad-billed Sandpiper - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Mediterranean Gull - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Mediterranean Gull - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Black Tern - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

Thursday I was being 'idle', though popped out to check the local Lambton Flash and little was noted apart form good counts of Greenshank and Green Sandpiper. Friday was another day down Teesside but little of note; 3 Black Terns were nice as was the single Little Gull. On the waders side the best I could do was 10c Grey Plover but they were in summer plumage so all in all pretty good.

This weekend was more than productive, seawatch in the morning was really excellent! One of the best I have ever had, there was a constant movement of birds. Highlight was a Long-tailed Skua which flew in from the south, had a mess around offshore and flew north again, later on a Pomarine Skua was fantastic; a full on adult with 'spoons'. Interestingly little in the way of Shearwater passage with only 1 Sooty and a handful of Manx Shearwaters. Roseate Terns were on the move and there wast  good passage of Redshanks. A check of Lambton Pond was quite fruitful with a handful of Green Sandpiper and Greenshank being noted; then I headed down to Teesside for some more filthy rotten twitching. A rather showy Barred Warbler (for the species anyway) was excellent but it went to ground later on in the day and wasn't really seen again much just brief glimpses. A check of the Jewish Cemetery produced little other than 2 Wheatears and a rather vocal Willow Warbler.

Today Jack Bucknall text me to say he had what he thought was a Greenish Warbler early morning, so I headed up and by the time I had arrived it had been confirmed he played his recording made and showed me the pics. I was gripped, then some 4 or so hours later the bird gave itself up and I had really good views for about 30 seconds or so before it disappeared and I didn't see it again despite searching. Ohh, it's also good to know that a certain well known biking Northumberland birder is an avid follower my blog despite his very public hate for me because I won't give him a lift to see birds, nice one! Great week and great weekend.

 (Greenish Warbler - copyright Jack Bucknall)

(Greenish Warbler - copyright Jack Bucknall)

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Bonaparte's Gull Returns...

Thursday evening and a bit of a mad dash to Whitburn to see the Bonaparte's Gull, its not back for its third year. Great views were had on Thursday evening and I went back today for some more and some Gulling, the local farmer has been ploughing in his field and so the chance to study some gulls was high, of course the hope was I would get to watch the Bonaparte's Gull feeding in the ploughed field but it was not to be. Mark rang at around 4ish to say he has just located it on Whitburn Steel; where it has been most of the day remains a mystery. Yesterday it took a liking to the ploughed field but today no sign at all in some 5 hours; I can assure you it felt longer waiting in the hope it would drop in.

The dates and state of moult is fairly interesting.

In 2010 it was first noted on the 28th of August, it had moulted all its head feathers and was in full winter plumage, however there was active moult in the primaries so presumably this bird has been in the general area a little before the 28th of August. During its stay until it was last noted on the 11th of September it had obtained all its primaries and was in winter plumage.

In 2011 it was first noted on the 5th of August, it was mainly in summer plumage but in active moult with its head feather moulting and active moult in the primaries. By the end of its stay it had yet again undergone its moult, got all its winter primaries through and again it was last noted on the 11th of September.

In 2012 it was first noted on the 16th of August, it was in mainly full summer plumage and in active moult yet again; this time its head was a bit more 'full on' summer plumage but again it was in active primary moult. Who reckons it'll last be seen on the 11th of September then?

Fascinating bird, Mark Newsome managed these shots of the bird yesterday and today, seemingly its moulted one of its primaries since yesterday.

(Bonaparte's Gull - copyright Mark Newsome)

 (Bonaparte's Gull - copyright Mark Newsome)

Still with P10, P9, P8, P7. But inner primaries dropped.
(Bonaparte's Gull - copyright Mark Newsome)

Now some from today:

Undergone some moult on head since yesterday, note the now white area on the forehead compared to the above shot. Though not changed all that much.
 (Bonaparte's Gull - copyright Mark Newsome)

 (Bonaparte's Gull - copyright Mark Newsome)

Clearly visible here, bird has not dropped P7 whereas it had it yesterday. Its out there somewhere! £5 to the finder, so long as I can have one of the feathers! Start looking at the Steel and work your way from their.
(Bonaparte's Gull - copyright Mark Newsome)

Great bird! Hope it comes back next year, though have a feeling I'll be seeing it before then.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Just another manic Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday!

I don't have time to write about all I have been up to in birding as I have been up to other things as well as birding and so haven't had time to really update my blog.

Monday was pretty quiet but I decided that a seawatch from Whitburn Obs was definitely on the cards; a big success with the following birds being noted during the time period of 06.10 - 08.20: 1 Balearic Shearwater (N), 2 Manx Shearwater (S), 2 Arctic Skua (N), 1 Sooty Shearwater (N), interestingly not quantity but quality. Very little else on the move, a lone Balearic Shearwater was indeed rather strange (in my experience).

Tuesday was a wader day with Rainton Meadows being the place to be; 1 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpiper, and 1 Greenshank being the highlights. Was really great to see all 3 species standing together on more than one occasion with a Snipe thrown into the mix for good measure. John Bridges kindly allowed me to have a go of his lens and take some shots, I was more than happy with the results!

(Green Sandpiper - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Greenshank - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Wood Sandpiper - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

On the evening I visited South Shields and to Sandhaven Beach, no birds on the beach so I headed along the pier where a small flock of terns produced 1 adult and 1 juvenile Roseate Tern

(Roseate Tern - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

Wednesday was quieter with the main highlight being my first visit to Lambton Flashes, a flooded field which is currently really pulling in the waders! I had an afternoon and evening visit, the highlights being; 2 juvenile Spotted Redshank, 2 Ringed Plover, 6 Green Sandpiper , 3 Greenshank, and a whole host of other species. This site has really great potential to pull in the birds, lets hope it remains flooded for the foreseeable future. 

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Memories as sweet as Honey...

Yesterday was yet another Wykeham Forest spectacle! I was there last year and those of my long time loyal followers (I thank you) will remember that I had a pretty spectacular time with Honey Buzzards flying over my head on several occasions just feet above my head; one bird appearing to actually look down the barrels of my bins from above. This year was equally as fantastic, views were not as consistent as last year with birds constantly overhead but instead my view of the day was brief but unforgettable; more on that later. 

The day started off with the typical distant views of Common Buzzard, but raptors were up in the air so that kept the hopes up. We had to wait for maybe 1 hour before the first distant Honey Buzzard came into view, views were poor but adequate to assign the bird to a Honey. Smiles all round! We then had a spell of inactivity with nothing but buzzards for ages, then from the viewpoint just over the trees to the right a hawk appeared, Michael who picked the bird up stated Sparrowhawk and switched his attentions back to scanning the distance. I lifted my bins and the bird turned; "That was streaked....wasn't it?" was my reply. A few seconds later it came back around and sure enough I was right; but it was joined by a second bird also a juvenile. Then shortly after another bird; 3 Goshawks! 3 juvenile Goshawks at close quarters showing superbly, I won't be forgetting that any time soon! We didn't have to wait long before the shout went up someone had picked up a distant Honey Buzzard which I struggled to get on for a few seconds. When on it I have no shame in admitting I was quite taken back; it banked to the side and was extremely white underneath. This was the palest Honey Buzzard I had ever seen, but still clearly a Honey Buzzard. Great, but not as great as when you realise there are 4 raptors having a go at it! There were numerous shouts going up and we had what appeared to be a Hobby, 3 Kestrels, and 1 Sparrowhawk at different times mobbing the Honey Buzzard! Mental! We also had a cream crown Marsh Harrier distantly before it went down into the Forest, I needed that for me "Birds seen going down into a forest from a raptor viewpoint" list. As if I would keep such a list *cough*. 

Later on in the afternoon we had yet another distant Honey Buzzard over some caravans, then shortly afterwards we had an absolutely incredible moment. People got very excited as they had picked up a Honey Buzzard, I was scanning distantly then was told it was coming toward us. I scanned and found the bird; it was seemingly very close, it then got closer, then ridiculously close. So close it passed at eye level some 30ft infront of us. In scope and bins the whole time....yes, it was rather good! Now that is what you call MEGA VIEWS!!!!!! 

Yes, it was close!

 (Honey Buzzard - copyright Sam Viles)

(Honey Buzzard - copyright Sam Viles)

Being content with that view we left for The Marshes, nothing much of note apart from a Whimbrel on Greatham Creek. Still, it was an 'OK' bird. 

Great end to a truly memorable day.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

West Coast Butterflies

A few weeks ago I was over in Cumbria and Lancashire in the hope of seeing one of my last quarries the High Brown Fritillary, I had missed these last year but still had a good day over there. I won't give you the full list of what I saw but will just stick up some of my best pics of a particularly bad bunch. I thought I had dipped High Brown Fritillary again, however on reviewing my pictures it became clear I hadn't! I had snapped one of them in Lancashire are a particularly well known site for them.

 (Dark Green Fritillary - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Dark Green Fritillary - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Gatekeeper - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Grayling - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(Scotch Argus - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

(High Brown Fritillary - copyright Andrew Kinghorn)

Until next time, Foghorn out!