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!