Saturday, 4 July 2015


Sadly there was no sign of the Terek over the high tide this afternoon, I wonder where it is now ?

Consolation came in the form of an unseasonal and very tatty first summer glaucous gull.  

Glaucous gull on the scrapes in July....... Bonkers !
Of note this bird appeared pretty small, even smaller than some of the nearby herring gulls, so presumably it's a female. It also had a pale iris, apparently first summer glaucous gulls can show this feature from April onwards.

Also on the scrapes today:

1 little gull
2 kittiwakes
1 common tern
1 arctic tern
1 male ruff
3 dunlin
2 ringed plover
5 redshank
3 yellow wagtails

Terek Sandpiper !!

After a late night last night I was sat in bed this morning drinking coffee when Jimmy rang me. With zero battery left on his phone he managed to get the words 'terek on the scrapes' out before he was gone.

The shock resulted in a coffee stain on my bed and an extremely rapid exit from the house !

I arrived at the scrapes 10 minutes later to find a heavy rain storm. I don't mind getting soaked for a terek tho ! I dashed down the track and joined Jimmy at the southern end of the scrapes where the terek was feeding along the near edge.
Terek in the rain.....
After just a minute or two the terek took flight and flew straight over our heads towards the beach.We followed it and scoured the entire beach to try and relocate it. An anxious 15 minutes passed, then we heard it calling. It was flying along the beach, again heading straight over our heads and then back towards the scrapes.

We did a U turn and arrived back at the scrapes to find it happily feeding alongside 2 dunlin. Shortly afterwards it was flushed by a Heron and flew back towards the beach again. This thing seemed determined to give us the run around !

We regrouped on the beach and started checking likely areas, but the search was soon abandoned due to heavy rain. With the tide at its lowest point too, we decided the best option would be to return later this afternoon at high tide, in the hope that it flies back into the scrapes.

Fingers crossed......

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Electric !!

It's been a crazy couple of days !

Yesterday I witnessed probably the most intense electrical storm I have ever seen in the UK. I spent over an hour on our sofa just staring out over the coast in amazement !

It wasn't all good, a close lighting strike sent soot flying down our chimney and wrecked our electrical equipment, we now have no working internet or TV channels. I'm only able to post this because I'm sitting in the pub using their wifi........ any excuse for a pint or two eh !

It could have been worse, a nearby house was struck and went on fire. Plenty of fire crews and police in attendance but no ambulance so hopefully no one was hurt.

Anyway, I am always thinking about birds. We are into July and I suspected the downpours might have dumped the odd early returning wader, a late evening visit to the scrapes was in order.
Arriving at the scrapes it looked like the storm had worked its magic....

2 green sandpipers
1 male ruff
1 greenshank
8 blackwits
2 ringed plovers
3 redshank
14 lapwing
40 + oystercatchers
2 juv yellow wagtails (my first of the year)

Various waders dumped by the storm
Early this morning at around 1am it was time for round 2 of the lightning storm. This time I decided to head out onto the shore in front of our place and try and get a photograph. I've never photographed lighting before so it was a case of trial and error and keeping my fingers firmly crossed.

I was playing around with settings trying to see what might work when I noticed that the storm seemed to be intensifying quite rapidly, in fact there were now lightning bolts raining down all around. When one bolt of lightning hit the rocks a few hundred meters away I realised that standing on the exposed shore clutching a carbon tripod might not be such a good idea ! I panicked, left the camera snapping and beat a hasty retreat.

Only when I was in the shelter of the fishermen's huts did I consider that leaving my camera out there was probably a little bit risky ! Would an insurance company pay out if it was struck by lightning ? They would probably claim it was an 'act of God'..... what does that even mean ? How can you really blame a natural phenomenon like lighting on someone's imaginary friend ?!!

Anyway, I'm heading off on a strange tangent here, probably due to alcohol consumption.

After 10 minutes the heavy rain started and I was forced to run out and retrieve my camera from the shore. Most of my photo's were utterly shite and only a couple actually caught any lightning bolts. A lot of the pics did show bright electrical activity in the clouds and some showed a strong blue glow which I thought was quite eye-catching.

Midnight storm - lots of sheet lightning and a few forks

Monday, 29 June 2015

Low Newton by the Med....

I have no idea what has happened in the last week, I have been stuck down south commuting between London and the Midlands.

Remarkably, in the 1 week I have been away from home both hoopoe and woodchat shrike have been reported on the patch. late June certainly isn't a classic time for either of these birds turning up, Low Newton seems to have become a little bubble of the Mediterranean on the North Sea coast !

What will be next ?........... Bee-eater please !!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Against All the Odds......

A massive aurora was predicted last night.......  Sounds good but it was frustrating on many levels....

1 - I am away from home and stuck in the Midlands right now
2 - The Midlands is probably the most light polluted place in the UK, clear dark skies are extremely difficult to find around here.
3 - It is one of the longest days of the year with barely any night time sky available to see stars (or auroras)
4 - Thick cloud was forecast

An evening of negativity ensued but as it got later the ovation map started looking really good. Looking out of the window there seemed to be a few gaps in the cloud too, so at around midnight I hooked up with my mate Brian and we headed out to search for some clear dark skies.

Our target area (based on some light pollution map research) was Blithfield Reservoir, a popular birding site a few miles away. I warned Brian that it would probably be a complete washout with light pollution from the nearby towns and the cloud wrecking our chances.

On arrival I was somewhat stunned to see that despite some obvious light pollution there was an aroural glow visible including a few shafts of light !  

Aurora Borealis, Blithfield Reservoir, Staffs. 15 secs, F2.8, ISO 3200
I was chuffed to see an aurora in mid summer in the Midlands, but even better I also saw my first ever noctilucent cloud !! Been trying to see one of these for some time now and I was surprised at how bright and obvious it was to the naked eye.

Noctilucent cloud at 1am, so bright it has a reflection in the water ! 15 secs, F2.8, ISO 400
I'm really pleased with my first taste of noctilucent cloud action, just need a sky filler over some beach in Northumberland now !

Thursday, 18 June 2015


I was at a conference in London all weekend. My route back home on Monday took me via the Lleyn Peninsula where I somehow ended up boarding a little boat to Bardsey Island.

Not sure how it all happened but the result was a cracking male Cretzschmar's bunting ! It was elusive for most of the time but gave good scope views singing from a distant patch of gorse for a few minutes.

Cretz feeding amongst the thrift
It flew up and landed on a wall for just 1 second before flying off again, shame my focussing skills were lacking at that moment !
A great day out and new island for me too. I'd imagine it would be a nice place to be in the autumn.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Wood Sandpiper

Yesterday it was pretty much the same old birds at Low Newton. The little stint seems to have departed now and best of the bunch was a rather worn 1st summer med gull floating around the scrapes.

Back at home a wheatear was hopping around the beach in front of our place. Presumably arriving after that steady south easterly airflow of the previous 24 hours.....? Sadly it wasn't a black-eared wheatear tho !

This morning some new birds had arrived down at Low Newton with a nice sum plum wood sand and 5 blackwits proving that a little movement is still ongoing. 3 lapwings now on the scrapes are presumably failed breeders and with no further chick activity going on I can only assume that our lapwing chick didn't last very long.

On the scrapes this morning:

1 wood sand
5 blackwits
3 ringed plover
3 lapwing
2 yellow wags

Summer plumaged wood sandpiper
Tatty 1st summer med

Monday, 8 June 2015

Little Change......

Nothing new to report really.....

Same old stuff on the scrapes:

1 little stint
1 turnstone
6 dunlin
2 sanderling
50 ringed plovers
1 lapwing
38 oycs
2 yellow wags
pair of shelduck with 11 young

At the pool:

grasshopper warbler
2+ reed warblers

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Little Stint

I decided on an early walk today to avoid the Sunday masses down at Low Newton. First stop was the scrapes which was full of waders including this little stint.

Record shot of a little stint on the scrapes this morning.
Another nice surprise this morning was a new 'scrapes tick' for me in the form of a little tern !

More crap pics - little tern on the scrapes
Also on the scrapes this morning:

1 arctic tern
11 sanderling
6 dunlin
59 ringed plover
3 redshank
2 lapwings
28 oycs

Down at the pool there was little of note but a grasshopper warbler was in full song again.

Breeding Waders on the Scrapes !

We have some breeding wader activity on the scrapes !!

OK, so it's not exactly flocks of waders, but this morning I saw a lapwing behaving as if it has young. I later found out that Ian had seen a tiny chick down there on Thursday.

I'm chuffed with this news but also somewhat concerned. Chicks here will have a very hard time with crows and herons that are always around the field and the kestrel has been flushing waders regularly here for the last week or so too.

Lapwing have bred here before in 2010 fledging a single chick, see HERE. It's nice to have them breeding again, just a shame it's not a little colony that could fend off predators more effectively !

Anyway, I'll be keeping everything firmly crossed that the chick(s) survive.

Lapwing chick that fledged on the scrapes in 2010