17th August 2014 – Greenshank…

Today I should have been writing about my experiences of Stilt Sand and Caspian Gull in Northumberland, but rather predictably the birding gods had other ideas. The wader had been there for a few weeks and seemingly every birder and his dog had made the trip to see it. And then a Caspian Gull turned up last week close to the Stilt Sand so I pencilled in today for a long overdue ‘twitch’. Well that was the plan. But then the Stilt Sand buggered off at the end of last week, and the gull has buggered off today. So that was the end of that. Bah.

Still, this gives me the perfect opportunity to shamelessly revisit the Stilt Sandpiper that I found on the Solway six years ago. My bird was in juvenile plumage, in fact it was only the 3rd time that a juvenile had been recorded in Britain (others were in Lancashire in 1967 and Shetland in 2002 – and none have been recorded since). The rarity of the plumage, and the fact that another ‘county first’ was available at the same time at Walney Island (a Rustic Bunting), meant that it was a busy 10 days at Campfield. Ah, them was the days! On one memorable day I went straight down from the Stilt Sand to see the Rustic Bunting at Walney, and then took in a Red-backed Shrike at Haverigg on the way back. Trust me, days like that in Cumbria are once-in-a-lifetime!!


Anyway, enough of this nostalgia, back to the here-and-now. Once again I did the patch where there was lots of birds to search through but nowt rare, best I could find was 3 Greenshank (my first of the year!), 10 Blackwits (8 juvs), and my first juv Knot of the year. Exciting eh!









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13th August 2014 – Spotted Redshank still at Port…

Showed a bit better this evening but still too far away for the DSLR.






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12th August 2014 – Ruff…

2 juvenile Ruff on the scrape at Campfield today, and six Little Egrets. Distant digiscoped shots….



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27th July 2014 – Green Sand & Spotted Redshank are the ‘highlights’…

Nowt much to report really. All work and no play I’m afraid, lots and lots of 0445hr alarms has been the order of the day for the past 3 or 4 weeks.

Wader and gull numbers have been rising nicely on the Solway recently. The ‘highlight’ over the last week or so for me was a Green Sand – a patch tick for me at Port. Apart from that a Spotted Redshank has been the pick of the bunch – but it really does look like there should be a Great Knot or something equally mega out there. Other bits have been 3 Little Egrets, a single summer-plumaged Sanderling, Turnstone, a couple of smart Black-tailed Godwits, about 40 Golden Plovers, the first returning Knot and a dozen or so Whimbrel. Here’s a few ‘better-than-nothing’ digiscoped shots…




and one of our babby Woodpeckers in the garden, unusually hopping around on the grass underneath the feeders…


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3rd July 2014 – Glossy Ibis at Milnthorpe…

 1st summer Glossy Ibis distant and digiscoped on the River Bela south of Milnthorpe…





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30th June 2014 – Twitching Bridled Tern? – Just Say NO!

All birders have probably got a bogey-bird. A species that you’ve tried to see several times before and missed. A species that frustrates, a species that gets under your skin. Bridled Tern has definitely become my bogey-bird…

Back in 2003 news of a Bridled Tern at Arbroath in Scotland had me heading north, the excitement in the car increased as we neared the site – the bird was still present and with only a few miles to go our pencils were sharpened ready to tick-off this charasmatic mega-rarity. But in those last few agonizing minutes the bird flew off. We searched for it until dark but there was no further sign, we even stopped overnight in a B&B and were out searching at first light the next morning, hoping that the bird would reappear. It didn’t and we returned home empty-handed. And so began my list of Bridled Tern ‘dips’!

My next chance of seeing one came last year when a bird appeared on the Farne Islands during the summer. But I now had a very unflexible full-time job and ‘dad’ duties to consider, I was unable to drop everything and just go, and I had to wait many days before my opportunity came. Added to this was the fact that it’s appearances at any one site were pretty erratic, making deciding when and where to go for this bird a bit of a lottery. One day it could be on the Farnes for an hour or so, then another day it was at Cresswell or Chevington for a little while, and some days it wasn’t seen at all. It even visited Cleveland, East Yorkshire, the Isle of May and Aberdeenshire just for good measure! Needless to say I tried in vain to see the bird, and my list remained Bridled Tern-less.

Then on 20th June this year, news came through that it was sitting on rocks on Inner Farne – it had returned! Once again work and family commitments meant I had to sit tight, but this gave me plenty of time to study it’s movements. For 8 consecutive days it had appeared on the rocks near the jetty, and in the afternoons it seemed pretty much ‘guaranteed’. That was it, I cracked. On the 28th June Col and I booked our place on board ‘Serenity’ for the 30th June.

We were in an optimistic mood as we made our way over to Seahouses, the bird had now been seen for the last 10 days on Inner Farne. However our optimism wavered ever so slightly as we headed out on the boat when Andrew (the skipper), informed us that it hadn’t been seen yet today. Hmm. It had been there for the last 10 days so surely it would behave for us today? Eventually we got dropped off on Inner Farne at about 2pm. The news that greeted us from the Rangers wasn’t good – “No sign yet”. We immediately began scanning through all the terns. It wasn’t there. We carried on scanning. It flippin’ wasn’t there! For the next 2 hours we sat on the jetty scanning all the terns, all the rocks, all the terns offshore. But it didn’t appear. Bridled Tern had done the dirty on me yet again…

To torture me even more, as I write this (1st July), the bird is back!!!!! Seriously, you couldn’t make it up!

Both Col and I did however find 2 Roseate Terns, which was nice. Some small consolation I guess. These were in fact the first Roseate Terns I’d seen for 11 years… 

Not a Bridled Tern....

Not a Bridled Tern….





And some other bits n bobs from the trip…






So if you’re thinking of going for it, just make sure that I’m not going on the same day as you!

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7th June 2014 – Garden Mystery…

Whilst cutting the lawn one day last week I noticed what at first glance looked like part of a fat ball in the grass, but then I remembered that we haven’t been putting fat balls out for a couple of months now. I had a closer look and thought it may have been a pellet of some sort, but then as I began to pick through it with my fingers I noticed that it was parts of small crabs and that it smelled fishy.


Most of the smaller bits fell through the grass but I collected what I could to take a photo…

With a 1p piece for scale

With a 1p piece for scale

Our garden is approximately 1 mile from the actual edge of the Solway Estuary – but only a few hundred metres away from the marsh. It would be nice to think that we’d been visited by an otter… 

The 3 nest boxes in our garden that were occupied by Tree Sparrows have all fledged successfully…


And we have occasional visits by Spotted Flycatcher.


The railings roost has again been poor this spring (well it has on my visits anyway!), but one day last week there was over 60 Sanderlings…


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