Monday, 21 December 2009

2009 Bird Roundup

So we nearly come to the end of 2009. On the 1st of January 2010 my year list starts all over again! Exciting stuff as I will be starting it off on Orkney!

As I end the year I am going to do my first ever round up listing some of the birds that where life ticks for me that I have seen in the UK and then say what my personal bird of the year and also maybe some stats. So here goes in no particular order:

Spoonbill – Cley Marshes, Norfolk – Life Tick

Garganey – Blacktoft Sands, Yorkshire – Life Tick

Goshawk – Wykeham Forest, Yorkshire – Life Tick

Common Crane – Lamesley, Gateshead – Life Tick

Temminck’s Stint – Houghton Gate, County Durham – Life Tick

Pectoral Sandpiper – Greatham Creek, Teesside – Life Tick
Also 1 at Castle Lake (DBC) the same day as above!

Glaucous Gull – Teesside – Life Tick

Sabine’s Gull – North Shields, Northumberland – Life Tick

Black Tern – Herrington Country Park, County Durham – Life Tick

Long-eared Owl – undisclosed site, County Durham – Life Tick

Bluethroat – Hartlepool Headland, County Durham – Life Tick

Marsh Warbler – Herrington Country Park, County Durham – Life Tick

Yellow-browed Warbler – Holy Island, Northumberland – Life Tick

Firecrest– Holy Island, Northumberland – Life Tick

Red-backed Shrike – Dorman’s Pool (TBC), Teesside – Life Tick

Great-white Egret – Saltholme RSPB, Teesside – Life Tick

Semipalmated Sandpiper – Cresswell beach, Northumberland – Life Tick

Lesser Yellowlegs (seen twice) – Aberlady Bay, Lothian – Life Tick

Hooded Merganser (escape??) – Calor Gas Pool, Teeside – Life Tick

Blue-winged Teal – Saltholme RSPB, Teesside – Life Tick

Buff Breasted Sandpiper – Saltholme RSPB, Teesside – Life Tick

Glossy Ibis – Druridge Bay, Northumberland – Life Tick

Eastern Crowned Warbler – Trow Quarry (SS), County Durham – Life tick

Richard’s Pipit – South Gare, Yorkshire – Life Tick

Snow Goose – Budle Bay, Northumberland – Life Tick

White Stork – Great Lumley, County Durham – Life Tick (self found)

Not a bad list for a whole year! Thanks to meeting my new friends from Durham Bird Club my life list has shot up. This is the first full year where I have been simply obsessed with birdwatching. I think there is a clear winner for me but I will drag this out a bit for my reader’s entertainment.

The Common Crane was absolutely fantastic and very close when I first saw it. This was a bird I mentioned for a while after it had gone. The male, (that’s right) male Bluethroat was absolutely fantastic and a very nice migrant to have and was the only Durham record of the year (I believe). The Semiplamated Sandpiper & Lesser Yellowlegs where both fantastic and I think they where both equal to me in terms of enjoyment when watching them. The Glossy Ibis was quite special as I dipped it the first time and thought that my only chance of seeing this fantastic rare wader had gone but thanfuly it remained for a week longer and I saw it. On the same day as the Glossy Ibis I added my first ever Yellow-browed Warbler x2 and my first ever Firecrest. Both birds showed really well especially the Firecrest. The Black Tern at Herrington Country Park was a fantastic bird to see and I picked it up almost immediately. A fantastic summer plumage bird this Black Tern was worth getting drowned wet for. The Red-backed Shrike showed really well all be it somewhat briefly although I saw it both sitting as well as in flight. Although probably an escape on Friday last gone (18th) I had a White Stork over my housing estate when I was walking for the bus! I missed the bus but didn’t care!!!! My first rare self found bird.

However………….the clear winner is













Eastern Crowned Warbler! This was only the 5th ever for Europe and the 1st ever UK record! It is the only European record of a bird staying longer than one day!!!!! Also it was in my own County!!!!!! I had fantastic views of the bird both in the scope as well as through my bins. This was also my first ever MEGA. What a mega!!!! I saw the Eastern Crowned Warbler and then when it disappeared briefly a Yellow-browed Warbler put in an appearance! Likely to never be in the UK again in my lifetime.

Glad I didn’t miss it!

(Eastern-crowned Warbler - Mark Newsome)


Here’s to the New Year and my Birthday (today: 18)

Andrew Kinghorn

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Seaton Pond Swans

So are they Whooper’s or Bewick’s? Well…….I am not sure if a final decision has been made yet. (Maybe it has and they are Whoppers)

Over the past two days I have looked at images and seen the birds myself. I started Saturday going to see the “Seaton Pond Swans” as they where reported as Bewick’s on Friday night. I went and saw them and saw as soon as they appeared they where quite small and they also went next to the Mutes allowing for some comparison of size to be had. I was happy they where Bewick’s and I had just secured a life tick and my 224th British Tick. Then I got home and got a text from two friends from the Bird Club saying they think they are Whooper Swans. Then throughout today I thought they where Whooper’s like I did last night. Now as I am writing this I am leaning towards Bewick’s in size and images I have seen. Also the fact that these birds are quite small. I know Whooper Swans will be smaller than the adults but these birds did looks really small.

I hope that the final ID is found out and I cat get back to you all and let you know what they are. There are much better birders than me looking at the topic and I admire there knowledge and will tak’ heed’ to what they say they are in the end.

Tomorrow: read about the rest on Saturday in which had 1 life tick! (No, not these Swans)

CYA for now!


Friday, 11 December 2009

Black-throated Diver

Yeserday I had some time to spare (WOW!) so I went to see the Black-throated Diver at Tunstall Reservoir. It showed really well and gave fantastic views whilst I was there in the scope.

This was a life tick for me! Also a year tick.

Life List updates
224 - Black-throated Diver

Year List updates
213 - Black-throated Diver

(Black-throated Diver - Derek Charlton)

Thank you very much to Derek Charlton for allowing me to use his images on my Blogpost. Cheers mate.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Video - Lesser Yellowlegs - Aberlady Bay, Lothian

The following is a video my Dad took on the 28th of November of the Lesser Yellowlegs at Aberlady Bay in Lothianm I was watching the bird and Dad filmed it. This was filmed with my video recorder on my digital camera. Not bad? What do people think?


Sunday, 6 December 2009

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker – Rediscovered?


I may well discuss the Slender-Billed Curlew next depending upon what people think of this post and if you my readers enjoy it. So enjoy!

For a long time I have been interested in birds outside of Durham and outside of the UK. As a lover of rare birds, for reasons I cannot explain I have developed an interest in the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. It was thought to be extinct for about 50 years but a few sightings and actual footage seemed to indicate that the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker was still alive and was not an extinct bird. However, there are people on both sides of this story. Those who believe that the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker was indeed captured on film and the descriptions are accurate. There are also people who think that the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker was not caught on film for just that brief few seconds. So in today’s post I am going to give my opinions on this fascinating story.

The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is the third largest Woodpecker in the world and I can assure you it’s a bonny bird (if you don’t know what one looks like see the bottom of the post). Sadly the image I have posted doesn’t do it justice so I may have some hyperlinks to images elsewhere on the web. Back to the story now: So on the 11th of February 2004 a man by the name of Gene Sparling was kayaking in the big woods of Arkansas through the cache river. Gene said he saw a huge Woodpecker fly towards him and then it landed on a nearby tree. He noted that it had a bright red crest and that when it was on the tree it had a “herky-jerky” almost cartoon line movement to it. Please see for full sighting details.

Soon after Gene was then interviewed by a few people from the Cornell Lab or Ornithology on his sighting. It sounded to good not to be true to me, obviously them as well Tim Gallagher and Bobby Harrison went to go and have a look. These two men always obviously wanted to see an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, Tim was writing a book about Ivory-Billed Woodpecker sightings. So Tim and Bobby set out to the location to search for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. Please see for full sighting details.

The first say yielded nothing then on the 27th of February at about 1:15 in the afternoon they stopped to have some lunch. A large black and white Woodpecker flew right in front of them and was about to land on a nearby tree before both the men pointed at it and yelled “Ivory-bill!”. Clearly spooked the bird took flight. It stopped a few times on the trees but sadly no video was ever taken of it. After about 15 minutes after the incident they individually sat down and drew what they saw as field notes. After this sighting it was seen it was reported again by people on three dates in April and once in June of 2004. Then in February 2005 it was spotted once.  Please see for full sighting details.

However possibly the most important evidence was captured on a video camera by David Luneau on the 25th of April 2005. On this day David was going along the river with his video camera running, this makes it easy to therefore grab the camera to record something if it is seen. The camera was filming and it was placed looking out of the left hand side of the boat. They where going along the river and then suddenly a large Woodpecker burst from a tree and flew away into the distance away from the camera. Although it was far away from the camera David and the person with him saw the bird and David commented straight away on the size of the bird! Fortunately the camera was recording and had caught the bird bursting off the tree and flying away. This was closely analysed and many believed it to be an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. Looking at the evidence I concur.

The whole scene does last very long at all and can be viewed here:
^ Give it time to load, I would advice you to watch it though a few times instead of just once. If you look above the oar you should see it burst from the tree and then fly off.

So what’s all the controversy? Why do some people doubt. Well there is another Woodpecker out there in the big woods called a Pileated Woodpecker which is quite similar but abundant and quite common in the big woods. Some people think that the video was of a Pileated Woodpecker all of this is dismissed in this 1 hour 50 minutes evaluation of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker sighting. This video includes some conservation efforts to help the bird as well as rare footage from the 1930’s. It’s fantastic and if you get the time to watch it please do:

I think that the evidence in the video above shows conclusively that it was an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker and that they are still alive and that there may be hope yet. To view the evidence it was an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker instead of a Pileated Woodpecker see here:

So what do you think? I would love to hear from you. Why not comment below?

(Ivory-billed Woodpecker - Male on the bottom left and Female bottom right.)

Really good website on Ivory-billed Woodpecker:

Actually footage of the bird in 2005:

Video Evidence it was an Ivory-billed Woodpecker:

Evaluation of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker 1hour 50minutes long:

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker videos:

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Stew’s crew’s Smew’s news

Well! A very nice day today with 2 life ticks. Ticked of my first Smew and Ring-necked Parakeet. That’s right……..I ticked it!

The day started off with Stew’s Crew heading down to Ward Jacksons Park for the Ring-necked Parakeets, these where a life tick (Ooo controversial). The birds showed well and I saw them in flight and certainly heard them plenty! A pleasure to watch. We departed after about 15 minutes and we went to Jackson’s Landing to see the Great-northern Diver. It was showing really well!

Then we headed up to Crookfoot Reservoir where we enjoyed 1 Smew and a Wata’ Rail in the same scope view all be it distant. Then a Peregrine caused some excitement as it appeared over the tree tops and then flying away giving some fantastic views! Not long after Derek Charlton picked up the second Smew and this was a bit bonnier.

Then we headed off past Pudding Poke farm to have a loo at the Little Owl and get some pictures from the car. Fantastic little bird this one! Nearly always there. We where joined by someone to say the Little Owl was there or asking if it was there, can’t remember which one. Anyways that’s not what’s important what’s important was that he informed us that that where some Snaw Bunting at the beach at Seaton Carew between there and North Gare. So we headed the wrong way and eneded up at Parton Rocks and sat and ate our lunch. Then we had a quick look out to see and where rewarded with 3 Velvet Scoters and plenty of Knot all together flying about.

After lunch and Velvets we headed up to Newburn Bridge to see the Mediterranean Gull. He/she didn’t disappoint as it put on a show. Fantastic bird! Then we finally made out way to Seaton Carew beach for the Snaw Buntings. They showed well and there where about 20+ on the beach, sadly every time I crept up on them to get better views they would take off and fly away. :( They eventually landed near 2 members of Stew’s Crew and me and my friend joined them and we had good views off them before they flew over and around us and we left them in peace. Even though they took flight a lot they never went very far. Fantastic little birds.

Life List updates:
222 – Smew
223 – Ring-necked Parakeet

Year List updates:
211 – Smew
212 – Ring-necked Parakeet

Pitmatic Dictionary
Wata’ Rail = Water Rail
Snaw Bunting = Snow Bunting

(Ring-necked Parakeet - Derek Charlton)

(Great-northern Diver - Derek Charlton)

(Smew - Derek Chalrton)

Thanks to Derek for letting me use his images.

Andrew Kinghorn
Stew's Crew - Membership Secretary