Monday, 16 May 2016

Wow Weekend!

Up in the Cleveland there had been an array of unusual species spotted during last week so we took the opportunity to visit there on Saturday morning.

We started our day off at Saltholme in hope of seeing the 2 Whiskered Terns which had been present for about a week or so. As we entered the visitor centre we briefly saw them through the windows so we walked round the reserve to try and achieve better views. We reached a part where we could see most of the lake really clearly and thankfully both of the Whiskered Terns were whizzing around just in front of us! Occasionally they would fly to the back but sometimes they flew past just a few metres away, giving brilliant views!

Whiskered Terns
Once we had finished watching these we moved on to try and see the very elusive Great Reed Warbler at Haverton. After just a couple of minutes the warbler started singing like crazy but even though it sounded just a couple of meters away no one could spot it. A pretty amazing call! We waited a good half hour to an hour but we didn't see anything. On the way to Paddys hide we saw a Little Ringed Plover in a little pool and a Female Stonechat but amazingly on our way we had 4 Spoonbill fly straight over our heads!!
Little Ringed Plover

From the Paddys hide we saw nothing but Black Headed Gulls so with news of a cracking male Bluethroat at Hartlepool we made that our next destination. Surprisingly we found the place without getting lost and very soon the bird came out right into the open! It kept creeping in and out of the bushes but when it showed it was within about a metre!

We left a bit early so we could have a look at the Dotterel on Danby Beacon. They were on show upon arrival. They are definitely one of my fav birds! We counted 10 of them and all showed pretty well. We also spotted Red Grouse and a pair of Wheatear.

Once we arrived home I was invited to go for the Thrush Nightingale at Spurn on Sunday by some Yorkshire birders I know. They picked me up at quarter to seven but with negative news on the Nightingale we decided to have another trip up to Cleveland. We arrived fairly early in Haverton to try and see the Great Reed Warbler but once again no sign plus this time it wasn't even calling so presumably it had moved on. We then moved on to look for the Grey and Blue headed wagtails at the Zinc Works. We got the news that we had just missed them both! Not a brilliant start! We had a little walk round and eventually we had very brief views of the Blue Headed Wagtail. Once it flew off we went to Crimdon to see some Little Terns. There was about 50+ around the beach. The sound which came from them was incredible!

Little Terns
We then made the decision to go up to Holy Island for the Subalpine Warbler which was either Western or Moltoni's. I think its been confirmed as a Western now though. We arrived in perfect time for the crossing so we could start birding straight away. Just before the car park we saw some birders at the end of the track so we thought that's where it was probably hanging around. We arrived at a very small group of birders who appeared to be looking at a brick wall, we asked what was around and we found out that it was another Bluethroat! It hopped along feeding in the grass just below the wall. This time it was a female bird.

After watching this for a bit we were told that the Western Subalpine Warbler was showing just up the track so we dashed over. Within the first 5mins we had very brief views of it in the back of a bush and just a little while later it did a nice circuit where it came out in the open! This is one bird I have always wanted to see so I am very happy that it showed really well. It often stayed hidden in thicker parts but always eventually came out and showed well.

Western Subalpine Warbler
Someone then told us of another Bluethroat at the end of the track we were on. We had a quick walk down and even though we waited a while it showed quite well on a few branches. It showed briefly a few more times before going missing in the undergrowth.

Unfortunately we now had to leave. On the way back we had a Female Stonechat show nicely on a fence and a Peregrine flew over. It was the first time I had visited Holy Island and I really enjoyed it. Its a cracking place to go birding. This is one of my best weeks in birding ever, my totals were:
Western Subalpine Warbler
2 Whiskered Terns
Singing Great Reed Warbler
10 Dotterel
4 Bluethroat
5 Spoonbill
Blue Headed Wagtail
Little Terns
13 Black Tern
2 Ring Ouzel
2 Peregrine
Little Ringed Plover


  1. Well written Ellis. Love your enthusiasm. Brilliant weekend and some fantastic photos.

  2. Nice piece Ellis. We had a similar experience at paxton Pits with a
    Great Reed Warbler (heard but not seen).