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Northumberland and Upper Teesdale 15-19 June 2010

Northumberland and Upper Teesdale 15-19 June 2010

A selection of images on the link below..

15 June
We all met up on time at Whitminster at 0700 to allow a decent chance of getting some birding in as we travelled so after checking if all were up for a bit of en-route rarity searching we left Gloucestershire at 0700 and made for our first birding stop with a comfort rest before this. The first species we were looking for was a Great Reed Warbler that had taken up a territory on a small pond at Straw’s Bridge in Derbyshire.  The bird gave good views as it sang and hopped around in a small patch of phragmites reed. This species is more of a Starling sized bird, showing a large red gape (inside of the beak) when cranking out its varied and loud song, it really performed well for all of us. The site was also good for other warblers and we heard or saw Lesser and Common Whitethroat, Reed, Sedge, Willow and Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap. A pair of Bullfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Hobby was also noted.

Great Reed Warbler

After enjoying this lot we set off again this time for Saltholme RSPB and Port Clarence flood in Co. Durham. This site is near to Middlesbrough and set among the industry and factories of Teesside. The reserve was excellent, lots of birds to enjoy with the Common Tern and Sand Martin colonies being very busy. A few wader species were present as well as wildfowl. We took awhile to orientate ourselves as to where our target bird was feeding and eventually got to the correct place to look for it on a flooded field. A party of Ringed Plover and a single Dunlin were feeding along the edge of the wetland, Len picked up the Broad-billed Sandpiper first feeding near the other small waders. Seeing that we all had many scans with our scopes it made me think it must have been roosting in a cows footprint or skulking for the first thirty minutes that we looked for it as it was not initially on view. It was a very handsome bird, the split supercilium (double lines on the face and head above the eye) being seen well in the scopes and the rather unique structure of this small wader appreciated. 

Broad-billed Sand

We still had some way to go until reaching our accommodation near Holy Island (Lindisfarne) but did try for a reported Red-backed Shrike en-route, it was not seen but 2 Grey Partridge were along with a variety of common passerines. We carried on north and checked in to our rooms and met for dinner to recount the birds we had enjoyed during the day. The weather had been great all day.

16 June
Most of us had an early start to look out across Fenham flats hopefully to see some waders but also to take in whatever else was about. A glorious start to the day, very calm and warm but the tide was very high and good weather had probably allowed any lingering migrants to move on so only the breeding and resident birds were seen. The highlight was probably the hundred or so Grey Seals bellowing in the shallows between us and Lindisfarne. After breakfast we headed for Seahouses to enquire about tickets to the Farne Islands but could not all get on the boat, I changed the schedule to go the next day and just did what was I had planned for day three a day earlier. This itinerary involved going to Beadnell Bay to have a look at the Arctic and Little Tern colony. We were not disappointed as a few Sandwich Terns were also present and Ringed Plover were also nesting. The Little Terns numbered around 20 pairs but the Arctic Terns 900 pairs. A few Reed Buntings were singing in the dunes as we walked to the wardens hut and many Drinker moth caterpillars were seen.  An hour was spent enjoying the birds here.

We walked back along the long wide white sand beach and stopped a few times to look out into the bay where Gannets fed in the distance. As I had planned to visit a variety of wetland sites we had time allocated for each place with our first being Hauxley NR. Most of what we saw was what you expect for the time of year but a Pink-footed Goose among the Greylags and the Tree Sparrows were the pick of the birds. From here we went to East Chevington which is always productive thanks to the comings and goings of the terns. At least 8 first summer Little Gulls were seen and it was fun comparing Arctic and Common Terns alongside. A couple of days after we returned home a Bridled Tern was photographed here bathing and drinking on the rocks! We searched for the local Marsh Harriers but had no luck over the vast reedbeds however the sheep management by reserve staff was appreciated by a few members of the group.

We then tried Cresswell Pond which was unusually very quiet and then Druridge Pools which had birds but was difficult viewing as the vegetation had grown in front of the hides. A Meadow Pipit displayed above us on the track. Our time was up as I had booked the boat to take us out to Coquet Island to view the Roseate Terns among other things. It sure was a lovely summer evening for enjoying these pink flushed terns, we had taken turns to go out in the boat to stop by the quay then moor up to watch them at the entrance to their nest boxes, on the terraces or flying around the colony. Pairs of the Roseate Terns were seen with chicks, sky pointing and other courtship displays. The island is also home to large numbers of seabirds which were all much in evidence. I stayed with part of the group whilst Neil went out first, we searched the hill near where to Red-backed Shrike was last seen but did not locate it. My group went out second and on our return found they had not looked for the shrike but had been in the pub! Another good day but time for a rest and a meal so we headed back for the evening.

Roseate Terns

17 June
This time we headed straight for Seahouses and prepared to board the boat for the Farne Islands. We visited Staple Island first with ample time ashore to enjoy the seabirds before then moving to Inner Farne, we had to wait awhile for the tide to come in to allow us to get off the boat and shore. This was a very special bird filled day in marvellous weather , I will leave the images to tell the story as it was such a good day for photgraphy. On the way home and after a tea we stopped at Budle Bay for half an hour before heading back for a meal.

Kittiwake and chick

Bridled Guillemot

Sandwich Tern

18 June
The forecast was for a sunny dry day but with a cooler wind coming in off the sea,  we headed North into Scotland to look at a few sites, the first stop was at Tantallon Castle where a couple of Grey Partridge were seen briefly in a roadside crop and were calling, nearby I spotted an Osprey circling over the field. We all climbed out at a safe layby and scoped the bird before it climbed high and moved off. We tried to gain a view of Bass Rock and the Gannetry but would have to pay to enter the castle grounds so a short drive up the road gave us a good view of this marvellous sight. The Gannets were flying from the rock to the cliffs where we were watching from to collect seaweed for their nests, they struggled we beakfuls of the weed, a Whitethroat sang on the clifftop bushes.  We then drove through Berwick upon Tweed and stopped at a Tesco for food/comfort, back in the bus and on to Aberlady Bay where we continued on as the tide was well out and then stopped for a scan of the sea at a better vantage point. There were auks, Gannets and a few common waders,the Bar-tailed Godwits in the distant heat haze was the only exception and a party of 5 Common Scoter flew in and around before heading off again.

We loaded up and set off for St Abb’s head for a hike up and over the headland to where the auks were breeding and took a route down a steep set of steps below the headland where we stopped for a short seawatch and eventually back around the hill to the car park.  We had a cool breeze but it was sunny so pleasant enough to find a Northern Brown Argus butterfly. This was a real leg stretcher and when we got back to the visitor centre everyone was certainly ready for a drink and sit down at the cafe.  After this break it was time to get to Lindisfarne for the afternoon, a long walk around the East side of the Island was taken by all but Len and Jean who spent their time photographing the village and castle. We did see a party of Red-breasted Merganser splashing about offshore but the walk provided only common breeding birds plus the orchids. When we got back to the bus we thought it best to get off before the tide cut us off. We finished up at 5.00pm as we were so close to our hotel and rested before dinner.

19 June
Sadly we had to return South again but I think we had seen pretty much everything on offer in this part of Britain and we still had to yet visit Upper Teesdale. Apart from a stop to check on a Buzzard, it was only a Buzzard we made straight for the target area, we saw plenty of breeding waders and their chicks plus a family of Pheasants. A Common Sandpiper was busy on the river as we crossed the bridge and eventually Jean called out that the grouse you see on the whisky bottles were alongside the bus. A male and female Red Grouse with a chick were indeed close to the road. Delighted with this we then headed for the Langdon Beck hotel for coffee and a comfort stop where pair of Spotted Flycatcher were feeding on the sheltered side of the pines. On leaving I heard a few Siskin calling and another check of the stream gave us no Dippers. We parked up for a walk to Widdybank Fell which by now has become breezy and a little overcast. A juvenile Ring Ouzel was on the track and feeding along the verges which proved popular and another Common Sandpiper was seen. At the farm we sheltered next to a trailor and watched Wheatears, Red Grouse and Golden Plover on the hillside, Neil had spotted two male Black Grouse feeding on the buttercups which was great. The population had been affected by the cold winter so it was pleasing to catch up with them today. Nearby Beryl has discovered another pair of Ring Ouzel feeding the young on a wall and foraging in the paddock. All this and breeding Snipe, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Curlew and Lapwing as well as the other species mentioned.

Juv. Ring Ouzel

Black Grouse

It was time to go home and end the trip but we did well and had great weather and birding.

Martin J McGill

Filed under: Trip Reports


at 3:17 pm

1-31 July 2010 blog and sightings

1-8 August 2010 I was in Corsica for the week, trip  report to follow soon…

31 July 2010 A day trip to the New Forest. See the trip report.

28 July 2010 A pair of Southern Hawker were along the back of the South Lake.

27 July 2010 JSL and I had at least 45 Yellow Wagtail feeding among the cattle on the Dumbles at WWT Slimbridge.

Common Tern see below

25 July 2010 At WWT Slimbridge I had a darvic ringed second summer Mediterranean Gull in the morning gull roost, I will follow up the sighting and report back. Plenty of waders still about the scrapes with two Sanderling seen on the morning tide and three in the evening, an adult Turnstone, a Whimbrel and five Ringed Plover were also added to the list. The evening gull special produced a juvenile and adult breeding Mediterranean Gull and c25 adult Yellow legged Gulls. RGB reported a fem/imm Marsh Harrier around the 100 Acre from 0800 and I saw it cruise down the estuary and Dumbles from 0905-0920 where it flushed pretty much everything it flew over. A roost of c40 Yellow Wagtails was very much of note, we saw 17 chasing a Kestrel. I caught and released a Common Tern that was entagled in the 100 Acre early evening whilst checking the colony.

24 July 2010 No birding.

‘Green Sand’
The last week of July usually sees the peak counts of this bird around the WWT scrapes with figures of over 30 not uncommon, a highly mobile bird which makes a bike and decent pedalling speed crucial for attaining an accurate count.

17-23 July 2010 The only birding I have managed has been at WWT Slimbridge where passage waders continue to arrive around the scrapes. On 21st I had three Greenshank, 2 Ruff, 44 Dunlin including two juveniles ( I had my first juv on 18th), five Little ringed Plover, 11 Green Sandpiper and 40 Lapwing all on the Top New Piece alone. A flock of up to 44 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Redshank and a few Common Sandpipers have also been around. As for returning passage birds a Ringed Plover on 18/19th and  two Snipe on the 22nd were a sign of things to come. I discovered a second Emerald Damselfly on the reserve on the 19th.

16 July 2010 No birding just limping but I had heard that P. Taylor scored with a Storm Petrel on the Severn.

15 July 2010 A very gusty day on the Severn, despite a few birders watching over it not seabirds were noted. 91 Dunlin, 6 Little ringed Plover, a Greenshank, 40 Black-tailed Godwit were the best I could muster. I did spend the night and most of the day in pain with the damaged nerve endings in my foot ‘erupting’ from 0230 in the morning, the sheer delight of having a steroid injection directly into them woke me up though.

14 July 2010 Still a good set of waders around the WWT scrapes and Whimbrel on the estuary. A or the Grasshopper Warbler I had yesterday was reeling at Middle Point.

Ruff two males moulting out of breeding plumage. One of these individuals returns to moult here every year for the last 4/5 years. Also a Redshank in the same image, a juvenile was present at the South Lake this afternoon.

13 July 2010 Best birds logged for me were two Ruff, two Greenshank, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpiper, 44 Black-tailed Godwit and a reeling Grasshopper Warbler.

12 July 2010 Highlight of the day was my first Emerald Damselfly for the reserve, possibly a first site record? This was a female.

11 July 2010 A good selection of waders around the WWT scrapes and a decent set of dragonflies seen on the safaris including 2 Scarce Chasers.

10 July 2010 A day at the cricket watching England v Bangladesh. A Common Blue Damselfly landed on my Harriet’s hand whilst watching the game.

Yardy bowls, Anderson fields..

Three ex-England captains…

9 July 2010  A White-tailed Lapwing turned up at WWT Slimbridge, I was called by Dave Paynter to say a visitor had got some video (Mr Giles Diggle) of this bird but when he looked for it had gone from the scrape. Dave was busy with a safari for the Slimbridge school group so I went in to try to relocate it along with Rich Hearn who was looking at South Lake, I  checked all the possible areas and eventually found it on the Top New Piece. The school kids all added this bird to their lifelists and were impressed. This constitutes a first for Gloucestershire and Slimbridge. These images are affected by heat haze and looking through vegetation.

White-tailed Lapwing


8 July 2010 A full day out with JJS in Berkshire and Surrey looking for dragonflies and butterflies. We had a good time of it with 7 Downy Emeralds, Golden ringed, Emperor, Black-tailed Skimmer, Broad bodied Chaser, Keeled Skimmer, Black, Ruddy and Common Darters, Brown Hawker and Emerald, Common Blue, Azure and Large Red Damselflies.

Downy Emerald, Paice’s Wood, Berkshire.

Keeled Skimmer, male.

6-7 July 2010 Up to 15 Green Sandpipers at WWT.

5 July 2010 Back at WWT Slimbridge..more arrivals of post breeding waders, pick was a juvenile Little-ringed Plover on South Lake.

2-4 July 2010 Got back from Madeira at 0100 and was up for 0545 for a trip to Pembrokeshire and Skomer Island, the trip report and images on the trip report page.

1 July 2010 My last day in Madeira was spent aboard the Ventura do Mar, we had a brilliant pelagic, probably the best I have ever been on! Trip report and images on the relevant page.

Filed under: Birdwatching Diary


at 8:41 pm

Madeira and Desertas Islands, Pelagics and endemics 28 June-3 July 2010

Click the link for a selection of images from this trip and the 2009 outing.

Little Shearwater off Madeira 1 July 2010


Bryde’s Whale
This beast was feeding close inshore off Funchal on 1 July.

Bulwer’s Petrel

Bulwer’s Petrels

Loggerhead Turtle
One of four seen on the 1 July 2010 from the Ventura do Mar

Pilot Whale

Madeiran Petrel at sea 1 July and Manx Shearwater 28 June.


Canary, Deserta Grande

Grey Wagtail Santa Cruz

Madeira Endemics and Pelagics 28 June to 3 July 2010

Summary; This tour was almost of repeat of the very successful 2009 visit but with an added six hour pelagic. A group of eight including me travelled to the island with seven of us taking part in all events and tours with one opting to do ‘her own thing’ partly because of having already done it in 2009 and partly wanting to explore Funchal and enjoy the sun. We all did the evening pelagic from Funchal on the 28 June going straight from the airport to the quay to steam out and off the island to find where the wind was and follow it offshore. We returned to port at dusk, ate in a harbour side restaurant before checking into our accommodation.

29 June
Our first full day, it was time for us to sail for the Desertas Islands, we left at 1000 and headed out and across the sound. The wind was blowing through and provided some good seabird watching. Once in the waters off Deserta Grande we tried a chumming session eventually heading into the little harbour and landing ashore. A guided walk around led by Rita was followed by a swim (for some), a rest or digiscoping, basically whatever took anyone’s fancy.

A barbecue was organised by the crew (Jorge, Rita and Jose) and we all settled down for a sunset dinner, the meat and fish were very popular. As it turned dark we watched the seabirds arrive and took another walk around the island, after this the crew returned to the boat and after 30 minutes or so I led another walk around the trail and to the beach taking in all the wonderful calls plus views of petrels and shearwaters on the path. Our crew had set up a tent with ‘bedrooms’ which most opted for but the crew slept on the boat and three of us including me slept outside under a wooden picnic shelter.

The shearwaters became quieter from about 0200 and a few began calling again around 0400. We got up early to transfer back to the boat for breakfast and to sail again back to Funchal arriving at lunchtime. The afternoon was spent differently for all, some taking the cable car to the botanical gardens, some taking a taxi there after a rest, others walking along the seafront. We had an evening meal at a nearby restaurant but had to depart and head to meet our guide Joao at our accommodation. Seven of us set off for the drive up the mountain for a sunset above the clouds and then a walk along the ridge to get into position and await the Zino’s Petrels arrival. Our guide shared his knowledge of these rare birds and tea and biscuits when the birds began to arrive. After enjoying them and the tea and biscuits we returned home at got back to our rooms tired for 0100.

1 July
Up for breakfast at 0745 and down to the boat for another pelagic, this time c6 miles offshore and all took part. We were out from 0830-1430 and it was very calm sunny and filled with wildlife. We tried some chumming and attracted Bulwer’s Petrels and Cory’s but no Storm Petrels it was quite calm out there today. Back on shore I said my goodbyes as did Bettie because were returning home leaving Duncan, Becca, Keith, Richard, Dave and Steve to have another afternoon in and around Funchal. I walked from the airport to Santa Cruz c2 miles to explore some more and got a taxi back before leaving for home.

Richard Tyler has kindly written up the last two days as follows……

2 July 2010

We were picked up by Joao our guide at 08.15 for a day’s exploration of the western section of the island. We drove NW from Funchal to Lombo do Morro. A pair of Trocaz Pigeons were seen in flight as was a Madeiran Buzzard. At a roadside stop with some spectacular views Joao pointed out several species of endemic flowers including one particular orchid. Further along this route we saw some impressive spreads of a large blue echium species known as The Pride of Madeira. A little further west we stopped in an area of pine forest (introduced). There was some good bird activity. We had some close views of a pair of Madeiran Firecrests. Some of the party (myself not included) had good enough ears to hear others calling and singing. Siskins were very apparent and a couple of Chaffinches (madeiran race ) were in full song. In a clearing amongst the trees we saw several species of butterfly including Clouded Yellow, Small Copper, several Graylings and an Indian Red Admiral recognised without hesitation by Keith.

Travelling a little further west we found ourselves on a high plateau with natural vegetation (heather, bilberry and a type of broom). Here we looked for Spectacled Warbler a couple of the party having only brief views. Blackcaps were here as they are in every type of habitat on Madeira. A pair of Berthelot’s Pipits put in an appearance as did a group of Linnets. Moving North and West to Fanal found us in area of Laurel forest with the understorey grazed by cattle.

The views from this area can be quite spectacular but we were hindered by low cloud. The ancient Laurels were impressive some of them covered in lichens and epiphytes. Madeiran Firecrests were seen and heard and we gave close examination to a pair of madeirensis Chaffinches. It was interesting to note that the male in this subspecies seemed to be intermediate between those found in NW Africa (africana) which have an all green back and those in the Canaries (tintillon) which have an all blue back. The madeirensis had an area of green over the upper part of its mantle the rest being blue.

Next we travelled North to the coast at Porto Moniz. Just before our stop here Duncan picked out a Barn Swallow amongst several Plain Swifts. On the coast there were a good number of Common Terns with young. We stopped a little further East for lunch and then travelled inland to a beautiful steep wooded valley (Laurels) near Seixal. Eventually we all got good views of Trocaz Pigeon. We saw at least six birds all in flight apart from one which perched for an extended period giving good scope views. Madeiran Firecrest and Grey Wagtail were also present in this valley as were Monarch butterflies.

From Seixal we travelled back along the cost further East to Sao Vicente. A good number of Common Terns with youngsters were present on the shore. Steve picked out one individual which looked very pale although the light was intense. It did have long tail streamers and a large amount of red to the bill base. We debated as to whether it was a Roseate or not. It then did the honourable thing and flew around with the Common Terns and called which clinched the identification. Once we all got our eye in we could see it had faster wing beats than the Commons. The terns would circle around over the sea and then come and land on the shore again.  It soon became apparent that the one Roseate was a pair, a presumed female begging for a fish from a male who decided to eat the catch himself. The pair then turned out to be four birds when Duncan and Dave realised that they were looking at two different pairs.  A good way to end our day’s birding before travelling back to Funchal.

3 July 2010
Various members of the group did different things on our last morning. Shopping, sightseeing and walking. There were no additions to our birdlist although a second Sparrowhawk of the trip was noted as were several Kestrels and a few more Goldfinches between sightings of the ubiquitous Canary.

 We were picked up from our accommodation by Catarina (Ventura) and taken to Caso do Sardinha the Eastern point of the island looking out to Ponta de Sao Lorenco. Here we made two quick stops. This was quite a dry barren area. From one point we could see both the North and South side of the island. A quick search for Rock Sparrow was unsuccessful. Two Berthelot’s Pipits were seen both with bling.  A kite put in an appearance briefly joined by a buzzard. The kite provided for good discussion and in conclusion we were all happy that it was Black and not Red. Although the bird was well marked on its upper wings and at times the tail looked quite rufous the fork in the tail was always small compared to a Red (at times almost square). It did have a light window in its primaries but it was not “white” as in a Red so compared to a Red there was less contrast to the under wing. With hindsight the bird did not have that long winged elastic flight of a Red Kite. I can’t understand now why some of us (including myself) did not see it as a Black Kite straight away! A final stop at Machico before heading for the airport did not produce any Rock Sparrows or Waxbills but we did see more Common Terns, Grey Wagtails and six Turnstones.      

Species list with comment

Cory’s Shearwater; seen in large numbers perhaps 400 on 28th where rafting and general gathering prior to heading onto the island for the night. Thousands noted en-route to, actually on the Deserta Grande and return route to Funchal. On the island we located a few on the ground, some calling from rocks others on the path. I had one ‘shear’ my head with its wingtip. We found one obliging bird in a sheltered spot where the bin was kept! These birds were vocalising in large numbers after the sun went down, hundreds flying low over us and past us calling as they went. The crossing to the islands provided different conditions for viewing them, the stronger wind allowed them to climb very high above the waves, the calm conditions seeing them flap and glide low and their appearance was of a more marked dark and white bird when there was cloud cover. This species was also seen on the 1 July pelagic with c 200 noted.

Little Shearwater; after thinking we could not improve on a Maderian Petrel at sea I noticed a bird behaving in a untypical fashion in my experience, it was disappearing underwater, plunging, in a flying action before reappearing again, when on the surface I could see it was a Little Shearwater and not a Flying Fish. I shouted to Luis to slow the boat down and bring her around which he did and we all got spectacular views as it peck fed around flotsam and jetsam, plunge dived and mad short flights between feeding bouts. Again it was another quality birding experience. Luis Dias managed to get some decent shots and I got a few which were useful for reference.

Manx Shearwater; during our evening pelagic on 28th June at least three were seen loitering offshore, perhaps waiting to go into their forest nest burrows high up in valley above Funchal. The breeding season is at its end or close to it hence the few sighted.

Bulwer’s Petrel; on the evening pelagic we logged 250-280 on them passing us all heading purposefully toward the Desertas, lots of close views. The crossing to the Desertas gave us 50-60 in total. On the daytime walk we had a look at one nesting in a wall but it was at dusk and at night that we experienced something very different. They began flying around our picnic area as it got dark, we saw them on the ground whilst following the trail on Deserta Grande and watched them dropped directly if somewhat clumsily into their crevice nest sites just a foot or two in front of us.  A few caused us to stop in our tracks and let them waddle off the path, one or two fluttered onto us. I slept outside where they were flying around my sleeping bag bumping into the shelter roof looking for holes and scurrying about on the table. I did not mind being disturbed in this way. The return boat crossing on the 30th June saw us log over 200, the day pelagic on 1 July c230-250 were seen. There were lots of great views of this smashing little bird including some large rafts of up to 24.

Deserta Petrel (Fea’s) On the 29th June we saw between 7-9 individuals in flight from the boat, at least two were very close giving excellent views. Most sightings were in the sound or near to Bugio during the afternoon, I watched two look at our chum slick, passing over a few times and then heading off again. On the 30 June we logged one or a Zino’s on the return crossing which was not far from Madeira island. On the day pelagic of 1 July we logged another Deserta/Zino’s as it flew by again close to Madeira Island and Funchal.

Zino’s Petrel; we were guided to the Pico de Areerio site with Joao and got in position to wait for them. A starry sky and pretty calm conditions allowed us to hear the calls of this bird clearly as they became bolder with time. We could hear their wings as they swooped lower and lower until a pair? fluttered low over our heads on the edge of the cliff, this time the silhouette of the birds could be seen clearly.

Madeiran Petrel; on the evening of the 29th we waited in the dark listening to them calling at the base of the cliff on the Deserta Grande. They seem to be flying higher and following the top of the landslide slope where they are thought to nest. A few silhouettes were probably of this species but we did not use torches to follow them to avoid gulls predating them. Once the Cory’s and Bulwers had quietened down the Madeiran Petrels could be heard easily giving the ‘fingers squiggled rapidly on a window pane’ double note. The day pelagic on 1 July saw us all delighted to see on cross the bow fairly close and in full view as it was so calm, it joined a Bulwer’s Petrel for comparison, great stuff.

Little Egret; one seen in Funchal Harbour on 28th.

Black Kite; an unexpected bird was found by the team that remained on the island on 3rd. This is a rarity for the island and appears to be the 3rd for the island.

Buzzard; seen near Funchal and on the full day tour.

Kestrel; seen commonly around the towns and countryside.

Turnstone; one in Funchal harbour on 30th.

Common Tern; dozens seen around Funchal harbour and a few pairs on Deserta Grande.

Roseate Tern; four found among a tern flock at Machico on 2nd.

Yellow-legged Gull; common around Madeira Island and dozens noted on Deserta Grande.

Trocaz Pigeon; seen by all on the day out around the island on 2nd.

Barn Owl; one was perched on roadside wires as we descended from the Pico back to the villages above Funchal at 0015 on 30 June.

Plain Swift; seen commonly over the towns and Funchal, Keith spotted on coming in off the sea on the 28 June evening pelagic.

Berthelot’s Pipit; a few pairs were seen on Deserta Grande, some coming to drink at a pool.

Grey Wagtail; seen around the town and on most freshwater streams.

Spectacled Warbler; seen on the full day tour on 2nd.

Madeiran Firecrest; seen on the full day tour on 2nd.

Canary; seen commonly around Madeira Island especially in the gardens and also noted on Deserta Grande in small parties.

Also Blackbird, Blackcap, Siskin, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and a parakeet sp. The resident birds were mostly island races.

Other species

Bryde’s Whale; two were seen very close inshore near to Funchal Harbour as we returned to port on 1 July. One allowed some close views showing for about six minutes at a time on and off on the surface and then making a deep dive for about ten minutes, a brilliant end to the boat trip.

Pilot Whale; a pod of c 30 were seen at close range basking on the surface during our crossing on 29th June.

Striped Dolphin; two were seen leaping some way out of the water at distance on 1 July day pelagic.

Bottle-nosed Dolphin; a pod were seen close to Funchal on 29 June as we left for the Desertas a few others were noted whilst crossing and on 1 July day pelagic.

Common Dolphin; a large pod was feeding near to Funchal on 29 June we got close views of them which included a calf. It was unusual to record them at this time of year as they are normally further north.

Loggerhead Turtle; four recorded on the 1 July pelagic, one was spotted by Rita very close to the boat but dived, Keith spotted another which again dived but two together which were picked up by Richard stayed on the surface for us to watch at leisure, yet another brilliant wildlife experience.

Madeiran Wall Lizard; very common everywhere.

This was a very good trip, thanks to all who attended for your company I enjoyed birding with you, congratulations on the ‘find’.

Martin J McGill

Filed under: Trip Reports


at 8:33 pm

Pembrokeshire and Skomer Island 2-4 July 2010

 All images M.J.McGill unless stated.

Grasshopper Warbler reeling at St Justinian’s

Black-headed and Mediterranean Gull (2nd summer), Fishguard

Juvenile Chough

Puffin parent and ‘Pufflet’ getting ready for the ’0ff’ and daring to practise flight

Dark Green Fritillary
Martin’s Haven 3 July 2010. Numerous at two sites we visited.

The Strumble Head seawatch shelter

Black Guillemot

Pembrokeshire and Skomer Island 2-4 July 2010


We set off for the south west of tip of Wales at 0700, a stop at a service area was taken en-route afterwhich we headed for St David’s for an hour to explore the ‘city’ and get provisions for lunch. Our first stop was at St Justinian’s for a walk along the cliff top to view the sound across to Ramsey Island. We noted a number of common passerines, Raven and many distant Gannets. After half an hour of birding we set off up the road to stop at a place where Neil had found a Whinchat and Grasshopper Warbler. The ‘Gropper’ was reeling well atop a gorse/furze bush despite being pushed off by a Common Whitethroat on many occasions. We were pleased to find c10 Dark-green Fritillaries among the many insects. A Stonechat sang from a telegraph line, yet another good half an hour, we were then off for the short drive to Dowrog Common where we spent a very pleasant couple of hours. The common was dry but the streams still flowed, a Brown Trout was viewable from the bridge and at least four Golden-ringed Dragonflies, a male Keeled Skimmer (briefly by me), Common Blue and Banded Demoiselle Damselflies. The flora was excellent. Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler, Meadow Pipits were all seen. A stop on the beach for a tea/ice cream en-route to Goodwick to check in to our respective accommodations was much enjoyed and back out for an evening seawatch at Strumble Head. We estimated 6,400 Manx Shearwater past in 30 minutes and noted auks, Kittiwakes, Fulmar, Gannets and Shag. We returned for an evening meal and to retire for the evening.

Breakfast was taken at 0745 and whilst loading up and waiting we had Goldcrest, Coal Tit and a pair of Spotted Flycatcher feeding young outside the Fishguard Bay Hotel, a Crossbill flew over. The early start was to get ready for a direct drive to Martin’s Haven and to purchase tickets for Skomer Island. After doing just this we explored the Deer Park above the cove where c20 Dark-green Fritillaries were seen. On the headland a pair of Raven, a family of 5 Chough and a few Wheatears were all very welcome. We eventually dropped back down to the boat departure point to wait, more views of Chough and then board the boat, we arrived at 1200 and after a talk by the Warden Chris began our way to picnic in the shelter and then explore the whole island. Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmar in large numbers in the haven, after lunch we were watching a young Short-eared Owl near the farm and at the Wick great intimate views of Puffins with chicks, fish in their bills, flying and walking among us. The sheer cliffs were home to rows of seabirds. A long walk around the island was rewarded with a family of Raven and Chough all playing the updrafts. A Peregrine was seen by Jill and Trevor. A full day of great birds but it had to end so we returned directly to our accommodation at the end of the day having enjoyed a very warm sunny summers day.

On the Sunday morning the weather had changed, very windy and overcast with showers but we had good cover in the form of the Strumble sea-watch shelter. After a session looking at the shearwaters in particular we headed for another site to look for Black Guillemot which we found. After this great bird we headed for WWT’s National Wetland Centre of Wales where we had lunch and spent the whole afternoon birding, highlights were watching the juvenile Black-headed Gulls from and in the colony, c30 Mediterranean Gulls mostly adults, c70 Black-tailed Godwit, a pair of Bullfinch on the feeders along with Jay. This was our last port of call before reaching Whitminster at 17.30 and concluding the trip. Thanks to all who attended for your company and enthusiasm.

Martin J McGill
6 July 2010

A species list of the birds we saw was kindly compiled by Trevor Blythe.                                      

1. Blackbird.

2. Blackcap.

3. Bullfinch.

4. Bunting, Reed.[Martin heard]

5. Buzzard.

6. Carrion Crow.

7. Chaffinch.

8. Chiffchaff.

9. Chough.

10. Cormorant.

11. Coot.

12. Crossbill, Common [Martin heard].

13. Curlew.

14.  Dove, Collared.

15.  Duck, Tufted.

16.  Dunnock.

17.  Egret, Little.

18.  Flycatcher, Spotted.

19.  Fulmar, Northern.

20.  Gadwall.

21.  Gannet

22.  Goldcrest [Heard].

23.  Goose, Canada.

24.  Goose, Grey Lag.

25.  Grebe, Little.

26.  Greenfinch.

27.  Godwit, Black Tailed.

28.  Gull, Black Headed

29.  Gull, Herring.

30.  Gull, Great Black-Backed.

31.  Gull, Lesser Black-Backed.

32.  Gull, Mediterranean.

33.  Guillemot, Black.

34.  Guillemot, Common.

35.  Heron, Grey.

36.  Jackdaw.

37.  Jay.

38.  Kestrel, Common.

39.  Kite, Red.

40.  Kittiwake.

41.  Lapwing.

42.  Linnet.

43.  Magpie.

44.  Mallard.

45.  Martin, House.

46.  Moorhen.

47.  Owl, Short Eared.

48.  Oystercatcher.

49.  Peregrine Falcon.

50.  Pheasant

51.  Pipit, Meadow.

52.  Pipit, Rock.

53.  Pochard, Common.

54.  Puffin.

55.  Razorbill.

56.  Raven.

57.  Shag.

58.  Shearwater, Manx.

59.  Shelduck.

60.  Skylark.

61.  Sparrow, House.

62.  Starling.

63.  Stonechat.

64.  Swallow, Barn.

65.  Swan, Mute.

66.  Wagtail, Pied.

67.  Warbler, Grasshopper.

68.  Warbler, Sedge.

69.  Wheatear.

70.  Whinchat [Neil only].

71.  Whitethroat, Common.

72.  Woodpigeon.

73.  Wren.


Harbour Porpoise- c30 seen between Martin’s Haven and Skomer, very close to the boat.
Grey Seal-seen around Skomer.


Large Skipper

Small Tortoiseshell

Dark Green Fritillary


Small Skipper

Meadow Brown

Small Heath

Red Admiral

Painted Lady



Silver Y

6-spot burnet

Emperor moth larva

Plants of note

Southern marsh orchid

Common spotted orchid

Heath spotted orchid

Marsh cinquefoil

Bog pimpernel

Bog asphodel

Marsh woundwort

Wild madder

Filed under: Trip Reports


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