East coast magic!

The run of easterlies and the news of lots of birds arriving up and down the east coast of Britain left me with no alternative but to head over there on Sunday with John. After much deliberation, we decided that Hartlepool Headland was probably the best place to start and so at 8am we pulled up near the bowling green to be greeted with the sound of hundreds of Redwings.
The signs were good. The bowling green had its nets set up and there was Redwing, Song Thrush, Robin, Chaffinch, Brambling, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Redstart, Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit. Siskins called overhead as more finches and thrushes arrived. We searched the gardens as we made our way down past St Hilda's to Borough Hall where John noticed a Great Grey Shrike flying. We later caught up with it again before it headed over to the bowling green and apparently got ringed.
Oi! Up here!
 The trees in the square were full of Chiffchaffs - I can't remember seeing so many in such a small area - together with a single Willow Warbler and the much sought after Yellow-browed Warbler

Thrushes carpeted the lawns and grassy areas. We had a Ring Ouzel in the Borough Hall trees as well as Fieldfares coming in off the sea.
 Siskins weren't as plentiful as the day before, apparently but we had lots of lovely birds to admire.
 Goldcrests were everywhere!
 As well as a scattering of Bramblings

The juvenile Woodchat Shrike that had been in residence for a couple of weeks finally appeared as the sun came out, albeit briefly.

We were extremly happy with our morning's birding so decided to have a bite to eat and then head for Saltburn where a Red-flanked Bluetail had been seen.

The initial climb up was a bit steep but the mile along the cliff top towards our quarry was very enjoyable. I managed to pick out the call of a couple of Lapland Buntings that were overhead but hidden in the cloud that was only just above our heads. Robins and Goldcrests were plentiful but one of the most surprising sights was of at least 50 Swallows feeding along the top of the cliffs.

As we approched the site, a few birders were leaving saying that the bird was showing well in the field but five minutes later when we arrived, we found a few birders who could find the bird. The bird had been trapped and ringed and suddenly disappeared. Now where have I heard that one before?

We amused ourselves searching for the bird in the enveloping mist - there was a nice flock of Chaffiches, Bramblings and Linnets in one corner of the field, Redstart, Wheatear and Meadow Pipits elsewhere. A Peregrine glided along the cliff top.

Then we noticed a group of four Lapland Buntings giving amazing views for this species. :)
Spot the Lapland Buntings!
Still not easy to see zoomed up!!
The light was rather poor but they were very nice through the scope, honestly. Around twelve Snow Buntings were also in the field but only seen in flight as were another flock of six Lapland Buntings that came down - a very good chance to compare the calls which are similar in many ways but the Snow Bunting is just that more strident and liquidy together with the harsh call note.

Anyway, a couple of hours had passed until there was a cry - no, no-one had fallen off the cliff but the bird had been found in the field again further up. It was very difficult to get on and no sooner as I had, it hopped up and flew to a cliff-top bush. It then continued to give tantalising views - or not as the case may be - until it popped out again briefly an hour later. Happy that we were unlikely to get any better views, we headed back down, birding along the way and finally headed for South Gare where we managed brief but good views of a Barred Warbler.

A really cracking day!


  1. I've just posted a comment on 'east is east and west is west' on Birds2blog Dave and I don't expect anyone to disagree with it, your title and account here says it all.

  2. Oh hell yes! An east coast fall like that is something special and something I wish to witness every year. Try as we might on the west side of the Pennines, only an exceptional set of circumstances would deposit such numbers all at once. Anyway, at least we can appreciate it and look forward to the birds filtering over this side soon!


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