Tuesday, 18 April 2017


It was a case of third time lucky for me yesterday at Shibdon Pond. Having been doing Easter stuff with the family I arrived home to find a missed call from Prof. Pochard himself (by a good few hours), a sure indication that something good had been found locally.

A scour of my twitter timeline revealed nothing, but Birdguides had notification of a Scaup at Shibdon Pond from late morning. Excellent! A bird I'd yet to see in Gateshead, and indeed my only previous record was from Aberlady Bay on a Durham Bird Club trip c2001.
I'd already dipped Common Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit in the last few days here so didn't want to dip this one.

I trekked down as the rain started, a bit of a set-to with a local youth on the way hardly knocked me out of my yomping stride and I arrived in the hide just after 5.30pm and just before the heavens opened.

My first scan revealed not much at all, but soon spotted the returning Godwit distant in the right-hand corner, good start.
No sign of the Scaup anywhere though, so I had a search of the hawking hirundines for something different as Rob entered the scene, and promptly found the Scaup straight away where I swear it hadn't been just a minute earlier :-/
Excellent, up to then I didn't know if I was looking for a drake or a duck, but this was a handsome drake, though not showing too well in the downpour.
Meanwhile Rob also found my first 2017 House Martin among the plethora of hirundines zipping around the pond.
The rain eventually eased and the waking drake Scaup became a bit more active further along the pond, so we walked along and got some decent shots of him (in my case half decent).

Drake Scaup (left) dozing in the pouring rain. I thought for a while this was going to be
the best shot I would get. 

But the rain eased and he showed well 

What a handsome chap

and again

And not forgetting the Black-tailed Godwit, though hardly the best view I've had of the species.

A lift home and that was that, the Scaup, Godwit and House Martins all nicely bagged.
Shibdon Pond has brought in some nice birds lately, and though I've missed out on a few short stayers, George has been keeping me up to speed with all the comings and goings. Here's the last few weeks as seen through his camera lens :

The long staying Garganey were a treat, sadly departed now (no not dead, just flown)

Mandarin appeared on the morning of the 5th, but was gone by the time I turned up
in the evening. 

Gadwall on the 8th, another one-day only bird 

Common Sandpiper on the 15th, gone by the 16th.

And a better shot of the Black-tailed Godwit, last 2 days on and off
(all images courtesy of George Simpson)

Good work from George, and time for a few more goodies yet we hope, with spring migration yet to peak. Shibdon Pond fast becoming my new  local patch :-)

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