I had previously visited this site on only one occasion, Sept 2008, seeing the female Subalpine Warbler, a Wryneck and common migrants including Spotted Flycatchers, Redstarts and Lesser Whitethroat. To me, Trow Quarry is one of the sites closest to the 'perfect' migrant trap I have seen.
The carload consisted of Myself, Dave Bickerton and a germ-ridden Phil Rhodes and we arrived onsite at c08:30. Following the short walk over the extensive grass strip of the Leas, the fantastic 'amphitheatre-like' Trow Quarry, and the twitch within, opened up before us.
Over the next three hours several prolonged and absolutely stunning scope views of this stonking, feature packed phyllosc were had in the Sycamores it shared with a Yellow-browed Warbler, and 2 Blackcap. Although my record shots may not convey just how good a bird this was, the Eastern Crowned Warbler was an absolute crippler, and even better 'in the flesh' than i could ever have previously fantasised!!!
Above: left-right, Dave Bickerton, Phil Rhodes & Myself, Trow Quarry, Tyne & Wear - 23rd Oct 2009.
Afterwards we travelled to South Gare for a couple of hours birding. The site was generally quiet for migrants; just 1 Chiffchaff & 1 Goldcrest seen amongst presumably migrant Robins between Paddy's Hole and the end of the Gare. We also dipped on the Lapland Bunting.
A final stop at the Shrike Bushes before having to leave resulted in a couple of brief binocular views of the palest Lesser Whitethroat I have personally ever seen. In these brief views i was instantly struck by the striking pale sandy upperparts, the head also appeared pale with the darkest area seemingly confined to the side of the head from the bill and around the eyes. Phil also managed to obtain a view to confirm the bird was pale whilst Dave manged only a flight view as it unfortunately flew into the densest area of the Shrike Bushes and didn't show itself again before we had to leave, but again the impression was of a pale warbler in flight. I was in no doubt the bird was some sort of Eastern Lesser Whitethroat and rang it out to alert local birders who will hopefully stick a mist net inside over the weekend, weather permitting!