Sightings 2006

Welcome to my sightings page for 2006, where I aim to display a compilation of my birding and wildlife sightings and experiences from that year.  For up to date reports of sightings, please consider following me on my Facebook, Twitter and Flickr pages.

January 2006

Picture:  Whooper Swans at Ramshaw, 26th January

1st January 2006 – Birdrace (targetting inland birds)
Low Barns had Water Rail (call only) and Tawny Owl (call only) at dawn.  Moorhen, Blackbird and a Wren were working there way around the West Hide.  At the same location, Greylag Geese (several), a Lapwing, a Sparrowhawk and a pair of Grey Wagtail flew overhead. The river was high, so there was nothing to be seen there other than a single Grey Heron.  The walk around the reserve found Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Robin, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Treecreeper, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Hooded Crow (hybrid), Starling, Chaffinch, Siskin, and Bullfinch. On the lake there were Little Grebe, Cormorant, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Goldeneye.  No sign of yesterdays Scaup.  No food on the feeding station.

A drive through the Dales resulted in very few additions to the day list.  Goosanders were found at three locations.  Pheasant, Common Gull, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Mistle Thrush were seen near Butterknowle.  Red Grouse (7) were close to Kinninvie. Dipper (1) and Grey Partridge (10) were seen near Egglestone.  Black Grouse were eventually found after searching for nearly two hours (only 2 were found from three normally reliable locations).  One member of the group found Kingfisher at one of these sites.  Pied Wagtail and Collared Dove were seen on the way to the Stang, which was very quiet.  Bishop Middleham at dusk added more birds to the list, but most had gone to roost by the time we got there.  Birds seen here included Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Barnacle Goose, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveller, Golden Plover, Common Snipe, Common Redshank, Herring Gull and Tree Sparrow.  A total of 65 birds were seen, which is a good count for inland birds.  Surprise birds that weren't seen included Jay, Redwing, Fieldfare, Song Thrush and Nuthatch.

3rd January 2006 – Bishops Park
Very quiet at first.  However, a walk around the outskirts of the park produced the regular, winter visiting Green Sandpiper.  A small flock of Lesser Redpoll were also seen (site first) with a single Common (mealy) Redpoll showing signs that it could be a member of the rarer Arctic Redpoll.  Other birds of note that were seen included Fieldfare (70+), Redwing (3) and a single Common Snipe.

6th January 2006 – Teesside
A total of 72 birds were seen on this visit to Teesside.  Cowpen Bewley had Tree Sparrow, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Blackbird, Magpie and Woodpigeon.  Saltholme Pools had Cormorant, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveller, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Smew, Ruddy Duck, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Ruff, Curlew and Pied Wagtail.  Dormans and the Reclamation Pond had Little Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Kingfisher, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting.  Seal Sands area had Red Throated Diver, Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret, Shelduck, Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Grey Plover, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Guillimot and Stonechat.  Hartlepool Headland had Shag, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Oystercatcher, Knot, Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone and House Sparrow.

13th January 2006 – Croxdale
Eight Hawfinch were seen along with good numbers of Siskin, Redwing, Chaffinch and Yellowhammer at Croxdale.  Other birds included Goosander (3 over), Cormorant (1 over), Pheasant, Nuthatch (10+), Dipper, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Great Spotted Woodpecker (4+), Green Woodpecker (heard calling), Goldcrest (20+), Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit (20+) and Long-tailed Tit.

14th January 2006 – Hetton Bogs & Rainton Meadows
Two Common Snipe and a single Jack Snipe were seen at Hetton Bogs. At least three Short-eared Owls were hunting at Rainton Meadows. Other birds at Rainton Meadows included Little Grebe (2), Greylag Goose (50+), Mute Swan (2), Pochard (10+), Tufted Duck (10+), Coot (20+), Moorhen (2), Common Kestrel (3+), Pheasant (7), Magpie (10+), Carrion Crow (10+), Jackdaw (40+), Siskin (30+), Greenfinch (4), Chaffinch (1) and Bullfinch (3).

15th January 2006 – Whitley Bay
A Humes Leaf Warbler was at Whitley Bay and at least forty five Waxwing were at Jarrow (south side of the Tyne Tunnel).

16th January 2006 – Croxdale
Fifteen White-fronted Geese were seen at Houghton Gate, along with Greylag Goose (2), Wigeon (10+), Mallard (2) and Shoveller (2).  At least one Hawfinch was at Sunderland Bridge.  No sign of Brambling or Lesser-spotted Woodpecker.  Other birds in the Sunderland Bridge area on this very cold and dull day included Moorhen (3), Pheasant (1), Blackbird (3), Dipper (1), Kingfisher (1), Goldcrest (10+), Long-tailed Tit (3+), Blue Tit (10+), Coal Tit (2), Great Tit (5), Treecreeper (1), Chaffinch (5) and Magpie (2).

18th January 2006 – Kinninvie
Two wing-tagged Red Kite were seen close to Kinninvie. Three Common Buzzard were also seen in the same area as the kites.  At least seventy Fieldfare flew through the valley whilst I was watching the raptors.  Three Red Grouse and at least forty Greylag Geese were nearby.  Other birds in the area included Mallard (10+), Common Gull (100+), Black-headed Gull, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw and Mistle Thrush.

19th January 2006 – Bishops Park
Three Goosander were on the River Wear, one male and two female.  A Barn Owl was seen hunting the opposite side of the River Wear at Bishops Park (at dusk).  Two Dipper were on the River Gaunless.  Otherwise, very quiet on a very dull afternoon.

20th January 2006 – Cowpen Bewely
A very windy day made birdwatching hard this morning. Two drake Smew were on Back Saltholme along with other regulars (notably there were hundreds of Lapwing and Golden Plover).  A flock of Twite (45+) were at Seaton Snook, which could have easily been overlooked if they hadn't decided to fly up and reposition themselves. Once visible, they gave some excellent views.  No sign of any Snow Bunting at North Gare.  The long staying Red-necked Grebe was still at Cowpen Bewley.

21st January 2006 – Byers Green & Newfield
A quick visit to Byers Green produced Chaffinch (50+), Greenfinch (10+), Tree Sparrow (20+), Great Tit, Blue Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Kestrel and Collared Dove.  No sign of any Brambling.  350 - 400 Gulls were at the gull roost at Newfield (Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull and Black-headed Gull were all seen).  A probable Long-eared Owl was seen on the outskirts of Bishop Auckland in poor light conditions.

22nd January 2006 – Hetton Bogs
A single Jack Snipe was seen at Hetton Bogs on the way to a morning out at South Shields.  A Little Owl was in Trow Quarry and an adult Mediterranean Gull was on the Leas.  Other birds seen during this 2 hour visit included Fulmar, Cormorant, Shag, Common Eider, Turnstone, Redshank, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Kittiwake, Skylark (20+), Kestrel, Feral Pigeon, Meadow Pipit (10+), Rock Pipit (1), Stonechat (4) and Reed Bunting (2).

25th January 2006 – Local & Kinninvie
Checked local public footpaths and old railway lines this morning.  Four Lesser Redpoll were seen near Greenfields.  Other birds in the area included Grey Partridge, Pheasant, Kestrel, Song Thrush, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Starling, Carrion Crow, Rook and Black-headed Gull. A group of Golden Plover was seen flying towards Cockfield.  At Kinninvie, a pair of Red Kite were seen, along with four Common Buzzard. All the birds were flying in the same area and provided views that were down to 20 - 30 yards. What a site to see on the way to work, 'excellent'.

26th January 2006 – Ramshaw
Second day of checking local public footpaths and old railway lines (during the afternoon). Four Whooper Swan were found on the oldest of the ponds at Ramshaw.  Over a hundred Siskin were nearby before being disturbed by a Sparrowhawk, which missed my head by inches when attacking the flock.  Two Dippers were seen on the River Gaunless.  Other birds seen included Teal (3), Mallard (2), Grey Partridge (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Bullfinch (1 male and 1 female), Chaffinch (3), Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper, Goldcrest (10+) and Lapwing (150+).  A Fox was also seen.

28th January 2006 – Byers Green
A half hour visit to Byers Green produced good views of Collared Dove, Tree Sparrow (20+), House Sparrow, Dunnock, Blackbird, Nuthatch (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Carrion Crow, Magpie, Goldfinch (10+), Chaffinch (50+), Greenfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Willow Tit (1), Treecreeper, Yellowhammer and Robin.  Five Greylag Geese flew over, heading east.  No sign of any Brambling.

29th January 2006 – Loch Ryan. Loch Ken, Glencaple & Caerlaverock
A total of eighty nine different species of birds were seen during the day.  We arrived at Loch Ryan at the estimated time of 0900am.  Black Guillimot (38), a single Razorbill (1), Red–throated Diver (10+), Great Crested Grebe, Slavonian Grebe (3), Brent Goose (15+), Scaup (3), Long–tailed Duck (3), Common Scoter (30+), Red–breasted Merganser (7+), Turnstone (50+), Common Snipe (1) and a variety of garden birds (visiting one of the local feeding stations) were found.  Loch Ken added some more birds to our list.  White–fronted Goose, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose and a single Barnacle Goose were found at the northern end of the loch.  Close views of both Red Kite (5+) and Common Buzzard (30+ throughout the day) were a pleasure to watch, but there was no sign of Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier or Red–legged Partridge today.  Glencaple was very quiet with no geese on show, but we did get distant views of Whooper Swan (50+). Kingfisher, Linnet and Common Redshank.  The drive to Caerlaverock gave us views of large numbers of Barnacle Goose and Pink-footed Goose.  Whooper Swans were showing well, but no sign of any Bewicks Swans. There was also no sign of the Taverners Canada Goose or the Lesser Scaup (both reported on the previous day). Two Stonechat was seen at the south hide, along with Deer and Fox. Dozens of Yellowhammers were seen along the footpaths, being lit up beautifully by the evening sun.  A single Peregrine Falcon was seen by one member of the group before we all witnessed thousands of geese flying to roost.  A Tawny Owl was seen resting on overhead cables. An excellent way to end the perfect day out birdwatching.

Febuary 2006

Picture:  Iceland Gull at North Shields, 26th February

1st February 2006 – Low Barns & Cockfield
All the regular birds were on the feeding station at Low Barns including Moorhen (3), Pheasant (1), Chaffinch (20+), Greenfinch (5), Blue Tit (10+), Great Tit (10+), Coal Tit (3), Marsh Tit (1), Dunnock (3), Robin (2), Blackbird (5), Nuthatch (1 heard), Carrion Crow (2 over) and Jackdaw (4 on the tree tops).  At least five Bullfinch were seen around the area of the visitor centre.  More than twenty five Siskin and a Kingfisher was seen on the walk round.  No sign of the reported Bittern, but there were two Goosanders seen on the River Wear.  All ponds were almost fully frozen with only a small area for the dablers to congregate.  A Greylag Goose, several Mallard and a couple of Teal were seen in this area.  Two male Pheasant, two Grey Partridge and a Little Owl were seen between Cockfield and Burnt Houses.

2nd February 2006 – Teesside
A quick visit to the Haverton / Saltholme area of Teesside produced Smew (2 drake and 1 red-head), Pintail (1), Water Pipit (10), a juvenile Peregrine, Greylag Goose (50+), Canada Goose (50+), Taiga Bean Goose (1), Stonechat (3) and many more regular birds such as Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveller, Shelduck and Lapwing (200+).

3rd February 2006 – South Tyneside
A visit to Gateshead for the reported Green-winged Teal involved visits to Dunston, Far Pasture, Shibdon Pond and Barlow.  Common Redshank (50+), Teal (100+), Shelduck (4), Cormorant (5), Great Black-backed Gull (3), Herring Gull (5+), Common Gull (10+), Black-headed Gull (20+) and Lapwing (100+) were seen on the River Tyne at Dunston.  Far Pasture was very quiet.  The only birds seen here during a twenty minute stay were Mute Swan (2), Moorhen (3) and a single Jay.  The Green-winged Teal was seen in the reeds towards the back of Shibdon Pond, along with some Teal (20+).  Other birds of note at Shibdon  included Goldeneye (4+) and a single Sparrowhawk.  The final stop of the morning at Barlow produced close views of at least seven Red Kite.  A Common Buzzard was heard, but not seen.

5th February 2006 – South Tyneside
A second visit to Gateshead involved visits to Shibdon Pond, Thornley Woods and Far Pasture.  The Green-winged Teal at Shibdon Pond showed very well in front of the hide.  Other birds of note included Goldeneye (2 drakes) and good numbers of Teal.  Birds on show from the new hide at Thornley Woods included Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Goldcrest (2), Jay (1), Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Siskin (1), Chaffinch and Bullfinch. Willow Tit and Nuthatch were heard, but not seen.  Far Pasture was the opposite to our previous visit with Mute Swan (2), Teal (10+), Grey Heron (1), Common Snipe (7), Jack Snipe (1), Moorhen (3), Coot (2), Long-tailed Tit (7+), Blue Tit (5+), Great Tit (5+), Sparrowhawk (1), Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and at least three Red Kite being seen during a 30 minute visit.

12th February 2006 – Teesdale
A 3 hour visit to the Teesdale produced a memorable afternoon in both birdwatching and scenery.  Three Grey Partridge, Two Common Buzzard and at least seven Raven were seen near Bowlees. Seven Black Grouse were near Langdon Beck. Red Grouse and one Red Kite were at Kinninvie. Numerous Fieldfare (200+) and Pheasant (40+) were seen throughout the afternoon, along with good numbers of Chaffinch and Starling.  Other birds included Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Robin and Wren.

13th February 2006 – Low Barns
A 45 minute visit to Low Barns.  The feeding station was busy with Chaffinch (10+), Robin (3), Coal Tit (2), Blue Tit (10+), Great Tit (8), Blackbird (8) and Mistle Thrush (1) in the tree tops.  The main lake had Canada Goose (28), Mallard (10+), Teal (3m & 2f), Moorhen (3), Coot (5), Goldeneye (1m & 3f), Tufted Duck (1f) and Kingfisher (1).  Five Cormorants were on the raft in the middle of the lake.  West lake produced Common Snipe (well hidden in the tall grass), Pochard (1m & 1f) and Grey Heron (1).  Elsewhere on the reserve were Sparrowhawk (1 at a distance), Lapwing (150c over the west pasture), Woodpigeon (1), Black-headed Gull (25+), Fieldfare (20+), Goldcrest (2), Carrion Crow (3), Jackdaw (20+), Starling (20+), Goldfinch (2) and Siskin (20+).

13th February 2006 – Barns Ness, Aberlady Bay, Gosford Bay, Largo Bay & Loch Leven
No sign of Bean Goose or the accompanying Pink-footed Geese at Barns Ness, but a nearby beach gave excellent views of displaying Sparrowhawk (2).  Other birds in the bay included Eider (2), Mallard (5), Curlew (1), Knot (10+), Grey Plover (1), Lapwing (10+), Common Redshank (4), Great Black-backed Gull (1 over), Herring Gull (1), Common Gull (1), Black-headed Gull (10+) and Dunnock (1).  Plenty of birds were in Aberlady Bay adding Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Golden Plover and Red-breasted MerganserArctic Redpoll (one of the two target birds was located nearby), along with two Common (Mealy) Redpolls and ten Lesser Redpolls.  Other birds in this area included Moorhen (1), Common Snipe (7), Stonechat (10+), Skylark (20+), Wren, Chaffinch (10+) and Reed Bunting (10+).  Gosford Bay produced Red-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Cormorant, Shag, Razorbill and excellent views of Velvet Scoter, Common Scoter & Long-tailed Duck.  We then crossed the Forth Road Bridge to Largo and achieved good views of Waxwing (40+ in Tranent) and Surf Scoter (2nd target bird in largo Bay).  Turnstone, Ringed Plover (50+) and Rock Pipit (3) were also seen here.  An unplanned visit to Lock Leven produced 150 Whooper Swans and a single Bewicks Swan (apparently the only one in Scotland at this time).  A single Little Egret was on the reserve, along with a single drake Smew. Other birds at Loch Leven included Great Crested Grebe (10+), Goosander (at least four), Pink-footed Goose (400c, coming to roost), Greylag Goose (250c, in a nearby field), Common Buzzard and plenty of garden birds on the feeding station.  A total of at least 78 birds were recorded.

26th February 2006 – North Shields
An early afternoon drive to North Shields with the family produced excellent views of the reported Iceland Gull.  Other birds included Cormorant (10+), Eider (10+), Black-headed Gull (100+), Herring Gull (50+), Great Black-backed Gull (20+), Kittiwake (1) and Turnstone (20+).  A Brown Rat was seen happily eating peoples left over fish and chips.

27th February 2006 – Bishops Park
A 45 minute visit to the outskirts of Bishops Park produced the usual wintering Green Sandpiper and a single Tree Sparrow.  Other birds included Grey Partridge (2), Pheasant (1), Woodpigeon (2), Wren (1), Robin (1), Blackbird (2), Song Thrush (1), Coal Tit (1), Great Tit (10+), Blue Tit (10+), Treecreeper (2), Magpie (2), Carrion Crow (5) and Chaffinch (10+).

March 2006

Picture:  Ring-necked Duck at Coatham Marsh, 5th March

4th March 2006 – South Durham
A visit along the southern edge of the county produced a good selection of raptors including Common Buzzard (1), Goshawk (1), Sparrowhawk (1) and Kestrel (1).  On the outskirts of Bowes, there was an impressive flock of Starlings (500c), along with Carrion Crow (30+), Jackdaw (20+) and Common Gull (10+). Also nearby were Lapwing (50+), Golden Plover (1+), House Sparrow (10+), Great Tit (5), Blue Tit (10+), Goldcrest (3), Chaffinch (20+), Goldfinch (4), Robin (2), Blackbird (1), Song Thrush (6) and Mistle Thrush (1).  Three Red-legged Partridges were seen on the road to Brignal along with numerous Pheasants.  Good numbers of Redwing were also in the area along with at least 200 Fieldfare.

5th March 2006 – Coatham Marsh
A two hour visit to South Gare produced Snow Buntings (1 male & 2 female) , Wren (1), Stonechats (2), Reed Bunting (5), Pied Wagtail (2) and Rock Pipit (7+).  Birds on the beach included Cormorant (3), Eider (7), Bar-tailed Godwit (6), Knot (1), Redshank (2), Sanderling (60+), Turnstone (30+), Starling (75+), Herring Gull (10+), Common Gull (10+) and Black-headed Gull (10+).  A single Red-throated Diver and a single Guillimot were in the bay.  A quick stop at Coatham Marsh produced a single Ring-necked Duck.  Other birds there included Tufted Duck (7), Pochard (5), Wigeon (10+), Teal (10+), Grey Heron (1) and Water Rail (2).

6th to 12th March 2006 – Local
Highlight of the week was a Barn Owl that was seen most evenings on the outskirts of West Auckland.  Tree Sparrows (6+), House Sparrows (15+), Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (3), Collared Dove (2), Woodpigeon (150+), Robin (3), Dunnock (4) and Blackbird (2) were seen at Etherley Moor on a daily basis.  Song Thrush, Lapwing and Skylark are all singing / displaying on Etherley Moor.  Cold weather and snow showers towards the end of the week brought Yellowhammer (2), Fieldfare (10+) and Mistle Thrush (1) into the garden.  Other local reports from Mike Irvin included Common Buzzard, Red Kite, Raven, Red Grouse and good numbers of Black Grouse.  A single Little Egret was observed coming to roost at Hartlepool.

13th to 17th March 2006 – Escomb & Barnard Castle
On the 17th, a Great Crested Grebe was on Escomb Pond.  Also at Escomb that day (viewed from the top road) were Redwing (1), Song Thrush (1), Kestrel (1), Jackdaw (7), Carrion Crow (3), Robin (1), Woodpigeon (20+), Black-headed Gull (20+) and Common Gull (3).  The cold weather at the beginning of the week made sure Yellowhammer (2 on Wednesday) kept visiting the garden.  Other birds on Etherley Moor during the week included Chaffinch (2), Tree Sparrow (7 max), House Sparrow (40 max), Jackdaw (1), Blackbird (5+), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (1+), Robin (3 max), Starling (20+), Dunnock (4 max).  Lapwing (2) and Skylark (2) still singing.  Four Grey Partridge and three Curlew were seen on the 17th.  At least six Black Grouse were seen between Barnard Castle and Woodlands on the 15th, along with three Common Buzzard and large numbers of Starling (3 seperate flocks, totalling at least 850).

18th March 2006 – Newfield
A twenty minute stop at Byers Green produced good numbers of Tree Sparrow (40+). House Sparrow (10+), Yellowhammer (20+), Chaffinch (20+), Greenfinch (3), Song Thrush (1), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (2), Jackdaw (10+), Carrion Crow (3), Magpie (2) and Kestrel (1). A group of Greylag Geese (25+) were in fields on the other side of the River Wear.  Fieldfare (75+), Mistle Thrush (3), Song Thrush (2), Blackbird (3), Starling (20+) and Pheasant (12+ females) were in a field on the outskirts of Newfield. At least three Bullfinch were also in the area (1 male and 2 female).  Newfield tip was quiet, as was Bishops Park.

19th March 2006 – The Stang
A visit to the southern edge of the county provided good views of at least three Goshawk, nine Common Buzzard, two Sparrowhawk and one KestrelGreylag Goose (4), Canada Goose (2), Teal (2), Mallard (4), Curlew (5), Lapwing (10+), Redshank (1), Pheasant (10+), Woodpigeon (3), Song Thrush (1), Mistle Thrush (3), Fieldfare (45+), Redwing (3), Siskin (3), Greenfinch (2), Chaffinch (2), Long-tailed Tit (2), Coal Tit (5), Great Tit (4), Blue Tit (10+) were also in the same area.  A Barn Owl was once again seen hunting on the outskirts of West Auckland. Observed for fifteen minutes, occasionally at very close range.

20th to 23rd March 2006 – Etherley Moor
Two Barn Owls were seen on the 22nd, one on the outskirts of West Auckland was seen hunting hedge rows (distant views) and the other at Etherley Moor.  The pair of Yellowhammer are still visiting the garden. Other birds on Etherley Moor during the week included Chaffinch (3), Tree Sparrow (5 max), House Sparrow (30 max), Carrion Crow (2), Blackbird (3), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (2), Robin (3 max), Starling (4), Dunnock (2).  Lapwing (2) and Skylark (2) still singing/displaying in surrounding fields.  A wren and a Song Thrush were singing well, on the 22nd.  Two Long-tailed Tits were in the garden on the 23rd.

24th, 25th & 26th March 2006 – Cairngorms
Day 1:  Birds seen on the journey includes Cormorant (1), Common Buzzard (20c), Pied Wagtail (2), Skylark (1), Carrion Crow, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Goldfinch and Jackdaw.  A Red Squirrel was seen whilst driving past Insh Marshes.  Greylag Goose (4), Kestrel (1), Oystercatcher (5+) & Lapwing (2) were also in the area.  Glen Feshie provided the first two of our target birds, a female Capercaillie and at least 2 Crested Tits.  Other birds here included Peregrine (1), Hooded Crow (1), Greenfinch, Chaffinch (10+), Coal Tit (10+), Blue Tit (10+), Meadow Pipit (2), Stonechat (2 males) and a single Red-legged Partridge.  The short drive to Loch Morlich gave us excellent viewes of Crested Tit (6c) along with Coal Tit (10+), Goldcrest (2+) and Treecreeper (1). Bullfinch (1m & 1f), Tufted Duck (2), Goosander (1m & 1f), Goldeneye (5c), Mallard (10+) and a Dipper.   Next came a drive to Nethy Bridge for the reported Waxwings.  No sign of any waxwings, but we did get views of Meally Redpoll (1), Lesser Redpoll (1), Siskin (10c), Mistle Thrush (7+), Song Thrush (2), Redwing (1+), Wren (1), Robin (1), Dunnock (1), Grey Heron (1), Curlew (1) and Blackbird (1). Numerous Pheasants, Woodpigeon, Starling, Black-headed Gulls and Magpie were seen throughout the day.

Day 2:  Loch Garten had several Goldeneye, Great Black-backed Gull and a Little Grebe (no sign of any Crossbills or Crested Tits).  A second attempt for the Waxwings at Nethy Bridge proved to be unsuccessfull, but we did get good views of Buzzard, Siskin (10c), Dipper (2 on the river), House Sparrow (5+) and Chaffinch (50c).  Golden Eagle (2), Red Kite (1), Common Buzzard (4+), Peregrine (1), Raven (3), Red Deer (50+) and Feral Goat (5+) were seen at Findhorn Valley.  Other species in the valley included Common Gull, Black-headed Gull (10c), Lapwing (4c), Goosander (2), Mallard (2), Mistle Thrush (3c), Greenfinch (2), Chaffinch (3), Blue Tit (2), Curlew (1) and an impressive show of at least eighty Oystercatcher.  To finish off the day we had a walk around Loch an Eilien. Once again, we failed to locate any Crossbill or Crested Tit, but Great Spotted Woodpecker was added to the list.

Day 3:  An early morning trip to the Cairngorms gave us excellent views of Snow Bunting (3c) and Pied Wagtail (2).  There were no Ptarmigan to be seen, but we did have distant views of Red Grouse (2+) and Mountain Hare (1).  On our return journey, a final visit for the Waxwings at Nethy Bridge proved succesfull (21).  The journey back to Perth (via Braemar) provided us with Mute Swan (20c), Whooper Swan (3), Raven (7+), Buzzard (10+), Red Grouse (10c), Red Deer and Mountain Hare.

29th March 2006 – Low Barns
An early afternoon walk around Low Barns produced the first Chiffchaff of the year.  A pair of Long-tailed Tits and a Siskin were visiting the feeders, along with Chaffinch (10+), Blue Tit (10+), Marsh Tit (1), Great Tit (4), Robin (1), Dunnock (2) and Blackbird.  Three Tufted Duck were on the West Pool. Moorhen (2) and Coot (2) were also there.  Two Grey Heron, two Mute Swan and a hybrid Hooded Crow were on the West Pasture.  Grey Wagtail (1) and Dipper (1) were on the River Wear.  Seven Goldeneye were on the main lake, along with Tufted Duck (7), Pochard (1), Canada Goose (2), Greylag Goose (4), Teal (1m), Cormorant (2), Oystercatcher (2) and several Black-headed Gulls.  Two Jackdaws were in the Owl Boxes, viewed from the south hide.

April 2006

Picture:  Stonechat at Zinc Road, 1st April

1st April 2006 – Teesside
The reported Avocet was seen at the Calor Gas Pool on Teesside, along with the first Sand Martins (10+) of the year.  Large numbers of Curlew were on West Saltholme, along with the regular birds that can be found in the area. It was nice to see Great Crested Grebe in full summer plumage at this location.  Two Stonechat were seen at Zinc Road.  Little Owl (1), Grey Partridge (2), Yellowhammer (2), Tree Sparrow (5+), Lapwing (2), Skylark (2) and Chaffinch (2) were seen at Etherley Moor. Fox and Hare also seen in fields nearby.

2nd April 2006 – Teesside
Two male Penduline Tits were at Portrack Marsh after waiting for only an hour.  No sign of yesterdays Avocet at the Calor Gas Pool, but three Ruff were on Back Saltholme.  Sand Martins (10+), Ringed Plover, Great Crested Grebe (10+), Shoveller (5) and Shelduck were also there.  Two Little Ringed Plover were on the saline pool at Greatham Creek.  A walk along towards Seal Sands provided excellent views of Northern Wheatear (1m & 1f).  Red-throated Diver (2), Slavonian Grebe (2), Great Crested Grebe (5+), Red-breasted Merganser (4), Shelduck (25c), Grey Plover (7c), Ringed Plover (50c), Dunlin (50c), Curlew (10+), Black-tailed Godwit (10+), Bar-tailed Godwit (10+), Redshank (30c), Turnstone (10+), Herring Gull (20+), Great Black-backed Gull (2+) and Black-headed Gull were seen at Seal Sands.  At least five Common Seal were also there.  A quick visit to the Jewish Cemetery produced Northern Wheatear (1m), Skylark (2) and Meadow Pipit (4). Mallard (5), Eider (5c), Cormorant (3) and Guillimot (1) were seen close by, before the weather turned to heavy showers.

4th April 2006 – Escomb
Two Swallows and at least twelve Sand Martin were over the ponds. A Meadow Pipit and a female Reed Bunting were near the small pond. A ChiffChaff was seen working its way along one of the hedge rows, where a pair of Long-tailed Tits were seen applying the finishing touches to their nest.  Three female Goosander, four Great Crested Grebe, two female Goldeneye and several Tufted Duck were on the ponds.  Other birds seen included Grey Heron (1), Mute Swan (4), Greylag Goose (8), Canada Goose (2), Mallard (5), Pheasant (1), Moorhen (1), Coot (6), Oystercatcher (3), Common Gull (1), Woodpigeon (20+), Wren (3), Dunnock (3), Robin (2), Blackbird (2), Mistle Thrush (1), Coal Tit (2), Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (2), Magpie (4), Jackdaw (2), Carrion Crow (2), Starling (10+) and Chaffinch (2).

4th April 2006 – Teesdale & Weardale
Seven male Black Grouse were seen shortly after leaving Barnard Castle.  Another nine were found further up the Tees Valley. Only three Red Grouse were seen throughout the morning, all in upper Weardale.  Several Golden Plover (10+) were seen in full summer plumage. Curlew (10+), Oystercatcher (5c), Lapwing (20+) and Common Redshank (1+) being the other waders seen. Pheasant (5+), Common Kestrel (1), Blackbird (3+), Song Thrush (2), Mistle Thrush (2), Fieldfare (10+), Starling (50+), Carrion Crow (4c), Jackdaw (2), Black-headed Gull (2+), Common Gull (10+), Collared Dove (1) and Chaffinch (10+) were also seen.  The return to Barnard Castle resulted in a quick stop to visit Deepdale. Two Grey Wagtails and a Dipper were seen on the river. Chaffinch (3), Goldcrest (1), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (1) and Song Thrush (1) were also seen there.

4th April 2006 – Bishops Park
The usual Green Sandpiper was seen on the outskirts of Bishops Park. A pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen working their way up the River Wear.

9th April 2006 – Teesdale & Low Barns
A morning visit to Upper Teesdale produced twenty two Black Grouse (16m & 6f) at three seperate locations.  Several Red Grouse were also seen was seen in the area.  Six male and one female Ring Ouzel were seen, along with Raven (2), Wheatear (1m), Grey Partridge (2), Snipe (10+), Common Redshank (10+), Curlew (10+), Oystercatcher (4), Lapwing (20+), Golden Plover (2), Meadow Pipit (20+), Skylark (10+), Carrion Crow (4), Blackbird (1), Dunnock (2), Common Gull (25+) and Black Headed Gull (10+). An impressive count of 800c Fieldfares were seen, viewed from the roadside at one location.  Further down the valley a Red Kite and no fewer than sixteen Common Buzzard were seen from two viewing places.  A single Sparrowhawk and a further 120 Fieldfares were also seen in the same area.  Low Barns was quite productive during the early hours of the afternoon.  Sand Martin (10+), Swallow (20+), Chiffchaff (4), Reed Bunting (3), Meadow Pipit (5), Siskin (2) and four Long-tailed Tits were nice to see.  A Green Woodpecker was heard, but not seen.  Thirty eight different species seen here in just over an hour.

10th April 2006 – Herrington Park
A quick visit to Herrington Country Park before lunch provided me with good views of the reported Black-necked Grebes (2). A late afternoon visit to Bishops Park produced Green Sandpiper (1) and a singing ChiffChaff.

9th April 2006 – Clara Vale
Two male Blackcaps and a male Brambling were seen feeding below the feeders in front of the hide on several occasions.  Siskin (2 male and 1 female) visited the feeders throughout the afternoon.  Other birds seen there included Mallard (3), Moorhen (1), Coot (2), Pheasant (1m & 1f), Woodpigeon (6), Stock Dove (5), Greenfinch (7+), Chaffinch (10+), Blue Tit (4+), Great Tit (4+), Coal Tit (2), Magpie (2), Jackdaw (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Dunnock (2), Robin (1) and Yellowhammer (5+).  A Chiffchaff was heard singing further inside the reserve.

14th April 2006 – Filey Dam
Very frustrating trying to get good views of the drake Blue-winged Teal.  It showed three times during the two hours that were spent there, totalling only three minutes.  Other birds there included Mute Swan (2), Barnacle Goose (1), Shoveller (2), Gadwall (2), Tufted Duck (7+), Mallard (4+), Common Teal (10+), Moorhen (2), Coot (4), Lesser Black-backed Gull (2), Herring Gull (6+), Barn Owl (1), Common Snipe (1), Skylark (2), Blackbird (1), Sand Martin (6+), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (2), Dunnock (2) and Reed Bunting (3).

14th to 17th April 2006 – Ayr
A three day family visit to Ayrshire, targeting the reported King Eider at Irvine.  At least five Common Buzzard seen on the journey to Ayrshire on Friday afternoon.  The drake King Eider showed well at Irvine, after scanning the area for approximately three hours.  Several Red-throated Divers (some in summer plumage), Black Guillimot (3), Razorbill (5+), Guillimot (6+), Red-breasted Merganser (10+), Gannet (10+), Shag (10+), Cormorant (10+), Wigeon (3), Knot (1), Curlew (4), Turnstone (70+), Mute Swan (10), Common Eider (50+), Great Black-backed Gull (4), Lesser Black-backed Gull (20+), Herring Gull (20+), Black-headed Gull, (7+), Common Redshank, (40+), Carrion Crow (4), Jackdaw (2), Grey Heron (1) and three Common Seals were also seen in the area.  Later in the day, a walk down to the river from the caravan park provided me with my first three Willow Warblers of the year.  Also in and around the caravan park were Chiffchaff (1 heard), Long-tailed Tit (2), Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (1), Coal Tit (1), Siskin (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Greenfinch (2), Chaffinch (2), Goldfinch (3), Wren (1), Grey Wagtail (2), Pied Wagtail (1), Blackbird (1) and Robin (1).  Most of the sunday was spent in the Caravan Park. A male Blackcap, a Stock Dove and at least two Treecreepers were seen close to the river.  A Common Kestrel was provided good views, offering an opportunity for some digiscoped photographs.

18th April 2006 – Teesside
An early morning start, targetting Long-eared Owl and then the reported Garganey at Teesside.  A Long-eared Owl was seen on the way to Teesside at day break. Curlew (1), Grey Partridge (2), Willow Warbler (3) and Reed Bunting (1m) were also in the same area.  Two Garganey (1m & 1f) were on Back Saltholme. A Marsh Harrier, Three Ruff and several Dunlin were also there. Five Pintail were on Dormans Pool and two Whimbrel were found whilst scanning through Curlews that were feeding in the fields opposite the fire station roundabout.

19th April 2006 – Bishops Park
A walk round the top of Bishops Park produced at least ten Willow Warblers, two Chiffchaff and at least three male Common Redstart.  A Green Woodpecker was heard calling, before it was seen at close range. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was also seen in the same area.  Other birds in the area included Curlew (2), Yellowhammer (1), Dunnock (1), House Sparrow (3+), Blackbird (2), Goldfinch (3), Greenfinch (2), Chaffinch (2), Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (2), Jackdaw (4), Carrion Crow (2), Jay (2), Magpie (4) and Robin (3).  A Corn Bunting was singing on wires at Etherley Moor.

20th April 2006 – Escomb
A walk round Escomb Ponds produced at least eight Willow Warblers, two Chiffchaffs, two Blackcaps (1m & 1f) and one male Common Redstart.  Good numbers of Sand Martin have now returned to their usual nesting area.  Other noteable birds in the area included Meadow Pipit (2) and Reed Bunting (4m & 1f).

21st April 2006 – Gaunless Flats & Low Barns
An hour was spent at Gaunless Flats. No new arrivals other than Swallows (3) and Willow Warbler (5+). Linnet (2), Reed Bunting (5), Yellowhammer (2) and a single Common Snipe were also seen here.  After leaving Gaunless Flats, I decided to visit Low Barns. Forty three different species of birds were seen whilst walking round the reserve.  A Nuthatch and a Marsh Tit were visiting the feeding station along with the usual birds that visit the feeders. At seven Willow Warblers were close by, along with two male Blackcaps. Anther two Nuthatches were seen close to the West Hide, along with Treecreeper (2), Green Woodpecker (1) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (1). A Great Crested Grebe and three female Goldeneye were on the lake. Four Swallows and two Grey Wagtails were also seen.

22nd April 2006 – Bishop Middleham
A Common Sandpiper was on the roadside pool, along with a singing Corn Bunting.  At least two more Corn Buntings were seen and heard close to Castle Lake. Yellow Wagtail (3), Linnet (4), Tree Sparrow (3), Blackcap (1m) and large numbers of Yellowhammer (50+) were also in the same area.  Castle Lake produced the find of the day, a single drake Garganey. Two Little Ringed Plovers were also there. Swallow (10+), Sand Martin (50+) and House Martin (1) arrived whilst watching the Garganey.  Little Grebe (2), Mute Swan (4), Canada Goose (15+), Greylag Goose (2), Shelduck (15+), Wigeon (10+), Gadwall (20+), Teal (4), Mallard (10+), Shoveller (2), Tufted Duck (20+), Pheasant (1), Moorhen (10+), Coot (20+), Oystercatcher (10+), Lapwing (10+), Common Redshank (10+), Black-headed Gull (1), Common Gull (5), Lesser Black-backed Gull (2), Herring Gull (1), Great Black-backed Gull (1), Stock Dove (2), Woodpigeon (10+), Collared Dove (2), Skylark (2), Pied Wagtail (4), Wren (1), Dunnock (2), Robin (1), Blackbird (2), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (1), Magpie (5), Jackdaw (10+), Carrion Crow (2), Starling (10+), House Sparrow (3), Chaffinch (3), Greenfinch (1), Goldfinch (3) and Reed Bunting (2) were also in the area, making it a total of 54 different species of birds seen during this 2 hour visit.

23rd April 2006 – Gaunless Flats & Bishops Park
Gaunless Flats was surprisingly quiet today. Three Willow Warblers, three Reed Bunting and a pair of Yellowhammers showed well. Greylag Geese (2), Canada Geese (2), Mute Swan (2), Coot (3) and Jackdaw (1) were the only other birds seen.  At Bishops Park, the Green Sandpiper was seen at its usual location. Two Common Whitethroats, a male Blackcap and two male Redstarts were also seen towards the bottom end of the park. Grey Partridge (2), Pheasant (1), Woodpigeon (3), Song Thrush (1), Blue Tit (10+), Great Tit (2), Chaffinch (3) and Yellowhammer (2) were also there.  Four species of Butterfly were seen, Peacock (7+), Small Tortoiseshell (10+), Comma (1) and Small White (2).

26th April 2006 – Escomb
Common Whitethroat (1), Garden Warbler (1), Blackcap (1m and 1f), Willow Warbler (10+), Chiffchaff (2) and a pair of Willow Tits were also seen.  A single Corn Bunting was seen/heard singing on wires at Etherley Moor. At least four Tree Sparrows are still visiting the garden feeders.

27th April 2006 – Escomb
A male Ruddy Duck was on the main lake (27th), which is now becoming a rare sight for Escomb.

28th April 2006 – Escomb
At least one Common Swift and one House Martin were amongst the numerous Sand Martin (50+) and Swallows (7+) on the 28th. Five Great Crested Grebe were on the fishing pools. Two Common Sandpipers and a pair of Goosanders were seen on the River Wear.

30th April 2006 – Tunstall Reservoir and Dryderdale
A Corn Bunting was seen/heard calling when leaving the house at Etherley Moor. A pair of Bullfinches were also there.  Three male Common Redstarts were found whilst walking through the wood. A single Cuckoo and a Green Woodpecker were heard but not seen. One Common Sandpiper was feeding along the edge of the dam, whilst Tree Pipit (1), Great Crested Grebe (2) and Goosander (1m & 1f) were seen close to the reserve end of the reservoir.  Other birds seen at Tunstall Reservoir included Greylag Goose (4), Mallard (3), Pheasant (2), Moorhen (1), Oystercatcher (1), Common Snipe (2 heard), Common Redshank (2), Woodpigeon (5), Tawny Owl (1 heard), Great Spotted Woodpecker (3), Swallow (10+), Pied Wagtail (2), Grey Wagtail (1), Wren (1), Robin (3), Blackbird (3), Song Thrush (2), Mistle Thrush (1), Willow Warbler (7+), Goldcrest (2), Long Tailed Tit (2), Coal Tit (2), Blue Tit (10+), Great Tit (6+), Nuthatch (2), Treecreeper (2), Jay (1), Jackdaw (2), Rook (10+), Carrion Crow (4), Starling (3), House Sparrow (2), Chaffinch (4) and Goldfinch (3).  A second Cuckoo was heard at Dryderdale. Common Buzzard (1), Red Grouse (2) and another two Tree Pipits were also seen in the area.

May 2006

Picture:  White Stork at Billingham, 3rd May

1st May, 2006 – Nosterfield, Teesside & Escomb
A visit to Nosterfield for the reported Long-billed Dowitcher proved to be very rewarding.  The summer plumaged adult showed very well, allowing superb views for nearly thirty minutes. A single male Blackcap was also there.  A dark morph Marsh Harrier was seen at Back Saltholme on Teesside.  A drake Garganey, two Ruff, two White Wagtails and two Yellow Wagtails were also there. Sedge Warbler (3), Reed Warbler (3), Common Whitethroat (2) were seen at Dormans. At least twenty Swifts passed through whilst watching the Reed Warblers.  At least three male Blackcaps were sen at Escomb. Otherwise, very quiet.

3rd May, 2006 – Billingham, Teesside
A White Stork and a Common Sandpiper were at Billingham Business Park.  Plenty of Sedge Warblers and Common Whitethroats were singing at Dormans.

6th May, 2006 – Escomb
An hours walk around Escomb Lake produced two Common Sandpipers, two male Blackcaps, four Common Whitethroats, four Willow Warblers and a single Chiffchaff. Eight Greylag Geese and nine Canada Geese were in the surrounding fields. A male Ruddy Duck was on the main lake and at least ten Tufted Duck were on the small lake.  Other birds seen included Grey Heron (1), Mallard (2), Woodpigeon (2), Sparrowhawk (1), Kestrel (1), Coot (4), Oystercatcher (1), Curlew (1), Woodpigeon (2), Common Swift (5), Kingfisher (1), Swallow (2), House Martin (2), Meadow Pipit (2), Dunnock (1), Robin (1), Blackbird (3), Long Tailed Tit (1), Blue Tit (3), Great Tit (1), Magpie (4), Jackdaw (3), Carrion Crow (3), Starling (20+), House Sparrow (3), Chaffinch (1), Goldfinch (2) and Reed Bunting (3). Several Orange Tip butterflies were on the wing along with Small Tortoiseshell (1) and Peacock (1).

6th May, 2006 – Teesside
Crimdon Dene had a reeling Grasshopper Warbler. Stonechat (1), Linnet (10+), Meadow Pipit (2), Swallow (10+), Little Tern (2) and Ringed Plover (3) were also seen during the fifteen minutes that were spent there.  Three Northern Wheatears were at the end of the Zinc Road. No sign of any of the reported Whinchats whilst I was there.  A Little Stint and a single Ruff were on Back Saltholme. A 1st year Little Gull was on West Saltholme, with approximately fifty Common Terns. Numerous Dunlin and Ringed Plover were on both West and Back Saltholme.

7th May, 2006 – Bishops Park
Very quiet this morning. Two Common Whitethroats were singing well and a Reed Bunting was seen flying along the river bank. Two Grey Wagtails were also by the river.  A Cuckoo was heard calling on Etherley Moor, along with two Corn Buntings.

10th May, 2006 – Etherley Moor
Barn Owl seen hunting hedge rows on Etherley Moor tonight.  At least three different Corn Buntings seen/heard singing on Etherley Moor today.  Goldfinch (3), Greenfinch (4+), Tree Sparrow (4+), Yellowhammer (pair) still visiting garden feeders. Blackbird and Song Thrush possibly feeding young in neighbours hedges. Blue Tits have now finished nest building in a nest box that was put up less than 6 weeks ago.

12th to 14th May, 2006 – Norfolk
Dunwich Heath provided us with good, but brief views of Nightingale (3), Dartford Warbler (3) and Cettis Warbler (5).  At least two Bitterns were heard booming and two Marsh Harriers were seen over the marsh.  Five Barnacle Geese flew north, whilst sea watching.  Cuckoos were heard from at least five different locations and two Woodlarks were located on the outskirts of Minsmere reserve.  Two Stone Curlews were seen at Weeting.  A drake Garganey, a single Common Sandpiper, fifteen Hobbies, a male Golden Oriole (as well as a possible female) and two Cuckoos were also seen at Lakenheath.  Montagu's Harrier (1 male & a female), Common Buzzard (1), Marsh harrier (2+), Hobby (2) and Whinchat (1 female) were seen at a confidential site in the north of the county.  Bearded Tit (3), Little Gull, (5), Little Egret (2), Little Terns (4), Avocet (50+), Ruff (1), Grey Plover (7+), Common Sandpiper (2), Temmincks Stint (1) and a single Whimbrel were the pick of the waders found at Titchwell.  Several Corn Bunting and three Turtle Doves were found at the nearby Choseley Drying Barns.  Nightjar (1 heard), Woodcock (1) and at least one more Nightingale were at Salthouse Heath.  Spoonbill (4), Greenshank (1), Egyption Goose (16+), Brent Goose (7+), Marsh Harrier (2m & 2f), Bar-tailed Godwit (1), Black-tailed Godwit (20+), Little Egret (7+) and Cormorant (30+) were seen at Holkham.  Good numbers of Red-legged Partridge (20+), Turtle Dove (7+) and Barn Owl (10+) were seen throughout the weekend.  Sixteen Dotterel and a single Little Ringed Plover were seen at North Cotes on the return journey.  A total of 122 different species of birds were seen on this three day trip to Norfolk / Suffolk.

17th May, 2006 – Escomb
A single Black-necked Grebe at Escomb this morning. Showed very well, but tended to stay in the centre of the main lake. Three Garden Warblers, 1 male Blackcap and 2 Common Whitethroats were also there. Normally a reliable site for Lesser Whitethroat, but none (as yet) this year. Corn Bunting and Cuckoo still on Etherley Moor.

21st May, 2006 – Muggleswick & Whitburn
Two Spotted Flycatchers were seen at Muggleswick. Other birds there included Willow Warbler (3+), Chiffchaff (2+), Grey Wagtail (2), Nuthatch (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1) and a single Wood Warbler (1 heard calling).  The visit to Muggleswick was cut short when I was forced to visit Whitburn C.P. for the reported male Woodchat ShrikeCommon Whitethroat (1+), Reed Bunting (4+), Goldfinch (4+), Swallow (4+) and Reed Warbler (1 possible) were also there.  Unfortunately, this was the last time that I seen my Nikon 4300 Digiscoping camera as it was lost on the return to the car.

25th May, 2006 – Teesside
Very quiet today on Teesside. At least three Little Gulls were at the Reclamation Pond. Two Four-spotted Chasers were on the land between Dormans and the Reclamation Pond. Small Copper (3), Wall Brown (5) and Peacock (1) butterflies were also there. A single Corn Bunting is still being seen on a daily basis at Etherley Moor. Plenty of fledged young are also present. Young Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Dunnocks, Robins and Tree Sparrows have been visiting the garden over the past 3 to 4 days.

27th to 30th May, 2006 – Harwood Dale, Scarborough
A single Turtle Dove and a pair of Red-legged Partridges were the only birds of note during this weekend break with the family.

31st May, 2006 – Bishop Middleham & Barnard Castle
The reported Turtle Dove was seen by the roadside pool. Little-ringed Plover (1), Corn Bunting (1), Grey Partridge (3) and Yellow Wagtail (1) were also there.  At least fifteen Dingy Skippers were in Bishop Middleham Quarry. Wall Brown (20+) and Small White (5) butterflies were also there.  Pied Flycatcher (1 pair) and Spotted Flycatcher (2) were seen at Deepdale (Barnard Castle). Cuckoo (1 heard close to the ford), Garden Warbler (1), Blackcap (1 male), Willow Warbler (2), Chiffchaff (1), Goldcrest (1), Robin (3), Treecreeper (1), Blackbird (2), Great Tit (5), Blue Tit (2), Long-tailed Tit (2), Dipper (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (2), Kestrel (1) and Carrion Crow (2) were also seen there.  A Red Kite and two Common Buzzards were seen on the outskirts of Barnard Castle.

June 2006

Picture:  Woodcock at Harwood, 11th June

1st June, 2006 – Etherley Moor & Escomb
Two Corn Buntings were seen at Etherley Moor. Two Linnets and a Greenfinch were also on the wires. Recently fledged Tree Sparrows (5+), House Sparrows (4+) and Dunnocks (4+) are visiting the garden. Sounds like there is a large brood of Blue Tits waiting to emerge from the new nest box that was put in place approximately eight weeks ago. Yellowhammer (2), Greenfinch (10+) and Chaffinch (2) are also visiting the feeding station.  Thirty three different species of birds were seen at Escomb. A Dipper (the first recorded sighting since 2003), a Kingfisher (2) and three Pied Wagtails were seen on the river. A male Blackcap was singing quite loudly in its usual location. Mallards and Coots were looking after young. Song Thrush (1), Willow Warbler (5), Chiffchaff (2), House Sparrow (10+, with plenty of young), Sand Martin (10+), Swallow (10+), Swift (10+) and House Martin (1) were other birds seen during the visit.  A Large Skipper butterfly was seen (first for the year). Wall Brown (5+), Peacock (1), Orange Tip (5+) and Small White were other butterflies recorded. Blue-tailed Damselfly and Common Blue Damselfly were also seen.

2nd June, 2006 – Bishops Park & Etherley Moor
Very quiet during the visit to Bishops Park. Three Common Whitethroats were seen by the River Wear.  A family of Long-tailed Tits were seen on the outskirts of the park. Grey Heron (1), Mallard (1), Swallow (2), Coal Tit (1), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (1), Wren (1), Chaffinch (1) and Yellowhammer (1) were the only other birds seen.  A Peacock (1), Wall Brown (1), Orange Tip (5+) and Small White (2+) butterflies were recorded. Two Banded Demoiselle were seen by the River Wear.  One of yesterdays Corn Buntings was on the wires at Etherley Moor. Sparrowhawk (1), House Martin (3+) and Swallows (10+) were also there.

2nd June, 2006 – Hamsterley
Curlew (2), Green Woodpecker (1) and Jay (2) were seen during the walk to a regular site for Nightjar. At least one Woodcock was noted and two Tawny Owls heard, before the first Nightjar was seen / heard wing clapping down to distances of only six yards. By now the wind speed had picked up considerably, so it was decided to depart. A second Nightjar was seen flying high towards the eastern edge of the forest and a third was observed hunting on the return walk to the car.

7th June, 2006 – Escomb & Etherley Moor
Two Common Sandpipers and at least three of their young were on the banks of the River Wear. A Garden Warbler and a male Blackcap were also seen close to the river.  Two Meadow Pipit, two Common Whitethroat and three Reed Buntings were seen by the small pond. A pair of Coots (with only one young), four Tufted Duck, two Mallards and two Mute Swans were on the small pond.  There were good numbers of Common Blue Damselfly and Blue Tailed Damselfly on and around the edge of Escomb Lake and the small pond. Small Copper (1), Wall Brown (3) and Small Tortoiseshell (1) butterflies were also seen.  A Corn Bunting was seen at Etherley Moor. This was the first sighting for three days, which may have been caused by the farmer harvesting his crop in the neighbouring fields. Tree Sparrow (4+), Yellowhammer (2) are still visiting the garden feeding station and the Blue Tits are hours away from fledging. Orange Tip butterflies have also been seen in the garden during the past four days.

11th June, 2006 – Etherley Moor & the Dales
At least three Corn Buntings were seen at Etherley Moor at 9am along with good numbers of Linnet.  A total of nineteen male Black Grouse were seen in upper Teesdale at three seperate locations (12, 6 & 1). Three Ring Ouzel and at least five Northern Wheatears were found in one of those locations.  A single Woodcock showed itself very well, allowing me to approach and take photographs from as little as two yards. A Common Sandpiper was on the River tees and was also very approachable. A Raven was seen amongst rocks towards the upper end of the Tees and a wing tagged Red Kite was seen being mobbed by Curlew, Common Redshank, Lapwing and OystercatcherKestrel (1), Pheasant (3), Grey Partridge (4), Golden Plover (1), Common Snipe (3), Black-headed Gull (3), Woodpigeon (1), Cuckoo (1 heard), Grey Wagtail (2), Dipper (1 juvenile), Wren (1), Blackbird (1), Song Thrush (2), Carrion Crow (3), Starling (10+), House Sparrow (2 males), Swallow (10+), House Martin (1), Meadow Pipit (10+) and Skylark (3+) were also seen in the area.  Red Grouse (2), Pied Wagtail (1), Sand Martin (10+) and Willow Warbler (2) were added to the list at Bollihope during the afternoon.  Good numbers of Small Heath butterflies were seen throughout the day. Painted Lady (5 at one location), Small White (10 at two seperate locations) and Green Veigned White (1 at Bollihope) were other butterflies seen. At least thirty Common Blue Damselflies were in Bollihope Quarry along with at least two Blue Tailed Damselflies.

14th June, 2006 – Teesside
A Pectoral Sandpiper and a Curlew Sandpiper were at Back Saltholme, along with good numbers of Ringed Pover and Dunlin. The only other species of wader that was there was a single Common Redshank (1).  Three Little Gulls were also at Back Saltholme.

14th June, 2006 – Etherley Moor & Barnard Castle
At least three Corn Buntings on Etherley Moor. Recently fledged Tree Sparrows, Blue Tits and Great Tits visiting the garden feeders. A pair of Yellowhammers are still visiting on a daily basis along with the usual Blackbirds (5), House Sparrows (30+), Dunnocks (5+) and Robins (2). A female Sparrowhawk visited the garden on wednesday afternoon. Three seperate Tawny Owls were heard from the garden along with a single Little Owl. A third owl species was heard, which was thought to be a Barn Owl.  Two Red-legged Partridge were seen 200yds from Egglestone Abbey, near Barnard Castle.

17th to 19th June, 2006 – Cairngorms & Aberdeenshire
Three Ptarmigan were found close to the summit of Cairngorm (excellent photo opportunity spoilt by heavy rain). A single Snow Bunting, several Ring Ouzel and Northern Wheatear were seen during the climb to the top of the mountain. Other birds seen during the climb included Meadow Pipit (3) and Pied Wagtail (1). Three Mountain Hares were also seen. Five Crested Tit were found at Loch an Eilein.  Other birds of interest in the area included Black Throated Diver (2 in full summer plumage), Slavonian Grebe (2 also in full summer plumage), Osprey (5), Common Buzzard (5+), Red-legged Partridge (2), Common Redstart (2 families) and Spotted Flycatcher (3). Returning via Aberdeen to attend a family funeral, an Osprey was seen hunting a small fish farm on the outskirts of Auchnaggat. Once again, rain spoilt a perfect photo opportunity.

23rd June, 2006 – Etherley Moor
A single Corn Bunting visited the garden feeders early morning. Other visitors today included Yellowhammer (1) and Tree Sparrow (family party of 6).  Other birds that have continued to visit the garden during the past week include Sparrowhawk (1), Blackbird (family of five), Blue Tit (adults and juveniles), Great Tit (adults and juveniles), Greenfinch (adults and juveniles), Chaffinch (1), House Sparrow (adults and juveniles), Woodpigeon (adults and juveniles), Collared Dove (adults and juveniles), Starling and Carrion Crow (2) stealing fat balls.

24th June, 2006 – Low Barns
A steady walk round the reserve produced twenty eight different species of birds. Three Common Sandpipers were on the river, along with three Kingfishers, a single Dipper and at least one Grey WagtailMute Swan, Tufted Duck and Oystercatcher have succesfully fledged. Other birds of note around the reserve today included Sedge Warbler (3) and Reed Bunting (1 male).

28th June, 2006 – Escomb
A quick walk around the the lake and pond produced thirty six different species of birds. The highlights included nine female Goosanders flying towards Low Barns, a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Kingfisher on the River Wear, three Common Whitethroat, three Garden Warbler, two Blackcaps, four Willow Warblers, three Chiffchaffs and three male BullfinchSwift, Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin were in good numbers, but it was butterflies and moths that were the most impressive. Ringlet (100+), Meadow Brown (80+), Small White (10+), Common Blue (4), Peacock (1) and Large Skipper (3) were the butterflies seen. Plenty of Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies were in the area along with a handfull of unidentified Darters.

29th June, 2006 – Etherley Moor
Families of Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Carrion Crow and Magpie are visiting the garden on a daily basis. At least one Corn Bunting was once again heard/seen singing on the wires and the trees to the rear of the house. Chaffinch (1 female), Greenfinch (10+), Starling (10+), Woodpigeon (4+), Collared Dove (2), House Martin (10+), Swallow (2) and Swift (7+) were also seen.

July 2006

Picture:  White-rumped Sandpiper at Seaton Snook, 28th July

2nd July, 2006 – Escomb
A Kingfisher was seen on the River Wear along with two Black-headed Gulls.  Two Mute Swan, several Tufted Duck and four Coots were on the two ponds. Common Whitethroat (1), Chiffchaff (5), Willow Warbler (2), Garden Warbler (1), Yellowhammer (4), Linnet (3) and Reed Bunting (1 male) were also seen.

5th July, 2006 – Saltholme Pools
Two Black Terns were amongst the Sandwich (5+) and Common Terns (80+) on the 6th in very hazy conditions. A Wood Sandpiper was also there.

6th July, 2006 – Saltholme Pools
A Semipalmated Sandpiper was amongst Dunlin and Ringed Plover. No sign of yesterdays Black Terns.

7th & 8th July, 2006 – Newcastleton
Highlights from this wet and breezy weekend in the Scottish Borders included a Barn Owl (1, close to Canonbie), a Whinchat (1, close to Langholme) and Common Snipe (1, close to Newcastleton).

14th July, 2006 – Bishops Park
A family of Common Redstart and a single Common Snipe were seen on the outskirts of the park. Large numbers of Black-headed Gulls were in the fields opposite the River Wear where work has now started on the new golf course.

14th July, 2006 – Nightjar Evening
Nearly perfect conditions tonight resulted in high hopes of obtaining good views of both Nightjar and Woodcock.  Arrived on site at 2110 and patiently waited as the sun went down. A single Lesser Redpoll passed overhead on numerous occasions and numerous Tawny Owls were heard. Surprisingly no Woodcock.  Some good conversation was taking place and just as light was beginning to fade, Terry shouted, "there he is". I quickly turned around and the male Nightjar had actually flown past terry, possibly as close as four foot. A further 3 to 4 Nightjars were seen, but by now, the birds were just silhuettes in the sky.

15th July, 2006 – Saltholme Pools & Whitburn
A single Arctic Tern and several Sandwich Tern were seen amongst the numerous Common Tern at Back Saltholme, A single Ruff and at least forty Dunlin were also there. A Little Egret was on East Saltholme.  Approximately an hour was spent at Whitburn Steel producing eighteen Manx Shearwater, two Arctic Skua, a single Bonxie and good numbers of auks, including Puffin (20+), Razorbill (10+) and Guillimot (30+). Over a hundred Golden Plover were on the rocks below us along with Whimbrel (2), Common Redshank (20+), Turnstone (30+) and Grey Heron (1). A Common Sandpiper was also seen there.  At least four Storm Petrels were caught and ringed during the late hours of the evening.

16th July, 2006 – Undisclosed
Sorry, the land owner has asked for this site to remain confidential.  A Quail was briefly seen in flight. Four Whinchat, a Barn Owl, several Yellowhammer and a Red Deer was also seen in the same area.  At least three Corn Buntings were seen and heard on Etherley Moor.

23rd July, 2006 – South Shields
At least two adult Roseate Terns were amongst the numerous Sandwich Tern, Common Tern and Arctic Tern during a three hour spell at the busy resort of South Shields.  A Mediterranean Gull was with Black Headed Gulls (50+) to the south of the pier. Eider (3), Oystercatcher (2), Herring Gull and Kittiwake were also there.

28th July, 2006 – Seaton Snook
An early morning visit for the reported White-rumped Sandpiper proved worthwhile after an hours wait (the large numbers of waders just did not want to wake up). Once located, the sandpiper was surprisingly easy to pick out amongst the Dunlin (150+).  Grey Plover (1), Common Redshank (10+), Knot (50+, in summer plumage), Oystercatcher (20+), Curlew (5), Sanderling (15+), Turnstone (20+) and Ringed Plover (50+) were the other waders there this morning.  Little Tern (10+), Sandwich Tern (30+) and Common Tern (10+) were present. Kittiwake (2), Common Gull (1), Herring Gull (10+) and Great Black-backed Gull (10+) were also there.

28th July, 2006 – Nightjar Evening
With a spare half hour before meeting at Hamsterley, a visit was made to an undisclosed site on the outskirts of Bishop Auckland. A Barn Owl was seen resting in its usual tree and a single Whinchat was seen in the same field. A single Little Owl was seen nearby.  Single Nightjars were seen on at least five seperate locations (could have been the same bird). Tawny Owls were heard, but not seen. No Woodcock tonight.

29th July, 2006 – Sunderland Air Show
An adult Mediterranean Gull was seen close to Whitburn Steel, along with the other gulls. Common Tern and Sandwich Tern were also present.  Dunlin (50+), Turnstone (30+), Common Redshank (10+), Sanderling (10+), Knot (2) and Oystercatcher (20+) were the waders seen. Then the air show started.

28th July, 2006 – Nightjar Evening
With a spare half hour before meeting at Hamsterley, a visit was made to an undisclosed site on the outskirts of Bishop Auckland. A Barn Owl was seen resting in its usual tree and a single Whinchat was seen in the same field. A single Little Owl was seen nearby.  Single Nightjars were seen on at least five seperate locations (could have been the same bird). Tawny Owls were heard, but not seen. No Woodcock tonight.

31st July, 2006 – Etherley Moor
Corn Buntings are still on the moor, but less vocal than other months. Tree Sparrow (5+), House Sparrow (20+), and Greenfinch (10+) are still visiting the feeders, as is Blue Tit (3+), Great Tit (3+), Blackbird (5), Chaffinch (2) and Starling (5+). The Woodpigeons appear to have stopped visiting the feeding station and are now feeding in the local fields, but the Collared Doves (up to 4) are still visiting on a daily basis. The Crows were raiding the feeding station up until the 20th, unhooking the feeders so they could get at the goodies inside.  Other visitors during in and around the garden during July include a family of Magpies, a family of five Grey Partridge (2 adults with 3 young), a family of at least five Wrens and a single male Yellowhammer. Two large groups of House Martins passed over during the past two weeks.

August 2006

Picture:  Willow Warbler at Etherley Moor, 15th August

1st August, 2006 – Undisclosed Site
A pair of Barn Owls were observed resting in their usual tree close to dusk. No sign of the Whinchat that have been seen there on the previous two visits. Woodpigeon (10+), Swallow (30+), Rook (20+), Linnet (10+), Yellowhammer (3), Hare (1) and Red Deer (2) were also in the area.

2nd to 6th August, 2006 – Dunbartonshire
At least ten Hooded Crows were seen at Glen Fruin along with a single bird at Glen Douglas. Other birds that we expected to see included Common Buzzard (10+), Whinchat (3 seperate families), Stonechat (1 family & at least five individuals), two Wheatears and Barn Owl (1). Good numbers of Spotted Flycatcher (15+), Willow Warbler (30+), Chaffinch (50+), Meadow Pipit (30+), Siskin (10+) and Lesser Redpoll (10+) were seen along with a family of Raven. A summer plumaged Twite was arguably the best bird of the visit.  Other birds seen included Gannet (10+, Clyde Estuary), Cormorant (3, Clyde Estuary), Mute Swan (2 & a family of 5 including 3 cygnets, Clyde Estuary), Canada Goose (5 on Loch Lomond), Mallard (30+ at Glen Fruin and Loch Lomond), Eider (20+, Clyde Estuary), Kestrel (3, Glen Fruin), Pheasant (100+, including at least 80 in one group at Glen Fruin), Coot (10+, Helensburgh), Oystercatcher (10+, Clyde Estuary), Lapwing (3+, Glen Fruin), Black Headed Gull (20+), Common Gull (20+), Lesser Black-backed Gull (20+), Herring Gull (30+), Great Black-backed Gull (10+), Woodpigeon (10+), Collared Dove (4), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1, Luss), Sand Martin (10+), Swallow (50+), House Martin (25+), Grey Wagtail (3, Glen Fruin), Pied Wagtail (10+), Wren (7, Luss), Dunnock (5), Robin (10+), Common Redstart (1, Luss), Blackbird (10+), Song Thrush (1), Mistle Thrush (1), Common Whitethroat (1, Glen Fruin), Blue Tit (10+), Great Tit (10+), Nuthatch (1 heard, Glen Douglas), Treecreeper (1, Luss), Magpie (5+), Jackdaw (10+), Rook (30+, Glen Fruin), Carrion Crow (10+), Starling (30+), House Sparrow (10+), Greenfinch (4), Goldfinch (4+), Linnet (5) and Reed Bunting (3, Luss).  Butterflies seen included Large White (1), Small White (10+), Meadow Brown (3+) and Scotch Argus (3).

9th August, 2006 – Bishops Park
Two Green Sandpipers on the outskirts of the park today. Swallow (60+), House Martin (30+) and Swift (3) passed through mid–afternoon.  Other species of birds that were recorded today included Grey Heron (4), Kestrel (1), Moorhen (1), Common Gull (1), Lesser Black–backed Gull (4), Herring Gull (2), Stock Dove (2), Woodpigeon (5+), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Grey Wagtail (1), Pied Wagtail (1), Wren (1), Blackbird (1), Goldcrest (1), Blue Tit (3), Jay (1), Carrion Crow (4), Chaffinch (1) and Goldfinch (5).  Butterflies seen included Small White (5+), Small Copper (5) and Wall Brown (2).

10th to 13th August, 2006 – The Lakes, Cumbria
The highlight of this three day visit to the lakes had to be a pair of Honey Buzzard that were observed with two Common Buzzard at a distance of no more than 200yds. Other interesting sightings included a Merlin near Brough, Raven near Haverthwaite, and Whooper Swan on Windermere. Other species of birds that were recorded included Grey Heron (5, including a nest with three young), Mute Swan (30+), Canada Goose (20+ on Windermere), Goosander (40+ females on Windermere), Mallard (50+ on Windermere), Rook (1), Carrion Crow (10+), Magpie (8+), Jay (5+), Jackdaw (3), Greater Black–backed Gull (4), Lesser Black–backed Gull (4), Herring Gull (2), Lesser Black–backed Gull (4), Black-headed Gull (20+), Stock Dove (2), Woodpigeon (10+), Great Spotted Woodpecker (3), Grey Wagtail (1), Pied Wagtail (1), Wren (1), Blackbird (3), Great Tit (1), Blue Tit (3), Coal Tit (5+), Marsh Tit (1), Nuthatch (3), Robin (10+, including several juveniles), Dunnock (2), Chiffchaff (1), Willow Warbler (3), House Martin (30+), Swallow (30+), Chaffinch (10+) and Greenfinch (3).  Butterflies seen included Silver–washed Fritillary (1), Large White (3), Small White (10+), Green-veined White (1), Gatekeeper (1), Painted Lady (20+), Small Tortoiseshell (10+), Red Admiral (20+) and Peacock (20+).

17th August, 2006 – Escomb and Etherley Moor
Thirty species of birds were recorded during a short visit to Escomb. A single Spotted Flycatcher was close to the small pool, along with Common Whitethroat (1), Garden Warbler (1), Blackcap (family of at least 3), Willow Warbler (1), Chiffchaff (1), Blue Tit (3), Marsh Tit (1), Greenfinch (3), Bullfinch (2) and Goldfinch (5).  A Ruddy Duck was on the main lake, along with at least ten Tufted Duck. Herundines included House Martin (5+), Swallow (30+) and Sand Martin (20+). A Sparrowhawk was also there.  Butterflies seen included Common Blue (2), Small White (3) and Painted Lady (1).  Swift (5), House Martin (10+) and Swallow (10+) passing through Etherley Moor. A Willow Warbler visited the garden. Yellowhammers and Song Thrushes are no longer visiting the feeders. Last recorded sighting of Corn Bunting was on 2nd August.

18th August, 2006 – South Gare
Juvenile European Roller and a male Common Redstart close to the lifeboat station for much of the afternoon. Pied Flycatcher (2), Garden Warbler (3), Willow Warbler (1), Common Whitethroat (1), Grasshopper Warbler (at least 2 reeling), Reed Warbler (at least 3), Sedge Warbler (at least 2), Reed Bunting (2), Song Thrush (1) and Dunnock (2) on the opposite side of the road from shrike bushes.

19th August, 2006 – Hartlepool Headland
A Lesser Whitethroat, at least four Pied Flycatcher and a Garden Warbler were seen at the headland this pm.

20th August, 2006 – Teesside
A Spotted Redshank, at least thirty Black–tailed Godwits, several Greenshank and several Ruff were seen at East Saltholme.  At least three juvenile Black Terns were on Back Saltholme, with a single Common Sandpiper and several more Ruff.  Good numbers of Pied Flycatcher and Willow Warbler were at the headland, along with Garden Warbler (2+) and Greenish Warbler (1). At least five Arctic Skua were seen from the headland, along with Manx Shearwater (5+).  A Camberwell Beauty butterfly passed through our garden that overlooks Etherley Moor, mid–afternoon.

24th August, 2006 – Bishops Park
The Green Sandpiper was at its usual location. Two Common Sandpipers were seen on the River Wear, along with single Grey and Pied Wagtails. At least two Green Woodpeckers were seen on the outskirts of the park. A Moorhen was seen with two recently hatched young. Three Grey Heron, Willow Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher were the other noteworthy birds.  Good numbers of Darters (20+) were active. Butterflies seen included Clouded Yellow (1), Painted Lady (1), Small Copper (2), Wall Brown (10+) and Small White (10+).  A Barn Owl was seen mid–morning at its usual location on the outskirts of Bishop Auckland.

25th August, 2006 – Low Barns
Forty three different species of birds at Low barns this morning, not including a dead Wryneck. A local farmer brought the bird to the centre yesterday after their cat brought it in to their house. The staff ringed the bird and let it go (after checking that it was unhurt), only to find the bird dead this morning.  Highlights during this mornings visit included a Water Rail, two Common Snipe and two Kingfishers on the west pool. Reed Warbler (2+, first record of this species at this site for a good number of years), Sedge warbler (5+), Garden Warbler (1), Willow Warbler (10+), Chiffchaff (2+), Common Whitethroat (1), Reed Bunting (2), Marsh Tit (2), Willow Tit (1), Blue Tit (3+), Great Tit (1), Long–tailed Tit and Dunnock (1), all in the small bushes, reeds and single tree by the board walk. A Common Sandpiper and a pair of Grey Wagtails were on the river. Butterflies seen were Comma (1), Peacock (1), Red Admiral (1), Wall Brown (10+) and Small White (4).

27th August, 2006 – Portrack Marsh
Mute Swan (2), Grey Heron (1), Coot (10+), Moorhen (10+), Greenshank (1), Common Redshank (10+), Common Snipe (7+), Lapwing (15+), Common Tern (10+), Lesser Black–backed Gull (3), Black–headed Gull (10+), Herring Gull (3), Kingfisher (1) and Sparrowhawk (1) and Starling (30+), this pm.

September 2006

Picture:  Bonepartes Gull at Newbiggin, 10th September

3rd September, 2006 – Etherley Moor
A full day working in the office meant that I could occasionally watch the garden feeding station. Maximimum counts (at any one time) were Sparrowhawk (1), House Sparrow (75+), Blackbird (3), Woodpigeon (2), Collared Dove (1), Jackdaw (10), Rook (2), Carrion Crow (2), Greenfinch (5), Chaffinch (1), Coal Tit (1), Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (3), Robin (3), Dunnock (2), Wren (1) and House Martin (5+).  It wasn't until the next morning that Tree Sparrow was recorded (1 adult and a single juvenile, 4th).  It looks as though the Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers have moved location, ‘I hope to see them again next year’.

8th September, 2006 – Etherley Moor & Etherley Dene
A very quiet day on Etherley Moor and Etherley Dene in the way of birds.  House Sparrow (20+), Tree Sparrow (3+), Coal Tit (2), Blue Tit (3), Great Tit (2), Wren (1), Woodpigeon (2), Collared Dove (1), Rook (30+), Carrion Crow (2), Jackdaw (25+) and Starling (20+) were seen.  A Hummingbird Hawkmoth was seen ob budlea outside B & Q.  Butterflies that were seen. Recorded butterflies included Large White (5+), Small White (2), Red Admiral (5+), Peacock (1), Small Tortoiseshell (2), Painted Lady (3), Common Blue (1), Small Copper (1) and Speckled Wood (1).

9th September, 2006 – Bridlington Skua & Shearwater Cruise
We arrived at Flamborough for a quick check of the fields at 7am. Highlights here included four Snow Buntings, six Yellow Wagtails, seventy plus Linnet and fifty plus Goldfinch. A Sparrowhawk and a single Kestrel were also there.  A Purple Sandpiper, at least three Common Redshank and Turnstone (2) were seen in Bridlington Harbour, before sailng at 1015am.  The cruise itself proved to be worthwhile with Red–throated Diver (3), Sooty Shearwater (2), Manx shearwater (2), European Storm Petrel (1), Great Skua (2), Arctic Skua (10+), Red–necked Grebe (1), Great Crested Grebe (1), Puffin (3+) and Little Gull (1) being arguably the best birds seen.  Good numbers of Guillimot, Razorbill, Gannet, Great Black–backed Gull, Lesser Black–backed Gull, Herring Gull, Black–headed Gull, Kittiwake, Shag, Cormorant, Teal and at least four Common Scoter were also seen on the trip.

10th September, 2006 – Newbiggin
At least seven Mediterranean Gulls were seen whilst looking for the reported Boneparte‘s Gull at Newbiggin, ‘three adults (1 Belgium and one Dutch bird), three 1st winter and one 2nd winter’.  Good numbers of Black–headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Lesser Black–backed Gulls, Greater Black–backed Gulls and Common Gulls were on the rocks and the beach. Sanderling (2+), Knot, Redshank, Curlew, Oystercatcher and Turnstone were the waders that were seen. Common Tern (2) and Sandwich Tern (2) were also there.  Then of course was the Boneparte‘s Gull. The bird was not found until three hours after our arrival, but it was well worth the wait. Excellent views for approximately twenty minutes before it flew to the far end of the bay.

14th September, 2006 – Etherley Moor
House Sparrow numbers continued to be high, with a maximum count of thirty three. A juvenile Tree Sparrow visited this am, but has been absent for at least three days. At least one Coal Tit is raiding the sunflower hearts, presumably storing them for the winter months. A male Sparrowhawk made an unsuccesfull attack mid–morning. Good numbers of Rook (20+) and Starling (80+) were in the surrounding fields.  Others included Blue Tit (6+), Great Tit (2), Woodpigeon (2), Collared Dove (1), Greenfinch (10+), Swallow (5+), House Martin (3+), Dunnock (2) and Robin (2).

15th September, 2006 – Bishops Park
Twenty eight different species of birds were recorded during a one hour visit to the park.  Three Green Sandpipers were seen on the outskirts of the park, along with a single Common Sandpiper. At least two Spotted Flycatchers were in the same area. Swallow (50+), House Martin (30+), Willow Warbler (1), Goldcrest (1) and Chiffchaff (1) were seen.  A Barn Owl and a pair of Little Owls were seen on the outskirts of Bishop Auckland. A second pair of Little Owls were recorded on Etherley Moor.

19th September, 2006 – Kinninvie and Low Barns
Two Common Buzzards, a Red Kite, over fourteen Red Grouse and a single Black Grouse were recorded close to Kinninvie.  A Gadwall was with Wigeon, Mallard and Teal at Low Barns. A Kingfisher was seen several times whilst walking round the reserve (may have been the same one).

22nd September, 2006 – Low Barns
A half hour visit to the west hide didn’t disappoint. A Kingfisher displayed superbly, but poor light spoilt an excellent photo opportunity. No fewer than eighteen Common Snipe flew eastwards from the meadow. Two Jays and a Hooded Crow was also seen there.

24th September, 2006 – Escomb
Eight Mute Swans were on the main lake, along with Tufted Duck (10+), Pochard (2), Ruddy Duck (1), Coot (10+) and Mallard (1).  At least ten Black Headed Gulls, two Swallows and one House Martin visited. Jay (2), Magpie (3), Carrion Crow (2), Robin (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Blackbird (2), Chiffchaff (1), Blue Tit (2) and Willow Tits (3) were the other birds recorded.  Buterlies seen included Small White (10+), Small Tortoiseshell (7+), Red Admiral (1), Small Copper (2) and a Speckled Wood. Migrant Hawker (10+) and Common Darter (3) dragonflies were also seen today.

26th September, 2006 – Newbiggin
A single Common Buzzard and five Black Grouse were seen near Kinninvie. A Merlin was recorded at Butterknowle.

28th September, 2006 – Bishops Park
Two Green Sandpipers were at their usual location on the outskirts of the park. Two Blackcaps and at least one Chiffchaff were amongst a tit flock.

30th September, 2006 – Winterton, Norfolk
The reported Pallid Harrier was seen shortly after sunrise, giving the group excellent views. A single Marsh Harrier and thirty Common Crane were seen nearby.

October 2006

Picture:  Red-throated Diver at Holy Island, 15th October

1st October, 2006 – Teesside
The reported Yellow–browed Warbler was seen shortly after arriving at the McDonalds car park, near Hartlepool Headland. At the same location, a Lesser Whitethroat was heard but not seen.  Two Pectoral Sandpipers, five Little Egrets, several Ruff, a single Little Stint and a single Marsh Harrier were seen at Saltholme Pools.  Approximately twenty four Golden Plover were seen with good numbers of Lapwing. At least twenty Black–tailed Godwits were on East Saltholme.

3rd October, 2006 – Barnard Castle
Ten Black Grouse and five Red Grouse were at their usual location. A single Common Buzzard near Toft Hill.

7th October, 2006 – The Dales & Teesside
Twenty eight Black Grouse (including one female), five Red Grouse and at least sixteen Grey Partridge were seen in upper Teesdale. A Kingfisher was also seen.  A quick visit to Low Barns for the opportunity to photograph Kingfisher proved to be unsuccesfull.  Hartlepool Headland was very productive with Wheatear (1), Mediteranean Gull (1 adult), Purple Sandpiper (10) and Rock Pipit (5+) being arguably the best birds seen. Other birds at this location included Common Eider (1), Cormorant (10+), Turnstone (10+), Common Redshank (4+), Curlew (2), Sanderling (at least 1), Oystercatcher (2), Great Black–backed Gull (10+), Herring Gull (20+), Black Headed Gull (20+), Starling (20+), Pied Wagtail (4) and Dunnock (1).  At least three Stonechats were seen along the Zinc Road. Meadow Pipit (5+), Knot (20+) and Dunlin (3) were also seen in this area.  A single Ruff and two Little Egrets were on East Saltholme. Other birds seen during this short visit to Saltholme Pools included Shoveller (10+), Teal (10+), Wigeon (10+), Gadwall (10+), Mute Swan (2), Moorhen (3), Coot (20+), Lapwing (100+), Grey Heron (1), Little Grebe (3) and Great Crested Grebe (2).

8th October, 2006 – Low Barns & Byers Green
Two Kingfishers were seen from the west hide occasionally giving superb views in near perfect sunlight. Twenty eight Mallard, two Tufted Duck, three Mute Swans, three Jays, a Kestrel, a Grey Heron, five Greylag Geese, a Wren, at least eighty Lapwing, a Moorhen, a Coot, five Woodpigeon, at least eight Common Snipe and a Fox were also seen from the hide.  A second Grey Heron was seen on the river before visiting the south hide, where Teal (3), Little Grebe (2), Jackdaw (20+), Cormorant (3), Black Headed Gull (20+) and Common Gull (5+) were added to the list. Other sightings at various locations on the reserve included Treecreeper (1), Nuthatch (1), Mistle Thrush (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Coal Tit (1), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (2), Robin (1), Dunnock (2), Goldcrest (2), Magpie (5), Carrion Crow (2) and Chaffinch (1).  Very quiet at Byers Green with Tree Sparrow (10+) being the only bird of note. Two female Goosanders and a single Dipper at Bishops Park.

9th October, 2006 – Etherley Moor
The first Redwing of the winter for Etherley Moor. Seen flying towards Escomb. Also, a Barn Owl on the way towards a teaching session at Barnard Castle. Sorry Nigel.

14th October, 2006 – South Gare & Teesside
A twenty minute stop at South Gare produced several good views of the reported Barred Warbler. A Blackcap and four Redwing were also seen in the same area. Two Little Egret and large numbers of Golden Plover and Lapwing were on Saltholme Pools. A single Kingfisher was seen on the River Tees whilst waiting to cross the transporter bridge. Three Stonechat were on the roadside fences on Zinc Road.

15th October, 2006 – Holy Island
Common Buzzard (1), Sparrowhawk (1), Kestrel (1) and the reported European Roller were seen on the way up to the island.  Brambling (5+), Chaffinch (5+), Robin (2) and Redwing (4) were seen in the same garden as the reported Red–breasted Flycatcher. A Peregrine came in off the sea as we were watching the reported Great Grey Shrike.  Before leaving the island, a Merlin was observed disturbing a flock of approximately 100 Redwing. The Merlin was seen chasing a single Redwing for approximately five minutes before being mobbed by a Carrion Crow. A Red–throated Diver was seen resting near the causeway.  Stag Rocks was quiet, with Red–throated Diver (2), Purple Sandpiper (1) and Rock Pipit (2) being the only birds of note. A Golden Pheasant was seen in Bamburgh (presumably an escaped bird).

22nd October, 2006 – Teesside
Several Barnacle Geese were amongst good numbers of the more regular Greylag Geese and Canada Geese on Saltholme Pools. Little Grebe (5+), Cormorant (3), Mute Swan (2), Shoveller (10+), Wigeon (50+), Teal (50+), Mallard 10+), Tufted Duck (20+), Pochard (at least 2), Ruddy Duck (1), Gadwall (10+), Kestrel (1), Golden Plover (50+), Lapwing (80+), Dunlin (at least seven), Ruff (1), Black–tailed Godwit (3), Curlew (20+), Common Redshank (10+) and Woodpigeon (1) were other birds seen whilst visiting the pools.  Dormans Pool and the Reclamation Pond added Great Crested Grebe (5+), Little Egret (1), Moorhen (10+), Coot (80+), Common Gull (10+), Herring Gull (20+) and Great Black–backed Gull (20+) to the list.  A pair of Bar–tailed Godwits were seen at Seal Sands with a small flock of possible Twite seen at a distance. Rook (2) and Starling (30+) were also seen there. Four Common Seals were viewed from the bridge before seeing a female Stonechat on the Zinc Road.  Hartlepool Headland provided us wth good views of at least four Purple Sandpipers, over fifty Turnstones and three Rock Pipits. Other birds on the headland today included Red–throated Diver (1), Common Scoter (5+), Eider (100+), Oystercatcher (30+) and Sanderling (5).

23rd October, 2006 – Whitburn & Rainton Meadows
No sign of the reported Alpine Swifts, but the American Wigeon gave good views (too distant for good photography).  A Sooty Shearwater, five Common Scoter and two Gannets were seen from Lizard Point during a twenty minute seawatch.  A Water Rail and at least four Common Snipe were amongst the usual birds at Rainton Meadows.

24th October, 2006 – Rainton Meadows & Whitburn
At Rainton Meadows, several Common Snipe were amongst the reeds to the right of the hide and at least five more were seen in flight. Other birds seen here included Little Grebe (1), Grey Heron (2), Mute Swan (2), Wigeon (10+), Teal (20+), Mallard (5+), Coot (5+), Moorhen (10+), Water Rail (1, MI), Common Redshank (at least two), Skylark (at least three), Meadow Pipit (2) and a single Redpoll (MI).  At Boldon Flats, the American Wigeon gave good views for its second day (once again, too distant for good photography). Before leaving, a Sparrowhawk flushed all the birds revealing good numbers of Curlew and Common Redshank. Greylag Geese (15+), Mallard (10+), Wigeon (20+), Moorhen (1), Woodpigeon (10+), Jackdaw (5), Carrion Crow (2) and Starling (10+) were also seen there. A second winter Mediterranean Gull was seen amongst the Black–headed Gulls on South Shields Leas.

28th October, 2006 – Northumberland Coast
An early morning visit to Cresswell provided us with eleven Whooper Swans (flying south-west) and the reported juvenile Isabelline Shrike.  The Bonepartes Gull was seen at Newbiggin, now in full winter plumage. At least six Mediterranean Gulls were also seen there, including one adult, two second winter and three first winter birds. A Little Auk was observed flying north and a Red–throated Diver was on the sea.  A drake Manderin Duck and four Whooper Swans were on Holywell Pond.

November 2006

Picture:  House Sparrow at Etherley Moor, 17th October

5th November, 2006 – Croftside & Etherley Moor
A Sparrowhawk has been regularly visiting the feeding station at Croftside. A pair of Tree Sparrows have been setting up territory around a new nest box in the garden (maximum of four birds seen at any one time on the feeders). House Sparrows are still visiting in large numbers, occasionally rising to at least eighty.  Other visitors to the feeding station include Dunnock (3), Robin (2), Blackbird (7+), Woodpigeon (1), Collared Dove (1), Coal Tit (1), Blue Tit (10+), Great Tit (3), Chaffinch (1 female), Greenfinch (5+), Goldfinch (1) and Starling (20+).  Good numbers of Carrion Crow, Rook and Jackdaw are still present in the surrounding fields. Ten Grey Partridge were also seen.

11th November, 2006 – Lower Dales & Low Barns
Several Red Grouse and a pair of Black Grouse were seen close to Knitsley Fell. A pair of Woodcock were seen shortly after seeing a pair of Common Snipe. Other birds seen in the area of Knitsley Fell included Sparrowhawk (1 female), Merlin (1 female), Fieldfare (30+), Redwing (15+), Mistle Thrush (1), Green Woodpecker (1 heard), Siskin (12) and Redpoll (1 heard). A Stoat and a Fallow Deer were also seen.  Three Common Buzzard, a Kestrel and at least ten Red Grouse were close to Kinninvie.  A female Goldeneye and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen at Low Barns. Plenty of food available on the feeding station, but little activity.

19th November, 2006 – Etherley Moor & Blackbank Wood
Target species of Crossbill was found during the first few minutes of the mid–morning visit to Blackbank Wood. Unfortunately it was a fly–over, so we were unable to get good views.  Three Goosanders also flew over, heading towards Wolsingham. At least twenty Fieldfare and a pair of Bullfinch showed beautifully in the bright sunshine. Redwing (30+), Mistle Thrush (1), Green Woodpecker (1 heard), Blue Tit (2+), Great Tit (2+), Coal Tit (2+), Goldcrest (10+), Treecreeper (1), Lesser Redpoll (5+) and Jay (1) were also recorded there.  Several Lapwings flew over our Etherley Moor feeding station, along with at least three Redpolls. An injured Magpie (presumably by the female Sparrowhawk that still visits on a daily basis) has been desperately trying to survive. At one point it was seen plucking a male Greenfinch, which it had presumably caught earlier. At least five Tree Sparrow were seen amongst the usual visitors, which included Dunnock (2), Robin (1), Blackbird (5+), Blue Tit (4+), Great Tit (2), Chaffinch (1 female), Greenfinch (5+), Goldfinch (1) and Starling (20+).

25th November, 2006 – Callander, Forth
An early start meant that we were the first to see the previously reported Barrows Goldeneye at Callander in Scotland. Several of our more common Goldeneye were in the same area, along with Mute Swan (2), Grey Heron (1), Mallard (20+), Common Buzzard (1), Siskin (50+), Redpoll (1 heard), Blackbird (1), Carrion Crow (4+), Jackdaw (2) and Dipper (1 heard).  A stop at Musselburgh Lagoons provided the bonus birds of the day, which were Little Gull (1 adult) and Water Pipit (1). Other birds here included Slavonian Grebe (2+), Great Crested Grebe (1+), Velvet Scoter (15+), Common Scoter (5+), Long–tailed Duck (10+), Red–breasted Merganser (6+), Wigeon (20+), Teal (2), Grey Partridge (7), Pheasant (5+), Common Redshank (10+), Bar–tailed Godwit (2), Curlew (1), Knot (30+), Turnstone (10+), Dunlin (2), Oystercatcher (10+), Grey Plover (10+), Great Black–backed Gull (10+), Herring Gull (50+), Common Gull (30+), Black–headed Gull (50+), Meadow Pipit (4+), Skylark (10+) and Starling (10+).

26th November, 2006 – Tees Barrage
An adult Yellow–legged Gull at Tees Barrage.  Cormorant (5+), Great Black–backed Gull (2), Herring Gull (1), Common Gull (3), Black–headed Gull (10+) and Pied Wagtail (1) were also there.

28th November, 2006 – Gaunless Flats
Very quiet during this short visit to Gaunless Flats. Birds present included Mute Swan (2 juveniles), Grey Heron (1), Common Snipe (1), Kestrel (1 female), Black–headed Gull (20+), Song Thrush (1), Redwing (30+), Blackbird (5+), Blue Tit (1), Great Tit (1), Robin (1), Wren (1), Jackdaw (30+), Carrion Crow (10+), Linnet (14+) and Yellowhammer (1). No sign of any Short–eared Owls, which was the target species.

30th November, 2006 – Escomb
A male Blackcap was seen in one of the hedge rows close to the main lake. Other birds in the hedge rows included Redwing (20+), Song Thrush (2), Mistle Thrush (3), Blackbird (10+), Bullfinch (5+), Goldfinch (3), Greenfinch (2), Chaffinch (5+), Blue Tit (10+), Great Tit (2) and Wren (2).  At least twenty Black–headed Gulls and five Common Gulls were on the main lake. Tufted Duck (6) and Coot (10+) were on the small lake.

December 2006

Picture:  Nuthatch at Low Barns, 8th December

2nd December, 2006 – Holyhead, Llanfairfechan & Fluke Hall
A Barn Owl was seen on the outskirts of Bishop Auckland as we departed for South Stack near Holyhead, where several Chough were viewed in very windy conditions. At least four Ravens, a Hooded Crow, two Carrion Crows, two Magpies and eight Jackdaws were also there.  The reported Black Scoter was amongst good numbers of Common Scoter at Llanfairfechan. A Black–throated Diver was close by, along with Black Guillimot (1), Manx Shearwater (2) and Great Crested Grebe (6).  The long staying Glossy Ibis was seen at Fluke Hall (Pilling), before it was disturbed by local shooting. Whooper Swan (12+), Pink–footed Goose (1000+), Peregrine (1) and Lapwing (800+) were the other birds of note at this location.

7th December, 2006 – Escomb
A very quiet visit to Escomb this pm. Black-headed Gull (50+), Redwing (20+), Blackbird (10+) and Bullfinch (4) being the highlights. No sign of the Blackcap that was seen on the last visit.  Four Grey Partridges seen on Etherley Moor.

8th December, 2006 – Low Barns
A quick visit to the reserve produced a total of 24 species. A Great Black-backed Gull was on the island with eight Cormorants. Plenty of Mallards, two Tufted Duck and a single drake Teal were on the West Pond. No sign of any Kingfishers.  The feeding station was quite active. Two Marsh Tits visited regularly along with Blue Tit (5+), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (1), Nuthatch (1), Dunnock (1), Robin (1) and Pheasant (1 female). No sign of any Willow Tits on this occasion.  A flock of eight Siskin were in the area with Green Woodpecker (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1) and Goldfinch (1).

9th December, 2006 – Croxdale Hall & Hurworth Burn
Two Hawfinches were seen during a quick visit to Croxdale Hall (a male and a female). A male Blackcap, a Little Owl, several Mistle Thrushes and at least five Redwing were close by. Good numbers of Nuthatch (10+), Great Tit (6+), Blue Tit (10+) and Coal Tit (10+) were also seen.  A flock of approximately eleven Lesser Redpoll were at Hurworth Burn. Other sightings in the area included Great Crested Grebe (4), Cormorant (6), Grey Heron (2), Canada Goose (30+), Greylag Goose (2), Wigeon (50+), Mallard (30+), Pochard (20+), Tufted Duck (4), Goldeneye (3), Common Redshank (1), Coot (50+), Kestrel (2), Black–headed Gull (40+), Common Gull (10+), Chaffinch (20+), Greenfinch (2) and Yellowhammer (1). The regular Yellow–legged Gull was seen at Tees Barrage.

16th December, 2006 – Bishops Park
23 different species of birds were recorded. Large numbers of thrushes today included Fieldfare (75+), Redwing (75+), Mistle Thrush (10+) and Blackbird (10+). At least 200 Woodpigeon were also in the area.  Red–legged Partridge (2), Jay (1), Green Woodpecker (1) and Yellowhammer (3) were amongst the other species seen. A Barn Owl was seen nearby.

17th December, 2006 – Snettisham
No sign of the reported Black–eared Kite.  A pair of Barn Owls were observed hunting the fields on the approach road to the reserve. A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen on at least three occasions, a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel and a probable Merlin were seen whilst searching for the Kite. Eleven Snow Buntings, at least ten Linnet, four Shorelarks and a single Little Egret were the other noteworthy birds seen.  Three Pintail and good numbers of Golden Plover (300+), Pink–footed Geese (300+), Shelduck (100+) and Greylag Geese (100+) were also seen. A third Barn Owl was seen before leaving the reserve.

20th December, 2006 – Escomb
28 different species of birds were recorded on this very cold and frosty morning at Escomb. Large numbers of Black–headed Gulls (70+) were on the main lake, along with the less regular Common Gull (5). No fewer than twenty three Tufted Duck and a single female Goldeneye were also there.  Good numbers of Thrushes in the area included Redwing (20+), Mistle Thrush (1), Song Thrush (3) and Blackbird (10+). Several Siskin flew over the River Wear and a pair of Willow Tits were with a tit flock close to the village.

21st December, 2006 – Low Barns
Another cold and frosty day in Wear Valley meant that the ponds were mostly frozen over. Mallard (10+), Common Teal (10+), Tufted Duck (6+), Goldeneye (1 female) and Coot (10+) were congregated around the only patch of unfrozen water.  The feeding station was very active with Nuthatch (3+), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Coal Tit (2+), Marsh Tit (2), Blue Tit (10+), Great Tit (6+), Chaffinch (10+), Dunnock (2), Wren (1), Goldcrest (1) and Robin (3), all visiting regularly.  A Sparrowhawk flew through the reserve lifting several Redwing and at least 150 Siskin.

24th December, 2006 – Escomb
Thirty Canada Geese, twelve Tufted Duck, four Goosander, two Goldeneye and a single Teal were on the main lake. Good numbers of gulls present, which included Black–headed Gull (50+), Common Gull (5), Great Black–backed Gull (2 first winter) and Herring Gull (1 adult). Coot numbers were high, with a count of at least thirty.  Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Treecreeper (2+), Blue Tit (5+), Great Tit (1), Wren (2), Song Thrush (1), Blackbird (5+) and Redwing (30+) were also recorded.

27th December, 2006 – Low Barns
The feeders were quite active this morning with Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Nuthatch (2), Long–tailed Tit (10+), Marsh Tit (3), Coal Tit (4+), Blue Tit (10+), Great Tit (3), Chaffinch (10+), Greenfinch (3), Redwing (5+), Robin (3) and Dunnock (2) all being seen from the observation area. A large group of Siskin (250+) flew over the feeding station before setting in the tree tops between the feeders and the west hide. A Water Rail was seen before taking a closer look at the Siskin. No Redpoll amongst them.  A female Goldeneye, several Teal, a Great Black–backed Gull, two Herring Gulls and at least ten Black–headed Gulls were seen on the main lake. Others present included Coot (10+), Moorhen (2), Treecreeper (2), Wren (2), Blackbird (5+), Stock Dove (1), Magpie (4), Jackdaw (2), Carrion Crow (2) and Lapwing (100+, over).

27th December, 2006 – Escomb
Goldeneye (2m & 1f), Wigeon (1m & 1f), Pochard (1f), Tufted Duck (9), Mallard (2) and Goosander (1m & 1f) were on the lakes with four Mute Swan and several Coot. Otherwise, very quiet.

28th December, 2006 – Bishops Park
A very quiet walk along the River Gaunless produced the usual Dipper (1) and Grey wagtail (1). Surprisingly, there was no sign of any Kingfishers.  At least ten Mallards and three Goosanders (1m & 2f) were on the River Wear.

30th December, 2006 – Newfield
A quick stop at Newfield resulted in Great Black–backed Gull (20+), Herring Gulls (50+) and Black–headed Gull (30+). Several Lapwing and a couple of Carrion Crows were also there. No sign of any white–winged gulls, but there was plenty of activity on the tip.

31st December, 2006 – Bishop Auckland
A single Waxwing at Bondgate Car Park. What a nice way to end the year. Here’s wishing you all a Happy New Year and good birding for 2007.