Sightings 2009

Welcome to my sightings page for 2009, 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 2009

Picture:  Brambling at Thornley Woods, 2nd January

1st January, 2009 – Teesside
First bird of the year was a Blackbird, which was seen whilst leaving Croftside and a Barn Owl was seen on the outskirts of Bishop Auckland.  Seven Ring–necked Parakeets were seen at Ward Jacksons Park. A Black–throated Diver, five Red–throated Divers, a Mediterranean Gull, seven Purple Sandpipers, two Rock Pipits and a single Grey Plover were the pick of the birds at Hartlepool Headland.  Forty five Twite were seen at Greenabella and a Short–eared Owl was at Saltholme Pools.  The reported Smew was found at Crookfoot reservoir before spending the rest of the afternoon looking for a reported Caspian Gull near Cowpen Bewley.  A Lesser Black–backed Gull was amongst the gulls, but the best find of the day was a probable Glaucous–winged Gull that was seen whilst scanning for the Caspian Gull.

2nd January, 2009 – Northumberland
Two Scaup, two Red–breasted Mergansers and a single Water Rail were seen at Cresswell (no sign of any Bittern, Snipe or Jack Snipe). Three Tree Sparrows were seen close to the farm buildings.  A group of Whooper Swan (30+), Mute Swan (5) and Greylag Goose (5+) were seen whilst driving to Hauxley.  Tiaga Bean Goose (1), White–fronted Goose (1) and Common Snipe (10+) were the pick of the birds at Hauxley Nature Reserve.  A stop at Thornley Woods on the return journey produced brief views of Brambling (1) and Willow Tit (1).

3rd January, 2009 – Teesside
I decided to have another look at the Glaucous–winged Gull this morning. The bird was missed at Cowpen Bewley, before eventually seeing the bird at Holme Fleet.  A Merlin and a Little Egret were seen from the road leading to North Gare car park.  Two Barnacle Geese and a blue morph Snow Goose (possible escapee) were seen amongst the Greylag Geese (250+) and Canada Geese (50+) on Back Saltholme. A Peregrine Falcon was also seen here.  A Water Pipit and a Meadow Pipit were seen at Haverton Hole. At least twenty Tree Sparrows and several Yellowhammers were at Cowpen Bewley feeding station before returning home.

9th January, 2009 – Croxdale Hall
Three Hawfinches were seen from the top gate and a Little Owl was seen sunning itself from it’s usual tree.

10th January, 2009 – Portrack Marsh
Two Jack Snipe and at least five Common Snipe were seen during a very cold visit to Portrack Marsh. No sign of the regular Yellow–legged Gull.  Closer to home, there was a Little Grebe on the River Wear at The Batts, Bishops Park. No sign of the Green Sandpiper that normally winter here.

17th January, 2009 – Low Barns
The feeding station was very busy with Sparrowhawk (1 over), Pheasant (2), Blackbird (3), Blue Tit (6+), Great Tit (4+), Coal Tit (2+), Marsh Tit (1), Long–tailed Tit (10+), Nuthatch (2), Dunnock (1), Robin (3), Siskin (10 over), Jackdaw (9 over), Treecreeper (3) and Chaffinch (10+) visiting the feeders.  Mute Swan (2), Mallard (10+), Tufted Duck (1), Goldeneye (1 female), Coot (2), Moorhen (2) and Sparrowhawk (1) were seen from the West Hide. The walk to the south hide was very quiet, with two Goosanders on the River Wear being the only birds seen.  Two Mute Swan, two Herring Gull, fifteen Tufted Duck, twenty Mallard and at least ten Goldeneye (1 drake) were on Marston Lake. A male Kestrel and a female Bullfinch were seen from the tower.

18th January, 2009 – Sleddale
A juvenile Rough–legged Buzzard was seen soon after arriving at the chevrons. Two Red Grouse and a Kestrel were seen before carrying on up the dale to the other raptor watchpont. The Rough–legged Buzzard showed very nicely with Common Buzzard (1), Peregine (3) and Merlin (1) also showing well.  Waxwing (80c at Ingleby), Yellow–legged Gull (1 at Tees Barrage), Kingfisher (1 at Portrack Marsh), Long–tailed Duck (1 at Hurworth) and Mandarin (1 at Hurworth) were seen on the return journey.

24th January, 2009 – Etherley Moor
The feeding station was very active this morning. Highlights included Tree Sparrow (2 checking their usual nest boxes), Great Tit (2 checking nest boxes), Robin (2 fighting for territory), Bullfinches (2) and a Kestrel (1 over).

24th January, 2009 – The Stang
A Red–legged Partridge was seen on the outskirts of Brignall and several Red Grouse were seen before entering the Stang, which was very quiet.  Two Grey Partridge, one Black Grouse and at least ten more Red Grouse were seen on the southern edge of the Stang.  A large group of finches at Barningham included Chaffinch (200c), Greenfinch (10+), Goldfinch (4), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (5), Coal Tit (2), Long–tailed Tit (4), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Nuthatch (1) and Treecreeper (1). No Brambling were found.  A good number of thrushes were seen throughout the visit, which included Fieldfare (300c), Redwing (100c), Mistle Thrush (10+) and Blackbird (10+). The only raptors seen were Kestrel (1, south of the Stang) and Sparrowhawk (1, near Hutton Magna).

25th January, 2009 – Etherley Moor
Another active morning on the feeders, with all the usual birds visiting on a regular basis. Sparrowhawk (1), Kestrel (1) and Grey Heron (1) were fly–overs.

25th January, 2009 – Bishops Park
Grey Heron (3), Sparrowhawk (1), Kestrel (1), Green Woodpecker (1) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (1) were the pick of the birds from this half hour visit to The Batts.

30th January, 2009 – Clara Vale
The birds on the feeding station included Lesser Redpoll (1m & at least 4 female), Siskin (5+), Goldfinch (2+), Chaffinch (5+), Greenfinch (3+), Bullfinch (3+), Great Tit (2+), Blue Tit (4+), Coal Tit (2+), Willow Tit (1), Long–tailed Tit (3+), Wren (1), Robin (2) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (1).  Other birds seen from the hide at Clara Vale included Pheasant (1 male & at least 4 female), Moorhen (2), Woodpigeon (20+), Carrion Crow (2), Magpie (1) and Sparrowhawk (1).  I decided to have a drive back home via Thornley Woods, where a Red Kite was seen. Time constraints meant that I had little time to stop at Thornley Woods and Far Pasture, which are two locations I regularly stop at when visiting the area.

31st January, 2009 – Low Barns, Escomb & The Batts
The car parking area is now being extended, forcing the removal of trees and the feeding station. The feeders will be re-located some 20 - 30 feet in to the wooded area and they plan to erect some new screens once the work has finished. Big changes, but I am questioning if this is for the better? A small selection of feeders were still in place for todays visit, providing good views of Blackbird (5), Blue Tit (4+), Great Tit (2+), Coal Tit (2+), Marsh Tit (1), Long–tailed Tit (11), Nuthatch (1), Dunnock (1), Robin (1), Treecreeper (1) and Chaffinch (6+).  A walk round Escomb proved to be very quiet with both ponds partially frozen over. The pick of the birds here included Black–headed Gull (100c), Common Gull (20+), Goldeneye (1 male 7amp; 2 females), Tufted Duck (20+), Cormorant (3), Sparrowhawk (1), Nuthatch (1 heard) and Song Thrush (1).  A Little Grebe was on the River Wear at The Batts and at least twenty Blackbirds were in a small group of hawthorns close to Bishops Park. A Kestrel was also seen.  Etherley Moor was also very quiet. Tree Sparrows looking in the nest boxes and at least four Robins fighting every time they come close to each other (spring is coming).

February & March 2009

Picture:  Hawfinch at Low Barns, 8th February

1st February, 2009 – Castle Eden
A decent sized flock of finches contained Brambling (60+), Chaffinch (20+) and Goldfinch (10+). A Linnet, two Song Thrush, several Robin, five Blackbird and a single Redwing were also seen.

7th February, 2009 – Etherley Moor
A Yellowhammer was seen in the field behind our feeding station.

7th February, 2009 – Teesside
The reported Green–winged Teal was found amongst 100+ Common Teal at Bowesfield Marsh. At least two Ruff were also there. A Barn Owl was seen at Greenabella.

8th February, 2009 – Low Barns
Surprise find on the feeders this morning was a Hawfinch. It showed for 30 – 40 seconds soon after arrival and was not seen again during the hour I was watching the feeders (camera had the wrong settings, but still managed 2–3 reasonably good record shots). Blackbird (6+), Chaffinch (20+), Great Tit (4+), Blue Tit (6+), Coal Tit (2+), Marsh Tit (2), Long–tailed Tit (3), Nuthatch (2), Dunnock (2) and Robin (3+) were seen whilst waiting for the Hawfinch to put in a re–appearance.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Jay, two Carrion Crows and at least 180 Greylag Geese were seen from the tower. Two Mute Swans and at least ten Mallards were seen on the small unfrozen section of Marston Lake.

8th February, 2009 – Escomb
I was surprised to see the lake was only half frozen when deciding to take a quick mid–afternoon look from the football fields. Greylag Goose (25+), Cormorant (1), Wigeon (10+), Pochard (6), Mallard (20+) and Coot (2) and a large number of Tufted Duck (50+) were seen.

14th February, 2009 – Bishops Park & Low Barns
Very quiet afternoon visit to both locations with very few birds seen. Over seventy Lapwings were on Etherley Moor.

15th February, 2009 – Etherley Moor
The feeding station and surrounding fields were very active this morning.  Fieldfare (70+), Redwing (10+), Mistle Thrush (2), Song Thrush (1), Blackbird (7+), Collared Dove (4), Woodpigeon (7), Carrion Crow (4), Rook (1), Magpie (2 regularly attacking thrushes), Starling (100+) and Grey Partridge (2) were in the field behind the feeders.  The feeding station itself produced Sparrowhawk (1), House Sparrow (15+), Tree Sparrow (4, 2 of which looking in nestboxes), Greenfinch (3), Chaffinch (1), Great Tit (2 visiting nestboxes), Blue Tit (2), Coal Tit (2), Dunnock (4), Robin (3) and Wren (1).

15th February, 2009 – Low Barns
The feeding station was very busy during this early afternoon visit to the reserve. Still no progress on the feeding station, making disturbance likely.  Despite regular disturbance, the birds seen at the feeders included Pheasant (6 females), Moorhen (2), Backbird (5+), Chaffinch (10+), Great Tit (5+), Blue Tit (5+), Coal Tit (2), Marsh Tit (2), Nuthatch (2), Treecreeper (1), Reed Bunting (1 female), Jackdaw (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 heard), Dunnock (2), Robin (2) and Siskin (1 male). No sign of last weeks Hawfinch.  The rest of the reserve was very quiet. Five Mallards and three Moorhens were seen on a partially frozen West Pond. The river wear was flooded and Marston Lake was fully frozen. A single Wren was the only other bird seen whilst walking round the reserve.  A count of no fewer than thirty five Pied Wagtails was in a field north of Beechburn Gravel Pits. Four Fieldfares were in the same field.

17th February, 2009 – Escomb
A mid–afternoon walk around the ponds produced 25 different species of bird which included Little Grebe (1), Grey Heron (1), Oystercatcher (1), Lapwing (10+), Goosander (2 pair), Goldeneye (4, including 1 drake) and Willow Tit (1).

18th February, 2009 – Hartlepool Headland
All the usual birds at the headland this afternoon. Four Shag, one Purple Sandpiper and a Mediterranean Gull being the pick of the birds.

19th February, 2009 – Teesdale
A very disapointing visit to the dales today. Four White–fronted Geese were seen amongst approximately two hundred Greylag Geese between The Stang and the A66. Twenty Black Grouse and at least fifteen Red Grouse were seen close to The Stang. Two more groups of Black Grouse were seen further up the dale, seventeen at Langdon Beck and three at Harwood.

28th February, 2009 – Teesside
A good variety of geese were seen on Teesside today. A Tundra Bean Goose was with four Pink–footed Geese near the Haverton pipe line. A White–fronted Goose and five Barnacle Geese were with reasonable numbers of Greylag Geese and Canada Geese at Saltholme Pools.  A Mediterranean Gull, a Common Scoter and a Red–necked Grebe were seen from Hartlepool lifeboat station. A Merlin was on Seaton Common.

1st March, 2009 – Low Barns
The feeding station was very active with all the usual birds visiting. Fifteen cormorants were in the roost. Goldeneye (5), Tufted Duck (10+), Teal (2) and Little Grebe (1) were on Marston Lake (viewed from the observation tower).  A montage of bird images taken during the month of february has been left at the visitor centre. Printed at a size of 10 x 8 inches and looks very nice in a frame.

6th March, 2009 – Etherley Moor
A female Siskin was on the feeders this morning (first of the year). A male Sparrowhawk put in a brief appearance late morning.

7th March, 2009 – The Stang
A Pink–footed Goose was with appoximately fifty Greylag Geese on the approach road to the Stang (no sign of the White–fronted Geese that were there a couple of weeks ago. Black Grouse (14), Red Grouse (7), Fieldfare (200+), Mistle Thrush (1), Lapwing (100+), Curlew (10+), Common Redshank (1), Mallard (2), Common Teal (3) and Coal Tit (7+) were seen nearby.

7th March, 2009 – Teesside
A Bean Goose, a White–fronted Goose and a Pink–footed Goose were amongst Greylag Geese (50+) and Canada Geese (20+) close to Haverton pipeline. Eight Water Pipits were also seen here.  Two Little Egrets, two Pintails and a female Sparrowhawk were the pick of the birds at Saltholme Pools.  Two summer plumaged Mediterranean Gulls were amongst Black–headed Gull (50+) and Herring Gull (10+) at Newburn.  A Great Crested Grebe and at least twenty Common Scoter were seen off Marine Drive. Fourteen Purple Sandpipers and two Ringed Plovers were the pick of the waders. Ten Linnets were seen between the breakwaters, before setting off for Ward Jacksons Park where two Ring–necked Parakeets were seen.

14th March, 2009 – Teesdale
First stop was the western edge of Hamsterley Forest, where I was hoping to find the Great Grey Shrike that had been reported over the past two days. The shrike wasn’t found (despite searching for an hour in high wind and light drizzle), but Woodcock (2 flushed), Curlew (2+), Mistle Thrush (2) and Blackbird (10+), Stonechat (2) were seen whilst searching. Large numbers of Frogs were seen in the pools.  Two valleys were watched for a couple of hours, hoping to see the previously reported Rough–legged Buzzards. No RLB’s, but two Common Buzzards and several Ravens were seen.  A Sparrowhawk was seen close to Bollihope Quarry. Red Grouse (10+), Curlew (30+), Lapwing (50+), Oystercatcher (2+), Skylark (1) were also seen.

15th March, 2009 – Teesside
First stop was Hartlepool Headland. A male Peregrine Falcon, a Little Owl, a Grey Partridge (1 heard) and several Stock Doves were seen in a nearby quarry. A Black–throated Diver was seen off Marine Drive. A first winter Iceland Gull and a single Rock Pipit were seen between the breakwaters.  Two Avocets and a Green–winged Teal were seen on Greenabella. A Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk were seen hunting the marsh. All the usual waders were on Seal Sands.  A Spotted Redshank, ten Ruff, four Dunlin were amongst the numerous Common Redshank on Back Saltholme. Still plenty of Goldeneye here.  A Tundra Bean Goose, at least six Pink–footed Geese and a White–fronted Goose were with Greylag Goose (50+) and Canada Goose (20+) near the Haverton pipe line.  A Short–eared Owl was seen whilst waiting for the Barn Owl that had been reported at Dormans over the past few days (did not show whilst we were there).

18th March, 2009 – Etherley Moor
Two Corn Buntings on Etherley Moor. First time I've seen a pair here for approximately 3 years.

19th March, 2009 – Spennymoor
Two Chiffchaffs calling from a roadside wood at Green Lane Industrial Estate, Spennymoor.

21st March, 2009 – Escomb
A Great Crested Grebe and a drake Goldeneye were on the Escomb Lake. Four Greylag Geese and 3 – 4 Coots were also there.  Two Oystercatchers, two Mallards and five Tufted Duck were on the small pond.  Several more Greylag Geese and at least six Canada Geese were on the fishing ponds with four Moorhens.  A pair of Goosanders, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a Willow Tit were seen whilst walking along the River Wear.  Eleven Reed Buntings, a single Meadow Pipit, two Dunnocks and a Willow Tit were seen whilst walking round the lakes. Curlew (1), Chiffchaff (1) and Skylark (1) were heard but not seen.  Back on Etherley Moor, three Tree Sparrows have been visiting the feeders occasionally visiting the nestboxes. Great Tit (2) and Blue Tit (1) have also been looking at nest boxes over the past few days. Two Lapwings and a Curlew were heard calling from a nearby fields.

22nd March, 2009 – Bishops Park
Two Grey Wagtails and a single Dipper were on the Gaunless. A single female Goosander was on the River Wear.

29th March, 2009 – Escomb
Very quiet walk round the lake this morning (not as productive as last weeks visit). Three Greylag Geese, two Mallards and two Coots were on Escomb Lake. Four Reed Buntings, three Great Tits and four Blue Tits were seen whilst walking around the lake.  At least ten Black–headed Gulls were on the small lake. Grey Heron (1), Common Gull (4), Tufted Duck (4) were also there. A Curlew was heard in the distance.

29th March, 2009 – Knitsley Fell
Three Common Buzzards, one Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel were the only raptors seen during a late afternoon raptor watch.

April 2009

Picture:  Little Grebe at Far Pasture, 10th April

3rd April, 2009 – Bishops Park
A very quiet visit with nothing out of the ordinary seen. Several Redwing, a Green Woodpecker and a Moorhen that was busy nest building were the highlights.

4th April, 2009 – Low Barns
The new feeding station is now nearing completion and looks very promising. All the usual birds visiting in a fifteen minute watch, including Pheasant (3 females & 1 male), Backbird (2), Chaffinch (10+), Great Tit (3+), Blue Tit (4+), Coal Tit (2), Marsh Tit (2), Nuthatch (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1) and Robin (2).  A pair of Tufted Duck were on the West Pond and a Grey Heron was on Marston Lake.

5th April, 2009 – Bollihope & Low Barns
Had a good look round Bollihope early morning. The pick of the birds included five Ring Ouzels (3 males & 2 females), at least fifteen Wheatears, three Woodcocks, three Common Snipe, two Curlews, two Oystercatchers, four Lapwings, two Skylarks, at least ten Meadow Pipits and two Sand Martins.  At least ten Sand Martins were seen from the bridge at Frosterley. Two Song Thrushes were also there.  Low Barns feeding station produced the usual variety of woodland birds.  The west pond was very quiet with only three Common Teal, two Mallards, two Coots, three Moorhens and a Red Fox seen here. A Grey Wagtail was on the River Wear and a group of approximately sixty Fieldfares flew over the reserve heading in a northerly direction.  A drake Goldeneye, a Great Crested Grebe, a Little Grebe and two Oystercatchers were on Marston Lake. Mute Swan (2), Herring Gull (3), Common Gull (7+) and Black–headed Gull were also there.  A report of three Whooper Swans flying over Low Barns earlier in the day prompted me to check Escomb and it proved to be worthwhile. The three Whooper Swans were found resting on Escomb Lake (still there when leaving at 2pm). Two Great Crested Grebes, two Mallards and three Coots were also on the lake.

6th April, 2009 – Tilery Wood
Three Common Crossbills (2 females & 1 male) were seen close to the scouts hut. Several Chiffchaffs were heard and a decent sized group of Goldfinches (60+) were in the area.

7th April, 2009 – Bishops Park, The Batts
Three Swallows, four Sand Martins, two Pied Wagtails and a female Goosander were seen during a short stop by the River Wear.

10th April, 2009 – Thornley Woods & Far Pasture
A female Brambling was seen with several Chaffinch and a male Yellowhammer at the far bird table. Chiffchaff (2) and Willow Warbler (1) were heard. Other birds seen included Mallard (2), Red kite (1), Pheasant (2), Chaffinch (10+), Bullfinch (3), Nuthatch (1), Dunnock (1), Robin (2), Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (1), Long–tailed Tit (1 heard), Willow Tit (1), Treecreeper (1), Wren (2), Woodpigeon (3), Stock Dove (1), Magpie (2), Jay (2+), Carrion Crow (2) and Yellowhammer (1).  A quick visit to Far Pasture produced Little Grebe (2), Grey Heron (1), Mute Swan (2), Canada Goose (1), Moorhen (2) and Coot (2). A Red Kite, two Willow Warblers, five Chiffchaffs, fifteen Sand Martins, two Swallows, two Dunnocks, one Robin, two Blue Tits and two Great Tits were seen whilst walking to and from the car.

11th April, 2009 – Low Barns
Six male Blackcaps, several Willow Warblers and at least fifteen Chiffchaffs were seen / heard whilst walking around the reserve. A Green Woodpecker was heard yaffling from beyond the west pasture. A Willow Tit was a welcome find close to the south hide (the first I have seen here for a number of months).  The feeding station was a bit more quieter than usual with only a handfull of Chaffinches being seen during a fifteen minute watch.  Two female Goldeneyes were on Marston Lake. Cormorant (3), Mute Swan (2), Grey Heron (1), Greylag Goose (10+), Canada Goose (2), Tufted Duck (10+), Mallard (2), Teal (2), Coot (4) and Moorhen (1) were also seen here.

12th April, 2009 – Escomb
A Common Sandpiper was on the River Wear. At least ten Sand Martins were inspecting nest holes and a single Swallow flew downstream. Willow Warblers (10+) appear to be outnumbering Chiffchaff (5+) by 2 to 1. The two Great Crested Grebes are still on Marston Lake. No sign of any Blackcaps.

15th April, 2009 – Etherley Moor
A Corn Bunting was calling from the wires behind the feeding station. The feeders are attracting all the usual birds with Goldfinch (3) and Siskin (1) visiting in recent days.

17th April, 2009 – Back Saltholme
Pink–footed Goose (10+), Ruff (1), Ringed Plover (1), Little–ringed Plover (1), Dunlin (1), Swallow (5c), Sand Martin (30+) and House Martin (3c) were seen amongst the regulars during a brief stop at the reserve.  Two nestboxes are now occupied by Tree Sparrows and a House Sparrow nest box has Great Tits nest building in one of the three apartments. Blackbirds have also been busy building a nest in the hedgerow. No sign of the Blue Tits in their usual nest box this year (failed the previous two years).  A Sparrowhawk put in a brief appearance during the late hours of the morning.

18th April, 2009 – Saltholme Pools
In addition to yesterdays short visit, two hours scanning the area of Saltholme produced Bean Goose (1 with Greylags), Pink–footed Goose (10+), Short–eared Owl (1), Northern Wheatear (1), Turnstone (3), Iceland Gull (1) and Spotted Redshank (1 in full summer plumage).  At least three pairs of Great Crested Grebes on West, East and Back Saltholme Pools, two of which offering very good photographic opportunities.  10 – 20 Common Crossbill were seen near the scouts hut at Tilery Wood, easily picked up by listening for the cones dropping to the floor. Unfortunately, the birds stayed in the canopy of the trees, not allowing the opportunity of any photographs. Still very nice to see.

25th April, 2009 – Saltholme Pools
The Bean Goose was still with several Greylag Geese in the field opposite the fire station. Three Ostercatchers, a Curlew and two Whimbrel were in the same field. Three Northern Wheatears were in nearby fields.  At least ten Pink–footed Geese were on Back Saltholme. Three Yellow Wagtails and two Common Terns were also seen, but no sign of the reported Spoonbill or Black Tern during the thirty minutes spent there.  A Sedge Warbler was seen and at least two Reed Warblers were heard at Dormans. Nineteen Avocets were in the area (2 on the calor gas pool & 17 from the bridge at Greenabella.

26th April, 2009 – Saltholme Pools
I was sat enjoying a few minutes in front of our feeding station at Etherley Moor listening to Corn Bunting (1 on wires) and Tree Sparrow (young birds calling from one of the occupied nest boxes) when I recieved a text informing me of Whiskered Tern (2) and Spoonbill (1) at Saltholme Pools. A quick run over and the terns were seen covering all three pools. The Spoonbill was on Back Saltholme.

May & June 2009

Picture:  Shag on the Farne Islands, 11th May

2nd May, 2009 – Low Barns
The west pond was quiet with only a couple of Mute Swans, a couple of Mallards and a Moorhen to keep me company.  At least five Sedge Warblers were heard and seen from the board walk and a Dipper flew down the river wear. Marston Lake held all the usual birds inclding Greylag Goose (6+), Canada Goose (4+), Tufted Duck (2), Mallard (4) and Oystercatcher (2).  A male Common Redstart was seen whilst walking round the reserve. Plenty of warblers were present, including with Willow Warbler (10+), Chiffchaff (6+) and Blackcap (5 males). Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Treecreeper (2), Bullfinch (2 males), Chaffinch (1), Blue Tit (2), Coal Tit (1), Long–tailed Tit (2), Song Thrush (2), Blackbird (3) and Jackdaw (2) were also seen.  The feeding station was very quiet with Pheasant (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (4) and Chaffinch (4) being the only birds seen. Other wildlife included Orange Tip (2), Small White (1) and Speckled Wood (1) Butterflies. Two Roe Deers, a Grey Squirrel and a Red Fox were also seen.

2nd May, 2009 – Saltholme Pools
A quick stop at Saltholme gave us good views of Common Swift (10+). Sedge Warbler (4+), Reed Warbler (1+) and Common Whitethroat (1) were at Dormans.

3rd May, 2009 – Escomb
The pair of Great Crested Grebes were still on Escomb Lake, showing no sign of nesting. A Greylag Goose, five Tufted Ducks, two Mallards and three Coots were also on the lake.  A Common Whitethroat was back on territory close to the small pond (Woodside Lake). Mute Swan (1), Coot (1), Moorhen (1), Oystercatcher (1 over), Swallow (5+) and Sand Martin (1) were also seen at that location.  Blackcap (3+), Willow Warbler (5+), Chiffchaff (2+), Robin (1), Dunnock (1), Wren (1), Song Thrush (1), Great Tit (1) and Blue Tit (3) were also seen and heard whilst walking round the main lake in very windy conditions.

9th May, 2009 – Dormans
The reported Great White Egret was quickly found towards the north end of Dormans. At least 40 Common Swifts were over Saltholme Pools.

10th May, 2009 – Etherley Moor
First bird of the day was a Lesser Whitethroat, which was identified by it’s distinctive call before showing itself for a brief 20 – 30 seconds at close range (no camera). It then flew to the hedge row behind the feeders and was heard only twice before I went to Knitsley Fell. A Corn Bunting was in the tree behind our feeding station.

10th May, 2009 – Knitsley Fell
A quick stop at Bedburn Beck to check for flycatchers resulted in Greylag Goose (2 adults with several young), Mallard (1 adult with several young), Nuthatch (1), Grey Wagtail (1), Blue Tit (4), Robin (1), Song Thrush (1), Willow Warbler (1) and Chiffchaff (2). No Flycatchers.  Two Cuckoos were seen interacting on the wires at Knitsley Fell. Others here included Tree Pipit (1+), Skylark (2+), Meadow Pipit (6+) and Stonechat (1 pair).  Two Garden Warblers and two Lesser Redpolls were seen at Whinney Bank Wood on the way home.

10th May, 2009 – Teesside
The reported Great White Egret was seen towards the rear of Back Saltholme. A Wood Sandpiper was on one of the pools (to the north of the road) that leads to North Gare.

11th May, 2009 – Farne Islands
A quick stop at Budle Bay produced Grey Heron (1), Grey Plover (20+), Curlew (1), Dunlin (50+), Knot (10+), Shelduck (20+), Eider (10+), Mallard (4), Lesser Black–backed Gull (10+), Herring Gull (10+), Black–headed Gull (10+), Common Gull (10+), Carrion Crow (4+) and Jackdaw (7+).  A stop at a pond on the outskirts of Seahouses provided excellent views of singing Sedge Warbler (1) and Reed Bunting (2). Mute Swan (1 with several young), Greylag Goose (2 with several young), Ruff (1), Swallow (2), House Martin (2), Sand Martin (5), Common Swift (2), Moorhen (2) and Shelduck (1) were also at this location.  At least twenty Northern Gannets were seen whilst crossing over to the islands where there was very good numbers of Grey Seal (most I have seen here). All the usual birds were seen on and around the islands, which included Shag (50+), Cormorant (10+), Guillimot (200+), Razorbill (20+), Puffin (100+), Common Tern (75+), Arctic Tern (75+), Sandwich Tern (75+), Fulmar (4), Kittiwake (50+), Black–headed Gull, Herring Gull (50+), Lesser Black–backed Gull (20+), Eider (10+), Mallard (3), Turnstone (4), Oystercatcher (10+), Dunlin (2), Knot (20+), Ringed Plover (two with at least five freshly fledged young), Rock Pipit (2) and Pied Wagtail (3). Tern numbers appeared to be low, but it is still early.  Wood Sandpiper (2), Pied Wagtail (2), Meadow Pipit and Shelduck (1) were seen on a small flooded area close to Henhill Farm, Seahouses (east of the main railway line).

15th – 17th May, 2009 – Sutton Howgrave, North Yorkshire
Two Black Terns, four Avocets, two Little–ringed plovers and at least ten Ringed Plovers were found at Nosterfield Quarry (15th). Several Dunlin and a Sanderling were at Nosterfield Nature Reserve (16th). A Tree Sparrow and two Yellow Wagtails were seen at the CL before departing for home (17th). Plenty of herundines seen throughout the weekend.

23rd May, 2009 – Tunstall
A pair of Pied Flycatchers and three male Common Redstarts were in the woods (no sign of any Wood Warblers or Spotted Flycatcher). A Spotted Flycatcher was at Bedburn Beck.

24th May, 2009 – Etherley Moor
A Common Whitethroat visited the feeding station this morning. Five adult Tree Sparrows were on the feeding station with at least one juvenile. Good numbers of House Sparrows and Starlings also with young fledglings. Blue Tits are taking food into thier nestbox with no sign of shortage of food (unlike last year). Two Magpies are once again attacking everything in sight.

24th May, 2009 – Low Barns
Garden Warbler (4), Common Whitethroat (1), Sedge Warbler (4+), Reed Warbler (1+) and Willow Warbler (4+) were seen whilst walking round the reserve. Two Siskins, two Swifts, four Swallows, a Coal Tit, four Great Tits and at least six Blue Tits were also seen from the pathway.  Mute Swan (1), Greylag Goose (20+), Canada Goose (20+), Grey Heron (1), Cormorant (3), Coot (1 with 6 newly fledged young), Mallard (5) and Tufted Duck (2) and Oystercatcher (1 with at least 1 half grown chick).

24th May, 2009 – West Yorkshire
An evening twitch at Swillington Ings in West Yorksire was very enjoyable. The target bird of Collared Pratincole didn't show for nearly two hours. It was eventually seen in flight for approximately 15 minutes before departing for home at 2015 (unfortunately, not offering any opportunity of photographs).  Whiskered Tern (3), Hobby (1 showing very well), Marsh Harrier (1) and Avocet (1) were amongst the other birds seen whilst waiting at the observation point.

30th May, 2009 – Etherley Moor
All the usual birds have been visiting the feeders over the past couple of days, including Pheasant (2), House Sparrow (10+), Tree Sparrow (at least 2 adaults), Dunnock (2+), Wren (1), Robin (1), Blackbird (2+), Starling (10+), Kestrel (1 over), Lapwing (1 over), Curlew (1 over), Swift (2 over), House Martin (5+ over), Greylag Goose (2 over), Rook (1 over), Magpie (2), Jackdaw (2 over), Woodpigeon (2), Collared Dove (2), Willow Warbler (1 calling) and Common Whitethroat (1 calling).  At least four juvenile Tree Sparrows have succesfully fledged out of two nestboxes. Young Blackbirds, Starlings and House Sparrows are also visiting the feeders indicating that they have had a good year. The Blue Tits have unfortunately failed for the third year running, with seven almost fully grown birds found dead in the nestbox. Not sure how they failed this year as there was at least one adult regularly taking food into the nestbox?

31st May, 2009 – Teesside
The reported Purple Heron at Haverton was seen after a four hour wait.

2nd June, 2009 – Crimdon Dene
Working close to the area, I decided to have my lunch break at Crimdon Dene. Surprise find here were three Red–throated Divers (1 juvenile). Sandwich Tern (8+) and Common Tern were also seen.

14th June, 2009 – Low Barns
At last, some time to get out and about. Enjoyed a relaxing couple of hours at the reserve, hoping to photograph the Kingfishers that appear in front of the west hide. No joy with the kingfishers, but there was still plenty to see elsewhere with most of the regular birds seen. Highlight was two Common Sandpipers on the river wear.  Three Four–spotted Chasers were on the West Pond and a Banded Demoiselle was by the River Wear. Plenty of Damselflies throughout the reserve.

20th June, 2009 – Etherley Moor
A Corn Bunting was calling from roadside wires and a Barn Owl was in it’s usual tree (3rd time this week).

21st June, 2009 – Herrington Country Park
Two Marsh Warblers were by the small fishing lake towards the west side of the park. One of which was very vocal, calling almost continuosly from 0645 to 0915.  Three Common Whitethroats, two Willow Warblers, two Blackbirds, two Linnets, two Great Tits, a Robin and a Wren were also in the area. A family of Mute Swans (2 adults with 6 cygnets), a Moorhen and several Mallards were also there. The songs / calls of most of these birds were heard in the Marsh Warblers singing.  The main lake held all the usual wildfowl. Grey Heron (1), Common Swift (10+), Swallow (10+), Sand Martin (2+), House Martin (2+) and a second family of Mute Swans were also there.

22nd June, 2009 – Etherley Moor
Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers visited the feeders late afternoon (1 female on the nut feeders and another heard).

25th June, 2009 – Etherley Moor
At least two Corn Buntings on roadside wires and a Barn Owl in its usual tree.

28th June, 2009 – Low Barns
A late morning visit to the reserve, hoping to photograph kingfishers was slightly frustrating, but at the same time rewarding.  The first fifteen minutes was very quiet with only Grey Heron (1), Mute Swan (2), Coot (1) and Mallard (2) seen in that time. Another Mallard came out of the reeds with seven ducklings. Several Swift and at least one Swallow were hunting insects over the pasture, where two Reed Buntings were seen calling from the tops of the bushes. A single Kingfisher was seen flying across the pond twice, but not landing in front of the hide (still nice to see though).  After an hour I decided to see if could photograph warblers from the boardwalk. At least five Sedge Warblers, two Reed Warblers, three Reed Buntings, two Common Whitethroats, five Linnets were seen and heard. One Reed Warbler and at least three Sedge Warblers visited the top of the reeds regularly, but only long enough to get (what I would call) good record shots.  A Common Sandpiper was on the River Wear before deciding to return the same way I came. This time, the Kingfisher did decide to put in an appearance in front of the hide, but only as I walked through the door and flying off before I could approach the window.

July, August & September 2009

Picture:  Red-backed Shrike at Dormans, 27th September

4th July, 2009 – Crookfoot
Decided to pop along to Crookfoot Reservoir to see if the Osprey would show for me, which unfortunately did not show. The best birds during this two hour stay were Kingfisher (1) and a totally unexpected appearance of eleven Little Terns.

8th July, 2009 – Etherley Moor
A Corn Bunting has been calling from tree tops behind the feeding station for three days. A Tawny Owl was seen on roadside wires. A second brood of Tree Sparrows have now fledged from one of our nestboxes.

9th July, 2009 – Crookfoot & Hurworth
An Osprey circled over Crookfoot Reservoir at 1320pm before heading north (seen for no longer than a minute). Five Common Sandpipers, two Ringed Plovers, three Oystercatchers, six Lapwings, a Common Whitethroat, a Sedge Warbler and a single Pink–footed Goose (with Greylag and Canada Geese) were at Hurworth Burn Reservoir (no sign of any Green Sandpipers).

12th July, 2009 – Bishop Middleham
A rare visit to Bishop Middleham was a nice change, but the restrictions to the access of the site reminded me why I stopped going.  Seven Common Redshanks and two Little–ringed Plovers were by the water station. Why is DBC trying to remove the rights of people accessing what used to be an excellent vantage point (I personally never disturbed the birds when viewing from the old gate)?  Greenshank (1), Pectoral Sandpiper (1), Green Sandpiper (2+), Common Sandpiper (2+), Ringed Plover (2), Little–ringed Plover (2+), Lapwing (10+), Grey Wagtail (2), Yellow Wagtail (3+) and Pied Wagtail (10+) were seen from outside the new hide. Great Crested Grebe (4), Little Grebe (3), Canada Goose (20+), Mute Swan (7), Mallard (10+), Tufted Duck (10+), Pochard (2+), Teal (2) and Coot (4+) were also there.  The quarry was very quiet bird wise, but the aim of the visit was to view the orchids, wild flowers and butterflies to be found here. Butterflies included Northern Brown Argus (2+), Common Blue (6+), Small Tortoiseshell (1), Small Heath (10+), Ringlet (10+), Meadow Brown (10+), Large Skipper (2) and Small Skipper (6+). Loads of Burnet moths and a fairly large group of Peacock Caterpillars.  DBC has responded with a good explanation on the restrictions at Castle Lake (27th July 2009), stating that dog walkers and individuals are walking around the edge of the lake disturbing the wildlife to be found here. I do realise that this is not good for the birds, but I can only feel that the restrictions may have only fueled the situation. The volunteers have done a good job at Castle Lake and I can only wish them luck, ‘I know I’ve stopped visiting as often as I used to’.

21st July, 2009 – Teesside
At least two Common Crossbills were seen at the Headland. Kittiwake (1), Gannet (1) were the only birds of note during a thirty minute seawatch.  Kestrel (1), Linnet (6+) and Goldfinch (4) were seen from Zinc Road. A Whinchat was on Greenabella. No sign of the reported Pectoral Sandpiper whilst I was there, but several Avocets, five Common Redshank, five Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper were on the tidal pools.  Little Gull (1), Ruff (3), Little Egret (1), Grey Heron (6) and Mute Swan (15+) were at Back Saltholme.

25th – 29th July, 2009 – Sawdon, North Yorkshire
A family trip to Sawdon Heights gave me the opportunity to visit the raptor watchpoint for approximatelt 1 hour each morning. In the short space of time spent there each morning I managed to see Common Buzzard (6+, 2 of which were seen daily), Honey Buzzard (1 probable seen too briefly at a distance), Goshawk (2), Hobby (1), Sparrowhawk (3), Kestrel (1), Turtle Dove (3+), Common Crossbill (7+) and Siskin (5+). At least three Nightjars were seen at a location not far from the raptor watchpoint.

The farm where we stopped had plenty of Linnet (20+), Goldfinches (30+), House Sparrows (10+) and Greenfinches (10+). Other birds seen at the farm included Moorhen (2 with at least four young), Swallow (4+), House Martin (1), Swift (4+), Woodpigeon (10+), Collared Dove (2), Tree Sparrow (1), Garden Warbler (1), Chiffchaff (1), Wren (1), Robin (1), Blackbird (4), Song Thrush (3), Chaffinch (2), Greenfinch (4+), Pied Wagtail (2), Carrion Crow (3+) and Yellowhammer (10+).

31st July, 2009 – Saltholme Pools
Greenshank (1), Ruff (3+), Dunlin (7+) and Little Egret (10+) were the pick of the birds during this very short stop at the pools (10 minutes). No sign of the reported Little Stint.

1st August, 2009 – Saltholme Pools
Another short stop at Saltholme Pools and Calor Gas Pool and still no sign of the Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper or Pectoral Sandpiper from the roadside (didn’t have time to go on the reserve). Green Sandpiper (1), Black–tailed Godwit (17), Dunlin (10+), Common Redshank (30+) and Avocet (5) were the pick of the birds at the Calor Gas Pool.  Ruff (4+), Common Sandpiper (1) and Dunlin (10+) were seen on Back Saltholme.

1st August, 2009 – Etherley Moor
A single Corn Bunting has been seen at the usual location for the past two days.

2nd August, 2009 – Low Barns
Very quiet during this two hour visit to the reserve. The highlight being approximately eighty Greylag Geese being constantly attacked by a very territorial Mute Swan on Marston Lake.  Spent about an hour photographing butterflies, bees, flies and damselflies in the butterfly garden. This was also quiet, but did manage to get some rather nice photos of Comma Butterfly, Drone Fly, Flesh Fly and Blue–tailed Damselfly.

8th August, 2009 – Etherley Moor
Most of the spare time this week has been spent in the garden at Etherley Moor.  Butterflies have visiting the Budlea. The most seen at any one time includes Painted Lady (6+), Peacock (10+), Small Tortoiseshell (5+), Large White (5+), Small White (2+), Comma (1) and Speckled Wood (1).  The moth trap went out for only the second time this year with a good return of moths (100+). Nothing out of the ordinary, but it was nice to see the children taking an interest in the various camouflage and colours, especially the Chinese Character which disguises itself as bird droppings.  Tree Sparrows are now busy feeding a third brood (this time they are using the House Sparroe box that was put up earlier this year). House Sparrow (10+), Dunnock (3+), Robin (2+), Blackbird (2+), Woodpigeon (2+), Collared Dove (2), House Martin (6+), Swallow (2), Rook (4 over), Greylag Goose (1 over) and Chaffinch (1) have been seen from the garden.  The Corn Bunting (1) is still being seen on the wires from the back road (not heard calling for a few weeks now).

12th August, 2009 – Low Barns
The West Pond had a family of five Mute Swans (2 adults), two Moorhens, several Mallards and three Grey Herons. Great–spotted Woodpecker (1), Swallow (2), Rook (30+), Carrion Crow (20+) and Jackdaw (40+) were seen flying over the area. A Barnacle Goose was amongst approximately forty Greylag Geese on the Marston Lake islands. Little Grebe (2), Teal (2), Black–headed Gull (1) and Coot (5) were also seen here.  Nuthatch (3+), Marsh Tit (2), Blue Tit (2+), Great Tit (4+), Coal Tit (3+), Robin (3+), Blackbird (1), Chaffinch (6+) and Willow Warbler (1) were seen at the feeding station during a ten minute watch.  Butterflies throughout the reserve included Peacock (10+), Small Tortoiseshell (2), Painted Lady (5+), Speckled Wood (4+), Small White (10+), Large White (2) and Green–veigned White (2).

21st August, 2009 – Etherley Moor
Good numbers of butterflies in the garden this week, with at least twenty four Peacocks and fourteen Painted Ladies (all on one Budlea bush). Corn Bunting has not been seen since the fields were harvested at the beginning of the week. Common Swift (2+), Swallow (10+) and House Martin (20+) have been seen during the past week (figures shown are the highest count at any one time).

22nd August, 2009 – Low Barns
Kingfisher (1), Water Rail (1), Moorhen (3+), Grey Heron (3), Mallard (6+), Mute Swan (family of 5), Jay (1), Magpie (2+), Carrion Crow (2), Jackdaw (5+), Rook (1) and Woodpigeon (2+) were seen from the West Hide. A Green Woodpecker was heard calling. A female Goosander, five Mallards and a Moorhen were on the River Wear. A Mandarin, several Mallards, Cormorant (2) and approximately twenty Greylag Geese were on the islands in front of the South Hide. Little Grebe (2+), Coot (6+), Common Teal (5+), Tufted Duck (2+), Mallard (10+) and Swallow (3) were also seen from the hide.  Willow Warbler (2+), Chiffchaff (2+), Long–tailed Tit (4+), Blue Tit (3+), Coal Tit (2+), Great Tit (1+), Chaffinch (3+), Blackbird (10+), Song Thrush (4+) and Wren (1) were seen from the footpath whilst walking round the reserve. Marsh Tit (1) and Chaffinch (15+) were seen during a short visit to the feeding station.

23rd August, 2009 – Yorkshire Twitch
Decided to go to Edderthorpe Flash near Barnsley for the chance of seeing the Spotted Crake that had been seen over the past few days. Didn’t manage to see the crake, but did manage to stop off for the reported Citrine Wagtail at Saltholme Pools on the return journey. Greenshank (1) and Black–necked Grebe were also seen from the RSPB visitor centre.

31st August, 2009 – Bishop Auckland
Found this little (or not so little) Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar in a Bishop Auckland garden. Very big and very strong (could not seperate it from the feushia it was feeding on).

4th September, 2009 – Teesside
Two Little Stints and three Curlew Sandpipers were amongst approximately thirty Dunlin were seen during a late afternoon visit to the Calor Gas Pool. No sign of the reported Hooded Merganser whilst I was there.

6th September, 2009 – Teesside
Two Whinchats were in the field directly to the north of Zinc Road late am. The female Hooded Merganser was seen at the Calor Gas Pool early afternoon. A female Marsh Harrier was seen over Dormans soon after.

10th September, 2009 – Escomb
A very quiet walk around the lake. Approximately forty Swallows and a single Kingfisher over Escomb Lake. A Tawny Owl was heard calling from the opposite side of the river.

12th September, 2009 – Edderthorpe, South Yorkshire
The long staying Spotted Crake was seen at 7am and 8am, providing very good views through the scope.

15th September, 2009 – Low Barns
A young Mute Swan, a single Grey Heron, several Teal, at least twenty Mallards, two Tufted Ducks and five Moorhens were seen from the West Pond hide. Two Reed Buntings and at least forty Goldfinches were seen close to the boardwalk. A Kingfisher and another Grey Heron were seen flying up the River Wear.  Eighteen Cormorants were in the trees at Marston Lake. Three Little Grebes, several Black–headed Gulls, a Herring Gull and at least four Coots were also there.  The feeding station had little food, so this was quieter than usual. Nuthatch (2), Coal Tit (2), Blue Tit (2), Robin (3) and Chaffinch (5) were seen on and around the feeding station. At least three Chiffchaffs were heard calling whilst walking round the reserve.

18th September, 2009 – Escomb
An early morning visit to the lake produced a juvenile Grasshopper Warbler, two Blackcaps (male & female), a Chiffchaff, at least ten Goldfinch, five Greenfinches, three Bullfinches, two Robins and a single Reed Bunting in the migrant bushes.  Whilst viewing the bushes, three female Common Teals landed on the small pool, three Great–spotted Woodpeckers flew over and at least ten Swallows passed through.  Five Coots and nine Black–headed Gulls were the only birds on Escomb Lake. Three single Cormorants flew over the lake.

19th September, 2009 – Kinninvie
Two Red Kites (one tagged adult and one untagged juvenile), three Common Buzzards, a Red Grouse, a Black Grouse, seventeen Grey Partridges, seven Meadow Pipits and approximately seventy Linnets were seen during a half hour visit to the area.

20th September, 2009 – Escomb
Two Sparrowhawks and a Kestrel flew over the fishing lakes. A House Martin was amonst several Swallows, which were viewed over Escomb Lake for a minute or two before flying south. Two Blackcaps (male & female) were in the migrant bushes.  The warm weather brought out a scattering of butterflies with Speckled Wood (7+), Small White (1), Large White (2), Small Tortoiseshell (2), Painted Lady (1) and Common Blue being seen. Also 4 – 5 unidentified dragonflies.

25th September, 2009 – Teesside
The reported Buff–breasted Sandpiper was seen with several Ruff at Back Saltholme and the reported Red–backed Shrike showed reasonably well at Dormans.

27th September, 2009 – Teesside
The juvenile Red–backed Shrike at Dormans Pool showed very well, allowing several reasonably close photograph opportunities from the car. A pair of Stonechats and at least three Dunnocks were in the same area.  A Little Egret was seen over Dormans Pool.  The reported Blue–winged Teal gave good views at the allotment pools. A Water Rail and a single Greenshank were also seen here.  Two Garganey, a Little Egret, at least ten Common Snipe and several Black–tailed Godwit were at the bottom tank at RSPB Saltholme.

October, November & December 2009

Picture:  Lapland Bunting at South Gare, 25th October

4th October, 2009 – Low Barns
At least twenty eight Siskin were in the tree tops around the feeding station. Two Nuthatch, three Goldfinch, two Coal Tits, one Marsh Tit and two Pheasants were also seen here. The feeding station was once again very quiet as there was no food on the feeding station.  Twelve Mallards, three Grey Herons and two Moorhens were seen from the hide at the West Pond. A single Jay, two Magpies and two Carrion Crows were seen flying over the West Pasture. No sign of any Kingfishers during this visit.  Three Cormorants, a Little Grebe, a Tufted Duck, two Coots, two Mute Swans and three Black–headed Gulls were on Marston Lake. Five Swallows flew over the visitor centre.

9th October, 2009 – Low Barns
The feeding station was quite busy with three Nuthatch, one Great–spotted Woodpecker, four Coal Tits, two Great Tits, two Blue Tits, three Robins, two Dunnocks, one Treecreeper and three Pheasants being seen in a twenty minute observation.  The west pond was quiet with seven Mallards, four Cormorants, two Moorhens and one Kingfisher being the only birds seen.  A Kestrel and twenty Goldfinches were seen close to the boardwalk. Two Grey Herons were seen on the River Wear.  A Barnacle Goose was amongst approximately 100 Greylag Geese at Marston Lake. A female Goldeneye was seen amongst the regulars which included ten Tufted Duck, several Mallards, two Little Grebes, two Mute Swans, five Black–headed Gulls, two Herring Gulls and at least ten Cormorants.

10th October, 2009 – Kibblesworth
The reported Common Crane was seen in a ploughed field off Ouslaw Lane.

11th October, 2009 – Teesside
First stop was Hartlepool Headland. A Firecrest, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Chiffchaff were seen in and around the putting green. A Peregrine flew overhead with a fresh kill (possible Starling). A Mediterranean Gull, six Rock Pipits, a Purple Sandpiper and at least ten Pied Wagtails were seen whilst having a quick walk around the headland.  Next was the bottom ank at RSPB Saltholme. Highlight here was a Jack Snipe which was seen on the far bank, showing very well.

17th October, 2009 – Etherley Moor
Five Fieldfares, at least one Redwing and approximately two hundred Starlings in the field behind our feeding station.

17th October, 2009 – Teesside
The reported Bluethroat showed well at Olive Street, Hartlepool Headland. A Mediterranean Gull was at Newburn.

18th October, 2009 – Teesside
Being greedy, I decided to go and see if the Bluethroat was still at the headland. No joy with the Bluethroat, but did see two Velvet Scoters with at least twenty Common Scoters from the seawatching point. No joy at North Gare when looking for Snow Bunting, but did get a very quick view of what looked to be a Lapland Bunting from the North Gare car park. A Reed Bunting and two Meadow Pipits were also there.  Also had no joy when trying for the reported Blyths / Richards Pipit at South Gare, but did see four Snow Buntings (flew over heading south), a Merlin (flew over going towards Seal Sands) and a juvenile Gannet (fished briefly on the estuary side of the gare).

23rd October, 2009 – South Shields
The reported Eastern Crowned Warbler was seen at Trow Quarry (thank you to the finders and identifier). A Little Owl and a Sparrowhawk was seen during a brief visit to Marsden Quarry.

25th October, 2009 – Teesside
A Lapland Bunting was at South Gare, showing very well. Other than that, South gare was very quiet. A Blue–winged Teal, a Slavonian Grebe and a Greenshank were at Back Saltholme. Five Whooper Swans were at Dormans and a Merlin was at Seaton Common.

30th & 31st October, 2009 – Northumberland
A family visit to Haggerston Castle gave me the opportunity to view the reported Snow Goose at Monkhouse Pond near Seahouses.  A 1st winter Black Guillimot was seen off Stag Rocks during a ten minute seawatch. A quick stop at Budle Bay produced the usual species to be found there.  Two Pied Wagtails and two Rock Pipits were seen whilst checking a small bay at Berwick.  We decided to explore more of the local coastline and we soon found a field containing approximately 200 Pink–footed Geese, with at least thirty Barnacle Geese amongst them.  Red–throated Diver (1+), Red–breasted Merganser (1), Eider (20+), Mallard (1), Common Scoter (100+), Common Redshank (2), Turnstone (7) and Purple Sandpiper (1) were seen close to Cheswick.

7th November, 2009 – South Shields
Eventually managed to try for the reported Sabines Gull at North Shields. Missed the bird by ten minutes, so we decided to try our luck at South Shields. The first winter Sabines Gull was sen at Sandhaven Beach before flying towards Whitburn after being disturbed by a jogger. A Mediteranean Gull was seen from the car park.

8th November, 2009 – North Shields
I decided to have another try for the Sabines Gull at North Shields and managed to get good views of the bird for aproximately 5 – 10 minutes before it flew towards South Shields.  A Mediteranean Gull was seen whilst waiting for the bird to return.

13th November, 2009 – Rookhope
A working visit to St John’s Chapel gave me the opportunity to check Rookhope and the surrounding area. Target birds included Black Grouse, Raven and anything else that could be picked up.  Twelve Black Grouse were seen on grazing land to the north of the village. At least twelve Red Grouse and a thirteenth Black Grouse were seen on nearby moorland.  Two Ravens, a Kestrel and at least four Common Buzzards (one pair and two individuals) were other birds seen.  A quick stop at Low Barns produced two female Goldeneyes (Marston Lake).

15th November, 2009 – Escomb
Approximately twenty Yellowhammers and at least one hundred Tree Sparrows were in the hedgerows between the village and the River Wear. Greylag Goose (100c), Tufted Duck (17), Goosander (1 female), Cormorant (3) and Redwing (15+) were also seen.

4th December, 2009 – Teesside
Ten Pintails were at Dormans. Back Saltholme produced Barnacle Geese (20), Greylag Goose (200c), Canada Goose (50c), Wigeon (50c), Lapwing (100+) and Golden Plover (50+).  A Water Pipit was seen and heard whilst checking the bottom tank at RSPB Saltholme. A Black–tailed Godwit was also seen amongst the usual species to be found at this location.  No joy at North Gare when checking for Twite and Snow Bunting. Five Shags and two Red–breasted Mergansers were seen in the channel that leads up towards Seal Sands. A Merlin was seen on Zinc Road.  A Great Northern Diver, five Cormorants and upto fifty Lapwings were seen at Hartlepool Marina. The diver was seen for approximately twenty seconds and was not seen again during a thirty minute search.  At least ten Ring–necked Parakeets were at Ward Jackson Park. A redhead Smew and a Great crested Grebe were at Crookfoot Reservoir. A Little Owl was seen in nearby trees.

20th December, 2009 – Low Barns
The feeding station was quite active with at least eight Robins, six Dunnocks, two Nuthatches, ten Chaffinches, four Great Tits, four Blue Tits, three Coal Tits, four Pheasants and two Blackbirds visiting the feeders during a twenty minute oservation.  Six Goldfinches, one Siskin and four Jackdaws were in the tree tops, whilst I was viewing the feeders in very cold (ice and snow (minus 4)) conditions.  The West Pond was almost completely frozen over. At least ten Mallards and several Common Teal were in the only unfrozen part towards the rear of the pond.   A female Reed Bunting, a Grey Heron (in flight over the pasture), seven Greylag Geese (in flight over the pasture) and a female Goldeneye (on the River Wear) were seen whilst walking towards the South Hide. An small unfrozen area in the centre of Marston Lake produced ten Mallards, four Common Teal and one Little Grebe. Two Mute Swans were sitting on the ice in front of the hide.  The walk back towards the feeding station produced Blackbird (10+), Redwing (3), Fieldfare (1), Carrion Crow (2), Magpie (2), Lapwing (4 over), Willow Tit (1), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (4), Coal Tit (2), Siskin (20+) and Lesser Redpoll (1, amongst the Siskins).  Surprise find of the visit was the sighting of two Jack Snipe that lifted whilst I was looking for Water Rail in the Butterfly Garden. Two Moorhens, a Wren and a handfull of Long–tailed Tits were also seen here.

24th December, 2009 – Escomb
Seven Mute Swans, fifteen Tufted Ducks and four Mallards were on the only unfrozen part of Escomb Lake (about 15 sq yds in size). Several Coots, fifteen Common Gulls and ten Black–headed Gulls were on the surrounding ice. Two Moorhens were seen flying across the River Wear.  Moorhen (2), Blue Tit (6), Great Tit (4), Long–tailed Tit (8), Coal Tit (1), Dunnock (2), House Sparrow (10+), Starling (10+), Wren (2), Goldfinch (2), Greenfinch (1), Chaffinch (2), Great–spotted Woodpecker (1), Redwing (2), Fieldfare (1), Song Thrush (2), Blackbird (10+), Magpie (10+) and Reed Bunting (2) were seen whilst walking around the lake.

27th December, 2009 – Low Barns
Fifteen Common Teal and at least twenty Mallards were on the only unfrozen part of the west pond. Two Mute Swans flew over the west pasture.  The feeding station was quite active with at least three Robins, two Dunnocks, two Nuthatches, five Chaffinches, two Great Tits, four Blue Tits, two Coal Tits, two Marsh Tits, one Pheasant, four Blackbirds and a single Jay visiting during a ten minute observation. The rest of the reserve was very quiet.