Sightings 2011

Welcome to my sightings page for 2011, 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, February & March 2011

Picture:  Great Tit at Hurworth Burn, 25th February

1st January, 2011 – Etherley Moor
First bird of the year was a Black–headed Gull. The feeders were once again very quiet with only a Dunnock seen in a five minute watch. Woodpigeon (100+), Stock Dove (2), Herring Gull (3), Common Gull (2) and Black–headed Gull (5+) were in the field to the south of the feeders. Blackbird (2), Chaffinch (3), Starling (3), House Sparrow (3+), Tree Sparrow (2), Robin (1), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (2), Magpie (2) were seen in the surrounding hedgerows. Grey Heron (1 being mobbed by Carrion Crows), Greylag Goose (3) and Cormorant (1) flew over.

1st January, 2011 – Escomb
Despite the recent thaw, Escomb Lake is still mostly frozen. The only unfrozen part of the lake contained Whooper Swan (1), Mute Swans (18 adults and 7 juveniles), Mallard (28), Tufted Duck (13), Wigeon (1), Goldeneye (1 female), Coot (37) and Moorhen (2).  Black–headed Gull (36), Common Gull (1) and Herring Gull (2) were on the ice. A Cormorant was seen flying towards Low Barns.  The hedgerows produced a good variety of birds including Blackbird (10+), Redwing (2), Blue Tit (4+), Great Tit (2+), Coal Tit (1), Magpie (2+), Carrion Crow (4), Jackdaw (2), Jay (1), Woodpigeon (10+), Collared Dove (1), Bullfinch (1), Chaffinch (2), Dunnock (4), Robin (1), House Sparrow (50+), Tree Sparrow (1), Reed Bunting (1) and Yellowhammer (7).

1st January, 2011 – Rainton Meadows
Coues’ Arctic Redpoll (1), Common Redpoll (6+), Lesser Redpoll (20+), Siskin (20+) and Goldfinch (10+) were seen from the top of the hill. Twenty three Waxwings flew towards West Rainton. Willow Tit (4+) were seen nearby.

2nd January, 2011 – Teesside
Two Long–eared Owls were at Saltholme (Haverton), one showing reasonably well. A Water Rail was seen from the wildlife watchpoint. Moorhen (10+), Blackbird (3), Fieldfare (5), Redwing (1), Song Thrush (1), Bullfinch (1), Greenfinch (10+), Chaffinch (2), Goldfinch (4+), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (2), Coal Tit (1) and Reed Bunting (3) were seen whilst going to and from the owl watchpoint (no sign of any Bitterns whilst I was there).  Twite (7+), Bar–tailed Godwit (5+) and Grey Plover (7+) were the pick of the birds seen from Seaton Snook.  The wintering Mediterranean Gull was seen at Newburn Bridge. Waders at high tide included Oystercatcher (20+), Knot (75+), Purple Sandpiper (53+), Common Redshank (10+), Ringed Plover (30+) and Dunlin (1).

16th January, 2011 – Escomb
The long staying Whooper Swan wasn’t present during this visit. Birds on Escomb Lake included Mute Swans (3 adults), Mallard (24), Tufted Duck (5), Wigeon (2) and Coot (32). Black–headed Gull (50+), Common Gull (10+) and Herring Gull (7) were on the ice (only a third of the lake is now frozen). A drake Goosander arrived on the lake and a single Cormorant was seen flying towards Low Barns.  The hedgerows were once again quite active producing a Blackbird (4+), Redwing (20+), Mistle Thrush (4), Blue Tit (6+), Great Tit (4+), Magpie (4+), Carrion Crow (2), Woodpigeon (1), Collared Dove (1), Greenfinch (1), Chaffinch (2), Goldfinch (4), Robin (1) and House Sparrow (10+).

20th January, 2011 – Low Barns
The feeding station was quite active producing Moorhen (2), Pheasant (3), Dunnock (1), Robin (2), Goldcrest (at least 2 in the conifers), Blackbird (2), Blue Tit (10+), Great Tit (10+), Coal Tit (2), Long–tailed Tit (6+), Nuthatch (2) and Reed Bunting (2) showing very well in the mid–afternoon sunlight.  The west pond was almost fully frozen with Grey Heron (1), Mute Swan (3), Mallard (20+) and Common Teal (32+) all gathered on the only unfrozen part of the pond (far side). Two Marsh Tits and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen just outside the hide.  Marston Lake was fully frozen and the river was quiet. Three Cormorants, two Herring Gulls, seven Common Gulls and at least sixty Greylag Geese flew over the reserve whilst returning to the car.

21st January, 2011 – Teesside
The reported Ring–necked Duck was seen at Cowpen Bewley on a small unfrozen part of the pond. Five Lesser Redpoll, two Siskin and at least one Brambling were seen from the car park. Spent 2 – 3 hours looking at gulls with the highlight being a 2nd winter Glaucous Gull, which was found at the end of Zinc Road. A Black–necked Grebe was seen at Seal Sands.

23rd January, 2011 – Escomb
A very quiet walk round the lake and ponds this morning with only Mute Swan (3), Mallard (10+), Wigeon (1) and Coot (24) seen on Escomb Lake. Black–headed Gull (35+), Common Gull (5+) and Herring Gull (1) were also there. A Little Grebe and four Goosanders (1 drake & 3 females) were on the River Wear.

5th February, 2011 – Team Valley
Two Waxwings were seen whilst driving past Team Valley Trading Estate (A1).

14th February, 2011 – Spennymoor
Approximately thirty Waxwings were seen opposite the main gates to Black & Decker.

19th February, 2011 – Etherley Moor
Another day working in the office meant I could watch the feeders. During the course of the day House Sparrow (10+), Tree Sparrow (4+), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (2), Blackbird (5+), Redwing (20+ over), Chaffinch (1), Goldfinch (20+ over), Dunnock (2), Robin (1), Carrion Crow (2), Jackdaw (4) and Starling (20+) were seen. There is still at least 150 Woodpigeons in the area.

21st February, 2011 – Chester–le–Street
A very quick visit to the River Wear produced a Whooper Swan and a Scaup (authenticity is debatable). There were also several Mute Swans and at least five Goosanders.

22nd February, 2011 – Etherley Moor
A possible sighting of approximately twenty five Waxwings over the house early morning.

24th February, 2011 – Hurworth Burn
A Smew (red–head) and three Goldeneyes were in the north–west corner of the reservoir. At least four Great–crested Grebes and four Wigeon were on the main section of the reservoir. Fifteen Common Snipe were on the bank side.  Greylag Goose (c90), Canada Goose (7), Mute Swan (2), Grey Heron (1), Mallard (10+), Teal (4), Common Gull (2), Lapwing (4), Oystercatcher (4), Song Thrush (1), Starling (10+) and Carrion Crow (3) were seen whilst walking along the railway line.  The feeding station (near the car park) produced Chaffinch (10+), Greenfinch (2), Blue Tit (6+), Great Tit (6+), Coal Tit (1), Long–tailed Tit (3), Willow Tit (2), Robin (1), Dunnock (3), Treecreeper (1) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (2). Five Yellowhammer and three Woodpigeon were seen from the car park.

27th February, 2011 – Etherley Moor
A Song Thrush has been calling for the past two days. Others include Yellowhammer (1 male), Lapwing (1), Chaffinch (2), Greenfinch (2), Goldfinch (2), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (2), Tree Sparrow (3), House Sparrow (10+), Starling (30+), Carrion Crow (4), Magpie (2), Collared Dove (2), Stock Dove (2), Woodpigeon (50+), Robin (2), Dunnock (2), Blackbird (4+), Black–headed Gull (10+) and Common Gull (2).

1st March, 2011 – Low Barns
A Mute Swan, two Tufted Duck, four Mallard and two Moorhen were on the West Pond.  The walk to Northumbrian hide was very quiet, with Woodpigeon (4 over), Jackdaw (6 over), Black–headed Gull (1 over), Curlew (1 over), Bullfinch (2), Wren (1) and Siskin (2) seen.  Marston Lake was also fairly quiet with Cormorant (15+), Little Grebe (1), Mallard (2), Teal (3), Coot (2) and Mute Swan being the only birds seen.  The feeding station brought a bit of life into this visit producing Pheasant (1), Dunnock (3), Robin (1), Blackbird (2), Blue Tit (5+), Great Tit (5+), Coal Tit (1), Long–tailed Tit (2), Marsh Tit (1), Nuthatch (2), Siskin (5+) and Reed Bunting (3) showing well in the morning sun.

2nd March, 2011 – Teesdale
Ten Black Grouse, three Red Grouse, a Sparrowhawk and at least seven Common Buzzards were seen during a brief visit to upper teesdale.

2nd March, 2011 – Escomb
Two Great Crested Grebes, three Mallards, two Coots, a female Goosander, thirty six Black–headed Gulls and seven Common Gulls were on Escomb Lake.  A surprise on woodside lake was the return of the wintering Whooper Swan. Two Shelducks, eleven Goosanders (including 3 males), two Mute Swans, a drake Pochard, three Tufted Ducks and four Mallards were also there. Twenty four Curlews were in one of the nearby fields and two Jays were also close by.  A group of approximately sixteen Great Tits were working their way round Escomb Lake. Long–tailed Tit (2), Blue Tit (4), Chaffinch (1), Blackbird (3), Song Thrush (1), Fieldfare (5 over), Jackdaw (50+), Carrion Crow (4), Woodpigeon (2), Starling (2), House Sparrow (10+) and Yellowhammer (2) were also seen.

6th March, 2011 – The Stang
At least six Common Crossbills were seen towards the top of the forest. Oystercatcher (2), Curlew (4+), Red Grouse (4+), Red–legged Partridge (1), Common Buzzard (2), Chaffinch (2), Siskin (4+) and Robin (2) were also in the area.

21st March, 2011 – Escomb
A quick walk round Escomb Lake produced Chiffchaff (3), Meadow Pipit (30c), Yellowhammer (20c) and Corn Bunting (possibly one flying with Yellowhammers).  Mute Swan (3), Greylag Goose (4), Canada Goose (2), Great Crested Grebe (2), Wigeon (1), Tufted Duck (4), Mallard (6), Goosander (3), Oystercatcher (2), Mistle Thrush (1), Chaffinch (2+), Goldfinch (4), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (2), Long–tailed Tit (2) and Reed Bunting (4) were also in the area. The first butterfly of the year was seen today with at least four Small Tortoiseshells seen.

24th March, 2011 – Low Barns
All the usual birds at a well stocked feeding station (thanks to Low Barns Photography Club). At least five Chiffchaff were heard whilst walking round the reserve. Three Treecreepers, two Nuthatch and a Marsh Tit were seen in the alder wood. Two Goosanders were on the river and a Little Grebe was on Marston Lake. At least two Peacock butterflies seen today.

28th March, 2011 – Bishops Park & The Batts
Two pairs of Grey Wagtails, a Dipper, a female Goosander and at least ten Mallards were on the River Gaunless. Not much happening elsewhere other than a Green Woodpecker (1 calling).

April, May & June 2011

Picture:  Tree Pipit at Black Bank, 2nd June

3rd April, 2011 – Low Barns
The feeding station was quite active producing Pheasant (5+), Dunnock (1), Robin (1), Blackbird (1), Chaffinch (10+), Blue Tit (6+), Great Tit (10+), Coal Tit (2+), Marsh Tit (1), Long–tailed Tit (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Nuthatch (2), Reed Bunting (2) and Lesser Redpoll (1).  The West Pond was quiet with Mallard (2), Common Teal (2) and Tufted Duck (5) being the only birds seen. A Dipper and a Grey Heron were on the River Wear. Marston Lake was also quite quiet with Mute Swan (3), Cormorant (5), Tufted Duck (6), Mallard (2) and Black–headed Gull (2) being the only birds seen.  Sightings to help brighten up the visit included Sand Martin (5+), Swallow (2), Blackcap (1 male) and Jay (3) and Fieldfare (60c over).

7th April, 2011 – Etherley Moor
A Corn Bunting was calling from wires behind the feeding station.

9th April, 2011 – Bishops Park & The Batts
Spent most of this visit downstream from The Batts (River Wear), checking a selection of areas that I haven't visited for a while. Not much seen, but it was nice to see Tree Sparrows (2), Yellowhammer (1) and Linnet (10+).

10th April, 2011 – Teesside
Only my third visit to Teesside this year and it was good to meet up with some familiar faces and have a bit of chat on what has been happening. A Cetti’s Warbler and a Grasshopper Warbler were seen at Dormans (missed a Marsh Harrier by minutes). At least six Northern Wheatear were on Holme Fleet (I arrived too late for the 2 Common Cranes that had been reported earlier). At least thirty Avocet and one Little–ringed Plover were on Greenabella. A female Yellow Wagtail and a very vocal Green Woodpecker were at Haverton Hole, but no sign of the reported Garganey whilst I was there.

17th April, 2011 – Low Barns
A quick stop at the feeding station produced Pheasant (1), Dunnock (2), Robin (1), Blackbird (1), Chaffinch (5+), Blue Tit (2+), Great Tit (2+) and Nuthatch (1). A Song Thrush and two Mistle Thrushes were seen close to the visitor centre. Willow Warbler (1), Marsh Tit (1), Blue Tit (1), Long–tailed Tit (1) and Reed Bunting (1) were in the ringers nets, who were having a good morning.  At least two Sedge Warblers were calling from the reeds close to the boardwalk. Two Goosanders, a Dipper and a Grey Heron were on the River Wear. Marston Lake was quite quiet with Mute Swan (1), Greylag Goose (4), Canada Goose (2), Cormorant (1), Tufted Duck (4), Mallard (2), Oystercatcher (2) and Black–headed Gull (2) being the only birds seen. Blackcap (3+), ChiffChaff (10+) and Willow Warbler (10+) were heard / seen whilst walking round the reserve.

18th – 21st April, 2011 – Yellowcraig, North Berwick
A family visit to Yellowcraig and North Berwick gave me the opportunity to visit the stretch of coastline that runs between the two locations producing Eider (20+), Long–tailed Duck (2), Gannet (20+), Cormorant (10+), Shag (1), Puffin (10+), Guillimot (10+), Razorbill (2), Fulmar (1), Great Black–backed Gull (10+), Lesser Black–backed Gull (2), Herring Gull (10+), Magpie (4+), Sparrowhawk (1), Pied Wagtail (2), White Wagtail (2) and Swallow (1).  Grey Partridge (2), Pheasant (10+), Rook (10+), Carrion Crow (10+), Jackdaw (10+), Woodpigeon (20+), Great–spotted Woodpecker (1), Common Buzzard (1 over), Blackcap (1+), Willow Warbler (1+), Chiffchaff (3+), Goldfinch (4), Chaffinch (2), Blue Tit (4+), Great Tit (2+), Robin (1) and Dunnock (4) were seen from the caravan park and it’s surrounding area.

21st – 24th April, 2011 – Cocklawburn Beach, Northumberland
The second part of our family holiday was a four day stop at Haggerston Castle and two visits to Cocklawburn Beach.  Highlights here included Honey Buzzard (1 North), Whimbrel (1 North), Red–throated Diver (1), Black–throated Diver (1), Sandwich Tern (10+), Scaup (1), Long–tailed Duck (1), Common Scoter (100+), House Martin (2), Swallow (10+), Wheatear (1) and Sedge Warbler (2).  Not much birding done at Haggerston. Blackcap (1), ChiffChaff (2) and Willow Warbler (1) were heard calling. Blackbird and Song Thrush were feeding young. At least four Swallows were on wires outside the reception area.

29th April, 2011 – Bishops Park
A visit to the top of Bishops Park produced Common Redstart (1) and Green Woodpecker (1). Plenty of calling Willow Warblers and ChiffChaffs.

30th April, 2011 – Escomb
At least six Common Whitethroats were seen at various points around Escomb Lake. At least three Blackcaps were seen. Two Sparrowhawks were in the area. Plenty of calling Willow Warblers and ChiffChaffs.

30th April, 2011 – Etherley Moor
A Common Whitethroat was heard calling from the hedgerow behind the feeding station. Two Grey Partridges were seen in the field behind the feeding station (1st record since 15th January 2009).

2nd May, 2011 – Teesside
The reported Nightingale at Cowpen Bewley was heard calling from a hedgerow close to the pond (very loud and seen very briefly). Plenty of calling Willow Warblers (4+), ChiffChaffs (3+), Blackcaps (4+), Common Whitethroats (3+) and Sedge Warblers (2) at this location.  A quick stop at Holme Fleet produced a single Whimbrel. At least twenty Avocets were at Seal Sands. No sign of the previously reported Shore Lark at North Gare.  A Wood Sandpiper was seen from the new hide that overlooks the bottom tank, RSPB Saltholme. Little Egret (1), Shelduck (5), Teal (2), Mallard (1), Gadwall (5), Shoveller (2), Common Snipe (3) and Common Redshank (2) were also there. At least fifteen Common Terns were seen on Back Saltholme. A Grey Plover and at least three Greenshank were at Port clarence.  A very quick stop at Dormans produced Common Whitethroat (3+), Reed Warbler (2+), Sedge Warbler (2+), ChiffChaff (2) and Willow Warbler (1).

5th May, 2011 – Bollihope
A female Ring Ouzel, a Cuckoo, a Dipper, three Wheatears, two Sand Martins, four Swallows and several Red Grouse were seen during a quick visit to the quarry.

7th May, 2011 – Etherley Moor
Corn Bunting (1), Common Whitethroat (1) and Yellowhammer (1) have been calling from behind the feeding station for the past 3 – 4 days. Three House Martins and at least two Swallows were also there. Tree Sparrows are now feeding young in one of the nest boxes.

7th May, 2011 – Teesside
A Stone Curlew was on the Calor Gas Pool.

12th May, 2011 – Escomb
Common Swift (3+), Kingfisher (1) and Garden Warbler (2) were amongst the usual birds during a quick walk around the ponds. A female Goosander with six young were on the River Wear. Loads of ground work being done, including re–routing the water that supplies the lake & pond.

13th May, 2011 – North Gare & Bishop Middleham
A Shorelark, approximately fifteen Northern Wheatears and a handfull of Common Swifts were seen on the unused section of the golf course, north of the path to North Gare. No sign of any Whinchat in the area.  A rare visit to Bishop Middleham’s Castle Lake produced a good selection of the birds that are usually found there at this time of year. The previously reported Channel Wagtail (a good photo opportunity was missed because of the heavy rain shower) was seen with 3–4 Yellow Wagtails close to the hide. A Northern Wheatear and approximately thirty Linnets were also in the same area.  There was plenty of Sand Martins and Swallows over the lake (too many to count). Three Common Swifts were also seen. Two Little–ringed Plovers were the only waders seen, but it was just a quick scan of the lake.

19th May, 2011 – Tunstall
A Great Crested Grebe was on the reservoir. A Common Sandpiper, a Common Redshank, an Oystercatcher, two Pied Wagtails, five Swallows, three Linnets, five Goldfinch and two House Sparrows were seen whilst crossing the dam.  A male and two female Pied Flycatchers were seen soon after entering the wood. A second male Pied Flycatcher was seen towards the end of the top path.  Blackcap (2), Garden Warbler (1 heard), Willow Warbler (4+), ChiffChaff (1 heard), Common Redstart (1 heard), Blue Tit (2+), Great Tit (2), Willow Tit (2), Long–tailed Tit (1), Wren (1), Robin (1), Blackbird (2), Mistle Thrush (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 heard), Cuckoo (1 heard), Pheasant (1 heard), Woodpigeon (5+) were also in the area. No sign of any Wood Warblers or Tree Pipits during this visit.

30th May, 2011 – Etherley Moor
Over the past few weeks three of our five Tree Sparrow nest boxes have been very active and all of the young appear to have fledged ok. The Blue Tits look as though they are going to have a good year (first time in three years) with both adults actively taking food to almost fully grown young.  1–2 young Magpies are causing a bit of trouble around the feeders, with them and an adult chasing virtually everything that moves. Starlings and House Sparrows are also feeding young.  Woodpigeons are nesting in next doors fir tree, so we are hoping that the new neighbours don’t decide to remove it before they have fledged. A pair of Collared Doves are visiting on a daily basis. A Yellowhammer, a Corn Bunting, a Common Whitethroat and a Greenfinch have been regularly heard.  Other birds in and around the feeding station include Dunnock (2), Robin (1), Blackbird (2), Pheasant (1 heard), Swallow (4+), House Martin (6+) and Common Swift (4). A Grey Heron has been seen flying over Etherley Dene most mornings.

1st June, 2011 – Blackhall Rocks
The reported Surf Scoter was seen amongst approximately 100 Common Scoter. Several Little Terns were also seen. A quick stop at RSPB Saltholme produced a single Spoonbill (Back Saltholme).

1st June, 2011 – Blackbank
Two Tree Pipits were calling and displaying to the right of the approach road to Blackbank Woods. Meadow Pipit (2), Skylark (1), Red Grouse (2 families), Chiffchaff (2), Willow Warbler (1) and Wren (1) were also seen.  Grey Partridge (1), Pheasant (1 family), Curlew (2), Oystercatcher (2), Black–headed Gull (2) and Greylag Goose (200+, including young) were close–by.  A Brimstone butterfly was seen flying across the field to the east of Bedburn Pond. Nuthatch (2), Coal Tit (2), Blue Tit (4+), Great Tit (2), Carrion Crow (10+), Mallard (2) and Blackcap (2) were also seen at this location.

5th June, 2011 – Etherley Moor
Strong evidence of successfull breeding over the past day or two with families of House Sparrow (10+), Tree Sparrows (10+), Dunnock (4) and Starling (50+) visiting the feeding station and surrounding area. A Little Owl in one of the trees behind the feeders was a nice surprise at dusk.

6th June, 2011 – Hartlepool Headland
The reported White–throated Robin (female) was seen in the doctors garden approximately one hour after arriving. Over 100 people there when I arrived, so patience was needed whilst waiting to view the bird using borrowed ladders.  Other birds of interest in Teesside today that I didn’t have time to go and see included two Red–backed Shrikes (one behind the Calor Gas Pool and a second at Seaton Carew), a Scaup (RSPB Saltholme) and a Spoonbill (RSPB Saltholme).  The Surf Scoter that has been off Blackhall Rocks for the past week was not reported today, so I decided not to visit the area.

9th June, 2011 – Etherley Moor
An evening in the office doing course work with the door open produced Tree Sparrows (8+, including 5 young), Linnet (5+, including 4 young), Greenfinch (1) and Grey Partridge (1 heard calling from the field behind the feeders).

12th June, 2011 – Etherley Moor
It looks as though the Tree Sparrows are going to have another good year as adults have been seen taking food into two nest boxes, one of which having noisy young (5+ young from the 1st fledged birds are still visiting feeders).  House Sparrows (10+), Dunnock (4), Starling (10+) and Blackbird are still visiting the feeders with their young. Linnet (5+), Greenfinch (10+), Stock Dove (1), House Martin (4+), Swift (1) and Kestrel (1) were seen behind the feeders. A male Yellowhammer and two Collared Doves visited the feeding station mid–afternoon.  The best bird of the day was a Nuthatch that was heard calling from the trees behind the feeders mid–morning (a first for me at Etherley Moor).

14th June, 2011 – Low Barns
Three Mute Swans, a juvenile Grey Heron, a Mallard and a Reed Bunting were seen from the west hide. A Kingfisher, two Grey Herons and two Reed Buntings were seen from the board walk. Two Sedge Warblers and a Reed Warbler were heard, but not seen. Three more Grey Herons (1 adult & 2 young), two Cormorants, two Tufted Ducks, five Coots and a Moorhen were seen from the hide that overlooks Marston Lake (south hide).  The walk around the reserve produced Tawny Owl (1 adult with 2 young), Wren (1), Robin (1), Garden Warbler (3), Blackcap (family of at least 4), Willow Warbler (2 heard), Chiffchaff (6+ heard) and Kestrel (1). The feeding station produced Nuthatch (1), Blue Tit (4), Coal Tit (2), Great Tit (5), Chaffinch (3), Goldfinch (2) and Pheasant (1).

15th June, 2011 – Etherley Moor
A Cuckoo was heard calling at a distance, possibly 2 – 3 fields away. A Common Whitethroat has been very vocal along the back hedgerow for 3 – 4 days.

17th June, 2011 – Escomb
A Sedge Warbler and a family of at least five Common Whitethroats were seen between the lake and the pond. A Great Crested Grebe was on Escomb Lake.

30th June, 2011 – Bishop Middleham
Finished work early today, so I decided to go for some photographs of butterflies and orchids in Bishop Middleham Quarry.  Between showers I managed to see Ringlet (10+), Meadow Brown (10+), Small Heath (5+), Common Blue (10+), Northern Brown Argus (4), Brown Argus (1), Dingy Skipper (2) and Large Skipper (1). There were plenty of orchids with Bee Orchid (2) and a healthy population of young Dark Red Helleborines being the highlight (another two weeks and the helleborines should be in full flower). A Green Woodpecker flew over the quarry before I set off for a quick visit to Castle Lake.  Castle Lake held all the usual birds, the highlight being a Common Sandpiper, three Little–ringed Plover and two Yellow Wagtails.

July, August & September 2011

Picture:  House Martin at Etherley Moor, 14th August

1st July, 2011 – Spennymoor
A Quail was heard.

3rd July, 2011 – Etherley Moor
A quiet weekend at Etherley Moor produced very little in the way of birds with a Sparrowhawk being the highlight, which was eventually chased off by approximately thirty herundines.  The regular birds have been visiting the feeders with a count of at least seven young Tree Sparrows visiting the feeders, which I believe is the highest count of recently fledged Tree Sparrows this year.  The warm weather and low wind appeared to have brought the butterflies into action with Red Admiral (1), Large White (2), Meadow Brown (1), Ringlet (3) and Large Skipper (1) being seen in the past two days.

8th July, 2011 – Wingate Quarry
At least seven Marbled Whites were amongst the expected butterflies, which included Speckled Wood (1), Meadow Brown (10+), Ringlet (4), Small Tortoiseshell (1), Small Heath (2), Small Copper (1) and Common Blue (3).

21st July, 2011 – Etherley Moor
A Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the trees behind the feeding station. Two young Coal Tits, a Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff and a Corn Bunting have been seen over the past few days. The third brood of Tree Sparrows are in the process of fledging as I type.

2nd August, 2011 – West Saltholme
The reported Semipalmated Sandpiper was on the causeway with a single Temminck’s Stint. Two Greenshanks, two Black–tailed Godwits a Ruff and a Little Gull were also seen.

14th August, 2011 – Etherley Moor
20-30 House Martins were visiting the eve's and roofline of our house during the afternoon.

24th September, 2011 – Etherley Moor
Due to studies and family commitments over the past few weeks, my birding has been restricted to Etherley Moor. Other points of interest include large gatherings of House Martins (80+) with the odd Swallow in amongst them. There has also been a large group of Linnets with Meadow Pipit (1), ChiffChaff (2+), Willow Warbler (1), Common Whitethroat (1), Greenfinch (5+) and Chaffinch (2) amongst them.  The Tree Sparrows almost succeeded in fledging a fourth brood (2 almost fully grown chicks found dead when cleaning out the nest box). All the usual birds have been visiting the feeders with Robin (1), Dunnock (3), House Sparrow (10+), Tree Sparrow (4+), Blue Tit (2+), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (2), Long–tailed Tit (7+), Goldfinch (2+), Blackbird (2), Magpie (2), Woodpigeon (2) and Collared Dove (2) visiting the feeders at any one time.

25th September, 2011 – Escomb
Two female Goldeneye and a Great Crested Grebe were on Escomb Lake. Seven Mute Swans, nine Tufted Ducks, sixteen Coots, a Cormorant and approximately a hundred Black–headed Gull were also there.  Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), ChiffChaff (1 calling), Siskin (10+), Lesser Redpoll (1), Bullfinch (1), Goldfinch (10+), Blue Tit (2), Robin (1), Dunnock (2), Wren (1) and Treecreeper (1) were seen whilst walking round the lake. Two Meadow Brown butterflies were also seen.  Shortly before the rain arrived, a mixed group of approximately a hundred Swallows and House Martins passed over the lake.

26th September, 2011 – Escomb
In addition to yesterdays birds, another quick walk around Escomb Lake produced a male Kestrel and a Dipper (on the river wear).

October, November & December 2011

Picture:  Greater Yellowlegs at Hauxley, 13th November

16th October, 2011 – Teesside
The reported Black Guillimot and at least five Red–throated Divers were seen off Hartlepool Headland. A Blackcap, three Goldcrests and at least four Willow Warblers were seen in the trees adjacent to the putting green, but there was no sign of any of the Yellow–browed Warblers that were reported the previous two days.  A Mediterranean Gull was at Newburn Bridge and six Velvet Scoters were off Seaton Carew. The reported Glossy Ibis was seen at RSPB Saltholme. A Garganey was also there.

21st October, 2011 – Teesside
The reported Pallid Harrier was seen at Dormans Pool late afternoon.

23rd October, 2011 – Escomb
Five Mute Swans, a Great Crested Grebe, five Cormorants, two Coots, six Tufted Ducks and two Mallards were on Escomb Lake. Two female Goldeneyes, two Tufted Ducks and four Mallards were on the small pond. Herring Gull (4+), Common Gull (10+), Black–headed Gull (80+) and Lapwing (20+) were also there.  Redwing (50+), Mistle Thrush (1), Blackbird (4+), Chaffinch (7+), Greenfinch (4), Bullfinch (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Magpie (2), Starling (20+), Stock Dove (2), Woodpigeon (10+), Willow Tit (3+), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (1), Dunnock (2), Robin (1) and Treecreeper (1) were seen in the hedgerows. A female Goosander was on the River Wear.

30th October, 2011 – Bishops Park
Two female Goosanders, several Mallards and a Moorhen were on the River Wear. Green Woodpecker (1), Redwing (50+), Mistle Thrush (3), Song Thrush (1), Blackbird (3), Chaffinch (2), Bullfinch (1), Great Tit (4+), Blue Tit (2+), Dunnock (1) and Treecreeper were seen in the woodland and hedgerows.  Sparrowhawk (1), Woodpigeon (30+), Jackdaw (30+), Carrion Crow (20+), Magpie (4), Black–headed Gull (10+) and Herring Gull (1) were also seen.

6th November, 2011 – Etherley Moor
Three Meadow Pipits, two Fieldfares and two Goldfinches were in the trees behind the feeding station. A single Redwing was seen on the 5th November.

6th November, 2011 – Escomb
Three Mute Swans, a Little Grebe, two Cormorants, five Coots, two Tufted Ducks, a Pochard and two Mallards were on Escomb Lake.  Two Mute Swans, five Tufted Ducks, seven Mallards, a Grey Heron, a Herring Gull and at least thirty Black–headed Gulls were on woodside lake.  Redwing (20+), Mistle Thrush (1), Blackbird (4+), Chaffinch (2+), Bullfinch (1), Goldfinch (3+), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Magpie (2), Jay (1), Starling (2+), Woodpigeon (2+), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (4), Long–tailed Tit (6+), Dunnock (2), Robin (1) and Wren (1) were seen in the hedgerows. Two Moorhens were on the River Wear.

11th November, 2011 – Hauxley
The Greater Yellowlegs was seen soon after arrival, which was joined by the Grey Phalarope soon after. Lesser Scaup (Marden Quarry) and Greater White–fronted Goose (Boldon Flats) were seen on the return journey.

19th November, 2011 – Tees Barrage & Portrack Marsh
Herring Gull (3), Black–headed Gull (30+) and Mallard (2 over) were at Tees Barrage.  Portrack Marsh produced a Grey Heron, two Common Redshanks, several Mallards, two Tufted Ducks and two Moorhens. A quick walk around the marsh produced Goldfinch (10+), Bullfinch (10+), Siskin (4+), Linnet (1), Robin (1), Blackbird (10+), Magpie (4) and Carrion Crow (1).

20th November, 2011 – Escomb
Very little wildfowl on the lakes today, which was possibly caused by disturbance from several anglers. Mute Swan (2), Cormorant (1 over), Tufted Duck (2), Coot (15+), Moorhen (2), Black–headed Gull (10+) and Herring Gull (1).  The hedgerows produced Great–spotted Woodpecker (1), Mistle Thrush (1), Blackbird (10+), Robin (3+), Dunnock (2+), Wren (1), House Sparrow (10+), Tree Sparrow (2), Goldfinch (1), Chaffinch (2), Magpie (2+) and Carrion Crow (1).  A Kingfisher, a female Goosander, two Moorhen and four Mallard were on the River Wear. A Nuthatch was heard calling from the opposite side of the river.

27th November, 2011 – Gaunless Flats
A Short–eared Owl, a Kestrel and a Grey Heron were seen during a quick late afternoon visit to Gaunless Flats.

27th December, 2011 – Etherley Moor
Six Redwings and a Meadow Pipit were seen in the hedgerows behind the feeding station.