Sightings 2012

Welcome to my sightings page for 2012, 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 2012

Picture:  Black Redstart at Newburn Bridge, 19th January

1st January, 2012 – Etherley Moor
First birds of 2012 were five Jackdaws.

1st January, 2012 – Teesside
A Black Redstart was seen soon after arriving at Newburn Bridge. Red–throated Diver (3), Great Crested Grebe (1), Oystercatcher (20+), Common Redshank (10+), Knot (20+), Purple Sandpiper (10+) and Merlin (1) were also there.  A Glaucous Gull, a Black–throated Diver and at least five Red–throated Diver were amongst the usual birds at the fish quay. Other birds seen at Hartlepool Headland included a Slavonian Grebe, a Velvet Scoter and at least thirty Common Scoter.  A second stop at Newburn Bridge produced a Mediterranean Gull, but there was no further sign of the Black Redstart.  Eighteen White–fronted Geese were seen in the field north of Zinc Road and a Stonechat was at Greenabella. Little Egret (1), Pintail (1) and Sparrowhawk (1) were seen at Dormans. At least twenty Barnacle Geese were seen at Back Saltholme and a drake Ring–necked Duck was at Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park.

1st January, 2012 – Gaunless Flats
A Short–eared Owl was seen hunting at dusk.

2nd January, 2012 – Etherley Moor
An early morning fifteen minute scan of the feeding station and the surrounding fields / hedgerows produced Tree Sparrow (4), House Sparrow (10), Dunnock (1), Robin (2), Blue Tit (4), Mistle Thrush (1), Blackbird (3+), Pheasant (3), Woodpigeon (2), Stock Dove (10+), Starling (20+), Carrion Crow (4+), Jackdaw (10+), Magpie (2) and Herring Gull (5).

7th January, 2012 – Teesside
A mid–morning visit to Ward Jackson Park produced Ring–necked Parakeets and two Great–spotted Woodpeckers.  The first winter Glaucous Gull was still in the fishing quay at Hartlepool Headland, but there was no sign of the Black–throated Diver and Slavonian Grebe that were seen during last weeks visit. Great–crested Grebe (2), Red–throated Diver (10+), Mediterranean Gull (1), Black–headed Gull (10+), Herring Gull (20+), Great Black–backed Gull (20+), Knot (10+), Purple Sandpiper (10+), Ringed Plover (1), Turnstone (10+), Oystercatcher (20+), Curlew (2), Starling (10+), House Sparrow (10+), Pied Wagtail (1) and Rock Pipit (1) were the other birds seen during a quick walk around the headland.  The pick of the birds at RSPB Saltholme included Water Rail (1), Tundra Bean Goose (2), Barnacle Goose (10+) and Pintail (2+). No sign of any Twite at Dormans whilst I was there.  Decided to return home via Hurworth Burn, where the reported Smew was seen in very windy conditions. A Short–eared Owl was seen on the outskirts of Coxhoe and a Barn Owl was seen outside of Bishop Auckland.

8th January, 2012 – Escomb
A mid–morning visit to Escomb was enjoyed, as it was the first time I have been out in some bright light this year.  Greylag Goose (7+ over), Cormorant (4), Goosander (3), Mallard (2), Coot (10+), Herring Gull (7), Common Gull (5+) and Black–headed Gull (20+) were on Escomb Lake.  Woodside lake was very quiet with only three Tufted Ducks on the water. The removal of hedgerows, re–routing of the water feed and building of a dam to raise the level of the water may be to blame for this? Hopefully, the hedgerows and natural cover will be allowed to return to what it once was as thia was a hotspot for passage and feeding birds. Blackbird (10+), Redwing (3), Mistle Thrush (1), Great Tit (4), Blue Tit (10+), Long–tailed Tit (7+), Chaffinch (1), Bullfinch (2), Goldfinch (5), Wren (1), Dunnock (4), Robin (2), House Sparrow (4), Woodpigeon (1), Magpie (4) and Carrion Crow (1) were seen whilst walking around Escomb Lake.

11th January, 2012 – Etherley Moor
A Grey Partridge was heard calling from the field behind the feeding station early morning.

14th January, 2012 – Low Barns
The hard frost meant that most of the water was frozen with the only exception being a small section of Marston Lake, which held Mute Swan (2), Tufted Duck (20+), Goldeneye (3), Teal (5), Mallard (20+) and Coot (10+).  The feeding station was quite busy with Nuthatch (1), Chaffinch (20+), Goldfinch (5), Robin (2+), Dunnock (2+), Great Tit (4+), Blue Tit (10+), Coal Tit (2), Willow Tit (1), Marsh Tit (2), Long–tailed Tit (7+), Goldcrest (2+), Treecreeper (1), Jay (1), Jackdaw (5+), Carrion Crow (2), Pheasant (2) and Reed Bunting (2+) seen during a 45 minute observation. Bank Vole (1) and Grey Squirrel (1) were also seen.

15th January, 2012 – Bishops Park
A mid–morning walk around a very cold & frosty Bishops Park and The Batts proved worthwhile with most of the usual birds found in a 2 hour visit.  Two Dipper and a Grey Wagtail were on the Gaunless. Blackbird (10+), Redwing (10+), Mistle Thrush (2), Chaffinch (10+), Great Tit (6+), Blue Tit (4+), Coal Tit (2+), Long–tailed Tit (6+), Dunnock (1), Robin (1), Treecreeper (2) and Goldcrest (2) were also seen.  Three Grey Heron, two Moorhen, three Pheasant, several Black–headed Gull, a Great Black–backed Gull, six Jackdaw, two Carrion Crow and two Woodpigeon were seen whilst walking along the River Wear.

19th January, 2012 – Teesside
Twenty Bar–tailed Godwits were at Greenabella / Seal Sands. Other birds here included Red–throated Diver (2), Mute Swan (5), Grey Heron (1), Shelduck (2), Shoveller (10+), Mallard (20+), Teal (40+), Red–breasted Merganser (10+), Common Scoter (1), Stock Dove (6+), Woodpigeon (2) and Common Redshank (10+). There was no sign of any Twite or Short–eared Owls during my two hour visit to the area.  Eighteen White–fronted Geese were seen in one of the fields to the north of Zinc Road. The Black Redstart and regular Mediterranean Gull were seen at Newburn Bridge. High tide had pushed the waders in giving us good views of Oystercatcher (10+), Common Redshank (10+), Knot (50+), Purple Sandpiper (1) and Dunlin (10+).

20th January, 2012 – Escomb
A quiet visit to Escomb Lake this morning. Highlights included Goosander (6), Willow Tit (1) and Tree Sparrow (4+).

22nd January, 2012 – Etherley Moor
At least seventy Rooks were in the field behind the feeders, which also contained Magpie (4+), Jackdaw (10+), Starling (30+), Black–headed Gull (4), Woodpigeon (20+) and Pheasant (1). The resident Magpies continue to visit the feeding station, which is reducing the amount of more welcome visitors. Tree Sparrow (2), House Sparrow (10+), Dunnock (2), Robin (1) and Blackbird (2) have been the only visitors seen on and around the feeders for two days.

23rd January, 2012 – Far Pasture
A very frustrating, but enjoyable visit to Far Pasture in Derwentside this morning. Arrived just after 9am and didn't see the Firecrest until after dinner and that was only a 20 – 30 second view.  Birds seen whilst waiting to see the Firecrest included Grey Heron (1), Common Teal (4 over), Red Kite (3 over), Sparrowhawk (1 hunting the hedgerows), Chaffinch (3), Greenfinch (2), Goldfinch (4), Bullfinch (4), Blue Tit (10+), Great Tit (6+), Coal Tit (4+), Willow Tit (2+), Long–tailed Tit (10+), Dunnock (2), Robin (2), Blackbird (4+), Goldcrest (6+ at any one time), Jackdaw (10+), Carrion Crow (10+), Rook (50+), Black–headed Gull (6+) and Herring Gull (2+).  The only birds on the partially frozen water were four Common Teal, which were assumed to be the four birds seen earlier.

29th January, 2012 – Escomb
A nice walk around the lakes this morning with Mute Swan (1), Tufted Duck (20), Pochard (1), Mallard (4), Coot (20+) and Moorhen (2) being seen on the half frozen Escomb Lake. Goosander (7) and Cormorant (5) were seen flying over the lake.  A Kingfisher was seen flying up the River Wear. Great–spotted Woodpecker (1), Song Thrush (3), Mistle Thrush (1), Blackbird (3+), Robin (1), Dunnock (2), Wren (3+), Great Tit (10+), Blue Tit (10+) were seen in the hedgerows.

February 2012

Picture:  Common Crossbill at The Stang, 25th February

4th February, 2012 – Teesside
An adult Iceland Gull was seen amongst the regular gulls at the fish quay.

12th February, 2012 – Teesside
A morning visit to Coatham Stob, Long Newton produced Great Grey Shrike (1) and Short–eared Owl (1). Common Snipe (1 over), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 over), Green Woodpecker (1 heard), Grey Partridge (2), Blackbird (10+), Robin (1), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (2) and Long–tailed Tit (1) were also seen.

17th February, 2012 – Far Pasture
I decided to have another go at photographing the Firecrest at Far Pasture, but failed to see the bird during an enjoyable but frustrating one hour visit (I had the family with me and seeing the bird in this short space of time was always going to be a challenge).  Birds seen during this visit to Far Pasture included Grey Heron (1), Mallard (2), Red Kite (1 over), Moorhen (1), Kestrel (1), Chaffinch (3), Bullfinch (2), Goldfinch (8+), Blue Tit (4+), Great Tit (4+), Coal Tit (2+), Willow Tit (2+), Long–tailed Tit (10+), Dunnock (2), Robin (1), Blackbird (4+), Goldcrest (4+ at any one time), Siskin (10+), Treecreeper (2), Nuthatch (2), Song Thrush (1), Pied Wagtail (10+), Pheasant (1), Jackdaw (10+), Carrion Crow (10+), Rook (30+), Black–headed Gull (10+) and Herring Gull (2+).

19th February, 2012 – Teesside
First stop was South Gare for the reported Scaup and Snow Buntings. The female Scaup was seen on the Blast Furnace Pool soon after arrival and at least fifty Snow Buntings were seen in the grassy areas of the beech. A Long–tailed Duck was seen amongst Black–headed Gulls (6+) to the east of the gare.  Next was a visit to Hartlepool Headland to see the reported Little Gull, which unfortunately did not shown during my visit. Pick of the birds here included Iceland Gull (1 adult in the fish quay) and Mediterranean Gull (between the piers).  The walk around the headland was good for photography today with Purple Sandpiper (20+), Oystercatcher (50+), Knot (100+), Curlew (6), Bar–tailed Godwit (2) and Ringed Plover (4+) all being pushed up the shoreline from the incoming tide. Red–throated Diver (1), Great Crested Grebe (6+), Guillimot (1), Cormorant (20+) and Mediterranean Gull (1) were seen in the channel. A second Mediterranean Gull was at Newburn Bridge.  The reported Whimbrel was seen at Seal Sands. Bonus birds here included Slavonian Grebe (1), Black–necked Grebe and Brent Goose (5). A selection of other birds seen at Seal Sands & Greenabella include Little Egret (1), Shelduck (15+), Red–breasted Merganser (15+), Grey Plover (10+), Bar–tailed Godwit (10+), Knot (10+), Dunlin (4+), Curlew (1), Common Redshank (10+), Short–eared Owl (1), Stock Dove (10+), Teal (10+), Mallard (6+) and Pintail (1).

23rd February, 2012 – Croxdale
A forced extended lunch break gave me the opportunity to check out Croxdale for Hawfinch and Little Owl. Neither species were seen, but I did manage decent views of Dipper and (1) and Grey Heron (1) downstream from Mill House. Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Nuthatch (1), Kestrel (1), Chaffinch (2+), Blackbird (4), Dunnock (2), Tree Sparrow (1), Great Tit (10+), Blue Tit (10+) Coal Tit (2+) and Long–tailed Tit (6+) were also seen.

25th February, 2012 – Nosterfield & The Stang
The reported Common Crane at Nosterfield was seen at the far end of Mask Lake. Plenty of other birds were seen during a 2 hour visit, which included Grey Heron (1), Mute Swan (15+), Canada Goose (50+), Greylag Goose (10+), Great Crested Grebe (15+), Little Grebe (1), Shelduck (10+), Shoveller (6+), Mallard (10+), Common Teal (10+), Tufted Duck (10+), Goldeneye (6+), Moorhen (4+), Pheasant (1), Red–legged Partridge (3), Black–headed Gull (50+), Lapwing (50+), Oystercatcher (10+), Curlew (2), Dunlin (6+), Common Redshank (2), Chaffinch (4), Dunnock (2), Robin (1), Blackbird (10+), Wren (1), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (2), Redwing (4), Woodpigeon (10+), Stock Dove (2), Jackdaw (4+) and Carrion Crow (2+).  The Stang produced Common Crossbill (20+), Siskin (10+), Fieldfare (30+), Red Grouse (4+) and Jay (1). A Rough–legged Buzzard, ten Black Grouse and three Common Buzzard were seen just outside the county.

March 2012

Picture:  Common Frog at Low Barns, 11th March

11th March, 2012 – Etherley Moor
Skylark (2), Curlew (1 heard), Lapwing (1), Tree Sparrow (4+) and Reed Bunting (1) were seen early morning.

11th March, 2012 – Escomb
A single Great Crested Grebe was on Escomb Lake. A Grey Wagtail was on the River Wear. Otherwise, it was very quiet.

11th March, 2012 – Low Barns
Started the visit with a 30 minute sit in the west hide, with Coot (2), Moorhen (3), Mallard (2), Tufted Duck (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 drumming), Jackdaw (5+), Carrion Crow (2), Woodpigeon (2) and Reed Bunting being the only birds seen.  Two Egyption Geese flew over whilst walking along the path by the River Wear, where a single Dipper was seen flying downstream. Marston Lake held Mute Swan (2), Canada Geese (2), Little Grebe (2), Goldeneye (3), Tufted Duck (6+), Mallard (4), Cormorant (3), Oystercatcher (3), Herring Gull (2) and Black–headed Gull (10+).  The feeding station was quiter than usual with Nuthatch (1), Chaffinch (10+), Greenfinch (1), Dunnock (1), Great Tit (4+), Blue Tit (4+), Long–tailed Tit (4+), Reed Bunting (1) being the only birds seen. The spring / summer sunshine had brought the frogs to life and they were found spawning in virtually every water hole throughout the reserve.

17th March, 2012 – Etherley Moor
Sparrowhawk (1), Yellowhammer (1) and Pied Wagtail (1 over) were seen amongst the regulars. Tree Sparrows (4+) were seen with nesting materials.

17th March, 2012 – Teesside
The reported Green–winged Teal was seen at Dormans. No joy with the Glossy Ibis or Hen Harrier.

18th March, 2012 – Teesside
Two Common Buzzards, two Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk were seen during a two hour visit to Wynyard. Just as I was leaving, I got a call from another birder and the reported Hen Harrier gave excellent views for 5–10 minutes, but was too far away for decent photography. The Glossy Ibis was not seen during a quick visit to Haverton.

24th March, 2012 – Teesside
The Glossy Ibis was seen at Haverton and a very active Little Gull was at the nearby allotment pool. Two Chiffchaffs were heard on the way back to the car, which were my first migratory birds for 2012. A Water Pipit was seen at RSPB Saltholme. There was no sign of the Hen Harrier at Wynyard.

25th March, 2012 – Escomb
A Great Crested Grebe was still on Escomb Lake. Other birds seen on the lake included Mute Swan (1), Canada Goose (2), Mallard (2), Tufted Duck (7), Herring Gull (2), Common Gull (4) and Black–headed Gull (10+). Two Oystercatchers and five Greylag Geese were seen at Woodside Lake. A Goosander, two Mallards and a Moorhen were on the River Wear.  The hedgerows were quite busy with several Chiffchaffs being heard and seen at various locations around the lakes. Great–spotted Woodpecker (1), Nuthatch (1), Chaffinch (2), Greenfinch (2), Blackbird (4+), Mistle Thrush (2), House Sparrow (4+), Tree Sparrow (3), Dunnock (4), Robin (2), Wren (1), Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (2), Long–tailed Tit (1), Carrion Crow (2), Jackdaw (2) and Reed Bunting (1) were also seen.  Small Tortoiseshell (4+) and Peacock (2) butterflies were seen. It was also another good day for frogs and toads with at least fifty Common Frogs seen in Escomb Lake and three Common Toads seen on the path close to the allotments. It was good to have a chat with some of the locals before going home for lunch.

April 2012

Picture:  Reed Bunting at Low Barns, 8th April

1st April, 2012 – Weardale
An early morning visit to Bollihope produced at least two Ring Ouzels, two male Wheatears, a Dipper, two Pied Wagtails and approximately twenty Red GrouseFieldfare (50+), Curlew (2), Golden Plover (2), Lapwing (10+) were seen whilst making the short drive to Stanhope and Rookhope, both of which were very quiet.  Five Common Buzzard (2), two Sparrowhawk and a Goshawk were seen during a thirty minute stop at Hamsterley. Greylag Geese (10+), Curlew (7), Skylark (2) and Meadow Pipit (2) were also seen.  A Corn Bunting was heard calling on Etherley Moor, where Curlew (2), Oystercatcher (2), Pied Wagtail (1) and Yellowhammer have been seen and heard calling every morning for the past week.

6th April, 2012 – Bishops Park & The Batts
At least two male Blackcaps, six ChiffChaffs and two Tree Sparrows were amongst the regulars during a mid–morning visit to The Batts.  Mute Swan (2 on the golf course), Mallard (2), Moorhen (2), Pheasant (2), Curlew (1 heard), Skylark (1 over), Kestrel (1), Nuthatch (1 heard), Green Woodpecker (1 heard), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Blackbird (3+), Wren (4+), Dunnock (2), Magpie (4+), Jackdaw (20+), Carrion Crow (10+), Woodpigeon (10+), Rock Dove (10+), Goldfinch (10+), Chaffinch (2), Blue Tit (4+), Great Tit (2+), Coal Tit (2), Long–tailed Tit (1) and Reed Bunting (1) were also seen.  During the past week a pair of Linnets and at least one ChiffChaff were seen at my place of work in Spennymoor. ChiffChaffs are now being heard from most locations.

7th April, 2012 – Bowesfield Marsh
A fifteen minute stop at Bowesfield Marsh produced Willow Warbler (1 heard), Common Snipe (1), Chiffchaff (3+), Short–eared Owl (1) and Sand Martin (3+).

8th April, 2012 – Low Barns
A morning visit to Low Barns found Great Crested Grebe (2), Little Grebe (2), Oystercatcher (2), Willow Warbler (3+), Blackcap (4+) and Chiffchaff (6+) back on site.  Mute Swan (3), Cormorant (1), Greylag Goose (3), Canada Goose (2), Goldeneye (1 female), Tufted Duck (3+), Mallard (2), Coot (2) & Black–headed Gull (5+) were on Marston Lake. A Curlew flew over and at least four Wren were seen whilst walking around the lake.  The feeding station was quite busy with Nuthatch (1), Chaffinch (10+), Goldfinch (1), Robin (1), Dunnock (1), Great Tit (2+), Blue Tit (40+), Coal Tit (2), Marsh Tit (1), Long–tailed Tit (1 heard), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Jackdaw (2), Carrion Crow (1), Pheasant (1) and Reed Bunting (2+) seen during a 45 minute observation. Bank Vole (1) was also seen.

9th April, 2012 – Escomb
Escomb Lake was very quiet today with only two Coots and three Greylag Geese present. The first Sand Martins (10+), House Martins (2) and Swallows (2) were seen over the lake. Sparrowhawk (1) and Kestrel (1) were also seen.  A Canada Goose, an Oystercatcher, six Tufted Duck and two Coot were on Woodside Lake. Cormorant (1 over), Curlew (1 over), Blackbird (2) and Song Thrush (1) were also seen.  The hedgerows by the river produced Dunnock (1), Robin (1), Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (2), Willow Tit (2), Long–tailed Tit (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 over), Jackdaw (6 over), ChiffChaff (10+ calling) and Reed Bunting (1).  With Blackcaps and Willow Warblers being seen & heard at other locations over the past few days, I was surprised not to at least hear them during this visit. I am not blaiming the removal of hedgerows and scrub, but it will be interesting to compare this years sightings to those of previous years.

9th April, 2012 – Etherley Moor
A ChiffChaff and a Corn Bunting were heard calling from behind the feeding station. A male Linnet visited the feeding station late afternoon.

13th April, 2012 – Bishops Park
Two visits to the park today hoping to find Common Redstart (possibly heard one briefly, but not seen). Nine Jays were seen, seven of which seen together. At least three Willow Warblers and several ChiffChaffs were heard. Upto three Green Woodpeckers, a Song Thrush and two Mistle Thrushes were seen amongst the regulars.

14th April, 2012 – Teesside
The reported Hooded Crow was at seaton Common. Seventeen Avocets were at Greenabella.

15th April, 2012 – Escomb
Escomb Lake was once again very quiet with only two Coots present. At least seventy Sand Martins were also there, fly catching colse the surface of the lake.  A Canada Goose, six Tufted Duck, three Coot and two Moorhen were on Woodside Lake. A Curlew was heard calling.  The hedgerow between the angling club and the river produced Dunnock (1), Robin (1), Wren (2 heard), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (2), Willow Tit (2), Long–tailed Tit (2), Green Woodpecker (1 heard), ChiffChaff (10+ calling), Willow Warbler (2), Blackcap (2), Bullfinch (3) and Reed Bunting (2) before the rain & sleet showers forced an early exit.

21st April, 2012 – Bishops Park
An early morning visit to the top of the park found two Common Redstarts (possibly three) back on territory. The birds would call, sing and show themselves nicely each time there was a break in the clouds, but they refused to pose for the camera.  The Jays were once again very active, with several being heard and seen chasing each other around the park. Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, two Green Woodpeckers, four Nuthatches, four Blue Tits, two Great Tits, two Chaffinches and at least one Mallard were in the same area as the Redstarts.  Other birds included ChiffChaff (6+ heard), Willow Warbler (1 heard), Blackcap (1 heard), Linnet (2), Goldfinch (2), Wren (1), Robin (1), Blackbird (4), Treecreeper (2), Woodpigeon (10+), Carrion Crow (10+), Herring Gull (1) and Lesser Black–backed Gull (2).

28th April, 2012 – Teesside
A Grasshopper Warbler was heard and seen from the path that leads to the hide at Dormans. A Sedge Warbler and a Sedge Warbler were heard.  Other birds at Dormans included Greylag Goose (3), Mallard (2), Teal (1), Kestrel (1), Blackbird (1), Swallow (4+), House Martin (2+), Sand Martin (1), Swift (10+), Blackcap (1), Willow Warbler (1), ChiffChaff (1), Goldfinch (5+) and Blackbird (2).  A Merlin was seen at Back Saltholme. A Whimbrel was seen from the road to North Gare and several Wheatears were in the fied to the north of Zinc Road. Otherwise, it was a very quiet visit in windy, dull and cold weather.

29th April, 2012 – Escomb
A Great–crested Grebe was on Escomb Lake, which also had Swallow (10+) and Sand Martin (30+) flying close to the surface. Plenty of Willow Warblers (10+), ChiffChaffs (4+) & Blackcaps (4+) were seen and heard, whilst walking around the lakes.

May 2012

Picture:  Bluethroat at Hartlepool Headland, 11th May

5th May, 2012 – Etherley Moor
A Yellowhammer, two Goldfinches, a Greenfinch a Song Thrush, four Tree Sparrows (1 taking food to a nestbox), four House Sparrows, two Woodpigeons, a Blue Tit (taking food to a nestbox) and two Linnets were seen during a 15 minute observation of the feeding station before the early morning visit to Teesside.

5th May, 2012 – Teesside
An early morning visit to Dormans Pool provided good views of Sedge Warbler (7+) and Common Whitethroat (4+), but there was no sign of the reported Grasshopper Warbler (or any other warblers) during my visit.  A Yellow Wagtail was heard and then seen from the car at North Gare. Other birds seen from the road to North Gare included Grey Heron (1), Canada Goose (6+), Kestrel (1), Mallard (2), Swallow (4+), Skylark (1), Meadow Pipit (3) and Northern Wheatear (3). A fourth Northern Wheatear was seen along Zinc Road.  A quick stop at Greenabella produced a male Stonechat, which was seen feeding at least one almost fully grown fledgling.

6th May, 2012 – Low Barns
Three Garden Warblers, five Blackcaps, five Sedge Warblers & two Reed Warblers were seen and heard whilst walking around the reserve. Willow Warbler (4+) and ChiffChaff (2+) were amongst the other regulars. Orange Tip and Speckled Wood butterflies were also seen.

7th May, 2012 – Deepdale
A Pied Flycathcher was seen at its usual location. Plenty of Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and ChiffChaffs were heard calling. A Song Thrush was seen whilst walking back to the car.

8th May, 2012 – Escomb
A Garden Warbler, a Common Whitethroat, a Goosander, a Lesser Black–backed Gull and at least twenty Sand Martins were seen whilst walking along the River Wear.  A second Common Whitethroat was by Woodside Lake, which has recently been cleared of the scrub that was there. It will be interesting to see if it stays and if the usual Sedge Warbler returns.  A Goldcrest, a Tree Sparrow and a Robin were gathering food by a very quiet Escomb Lake, which suggests they were feeding young. The only birds seen on Escomb lake included two Mallards, a Coot, two Swallows and several SwiftBlackcap (10+), Willow Warbler (10+), ChiffChaffs (5+) were very audible, whilst walking around the lakes. Other birds included Wren (1), Blackbird (2), Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (2), Long–tailed Tit (2), Nuthatch (1 heard), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 heard), Starling (20+), Jackdaw (2), Carrion Crow (2), Magpie (4) and Woodpigeon (6+). 4–5 Orange Tip butterflies were also seen.

8th May, 2012 – Bishops Park & The Batts
Two Common Whitethroats and a Garden Warbler were back on site. Several Sand Martins were inspecting one of the banks on the River Wear. A single Swift was also seen. Blackcaps (4+), Willow Warblers (4+) and ChiffChaffs (3+) were very audible.

9th May, 2012 – Cowpen Bewley
I was lucky to get an early finish at work today, so I decided to go for the reported Nightingale at Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park. The Nightingale was heard soon after arriving at the bird hide and continued to call for the duration of my visit. The bird was seen in flight 4–5 times and in the open once for approximately 2–3 seconds (very nice bird to see).  Shortly before departing, the bird once again briefly showed itself allowing me to get a half decent record shot (very happy). Other birds seen included Common Whitethroat (7+), Sedge Warbler (2), Willow Warbler (4+), ChiffChaff (2+), Blackcap (3+), Garden Warbler (1), Blue Tit (2), Robin (1), etc.  A drake Garganey and a Little–ringed Plover were the pick of the birds during a quick stop at the bottom tank, RSPB Saltholme.

11th May, 2012 – Hartlepool Headland
As soon as I finished work at 4pm, I decided to go for the Red–spotted Bluethroat, which had been reported at Hartlepool Headland. There was a number of birders viewing the Bluethroat in the gardens opposite the memorial garden, so it was seen quite easily. A Common Whitethroat was also seen in the gardens before the rain arrived.  The Bluethroat continued to show itself between showers, but it wasn’t until the rain stopped before I got the opportunity to get the camera out and was lucky to catch the bird in the open 2 – 3 times before the rain stopped play for a second time.    A Lesser Whitethroat, a Willow Warbler a Blackbird and several House Sparrows were also seen.

13th May, 2012 – Low Barns
Very quiet at Low Barns this morning in cold & windy conditions. Best birds included Sedge Warbler (6+), Reed Warbler (5+), Blackcap (6+), Garden Warbler (2) and Tawny Owl (1 chick below the nestbox that is on the right–hand side of the entrance driveway). A good number of Swifts (30+) were making their way westwards.

20th May, 2012 – Holy Island
I arrived on the Holy Island causeway at 0645am, where a White–rumped Sandpiper and a Little Stint were seen amongst Ringed Plover (150+) and Dunlin (50+). Unfortunately, there was no sign of the reported Kentish Plover, which was my target bird.  A quick stop on the way to Lindisfarne produced good views of Grey Plover (50+), Bar–tailed Godwit (30+), Little Tern (2), Sandwich Tern (6+) and Northern Wheatear (3+).  Red–backed Shrike (1), Pied Flycatcher (1), Spotted Flycatcher (1), ChiffChaff (1), Willow Warbler (1), Garden Warbler (1), Common Redstart (1), Lesser Whitethroat (1) and Northern Wheatear (10+) were seen along the public footpath that leads from the bus park. A Bean Goose was also seen, but no joy with the reported Ortolan Bunting or Red–spotted Bluethroat.

26th May, 2012 – Etherley Moor
A pair of House Sparrows are in the 3 house nest box that have been occupied by the Tree Sparrows (3 seen today) over the past two years. The Blue Tits are feeding young as are the Blackbirds. A family of Greenfinches visited the feeders before a Sparrowhawk frightened everything off. A Corn Bunting has been heard calling from the wires behind Escomb School for the past 2–3 days.

27th May to 1st June, 2012 – Trip to Mull
White–tailed Eagles and Golden Eagles were seen regularly at three locations. Hen Harriers and Short–eared Owls were seen at two locations as was Corncrake (2+ on Iona and 1 on Staffa). Good numbers of Cuckoo, Song Thrush and Wood Warbler across the island. The boat trip to Staffa and Lunga produced excellent photo opportunities for Puffin, Fulmar and more. The White–tailed Eagle feeding session at approximately 10am every morning provided good views of the eagles and the trip itself is well worth the £35, especially for photography.  A pod of Common Dolphins were seen on the return from Lunga. Several sightings of Otter were achieved at three seperate locations, one of which was viewing them from the Bed & breakfast at Dervaig.  A total of 92 different species of birds were seen during the five day visit to Mull, but it is not the number of birds that I will remember most. The scenery, the quality of the birding, the photographic opportunities and the nice weather will not be forgotten easily. Please click here to view the full report or click here to view a selection of photographs that were taken during the visit.

June & July 2012

Picture:  White-tailed Eagle at Loch-na-Keal, 31st May

12th to 15th June, 2012 – Sawdon
A family visit to Sawdon near Scarborough allowed me to check out a few sites in the area between showers. Highlights included Turtle Dove (3+), Common Crossbill (30+) and Common Buzzard (2).

24th June, 2012 – Escomb
A Reed Warbler was calling from the reeds on Woodside Lake. Fourteen Greylag Geese, eleven Tufted Duck, four Mallards, two Lesser Black–backed Gulls and at least twenty Swifts were seen at Escomb Lake. A female Blackcap and a Reed Bunting were amongst the regular birds that can be seen in the surrounding hedgerows. Nice to say hello to a friend.

13th July, 2012 – Satley & Etherley Moor
A mid–afternoon visit quickly produced the reported Turtle Dove. At least three Spotted Flycatchers were in the church yard, with a pair of them seen feeding recently hatched young. Three young Tree Sparrows were seen on a nearby feeding station.  Other birds seen at Satley included Collared Dove (2+), Jackdaw (4+), Blackbird (2+), Song Thrush (1), Greenfinch (4+), Chaffinch (1), Goldfinch (2), Wren (1), Robin (3 recently fledged), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (2) and Swallow (6+).  A Corn Bunting was heard calling from wires behind the feeding station at Etherley Moor. The young House Sparrows that are calling from the nest box are close to fledging and a Song Thrush is singing from the hedgerow behind the feeders most nights.

14th July, 2012 – Teesside
First stop was Saltholme Pools where the reported Red–crested Pochard (east pool) and Bar–headed Goose (west pool) were seen. Marsh Harrier, several Sedge Warblers, two Reed Warblers and two Linnets were seen from the upper car park at Dormans. A quick look into RSPB Saltholme produced a moulting drake Scaup and two Little Egrets.  A Marsh Harrier (probably the same bird as the one seen at Dormans) was seen at Greenabella. I then went to Seaton Common, where a Yellow Wagtail, a Common Snipe and a large number of Swallows were seen from the road that leads to North Gare. Zinc Road was very quiet with no birds seen. A walk along the Long Drag produced Temminck’s Stint, three Little–ringed Plovers, an Avocet and a Common Sandpiper.

August & September 2012

Picture:  House Sparrow at Etherley Moor, 23rd September

18th August, 2012 – Escomb
A very quiet afternoon visit to Escomb, where birds are concerned. Eleven Tufted Ducks and two Coots were on Escomb Lake. Three Mallards, two Coots and one Moorhen were on Woodside Lake. ChiffChaff (1), Willow Warbler (5+), Common Whitethroat (1), Jay (1) and Magpie (3) were the only birds seen whilst walking around the lakes.  There were plenty of butterflies and dragonflies seen with an unidentified Hawkmoth being the highlight of the visit. Failed to get a photograph as I was set up for macro photography and only managed to get a 5–10 second view of the moth before it disapeared whilst setting up the camera. Will need to do a bit of research to positively identify it.  Butterflies included Small White (10+), Speckled Wood (10+), Meadow Brown (20+), Ringlet (2), Small Copper (4+), Large Skipper (4+), Small Skipper (1), Small Tortoiseshell (2) and Red Admiral (1). Dragonflies included Common Blue Damselflies (100+), Blue–tailed Damselflies (50+), Common Darters (10+) and what appeared to be a Southern Hawker.

26th August, 2012 – Hartlepool Headland
A 2–3 hour seawatching session proved to be very quiet with only one Arctic Skua seen with the usual birds, which included Red–throated Diver (1), Common Scoter (3), Common Eider (5), Cormorant (10+), Gannet (10+), Guillimot (10+), Fulmar (5+), Kittiwake (10+), great Black–backed Gull (10+), Herring Gull (10+), Black–headed Gull (5+), Sandwich Tern (10+) and Little Tern (2). No sign of the Barred Warbler or Wryneck that had been reported yesterday.  I decided not to go for a Pied Flycatcher, a Whinchat and a number of Wheatears that had been seen at the Jewish Cemetery, as I decided to go for a Little Stint that had been reported at Newburn Bridge. The stint was soon picked out amongst a small group of Sanderling (20+), Ringed Plover (10+), Dunlin (2+) and Knot (4+). Other waders seen here included Oystercatcher (10+) and Turnstone (5+), but there was no sign of the Mediterranean Gull that had been reported here yesterday.

31st August, 2012 – South Gare
Spent the morning looking for the Barred Warbler that had been at the Bomb Hole all week. No joy with the warbler and not much else seen.

31st August, 2012 – Etherley Moor
The morning sun had brought out the butterflies and by the time I returned from South Gare, the budlea was covered in Small Tortoiseshell (20+), Peacock (20+), Red Admiral (1) and Wall Brown (1).

8th September, 2012 – Low Barns
Two visits to the reserve today hoping to photograph the kingfishers that have recently been showing in front of the hide that overlooks the west pond.  I spent most of the morning in the west hide with no joy. The afternoon visit was more successful with two Kingfishers showing quite nicely in the afternoon sun. Unfortunately, the light was the wrong side of the birds resulting in the photography not being as good as I would have liked. Still nice to though.  Other birds seen from the hide included Grey Heron (2+), Mallard (6), Moorhen (3+), Common Teal (4 over), Cormorant (5 over), Greylag Goose (30+ over), Common Gull (1), Common Snipe (1), Blue Tit (2+), Great Tit (2+), Coal Tit (2), Chaffinch (4+), Nuthatch (2+), ChiffChaff (1 heard), Willow Warbler (1 heard), Great Spotted Woodpecker (2), Jay (4), Woodpigeon (4+), Carrion Crow (2+), Jackdaw (10+) and Reed Bunting (1+).

23rd September, 2012 – Etherley Moor
Spent an hour watching the feeding station with the camera this morning with ChiffChaff (1) and Common Buzzard (1 seen drifting north) being the pick of the birds. An adult and at least four juvenile Tree Sparrows visited the feeders.  Other birds visiting the feeding station House Sparrow (10+), Blue Tit (4+), Coal Tit (1), Great Tit (2+), Starling (10+), Robin (1) and Dunnock (2). The surrounding fields have recently been cropped, which has attracted Woodpigeon (20+), Jackdaw (20+), Carrion Crow (40+) and Rook (40+).  Other birds of interest that were seen or heard over the past few days at Etherley Moor have included Greylag Goose (1 over), Mallard (1 over) and Tawny Owl (1 heard).

October, November & December 2012

Picture:  Bee-eater at Seaburn, 10th November

7th October, 2012 – Bishops Park & The Batts
A female Goosander, three Mallards, a Moorhen and a Grey Wagtail were on the River Wear. Robin (2), Wren (1 heard), Nuthatch (2 heard), Blackbird (1), Blue Tit (2+), Great Tit (2+), Chaffinch (3+), Goldfinch (5+), Willow Warbler (1), Goldcrest (3+) and Reed Bunting (2) were seen in the hedgerows. Jay (1), Magpie (2), Woodpigeon (20+), Stock Dove (10+), Jackdaw (10+), Carrion Crow (20+) and Rook (10+) were also seen.

13th October, 2012 – Low Barns
The feeding station was busy with Dunnock (2), Robin (2), Nuthatch (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Pheasant (5+), Jay (1 over), Rook (1 over), Blue Tit (6+), Great Tit (4+), Coal Tit (5+), Marsh Tit (2+), Goldcrest (3+), Chaffinch (4+) and Goldfinch (2) seen during a twenty minute observation.   Mute Swan (1), Little Grebe (2), Mallard (10+), Teal (1), Tufted Duck (2), Moorhen (4) and Cormorant (1) were on the west pond. No sign of the kingfisher during my visit.

27th October, 2012 – Etherley Moor
At least ten Redwings were amongst approximately fifty Fieldfares early morning. Six Tree Sparrows visited the feeders early afternoon. Numerous Carrion Crow (50+), Rook (50+), Jackdaw (20+), Woodpgeon (20+) and Stock Dove (2) in and around the fields behind the feeding station.

28th October, 2012 – Hartlepool Headland
A twenty minute seawatch produced five Little Awks, three Red–throated Divers, one Manx Shearwater and a drake Goldeneye. Guillimot (5+), Common Scoter (20+) and Eider (10+) were also seen. Two Redwing, a Blackbird and two Robins were seen in the old putting green before a call alerted me to a possible Black–eared Wheatear at Zinc Road.  The usual Mediterranean Gull was seen at Newburn. Several Bar–tailed Godwits were amongst Common Redshanks (5+) and Gulls at Seaton Golf Club. A check for the possible Black–eared Wheatear at Zinc Road resulted in the bird being identified as a Northern Wheatear (three Common Snipe and a Song Thrush were seen at this location).

1st November, 2012 – Etherley Moor
Had a quick 5 minutes watching the feeders from the back window this morning with Grey Partridge (5 in the recently harvested field), Fieldfare (6), Blackbird (4), Yellowhammer (10+), Tree Sparrow (6) and Chaffinch (2) in the hedgerows. Other birds seen included Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (1), Robin (1), Dunnock (1), Wren (1), Carrion Crow (6+), Jackdaw (2), Woodpigeon (10+) and House Sparrow (10+). Must be the best five minutes on Etherley moor so far.

3rd November, 2012 – Sedgeletch
Decided to visit Sedgeletch for the reported Little Bunting during the afternoon, which unfortunately did not show for me. The birds I did see during my three hour visit included Mallard (1), Sparrowhawk (1), Kestrel (2), Blackbird (10+), Mistle Thrush (3), Redwing (1), Chaffinch (2), Greenfinch (3+), Goldfinch (10+), Blue Tit (2), Robin (1), Siskin (6+), Skylark (1), Pheasant (10+), Woodpigeon (10+), Great Spotted Woodpecker (2), Kingfisher (2) and Reed Bunting (6+).

10th November, 2012 – Seaburn
The BeeEater that had been reported at Seaburn over the past week or so was first seen at approximately 10am and was watched for approximately 3 hours before I decided to leave. The bird was very flighty during my visit and settled on an aerial for only 3–4 minutes, which allowed me to get a couple of good record shots in the poor morning light.  There was plenty of Starlings in the area, which often confused the odd birder and a female Sparrowhawk was also seen.  Stopped off at a number of known sites for waxwings on my return journey with no joy at any. Trees were stripped of berries at two sites suggesting they had visited, eaten the berries and departed before my arrival.

11th November, 2012 – Yarm Road, Teesside
Following yesterdays unsuccessful attempt to find Waxwings, the report of c100 birds behind the Premier Inn on Yarm Road was too much to resist. On arrival, approximately 40 Waxwings were seen in the tall trees behind the inn and would visit the Rowan trees for a minute or two every 5–10 minutes or so before returning to the trees. This cycle continued 2–3 times before a Sparrowhawk flew over. The birds flew high to the north and appeared to leave the area and was just about to leave when I once again heard the distinctive call. This time there was approximately 60 birds, which stayed until I left offering some very good photo opportunities.  Two Mistle Thrushes were very protective of the trees, but I believe they werefighting a losing battle and gave up after most of berries had gone. I was of course scanning the flock for something a bit more special but alas, the Cedar Waxwing still elludes me.