January, February & March 2013
Picture: Slavonian Grebe at Hartlepool Marina, 2nd February
1st January, 2013 – Etherley Moor
First birds of the year were four Woodpigeons. A number of other regulars soon followed, which included Rook (1), Carrion Crow (1), Black–headed Gull (10+), Robin (1), Dunnock (1), Blackbird (1) and Great Tit (1).
1st January, 2013 – Teesside
At least 35 Waxwings were seen at Thornaby. Next stop was Jacksons Landing to see the reported Black–throated Diver, which showed nicely before heading to Newburn Bridge to see the regular Mediterranean Gull that can be found there. Other birds here included Red–breasted Merganser (5), Great Crested Grebe (3) and Little Gull (1). A mixed flock of Twite and Snow Buntings were seen at Seaton Snook before heading home.
2nd January, 2013 – Bishop Middleham & Hurworth Burn
A Scaup (Bishop Middleham) was eventually seen after a fifteen minute search of Castle Lake and the Smew at Hurworth Burn was seen soon after arrival. A nice variety of garden birds were seen from the feeders at Hurworth, which included Great Tit (1), Blue Tit (4+), Long–tailed Tit (2+), Willow Tit (3+), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Blackbird (2), Redwing (6+ over), Fielfare (3 over), Robin (2), Dunnock (1), Treecreeper (1) and Chaffinch (2). Two Brambling were seen from the old railway line between Metal Bridge and Ferryhill.
5th January, 2013 – Teesside
Spotted Redshank (1), Greenshank (1), Common Buzzard (1), Short–eared Owl (1) and Little Egret were seen at Greenabella. At least four Ring–necked Parakeets were seen at Ward Jackson Park. Red–necked Grebe (1), Great Crested Grebe (1) and Red–throated Diver (15+) were seen from Marine Drive. A quick stop at the headland produced Purple Sandpiper (3) and Mediterranean Gull (2).
12th January, 2013 – Teesside
At least three Long–eared Owls were at Haverton. A Green–winged Teal, a Merlin and at least twenty Pintails were at Dormans. A Marsh Harrier and a Common Buzzard were at Greenabella.
13th January, 2013 – Low Barns
The feeding station produced Pheasant (5+), Robin (1), Dunnock (2), Blackbird (2+), Nuthatch (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Blue Tit (5+), Great Tit (4+), Coal Tit (6+), Marsh Tit (3+), Long–tailed Tit (1), Goldcrest (1), Chaffinch (10+), Jackdaw (2), Carrion Crow (2) and Reed Bunting (2). Two drake Wigeon were on Marston Lake. Other birds here included Cormorant (8+), Little Grebe (1), Mute Swan (3), Goldeneye (4+), Teal (3), Tufted Duck (10+), Coot (2), Moorhen (1), Herring Gull (1), Common Gull (1) and Black–headed Gull (5). Two Willow Tit were heard and then seen close to the South Hide. A Woodcock (flushed by a Fox), a Treecreeper and two Bullfinch were seen in the wooded area next to the boardwalk. A Common Snipe and a Jay were heard whilst walking towards the West Hide. Common Teal (4+) and Mallard (20+) were on the West Pond.
20th January, 2013 – Escomb
Three Goldeneye, two Goosander, four Tufted Duck, two Mallard, one Greylag Goose, three Mute Swan, six Coot and two Moorhen were on a small area of Escomb Lake that wasn’t frozen over. Three more Mute Swans were on the ice, as well as a number of the usual Gulls. Three Redwing and a single Song Thrush were seen in the hedgerows, which were otherwise very quiet.
26th January, 2013 – Etherley Moor
One hour garden birdwatch produced House Sparrow (5), Tree Sparrow (3), Dunnock (1), Robin (1), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (1), Coal Tit (1), Chaffinch (2), Blackbird (2), Woodpigeon (2), Starling (2), Jackdaw (2) and Magpie (2). Birds that didn’t land in the garden in this hour included Starling (50+), Woodpigeon (6), Collared Dove (2), Carrion Crow (3), Rook (1), Herring Gull (3), Common Gull (2) and Black–headed Gull (2). A Wren was seen late yesterday evening (25th).
1st February, 2013 – Teesside
A Lesser Redpoll was seen in the hedgerow that surrounds the MTLC car park. Two Barn Owls were seen whilst returning home.
2nd February, 2013 – Teesside
First stop was Hartlepool Marina to try and photograph the Slavonian Grebe (1) and Black–throated Diver (1) were at Hartlepool Marina. A quick stop at the flooded area of Seaton Golf Club produced at least five Bar–tailed Godwits. Next stop was Seaton Common, where I got a brief glimpse of a 1st (possibly 2nd) winter Caspian Gull before the gulls lifted (thanks to PH). A Bean Goose was seen at Holme Fleet (thanks to AK) and a Barn Owl was at Greenabella before returning to Seaton Common to check the gulls. No sightings of any Caspians or White–winged Gulls, but I did see Fieldfare (10+), Sparrowhawk (1) and Stonechat (1) from Zinc Road.
16th February, 2013 – Low Barns
Arrived at the reserve’s Northumbria Hide at 0745am and managed to see the reported Bittern within fifteen minutes. Other birds from the hide during my visit included Canada Goose (4), Greylag Goose (15+), Goosander (1 over), Mallard (4), Teal (2 over), Oystercatcher (1), Common Buzzards (3 over), Sparrowhawk (1), Water Rail (1 heard), Moorhen (4+), Coot (1), Green Woodpecker (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 heard), Robin (2) and Reed Bunting (4+).
17th February, 2013 – Teesside
A first winter Glaucous Gull was seen on the tip from Zinc Road.
20th February, 2013 – Escomb
Only my second visit to Escomb, covering all areas around the lakes and River Wear. Quite quiet with Goosander (10), Dipper (1 on the Wear), Oystercatcher (1), Redwing (50+) and Willow Tit (1) being the pick of the birds during a very dull and cold late afternoon visit.
2nd March, 2013 – South Durham
Visited a number of areas to the south of Barnard Castle hoping to see Goshawk and/or Crossbill. Failed to find the target birds, but did see Black Grouse (11), Red Grouse (10+), Red–legged Partridge (3), Common Buzzard (3) and Kestrel (1).
16th March, 2013 – Teesside
First stop was Newburn Bridge. The regular Mediterranean Gull gave very good views, offering the opportunity to grab a few photographs of the bird in its summer plumage. I also took the opportunity to take some photos of the Black–headed Gulls and Herring Gulls that are regularly seen there. Two first winter Glaucous Gulls were quite easily picked out amongst the hundreds of other gulls seen from the road to North Gare, Seaton Common. A Great Northern Diver, a Slavonian Grebe, a Long–tailed Duck, a drake Common Scoter and nine Avocets were at Seal Sands. A Common Buzzard, a Greenshank and a second group of at least nine Avocets were seen on Greenabella.
29th March, 2013 – Escomb
A 90 minute visit to Escomb produced Great Crested Grebe (2), Oystercatcher (2), Goosander (4), Dipper (1 on the Wear), Green Woodpecker (2 heard), Willow Tit (1), Tree Sparrow (4+), etc.
30th March, 2013 – Bishops Park & The Batts
The Batts was very quiet with only one Song Thrush, one Nuthatch and two Kestrels seen. Nothing on the River Wear. Two Dippers and eight Mallards were on the Gaunless, but there was no sign of any Grey Wagtails or Kingfishers (the latter has been absent for 3–4 years now). Surprise birds were two Goosanders that were seen on the Gaunless towards the top of the park. Song Thrush (3), Mistle Thrush (1), Blackbird (2), Green Woodpecker (2 heard), Great–spotted Woodpecker (3), Treecreeper (1), Wren (1), Great Tit (4+), Blue Tit (10+), Coal Tit (1) and Siskin (1+) were also seen whilst walking along the River Gaunless.
31st March, 2013 – Raptor Watching
Decided to have another look for Goshawks and Crossbill this afternoon, which proved to be very worthwhile. Three Common Buzzards, one Goshawk and one Sparrowhawk were seen from one location. Seven Common Buzzards (in the scope view at the same time) and two Sparrowhawks were seen from a second location. No sign of any Crossbills at the 3–4 local sites that I visited. Had a nice surprice when a Barn Owl was seen hunting in the late afternoon sun. I positioned myself behind the paddock wall and watched the owl catch two voles before it flew between two houses and out of view.
Picture: Red Kite at Far Pasture, 3rd April
2nd April, 2013 – Tillery Wood
8–12 Common Crossbills were seen in the tree tops close to the car park.
3rd April, 2013 – Gateshead
A two hour morning visit to Far Pasture and surrounding areas was a nice change with the first ChiffChaff of the year heard calling. Two Red Kites and two Common Buzzards provided very good views, just close enough for good photos without disturbing the birds. Other birds in the area included Grey Heron (1), Mallard (4+), Teal (3), Moorhen (6+), Coot (2), Sparrowhawk (1), Kestrel (1), Tawny Owl (1 calling), Blackbird (2), Song Thrush (2), Wren (4+), Dunnock (2+), Robin (1), Chaffinch (2), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (4+), Coal Tit (2), Long–tailed Tit (2+), Willow Tit (2+), Goldcrest (2+), ChiffChaff (2+ calling), Pied Wagtail (2+), Stock Dove (2), Woodpigeon (4+), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 heard), Jay (2 heard), Carrion Crow (4+), Jackdaw (2) and Black–headed Gull (1).
4th April, 2013 – RSPB Saltholme
The reported Lesser Scaup had moved to one of the ponds at Haverton, which made it less accessible and harder to view since it was first reported yesterday. A female Marsh Harrier was also seen.
6th April, 2013 – Low Barns
Little Grebe (1), Mute Swan (1), Mallard (6+), Tufted Duck (4+), Greylag Goose (3), Coot (2), Moorhen (2), Blackbird (3), Lesser Redpoll (1), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (2), Coal Tit (1), Chaffinch (2), Wren (1 heard), Dunnock (1), Pheasant (3) and Woodpigeon (10+) were seen from the west hide. Marston Lake produced Gadwall (2), Tufted Duck (10+), Goldeneye (3), Mallard (2), Teal (1), Coot (4+), Moorhen (4+), Oystercatcher (2), Snipe (6), Great–crested Grebe (1), Little Grebe (2), Mute Swan (2), Great–spotted Woodpecker (1), Cormorant (7+) and Black–headed Gull (4). The walk round the reserve produced Carrion Crow (3+), Magpie (1), ChiffChaff (1 heard), Curlew (1 heard), Common Buzzard (1), Robin (1), Song Thrush (1), Great Tit (2+), Coal Tit (1), Blue Tit (6+), Long–tailed Tit (2), Willow Tit (1 heard), Reed Bunting (2+), Nuthatch (2+) and Siskin (2).
7th April, 2013 – Escomb
A Great–crested Grebe, four Oystercatchers, two ChiffChaffs, one Goldcrest and approximately twenty Lesser Redpolls were the pick of the birds during a 90 minute walk round the lakes.
12th April, 2013 – Fencehouses
The reported Little Bunting showed itself three times during the morning and once mid-afternoon in dull, wet and cold conditions. The bunting stayed in the uncut plantation for most of the morning, but did provide some good views during the afternoon offering the opportunity for a few photos. A ChiffChaff was heard calling in the woods opposite the scrap yard, a Wheatear was seen close to the brick building and a Dipper was heard and seen flying up the stream. Other birds seen during the day included Mute Swan (2), Mallard (10+), Moorhen (4), Common Redshank (1), Skylark (10+), Meadow Pipit (10+), Goldfinch (4), Great Tit (4+), Blue Tit (2), Robin (1), Blackbird (2), Linnet (6) and Reed Bunting (10+).
13th April, 2013 – Bishops Park & The Batts
The Batts was more interesting than my last visit with Common Buzzard (3 over), Sparrowhawk (1), Tree Sparrow (4), Greenfinch (2), ChiffChaff (3), Swallow (3), Sand Martin (2) and Grey Wagtail (2) being the pick of the birds. Three Dippers and two Grey Wagtails were on the Gaunless.
20th April, 2013 – Bollihope, Bishops Park, Teesside & Bishop Middleham
An early morning visit to Bollihope quarry produced Ring Ouzel (2), Wheatear (5+), Grey Wagtail (1), Common Snipe (4+), Curlew (4+), Oystercatcher (2), Wren (1), ChiffChaff (1), Swallow (2), Red Grouse (10+) and Pheasant (2). Bishops Park produced Common Redstart (1), Willow Warbler (1 heard), ChiffChaff (2 heard), Green Woodpecker (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Treecreeper (2), Robin (1), Chaffinch (2), Jay (1), Magpie (1), Sparrowhawk (2) and Yellowhammer. Black–necked Grebe (2), Garganey (1 drake), Common Sandpiper (1), Spotted Redshank (1), Dunlin (10+), Black–tailed Godwit (7), Little–ringed Plover (1), Avocet (2), Common Snipe (1), Yellow Wagtail (4+) and White Wagtail (5+) were seen during an early afternoon visit to RSPB Saltholme. At least two Whimbrels were seen between the fire station roundabout and Greatham Creek. When returning home, I decided to go for the reported Whooper Swans and Channel Wagtail at Castle Lake, Bishop Middleham. Three Wheatears and at least five Yellow Wagtails were also seen.
21st April, 2013 – Escomb
A Black–neckeded Grebe was on Escomb Lake. Other birds at Escomb Lake included Greylag Goose (4 adults and 6 goslings), Canada Goose (2), Mallard (2), Coot (3), Moorhen (1), Curlew (1 heard), Sand Martins (2) and Swallows (20+). Hundreds of Frogs were also seen. My first Escomb Yellow Wagtail was seen in the field to the north of Woodside Lake. Blackcap (5+), Willow Warbler (5+), ChiffChaff (10+), Marsh Tit (2), Willow Tit (1), Blue Tit (10+), Great Tit (10+), Blackbird (2), Dunnock (1), Robin (1), Jay (3) and Magpie (2) were seen in the surrounding hedgerows. A Great Crested Grebe, two Oystercatchers, two Mallards and several Tufted Ducks were on the fishing lakes. A Dipper was seen flying up the River Wear, where I also found good evidence of Otter activity.
27th April, 2013 – Kilnsea & Flamborough Head
Arrived at Kilnsea at first light hoping to see the Rock Thrush that had been there for the previous two days. Three Whimbrel and one Wheatear were the pick of the birds during a four hour search for the Rock Thrush which was not found. Flamborough Head proved to be more rewarding with Iberian ChiffChaff (1), Waxwing (15+ over), Whinchat (1) and Manx Shearwater being the pick of the birds.
28th April, 2013 – Teesside
Very cold and windy visit to Dormans made it very hard to view any of the warblers that I was hoping to see. Plenty of Sedge Warblers and Common Whitethroats were heard with the odd Reed Warbler calling from the reeds. Locating Grasshopper Warbler was very frustrating with one being heard for a few seconds before going for the reported Ring Ouzel at Billingham mid–afternoon.
May & June 2013
Picture: Wryneck at South Gare, 19th May
1st May, 2013 – Low Barns
A male Pied Flycatcher was heard and then seen in the alderwood opposite the North Hide. Blackcap (7+), ChiffChaff (4+), Willow Warbler (2+) and Nuthatch (3 heard) were in the same location. A Goldcrest gave very good views on the approach to the south hide offering the opportunity to grab a few very nice photos. A Great Crested Grebe and a drake Goldeneye were the pick of the birds on Marston Lake. Two Dippers were on the River Wear and at least two Sedge Warblers were heard calling from the reeds by the boardwalk. The west pond was very quiet with only two Mallard, two Coot and two Canada Geese seen. Both feeding stations held the usual birds with three Reed Buntings, a Great–spotted Woodpecker and a Marsh Tit being the highlights.
2nd May, 2013 – Escomb
An early evening walk around Escomb Lake produced Swift (1), Swallow (10+), Sand Martin (5+), Common Whitethroat (1), Blackcap (4+), Willow Warbler (2+) and ChiffChaff (2+).
5th May, 2013 – Low Barns
Two male Pied Flycatchers were heard and seen in the alderwood opposite the North Hide. A Common Whitethroat was seen close to the visitor centre. Plenty of Blackcaps (7+) around the reserve.
6th May, 2013 – Teesside
Spent most of the morning around Dormans viewing the warblers which included Lesser Whitethroat (1), Common Whitethroat (3+), Sedge Warbler (10+), Reed Warbler (5+), Willow Warbler (1+) and ChiffChaff (1+). Some very colourful Linnets were also seen. A Grasshopper Warbler was between the road and fire station pools at RSPB Saltholme.
9th May, 2013 – Northumberland
A Common Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk were seen on the way up to see the reported Collared Flycatcher at Low Newton, which showed well during a two hour stay (very nice). Robin (1 constantly chasing the flycatcher), Dunnock (1), Wren (1), Pied Wagtail (1), Meadow Pipit (1), Rock Pipit (1), Blackbird (2), Song Thrush (1), Chaffinch (2), Goldfinch (2), ChiffChaff (1 heard), Willow Warbler (1) and Yellowhammer (2) were also seen. There was no sign of the repoerted Great White Egret at Hauxley and Chevington, but I did see two Little Gulls, three Sandwich Terns, two Arctic Terns, several Common Terns, two Ringed Plovers, one Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper. There was also good numbers of herundines including Swallow (20+), Sand Martin (20+), House Martin (1) and Swift (10+). Druridge Pools produced Garganey (2 drakes), Wood Sandpiper (1), Mallard (4), Gadwall (4), Dunlin (3), Common Redshank (2+), Meadow Pipit (1) and Yellow Wagtail (1) before returning to Hauxley for the reported Great White Egret.
10th May, 2013 – Low Barns
Three Pied Flycatchers (2 male and one female), a Common Redstart and two Garden Warblers were amongst the regular birds to be found in the alderwood. A pair of Song Thrushes were busy feeding young close to the metal bridge towards the end of the wood. Marston Lake produced Great Crested Grebe (1), Oystercatcher (3), Mallard (1), Cormorant (1), Swift (20+), Swallow (5+), Sand Martin (2) and House Martin (1). A Dipper was seen on the River Wear before listening to Reed Warbler (2+), Sedge Warbler (1) and Reed Bunting (1) from the boardwalk. A Garden Warbler and two Linnets were seen in the hedgerow that leads towards the west hide where Canada Goose (6), Mallard (2), Coot (7, including five chicks), Chaffinch (2) and Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen.
10th May, 2013 – Escomb
Two Garden Warblers were seen on an otherwise very quiet walk around the lake.
19th May, 2013 – Teesside
Started the days birdwatching with good views of Thrush Nightingale and Lesser Whitethroat at Hartlepool Headland. The Pectoral Sandpiper was still on the flooded field behind the fire station at Saltholme. No joy with the recently reported Stints, but I did see Little Gull (1st summer on West Saltholme), Greenshank (1 on the Calor Gas Pool), Little Ringed Plover (4+) and Dunlin (1). I then decided to go for the reported Wryneck at South Gare, which was the most approachable Wryneck I have had the pleasure to see (on one occasion, it was showing at a distance of 10–15 feet). Bonus birds here included Red–backed Shrike (1 male), Red–breasted Flycatcher (1 female) and Wheatear.
25th May, 2013 – Hamsterley, Blackbank Wood & The Batts
Checked 3–4 locations near Hamsterley Forest for Wood Warbler and Flycatchers with no joy. Blackbank Wood provided excellent views of Common Buzzard (10+), Red Kite (1), Tree Pipit (2), Common Whitethroat (1) and Garden Warbler (1). Goshawk (1 from the raptor watchpoint overlooking Hamsterley), Kestrel (1), Swift (10+), Swallow (2), House Martin (1), Willow Warbler (4+), ChiffChaff (2 heard), Meadow Pipit (2), Robin (2), Chaffinch (2) and Greenfinch (4+) were also seen. Several Green Hairstreak butterflies were seen nearby. The road to Tunstall Reservoir was closed, so I decided to have a quick look around The Batts which produced Swift (10+), House Martin (5+), Sand Martin (10+), Swallow (2), Garden Warbler (3+), Blackcap (1), Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler (2) and ChiffChaff (1 calling).
26th May, 2013 – South Durham, Etherley Moor & Teesside
Continued my search for Wood Warblers by following directions from another Durham birder whose directions were spot on. The Wood Warbler was in full song and gave good views for the 10–15 minutes that I stayed. I also checked a further 3–4 locations with no joy. A Turtle Dove and two Spotted Flycatchers were seen at a site not too far from the Wood Warbler. A Common Whitethroat was seen behind the feeders at Etherley Moor, which is much later than previous years. A Nightingale was heard calling at Cowpen Bewely.
1st June, 2013 – Teesside
At least 50 Little Terns were at Crimdon. A good 2–3 hours at The Long Drag produced Grasshopper Warbler (1 reeling) and Cuckoo (1). Otherwise, it was very quiet.
6th June, 2013 – Hamsterley
Single Nightjars were at two seperate locations. Other birds seen included Woodcock (1), Tawny Owl (1) and more.
9th June, 2013 – Low Barns
At least two Spotted Flycatcher were in the alderwood and two Common Sandpipers were on the River Wear. Otherwise, it was very quiet.
17th June, 2013 – Etherley Moor
House Sparrows and Blue Tits have recently fledged from the nest boxes in the garden. Tree Sparrows and Dunnocks have also been successful, but I'm not sure where they nested. Robin (3), Blackbird (2), Song Thrush (1), Wren (1), Sparrowhawk (1), Magpie (1), Woodpigeon (2+), Collared Dove (2), Common Whitethroat (1), Chaffinch (2+), Greenfinch (3+), Goldfinch (2+), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (1), Linnet (2+) & Yellowhammer (2) have also visited the feeding station. Other birds seen during the past month or two have included Pheasant (1), Curlew (1+), Oystercatcher (1), Lapwing (1), Skylark (1), Pied Wagtail (1), House Martin (10+), Swallow (3+), Swift (10+), Black–headed Gull (5+), Herring Gull (2), Starling (5+), Carrion Crow (2), Jackdaw (2), Rook (1+), Siskin (3) and Lesser Redpoll (2). Still no sign of any Corn Buntings this year (earliest I have heard them is April).
July, August & September 2013
Picture: Barred Warbler at Hartlepool Headland, 28th September
6th July, 2013 – Saltholme
When the Bridled Tern that had been on Inner Farne, Cresswell, Chevington & Druridge was reported on Saltholme, I immediately stopped work and headed off to Teesside. Soon after arriving at the reserve I was told it was on West Saltholme causeway and quickly headed in that direction. The bird wasn't on the causeway, but another birder quickly spotted the Bridled Tern in flight giving good but distant views for 10–20 seconds before dropping on Paddy’s Pool. I waited for better views, but unfortunately the bird was not seen again. Other birds seen included Dunlin (1), Common Redshank (4+), Ringed Plover (2), little–ringed Plover (2), Lapwing (10c), Yellow Wagtail (1) and Reed Bunting (1).
6th & 7th July, 2013 – Etherley Moor
A Grey Partridge was heard calling when setting up the moth trap (6th). Other than a single Elephant Hawkmoth, there was nothing too special caught in the trap overnight (always nice to see). A Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Kestrel and at least two Common Swifts were seen whilst checking the contents of the trap early morning. Other birds seen throughout the morning included Curlew (1 heard), Pheasant (1 heard), Swallow (4+), House Martin (10+), House Sparrow (10+), Tree Sparrow (5+), Dunnock (2+), Wren (1 heard), Goldfinch (2), Chaffinch (1), Common Whitethroat (1 heard), Blackbird (2), Starling (5+), Jackdaw (1), Carrion Crow (2+), Rook (1), Collared Dove (2) and Woodpigeon (2).
17th July, 2013: Teesside & Bishop Middleham
A short visit to West Saltholme produced a single Ruff and several Dunlin. Numerous butterflies on the wing with at least ten Graylings seen amongst the regulars. With there being so much butterfly activity I decided to stop off at Bishop Middleham Quarry on the way home. All the usual species were seen other than Northern and Durham Brown Argus. Photography was almost none existant as they were all so active.
18th July, 2013 – Teesside & Wingate
Another visit to West Saltholme to see the reported Spoonbill, which was seen on Back Saltholme through the early afternoon haze. The Ruff was still on West Saltholme along with Dunlin (15+) and Black–tailed Godwit (10+). Butterflies were still numerous, so this time I decided to stop off at Wingate on the way home, where at least ten Marbled Whites were seen.
21st July, 2013 – Saltholme
Temmincks Stint (1), Ruff (2), Dunlin (10+), Black–tailed Godwits (10+) and Yellow Wagtail were seen at West Saltholme. The Spoonbill was still on Back Saltholme.
14th August, 2013 – Teesside
Started with a two hour seawatch off Hartlepool Headland hoping to see Shearwaters and Skuas. Birds seen included Manx Shearwater (5 North & 1 South), Common Scoter (14+ North), Red–throated Diver (2 North), Fulmar (3 South), Gannet (6+ South) and Common Teal (7 South). Guillimot (10+), Sand Martin (10+ South), Sandwich Tern (10+), Arctic Tern (4+) and an unidentified Skua (distant) were also seen. Oystercatcher (10+), Ringed Plover (4+), Sanderling (5), Common Redshank (2), Knot (4) and Turnstone (10+) were at Newburn Bridge (no sign of the Med Gull that had recently been reported). A drive along the road to North Gare produced a single Meadow Pipit. Zinc Road was just as quiet with only four Linnets seen. The tidal pool at Greatham Creek produced the best birds of the day, which included Curlew Sandpiper (1), Dunlin (4+), Common Redshank (4+), Ruff (7+), Avocet (6), Black–tailed Godwit (6+) and a Sparrowhawk that temporarily cleared the pool of birds before I left. A Grayling and several Common Blue butterflies were also seen.
31st August, 2013 – Etherley Moor
A Comma, a Painted Lady and at least four Peacock butterflies were on the Budlea mid–morning.
31st August, 2013 – Saltholme
The reported Little Stint was found on the West Saltholme causeway after a 30 – 40 minute wait. Other waders included an impressive 30+ Ruff, several Black–tailed Godwit, at least ten Dunlin and a Common Redshank. There was plenty of wildfowl to scan through and a Garganey was picked out amongst Common Teal (10+), Mallard (10+), Wigeon (20+), Tufted Duck (20+) and Shoveller (20+). A further 10 – 20 minutes was spent looking for my second target bird, which was a reported Black Tern. No joy at West Saltholme, but the bird gave very good views when it was seen feeding in front of the RSPB visitor centre windows. The Black Tern showed very well, but photographing the bird through the windows was always going to be hard work and only managed to get a handful of record shots. Five Greenfinch and at least seven Goldfinch were on the feeders.
21st September, 2013 – St Mary’s Island
The reported American Golden Plover was picked out amongst approximately 1000 Golden Plovers soon after arrival (1050am). It was watched for thirty minutes before they all flew towards Blyth. A number of Golden Plovers returned, but the American Golden Plover was not amongst them.
22nd September, 2013 – Low Barns
Forty five minutes in the West Hide produced Greylag Geese (30+ heading west), Grey Heron (1), Mallard (3), Moorhen (2), Teal (1), Pheasant (3), Woodpigeon (2), Rook (2), JayM (1), Nuthatch (1), Blue Tit (2), Coal Tit (2), Great Tit (1) Robin (1), Chaffinch (2). No sign of any kingfishers, which was my target bird. A Dipper and three Mallards were seen on the River Wear. A disappointing thirty minutes was spent in the Northumbrian Hide looking for the reported Bittern(s) with three Moorhens and a Cormorant being the only birds seen. Marston Lake produced Mute Swan (2), Cormorant (10+), Little Grebe (1), Mallard (6), Tufted Duck (4), Teal (2) and Lapwing (1). The feeding station produced a selection of the usual birds including Pheasant (1), Nuthatch (1), Chaffinch (10+), Blue Tit (4+), Coal Tit (6+), Great Tit (4+), Blackbird (1), Dunnock (2) and Robin (2). At least ten Lapwings flew over the reserve whilst watching the feeders.
28th September, 2013 – Hartlepool Headland
At least three Yellow–browed Warblers were heard soon after arriving at the putting green, but were proving very hard to see (only seen in flight). The Red–breasted Flycatcher was also proving hard to see, but I did manage to get a 10 – 12 second view of the bird before it once again went out of sight. Whilst waiting for the flycatcher to re–appear, I was told there was a Barred Warbler in the Memorial Garden and the quick walk proved very worthwhile. Very nice! Before returning to the car I decided to have another look for the Red–breasted Flycatcher in the putting green. The flycatcher didn’t show, but at least two Yellow–browed Warblers showed reasonably well offering the opportunity for a few record shots. A Willow Warbler was also seen.
October, November & December 2013
Picture: White-billed Diver at Brixham, 28th December
5th October, 2013 – Low Barns
A very quiet walk round the reserve with the highlight being a couple of Dippers on the River Wear.
6th October, 2013 – St Abbs
Arrived at the reserve at first light hoping to see the reported Sardinian Warbler, which was heard soon after arrival, but not seen until 1115am. I went to inform the other birders and the Sardinian Warbler was seen at least twice, but not good enough for photography. Birds seen whilst waiting included Pink–footed Goose (several groups, each containing 100+ heading south), Peregrine Falcon (2), Common Buzzard (1), Yellow–browed Warbler (1+), Goldcrest (2+), Blackcap (3), Bullfinch (2), Chaffinch (5+), Yellowhammer (10+), Dunnock (1), Robin (2) and a possible juvenile Ring Ouzel (seen briefly in sycamores close to the site where the Sardinian Warbler was first heard). Birds seen when checking the area to the north of where the birders were looking for the Sardinian Warbler added ChiffChaff (4+), Willow Warbler (2), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (2), Coal Tit (1), Linnet (5) and Blackbird (2) to the list. Other birds included Mute Swan (3), Cormorant (1), Moorhen (1), Rook (10+), Carrion Crow (10+), Jackdaw (10+), Woodpigeon (3), Magpie (2), Gannet and the usual gulls.
15th October, 2013 – Hartlepool Headland
The reported Western Bonelli’s Warbler was seen 15–30 minutes after arrival. Cracking bird to see and even better to get a handful of half decent photographs. Plenty of other migrants in the area with Great–spotted Woodpecker (2+), Common (mealy) Redpoll (2+), Brambling (4+), ChiffChaff (4+), Willow Warbler (4+), Goldcrest (10+), Blackcap (10+), Redwing (2+) and Pheasant (1) being seen during the 2 hour visit. Other birders noted a flyover of two Crossbills that were thought to be Parrot Crossbills, but were unfortunately not relocated. I was fully intending to check other local areas, but recieved a telephone call that forced me to return home early. Still a very nice couple of hours on the headland.
18th October, 2013 – Hartlepool Headland
The second visit of the week to Hartlepool Headland hoping to see the Pallid Swift that was reported going to roost on the north face of St Hilda’s tower. Arrived shortly before first light and watched the bird 60–90 minutes before it left the roost at 0740am. It was watched in flight for a further 5 minutes before I had to leave for work. What a week! An early finish from work on Tuesday provided good views of Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Common (mealy) Redpoll and other migrants. Then the opportunity of seeing the Pallid Swift (nice). Shame I didn’t get the opportunity of going for the Arctic Redpoll at South Gare, the Olive–backed Pipit on Inner Farne or the Daurian Shrike at Flamborough Head. Here’s hoping they’re still there and I/we get the opportunity to continue the dream.
16th November, 2013 – The Dales
Decided to visit a selection of Black Grouse sites in Teesdale and Weardale during the early hours of the afternoon. The best numbers came from Upper Teesdale where a group of 25 (22 males & 3 females) and a second group of 25 (13 males & 12 females) were seen. At least six additional males were seen before finding another two groups of at least 7 (1 male & 6 females) and 3 (males) in Weardale. Very good numbers with more Black Grouse (60+) seen during the day than Red Grouse (10+). Not much else seen during the day with Common Buzzard (1), Sparrowhawk (1), Kestrel (3) and Fieldfare (10+) being the only birds of note.
17th November, 2013 – Flamborough
The Serin that had been seen at Millenium Wood during the previous three days was seen at 1030am. Other birds of interest included at least two Brambling, a Firecrest (not seen by me) and an unidentified species of warbler.
23rd December, 2013 – Patrington Haven
Finally managed to find the time to visit Patrington Haven for the Ivory Gull that had been reported there over the previous week. The Ivory Gull showed very well from 0830 to 1015 (occasionally came to within ten foot of us) before rain forced an early exit. Shame about the poor light, but what a fantastic bird to see. Birds seen before the Gull showed itself included Little Egret (1), Brent Goose (50+), Greylag Goose (80+), Mallard (10+), Shelduck (30+), Peregrine Falcon (2) and Kestrel (1). There was also good numbers of the usual waders, which included an interesting few minutes when Lapwings were observed mobbing the Ivory Gull forcing it back to our location (thank you Lapwings).
28th December, 2013 – Portland & Brixham
A late decision to go to Dorset/Devon for the reported Brunnich’s Guillemot & White–billed Diver proved to be very rewarding and definitely worth the six hour drive. We arrived at Portland soon after daybreak and got good views of Brunnich’s Guillemot before it went out of view. Black Guillemot (1), Great Northern Diver (2), Red–breasted Merganser (10+), Razorbill (2), Little Grebe (1), Pied Wagtail (1), Cormorant (5+), Shag (5+) & Grey Heron (1) were seen before we decided to go for a Glossy Ibis that had been reported in Weymouth and our second target bird at Brixham. The White-billed Diver showed very well, offering perfect views before it slowly made its way out of the inner harbour. Other birds in the area included Great Northern Diver (5+), Black-throated Diver (3+), Red–throated Diver (1), Black Guillemot (1), Guillemot (1), Gannet (1) and Turnstone (5+). We then spent the next 1–2 hours looking for Cirl Bunting, which proved to be hard to find. A heavy rain shower started soon after arriving at our first site, but the second site provided us with very good views of at least ten Cirl Buntings.
29th & 31st December, 2013 – Sadberge
An adult Bewicks Swan and three juvenile Whooper Swans were seen in a flooded field behind the dogs trust at Sadberge.