Sightings 2014

Welcome to my sightings page for 2014, 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 2014

Picture:  Crested Tit at Loch Garten, 11th January

1st January, 2014 – Sadberge, Bradbury & Teesside
The first bird of the year was a Blackbird that was seen whilst leaving Etherley Moor on a wet and windy New Years Day that would end up producing only 65 species of birds (very poor for day 1, but it was always going to be a day of quality and not quantity).  An adult Bewicks Swan and three juvenile Whooper Swans were seen in a flooded field behind the dogs trust at Sadberge. The Great Grey Shrike was seen twice at Bradbury before I moved on to Ward Jackson Park in Hartlepool where at least three ring–necked Parakeets were seen.  Despite the poor weather, Hartlepool Headland produced all the usual birds including Red–throated Diver (1), Rock Pipit (1), Purple Sandpiper (2), Sanderling & more. The regular Mediterranean Gull was at Newburn Bridge and a Long–tailed Duck was on West Saltholme.

2nd January, 2014 – Budby & Broomhead
A Tawny Owl was heard calling whilst leaving Etherley Moor for to two hour drive to Budby Common where fourteen Parrot Crossbills were heard and then seen soon after arriving at the site.  Other birds in the area included Mallard (2), Greylag Goose (10+ over), Common Buzzard (1), Goldcrest (3+), Great Tit (4+), Blue Tit (4+), Coal Tit (2), Nuthatch (1), Blackbird (2), Pheasant (2), Greenfinch (10+), Chaffinch (10+), Goldfinch (3), Yellowhammer (2), Woodpigeon (2), Robin (1) and House Sparrow (10+).  Five Two–barred Crossbills were seen soon after arriving at Broomhead Reservoir.  The light was very poor for photography, but showed very well before moving deeper into the wood.

11th January, 2014 – Loch Flemington, Dingwall & Speyside
We arrived at Loch Flemmington at approximately 0630am and the American Coot that had been reported over the past 3–4 days was seen soon after it began to get light (0730–ish).  Other birds seen here included Mute Swan (7), Whooper Swans (4+), Cormorant (1), Grey Heron (1), Mallard (7+), Wigeon (4), Moorhen (8+), Robin (1), Blackbird (1), Little Egret (1) and a pair of Otters.  A Hooded Crow, a Common Buzzard, a Red Kite and at least fifty Pink–footed Geese were seen whilst travelling to Dingwall for the Ring–billed Gull that had recently been reported there.  Next stop was Speyside where 1–2 Crested Tits were seen at Loch Garten.  We then tried 4–5 sites for Capers with no joy. Surprised not to see any Red Squirrels?

February & March 2014

Picture:  Long-eared Owl at RSPB Saltholme, 1st March

9th February, 2014 – High Shincliffe
Arrived at High Shincliffe soon after 10am and had a frustrating couple of hours before eventually seeing the reported Yellow-rumped Warbler early afternoon. A big thankyou to the finders and everyone who helped arrange access.  Birds seen whilst waiting for the bird to show included Waxwing (3), Lesser Redpoll (1), Siskin (1), Great Tit (4+), Blue Tit (4+), Willow Tit (1), Chaffinch (10+), Greenfinch (2+), Goldfinch (50+), Bullfinch (2), Dunnock (2), Robin (1), Blackbird (2+) and Song Thrush (1).

16th February, 2014 – Local Patch
Had a quick walk round Escomb, Bishops Park, The Batts and Gaunless Flats in the afternoon sun. Best birds included two Barn Owls, a Kingfisher, two Kestrels and a good number of Tree Sparrows.

22nd February, 2014 – Teesside
A Velvet Scoter, a Greenshank and a Spotted Redshank were seen at Seal Sands. North Gare and Zinc Road were quiet. Saltholme produced the usual selection of birds (no sign of the Green–winged Teal and lack of time stopped me going on the reserve for the reported Waxwing).

1st March, 2014 – Teesside
A late morning visit to Hartlepool Headland and Marine Drive proved to be frustrating with nothing out of the ordinary seen. Soon after lunch we decided to head towards Saltholme and got distant views of at least ten Avocets whilst waiting for the lights to change at Greenabella.  The Green–winged Teal and a Little Egret was on West Saltholme. A quick scan of East Saltholme produced at least one Long–tailed Duck.  A Long–eared Owl was showing nicely at Haverton Scrub with up to three being seen before I arrived. Bonus bird was a Bittern that was seen flying towards and landing in the reedbed that is closest to the allotments.

8th March, 2014 – RSPB Saltholme
Decided to visit Saltholme to look for the Twite that I missed last week and it wasn’t long before a mixed flock of approximately sixty Twite and sixty Goldfinch were seen at a distance from the Kestrel trail. Bonus bird was a single Egyption Goose that was seen with Canada Geese by the pipeline (also at least one Peregrine). No sign of any Long–eared Owls at Haverton.

9th March, 2014 – Local Patch
A Common Buzzard was being mobbed by Carrion Crows at The Batts (Bishops Park was very quiet). A Great Crested Grebe was on Marston Lake and 3–4 Curlews were heard calling at Low Barns. Very quiet at Escomb. Two Oystercatchers and at least twenty Linnets were at Etherley Moor.

23rd March, 2014 – The Dales
A morning visit to Teesdale provided us with good views of Black Grouse at three reliable locations. Other birds in the area included Grey Partridge (2), Skylark (4). Meadow Pipit (1), Fieldfare (200+), Blackbird (4), Oystercatcher (6+), Lapwing (everywhere), Curlew (10+), Common Redshank (10+), Pied Wagtail (3), Chaffinch (10+), Goldfinch (10+), Greenfinch (1), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (2), Siskin (4+), Robin (1), Yellowhammer (1), Kingfisher (1) and Black–headed Gull (everywhere).  By lunchtime the weather had turned from a bright sunny morning to a dark and windy afternoon with heavy showers of rain, sleet & snow. This prompted us to head off home via Weardale, which added Common Snipe (1), Grey Partridge (2) and Red Grouse (10+) to the daylist. There was no sign of any Raven at a site that used to provide regular sightings and there was very few raptors.  Best birds of the day had to be the surprise sighting of three Goshawks that were displaying in the early afternoon sun. Sun, rain, sleet, snow, no wind and very windy weather all in the space of a few hours (typical of the Dales).

April & May 2014

Picture:  Little Bittern at Elton Reservoir, 26th May

5th April, 2014 – A day of year ticks
Car hunting for a third weekend found us visiting North Tyneside where a single Black–necked Grebe was seen at a well known site (several Lesser Black–backed Gulls were also seen). When we returned home I had enough time to visit Escomb and was pleased to see Blackcap (1), ChiffChaff (10+), Sand Martin (4) and Swallow (1).

10th April, 2014 – Gosforth Park (am)
No joy with the reported Ferruginous Duck (not seen since the previous morning, but thought I would try anyway). Birds seen whilst waiting included Mute Swan (5), Greylag Goose (3), Canada Goose (10+), Grey Heron (2), Cormorant (2), Little Grebe (3), Mallard (5+), Tufted Duck (9), Common Teal (2), Sparrowhawk (1), Green Woodpecker (1), Jay (2), Robin (1), Dunnock (2), Wren (1), Blackbird (2), ChiffChaff (2+), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (2) and Reed Bunting (4+).

10th April, 2014 – Teesside (pm)
A Great White Egret was on Dormans with at least one Little Grebe. A Ruff was seen from the Phil Steed Hide, but no sign of any Garganey. Also no joy with the Green Sandpiper that is regularly seen at Billingham Beck.

11th & 12th April, 2014 – Bishops Park and The Batts
Two visits found Common Redstart (2), ChiffChaff (3+), Willow Warbler (2+), Blackcap (1), Swallow (1) and Sand Martin (3) back at their usual locations.  Mute Swan (2), Greylag Goose (2), Canada Goose (4), Dipper (1), Grey Wagtail (2), Pied Wagtail (2), Green Woodpecker (2+), Great–spotted Woodpecker (2+), Pheasant (2), Blackbird (2+), Robin (1), Dunnock (2), Wren (1), Tree Sparrow (3), Goldcrest (1), Goldfinch (4+), Chaffinch (2), Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (1), Jackdaw (10+), Carrion Crow (4+), Herring Gull (3), Woodpigeon (10+) and Linnet (1) were also seen. No sign of any Kingfishers.

14th April, 2014 – Weardale
Four Ring Ouzels and up to four Northern Wheatears were back at a well known site for these species. Red Grouse (10+), Meadow Pipit (4+), Skylark (2), Pied Wagtail (2), Grey Wagtail (1), Lapwing (10+), Oystercatcher (2), Common Redshank (2), Swallow (1), House Martin (1), Sand Martin (3), Blackbird (1), Robin (1), Dunnock (2), Dipper (1), Mistle Thrush (2), Song Thrush (1), Willow Warbler (1), Goldcrest (1+), Greenfinch (1) and Chaffinch (2) were also seen. No raptors.

26th April, 2014 – Teesside
A Wood Warbler was at the Putting Green, Hartlepool Headland (no joy with the Tree Pipit, Brambling and Common Redstart that were reported nearby). A Black–tailed Godwit and several Wheatears were at Seaton Common. A drake Scaup, at least one Long–tailed Duck, five Goldeneye and a Black Tern were at Saltholme.

27th April, 2014 – Teesside
A Dotterel was seen from the North Gare car park and at least two Whinchats were seen towards the end of Zinc Road. Numerous Wheatears seen from both Zinc Road and the road to North Gare.

1st, 2nd and 3rd May, 2014 – Essex, Sussex and Norfolk
Visiting family in Colchester was to provide me with the opportunity of stopping off at a few sites on the outward and return journey.

A Kestrel and three Common Buzzards were seen whilst making my way to a site where a Baikal Teal had been seen only a few days earlier. No joy with the teal but I did see Marsh Harrier (1 male), Little Egret (5+), Grey Heron (10+), Mute Swan (20+), Whooper Swan (1), Shoveller (2), Gadwall (4), Mallard (8+), Pheasant (2), Common Whitethroat (1), Reed Warbler (1), Green Woodpecker (1) and Black–headed Gull (40+).

A quick stop at Weeting produced Stone Curlew (1), Skylark (3), Woodlark (1), Tree Pipit(1), Goldcrest (1), Chaffinch (4), Blackcap (3), Willow Warbler (3), ChiffChaff (3), Blackbird (1), Mistle Thrush (5), Pied Wagtail (1), Swallow (3), Lapwing (10+), Pheasant (10+), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (2), Jay (1), Magpie (2), Rook (20+), Robin (1), Dunnock (2), Green Woodpecker (2) and Goldfinch (2).

Most of Friday was spent with family, but did manage to get spend fifteen minutes at Abberton Reservoir where Nightingale (one heard on minor road to the north of the reservoir). Red–legged Partridge (6+ in nearby fields), Yellow Wagtail (3), Common Tern (20+), Pied Wagtail (2), Cormorant (2 good sized colonies containing approximately 50–100 in each), House Martin (10+), Sand Martin (10+), Swallow (20+), Yellowhammer (1), Collared Dove (10+), Starling (10+) and House Sparrow (10+) and a few dodgy ducks/geese were seen.

Departed from Colchester early on Saturday and headed for Lakenheath, Weeting and Lynford Arboretum where I was to have my first rest stops. Pick of the birds at Lakenheath included Bittern (4–5 heard booming), Hobby (2), Swift (10+), Cetti's Warbler (2), Bearded Tit (3+), Cuckoo (7+). Others birds here included Common Buzzard (2+), Kestrel (1), Swallow (10+), Sand Martin (2+), Common Whitethroat (10+), Sedge Warbler (10+), Reed Warbler (10+), Blackcap (2), Willow Warbler (3), ChiffChaff (2), Mute Swan (10+), Greylag Goose (2), Canada Goose (4), Coot (2+) & more. No sign of any Orioles.

Two Stone Curlews and three Woodlark were the pick of the birds at Weeting before spending a good two hours looking at a puddle in a building area of Lynford Arboretum, where Common Crossbill (7+), Goldcrest (2), Chaffinch (2+), Goldfinch (4+), Greenfinch (1), Siskin (3+), Robin (5+), Blackbird (2), Blue Tit (4+), Great Tit (4+) were regularly coming to drink. Wren (1), Treecreeper (1) and Nuthatch (1) were also seen (no sign of the Two-barred Crossbill during my visit. By this time I was surprised to see that it was 1830, so looked for and stayed at a local B&B for an extra night. Simply lost track of time.

The next day started well with Garden Warbler heard outside of the B&B. I then spent the next 4–5 hours checking a number of sites for Montagu's Harrier and Turtle Dove. No joy with the target birds, but I did manage to see Common Buzzard (6+), Marsh Harrier (8+), Red Kite (1), Sparrowhawk (1), Kestrel (1), Stone Curlew (2 at a new site), Whimbrel (1), Oystercatcher (1), Dotterel (2), Lesser Whitethroat (1), Common Whitethroat (4+), ChiffChaff (2), Willow Warbler (1), Yellowhammer (2), Pheasant (10+), Grey Partridge (1 heard) and Red–legged Partridge (10+). Four Red–crested Pochards were at Titchwell, where I met a friend that works part of my local patch. Wish I could have spent longer at Titchwell and other sites in Norfolk.

5th May, 2014 – Low Barns
Had a quick look into Low Barns to help the youngest with his photography project and also catch up with some of the summer visitors.  A Tawny Owl was seen to the right of the the approach road as we were heading into the reserve. The west pond and pasture were very quiet. Common Whitethroat (1), Sedge Warbler (2) and Reed Warbler (2) were seen from the board walk.  Loads of people about, including two people fishing on the River Wear (not surprised to see nothing here). Other birds that were seen amongst the regulars included Swallow (1), Great–crested Grebe (2) and Nuthatch.

26th May, 2014 – Greater Manchester
The reported Little Bittern was seen soon after arriving at Elton Reservoir before it disappeared into a small willow tree.  A surprise bird was a Common Scoter that was spending most of its time with a drake Tufted Duck. Other birds seen included Mute Swan (2), Canada Goose (2), Greylag Goose (2), Great–crested Grebe (2), Mallard (4), Moorhen (1), Coot (a family of four), Black–headed Gull (10+), Pied Wagtail (2), Swift (1), Swallow (4), House Martin (1), House Sparrow (6+), Greenfinch (1), Goldfinch (4), Dunnock (1), Wren (1) and Reed Bunting.

27th May, 2014 – Scaling Dam & Lockwood Beck Reservoir
Two Little–ringed Plovers and a Common Sandpiper were the pick of the birds at Scaling Dam. An Osprey was at Lockwood Beck Reservoir. Decided not to go through the woods to check for Spotted Flycatcher, Common Redstart, etc.

27th May, 2014 – Sawdon
Arrived at a very wet and breezy Sawdon (near Wykenham) late afternoon and managed to see Red–legged Partridge (1), Yellowhammer (1) and House Sparrow (6+) before setting up the caravan. The rain stopped 30–40 minutes before dusk, so decided to go to a site 5 minutes away from the site to get Nightjar (1 heard) and Woodcock (2 heard).

28th May, 2014 – Flamborough
Due to the heavy rain and low cloud cover I decided to head for Flamborough where a Red–backed Shrike had been reported. No joy with the shrike, but I did manage to see Icterine Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatcher. At least ten House Martins, several Swallows and two Sand Martins were giving very good views on the sheltered side of the Old Fall Plantation. Didn’t stop raining all day (should be a good day tomorrow (when the rain stops)).

29th May, 2014 – Spurn
A Golden Oriole and a Common Rosefinch were at Sammy’s Point. A Red–breasted Flycatcher and a Common Redstart were at Easington Gas Terminal. Tried for the reported Red–backed Shrike and Icterine Warbler with no joy. Other birds in the area that I didn’t go for included Marsh Warbler, Bluethroat and White–winged Black Tern.

30th May, 2014 – Wykeham
A Turtle Dove and at least five Common Buzzards were the pick of the birds. Two Grey Partridges were at Sawdon.

31st May, 2014 – Saltholme
A Red–backed Shrike and two Little Stints were seen during a quick stop at the Calor Gas pool (viewed from Hargreaves Quarry).

June 2014

Picture:  Spectacled Warbler at Burnham Overy, 12th June

1st June, 2014 – Skinnigrove
The reported Woodchat Shrike was seen soon after arriving at Hummersea. Common Whitethroat (2+), Dunnock (1), Robin (1), Blackbird (2), Fulmar (4+) and Herring Gull (10+) were also seen during a thirty minute stay.  The Corncrake that had been reported at Cowbar was heard twice before heading to Lockwood Beck Reservoir for the Osprey(s) that have been visiting over the past week. One of the Ospreys circled the reservoir before coming to rest on the moor and then the eastern plantation. Too dull for decent photos. Other birds included Greylag Goose (50c), Canada Goose (2), Mallard (4+), Curlew (2+), Common Buzzard (1), Lapwing (2+), ChiffChaff (1), Willow Warbler (4+), Swallow (10+), House Martin (4), Sand Martin (2) and Wren (1).

11th June, 2014 – Norfolk Twitch
A delayed visit to Burnham Overy for the reported Spectacled Warbler was very worthwhile as the target bird showed very well for 10–20 minutes before flying towards the boardwalk (5.30am). Other birds here included Barn Owl (1), Little Tern (1), Common Whitethroat (2+), Wren (1), Blackbird (2), Little Egret (4+), Shelduck (2+), Curlew (2+), Common Redshank (4+), Lapwing (10+), Black–headed Gull (10+) and Linnet (10+).

Next stop was a well known site for Dartford Warbler, which did not disappoint. Two of the target birds were giving very good views and it wasn’t until after 2–3 minutes later that we realised that we were standing only 10–15 foot away from their nesting site. After moving back to a sensible distance, the birds would move away from the nest for a good few minutes before returning with food and clearing the nest of feces. A Turtle Dove was heard calling approximately 100yds away (further checks in the area found us hearing and seeing upto 4 different birds). Common Buzzard (1), Kestrel (1), Linnet (10+), Greenfinch (1) and Chaffinch (2+) were also seen at this site. Also possible Woodlark.

We had no joy at a nearby site for Montagues Harrier., but we did see a further 3–4 Turtle Doves, a Marsh Harrier and at least six Common Buzzards.

Because of the very good weather and no further reports of local rarities, we then decided to look for butterflies & dragonfiles. Butterflies included Chalkhill Blue (1), Silver–studded Blue (20+), Common Blue (10+), Small Copper (2), Large Skipper (2+), Large White (4+), Brimstone (2), Meadow Brown (30+), Painted Lady (2+), Red Admiral (2), Small Tortoiseshell (10+), Speckled Wood (20+) and a possible White Admiral (flew past too quickly for positive identification). Moths included at least one Hummingbird Hawkmoth and at least one species of Burnet moth (again, sighting was too quick to identify which of the burnets it was). Dragonfles seen included several Broad–bodied Chasers.

Other sightings during the course of the day included Avocet (1 with at least three chicks ON the A149), Grey Partridge (10+), Red–legged Partridge (4+), Cetti’s Warbler (1), Willow Warbler (4+), ChiffChaff (10+), Little Egret (4+), Egyption Goose (3+), etc.

21st June, 2014 – Sussex Twitch
An early morning start found us arriving at Ashdown Forest soon after 6am. As hoped, the Short–toed Eagle came in toview at 8am, which was the same time as the previous morning. The eagle was watched at a distance for 30–40 minutes before it came closer, providing us with views that will stay with me for a long time to come (catching and then feeding adder or slow worm whilst on the wing).

Other sightings in the area included Common Buzzard (4+), Common Redstart (1), ChiffChaff (1), Willow Warbler (4+), Stonechat (2+), Skylark (2), Yellowhammer (1), Lesser Redpoll (1+), Robin (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Jay (2), Carrion Crow (2+), Woodpigeon (10+), Linnet (5+), Coal Tit (1+), Blue Tit (2). Butterflies included Small Heath (10+), Small Tortoiseshell (12+), Red Admiral (2), Large Skipper (10+), Unidentified Skipper (possible Essex Skipper) and unidentified butterfly (possible White Admiral).

July & August 2014

Picture:  Spotted Redshank at Shibdon Pond, 30th August

5th July, 2014 – Hurworth Burn & Bishop Middleham Quarry
The reported Black–winged Pratincole was seen to the west of the old railway line soon after arrival with approximately 100 Lapwings. Distant views, but good to see.  A quick stop at Bishop Middleham Quarry for butterflies produced Ringlet (30+), Meadow Brown (30+), Common Blue (10+), Brown Argus (4+), Northern Brown Argus (1), Dingy Skipper (1) and Small Heath (4+).

24th August, 2014 – Teesside
A Curlew Sandpiper was seen at Greatham Creek with Avocet (5), Dunlin (8+), Common Redshank (40+) and Pied Wagtail (1). Very quiet summer where birding has been concerned. How time flies when your not having fun. Here’s hoping I get out more often soon.

30th August, 2014 – Shibdon Pond
The reported Pectoral Sandpiper was seen soon after arrival. The sandpiper was favouring the area just in front of the hide, which also had Dunlin (1), Ruff (2), Common Redshank (40+), Lapwing (200c) and Green Sandpiper (1).  Seven Spotted Redshanks were favouring the west end of the pond and gave close enough views for half decent photography (the highest number of Spotted Redshanks that I have seen in County Durham at any one time).  Other birds included Mute Swan (1), Canada Goose (10+), Shelduck (1), Mallard (10+), Common Teal (10+), Common Snipe (1), Moorhen (10+), Black–headed Gull (4), Lesser Black–backed Gull (2), Swallow (4+) and Sand Martin (2).

September 2014

Picture:  Common Snipe at Kilnsea, 21st September

6th September, 2014 – Teesside
Four Little Stints, a Spoonbill and at least ten Little Egrets were at Dormans. No sign of any of the reported Purple Sandpipers, Spotted Redshanks or Glossy Ibis whilst I was there.

7th September, 2014 – Low Barns
A Little Egret was on one of the islands, Marston Lake.

20th September, 2014 – Hartlepool Headland
A frustrating early afternoon visit to the Headland produced Spotted Flycatcher (1), Pied Flycatcher (2), Red–breasted Flycatcher (1), Yellow–browed Warbler (1), Brambling (3+), Chaffinch (10+), Fieldfare (1), Sparrowhawk (1), Wren (1), ChiffChaff (10+), Willow Warbler (10+), Goldcrest (1) and Blue Tit (2).

21st September, 2014 – Kilnsea
The reported Masked Shrike was seen soon after arrival and was watched for 20–30 minutes, unfortunately remaining too far away for decent photographs. We then had an unsuccessful attempt for the second target bird of Olive–backed Pipit, but did see a Jack Snipe and a Common Snipe from the hide.

After lunch we decided to have another look at the Shrike, but ended up going for the Olive–backed Pipit that had been refound and surrounded by approximately 50 birders. The pipit proved to be difficult, but I did get three views of the bird in flight. Others were lucky enough to get better views, but flight views were good enough for me.

Other birds seen in the area included Honey Buzzard (1), Common Buzzard (1), Common Kestrel (2+), Sparrowhawk (1), House Sparrow (10+), Northern Wheatear (2), Whinchat (1), Barred Warbler (1), Lesser Whitethroat (1), Common Redstart (5+), Willow Warbler (1), Chaffinch (1) and Meadow Pipit (1). Birds that we decided not to go for included Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Red–breasted Flycatcher and Yellow–browed Warbler. Perhaps the most interesting find of the day was a Four–spotted Orb Weaver Spider that most people found more interesting than looking for the Olive–backed Pipit. Found it hard to pull myself away from looking for the Pipit, but it was a first for me and it looked awesome.

October, November & December 2014

Picture:  Booted Warbler at Torness, 12th October

12th October, 2014 – Torness, Holy Island & Far Pasture
Another twitch proved worthwhile when the reported Booted Warbler was watched for over an hour in the visitior centre car park bushes. Always something in the way where photography was concerned, but was very nice to see. Robin (1), Dunnock (1), Wren (2) and Chaffinch (2) were in the same bushes. A Peregrine was seen on the roof of the power station before I departed for Holy Islend where a White–tailed Eagle had been seen.

At least three Common Buzzards were seen during the journey to Holy Island. There was no sign of the reported White–tailed Eagle at Holy Island, but I did manage to see good numbers of waders, the second Peregrine of the day and 40–50 Brent Geese.

Next stop was Far Pasture< which proved to be more productive than usual with Water Rail (2+), Jack Snipe (1) and Common Snipe (10+) being the pick of the birds. Other birds seen during the 30 minutes at Far Pasture included Grey Heron (1), Little Grebe (2), Mallard (2), Common Teal (10+), Moorhen (10+) and Pied Wagtail (2+).

18th October, 2014 – Sunderland
My first Olive–backed Pipit for County Durham was seen soon after arriving at Roker, Sunderland. A probable Siberian Lesser Whitethroat and at least two ChiffChaff were seen whilst waiting for photo opportunities.

24th October, 2014 – Low Barns
Little Grebe (1), Grey Heron (1), Mallard (10+), Water Rail (1), Moorhen (6+), Pheasant (5+), Robin (1), Dunnock (1), Kingfisher (2), Nuthatch (1), Stock Dove (1 over), Blue Tit (1) and Jay (1) were seen from the West Hide.  A Dipper was on the River Wear, a Goldcrest was seen close to the South Hide and at least two Treecreepers were seen when approaching the North Hide.  Mute Swan (2), Little Grebe (2), Cormorant (10+), Wigeon (2), Gadwall (2), Tufted Duck (10+), Common Teal (10+), Coot (2) and Kingfisher (1) were seen from the North Hide. Very little seen at the feeding station (feeders were empty).

25th October, 2014 – Escomb
Very quiet around the lakes with very little seen. The river was a bit more productive with Goosander (4), Dipper (1) and Kingfisher (1) seen. A Barn Owl was nearby.

1st November, 2014 – Brotton & Sleddale
The Eastern–crowned Warbler was seen soon after arriving at Brotton, but stayed in the canopy making it very hard for photo opportunities (really good to see though). After 10–15 minutes the warbler flew deeper into the wooded area, so I decided to depart for Sleddale, where 2–3 Rough–legged Buzzards had been seen. Two were seen as soon as I arrived, but stayed at too far away for decent photo’s. A Peregrine and a Kestrel were also seen.

8th November, 2014 – Hartlepool Headland
The Grey Phalarope was seen off the Pilot Pier soon after arrival. No sign of the Little Auk that had been reported earlier that morning, so I decided to do 30–40 minutes seawatching. No sightings of Little Auks (1000’s had been passing over the past few days), but I did get 6 Red–throated Divers (north), 6 Common Scoter (south) and 10–12 Wigeon (south).

15th November, 2014 – Cleadon & Whitburn
A Siberian Stonechat was seen on the eastern side of the SAFC academy pools. Grey Heron (1 over), Tufted Duck (5), Coot (6+), Wren (1), Dunnock (1), Goldfinch (5+) and Reed Bunting (5+) were in the same area.  A quick visit to Whitburn Steel produced Purple Sandpiper (4+), Sanderling (10+), Knot (10+), Common Redshank (10+), Turnstone (20+), Curlew (1), Robin (1), Grey Wagtail (1), Pied Wagtail (10+), Rock Pipit (10+) and Meadow Pipit (4+). No sign of any Water Pipits that had been reported earlier in the day.

23rd November, 2014 – Escomb
A pair of Goldeneye were on Escomb Lake.

24th November, 2014 – Seaton Snook
The first Isabelline Wheatear for County Durham was seen soon after arriving at the snook and provided views down to 15–20 foot. Excellent to see and photograph at such a close distance.

13th December, 2014 – Pugneys CP
The reported Blyth’s Pipit was seen three times during a 3 hour visit to Pugneys CP in West Yorkshire. The first sighting was considered to be definitely the bird by others, but I didn't get enough features of the bird for positive identification. The second sighting was much better, but the third was well worth the wait with up to five minutes of good views in the late morning sun.  Two Goldeneyes were amongst the more common wildfowl on the unfrozen parts of the lake(s). A Red Kite, a Common Buzzard, a Sparrowhawk and at least five Kestrels were seen during the journey home.