Sightings 2018

Welcome to my sightings page for 2018, where I aim to display a compilation of my birding and wildlife sightings and experiences from that year.  For up to date reports of sightings, please consider following me on my Facebook, Twitter and Flickr pages.

January & February 2018

Picture:  Desert Wheatear at Whitby, 4th January

1st January, 2018 – Etherley Moor
First bird of the year was Woodpigeon (1), followed closely by Blackbird (1), Tree Sparrow (3), House Sparrow (10+) and Chaffinch (2).

1st January, 2018 – Teesside
A Green-winged Teal was on West Saltholme with Common Teal (20+) and Pintail (10+).  A drake Goosander and several Ring-necked Parakeets were best birds at Ward Jackson Park.  A Lapland Bunting was with Linnets (70+) on grassland between Newburn Bridge and Seaton Carew. Purple Sandpiper (5), Sanderling (10+), Knot (70+), and Mediterranean Gull (1) were at Newburn Bridge. A Green Sandpiper was seen from Phil Stead Hide at Saltholme. A total of 69 species were seen during the day.

4th January, 2018 – Whitby & Saltholme
The reported Desert Wheatear was seen in the field between the Abbey and the car park. A Kestrel and three Mistle Thrush were also there. We stopped off at Scaling Dam during the return journey and got good views of Ruff (3), Red Grouse (1), Hybrid American Wigeon (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Tree Sparrow (3+), Greenfinch (1), Goldfinch (2), Chaffinch (3), etc. We then made the short journey to Danby Beacon, were we seen fifteen Snow Buntings and at least seven Red Grouse. The final stop of the day was RSPB Saltholme, where Water Rail (1), Brambling (1), Peregrine (1), Merlin (1), Barnacle Goose (40+) and Common (Mealy) Redpoll (1) were added to the day list.

5th January, 2018 – Northumberland
First stop was Stag Rocks and Budle Bay. Despite the heavy rain, we still managed to see Red-throated Diver (1), Red-breasted Merganser (1), Common Scoter (100c), Long-tailed Duck (15c), Shag (3+), Fulmar (2) and Razorbill (2). Next stop was East Chevington, which was very quiet. Best here was an Otter, a pair of Stonechat and a Song Thrush. A Great Northern Diver was at Widdrington Moor Lake. Druridge Pool was quiet (no sign of Water Pipits) and the final stop of the day was for Hawfinch at Morpeth (no joy).

6th January, 2018 – Teesside
Two Egyptian Geese were close to Haverton Pipe Line.

7th January, 2018 – Northumberland
Four Hawfinch were seen at Abbey Mill near Morpeth. The Great Northern Diver was still at Widdrington Moor Lake.  A Water Pipit was seen from Budge Screen at Druridge Pools.  Iceland Gull and Glaucous Gull were at Blyth. Dipped the Firecrest at Northumberland Park, early to mid-afternoon.

8th January, 2018 – Prestwick Carr, Newcastle
The long staying Great Grey Shrike showed well at Prestwick Carr, but always too far away from public right of way for photography. Common Buzzard and Fieldfare were also there. Stopped off at far Pasture before picking up the family, where I got good views of Red Kite (4), Willow Tit (1), Nuthatch (2) and other regulars.

20th January, 2018 – Bishop Middleham
A single Hawfinch was seen near Castle Lake and the reported drake Red-crested Pochard was still at Hardwick Hall.

27th January, 2018 – Escomb
A Little Owl was seen at its usual location.

28th January, 2018 – Teesside
A Long-eared Owl (possibly two) were seen at Haverton Scrub. A Spotted Redshank was at Salterns with several Common Redshanks and an Iceland Gull was at Hartlepool. Tried for Short-eared Owl at a number of locations with no joy.

1st to 28th February, 2018 – Etherley Moor
Due to a broken hand, I didn't manage to get out during February. Birds seen in and around our Etherley Moor garden during the month included 100+ Linnet, 30+ Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Starling, 50+ Rook, 50+ Jackdaw, 30+ Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow & Wren

March & April 2018

Picture:  Black Redstart at Skinningrove, 4th April

24th March, 2018 – Weardale & Escomb
First decent run out since breaking my hand (lift provided by Duncan Fraser). The Snowy Owl, which has been seen at 2-3 locations on the east side of the country wasn't reported today, so we went looking for Goshawks in Weardale.

Skylark (2 singing pairs), Tree Sparrow (4), House Sparrow (4+), Greenfinch (2), Chaffinch (3), etc. were seen before being picked up from home at Etherley Moor. A Goshawk (female) and 2 Common Buzzards were seen close to Hamsterley. 8+ Black Grouse, 20+ Red Grouse, 2 Grey Partridge, 4 Raven (2 pairs at one location), 1 Little Owl, 10+ Snipe and 10+ Fieldfare were pick of the birds as we moved up Wear Valley and into Teesdale.

We stopped off at Escomb on the way back. Pick of the birds here included Barn Owl (2), Nuthatch (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Goosander (1), Goldeneye (3) and Grey Wagtail (1). The mixed flock of Linnet (30+), Yellowhammer (6+) and Reed Bunting (3+) were viewed in the treeline when returning to Etherley Moor.

29th March, 2018 – Musselburgh
Discharged from hospital on Tuesday, first day driving on Wednesday and first twitch of the year for a lifer today (Thursday). Very nice (much needed) run out.  American White-winged Scoter (1), Surf Scoter (1-2), Velvet Scoters (15+), Long-tailed Duck (3+), Shag (1), Guillimot (3), Gannet (1), Sandwich Tern (2) and a probable Slavonian Grebe were seen at Musselburgh. Ring-necked Duck (1), Raven (1), Common Buzzard (1) and Lesser Black-backed Gull (2) were at Duddingston. A Grey Phalarope was at Low Newton by the Sea.

4th April, 2018 – Skinningrove
Enjoyed a couple of hours at Skinningrove before the heavy rain started with Black Redstart (2-3), Northern Wheatear (1m & 2f), Rock Pipit (1), Pied Wagtail (1), Stonechat (2), Wren (3+) and Robin (1) being the best birds seen.

5th April, 2018 – Escomb
Had a late afternoon visit to Escomb and was pleased to see Swallow (2), Sand Martin (8+), Oystercatcher (2), Great Crested Grebe (2) and ChiffChaff (4-5) back on site.

6th April, 2018 – Escomb
Two visits to Escomb today with 42 different species seen. Best birds included Blackcap (3-4 males), Willow Tit (3 in 2 seperate territories), Common Buzzard (1), Sparrowhawk (1) and Barn Owl (1).

14th April, 2018 – Bishop's Park (am)
Started the day with a couple of hours at Bishops Park looking for Common Redstart and other returning migrants. No redstarts, but I did see Willow Warbler (1), ChiffChaff (3+), Green Woodpecker (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (2), Nuthatch (2), Treecreeper (2), Song Thrush (1) and more.

14th April, 2018 – South Gare (pm)
Black-necked Grebe (1), Firecrest (1), Ring Ouzel (1) and Black Redstart (1) were best birds seen during this afternoon visit to South Gare. Stopped off at Seaton on the way back and managed to get a brief view of a male Northern Wheatear in the power station field.  Didn't try for the G.W.Egret (Greenabella) and Garganey (Saltholme).

15th April, 2018 – Saltholme
Garganey (at least one drake opposite entrance to RSPB Saltholme), Little Gull (7+ on East Saltholme) and Little Owl (injured near Cowpen Bewley park and taken to Saltholme, where it will hopefully recover from its injuries) were the best birds seen today.  No joy with the cranes that flew over Saltholme whilst looking at the Little Gulls and no joy with the reported White Stork at Gaunless Flats.

21st April, 2018 – Teesdale & Weardale
2 adders showed very well after waiting patiently at a well known site for nearly two hours. Birds seen included Cuckoo (1), Common Buzzard (2), Black Grouse (1), Red Grouse (1), Willow Warbler (1), ChiffChaff (2), Meadow Pipit (2) & more. No sign of any other summer visiting birds at the sites I visited, but did get good views of Great Crested Newt (3) and Palmate Newt (10+).

22nd April, 2018 – Bishop's Park
Had a couple of hours walk round Bishop's Park between 9 - 11am. Still no sign of Common Redstart at usual locations, but did manage to get good views of at least two Green Woodpeckers. Other birds in the park included Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Nuthatch (1), Willow Warbler (3), ChiffChaff (2), etc.

May 2018

Picture:  Wood Warbler at Muggleswick, 7th May

1st May, 2018 – Druridge Bay
A Glossy Ibis (probably the same bird that had been reported on Holy Island earlier in the morning), a Spoonbill and at least three Garganey were seen from Budge Screen.

4th May, 2018 – Escomb
A late afternoon visit to Escomb (5-6pm) produced Common Sandpiper (1), Common Whitethroat (1), Garden Warbler (1), Blackcap (1), Willow Warbler (3+), ChiffChaff (2+), Swallow (2) & Sand Martin (5). Orange Tip & Speckled Wood butterflies were on the wing. Also a young pike taking advantage of the warm evening sunshine.

6th May, 2018 – Teesside
Good day on Teesside with Grasshopper Warbler (1), Sedge Warbler (2), Common Whitethroat (3+) & Little Ringed Plover (1) being the best birds seen. Failed to see the reported Hooded Merganser on Seaton Common.

7th May, 2018 – Weardale & Muggleswick
Visited Hamsterley area for another look at the newts and see if our summer visitors had returned.  No sign of Tree Pipit or Cuckoo and no sign of any Green Hairstreak butterflies. Next stop was Muggleswick, where we got great views of singing Wood Warbler (1) and Pied Flycatcher (2).

12th May, 2018 – Bishop's Park
A male Common Redstart was showing and singing nicely during the mid-morning walk in the park (1 month later than previous years). Green Woodpecker (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Blackcap (1), Garden Warbler (1), etc. were also seen.

12th May, 2018 – High Coniscliffe
A Holly Blue butterfly was seen at High Coniscliffe. Birds seen included Swift (1), Swallow (10+), Sand Martin (20+), Common Sandpiper (2), Common Whitethroat (1), Willow Warbler (2), ChiffChaff (1) & more.

13th May, 2018 – Crimdon Beach
Maximum count of Little Terns on the beach at high tide was 36 (always nice to see and hear). Also Red-throated Diver (3), Gannet (5+), Ringed Plover (6+),  Grasshopper Warbler (1), Skylark (2), House Martin (3+), Swallow (2+), etc.

17th, 18th & 19th May, 2018 – Twyford Wood, Carlton Marsh, Kelling & Titchwell
80 species of birds were seen during this three day trip, which targetted Grizzled Skipper, American Bittern and Norfolk specialities. Didn't get the Bittern, but did get good numbers of Grizzled Skipper butterflies.  Pick of the birds included Hobby (2), Red-footed Falcon (1 probable), Marsh Harrier (3+), Cetti's Warbler (1), Lesser Whitethroat (1), Nightjar (4+), Dartford Warbler (1) and Woodlark (4).  Click here to view a more detailed report.

20th May, 2018 – Knitsley Fell
Woodcock (1), Cuckoo (1 heard), Tree Pipit (1) and a new site for Green Hairstreaks (3+).

23rd, 24th & 25th May, 2018 – Mull, Strontian & Glasdrum Wood
60 species of birds were seen during this three day trip to Scotland. American Black Duck was seen at Strontian. White-tailed Eagle (2), Golden Eagle (2), Corncrake (2 heard), Raven (7+), Hooded Crow (4+), Cuckoo (10+), Wood Warbler (2+) & Whinchat (2) were the pick of the birds on Mull.  Chequered Skipper (15+) and Pearl Bordered Fritillary (1) butterflies were at Glasdrum Wood. Click here to view a more detailed report on this trip to Mull.

June & July 2018

Picture:  White Admiral at Salcey Forest, 21st June

10th June, 2018 – Bishop Middleham
An early morning visit to the quarry for butterflies was nice but at the same time frustrating, as all the butterflies were very mobile and didn't settle for decent photography. Large Skipper (3), Common Blue (10+), Small Heath (4), Dingy Skipper (5+) and Northern Brown Argus (10+) were seen. Orchids were just starting to appear and probably won't be out until 1-2 weeks time.

21st June, 2018 – Salcey Forest
12+ Black Hairstreak, 8-9 Wood White, 15+ White Admiral, 5 Large Skipper, 1 Large White, 20+ Speckled Wood, 1 Common Blue, 10+ Ringlet, 3+ Hornets, 5 Four-spotted Chaser, 30+ Azure Damselflies and 8 Beautiful Demoiselle were seen during the four hour visit.

30th June, 2018 – Long Drag
25+ Grayling, 10+ Small Tortoiseshell, 10+ Meadow Brown, 5+ Ringlet and 1 Small Skipper.

1st July, 2018 – Etherley Moor
Two Common Buzzards and a Kestrel were best birds seen. Plenty of young Tree Sparrow, House Sparroe, Robin, Dunnock and Blackbird being fed by adults. Skylarks singing in surrounding fields. Highlight for me was a Common Darter, which had just emerged and a nymph on one of the ponds grass stems.

7th & 8th July, 2018 – Lancashire
Visited Lancashire hoping to get High Brown Fritillary (HBF) on Saturday (7th) & Sunday (8th).  Spent approximately two hours at Arnside Knot before the England game on Saturday and then an additional two hours on Sunday morning. Best butterflies seen included 3 Northern Brown, 1 Brimstone and two unidentified fly-by Fritillaries (plenty of Grayling, Gatekeeper, Meadow Browns, Ringlet, Small Skipper, etc.).  I then went to Holme Park Fell and managed to find two very good locations in this large area with 10-15 fritillaries at one and 4-5 at the second. Unfortunately, time was against me and they did not settle long enough to obtain positive identification.  HBF will have to wait for another day.

14th July, 2018 – Holme Park Fell
Made another visit to Holme Park Fell and this time I was successful in getting good enough views for positive identification and photographs of both High Brown Fritillary (4+) and Dark Green Fritillary (5+) butterflies. Other species seen included Large White (2+), Small Heath (10+), Small Tortoiseshell (1), Meadow Brown (10+), Ringlet (10+), Common Blue (4+) and Grayling (10+). Seven Raven and a Peregrine were birds of interest during the 2-3 hours I spent at the site.