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:  Purple Emperor 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, 1 Purple Emperor, 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.

22nd July, 2018 – The Batts
A Black Swan and a female Manderin were on the River Wear, which were site firsts for me. A couple of young Deer were walking along the north side of the river and up to four Banded Demoiselle were in grassy areas on the south side of the river.

24th July, 2018 – Wingate
5-6 Marbled White butterflies were seen with good numbers of Large White, Small White, Small Heath, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown and Ringlet. Nothing of interest bird wise.

25th July, 2018 – Scaling Dam
Decided to try for the Franklins Gull, which flew off two minutes before I arrived. I then spent the rest of the day hoping for the gull to re-appear, which unfortunately didn't happen. 33 species seen including Little Ringed Plover (3, including two juveniles), Green Sandpiper (2), Common Sandpiper (1), Snipe (3), Whimbrel (1), Peregrine (1) and the usual geese, wildfowl, etc. During the day a pale stilt like bird was viewed through the haze, which everyone thought was a Greenshank (later to be confirmed as a Marsh Sandpiper by a photograph which was taken closer to the hide earlier in the day). Reminder to myself, if it looks different then it is worth closer inspection.

26th July, 2018 – Smardale
6-7 Scotch Argus were seen at Smardale along with decent numbers of Large White, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Speckled Wood and Peacock butterflies during a mid-afternoon visit to the reserve.

August 2018

Picture:  Chough at Escomb, 18th August

4th August, 2018 – Escomb
Very quiet during a morning walk round the lakes with Mute Swan (2), Grey Heron (1), Mallard (5), Swift (1), Swallow (5), Coot (2), Moorhen (3), Bullfinch (2), Blackcap (1) & Willow Warbler (3) the only birds seen. Insects were a bit more interesting with Speckled Wood (10+), Wall Brown (3), Meadow Brown (1), Large White (10+), Small White (10+), Small Skipper (1), Southern Hawker (3), Brown Hawker (1), Common Darter (2) and Common Blue Damselfly (10+) seen.

5th August, 2018 – Etherley Moor
Tree Sparrows are nearing the end of there third brood in our terraced nest box with at least two close to fledging, Woodpigeons are nest building in the neighbours conifers and a mixed group of at least thirty sparrows are visiting the feeders.  A Willow Warbler visited the garden early in the morning and both resident frogs occasionally showing themselves in the pond. Large White (5+), Small White (5+), Peacock (10+), Small Copper (2), Wall Brown (1), Speckled Wood (1) and an unidentified darter dragonfly also visited the garden during the day.

8th August, 2018 – Scaling Dam
Quick visit after work to get good views of Franklyn's Gull in front of the hide. Another bird I have been chasing for a while eventually seen & photographed.

9th August, 2018 – Etherley Moor
A brief view of our first Holly Blue in the garden. Something I have been hoping to encourage in the garden for a while.

12th August, 2018 – Teesside
Wood Sandpiper (1), Ruff (4), Greenshank (4), Dunlin (20+), Ringed Plover (20+), Pied Wagtail (10+), Whinchat (1) and Sand Martin (100+) were the pick of the birds during an hours visit to the hide at Dormans.

18th August, 2018 – Penzance, Pendeen & Teignmouth
Sailed from Penzance harbour at 6:30am and got great views of Wilson’s Petrel (3+), Storm Petrel (25+), Cory's Shearwater (6+), Sooty Shearwater (2), Balearic Shearwater (2), Manx Shearwater (20-30), Great Skua (3), Shag (9+), Fulmar (10+), Gannet (20+), Arctic Tern (1), Guillimot (1), Tuna (1+), Dolphin (10+) & Porpoise (3+) before returning to Penzance harbour at 12:30. After lunch I made the short trip to the area of Pendeen, where I got good views of Chough (2), Raven (2), Shag (1) and distant views of Manx Shearwater (100+) heading west along the coastline. Late afternoon I decided to leave the area and go to Teignmouth for Cirl Bunting, which were hard work (2 seen briefly).

19th August, 2018 – Fontmell Down, Dorset
Woke up to a wet morning and my initial concerns of not seeing the butterflies I was hoping for proved to be wrong with Silver-spotted Skipper (15+), Adonis Blue (50+), Chalkhill Blue (20+), Small Blue (1), Gatekeeper (1), Holly Blue (2) being the best butterflies seen out of thirteen different species. Also got good views of Raven (2+) and Common Buzzard (1).

23rd August, 2018 – Bishops Park & The Batts
Mandarin (1 female), Kingfisher (2) and Dipper (1) were the best birds seen during an early morning visit to the area. Over 100 House Martins and Swallows were seen the previous day.

24th August, 2018 – Teesside
Short-eared Owl close to 'North Gare' car park. Whinchat half way along Zinc Road. Pererine and Marsh Harrier viewed from Saltholme cafe.

September & October 2018

Picture:  Pomarine Skua, 8th September

8th September, 2018 – South Gare
Pomerine Skua (1), Roseate Tern (4+), Curlew Sandpiper (1), Dunlin (20+), Knot (30+), Bar-tailed Godwit (1), etc. on the beach closest to Redcar.

13th October, 2018 – Hartlepool Headland
Brambling (2+), Redwing (1), Common Redstart (1) and Yellow-browed Warbler (20+) were seen at Borough Hall between 3 - 5pm.

14th October, 2018 – Marske
Spotted Flycatcher (1) and Yellow-browed Warbler (1) were seen at Hartlepool Headland before heading off to Marske for the reported Spotted Sandpiper, which gave good views in very wet conditions.

14th October, 2018 – Etherley Moor
Not much been happening on patch over the last few weeks, but a gap in the clouds seemed to spark a bit of life in the area. A Common Buzzard was being mobbed by 3-4 Carrion Crows and a Sparrowhawk drifted south. Also managed Tree Sparrow (4+), House Sparrow (6+), Blue Tit (3), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (2), Long-tailed Tit (1), Dunnock (1), Robin (1), Blackbird (4), Starling (40-50 on wires), Pheasant (1 heard), Woodpigeon (2), Magpie (1), Chaffinch (3) from a 15-20 minute spell in the garden.

20th October, 2018 – Escomb
A very quiet late afternoon walk round Escomb with Goosander, Dipper (3), Barn Owl, Mute Swan (7) and Tufted Duck (10+) being the best birds seen.

21st October, 2018 – Haughton Strother GP, Northumberland
First twitch for a while to see the reported Gull-billed Terns (2). Too distant for photographs, but so pleased to eventually see this species.

28th October, 2018 – Hartlepool Headland
Managed a couple of hours sea watching from Hartlepool Headland from 11:30 to 13:30 with Little Auk (1), Pomarine Skua (1), Arctic Skua (1), Long-tailed Duck (1), Common Scoter (50+), Red-throated Divers (3+) and Short-eared Owl (one in off the sea) being the best birds seen. Two more Short-eared Owls and a Marsh Harrier were seen at Seaton Common before returning home.

November & December 2018

Picture:  Taiga Bean Geese, 2nd December

17th November, 2018 – Weardale
Enjoyed a drive through Wolsingham, Stanhope and Rookhope during the early afternoon. At least 16 male and 8 female Black Grouse where seen near Rookhope. 20+ Fieldfare were also in the same area.

18th November, 2018 – Teesside
A single Brent Goose was on Seaton Carew Golf Club driving range.  A Woodcock was flushed from the path leading to Seaton Snook, where I was hoping to see Twite.  No twite on this occasion, but I did get good views of a Peregrine (Wren, Robin and Redwing were also seen).  White-fronted Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Barnacle Goose and Merlin were the best birds at Saltholme. At least two Short-eared Owls were on Seaton Common.

24th November, 2018 – The Stang
Pick of the birds in the area of Barnard Castle, Barningham and The Stang included Grey Partridge (2), Red-legged Partridge (6), Red Grouse (5), Crossbill (3), Fieldfare (30+), Redwing (10+), Raven (1) and Common Buzzard (1 adult and brief views of a very pale bird (possible R.L.Buzzard))?

2nd December, 2018 – Seaton Common
2 Tundra Bean Geese were with Greylag & Canada Geese opposite the substation at Cowpen Bewley.  A Short-eared Owl was also there. 40-50 Twite, 15+ Grey Plover, 5+ Golden Plover & 10+ Bar-tiled Godwits were with the usual waders at Seaton Snook.  Also 2 Red-throated Divers. 6 Taiga Bean Geese were seen from 1st lay-by on Zinc Works Road.

20th December, 2018 – Teesside
First day of two weeks annual leave and enjoyed 3-4 hours birdwatching on Teesside, 8 - 12am. Blackcap (1), Taiga Bean Geese (6 in field north of Zinc Road), Barnacle Geese (40+), Hen Harrier & Green Sandpiper (2 at Billingham Beck) were best birds seen.

30th December, 2018 – Etherley Moor
At least 7 Greenfinch on the garden feeders this morning (highest count for quite a while). Others included Chaffinch (5+), Tree Sparrow (6), House Sparrow (15+), Goldfinch (1), Wren (1), etc.

30th December, 2018 – Escomb
Goldeneye (3), Goosander (3), Little Egret (1), Little Grebe (5), Little Owl (2), Barn Owl (1), Dipper (2), Sparrowhawk (1), Jay (1), etc. at Escomb between 1 & 3pm.

30th December, 2018 – Etherley Moor
Last bird of the year was a Robin, which had been visiting the feeders all day. Quiet end to the year.