Picture: Long-tailed Duck at Middleton, 2nd January
1st January, 2020 – Etherley Moor
Two Tawny Owls were heard from the back garden before it got light (first birds of the year), which was when the feeders became active. Birds seen during a one hour spell included Golden Plover (20+ over), Herring Gull (3), Starling (1), Magpie (2), Carrion Crow (6+), Rook (4), Wood pigeon (2), Collared Dove (1), Dunnock (3), Tree Sparrow (4), House Sparrow (6), Greenfinch (1), Goldfinch (1), Chaffinch (3), Coal Tit (1), Long-tailed Tit (2), Blue Tit (3) & Great Tit (1).
1st January, 2020 – Nosterfield
A single Smew (probable 1st winter drake) and a Scaup were the best birds seen during a mid-afternoon visit to the reserve.
2nd January, 2020 – Hartlepool
Enjoyed a late morning visit to Hartlepool Headland watching Woodlark (1) and Snow Bunting (2) on waste ground to the north of Jewish Cemetery. Then made the short journey to Middleton for the reported Black Redstart with no joy. Consolation was a very confiding Long-tailed Duck, which was by the lifeboat station.
3nd January, 2020 – Teesside
The Black Redstart I missed yesterday was seen soon after arrival at Middleton, Hartlepool. Mediterranean Gull (1), Rock Pipit (1), Purple Sandpiper (1), Sanderling (15+), Dunlin (10+), Turnstone (20+), Ringed Plover (20+) & Oystercatcher (10+) were at Newburn Bridge. White-fronted Goose (1), Tundra Bean Goose (2) & Pink-footed Goose (1) were with Greylags and Canada Geese at Cowpen Tip pool. A Merlin was seen on Seaton Common. Two Long-eared Owls were close to the viewpoint at Haverton. A Common Sandpiper was with the regular Green Sandpiper at Billingham Beck.
4th January, 2020 – Prestwick Carr & South Tyneside
Nice trip out of the county for the Eastern Yellow Wagtail at Prestwick Carr, which showed very well with Pied Wagtail (15+) and Meadow Pipit (10+). At least one Willow Tit was close by. Visits to Thornley Woods, Far Pasture & Shibdon Pond produced Willow Tit (2+), Bullfinch (2), Goldcrest (4+), Red Kite (2), Siskin (2+), Treecreeper (1), Jay (1), etc. A Whooper Swan was at Stoneybeck Lake (Bishop Middleham) with a Peregrine giving close views in perfect light (no camera with me at this time).
5th January, 2020 – Lockwood Beck
Enjoyed 30 minutes at the Lockwood Beck feeding station watching Brambling (50+ in the area), Siskin (2+), etc. Despite gamekeepers burning heather on Commondale, we still managed to see Raven (4), Common Buzzard (2) & Peregrine (1).
12th January, 2020 – Greatham Creek
Spotted Redshank (1), Greenshank (1) & Marsh Harrier (2) were pick of the birds during a short visit to Seal Sands.
18th January, 2020 – Seaton Snook
50-60 Twite were seen on the fence wires.
1st February, 2020 – Escomb
A late evening visit to check for owls. 2 Little Egrets were seen flying up the river wear before dusk. A Tawny Owl and a Little Owl were heard, but not seen.
18th January, 2020 – Seaton Snook
50-60 Twite were seen on the fence wires.
Picture: Red Grouse at The Stang, 8th February
2nd February, 2020 – Nosterfield & Bolton-on-Swale
Decided to go and visit Nosterfield for some birds, which have been seen in the area over the previous 2-3 weeks. Lesser Yellowlegs was the main target birds, which was seen in front of the hide soon after arrival. Other birds here included Peregrine (1), Common Buzzard (2), Kestrel (1), Ruff (1), Golden Plover (50+), Curlew (10+), and Oystercatcher (10+). Two drake Pintail were with Goldeneye (10+), Teal (30+) at the nearby Lingham Lake.
Bolton-on-Swale nature reserve on the outskirts of Catterick was my next stop, where Ring-necked Duck (1), Red-crested Pochard (1), Scaup (1) and Little Egret (6) were seen before the Cattle Egret came into roost at 4pm.
8th February, 2020 – The Dales & The Stang
A very quiet 3-4 hours visiting locations in Weardale, Teesdale and South Durham, which produced Black Grouse (2), Red Grouse (7), Common Buzzard (3), Kestrel (1), Redwing (30+), Fieldfare (150+), Song Thrush (1), Mistle Thrush (2) & Siskin (50+). With storm Ciara approaching, everything must have been keeping low to the ground?
16th February, 2020 – Escomb
Early afternoon visit to Escomb for 1-2 hours. Water level was high (Storm Dennis), which prevented me doing my usual route.
Birds seen included Little Grebe (1), Goosander (1), Goldeneye (2), Goldcrest (1), Treecreeper (1), Siskin (10+), Bullfinch (2), etc.
23rd February, 2020 – Teesmouth
Mid to late afternoon visit to Teesmouth. Ruddy Shelduck and Marsh Harrier were at Cowpen Marsh. Failed to connect with the reported Glaucous Gull at Saltholme. Plenty of Curlew and Wigeon on Seaton Common.
27th February, 2020 – Etherley Moor
A Tawny Owl with a damaged wing spent the morning in our garden before the RSPCA arrived early afternoon. They confirmed the wing was broken and took the owl to the vet for X-ray. Hope it survived.
29th February, 2020 – South Durham
Crossbill (1), Common Buzzard (5+), Red Grouse (3), Red-legged Partridge (2), Raven (9), Mistle Thrush (7), Redwing (50+), Fieldfare (30+), etc. were seen during an afternoon visit to the south of the county.
Picture: Great Grey Shrike at Trimdon, 11th March
1st March, 2020 – Teesmouth
The Ruddy Shelduck was still with Canada Geese (50+) and Greylag Geese (20+) on Cowpen Marsh. A third winter Glaucous Gull was on Back Saltholme.
7th & 8th March, 2020 – Trimdon
Two failed attempts to see the reported Great Grey Shrike. Birds seen during the two visits included Grey Partridge (2), Fielfare (30+), Stonechat (1), Yellowhammer (50+), Bullfinch (5) and Common Buzzard (1).
11th March, 2020 – Trimdon & Teesmouth
After two attempts at the weekend it was third time lucky for the Great Grey Shrike at Trimdon, which was seen soon after arrival at 08:45. A Short-eared Owl and at least fifty Fieldfare put in a brief appearance before setting off for Hartlepool. First stop on Teesside was Ward Jackson Park where three Ring-necked Parakeets were seen. Kestrel (1), Little Egret (2), Wigeon (30+), Curlew (20+) and Lapwing (3) were the only birds seen during a quick stop at Seaton Common. Marsh Harrier (2), Shoveller (10+), Tufted Duck (30+) and Wigeon (50+) were at Holme Fleet. Avocet (3) and Water Rail (1) were the pick of the birds at Saltholme. Bar-tailed Godwit (15+) were on Seal sands before the tide came in.
15th March, 2020 – Scaling Dam & Lockwood Beck
Water Pipit (1), Pied Wagtail (4) & Grey Wagtail (2) were at the east end of Scaling Dam reservoir early afternoon. A Brambling was with the usual visitors at the Lockwood Beck Reservoir feeding station.
17th March, 2020 – Etherley Moor
Common Newt (2) and Common Frog (1) in the garden pond (late evening).
21st March, 2020 – Escomb
Mid-afternoon walk around Escomb produced 27 different species of birds including my first ChiffChaff of the year (3), Sparrowhawk (1), Barn Owl (1), Curlew (1 heard), etc.
22nd March, 2020 – Low Barns
Decided to work the wooded area on the opposite side to the river to Low Barns, doing a speculative search for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. No joy with the woodpecker, but I did manage to see Goosander (3), Mallard (2), Grey Wagtail (2), Blackbird (3), Fieldfare (10+), ChiffChaff (4 heard) and Grey Heron (2).
22nd March, 2020 – Etherley Moor
First butterfly of the year for me today. A Small Tortoiseshell in our garden.
23rd to 29th March, 2020 – Covid19 Lockdown, Etherley Moor
Working from home during this first week of partial lockdown, so I set the workstation up so I was viewing the garden feeders and the views of the fields/sky behind. 24 species seen with Reed Bunting (3), Long-tailed Tit (2), Common Buzzard (1), Kestrel (1), Greenfinch (2), Curlew (1), Skylark (2+) and Tree Sparrow (7+) being the pick of the birds. A pair of magpies causing a bit of disturbance in and around the garden.
Picture: Long-tailed Tit at Etherley Moor, 4th April
30th March to 5th April, 2020 – Covid19 Lockdown, Etherley Moor
Week 2 of the Covid19 partial lockdown and the garden list for the fortnight is at 30. The three Reed Buntings appears to have moved on and the two Long-tailed Tits are still visiting the feeders several times a day suggesting they may be nesting closely. New additions to the list included Grey Heron (2), Mallard (1), Sparrowhawk (1). The second species of butterfly was seen on the 5th, when two Peacock flew into the garden for about 5 seconds.
6th to 12th April, 2020 – Covid19 Lockdown, Etherley Moor
Week 3 of the Covid19 partial lockdown and the garden list is now at 34. Highlight for this week was watching a Sparrowhawk and Kestrel have a bit of come together above the garden (unfortunately, no camera). Species added to the lockdown list included Grey Partridge (one calling at dusk), Tawny Owl (2 calling at dusk), Collared Dove (2 flew over the garden) and Common Gull (10+ over the garden). Butterfly species also increased by one with Orange Tip (3) being added to the Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies being seen from week 2.
13th to 19th April, 2020 – Covid19 Lockdown, Etherley Moor
Week 4 of the Covid19 partial lockdown and the garden list is now at 38. Best birds this week included Barn Owl (1 hunting the back field shortly after midnight), Red Kite (1 flew westwards), Swallow (over the house and back field) and ChiffChaff (1). A Holly Blue butterfly was visiting the garden from 19th onwards and at least two Speckled Wood were added to the butterflies seen in the garden since lockdown. Two Frogs and at least two newts were in the garden pond.
20th to 26th April, 2020 – Covid19 Lockdown, Etherley Moor
Week 5 of the Covid19 partial lockdown and the garden list is reached forty different species of birds with Black-headed Gull (1) and Lapwing (1) being seen. A Green-veigned White butterfly visited the garden taking the total species of butterflies seen to 6 (unfortunately, the Holly Blue got eaten by our pet dog on the 24th). The two frogs and newts appear most nights after dark.
The guidelines on lockdown was relaxed during the week, so I had a walk around Bishops Park making sure social distancing guidelines were followed. Thirty one different species of birds were seen during the 1-2 hour visit on 26th including Green Woodpecker (2+), Common Redstart (1), Garden Warbler (1), Common Whitethroat (2), ChiffChaff (2+), Willow Warbler (4+) and Common Sandpiper (2). Not included in my lockdown list.
Picture: Greylag Geese at Escomb, 19th May
27th April to 3rd May, 2020 – Covid19 Lockdown, Etherley Moor
Week 6 of the Covid19 partial lockdown and the garden list looked as though there was going to be no additions this week until the last afternoon (Sunday, 3rd). I was watching two Common Buzzards when a Common Swift flew into the same view. Soon after watching the swift go out of view, three Sand Martins and a Lesser Black-backed Gull taking the lockdown list to forty three. The frogs and newts are still showing most nights after dark. No more sightings of Holly Blue so there must have only been the one.
The guidelines on lockdown are still relaxed, so this weeks exercise walk was at Escomb (2nd May), again making sure social distancing guidelines were followed. Best birds during the two hours I was there included Common Whitethroat (2), Garden Warbler (2+), Blackcap (3+), ChiffChaff (2+), Willow Warbler (2+), Sedge Warbler (2), Oystercatcher (4), Sand Martin (1) and Great Crested Grebe (2).
4th to 10th May, 2020 – Covid19 Lockdown, Etherley Moor
Week 7 of the Covid19 partial lockdown with no new additions to the garden list. Best birds during the week included two Common Swifts and at least three Swallows. The frogs and newts are still showing most nights after dark.
The guidelines on lockdown are still relaxed, so this weeks exercise walk was at Escomb (10th May), making sure social distancing guidelines were followed. Best birds during the two hours I was there included Reed Warbler (1), Common Whitethroat (2), Garden Warbler (2+), Blackcap (1+), ChiffChaff (2+), Willow Warbler (2+), Sedge Warbler (2) and Swallow (1).
11th to 17th May, 2020 – Covid19 Lockdown, Etherley Moor
Week 8 of the Covid19 partial lockdown with no new additions to the garden list and other than a juvenile Robin visiting the garden, there are no obvious highlights to speak about over the past week.
The guidelines on lockdown were relaxed a bit further this week, but I am still only visiting local sites until we know there isn't going to be a second spike. Two visits to Escomb and one at The Batts, each lasting between 1-2 hours with a selection of the usual birds seen and heard. Best birds of the week were a pair of Mandarin on the river wear at Escomb, 14th May (a first for me at this location).
18th to 24th May, 2020 – Covid19 Lockdown, Etherley Moor
Week 9 of the Covid19 partial lockdown with no new additions to the garden list and no obvious highlights to speak about over the past week.
I've been working half days over the past week and with the partially relaxed rules on lockdown continueing throughout the week, I decided to have a couple of walks round Escomb and a quick drive to Muggleswick (apart from a group of photographers at the wood warbler site, the social distancing rules were mostly being observed). Highlights for the past week included Mandarin (1), Wood Warbler (1) , Pied Flycatcher (3+), Ring Ouzel (3), Wheatear (2), Green Hairstreak (1+) and Four Spotted Chaser (5+).
25th to 31st May, 2020 – Covid19 Lockdown, Etherley Moor
Week 10 of the Covid19 partial lockdown with no new additions to the garden list during the past week, although the brief appearance of a female Holly Blue was nice to see.
Annual leave was taken this week and with the partially relaxed rules on lockdown continuing, I once again decided to have a couple of trips out with one visit to Bishop Middleham (25th) and one visit to Escomb (30th). The only concern I had was at Bishop Middleham Quarry where groups of familieis with their dogs were getting a bit close (other than that, the social distancing rules were mostly being observed). Highlights at Bishop Miidleham included Yellow Wagtail (2), Little Ringed Plover (1), Black-necked Grebe (1) and Common Sandpiper (2). Also Northern Brown Argus, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Small Heath and Wall Brown butterflies in the quarry. Highlights at Escomb included a drake Mandarin and a pair of Black Swans on the river. Another good day for butterflies and dragonflies with Large Skipper (1), Holly Blue (1), Small Copper (2), Orange Tip (10+), Four-spotted Chaser (10+) and hundreds of blue damselflies (mainly common, azure and blue-tailed).