Welcome to my sightings page for 2021, 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.
Covid19: My birding experiences during 2020 were disrupted with a full lockdown, followed by restrictions using a tiered system and 2021 started in full lockdown. A roadmap to recovery was created and will hopefully go as planned. Based on the guidelines, my own approach will be as follows (dates and guidelines may change at any time):
- 4th January - Full lockdown with 'Stay at Home' advice given, so birding will mainly be done at Etherley Moor. Also occasional visits to Escomb and perhaps Bishops Park that are within walking distance from home.
- 8th March - Schools and Colleges are allowed to return and the message is to stay local. Therefore, nothing will change for me.
- 29th March - Can travel, but advise is to minimise travel as much as possible. I will be staying local, but may have the odd journey to sites in the county (if safe to do so).
- 12th April - Can travel in England with Campsites open. I will be staying local with the occasional journey to sites in the county. Will also go for any new birds or butterflies in England and/or Wales (if safe to do so).
- 17th May - Can travel in England with Campsites open. I will be staying local with the occasional journey to sites in the county. Will also go for any new birds or butterflies in England, Wales or Scotland (if safe to do so).
Picture: Dunnock at Escomb, 24th January 2021
1st to 3rd January, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 4, Etherley Moor
We started the new year in tier 4, which meant birding was restricted to Etherley Moor and being able to drive to local patches (socially distanced). By the 3rd January I had seen a total of 42 different species of birds. Best included Kingfisher (1) and Dipper (1) at The Batts and Willow Tit (2) at Escomb. Redwing (4), Fieldfare (20+), Greylag Geese (200+), Canada Goose (2) and Greenfinch (1) were amongst the usual birds at Etherley Moor.
4th to 10th January, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 5, Etherley Moor
Four days into 2021 and we find ourselves in tier 5 (full lockdown), which means birding is restricted to Etherley Moor and walking to local patches for exercise purposes (socially distanced).
Spent all week working from home with the only addition to the Etherley Moor list being Goldfinch (2). A walk around Escomb on Sunday (10th) was very nice, seeing a few good birds and lifting my mood a little. Tawny Owl (1), Nuthatch (1), Treecreeper (1), Teal (3 over), Kingfisher (1), Mistle Thrush (1), Song Thrush (4), Redwing (10+), Goldcrest (1) and Grey Wagtail (1) were the best birds seen during the 2hr walk.
11th to 17th January, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 5, Etherley Moor
Still in tier 5 (full lockdown), which is expected to be the case for at least 2-3 weeks. The week started well with a single Barn Owl seen hunting the back field from the bedroom window at 7:50am, Etherley Moor. Other notable birds seen on Etherley Moor during the week included Fieldfare (1), Redwing (5), Song Thrush (1), Common Snipe (1 over), Greylag Goose (200+ 0ver), Mallard (12+ over), Long-tailed Tit (9), House Sparrow (20+), Tree Sparrow (4), Blackbird (4) and Robin (3). So far, 37 different species have been seen by me on Etherley Moor since the start of the year/lockdown.
18th to 24th January, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 5, Etherley Moor
Still in tier 5 (full lockdown), which is now expected to go on to at least the beginning of March. Another good start to the week with Mallard (15 over), Linnet (6), Greenfinch (1) and Barn Owl (1 hunting the back field at dusk, 5pm).
25th to 31st January, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 5, Etherley Moor
Nice to see Greenfinch (6), Yellowhammer (1) and Fieldfare (5 in the garden) during the week. A Barn Owl is still being seen hunting the back field at dawn & dusk. Others have included Greylag Geese (80+ seen flying over most days), Cormorant (1 over), House Sparrow (10+), Tree Sparrow (4), Wren (1), Greenfinch (6), Goldfinch (2), etc.
Picture: Woodpigeon at Etherley Moor, 1st February 2021
1st to 7th February, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 5, Etherley Moor
Still in tier 5 (full lockdown), which is now expected to go on to at least the beginning of March. So frustrating to hear of others still choosing to ignore the guidelines and travelling outside of their home town. I am following the guidelines like many others in the hope we can all start to get back to something like normality before April.
A cold and snow covered Etherley Moor this past week with a distant Common Buzzard and a flyover Cormorant being the best birds seen. Feeding station is still busy with House Sparrow (10+), Tree Sparrow (4+), Chaffinch (4+), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (2), Coal Tit (2), Long-tailed Tit (5+), Dunnock (2), Robin (1+), Blackbird (4+), Woodpigeon (3+) and Magpie (2+) visiting daily.
8th to 14th February, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 5, Etherley Moor
A week of snow and freezing temperatures reaching a low of -9 in the local area. Notable birds visiting the feeders during the week were Fieldfare (1), Song Thrush (1) and Collared Dove (1). Otherwise, it was the usual Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, etc.
15th to 21st February, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 5, Etherley Moor & Escomb
The snow and freezing temperatures had began to thaw towards the end of the previous week and was as good as gone by tuesday. No new birds and other than a Song Thrush, there was nothing too unusual at etherley Moor.
Two visits to Escomb this week, one on Wednesday morning (ponds were still fully frozen) and the other on Sunday morning (ponds unfrozen). The visit on Sunday morning found the ponds unfrozen with water levels high. Mute Swan (1) and Tufted Duck (20+) were seen, 'two species of birds usually being seen on the first day of each year'. Other birds during the two visits to Escomb included Little Egret (1), Common Buzzard (3), Goosander (7), Jay (1), Siskin (15+), Bullfinch (10+), etc.
22nd to 28th February, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 5, Etherley Moor & Escomb
Notification we'll be coming out of full lockdown on the 8th March, which is at last something to look forward to. Signs of spring during the week with a Song Thrush singing during the mornings and Skylark singing daily. House Sparrow (6+), Tree Sparrow (4), Great Tit (2) and Blue Tit (2) looking in the the nest boxes.
Thirty seven different species were seen during a walk around Escomb on 27th. Green Woodpecker (1 heard yaffling), Lesser Redpoll (5) and Reed Bunting (1) were firsts for the year. Willow Tit (2), Redwing (10+), Common Buzzard (1) and Sparrowhawk (1) were nice to see.
Picture: Stock Dove at Etherley Moor, 4th March 2021
1st to 7th March, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 5, Etherley Moor & Escomb
This is the last week of full lock down and although the tight restrictions will still be in place, I am very much looking forward to the prospect of being able to visit areas of interest outside of my town again.
The week on Etherley Moor started well with two Grey Partridges seen in the back field. Two new nest boxes were put up at the beginning of the week and immediately started to get visits from Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (2) and Robin (2). Pairs of Greenfinch and Stock Dove visited the feeders later in the week. Otherwise, Etherley Moor was business as usual. My weekly walk around Escomb was a bit colder than the previous week, but still managed to see 32 different species during the walk around the ponds. Two new birds for the year were Oystercatcher (3 over) and Pied Wagtail (1). Still no Coot or Goldeneye.
8th to 14th March, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 4, Etherley Moor & Escomb
This is the first week of the restrictions moving up one level, which should allow us to move around a little bit more freely within our town boundaries. However, the message is to still stay at home. If everyone follows the guidelines (some won't), then we will almost certainly be able to start moving around the county when we move up to the next tier on the date stated in the roadmap to recovery (29th March).
A Sparrowhawk visited the garden late in the week, which was a nice addition to the Etherley Moor lockdown list that now stands at 45. Up to four Coots were back on the ponds at Escomb, which were new for the year. Collared Dove was also added to the Escomb lockdown list, which is now 57. I have now seen 67 different species this year, which is at the very least 30-40 less than I would have normally seen by the end of January in a normal year. Finished the week by having my first vaccination.
15th to 21st March, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 4, Etherley Moor, The Batts & Escomb
Barn Owl (1), Grey Partridge (2) and Curlew (1 heard) were the best birds during the week at Etherley Moor. A ChiffChaff and my first butterfly of 2021 were at The Batts on 20th. 48 Whooper Swans were the highlight at Escomb on 21st when they were heard and then seen flying north. Other birds at Escomb included ChiffChaff (4-5), Grey Wagtail (2), Greenfinch (2), Mistle Thrush (2), Song Thrush (3-4 singing), Reed Bunting (1), Siskin (2), Goldfinch (1), etc.
22nd to 28th March, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 4, Etherley Moor, The Batts & Escomb
Nothing different this week at both sites. Next week the restrictions will be lifted from stay at home to stay local. Nothing much will change for me, but some will take advantage and I can only hope people will behave themselves allowing the roadmap to recovery to stay as close to the timeline as possible.
Picture: ChiffChaff at Escomb, 2nd April 2021
29th March to 4th April, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 5, Etherley Moor, Escomb & The Batts
Despite the relaxation of the 'Stay at Home' rule and being able to travel for essentials, I am still staying local to help with Covid. Nothing different at Etherley Moor this week, but did get Sand Martin (20+), Swallow (1), Curlew (2), Common Buzzard (1), ChiffChaff (3+), Willow Warbler (3+), Grey Heron (1), Willow Tit (2) and Barn Owl (1) during two visits to Escomb. A Lesser Black-backed Gull was seen at Etherley Moor before have a two hour walk round The Batts where Little Owl (1) Green Woodpecker (1 heard), Grey Wagtail (2), Pied Wagtail (1), Tree Sparrow (2), Dipper (1), Goosander (2) and Jay (1) were seen.
5th to 12th April, 2021 – Covid19 Tier 5, Etherley Moor & Escomb
At least three male Blackcaps were at Escomb on the 6th with Sand Martin (50+) and Swallow (10+) over the two lakes.