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.
Review of 2021: My birding experiences during 2021 were once again disrupted with Covid19 restrictions. The year started with a full lockdown followed by a roadmap to recovery using a tiered system and the year ended with increased awareness caused by a new variant called Omicron. Based on government guidelines, my own approach was as follows:
- Step 1a (4th January) - Full lockdown with 'Stay at Home' advice given, so birding will mainly be done from home at Etherley Moor. Also weekly visits to Escomb and perhaps Bishops Park that are within walking distance from home.
- Step 1b (8th March) - Schools and Colleges are allowed to return with 'Stay Local' advice given. Therefore, nothing will change for me.
- Step 2 (29th March) - Non-essential services are allowed to return with 'Minimise Travel' given. I will be staying local, but may have the odd journey to sites in the county (if safe to do so).
- Step 3 (12th April) - Can travel in England and Campsites open with 'Maintain Social Distancing' advice given. 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).
- Step 4 (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).
- Increased Awareness (w/c 6th December) - 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).
Despite the above restrictions and doing most of my birding on patch, I still managed to see 193 different species of birds with eleven of those being new birds. I also managed to see two new species of butterfly and enjoy quality time locally. New species for me during 2021 included:
- Northern Mockingbird (Newbiggin, 8th May)
- Red-necked Stint (Blyth, 6th June)
- River Warbler (RSPB Ham Wall, 8th June)
- Oriental Turtle Dove (Easington, 4th July)
- Black-browed Albatross (RSPB Bempton Cliffs, 9th July)
- Elegant Tern (Cemlyn Bay, 10th July)
- Western Sandpiper (RSPB Snettisham, 27th July)
- Red-eyed Vireo (Holy Island, 12th October)
- Long-toed Stint (RSPB St Aidans, 10th October)
- Two-barred Greenish Warbler (Spurn, 18th October)
- Belted Kingfisher (Roach Bridge near Preston, 22nd December)
- Heath Fritillary (Tamar Valley, 9th June)
- Large Blue Butterfly (Green Down, 10th June)
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 (step 1a), Etherley Moor (step 1a)
Four days into 2021 and we found ourselves in 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 (step 1a), 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 (step 1a), 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 (step 1a), 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 (step 1a), 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 (step 1a), 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 (step 1a), 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 (step 1a), 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 (step 1a), 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 (step 1b), 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 (step 1b), 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 (step 1b), 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 (step 2), Etherley Moor, Escomb & The Batts
The week started on step 2 of the 'Covid Recovery' process, which meant we are now able to leave home for essential purposes. 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), Grey Partridge (2), Yellowhammer (1) and Jay (1) were seen.
5th to 11th April, 2021 – Covid19 (step 2), 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. ChiffChaff and Willow Warbler numbers increased during the week with at least six of each species heard on each of the three visits. Also Green Woodpecker heard yaffling on two of the visits. Visited the stretch of the river between The Batts and the Dam Head three times during the week with Lesser Black-backed Gull (2), Swallow (3), Grey Wagtail (2) and a pair of Blackcaps being the best birds seen. Other than a very low flying Common Buzzard (just above our house), Etherley Moor was quiet.
12th to 18th April, 2021 – Covid19 (step 3), Etherley Moor, Escomb & The Batts
The week started on step 3 of the 'Covid Recovery' process. Despite having the opportunity of travelling longer distances I stayed local with a visit to Escomb and The Batts. 43 different species of birds were seen at Escomb on the Saturday (17th) with Common Sandpiper (2), Green Woodpecker (1 yaffling), Kingfisher (1) and Grey Wagtail (2) being nice to see. Common Redstart (1), Common Sandpiper (1), House Martin (1), Sand Martin (10+), Swallow (2+), Green Woodpecker (1+), Grey Wagtail (2), Pied Wagtail (1), Willow Warbler (2), ChiffChaff (8+), Blackcap (2), etc. were seen at The Batts and Bishops Park on Sunday (18th). Nothing new at Etherley Moor.
19th to 25th April, 2021 – Covid19 (step 3), Etherley Moor & Weardale
A Common Buzzard flew low over our Etherley Moor garden on Monday 19th. Holly Blue (1), Orange Tip (3+) and Small Tortoiseshell (2) butterflies were seen. Also Tawny Mining Bee (3+), Dark-edged Bee Fly (1), Yellow Dung Fly (3+), etc. A Wren was seen taking nesting material into the neighbours fascia towards the end of the week.
The weather looked good on Saturday 24th, so I decided to have a morning run out to Weardale. This was my first time birding away from the patch for quite a while and thoroughly enjoyed the change of scenery. Nice to see Ring Ouzel (3), Northern Wheatear (10+), Golden Plover (4+), Red Grouse (20+), Common Snipe (1 Roding), Red-legged Partridge (1), Grey Wagtail (2), Common Buzzard (2), etc.
26th April to 2nd May, 2021 – Covid19 (step 3), Etherley Moor, Teesside, Bishop Middleham & Escomb
I decided to take two days off work towards the end of the week in the hope of visiting some birding hotspots in a safe way. Going to these locations during the working week certainly looks to be a good option as there weren't too many birders/photographers and was able to keep socially distanced.
29th (Teesside) - Twite (3), Stonechat (2), Skylark (2) and Meadow Pipit (1) were seen from Zinc Works Road. Hooded Crow and a leaucistic Herring Gull were with other Corvids and gulls at Hargreaves. Marsh Harrier (1), Avocet (4), Ringed Plover (1), Shoveller (2), Gadwall (10+), etc. were on Back Saltholme.
29th (Bishop Middleham) - 47 different species of birds seen including Swift (1), Yellow Wagtail (4+), Little Ringed Plover (4), Greenshank (2), Black-tailed Godwit (4), Common Redshank (1), Ruff (2), Great Crested Grebe (4+), Little Grebe (2+), Sand Martin (100+), Swallow (10+), Goldeneye (2), Wheatear (4), Common Buzzard (1), etc.
30th (Bishop Middleham) - 44 different species of birds seen n this second visit in two days with Pink-footed Goose (2) and Avocet (1) were an addition to birds seen on 29th.
30th (Escomb) - Only 23 different species seen during an afternoon visit. First Sedge Warbler of the year, two Swift and a Kingfisher on the River Wear were best birds. Good numbers of hirundines during this visit with House Martin (3+), Swallow (6+) and Sand Martin (40+) seen.
1st May (The Batts) - Mandarin (4), Garden Warbler (2), Common Whitethroat (1) and Common Sandpiper (2) were amongst the usual birds to be found on the stretch of river from the viaduct to the Roman Fort.
2nd May (Escomb) - Reed Warbler (2), Sedge Warbler (1), Garden Warbler (3) and Common Whitethroat (1) were seen with the regulars during an early morning walk around the lake & ponds. 4-5 Orange Tips were also seen.
Picture: Northern Mockingbird at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, 8th May 2021
3rd to 9th May, 2021 – Covid19 (step 3), Etherley Moor, Newbiggin & Escomb
Nothing new during the week on Etherley Moor, but decided to go for the Northern Mockingbird on Saturday (8th). Excellent to see this bird that normally resides in North America, but also good to see most of the birders keeping socially distanced and behaving themselves. If reading this and you were there from 3-3:30pm, well done! I also enjoyed a good 3-4hrs at Escomb on the Sunday with Reed Warbler (3), Sedge Warbler (2), Common Whitethroat (1), Garden Warbler (5+), Blackcap (4+), Willow Warbler (10+), ChiffChaff (only 2 heard), Common Sandpiper (2) and Swift (2) being the pick of the birds.
10th to 16th May, 2021 – Covid19 (step 3), Escomb & Teesside
Nothing different on Etherley Moor. 28 different species seen during a 2-3hr walk around Escomb covering some areas that I hadn't walked through for a while in the hope of picking up something different. Best during this visit was Swift (5+), Common Buzzard (2) and a single Grey Wagtail. Finished off the week by visiting Teesside, but arrived just as the rain arrived. Best birds seen here included a drake Garganey, three Northern Wheatears and at least two Marsh Harriers.
17th to 23rd May, 2021 – Covid19 (step 3), Escomb, The Batts & Bishop Middleham
Etherley Moor and Escomb held there usual birds with nothing new seen or heard. Enjoyed 15-20 minutes by the river at The Batts watching Mandarin (1 drake), Goosander (3 females), Dipper (1), Common Sandpiper (1), Swift (1) and Sand Martin (10+). A quick visit to Bishop Middleham on 23rd for a reported Spoonbill that was worthwhile, showing well on Castle Lake up to the time I left at 12:50.
24th to 30th May, 2021 – Covid19 (step 3), West Durham, Teesside, Knitsley Fell, Escomb & Etherley Moor
The two days I took off earlier in the month proved to be a good option, so I took another two days off at the end of this week visiting some birding sites during school time.
27th (Muggleswick, Waskerley & Weardale) - Wood Warbler (1), Pied Flycatcher (1), Spotted Flycatcher (1), Tree Pipit (1) and Cuckoo (1 heard) were best. First Small Copper butterfly of the year at Waskerley.
28th (Teesside) - Little Tern (8+) and Common Tern (10+) at usual locations. Marsh Harrier (1), Lesser Whitethroat (1) and Spotted Flycatcher (1) at Dormans.
29th (Escomb) - Very quiet with no new birds seen.
30th (Knitsley Fell) - Only two Green Hairstreaks seen in perfect weather. No Tree Pipits.
Picture: River Warbler at RSPB Ham Wall, 10th June 2021
31st May to 6th June, 2021 - Covid19 (step 3), Bishop Middleham
A Common Whitethroat has been singing in the field behind our house on Etherley Moor this week and at least one Grey Partridge has been calling most evenings. Wrens are feeding young in the neighbours garden. Highlight on home soil was the activity in our wildlife pond. A fresh Large Red Damselfly (5th) and Blue-tailed Damselfly (6th) were seen in our wildlife pond looking as though they had just emerged from the pond. A Common Newt (or palmate) showed itself very briefly in the pond and am hoping to get better views of it in the coming days/weeks.
31st (Bishop Middleham) - I decided to have a look for butterflies at Bishop Middleham Quarry on bank holiday monday and was pleased to find it very quiet with only one other person having a look around the reserve. One Brown Argus, one Common Blue, three Wall Brown and at least ten Dingy Skippers were seen in the hour we were there.
5th (Escomb) - 27 different species of birds seen. A flock of Canada Geese (25-30) made a noisy appearance as they flew over the fishing lakes, a pair of Mute Swans was on the fishing lake with three cygnets and a female Goosander was on the river with five young. Dragonflies included Four-spotted Chaser (10+), Azure Damselfly (40+), Blue-tailed Damselfly (10+) and Common Blue Damselfly (20+). Orange Tip (20+), Small Copper (1) and Peacock (10) butterflies were seen. Best was a Bee Fly (my first for Escomb).
6th (Blyth) - Twitched a Red-necked Stint at Blyth, which showed very well at a distance (no opportunity of photographs for me). Ringed Plover (10+), Dunlin (6+), Redshank (2), Oystercatcher (6+), Curlew (6+), Common Tern (3+), Eider (4 adults with young), Shelduck (4), Gadwall (2), etc. were also seen.
7th to 13th June, 2021 - Covid19 (step 3), Somerset & Cornwall Twitch
Nothing different at Etherley Moor and Escomb this week. Was very pleased to go on my first long distance twitch for a couple of years finishing work on Tuesday lunchtime for the drive to RSPB Ham Wall for the reported River Warbler. The target bird showed well for the 60-90 minutes I was there, but just out of reach for decent photos. I then made the decision to go for Heath Fritillary and Large Blue butterflies, which were both seen after lengthy searches at two known sites for these rarities. Click here to read more.
14th to 20th June, 2021 - Covid19 (step 3), Etherley Moor
Time and commitments didn't allow me to venture far this week. Oystercatcher (1), Curlew (7), Mistle Thrush (1), Pied Wagtail (1 in the garden and another on wires) and Lapwing (1) were added to the Etherley Moor year list. Nice to see Dunnock (3+) and Tree Sparrow (4+) fledglings in the garden with Wren busy feeding young and then nest building at the end of the week. Other birds of interest included Swift (10+), Swallow (7+), Lesser Black-backed Gull (2), Sparrowhawk (1), Stock Dove (2), Whitethroat (1 singing in back field), etc.
21st to 27th June, 2021 - Covid19 (step 3), Etherley Moor & Escomb
This was the week we were supposed to move to step 4 of the Covid19 recovery timeline, but a new delta variant and a minority of people not having covid jabs as well as not following guidelines has delayed the recovery. Fingers crossed we don't end up returning to another lockdown.
Visited Escomb on 24th seeing 27 different species of birds and good numbers of butterflies and dragonflies. Nothing different where birds is concerned, but I did see my first Black-tailed Skimmer (6+) & Banded Demoiselle (1) for Escomb. Others seen included Four-spotted Chaser (2+), Blue-tailed Damselfly (10+), Common Blue Damselfly (20+), Azure Damselfly (10+), Meadow Brown (50+), Ringlet (20+), Red Admiral (1), Small Copper (2), Holly Blue (1), Green-veigned White (1), Orange Tip (1), Speckled Wood (2) and Large Skipper (3+).
Had what has become a very rare visit to Teesside on the 27th, which was a welcome change of scenery. Little Tern (16+) and Ringed Plover (2) were seen at Seaton Carew. Common Tern (30+), Arctic Tern (1 Portlandica first summer bird), Marsh Harrier (1) and Ruddy Shelduck (2 over) were at Cowpen Marsh. Great White Egret (1), Marsh Harrier (1) and Grayling (1) were at Dormans.
Picture: Black-browed Albatross at Bempton Cliffs, 9th July 2021
28th June to 4th July, 2021 - Covid19 (step 3), Easington Twitch
Nothing different happening on Etherley Moor and Escomb this week. The reports of two possible new birds prompted me to head for East Riding of Yorkshire for Oriental Turtle Dove and then on to Bempton Cliffs for Black-browed Albatross. The Oriental Turtle Dove didn't show for me until mid-evening and made the decision not to go for the albatross. Just pleased the dove was seen after 7-8 hours of searching.
5th to 11th July, 2021 - Covid19 (step 3), Bempton & Anglesey Twitch
Quiet start to the week with nothing new at Etherley Moor until the Sunday, which was when House Martin (1) was added to the year list. Black-browed Albatross (1) was seen at Bempton on the 9th. Elegant Tern (1), Roseate Tern (3) and Black Guillimot (2) were the best birds at Cemlyn Bay on the 10th. Chough (12+) & Hooded Crow (1) were best birds at South Stack. View the full report here - Bempton Cliffs & Cemlyn Bay.
12th to 18th July, 2021 - Covid19 (step 3), Etherley Moor, Escomb & Waskerley Way
Other than a very large swarm of insects flying over Etherley Moor (100,000+), the patch was very quiet, 'typical for this time of year'. Best for this week was a visit to Waskerley seeing at least six tired looking Small Pearl-bordered Fritilaries and at leadst four Dark Green Fritillaries.
19th to 25th July, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Etherley Moor & Escomb
The country came out of step 3 and into step 4 of covid restrictions which basically meant things were opening up and rules were being relaxed to the point were the emphasis is on the people to keep themselves as safe as they want to be. As usual, nothing much will change for me and the family over the coming weeks as we will wait and see how thinghs develop.
Spent most of the week at home doing DIY type work briefly seeing a hawker species of dragonfly and a Common Darter. A visit to Escomb produced Brown Hawker (6+), Common Hawker (4+), Black-tailed Skimmer (4+) and Four-spotted Chaser (1). Not different happening in the way of birds and butterflies.
26th July to 1st August, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Snettisham, Kelling & Holt
Visited Norfolk towards the back end of the week seeing the target species of Western Sandpiper at Snettisham. Other birds of interest at Snettisham included White-rumped Sandpiper (1), Curlew Sandpiper (1) and Turtle Dove (4+). Several Silver-studded Blue butterflies were at Kelling. Silver-washed Fritillary (5+, including 1 valesina type) and White Admiral (3+) butterflies were at Holt. Click here to read the full report.
Picture: Blackbird at Etherley Moor, 13th August 2021
2nd to 8th August, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Etherley Moor
Quiet week at home and work. Best birds were ChiffChaff (one in the garden), Swift (4+), Swallow (6+) and Sparrowhawk (1). A Common Darter visited the wildlife pond. Peacock (2), Small Tortoiseshell (3), Large White (1+) and Green-veigned White (1) butterflies were seen on one of the budlea, which is now in flower.
9th to 15th August, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Etherley Moor
Another quiet week at home and work. Other than 6-7 Blackbirds visiting the garden it's been very poor bird wise. Budlea continued to attract butterflies with Peacock (5+), Red Admiral (6+), Small Tortoiseshell (3+), Large White (2+), Green-veigned White (3+), Small White (1) and Speckled Wood being seen.
16th to 22nd August, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Etherley Moor
Another quiet week at home and work. 6-7 Blackbirds continue to visit the garden with a single Song Thrush putting in the odd appearance. The budlea continued to attract butterflies with Peacock (2+), Red Admiral (4+), Small Tortoiseshell (5+), Large White (4+), Green-veigned White (1) and Small White (2) being seen.
23rd to 29th August, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Etherley Moor
Another week resisting the temptation to travel too far from home for birdwatching and year listing (covid cases on the increase). Only 2-3 Blackbirds are visditing the garden now, but was well pleased to see a female Common Redstart and a juvenile Robin in the garden towards the end of the week. Budlea was still attracting good numbers of buterflies with Peacock (1), Red Admiral (4+), Small Tortoiseshell (15+), Large White (4+) and Small White (4+) being seen.
Picture: Kingfisher at Low Barns, 5th September 2021
30th August to 5th September, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), RSPB Saltholme & Low Barns
Decided to have a change of scenery at the end of this week making what has become a rare visits to RSPB Saltholme and Low Barns. 48 different species were seen during two hours at Saltholme on the 4th including Little Stint (2), Curlew Sandpiper (2), Ruff (8+), Avocet (2), Dunlin (2+), Black-tailed Godwit (2+), Ruddy Shelduck (1), Black Tern (1), Whinchat (4), Wheatear (1) and Merlin (1). Best bird at Low Barns on the 5th was a juvenile Kingfisher on the west pond. The budlea at Etherley Moor is still attracting good numbers of butterflies with Small Tortoiseshell (30+), Red Admiral (6+), Peacock (5+), Large White (2+) and Small White (1) being the most seen at any one time during the week.
6th to 12th September, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Etherley Moor & Escomb
Very quiet week at Etherley Moor with the highlight being three juvenile Robins visiting the garden most days with an adult. A very unusual visit to Escomb on the 11th with only seven different species of birds seen.
13th to 19th September, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Etherley Moor & Hurworth Burn
The juvenile Robins continued to visit the garden during the week. A Tawny Owl and Jay (only the second time I've seen one at Etherley Moor) were seen flying over the house. The budlea is just about finished with Red Admiral (4+) and Small Tortoiseshell (10+) being the only butterflies seen. The report of a Pectoral Sandpiper at Hurworth Burn Reservoir persuaded me to venture away from home soil, which was seen soon after arrival. Green Sandpiper (1), Ruff (1), Common Snipe (10+) and Kingfisher (1) were other notable birds during the visit.
20th to 26th September, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Etherley Moor & Escomb
The budlea is now finished for the year, so the only butterflies seen this week on Etherley Moor were Red Admiral (1), Small Tortoiseshell (2) and Large White (1). Thirty one different species of birds seen during two visits to Escomb with Yellowhammer (1), Kingfisher (1+), Sparrowhawk (1), Common Buzzard (1), Jay (1), etc. Plenty of Southern Hawkers at Escomb as well with at least twenty seen. Best sighting this week had to be a Holly Blue that was seen during a walk along the railway line from Shildon to Newton Aycliffe on Sunday 26th.
October & November 2021
Picture: Red-eyed Vireo on Holy Island, 11th October 2021
27th September to 3rd October, 2021 - C'ovid19 (step 4), Etherley Moor & Escomb
Very quiet week locally with three Jays and a calling ChiffChaff being the most interesting sightings for the week. Some good birds to be seen elsewhere in the county/country, but no new birds so will continue to watch the patch until the time comes.
4th to 10th October, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), St Aidans & Blacktoft Sands
A disappointing week rapidly improved on the Sunday morning (10th) when I made the short journey south to see the Long-toad Stint at St Aidans in North Yorkshire. Black-necked Grebe (1), Bearded Tit (5) and Cetti’s Warbler (6+ Heard) were other birds of interest during the 2-3 hours I was there. After seeing my seventh new bird for 2021, I decided to make the 45 minute drive to Blacktoft Sands for the long staying White-tailed Lapwing. The bird was asleep in front of the hide and provided a few opportunities to grab a decent photograph when it woke up, had a look around and then went back to sleep. Not a lifer for me, but gave me much better views than the individual at Caerlaverock in 2007. Other birds of interest here included Curlew Sandpiper (2), Water Rail (1), Cetti’s Warbler (2), Marsh Harrier (1), Common Buzzard (2), Ruff (2), Knot (50+) & Common Snipe (10+).
11th to 17th October, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Holy Island
Had a half day off work on Tuesday (12th) for the reported Red-eyed Vireo on Holy Island, which was seen within the first hour of arriving at Straight Lonnen. ChiffChaff (1+), Blackcap (2+), Goldcrest (1), Robin (1), Redwing (1), Dunnock (1), House Sparrow (10+), Goldfinch (2), Chaffinch (2) & Collared Dove (1) were also seen.
Visited Hartlepool on the saturday (16th) getting good views of Purple Sandpiper (5), Rock Pipit (1) & Ring-necked Parakeet (2). Five Black Grouse (3m & 2f) and a hunting Barn Owl were seen in the rain close to Langdon Beck on sunday (17th.
18th to 24th October, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Spurn
Took the monday off work (18th) to go for the reported Two-barred Greenish Warbler at Spurn. The bird was seen soon after arrival at 12:49 and managd to get a handfull of record photographs as it worked its way around the bushes close to the discovery centre. I stayed a further 2hrs catching several brief views, but the bird was always too quick for me to get a decent photograph. Excellent bird to see.
25th to 31st October, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Escomb
Poor end to October for me, managing only two visits to Escomb. Best birds were 3 female Goldeneye, 23 Tufted Duck and 3 Redwing.
1st to 7th November, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Etherley Moor
Best birds of this first week in November were a pair of Little Egrets seen flying over our house on Friday 5th as dusk (a first for me at Etherley Moor). Otherwise, very quiet locally.
8th to 14th November, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Etherley Moor
A single Little Egret seen flying over our house on the Friday 12th at dusk. Otherwise, very quiet locally.
15th to 21st November, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Etherley Moor
Very quiet locally. Just as well as we had Ofsted at work during the week. New lens this week, trading my EOS R, 100 x 400 mk2, 50mm 1.8 and 1.4 Extender for the RF 100 x 500. Now fully mirrorless and looking forward to trying the new gear out soon.
22nd to 28th November, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Etherley Moor
Other than Storm Arwen it has been another very quiet week locally. There seems to be a few more thrushes about with numbers of Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbirds hitting double figures. A Mistle Thrush and a Song Thrush were seen with the 7-8 Blackbirds that visit the garden after Storm Arwen on Sunday. Two female Pochard and a female Teal were on Escomb Lake.
Picture: Smew at Escomb, 19th December 2021
29th November to 5th December, 2021 - Covid19 (step 4), Etherley Moor, Preston & Brusselton
Three days off work at the beginning of the week with all of Monday spent making sure the in-laws were ok and repairing the garden fence after Storm Arwen over the previous weekend. Visitors in the garden before starting included Mistle Thrush (1), Song Thrush (1), Blackbird (7), Chaffinch (2), Tree Sparrow (4+), House Sparrow (10+), Dunnock (1), Robin (1), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (1), Coal Tit (1), Woodpigeon (1) and Magpie (2). A skein of approximately 100 Greylags went over the house at the end of the day.
I decided to have a day to myself on Tuesday(30th) and go for the reported Belted Kingfisher on the River Ribble in Preston. The river level was quite higher than previous days and very mirky, which was arguably the reason why the target bird didn't show for me and other birders. I did see over 25 species of birds during the day and thoroughly enjoyed the change of scenery. Little Egrets appear to be doing well in the area. Jays were seen crossing the river half a dozen times, which made some birders question the two sightings that had been reported during the day. Belted Kingfisher remains to be seen another day.
On the same day as dipping the Belted Kingfisher at Preston, a European Serin was reported at Brusselton in County Durham. Even though Brusselton is only 5-10 minutes drive from home, it wasn't until Saturday that I had chance to go and see this very rare visitor to the North-east. It took only 40 minutes to see my second UK Serin (previous was near Spurn on 17th November 2013) showing nicely for 5-10 minutes before dropping out of view, unfortunately not close enough for photographs.
6th to 12th December, 2021 - Covid19 (increased awareness), Etherley Moor
Very little birdwatching done this week with no visits to local patches. Best on Etherley Moor included Cormorant (1 over), Grey Heron (1 over), Redwing (2), Mallard (2 over), Greenfinch (3), Bullfinch (1), Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (2), etc.
13th to 19th December, 2021 - Covid19 (increased awareness), Teesside & Escomb
Finished work on Thursday 14th and enjoyed the following day on Teesside. The reported Black-throated Diver (1) and Velvet Scoter (2) were in the fish quay with the more regulate Red-throated Diver (5+), Cormorant (30+), Guillimot (6+), Eider (10+), Grey Wagtail (1), Purple Sandpiper (10+), etc. A flock of Twite (70+) were at Seaton Snook and a Short-eared Owl was at Cowpen tip. The feeding station at Cowpen Bewley was quite busy with Marsh Tit (1), Tree Sparrow (10+), Goldcrest (1) and Jay (1) being the best birds seen.
A female Smew was on Escomb Lake on Sunday morning. My first at Escomb since the drake, which commuted between Escomb and Low Barns in the early months of year 2000. Goldeneye (5), Tufted Duck (15+) and Cormorant (3) were also on the lake.
20th to 26th December, 2021 - Covid19 (increased awareness), Escomb & Preston
Started the week with another quick visit to Escomb (20th). The five Goldeneye were still there with four female Goosander. Not as many Tufted Duck (5) and no Smew.
Had another trip to Lancashire on the Wednesday (22nd) for the reported Belted Kingfisher, which was seen soon after daybreak on the River Darwen (500m east of Roach Bridge).. A Common Buzzard and a Common Kingfisher were seen at the same location as the target bird. A skien of approximately 180 Pink-footed Geese were also seen flying over the area when I returned to the car. Stopped off at Leighton Moss on the return journey with 41 species seen before the rain started.
27th to 31st December, 2021 - Covid19 (increased awareness), Escomb
Despite being off work, I decided to stay local this week spending most outings at Escomb. Best birds during the week included Goldeneye (7+), Tufted Duck (11), Goosander (19), Siskin (60+) & Nuthatch (1). A Kingfisher was seen on the River Wear at The Batts and two Pink-footed Geese were on the pond close to the Wear Valley Cremetorium at Coundon.