Welcome to my sightings page for 2022, 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: Due to the rapid increase in people having Covid19 during the final weeks of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 the year started in what the government called 'Plan B: Increased Awareness'. Due to this, I will continue to concentrate on the local patch with the odd 'distanced' journey to see anything that is of interest and hopefully still manage to stay away from the risk of picking up Covid and bringing it home. Stay safe everyone!
Picture: Great White Egret at Low Barns, 2nd January 2022
1st to 9th January, 2022 – (Increased Awareness) Etherley Moor, Escomb, Low Barns & The Dales
First bird of the year was a pair of Magpies at Etherley Moor. Best birds on New Years Day were two Pink-footed Geese on the pond off Coundon Bypass. A Great White Egret was seen at Low Barns on the 2nd, which was a patch tick for me.
Barn Owl (1 hunting), Little Egret (1), Nuthatch (1), Siskin (10+), Song Thrush (1), Little Grebe (1), Tufted Duck (24), Goldeneye (2m 2f), Goosander (7f), Mute Swan (9), etc. were best out of 37 species at a rainy/cold Escomb on 8th.
Twitched the Red-flanked Bluetail at Low Force in Upper Teesdale on 9th. Black Grouse (4), Red Grouse (2), Grey Partridge (2), Fieldfare (10+), Sparrowhawk, Jay and a Raven were seen on the drive back to Bishop Auckland via Rookhope.
10th to 16th January, 2022 – (Increased Awareness) Escomb & The Batts
Ponds were fully frozen at Escomb on the 15th with Willow Tit (1), Nuthatch (1), Redwing (1) & Song Thrush (1) being the pick of the birds.
Nineteen different species were seen during a 75 minute walk around The Batts on the 16th. Best birds seen included Goosander (8+), Little Egret (1), Common Buzzard (1), Redwing (40+) and Siskin (10+).
17th to 23rd January, 2022 – (Increased Awareness) Escomb & Bishop Middleham
Still dark as I go to and from work, so birding opportunities are still restricted to the weekends. The ponds were partly frozen at Escomb on the 22nd with a single Grey Wagtail on the River Wear being the best bird out of 16 different species. Two Ruddy Shelducks were in the field to the north of Stoney Beck Lake on the 23rd. No sign of the reported Hawfinch.
24th to 30th January, 2022 – (Increased Awareness) Stockton, Bishop Middleham, Teesside & Escomb
A day off work on Monday (24th) to take my car for a windscreen replacement in Stockton gave me some time to explore that area of the River Tees. Best birds included Kingfisher (1), Green Sandpiper (1) and Common Sandpiper (1). Stopped off at Bishop Middleham on the return journey for another go at seeing the reported Hawfinch, which again did not show. I did manage to get Little Owl though, which is always nice to see.
Another day off work on Friday (28th) to do a couple of jobs at home and then have a look over Teesside for the reported Glaucous Gull at Hartlepool Headland. No sign of the target bird for me, but during the course of the day I did manage to see Common Scoter (1), Red-throated Diver (10+), Guillimot (10+), Purple Sandpiper (10+), Rock Pipit (1), Ring-necked Parakeet (2), Pintail (5), Common Buzzard (1), Marsh Harrier (1) & more. 37 different species during the afternoon and a nice change of scenery. A Little Grebe was on the River Wear at The Batts on my return journey.
Nice to see a Dipper on the River Wear during a two hour walk around Escomb on Sunday (30th). My first dipper on this stretch of the river for me since 2019. Grey Wagtail (1), Common Buzzard (1), Goosander (6f & 2m), Tufted Duck (12), Treecreeper (1), etc. were also seen.
Picture: Red-necked Grebe at Jacksons Landing, 6th February 2022
31st January to 6th February, 2022 – (Increased Awareness) Low Barns & Teesside
Nothing of interest during the week and the weather stopped play on Saturday. Siskin (2) and Common Buzzard (2) were the best birds out of twenty different species during a visit to Low Barns on Sunday morning (6th).
I hadn't had good views of Red-necked Grebe since 16th January 2016, so the report of one at Hartlepool lured me away from Low Barns earlier than I expected. A Glaucous Gull got reported at the headland just as I was entering Hartlepool, so decided to go for that first. The 1st winter Glaucous Gull was seen on the rocks between the two piers in heavy rain. The Red-necked Grebe was seen soon after arrival at Jacksons Landing. A Spoonbill was on Back Saltholme and a Brambling was at Cowpen Bewley Feeding Station. A nice and enjoyable end to the week.
7th - 13th February, 2022 – Low Barns & Teesside
Another quiet week leading to a nice day out on a very wet and gloomy Sunday. 31 different species were seen during a ninety minute morning visit to Low Barns with Shoveller (1), Goldeneye (5+), Gadwall (10+), Oystercatcher (1) and Lapwing (5) being the best birds seen.
Enjoyed an afternoon visit to Teesside. The reported Black Redstart showed well in the paddock next to the life boat station at Hartlepool. The Red-necked Grebe was still at Jacksons Landing and a Mediterranean Gull was seen at Newburn Bridge. A Marsh Harrier and a daylight hunting Barn Owl were seen at Cowpen Marsh. A Peregrine was seen hunting Back Saltholme. A Pink-footed Goose and several Barnacle Geese were amongst a decent sized mixed flock of Canada Goose (c150) and Greylag Goose (30+) in the field to the west of the power station.
14th - 20th February, 2022 – Escomb & South Shields
Nothing new to mention on home soil this week. 31 different species seen at Escomb on the 19th with Goldeneye (3), Tufted Duck (16), Goosander (3), Treecreeper (1) and Siskin (1) being the best. Ventured to South Shields on the 20th getting distant views of an Iceland Gull on the roof of North Shields Fish Quay.
21st - 27th February, 2022 – The Dales & Teesside
Sunny intervals with heavy rain showers in windy conditions during an afternoon visit to the Dales on 22nd. Only sixteen different species seen, but it was more the quality of birds than the number of different species that made the afternoon special. Lapwing (200+), Golden Plover (50+) & Curlew (10+) were in the uplands. Raven (4), Common Buzzard & a ringtail Hen Harrier were as good as in the same field of view. Also 2 pairs of Grey Partridge (no red Legs), only 1 Red Grouse & surprisingly no Black Grouse. A very enjoyable afternoon off work : )
Another day off work on Friday 25th and decided to visit Teesside for a few hours. A Long-eared Owl was roosting in the open at Haverton Hole. Short-eared Owl (2-3) were seen at Graetham Creek, Cowpen Marsh and RSPB Saltholme. Three Twite were on the fence at the top of Zinc Road (also a Kestrel steeling prey from a Weasel) and four Snow Buntings were at the Snook. A Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Common Snipe were seen from Phil Stead hide. Brambling was still at Cowpen Bewely feeding station. 59 different species seen on a very relaxing and enjoyable day off work.
Picture: Scaup at Killingworth, 18th March 2022
28th February - 6th March, 2022 – The Patch
Walked over twenty miles on the patch over the weekend checking habitat that I last covered over two years ago. Main target was Lesser Spotted Woodpecker with none seen or heard. Nothing new or unusual seen.
7th - 13th March, 2022 – Etherley Moor, Escomb & Low Barns
Two Skylarks and a Common Buzzard were seen on Etherley Moor at the beginning of the week. First ChiffChaffs (4) of the year were at Escomb on Saturday with Oystercatcher (2) and Curlew (1) also seen. One ChiffChaff and a Water Rail were at Low Barns on the Sunday.
14th - 20th March, 2022 – Trip to Holy Island
Set off for a family weekend away at lunchtime on the Friday stopping at Lindisfarne Inn, which is just off the A1 when driving towards Holy Island. Stopped off for a break at Killingworth for the wintering drake Scaup, which was seen soon after arrival. At least two Great Crested Grebe, a Pochard and several Goldeneye were also on the lake. After arriving at the Inn we had a late afternoon walk in the area between Beal and the causeway with Brent Goose (7), Grey Partridge (10+), Little Egret (2), Brown Hare (10+) and Roe Deer being the highlights.
Went to Holy Island and St Cuthbert's cave on the Saturday. Best birds seen on Holy Island included Shorelark (2), Lapland Bunting (1), Long-tailed Duck (1), Whooper Swan (10), Goldeneye (5), Fulmar (20+), Sanderling (50+), etc. A large finch flock was seen in a field just after driving off the causeway, which included Chaffinch (50+), Linnet (400+) and Tree Sparrow (1). Nothing out of the ordinary during our drive & walk to St Cuthbert's Cave. Another visit to Holy Island on Sunday morning added Shag (1), Gannet (7), Red-breasted Merganser (2) and Rock Pipit (4+) to the trip list, but there was no sign of Shorelark or Lapland Bunting on this occasion.
21st - 27th March, 2022 – Etherley Moor & Escomb
Saturday was my first day out birding this week with Red Kite (1 drifting eastwards), Blackcap (1), ChiffChaff (10+), Lesser Black-backed Gull (1), Tufted Duck (22), Meadow Pipit (1) and Yellowhammer (2) being the best birds seen out of 42 different species of birds recorded during an early morning walk to and from Escomb. ChiffChaff (1 heard) and a Pied Wagtail were at Etherley Moor when I returned home. At least three Small Tortoiseshell butterflies were seen during the walk around Escomb, two at Etherley Moor and another two on the walk to Tindale.
Spent a couple of hours at Low Barns on Sunday with 37 different species recorded. Common Redshank (1), Goldeneye (6), Shoveller (5), Siskin (2), etc. Nothing out of the ordinary elsewhere on the patch.
Picture: Mandarin at The Batts, 2nd April 2022
28th March - 3rd April, 2022 – Escomb, The Batts & Low Barns
Great Crested Grebe (1), Little Grebe (3), Tufted Duck (29), Lesser Black-backed Gull (1), Goldcrest (1) and Blackcap (2) were the best out of 33 different species seen at Escomb on Saturday morning. A pair of Mandarin, three Common Buzzard and a baffling Green Woodpecker were at Bishops Park early Saturday afternoon. A pair of Mandarin, a Water Rail and a Goldcrest were best out of 38 different species at Low Barns on Sunday morning.
4th - 10th April, 2022 – Low Barns, Escomb & Hardwick CP
The report of a female Ring-necked Duck at Low Barns prompted me to have a quick look to the reserve on tuesday evening. Surprised to see not one, but two female Ring-necked Ducks on the west pond. Goldeneye (11), Goosander (18+), Tufted Duck (7), Pochard (3), Shoveller (1), Mandarin (1), Teal (6), Pied Wagtail (20+ going to roost), Cormorant (5), etc. we’re also seen.
The two Ring-necked Ducks were still present at Low Barns on Saturday morning. No sign of the Garganey that had been previously reported at Hardwick CP, but I did hear my first Cetti's Warbler of the year. Escomb was quiet on Saturday, but definitely more productive on Sunday with Willow Warbler (3), Blackcap (10+) and ChiffChaff (20+) calling just about everywhere around the lake/pond areas. Goldeneye (2), Willow Tit (1), Grey Wagtail (1), Pied Wagtail (1), Song Thrush (1), Buzzard (2), etc. were also recorded. Butterflies included Comma (1), Peacock (2) and Small Tortoiseshell (4).
11th - 17th April, 2022 – Etherley Moor
Half-day working during the first week of easter allowed me to do a bit of birding from the garden with Common Redstart (1 female), Kestrel (1), Pheasant (1), Oystercatcher (1 heading south), Stock Dove (2), etc. being seen. Two Little Ringed Plovers were seen near Coundon Crematorium. A female Common Redstart was seen in the hedgerow behind our Etherley Moor garden on 14th. Forty five different species of birds were recorded at Escomb on 15th with Sand Martin (c40), Swallow (3), Mandarin (2), Blackcap (10+), Willow Warbler (10+), ChiffChaff (10+) being seen/heard. The two female Ring-necked Ducks were still at Low Barns on 17th. Also two Mandarin and my first Sedge Warbler of the year. A Little Owl was seen in one of trees at the back of our Etherley Moor garden at dusk.
18th - 24th April, 2022 – Saltholme, Escomb & The Dales
On annual leave during this second week of Easter, which started with a visit to RSPB Saltholme on 18th with Little Gull (1st winter), Egyption Goose (1), Grasshopper Warbler (1), Black-tailed Godwit (50+), Whooper Swan (1) and Little Ringed Plover (2) being the best birds out of the 46 different species seen. Escomb was quiet on tuesday (19th), but did see my first local Kingfisher of the year. Butterflies included Orange Tip (6), Speckled Wood (2), Peacock (4) and Small Tortoiseshell (2). Had a look to Weardale & Derwentside on Thursday 21st and was pleased to see Common Crossbill (3+), Ring Ouzel (1 male), Northern Wheatear (5+), Stonechat (4), Red Squirrel (1) & Stoat (1).
25th April - 1st May, 2022 – Patch & Saltholme
A mobile male Whinchat, a pair of Stonechat, 3-4 Common Whitethroat and 3-4 Swallows were seen at Gaunless Flats. Reed Warbler (1), Sedge Warbler (1), Garden Warbler (2), Great Crested Grebe (2), Swallow (3), Mandarin (2 drakes), Green-veigned White butterfly and at leats one Bee Fly were at Escomb. Black-necked Grebe (2), a near full summer plumage Spotted Redshank & a Spoonbill were at Back Saltholme. Two Marsh Harriers were seen flying over Dormans and a Great White Egret was Cowpen Marsh. At least five Whimbrel were near the southern entrance to the Long Drag.
Picture: Yellow Wagtail at Bishop Middleham, 2nd May 2022
2nd - 8th May, 2022 – Bishop Middleham
Bank holiday Monday visit to Bishop Middleham produced a pair of Garganey on Stoneybeck Lake, a Common Sandpiper on Castle Lake, a Yellow Wagtail near the bird hide and a Corn Bunting to the north of the lake.
Despite my very careful approach to Covid, it eventually caught up with me on Saturday morning and therefore no opportunity to go birding at the weekend. It did mean that I got to spent some time in the garden giving me good views of a Kestrel and two Swallows behind the house. Also a Wren busy completing a nest in our hedge and a very quick glimpse of a Holly Blue as it passed through the garden (being confined to the house has some advantages : ).
9th - 15th May, 2022 – Etherley Moor, Teesside & Muggleswick
Spent the week working from home before having an isolated visit to Teesside late Friday afternoon (birdwatching from the car) which produced Wood Sandpiper (3), Greenshank (1), Spotted Redshank (1) & a drake Garganey on the flashes near the entrance to Cowpen Tip, at least four Little Tern on Seaton Carew beach and two Northern Wheatear on Seaton Common. Common Sandpiper (3), Common Whitethroat (1), Sedge Warbler (2), Reed Warbler (3), Great Crested Grebe (2), Swift (1+) and Bee Fly (2+) were seen during a quick (socially distanced) walk around Escomb on Saturday morning. A Holly Blue visited the garden again early Saturday afternoon. Pied Flycatcher (5m & 2f) and Common Redstart (1) were at Muggleswick on Sunday afternoon (again, socially distanced).
16th - 22nd May, 2022 – Isle of Wight
Two negative tests meant that I returned to work on Monday morning, but for the benefit of others I done my best to keep socially distanced at work and the long overdue trip to the Isle of Wight later in the week. Pick of the birds was a self found Hoopoe (1), White-tailed Eagle (2), Hobby (1), Cetti's Warbler (2+), Dartford Warbler (4), Raven (2+), etc. Glanville Fritillary was the target species of butterfly, which was seen with 17 other species of butterfly during the two days on the island. Also enjoyed some time at Castle Howard and particularly Hawnby on the way home seeing Ferruginous Duck (1), Mandarin (10+), Tree Pipit (1), Red Kite (1) and Duke of Burgundy butterfly. Read the full report here - https://birding.daveb.co.uk/isle-of-wight/.
23rd - 29th May, 2022 – Teesside, The Dales, Escomb & Etherley Moor
Glossy Ibis (1), Great White Egret (1) and Common Tern (2) were seen at Saltholme on Saturday. The following day Wood Warbler (2), Pied Flycatcher (4), Spotted Flycatcher (1), Golden Plover (2), Red Grouse (2), Grey Wagtail (1), Song Thrush (1 on nest), Dipper (2), Common Sandpiper (1), Swift (2+), House Martin (3+), etc. were seen in the Dales. Swift (10+) and Swallow (2) were at Escomb. Swift (7+) were at Etherley Moor.
Picture: Eleonora's Falcon at Worth Marshes, 3rd June 2022
30th May to 5th June, 2022 – Worth, Weeting & Lakenheath
Set off for the `Eleonora's Falcon' on Wednesday lunch time and returned on Friday for a weekend of Jubilee celebrations. Pick of the sightings included Eleonora's Falcon (1), Red-footed Falcon (1), Hobby (15+), Stone Curlew (5), Woodlark (3+), Turtle Dove (1), Common Crane (12+), Great White Egret (2), Bittern (2), Caspian Gull (1+), Dainty Damselfly (1+), Red-eyed Damselfly (5+), Heath Fritillary (15+), Marsh Frog (10+), Grass Snake (1) & more. See the full report here - https://birding.daveb.co.uk/sightings/worth/.
6th - 12th June, 2022 – Long Nanny
Quiet week off work with only one outing during the week, which was twitching the American Black Tern at the Long Nanny in Northumberland. Arctic Tern (200+), Little Tern (20+), Skylark (10+) and Stonechat (2) were also seen.
13th - 19th June, 2022 – Etherley Moor, Bishop Middleham & Teesside
Interesting working week on home soil with my first Hobby at Etherley Moor and juvenile Robin (1), Dunnock (4+), Tree Sparrow (3+), House Sparrow (4+), Great Tit (3+) and Blue Tit (2+) with adults. Cormorant (1), Lesser Black-backed Gull (1), Oystercatcher (1) and Curlew were fly overs.
Northern Brown Argus (10+), Dark Green Fritillary (2), Common Blue (5+), Dingy Skipper (3+), Ringlet (5+), Meadow Brown (5+) and Small Heath (5+) butterflies were seen during a quick visit to Bishop Middleham Quarry on Saturday. Also up to ten fresh looking Bee Orchids.
Had a couple of hours in the area of Saltholme & Dormans on Sunday. Best sightings during the two hours were Red-breasted Goose (2 presumed escapes), Barnacle Goose (1), Great White Egret (1), Glossy Ibis (1), Snipe (1) and Grayling (4+).
20th - 26th June, 2022 – Etherley Moor & Escomb
A Meadow Pipit visited the pond inside our Etherley Moor garden mid–week. First visit to Escomb for a while over the weekend with nothing too much of interest (probably due to the people in boats, swimming, dogs swimming, etc.). Plenty of Common Blue Damselfly (30+), Four-spotted Chaser (10+) and Hawkers (as yet, unidentified), which made up for the lack of birds.
GOOD NEWS: The plans for the proposed housing development on Etherley Moor has now been disposed of, which means the fields to the rear of our garden will not be built on (at least for now). 150+ is already in development near Escomb school is already causing issues and concerns, so this is excellent news for the area.
Picture: Red-tailed (Turkestan) Shrike at RSPB Bempton, 30th June 2022
27th June to 3rd July, 2022 – Etherley Moor
Took the Thursday afternoon off work and headed for Bempton Cliffs for the Red-tailed (Turkestan) Shrike that had been reported daily during the week and it showed very well for 10-15 minutes before flying to the other side of the field. 15-20 minutes later I was watching a Black-browed Albatross that has been returning to RSPB Bempton for the past few years. Two extremely rare birds seen and photographed within a 20-30 minute timeframe. Then there's the regulars of Gannet, Razorbill, Guillemot, Puffin, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Corn Bunting, etc. Perfect few hours before heading off home.