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 a rapid increase in people having Covid19 during the final weeks of 2021, the beginning of 2022 started in what the government called 'Plan B: Increased Awareness'. Due to this, at the start of the year I continued to concentrate on the local patch with the odd 'distanced' journey to see anything that was of interest. 218 different species of birds were seen nationally with two of those being new birds. I also managed to see my last UK butterfly and enjoy quality time locally. New species for me during 2022 included:
- Eleonora's Falcon (Worth, 1st June)
- Turkestan (red-tailed) Shrike (RSPB Bempton, 30th June)
- Red-flanked Bluetail (Upper Teesdale, 9th January)
- Red-breasted Goose (RSPB Saltholme, 19th June)
- Glanville Fritillary (Isle of White, 20th May)
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 – Bempton Cliffs
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.
4th to 10th July, 2022 – Etherley Moor
Resisted the temptation to visit Teesside for the Cattle Egret and Bearded Tits that were reported. Instead, I stayed on home soil with Swift (4+ over), House Martin (4+ over), Swallow (6+ over), ChiffChaff (1 calling), Tree Sparrow (2 families fledged from our nest boxes), House Sparrow (10+), Robin (2 juveniles), Dunnock (3+), Wren (1), Blue Tit (1 juvenile), etc. being recorded. Butterflies included Large White (1+), Meadow Brown (10+), Ringlet (1), Speckled Wood (3) and Small Tortoiseshell (2).
11th to 17th July, 2022 – Escomb & Teesside
Thursday morning visit to Escomb proved to be hard work with most birds staying deep in cover. 27 different species of birds seen with no real stand outs. Meadow Brown (20+), Ringlet (10+), Large Skipper (2), Small Skipper (5+) and Large White (1) butterflies were seen. Brown Hawker (1), Southern Hawker (2), Four-spotted Chaser (3+), Azure Damselfly (2) and Common Blue Damselfly were also seen.
Decided to finally go for the latest round of scarcities at Saltholme and Dormans on Saturday, 16th. Cattle Egret (1), Great White Egret (2), Little Egret (15+), Spoonbill (3), Glossy Ibis (2) and Caspian Tern (1) were all seen within 2-3 hours early afternoon. Thanks to one of the locals I was also treated to the rare 6 Belted Clearwing moth, which apparently was only the second record for the area. Much appreciated.
18th to 24th July, 2022 – Etherley Moor
Started my first week off work watching a fresh family of Dunnocks in the garden, which included at least 3 juveniles. A mixed group of between 15-20 Tree & House Sparrow were also seen visiting the pond in the garden. All nest boxes in the garden were very quiet and can now only assume they are empty. Later on Monday morning I dropped off the youngest at Darlington Railway Station and continued to North Yorkshire for butterflies, which proved to be very hard work in the record heat wave. Best sightings included at least four White-letter Hairstreak, two Keeled Skimmers and three unidentified Fritillaries.
25th to 31st July, 2022 – Etherley Moor
Second week off work and by Wednesday there had been Holly Blue (1), Red Admiral (3), Small Tortoiseshell (10+), Peacock (2), Comma (1), Meadow Brown (1), Large White (1) & Small White (1) in our Etherley Moor garden. A Hummingbird Hawkmoth visited the budlea at the front of our house on Thursday afternoon. A visit to Gaunless Flatts on Friday produced Common Buzzard (8) and Swift (50+), Swallow (80+), House Martin (20+) & Sand Martin (50+) which all appeared to be heading south.
Picture: Common Darter at Etherley Moor, 13th August 2022
1st to 7th August, 2022 – Etherley
No outings this week, but was interested to see what turned up on the budlea at home. A single Painted Lady visited towards the back end of the week. Others included Red Admiral (10+), Small Tortoiseshell (10+), Peacock (5), Comma (1), Large White (2) and Small White (2). Checked at dusk with the torch for Moths, which included Large Yellow Underwing (20+), Hebrew Character (10+) and Silver Y (3).
8th to 14th August, 2022 – Etherley & Escomb
The second week of August started the same as the first where butterflies is concerned with the addition of Holly Blue (1), Barn Owl (1 over), Tawny Owl (1 heard) & Pipistrelle Bat (3+) were seen at dusk on Monday. Made plans to go for the reported Cape Gull at Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire (first for the UK) on Thursday & Friday, but was reported missing at 5pm on Wednesday and decided not to make the journey. Another Holly Blue was seen in the back garden on Friday.
Visited Escomb on the 12th and was disappointed to see the local farmer who I helped gain responsibility of managing the area of Escomb Lake had chosen to remove mature trees for an assumed picnic area. The trees offered good cover with very little human activity, which has now gone. Best sightings were Blackcap (1 female), Brown Hawker (5+), Common Darter (5+) & Ruddy Darter (2+). At least one Common Darter visited the wildlife pond in our Etherley Moor garden.
15th to 21st August, 2022 – Etherley
Very quiet week with a steady flow of hirundines (mainly Swallows & House Martins) over Etherley being the only difference to the usual birds. A Brown Rat was seen visiting the garden feeders, which has resulted in the area being deep cleaned and feeders temporarily removed.
22nd to 28th August, 2022 – Etherley & Redcar
It was once again a very quiet week on the patch with the continuation of Swallows & House Martins heading south over Etherley Moor being the only notable sightings. Visited Redcar on the Sunday for the reported Greater Sand Plover, which was only the second time I've seen this species (previous was the Dunbar bird on 28th September 2008).
Picture: Greater Sand Plover at Redcar, 28th August 2022
29th August to 4th September, 2022 – Saltholme
Visited the area of Saltholme for 2-3 hours on Bank Holiday Monday (29th) with Little Stint (2), Curlew Sandpiper (1), Ruff (4+), Spotted Redshank (1), Dunlin (10+), Black-tailed Godwit (50+) and Avocet (10+) being seen. Also a single White Wagtail on the causeway. Other than a sleeping Great White Egret at Low Barns on the 4th, the remainder of the week was very quiet on the patch.
5th to 11th September, 2022 – Patch
Not much birding done this week as I spent most of my time watching and remembering the queen who passed away on Thursday 8th. Like most of us, I’ve never known anything else and am personally gutted. Like all veterans, I’m proud to have served for her and the commonwealth. RIP Queen Elizabeth II.
12th to 18th September, 2022 – Patch
This week has continued as the previous week ended. Like many of us I was off work on the Monday to watch the state funeral of the queen. No birding done during the week, but I did visit Low Barns at the weekend. The number of Lapwings (50+) and Greylag Geese (50+) were a sure sign that autumn has arrived.
19th to 25th September, 2022 – Patch
Greylag Goose (15+), Cormorant (4), Jay (1) and Woodcock (1 possible) have been seen flying over Etherley Moor.
26th September to 2nd October, 2022 – Patch
The 50+ Lapwings have moved on from Low Barns. Nothing different elsewhere locally. Unable to visit Teesside for the Nightjar that was showing at Saltholme during the week.
Picture: Lesser Yellowlegs at RSPB Saltholme, 15th October 2022
3rd to 9th October, 2022 – Escomb & Witton Lakes
Lesser Redpoll (1), Kingfisher (1), Jay (3+), Wigeon (3) and Gadwall (2) were the best out of 26 different species seen at Escomb on Sunday 9th. Two Great Crested Grebe (including one juvenile) were at Witton Castle Fishing Lakes.
10th to 16th October, 2022 – Escomb & Teesside
41 different species at Escomb between 3-5pm on Friday 14th with Teal (1), Little Egret (1), Gadwall (4), Wigeon (3), Willow Tit (2), Siskin (12+), Kingfisher (1), Tree Sparrow (2), Kestrel (1 juvenile) & Sparrowhawk were best. The following day (15th) I enjoyed what has become a not so regular visit to Saltholme & Seaton Common between 12:30 and 3:30pm. The long staying Lesser Yellowlegs was showing very well from Phil Stead hide. Teal (2), Ruff (1), Common Redshank (3), Brambling (1), Whooper Swan (2+), Grey Partridge (3 from Zinc Road), etc. were also seen.
17th to 23rd October, 2022 – Escomb & Teesside
A planned day off work to catch up on some long awaited jobs on the 21st soon became a day at Hartlepool Headland viewing the migrants that had fallen from the beginning of the previous day. Best birds for me included Firecrest (1), Goldcrest (40+), Blackcap (4+), Brambling (1), Redwing (30+) and Song Thrush (3+). Other noteable birds were Purple Sandpiper (10+), Rock Pipit (3+), Mediterranean Gull (1) and Brent Goose (7). Very quiet on the patch with the only birds of interest being 30+ Redwings flying towards Bishop Auckland from Escomb on the 22nd. A Spoonbill and four Grey Plover were seen from the viewpoint at Greatham Marsh car park on 23rd.
24th to 30th October, 2022 – Escomb, Etherley Moor & Upper Weardale
Redwing (5), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1) and Cormorant (1) were seen at Etherley Moor on 27th before going to Teesside where Ruddy Shelduck (1), Egyption Goose (7) and Lesser Yellowlegs (1) were seen. Redwing (12), Mute Swan (9), Gadwall (2) and Tufted Duck (14) were best out of 27 different species seen at Escomb on the 28th. A further 60+ Redwing were seen at Etherley Moor on the 29th. Visited Upper Weardale on the 30th with all the usual birds seen which included Black Grouse (9m 3f), Red Grouse (1), Raven (1), Common Buzzard and Redwing (20+).
Picture: Waxwing at East Boldon, 27th November 2022
31st October to 6th November, 2022 – Escomb & Etherley Moor
Resisted the temptation of travelling to Tyneside for the reported Pied Wheatear (Whitley Bay), Subalpine Warbler (Tynemouth), Whinchat x Siberian/Stejneger's Stonechat (Marsden) and influx of Pallid Swifts. Other than a decent number of Redwing and approximately 400 Woodpigeon coming out of roost, the patch was very quiet.
7th to 13th November, 2022 – Escomb
Only one visit to Escomb this week with 32 different species seen in a two hour walk around the lake and surrounding hedge rows. Best records included Kingfisher (1), Fieldfare (10+), Redwing (35+), Song Thrush (1), Goldcrest (1), Siskin (2), Sparrowhawk (1), Kestrel (1), Gadwall (11) and Mute Swan (16).
14th to 20th November, 2022 – Low Barns
26 different species seen at Low Barns during a quick 30-40 minute walk around the reserve on Saturday 20th. Best birds were Great White Egret (1), Little Egret (1), Goldeneye (1m & 2f) and Wigeon (11+).
21st to 27th November, 2022 – Upper Weardale, Boldon & Whitburn
Black Grouse (40+), Fieldfare (80+), Grey Partridge (7+), Red Grouse (1), and Kestrel (2) were seen during a dull, wet & windy visit to Upper Weardale on Saturday (26th. Decided to visit South Tyneside on Sunday for the Waxwings that arrived towards the back end of the week with fifteen seen at east Boldon (my first waxwings for three years). A Russian White Fronted Goose and two Barnacle Geese were with at least a hundred Greylag Geese in a field to the east of Boldon Flats. A Humes Leaf Warbler and a ChiffChaff were at Whitburn Coastal Park.
Picture: Redwing at RSPB Saltholme, 9th December 2022
28th November to 4th December, 2022 – Redcar
Visited Redcar for the reported King Eider with no joy in very dull and choppy conditions. Very quiet on the patch as well, so not too good of a week birdwatching wise.
5th to 11th December, 2022 – Teesside, Escomb & Low Barns
Had a second visit to Redcar for the drake King Eider on the 9th, which was seen 15-20 minutes after arrival in difficult conditions (my first King Eider since seeing the drake at Irvine on 15th April 2006). Merlin (1), Marsh Harrier (1) and Great White Egret (1) were seen at Greatham. Common Buzzard (1), Snipe (1), Fieldfare (10+) and Redwing (15+) were nice to see at Saltholme. 34 different species were seen at Escomb on Saturday 9th and 38 species at Low Barns on Sunday 10th. Nothing too different other than a couple of Greylags and a Herring Gull frozen to the ice. Nice to see 4 Tree Sparrows at Low Barns with the regulars.
12th to 18th December, 2022 – Etherley Moor
The only birding done during this week was on Etherley Moor with nothing too different seen. Mallard (10+) flew over the garden towards Escomb on Saturday (17th). Tree Sparrow (2+), House Sparrow (10+), Coal Tit (2), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (4+), Long-tailed Tit (1), Dunnock (2), Robin (2), Wren (1) and Blackbird (7+) were seen in our garden during the week.
19th to 25th December, 2022 – Teesside
Visited Hartlepool on the 19th for the Great Northern Diver and Long-tailed Duck that had been seen off the pilot pier, but all I got was Cormorant (10+), Rock Pipit (2) and Eider (3). The Mediterranean Gull put in a brief appearance at Newburn Bridge. Water Rail (2) and Black-tailed Godwit (2) were the best birds seen during a 45 minute watch from the wildlife watchpoint at RSPB Saltholme. No sign of the reported water vole, so a second visit was needed on the 23rd, where I got good views of my first Water Vole since the one I found in Upper Teesdale on the 26th April 2007.
26th to 31st December, 2022 – South Durham & the Patch
Had a drive around South Durham on the 27th, which was poor with only Black Grouse (8), Grey Partridge (5+) and Fieldfare (20+) being the only notable birds in miserable (rainy) conditions.
Spent the remainder of the week making the odd visit to Escomb, Low Barns, The Batts and Gaunless Flats with Ring-necked Duck (1 female at Low Barns), Kingfisher (1 at Dam Head) and Common Buzzard (1 at the Batts) being the best birds seen.