Sightings 2023

Welcome to my sightings page for 2023, 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.

For me, 2023 will be the year that I lost 3 months access to my car in March, April & May (extremely poor service from the AA, which is now with the ombudsman). During the time I was without the car I missed planned visits to the Highlands and Norfolk, as well as 2-3 twitches that I would have liked to have done.  When I did eventually get my car back I managed a short visit to the highlands and a decent run along the south coast from Dorset to Cornwall.  212 different species of birds were seen nationally with three of those being new birds. Now that I've seen all UK butterflies (with the exception of Cryptic Wood White), I started to look for new species of dragonflies that will hopefully continue over the next few years. New species for me during 2023 included:


  1. Grey-headed Lapwing (Long Nanny, 5th May)
  2. Forster's Tern (RSPB Arne, 5th August)
  3. Brown Booby (Seaton Snook, 6th September)

Durham Birds

  1. Brown Booby (Seaton Snook, 6th September)


  1. Common Scoter (Escomb, 22nd October)


  1. Northern Damselfy (Loch Garten, 15th June)
  2. Downy Emerald (Glen Affric, 16th June)
  3. Northern Emerald (Glen Affric, 16th June)
  4. Small Red Damselfly (Bystock Pools, 6th August)


January 2023

Picture: Ring-necked Duck at Low Barns, 1st January 2023

1st to 8th January, 2023 – (The Patch, Redcar and Teesside)
First birds of the year were Woodpigeon and Blackbird in our Etherley Moor garden. Spent a couple of hours at Low Barns before spending the afternoon/evening with the family with the Ring-necked Duck being the best out of 33 different species of birds (seen on the first day of the year).

Dipped Hawfinch at Bishop Middleham on the following morning (2nd) before going to Redcar for the reported King Eider, which was seen with a good number of Common Eider (100+). Long-tailed Duck (2), Velvet Scoter (6+), Common Scoter (10+) and Red-throated Diver (4+) were other birds of interest during the 2-3 hour visit. A Pink-footed Goose (1 at Haverton), Common Buzzard (2 at Cowpen Marsh) and Marsh Harrier (1 at Cowpen Marsh) were seen on my way home.

Other than Etherley Moor, the only patch visit of the week was 2-3 hours at Escomb on Friday afternoon (6th) with the only noteworthy bird being a single Little Owl sat in the open. On saturday I decided to look for some of the more difficult species to connect with, which included the reported Caspian Gull at haverton. The heavy rain on the morning made it difficult, but I got two probable sightings and one brief definite as it lifted and flew towards the Tees. Other species seen during the day included Spoonbill (1 on Back Saltholme), Pintail (7+ on Back Saltholme), White-fronted Goose (15+ at Tank Farm), Twite (70+ at Seaton Snook) and Merlin (1 at Cowpen Marsh). The following day we had a family run to Seaton for a walk and some fish & chips, which of course gave me the opportunity to briefly stop off at a couple of sites adding Barnacle Goose (15+) and Fieldfare to the Teesside sightings this weekend.

9th to 15th January, 2023 – (Escomb, Etherley Moor & The Batts)
First outing of the week was on Friday afternoon when I visited Escomb between 2:30 and 4:30pm. Best bird out of 24 species was a single Barn Owl (seen at dusk).

An unexpected visitor to our garden on Saturday morning was my first Etherley Moor Treecreeper since moving here in 2005, which prompted me to have a look at my records for others that I've seen here over the years. Hobby (2022), Whooper Swan (2014), Little Egret (2021), Common Snipe (2021), Red Kite (2020), Green Woodpecker (2019), Willow Tit (2019), Cuckoo (2017), Waxwing (2017), Nuthatch (2011), Lesser Whitethroat (2009) and Corn Bunting (seen yearly from 2005 to 2012 and now sadly gone).

Nothing too different during a visit to The Batts on Sunday, but it was nice to see my first Kingfisher of the year. Twenty three different species seen from the car in one hour.

16th to 22nd January, 2023 – (Bishop Middleham, Teesside & The Batts)
Spent 2 unsuccessful hours looking for the Hawfinch at Bishop Middleham on 21st before going to see the reported Great Northern Diver and Long-tailed Duck at Hartlepool Headland. Rock Pipit (1), Purple Sandpiper (3+) and Mediterranean Gull (1) were seen before heading to Ward Jackson Park for Ring-necked Parakeet (3+). No joy with Water Pipit at Dormans. Bittern and Water Rail were seen at Saltholme. A Short-eared Owl was at Cowpen Marsh before heading home as the light was fading.

Eleven Grey Partridge were seen at The Batts on the 22nd. Kingfisher (1), Little Grebe (2), Sparrowhawk (1), Fieldfare (1), Redwing (3+), Mistle Thrush (1), Jay (2) and Lapwing (9) were also seen.

23rd to 29th January, 2023 – (Escomb, Etherley & Teesside)
Had 2-3 hours walk around Escomb on Friday afternoon with Gadwall (3), Little Egret (1), Little Grebe (1), Dipper (1), Siskin (3) and Yellowhammer (7) being the best birds seen out of 36 species. Saturday was spent catching up with work at home stopping to do the garden birdwatch with House Sparrow (10+), Tree Sparrow (2) and Chaffinch (2) being the best birds in the garden. Approximately 150 Greylag Geese flew over heading towards Escomb. Sunday was frustrating but enjoyable. No joy with the Bishop Middleham Hawfinch (again), but did see six Waxwing at Ingleby.

February 2023

Picture: Hawfinch at Bishop Middleham, 3rd February 2023

30th January to 5th February, 2023 – (The Patch, Newfield, Bishop Middleham & The Dales)
First bird of the week was a hunting Barn Owl in the field to the south or our house on Tuesday, which continued to show for the remainder of the week from 5pm onwards. I had Friday morning off work and managed to see Pallas's Warbler (1 at Newfield), Ruddy Shelduck (2 on Stoneybeck Lake) and it was 4th time lucky for the Hawfinch at Bishop Middleham (all seen before lunch). Visited the dales on Sunday seeing Black Grouse (1), Red Grouse (10+), Grey Partridge (5+), Crossbill (6), Fieldfare (100+), Redwing (5), etc.

6th to 12th February, 2023 – (The Patch)
First venture out of the week was to check out an area of the patch that I've long suspected of holding snipe at dusk on Friday 10th. Found one Jack Snipe with the thermal and 3-4 or four more snipe lifted before I got anywhere near them which suggested they were Common Snipe. In saying that, the flight was low and short, which is telling me they were also Jack Snipe, but can't fully commit.

13th to 19th February, 2023 – (The Patch)
An enjoyable but frustrating weekend working the patch with no real highlights to mention. Five sites checked for Jack Snipe with none found. Two Song Thrush at Low Barns on Saturday. Green Woodpecker, two Common Buzzard and good numbers of Fieldfare (c100), Redwing (c30), Starling (c80) and Blackbird (15+) seen at The Batts on Sunday.

20th to 26th February, 2023 – (Teesside, Low Barns & South Durham)
Great White Egret (1), White-fronted Goose (1), Pink-footed Goose (3), Barnacle Goose (7), Pintail (2), Green Sandpiper (1), Grey Plover (1), Grey Wagtail (1), Kingfisher (1) and Twite (10+) were the best birds seen from two short mid-week visits to Teesside. Also visited Low Barns during the week with Shoveller (1) being the best out of 40 different species.

A good 3-4 hours in South Durham on Saturday with Raven (8 in groups of 4, 3 & 1), Buzzard (2), 9 Black Grouse (9), Red Grouse, (10+), etc. Plenty of Lapwing (100+), Curlew (100+), Oystercatcher (50+), Golden Plover (30+), Greylag Geese (50+) & Fieldfare (100+). Only two Grey Partridge. No Red Leg, Redwing or Crossbill.

March 2023

Picture: Yellowhammer at Escomb, 4th March 2023

27th February to 5th March, 2023 – The Patch
Worked the patch this weekend targetting the same ptential Jack Snipe sites that I have been looking at over the past few weeks. This time I had no joy locating any snipe and there was nothing out of the ordinary at Etherley Moor, Escomb, The Batts, Bishops Park, Low Barns or Witton Castle Lakes. Could do with some Redstart nest boxes in the park as the ones that were there have gone (see what I can do). As always, nice to be out.

6th to 12th March, 2023 – South Durham
Work commitments restricted my birding to one run out on Sunday with Red Kite (1 near Cockfield) and Red–legged Partridge (2 near Barnard Castle) being the best birds seen.

13th to 19th March, 2023 – Holy Island
Enjoyed a two night stay in Northumberland walking around Holy Island on the Saturday and having the odd stop off at Bamburgh, Stag Rocks, Budle Bay & the surrounding area.

71 different species seen with highlights being Red-necked Grebe (1 probable distantly viewed from stag rocks), Whooper Swan (101 at Budle Bay), Pink-footed Goose (1500+ close to Elwick), Barnacle Goose (4+ with the pinkies), Brent Goose (2 with pinkies) and Richardson’s Canada Goose (1 with 100+ Pinkies on the return journey near Holywell Pond). Other birds of interest included Barn Owl (1), Grey Partridge (6), Red-legged Partridge (2), Grey Plover (20+), Lesser Black-backed Gull (10+), etc. A fully white Ermine Stoat was seen on Holy Island, which was a first for me and arguably the best sighting of the weekend.

Missed the reported Alpine Swift at Bamburgh by ten minutes, which is a species of bird I just can’t seem to connect with. At least it’s something I can keep trying for : )

20th to 26th March, 2023 – Low Barns
Good numbers of Alpine Swifts along the east coastline during the week, but have so far not had the chance to go for any. With time running out, it looks likely this bogey bird of mine might have to wait until another time.

The only birdwatching done during this week was on Sunday when I had a walk to Low Barns. Two Common Buzzard and at least three ChiffChaff were notable birds seen/heard during the 31/2 mile walk to the reserve. The female Ring-necked Duck, a Pochard and at least four Gadwall were on the west pond. A Lapwing, two Oystercatcher, three Goldeneye, a couple of Wigeon and two Lesser Black-backed Gull were on Marston Lake. Half way home and I got the report that a species of swift had been seen over the reserve, which in my opinion is likely to have been Alpine Swift. Typical, lol.

April 2023

Picture: Great Crested Grebe at Escomb, 8th April 2023

27th March to 2nd April, 2023 – The Patch
Second week without a car has restricted me to local birding, which isn't a bad thing. 35 different species were seen during a three hour walk to Escomb on Saturday (1st) with Lesser Redpoll (1), Great Crested Grebe (2), Oystercatcher (1), Sand Martin (8), Swallow (2) and ChiffChaff (10+) being the best birds seen. A three hour walk to the top end of Bishops Park was quiet on Sunday.

3rd to 9th April, 2023 – The Patch
Not having a car during my first week off work restricted me to continue working the patch. Monday was spent walking the public footpaths around Etherley with Common Buzzard (3), Kestrel (1), Mistle Thrush (1), ChiffChaff (10+), Wren (4+), Tree Sparrow (10+), etc. seen. Two visits to Escomb later in the week produced my first Blackcap (2+) and Willow Warbler for 2023.

10th to 16th April, 2023 – The Patch
My second week off work started with a visit to Low Barns with ChiffChaff (20+), Willow Warbler (3+), Blackcap (2+), Shelduck (2), Shoveler (6+), Little Egret (5), Sand Martin (6), Lesser Black-backed Gull (2) and the long staying Ring-necked Duck being the best birds during a 2 hour walk around the reserve. Had a good walks around Escomb on the 12th and 14th with Sand Martin (60+) and Grey Partridge (2) being the best birds seen.

Still no car, so missed the opportunity to go for White Stork at Saltholme (12th) and Alpine Swift at Saltholme (another opportunity for this illusive lifer missed on 13th).

17th to 23rd April, 2023 – The Patch
Very quiet week for me on the patch (still no car). Birds missed this week include a Hoopoe at Langdon Beck and the usual arrival of early summer visitors such as Ring Ouzel and Yellow Wagtail.

24th to 30th April, 2023 – The Patch
Still no car, so was once again restricted to working the patch. Best day out birding was a 10 mile walk that covered the Gaunless to Bishops Park & The Batts. Best birds included two Common Redstart, three Dipper, one Grey Wagtail, at least ten Swallow, two Green Woodpecker and a Mandarin.

Birds missed this week include the Hoopoe that is still being seen at Langdon Beck. A Bewick's Swan at Nosterfield. The usual arrival of early summer visitors such as Ring Ouzels, Northern Wheatears, Pied Flycatcher and Yellow Wagtail. Also Garganey, Wood Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank at Cowpen Marsh.

May 2023

Picture: Osprey at Escomb, 1st May 2023

1st to 7th May, 2023 – The Patch & Long Nanny
Worked Escomb on bank-holiday Monday with highlights being Osprey (one heading downriver towards Bishop Auckland), Garden Warbler (3), Reed Warbler (2) and Common Whitethroat (3). Osprey was a first for me at Escomb and only my second for the patch, so not all bad news were not having a car is concerned.

Got a lift to the Long Nanny in Northumberland on Friday (5th) and managed to get distant views of the Grey-headed Lapwing. Not great views and no photographs, but so good to see this first for Britain mega. Frustrating email from the AA cut short my visit.

A good walk around Witton Castle Lakes on Saturday (6th) resulted in 41 different species seen and 4 species of butterfly. Best of the birds were Common Redstart (2), Common Whitethroat (1), Garden Warbler (3), Great Crested Grebe (2), Common Sandpiper (1), etc. Butterflies included Orange Tip (20+), Speckled Wood (5), Small Tortoiseshell (1) & Peacock (1). At least one Holly Blue butterfly was seen on the same day in our Etherley Moor garden.

Managed to get a lift to Weardale on Sunday (7th) seeing my first Ring Ouzel (3 males) and Cuckoo (1) of the year. The Holly Blue butterflies continued to fly through the garden during the sunny spells.

Birds missed this week have included Hoopoe at South Shields and the arrival of Northern Wheatears, Pied Flycatchers, Yellow Wagtails, Whimbrel, etc. Also Wood Sandpiper at Cowpen Marsh.

8th to 14th May, 2023 – The Patch
Borrowed a car for 2-3 hours on bank-holiday Monday (8th) and opted not to go for the Hoopoe at South Shields, but visited Teesside instead seeing Little Gull (1), Garganey (2), Spotted Redshank (1), Ruff (30+), Dunlin (10+), Curlew Sandpiper (2), Swift (10+), etc. No sign of any Wood Sandpipers, Whimbrel, Stints or Yellow Wagtails during my visit.

46 different species were seen during a three hour walk around Escomb on 13th with Common Sandpiper (2), Mandarin (1), House Martin (10+), Reed Warbler (3), Sedge Warbler (1), Swift (20+) and Common Whitethroat (3+) being the best birds seen.

2-3 Holly Blue butterflies have been regularly seen in my garden on Etherley Moor. Another one was seen at Tindale on the 14th.

Birds missed this week have included Hoopoe at South Shields and Red-backed Shrike at South Gare. Also Wood Sandpiper and Temmincks Stint at Cowpen Marsh as well as the arrival of Northern Wheatears, Pied Flycatchers, Yellow Wagtails, Whimbrel, Wood Warbler, etc. Thank you AA : (

15th to 21st May, 2023 – The Patch
A walk around Escomb on Saturday morning produced 43 different species of birds. Nothing new, but it was nice to see my first Four-spotted Chaser (2), Red Admiral (1) and Painted Lady (1) of the year. 2-3 Holly Blue butterflies still visiting our Etherley Moor garden.

Local birds missed this week have included Temminck's Stint,  Wood Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Gropper, Little Tern, etc., all on Teesside. Also missing my odd run up to the dales, especially not being able to check the sites I usually go to for Ouzels, Wheatears, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Yellow Wagtails, Nightjar, etc. Thank you AA : (

22nd to 28th May, 2023 – The Patch & Durham Dales
A walk around Escomb on Saturday morning produced 41 different species of birds, which included Sedge Warbler (1), Reed Warbler (2), Common Sandpiper (1), Whitethroat (2), etc. Four-spotted Chaser (2), Small Copper (1), Holly Blue (1), Azure Damselfly (10+) & Blue-tailed Damselfly (1) were also seen. Borrowed my sons car on Sunday and visited the Durham Dales for 3-4 hours targeting birds that I haven't had chance to go for over the past few weeks. Pied Flycatcher (4+), Spotted Flycatcher (1), Wood Warbler (1), Cuckoo (1), Northern Wheatear (2) and Ring Ouzel (1 male) were all a pleasure to see. 2-3 Holly Blue butterflies still visiting our Etherley Moor garden throughout the week.

Due to the AA, this weeks planned trip to the Outer Hebrides had to be cancelled. Local birds missed this week have included Curlew Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint,  Wood Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Gropper, Little Tern, etc., all on Teesside. Also six Glossy Ibis at Bishop Middleham. Still hoping to get Yellow Wagtail. Thank you AA : (

June 2023

Picture: Spotted Flycatcher at Stanhope, 28th May 2023

29th May to 4th June, 2023 – The Patch & Bishop Middleham
Spent bank holiday Monday at home with House Martin (3), Common Swift (1), Common Buzzard (3) and 2-3 noisy families of recently fledged Starlings (20+) being seen with the more regular visitors. One of the Holly Blue butterflies eventually settled in the garden giving me the opportunity of grabbing a few photo's.

38 different species of birds were seen during a walk around Escomb on Friday 2nd. Nothing new bird wise, but I did get a new species of damselfy for Escomb and the patch. Watching decent numbers of Common and Azure Damsels when a Small Red-eyed Damselfly came into view (at least two in total). Plenty of Four-spotted Chasers (20+) in the area as well. Nice.

Got my car back on Satrurday, so went to Bishop Middleham on Sunday 4th with Little-ringed Plover (2), Wood Sandpiper (1), Yellow Wagtail (1) and Corn Bunting (1) being the best birds seen.

5th to 11th June, 2023 – The Patch
Due to work commitments, I didn't venture outside of the patch this week, which was typical as this was my first week with a car since the AA took it away for repair on 20th March. So pleased to have it back on my drive and hope to travel a bit more soon.  Thanks to the AA's service failure, I have missed at least four trips away and some quality birds that included two potential lifers, 'Alpine Swift & Great Snipe'. nothing different on the patch.

12th to 18th June, 2023 – The Highlands
Despite knowing any birdwatching will be hard work I decided to visit a couple of sites in the highlands for dragonflies, stopping at a few locations for a bit of birding. Travelled up on Wednesday night and had a few hours sleep before walking up Cairnwell at Glenshee at first light. Pick of the birds here included Ptarmigan (1), Red Grouse (3 families), Ring Ouzel (7+), Golden Plover (2), Northern Wheatear (2), Cuckoo (1) and Common Buzzard (1). A Short-eared Owl was seen whilst driving to Boat of Garten. Osprey (1) was seen on the nest before having a look for dragonflies in Abernethy Forest. The trails were quiet with Golden-ringed Dragonfly (1) being the best sighting, but one pond was very busy with Northern Damselfly (5+), Large Red Damselfly (20+) and Four-spotted Chaser (75+) being seen at this one location. Spotted Flycatcher (1) and Crested Tit (1) were at Loch Vaa. Slavonian Grebe (7) were at Loch Ruthven. Hooded Crow (10+) and Red Kite (2) were seen on the way to Dog Falls at Glen Afric where I was hoping to see Emeralds. Coire Loch was even busier than the pond at Abernethy, which made separating the species very difficult. Four-Spotted Chaser (150+) were everywhere and Emeralds just wouldn't stay in one place long enough for a good view. Almost certain I had Downy Emerald and Brilliant Emerald, but can't say for certain. Very nice to see though and will hopefully visit the site again in the next few years. See the full write up here.

19th to 25th June, 2023 – The Patch & Teesside
Not much birding done this week with nothing of too much of interest seen or heard. Resisted the temptation to go for the Savi's Warbler at Saltholme, which would have been my first for County Durham and third for the UK.

Bad news on home soil as planning for proposed housing development to the rear and south of us has once again been submitted. Looks like they've been clever and are re-submitting as three separate developments. Plenty of objections being submitted, but I'm hearing it's a done deal and no amount of addressing concerns will stop the build. Not good in so many different ways.

26th June to 2nd July, 2023 – Escomb
35 different species of birds were seen during a walk around Escomb on Sunday (2nd) with the standout bird being a Hobby that was seen over the fields between the village and Bishop Auckland. Watched it for about ten minutes at a distance before it went out of view in the tree line to the south of the river.

July 2023

Picture: Starling at Seaton Carew, 8th July 2023

3rd to 9th July, 2023 – Teesside & Witton Lakes
Enjoyed watching the Little Terns at Seaton Carew before the rain arrived on Saturday (8th). Managed to get my first Egyptian Geese of the year in the floods opposite the power station. Surprised to see at least four Goldeneye at Witton Castle Lakes on Sunday (9th) before seeing Goosander (11), Mandarin (1f), Grey Wagtail (3) and Common Sandpiper (1) on the River Wear.

10th to 16th July, 2023 – The Patch & Teesside
Best birds on the patch this week were two Common Redshank and up to four Little Egret at Low Barns on 15th. Pectoral Sandpiper (1), Common Sandpiper (3), Black-tailed Godwit (7), Common Snipe (1) and Common Tern (50+) were the best birds seen at Saltholme on 16th. Ruddy Darter (1), Large Skipper (1), Small Skipper (3), Essex Skipper (3+), Red Admiral (5+), Meadow Brown (2) & Ringlet (1) were also seen. No sign of the Roseate Tern that had been reported earlier in the day.

17th to 23rd July, 2023 – The Patch
Quiet week with House Martin (10+) and Common Swift (4+) being the only birds of interest at Etherley Moor. Missed the opportunity to go south for the reported Black-winged Kite at Stubb Mill in Norfolk.

24th to 30th July, 2023 – The Patch
A Small Skipper was on budlea, which was a first for our garden list (Etherley Moor). Other butterflies in the 30 minutes I was watching included Large White, Small White, Comma, Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell.

Two Marbled White butterflies were seen at Wingate en-route to Teesside on 19th. Two Arctic Skua were mobbing 10-20 Sandwich Tern were at Seaton Snook. Scaup & a fly over Whimbrel were at Greenabella. Other butterflies seen during the day included Grayling, Small White, Large White, Small Heath, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Red Admiral, Comma and Small Tortoiseshell.

August 2023

Picture: Cirl Bunting at Teignmouth, 7th August 2023

31st July to 6th August, 2023 – Dorset, Devon & Cornwall
Visited RSPB Arne for the Forster’s Tern on Saturday before travelling to Penzance for Chough and sea birds. Highlights over the two days included Forster’s Tern (1), Raft Spider (3), Cirl Bunting (10+), Sabines Gull (1), Manx Shearwater (1000+), Arctic Skua (1), Wilson’s Storm Petrel (2+), European Storm Petrel (15+), Bottlenose Dolphin (3), Harbour Porpoise (4+), Tuna (1) and more. Link to the full report -

7th August to 13th August, 2023 - Cornwall, Devon & Dorset
Following the pelagic on Sunday I travelled to a couple of sites targeting dragonflies. Best species seen were Small Red Damselfly (10+), Keeled Skimmer (3+), Emperor Dragonfly (2+), Silver-washed Fritillary (1), Brimstone (5+), Gatekeeper (20+) & Holly Blue (20+). Also a family of Green Woodpecker (5+), Kingfisher (1), Raven (3) & more. Link to the full report - Had a visit to Smardale during the week and managed to see at least ten Scotch Argus.

14th August to 20th August, 2023 - The Dales
Two mid-week visits to upper Teesdale and upper Weardale were quiet for me with Red Kite (1), Common Buzzard (5+), Black Grouse (20+) and Kestrel (10+) being the only noteworthy birds.

21st August to 27th August, 2023 - Etherley Moor
Another quiet week for me with birding mainly done on home soil. House Martin (50+), Swallow (4+) spent 2-3 evenings hunting insects over the surrounding fields. A probable Osprey flew over the garden on the 24th.

September 2023

Picture: Brown Booby at South Gare, 17th September 2023

28th August to 3rd September, 2023 - Low Barns, the Dales & Seaton Snook
Started the week with a visit to Low Barns where 32 different species were seen. Little Egret (3) and Lapwing (50+) were best.

Had an early evening visit to the Dales on Thursday 1st, which proved to be very rewarding. Seeing male & female Hen Harriers in the same air space was a first for me, so this has to go down as one of the highlights of the year (shame we don't get to see this too often). Other birds of interest included Common Buzzard (4+), Short-eared Owl (3+), Merlin (1), Raven (1), Kestrel (7+), Black Grouse (20+), Red Grouse (10+) and Grey Partridge (10+).

Managed a full afternoon birdwatching at Seaton Snook on Saturday 3rd seeing Roseate (1), Arctic, Common & Sandwich Tern with Arctic Skua (1) doing it's best to hijack food from the terns. Never seen so many Auks in and around the estuary/harbour. Other birds seen during the visit included Red-throated Diver (2), Dunlin (1), Ringed Plover (1), Bar-tailed Godwit (4), Knot (2), Oystercatcher (30+), Curlew (20+), Turnstone (30+), Red-breasted Merganser (1) and Sparrowhawk (1), etc.

4th to 10th September, 2023 - Patch & Teesside
Started the week with a visit to Low Barns where 32 different species were seen. Little Egret (3) and Lapwing (50+) were best.

A Brown Booby was reported at Seaton Snook on Wednesday (7th), so a quick visit was made to get views of what was a new bird for me. I was the last one to leave the site at dusk and considered myself very lucky to have seen the bird as the fog was well and truly set in for the night. No photographs, but very pleased to have seen the bird which surprisingly stayed for the remainder of the week.

11th to 17th September, 2023 - Patch & South Gare
The feeders are starting to get busy at Etherley Moor with Coal Tit (2), Great Tit (4), Blue Tit (5+), Robin (2), Dunnock (2), Woodpigeon (3+), Collared Dove (2), Wren (1), House Sparrow (10+) & Tree Sparrow (5+) being seen early in the week. Swallow (10+) & House Martin (10+) were busy feeding over the fields to the rear of our house, which is probably going to be a 1200+ house housing estate in the next year or two. Starling (100+) on wires to the rear of the house.

Visited South Gare for another look at the Brown Booby that was a first for me on 7th. This time it was seen in good light and a good distance for some decent photographs. It was also seen in flight, which is what I was hoping for. Other birds of interest during the two hours I was there included Gannet (1), Arctic Skua (5+) & Roseate Tern (1).

18th to 24th September, 2023 - Patch
Mainly due to the cost and available time I resisted to head over to the west side of the country for what has been an amazing back end of the week for mega's and do a bit of patch birding instead.

Plenty of ChiffChaff passing through with two seen in our garden and at least twenty at Escomb.  Half-decent numbers of hirundines putting in feeding displays of 5-10 minutes before moving on. Two female Goldeneye's were on Escomb lake. Other than that, nothing too much of interest.

For reference: Magnolia Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Canada Warbler, Alder Flycatcher, Bobolink, American Cliff Swallow & Red-eyed Vireo were in South-west Wales. Tennessee Warbler, Philadelphia Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo were on Barra. Oven bird was reported on Rum. North-westerly winds provided sightings of Leach's Storm Petrel at a few sites up and down the west coast. Red-tailed Shrike was of Fair Isle in Shetland.

25th September to 1st October, 2023 - Patch
Spent most of my spare time on the patch this week. Checked two sites for Jack Snipe, which were both a bit overgrown at the moment so will need to try again later in the year. Two Marsh Tits at Escomb was a nice surprise on Sunday 1st (last seen 21st April 2013). Other than that, surprisingly quiet..

Some nice birds to be had elsewhere with a a few of the previous weeks mega's staying for the best part of the week. Unfortunately, not getable for me.

October 2023

Picture: Slavonian Grebe at Hartlepool Headland, 8th October 2023

2nd to 8th October, 2023 - Teesside
The weather looked good for a visit to Teesside on Sunday (8th) with Slavonian Grebe (2), Yellow-browed Warbler (1), Goldcrest (10+), Brambling (1), Song Thrush (2), Redwing (3), ChiffChaff (5+), Robin (5+), Wren (2), Pied Wagtail (6), etc. being seen at the Headland. Twite (c50), Red-throated Diver (4), Brent Goose (1), Great Crested Grebe (7), Bar-tailed Godwit (1), Guillemot (30+), Razorbill (4) were at Seaton Snook. Three Cattle Egret were on Cowpen Marsh.

9th to 15th October, 2023 - Patch
Started the week seeing seven Redwing fly over Bishop Auckland College at first light on Monday morning. Wigeon (2) and Goldeneye (2) were nice to see at Escomb on Friday 13th with two Little Egret seen on the way home at Etherley Moor. Very quiet elsewhere on the patch over the weekend.

Enjoyed a day out at Hartlepool Headland on Sunday 15th. Three hours were spent seawatching with Pomerine Skua (2), Great Northern Diver (3), Red-necked Grebe (1), Manx Shearwater (1), Barnacle Geese (16), Red-throated Diver (5+), Gannet (20+) and Bottlenose Dolphin (5+) being the pick of what was seen seen. Slavonian Grebe (2), Red-breasted Merganser (1) and Velvet Scoter (1) were between the fish quay and the pilot pier. Three Whooper Swans were seen on Back Saltholme before returning home late afternoon.

16th to 22nd October, 2023 - Patch & Hartlepool Headland
A Tawny Owl was sat on the neighbours roof for 2-3 minutes before flying over our house on Etherley Moor (Thursday, 19th). Storm Babet arrived the following day and started to see the first indication of migrant activity with Fieldfare (10+) and Redwing (20+) being seen on Etherley Moor.

Visited Hartlepool Headland the following morning with the intentions of doing a bit of early morning sea watching, followed by looking for migrants on the headland. On arrival I soon realised the weather was no good for sea watching as the visibilty was down to approximately 100-200 yards in hevy rain. Walked around the headland towards Borough Hall seeing Little Gull (20+), Red-breasted Merganser (1), Great Crested Grebe (2), Common Scoter (10+), Shag (1), Woodcock (2 in off), Purple Sandpiper (4), Rock Pipit (6), etc. before starting to search for migrants. Redwing (100+ over), Fieldfare (35+ over), Brambling (40+ over), Firecrest (1), Goldcrest (15+), Lesser Whitethroat (1), Blackcap (3), ChiffChaff (5+), Greenfinch (2), Song Thrush (1), Swallow (1), Woodcock (1), etc. were seen before the rain stopped early afternoon. Black Redstart (1) and Meadow Pipit (1) were seen at the piory near the rugby field.

A Common Scoter was on Escomb Lake on Sunday morning, which was a site & patch first for me. Other birds of note included Fieldfare (1), Redwing (c10), Song Thrush (1), Siskin (2), Kingfisher (1), etc.

23rd to 29th October, 2023 - Patch
Quiet week on the patch with the odd Redwing and Fieldfare being the only birds of interest.

November 2023

Picture: Common Buzzard at Escomb, 11th November 2023

30th October to 5th November, 2023 - Patch
Worked from home on Thursday afternoon, which is when Storm Ciaran was starting to hit the north-east. A 15 minute view from the kitchen window produced Fieldfare (10+), Redwing (10+), Blackbird (2), Starling (5+) Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Tree Sparrow (4), House Sparrow (10+), Blue Tit (2+), Coal Tit (2+), Great Tit (2+), Robin (1), etc. Nothing too different elsewhere on the patch by me, but three Waxwings were reported at Bishops Lodge on Friday (not seen by me).

6th to 12th November, 2023 - Patch
Nothing different on the patch this week.

13th to 19th November, 2023 - Etherley Moor
Best birds this week included Pink-footed Geese that flew over the house early evening, seven Jack Snipe and Lapwing (75+) on Etherley Moor. Feeders were busy this week with House Sparrow (6+), Tree Sparrow (2+), Chaffinch (3+), Blue Tit (4), Coal Tit (1), Great Tit (1), Dunnock (2), Robin (1), Blackbird (1), Starling (4 over), Jackdaw (4 over), Rook (1 over), Carrion Crow (2 over) and Herring Gull (1 over) seen in a ten minute watch on Saturday morning.

20th to 26th November, 2023 - The Dales
Hen Harrier (2 ringtails), Short-eared Owl (3), Merlin (1), Kestrel (3), Common Buzzard (7), Raven (1) and Black Grouse (30+) were the best bird seen during a 3 hour visit to the dales. Quiet week on the patch.

December 2023

Picture: Whooper Swan at Escomb, 3rd December 2023

December, 2023 - Patch
Damaged feet resulted in December being as good as a write off for me with birding done in my own garden, 2 very slow walks around Escomb and 2-3 runs out in the car.

Just as my feet were getting really sore there was a report of a Bewick's Swan at Escomb, which had to be checked out as this would have been a site & patch first for me. No sign of the reported Bewick's, but there was a single Whooper Swan on Escomb Lake, which was a first for 2024 (2nd December).

Approximately 50 Waxwings were seen at the entrance to Rookhope Grove at Etherley Dene in Bishop Auckland on Thursday 7th. Another sighting of at least 60 at the same location on Sunday 10th and another two from our bedroom window on the same day. Always very flighty birds that didn't want to settle for too long, but nice to see on the patch.