Sightings 2024

Welcome to my sightings page for 2024, 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.

January 2024

Picture: Waxwing at Bishop Auckland, 1st January 2024

1st to 7th January, 2024 – (Bishop Middleham & Teesside)
Started the year being careful not to put too much stress on my feet, targeting birds that can easily be seen from or very close to the car. They are showing signs of getting better, so will hopefully be doing some decent patch work & birding soon.

With that in mind, I started the year with a quick visit to Bishop Middleham in the hope of seeing the wintering Hawfinch and was pleased to see it in the canopy of the hornbeams soon after arriving. Watched it for 10-15 minutes before a Sparrowhawk flew in and flushed/chased it out of view. On the way home, I spent a bit of time looking for the reported Waxwings near Metal Bridge with no joy. However, I did see a single Waxwing at the bottom of Bracks Road in Bishop Auckland before seeing a further 50-60 at the top of the same road.

The second day of the year I headed towards the headland seeing Great Northern Diver (1), Red-throated Diver (7+), Slavonian Grebe (1), Great Crested Grebe (1), Velvet Scoter (1), Common Scoter (100+), Purple Sandpiper (10+), Rock Pipit (2), etc! No sign of the reported Black-throated Diver at Jacksons Landing before heading off to see three Bewick's Swans at Lambton Pond.

I finished the week with a quick visit for a reported Baikal Teal at Bishop Middleham, which was a first for County Durham. I then made my way to the area of Saltholme seeing Spoonbill (1), Great White Egret (1), Cattle Egret (4), Little Egret (5+) and Mediterranean Gull (1).

8th to 14th January, 2024 – (Patch, Teesside & The Dales)
Managed to see a doctor at the beginning of this week who sounded as though she knew exactly what the problem of my feet is and how to treat it, 'palmoplantar keratoderma'.  By the end of the week my feet were feeling much better, so will hopefully be walking properly again soon.

A Tawny Owl was heard calling (Thursday, 11th) and a Barn Owl was seen the following morning (Friday, 12th), on Etherley Moor. A drake Long-tailed Duck was seen at RSPB Saltholme on Saturday with Great White Egret (1 at Cowpen Marsh) and Cattle Egret (4 on the Pipeline adjacent to Saltholme) still in the area. Common Buzzard (6+), Black Grouse (16+), Red Grouse (10+) and Grey Partridge were the best birds seen during a visit to upper Weardale/Teesdale on Sunday.

15th to 21st January, 2024 – (Teesside)
My feet had been feeling much better, but had a relapse on Thursday when several cracks appeared, which made me decide to have a quiet weekend.

22nd to 28th January, 2024 – (Newbiggin & The Patch)
Feeling much better towards the end of the week, so made the decision to go and see the long staying Shorelarks at Newbiggin on Saturday 27th with at least thirty Twite in the same location. A Whooper Swan was seen at QE2 Country Park, before visiting a very quiet Cresswell (no sign of the reported Hooded Crow). Marsh Harrier (1), Common Buzzard (5) and Peregrine (1) were at Widdridge. No joy with the Snow Buntings at Howick.

Eighteen different species of birds seen during the hour garden birdwatch at home (Etherley Moor) on Sunday with Tree Sparrow (1), House Sparrow (14), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (2), Blue Tit (2), etc. being seen. Nothing too different at Low Barns later on Sunday.

February 2024

Picture: Hooded Crow at Helmscott Hill, 17th February 2024

29th January to 4th February, 2024 – (Northumberland & The Patch)
On saturday (3rd), I decided to head up to Northumberland to see the birds I missed out on last weekend. The female Scaup was easily seen at Swallow Pond. I then headed to St Mary's Island for the Water Pipit which was much harder to pin down, but eventually seen with Meadow Pipit (5+) after about an hour searching.  The redhead Smew as QE2 Counry Park was seen very quickly (Whooper Swan also seen with Mute Swans waiting to be fed). Dipped the Hooded Crow near Cresswell, but did see Twite (50+), Grey Partridge (3), Red-legged Partridge (2) and Pink-footed Goose (150+) before heading to a nearby site for Hen Harrier, where I got good (distant) views of a male before I needed to herad off home.

On sunday I checked the Etherley Moor part of my patch for Snipe finding singles of both common and jack. The Common Snipe was accidentally flushed before I started searching with the thermal. Jack Snipe was much harder to find with only one seen in a 40-50 minute search.

5th to 11th February, 2024 – (Teesside)
Two visits to Teesside over the weekend with Spoonbill (1), Spotted Redshank (1), Greenshank (1), Grey Plover (7+), Common Buzzard (1), Barn Owl (2), Short-eared Owl (1), etc. being seen in the area of Cowpen Marsh and Seal Sands. Goosander (2) and Ring-necked Parakeet (7+) were at Ward Jacksons Park.

12th to 18th February, 2024 – (North Yorkshire & Northumberland)
Had Friday off work so I decided to head over to North Yorkshire with all target birds seen. First stop was South Gare where at least 25 very mobile Snow Buntings were seen. Next was Lockwood Beck Reservoir seeing Brambling (5+), Siskin (3+), etc. were seen on the feeding station. A Rough-legged Buzzard was seen with two Common Buzzards 1-2 miles away from where they were last reported at Rosedale Common. A Barn Owl was seen hunting the common whilst watching for raptors. Sadly, no more were seen. Lockwood Beck was quiet.

We decided to have a night away in northumberland on saturday, taking a slow drive up to Lindisfarne Inn near Holy Island. Red-throated Diver (1 juvenile), Smew (1 redhead) & Whooper Swan (1) were at QE2 Country Park. The long staying Hooded Crow was seen at Hemscott Hill near Cresswell and the Red-breasted Goose was seen with Brent Geese & Barnacle Geese at Budle Bay. Also two Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

At least thirty Brent Geese were seen on the causeway as we were driving to holy island where we enjoyed watching Fulmars (30+), Purple Sandpiper (3+), Turnstone (20+), etc. before having a coffee at Beal and heading for an unsuccessful attempt at seeing the Iceland Gull that had been reported at North Shields Fish Quay.