Sightings Summary – SAT 11th Nov ‘17
A crisp start to the weekend with a variety of continental migrants still arriving & moving through the region, whilst regular winter species begin to settle in at familiar haunts.
Given the current unprecedented national influx, it was surely only a matter of time before Hawfinch found their way to our traditional location on Croxdale Estate.
Up to 8 birds have been giving visitors the run around during the week, forming no real pattern in their activity, but the last 2 days a couple of birds have been faithful to some of the mature berry laden Yews just north of the Hall, allowing multiple observers a rare opportunity to connect with these shy & elusive finches in the County.
Situated just of the A167 between Durham City & Spennymoor, this is beautiful scenic area of parkland with a good network of rights of way & an interesting selection of resident birds make for a pleasant location to visit.
Our recent Migrant Watch reminded us of the rich diversity of species along our coast & the ability of some of the less well known & visited locations to produce rare & scarce birds. The central section of the coastal strip around Seaham is becoming more popular & an excellent sea-watching session from DFr produced Black Guillemot, Black throated & Great Northern Divers, 7Little Auks, Merlin, 5Snow Bunting & 300PFGeese, quite a haul ! Next door, Dawdon area held 40 Wrens & a Woodcock - one of several seen today including migrants arriving in-off the sea - this one photographed by Laurence Younger up at Shields.
Further Woodcock were noted at opposite ends of the day, 1 dropped into DFo's Whitburn garden from the East at first light, whilst SEv watched 2 lift from rushy pasture gaining height at dusk nr Houghton - presumably continuing there journey rather than flying out to feed.
Others from the well watched Hetton/Houghton study area included Green Sandpipers at 2 regular winter locations, although 2 Black tailed Godwits flying in to roost overnight is a relatively new phenomenon. A Willow tit in Russell Wood, Newbottle was the first record there - another indication that our healthy population is bucking the national trend. (Look out for our upcoming survey work on this important species). Close by nr Leamside a Kingfisher fished at a settling pond on a disused industrial site - another of our residents whose fortunes are looking up over recent years. On the other hand a local Jack Snipe site held only a single - mild weather perhaps delaying their main arrival ?
Moving Way out West now up into Teesdale.
Up in Lunedale good numbers of Fieldfare have arrived, GS recording 300 along with 5 Crossbill, Peregrine, 370Wigeon 7 15Black Grouse during a 12km stroll.
Just over the hill GB noted Jack Snipe, 120 Golden Plover & 10Black Grouse in Baldersdale including this Greyhen - particularly pleasing to see them doing so well !
Heading back East, a plethora of scarce birds were noted on the coast - 2Little Auks were on the sea at Whitburn Observatory (MH) & a drake Velvet Scoter continued at Blackhall Rocks (RR et al). 4 Shorelarks were another great find by JoeH at Seaton Snook which also held 40+ Twite & a Lapland Bunting (CD). These winter passerines can be hard to come by & that is certainly the case for Snow Buntings - 3 birds are currently proving popular visiting the Shields pier daily (DH ST et al)
Around the N.Tees marshes a Spotted Redshank (MB) looked to be set to overwinter again, Water Pipits were noted at Phil Stead Hide (DH) & Merlin at Zinc Works Road (CG).
We'll end todays summary with one of THE most fantastic birds we are fortunate to have in the County
A young Peregrine powers up the coast, hunting waders in Shields Bay - captured superbly by StuT.