A touch of ice had 4Water Rails out & active at Hetton Bogs (M.Heron) - one of the most reliable sites in the County to observe these often elusive & skittish birds. A further 2 seen today at both Lyons Pk & Rainton close by.
Water Rail image by M.Heron.
Other Coalfields sites did well with a couple of overdue winter species gracing Hetton Lyons (CW) with Short-eared Owl, 4Goosander & 2Goldeneye present. Regulars included Kingfisher, 2WRail & 4Willow Tits - another 8 of these being counted at RMs.(MH) and another 2 at Hurworth Burn (DFr) - we surely have one of the best populations in the Country...? Time will tell, as this is the next subject for the Clubs Projects & Surveys team. Look out for further details on the Club Website.
Willow Tit image by M.Heron
A detailed search of the Sharpley / Slingley areas (SE) produced only singles of Jack Snipe & Long-eared Owl - both disappointing results, although good numbers of farmland passerines & a female Stonechat looks set to overwinter. Towards the end of the day a male Merlin made up for the lack of regular winter specialities & 3 Woodcock rose at dusk to fly out to feed - though sadly no Short-eareds in sight.....
Inland a single Hawfinch (CH) was reported late morning from Croxdale, with no real sign of any numbers here despite an unprecedented national influx. Further west, 4Brambling (GS)were noted in a finch flock on stubble at Satley
Down in the Team valley, Kingfisher, Green Sandpiper & further Willow Tits were noted at Lamesley (DG).
Moving across to the coast, the Blackhall stretch was quiet with singles of GNDiver, V.Scoter & a fem Snow Bunting.(CW)
The Estuary always hold something of interest through winter & the 4Shorelark remain near North Gare (BM et al) & the Twite flock continue to entertain as they converge to drink from a regular pool on the Power Station field at the southern end of Seaton Snook.
Finally, along with a showy Water Pipit, a welcome report from (IF) of a Long-eared Owl giving a good opportunity for many visitors to enjoy this species from a new vantage point.
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Hope all our Members have a pleasant & bird filled weekend.