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Winters here

Festive Robin by M.Heron

An Arctic blast this week with cold & snow has seen a plethora of activity at various feeding stations around the County.

Hetton Bogs as popular as ever for the showy Rails & Willow Tits.

Whooper Swans took advantage of the tail wind to continue south, the largest herd being 17 south east at Rainton (MH).

An interesting perspective on the Shields Slavonian Grebe - nowadays not such a common sight in our area. (image by Stu Thompson)

An interesting observation from Michael Eccles from the comfort of home in the North West of the County - this Wren fed around the edges of a frozen garden pond, finding this young newt to feed on hidden under the overhang.

Another piece of behaviour we seldom see

Green Sandpiper swimming - image by Steve McDonnell

Green Sands continued their presence with singles at Phil Stead hide & Billingham Beck on Teeside. At least 3 birds were at Houghton, a favoured & traditional locality.

Hawfinch activity appears to tailed off... one was seen in an area of mature gardens near Flass Vale, Durham City on 28th (SE) (a location where this elusive species has previously been recorded during the breeding season). This species is likely to be picked up again at favoured locations over the Christmas break.

After last winters bumper crop, it is disappointing that this year is below average nationally for Jack Snipe numbers. A slow & methodical approach allows the observer an excellent opportunity to study the bird without disturbing it. (SE)

Hard weather has begun to push seabirds & auks closer inshore, this Merganser one of several at Hartlepool, 2Long tailed Duck were just inland on Cowpen Bewley Tip pond today. A Grey Phalarope was on the sea off Whitburn Obs - perhaps an overwintering individual ? The weather produced some notable seawatching with White billed Diver, Leaches Petrel & Little Auks all noted. Black throated Diver isn't that common a bird in our recording area, but regular sightings from Blackhall & a record count of 5 birds passing Whitburn possibly hint at a slight upturn in records ?

The scene looks set for further winter visitors to move in - hopefully we'll see some Waxwings, perhaps a Parrot Crossbill or two, but almost certainly a flurry of wild goose sightings is surely just around the corner ?

Winter Pink-feet at Hurworth Burn (Robbie R) - another species whose fortunes have improved over recent years.

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