South Shields was the place to be this week, with an excellent selection of winter species, the following images by local patchers Stuart Thompson / Laurence Younger :-
Grey Phalarope (StuT)
Drake Long tailed Duck (Laurence Younger) - photo credit edited.
During the week further Glaucous Gull were noted from Whitburn (PHi) & Blackhall(RR), Iceland Gulls were much more difficult to come by with a first calender year bird on the ice at Hetton Lyons (CW).
Raptors were prominent this week, with Marsh Harriers & Merlins wintering on the N.Tees marshes, the Gateshead Kites performed well on windy evenings. The Houghton patch had a good week for raptors & owls with Merlin watched catching prey, Short-eared Owls were at 2 locations but only appearing right on dusk, more than usual was seen of Barn Owls - hunting when weather allowed, but the best was reserved for the end of the week, a stunning ring tailed Hen Harrier drifting north at Chilton (MH).
The snow resulted in good concentrations of thrushes being seen in central areas.
2-300 Fieldfare seen at Bolam (the Durham one), Middridge & West Auckland.
Additional Jack Snipe were located by surveyors at Quarrington & Team Valley. A lot slower than last winter, but the graphic displays the results of activity around our core study sites.
The sole Hawfinch of the week was noted in large private gardens at North End, Durham City - the single bird being seen on 3 out of 5 days. (SE).
At Teesmouth the excellent selection remained, the Twite flock pulling in a Merlin, 2 other Twite south at Seaham were a good local record (GS).
There were a number of sightings of "black-capped tits" (no this does not refer to photographers in dark hats)
Low Barns provided a good opportunity to observe both species at the same site (DPh) & the South East of the County also gave watchers the opportunity to study both species. IanF picking up Marsh Tits in the very western most part of Hartlepool borough,
Marsh Tit (IanF)
whilst Willow Tits made a welcome return to the Cowpen Bewley feeding station.
Willow Tit (IanF)
The Club is close to officially commencing our County wide search for Willow & Marsh Tits, in the New Year.
In the mean time you can find out about the project on the Clubs Projects & Surveys Twitter account @DBC_Surveys
This initiative is now gaining national interest - we are very lucky to still retain a healthy population.
The survey will cater for all levels of experience & the club is aware that some will need to be best recorded as "black capped tits".
Thank you for all you information & images.
Keep wrapped up & we hope you have a bird filled weekend.