Dec 9th - Friday 15th Dec 2017
This weeks undoubted highlight was the Two barred Crossbill, described in the previous blog entry.
A number of observers followed up on this over the next few days - but sadly no further sightings yet.... hopefully this bird, & perhaps some Parrot Crossbill will be uncovered over the holiday period...?
Our one-off Little Owl looked to be in his element this week - his odd plumage perfect for this weeks winter weather conditions.
There were a number of unusual species noted this week with Great White Egret just south of Durham at Low Burnhall (SteveAddinall), Sooty Shearwater & x2Slav Grebes at Whitburn (PaulHindess et al) and a Lapland Bunting or 2 (?) (Tom Francis / Ian Forest) with mobile Linnet flock on a seeded strip beside road A178 between Seaton Carew & Newburn, Hartlepool.
Lapland Bunting (Ian Forest) a scarce overwintering species, seldom photographed in the County.
An interesting record from Durham City on 15th concerned an intermedius-type Lesser black Backed Gull (Duncan Fraser)There are 5 sub species of LBB - they are :-
L. f. graellsii – : Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, British Isles, western Europe. Mantle dark grey.
L. f. intermedius – : Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, southwest Sweden & western Norway. Mantle sooty black.
L. f. fuscus – : northern Norway, Sweden & Finland to the White Sea. Mantle jet black.
L. f. heuglini – : northern Russia to north-central Siberia.
L. f. barabensis – : central Asia
Long-stayers in the area included x2Black throated Divers at Blackhall (Colin Wilson), Whooper Swan at Low Barns (Gordon Blackett), Grey Phalarope & Long tailed Duck at Shields till 10th (Brian Martin)
A couple more Hawfinch records this week, (Graham Stoker) picking out 2-4 birds at Croxdale Hall on 2 dates, with a very early drumming GSWoodpecker & a Green Sandpiper there on 10th.
A very rare photo of a Durham Hawfinch (GS) with another 2 birds were noted in Yews in private gardens at Cleadon (Pete Collins).
An adult Med Gull was on the ice at Washington WWT - oddly not a common sight at this well watched location.
The hard weather saw a couple of records of Tawny Owls day hunting through at Hamsterley, photographed by x2 members on separate visits:-
Tony Burn managed this superb portrait of a Tawny, with Graham Stoker also finding one out & about in daylight
There was more than usual seen of Peregrines this week, with sightings from Bowburn (BrianClasper), Wheatley Hill hunting corvids (RobbieR), Hetton Lyons Pk (ColinW), & a pair at Quarrington Hill.(RichardC) It wont be long before pairs begin to visit prospective nest sites.
The Coalfields area couldn't produce any star birds this week, but an icy Rainton Meadows produced a site record count of 14 Shoveller
& the area ticked over nicely with several flights of Pink-footed Geese heading south & all the local specialities in place as photographed by "birder with camera" Michael Heron
Water Rail (MH) A familiar species in the Hetton / Houghton areas - keen studies from a network of local patchers has seen the species firmly established as a breeding species in recent years
Willow Tit (MH) - a VERY special bird at a local & County level - The Nations most threatened resident bird ! Watch out for the Club Survey starting in the New Year - this fieldwork is open to all members & is thought will highlight Durham's population as being of National significance.
Green Sandpiper (MH) the Coalfields area has traditionally held
over wintering birds for generations now.
Jack Snipe (MH) - walked up without flushing - a lesson in field craft, patience & affinity for the subject.
Watch out for our Monthly Themed Photo Competition coming soon..... birders welcome !