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Newsletter - February 2018

Dear Member

Our January Indoor Meeting appears to have been well received by all those who were able to attend despite the snowy weather. We are now able to announce further indoor meetings, as follows

Thursday 15 February 7.30 p.m.

Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn SR6 7NH

Martin Collinson CSI: Birding

Forensic DNA technology has allowed us to identify birds from tiny samples of feathers or faeces. How does it affect everyday birding? Professor Martin Collinson is from the University of Aberdeen and is on the editorial board of "British Birds" and a member of the BOU Records Committee.

Sunday 25 February 2.00 p.m.

Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve Visitor Centre DH4 6PU

Elisabeth Charman Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers: RSPB Surveys and Methods

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is an elusive species which many would like to find and is the subject of a survey in which several Club members will participate in 2018. Elisabeth Charman is a Conservation Officer with the RSPB. She has done extensive fieldwork on Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and has published articles on the species in "Ibis" and "Bird Study".

We may be able to offer a pre-meeting tour of the reserve. Please check the Club website* for details.

Thursday 15 March 6.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.

Lanchester Community Centre, Newbiggin Lane, Lanchester DH7 0NT

Joint DBC/BTO Fieldworkers’ Meeting.

The meeting is not intended only for those who are active fieldworkers at present, but for all those who feel they may want to participate at some stage, and for those who would like to know more about current and future surveys and about results from past survey work. The doors will be open from 6.30 p.m. to allow people to meet other members, before the presentations begin at 7.30 p.m. The Centre is almost opposite the Black Bull, and has a generous car park.

The RSPB Durham Local Group is also holding indoor meetings, which are open to non-members. An admission fee of £1 applies to members and non-members alike.

Tuesday 13 February 7.30 p.m.

Laurel Avenue Community Centre, Laurel Avenue, Durham DH1 2EY

Rebecca Barrett The Northern Upland Chain Local Nature Partnership

The Partnership encompasses the Protected Landscapes of Northumberland National Park, North Pennines AONB, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale AONB and the Forest of Bowland AONB. It aims to help to create a place where our special natural qualities, including breeding wading birds, blanket bogs, hay meadows, tumbling rivers and upland woodlands are valued for their beauty, and for their contribution to economic, physical and spiritual well-being. Tuesday 13 March 7.30 p.m.

Laurel Avenue Community Centre, Laurel Avenue, Durham DH1 2EY

Mark Pearson Filey International: arrivals and departures at North Yorkshire’s Bird Observatory

Fasten your seatbelts! Migration never stops at this east coast hotspot - and neither does Mark in his pursuit of its wonders. Let him take you on a whistlestop tour through four seasons of high drama at his beloved Filey Bird Observatory. Mark has travelled extensively over five continents in pursuit of wildlife and has appeared on Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Natural World.

Local Field Trips

Provisional dates for DBC outings remain as in the New Year newsletter –

28 April – Upper Weardale and Teesdale

9 June – Muggleswick, and Pow Hill/Derwent Reservoir

14 October – Hartlepool, Seaton, Greatham, Saltholme and further details will be announced when available.

Projects and Surveys

The Club’s 2018 surveys on Willow Tit and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker have now been launched and detailed information is available on the Club website*. After the first week some interesting sightings of Willow Tit have already been reported, but there is plenty of scope for wider participation.

We would also encourage Club members to help with BTO and other surveys, some of which are mentioned on a website at This year, too, it would be useful to increase Durham’s representation in the BTO’s Heronries Census. This survey began in 1928 so is celebrating its 90th anniversary. Locally few records have been submitted – partly because some Durham colonies are small and transient. Evidence from elsewhere in the country suggests that some heronries are now attracting egrets, thus adding to the interest. If you would like more information on BTO and other surveys please contact

Rare Birds in 2017

The Club’s Rarities Committee aims to maintain a high standard of accuracy of what species have occurred in Durham and when. It has reviewed the records for 2017 and has discovered that there are many records from both category 1 and category 2 which lack supporting descriptions and/or photographs. These are listed on two spreadsheets on the Club website* (under the Club News tab). If you were a finder or observer of any of these occurrences then please could you submit a description and (where possible) accompanying photographs.

Database of Club Records

Those of you who are Club members of long-standing will remember that bird sightings used to be submitted on record cards and the old cards are stored in Sunderland Museum. They contain quite a lot of valuable information, not only on species whose status is changing, but also on sites which may have changed. Anyone who has used the cards for research will know how much more useful it would be if the data were added to the Club’s database. The Environmental Records Centre – ERIC North East – has offered to provide training in data input for any Club members who would be willing to help with the digitisation process. If you are interested in contributing in this way please contact

Castle Lake

The Castle Lake Conservation Group has recently met again to consider some further questions asked by the Charity Commissioners about educational issues. We believe we can answer these satisfactorily. We are still working on getting a lease but at present cannot give any further details about this.

Hurworth Burn Reservoir – application for leisure facilities

This planning application has still not been determined and Natural England have now asked for further information. In particular there are concerns which need to be addressed relating to the site’s importance for the Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast Special Protection Area (and especially Curlew).

Other Club matters

As indicated last month, we will not be circulating a printed version of this newsletter, but if you know of any Club member who needs to receive it in that form please let us know.

Finally, a gentle reminder that subscriptions were due on 1st January. Thank you to all those of you who have already paid; for the relatively small number who have not yet done so, a membership form giving current rates is available on the Club website* under the “Join Us” tab.


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