Durham Bird Club's Castle Lake Nature Reserve

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Saturday 30th April 2011

Good to see a better variety of waders in the last seven days with 12 different species at various locations around the village of which 9 where seen today.

Low Hardwick/Moto-X
2 Kestrel, 2 singing Grasshopper Warbler, 2-3 singing Sedge Warbler and good numbers of Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Linnet & Reed Bunting.

Alan's Pool
single Greenshank which flew off east @11am but was probably the same bird seen later on Castle Lake (12.45pm) and then Stoneybeck Lake (2pm).

Castle Lake
1pair Shelduck, 2pair Wigeon, 1pair Shoveler, drake Pochard, 1 Sparrowhawk, 4 Oystercatcher, 6-8 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin, 1 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 House Martin, 3 Wheatear and various numbers of Lapwing, Curlew, Yellow Wagtail, Tree Sparrow and Linnet.

Greenshank doing the rounds today.

Stoneybeck Lake
1 Snipe, 2 Redshank, 1 Greenshank and small numbers of Shelduck, Teal & Shoveler.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Wednesday 27th April 2011

Another late afternoon visit to Castle Lake noted most of the regulars including Grey Heron, Shelduck, Shoveler, Oystercatcher, Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper (A1 Flashes), Lesser Black-backed Gull, Swallow, Sand Martin, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail and Wheatear.
The two pair of unseasonal Wigeon remain and have been joined by a drake Pochard.

Another interesting variation of Yellow Wagtail was also seen, this one had the dark blue-grey forehead and crown of a Blue-headed Wagtail but with a white throat which extended to the upper breast, suggesting Channel Wagtail. Very confusing!

White Wagtail (Isn't it?)

Turn your back for a minute and these two would be in the hide.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Tuesday 26th April 2011

A search for Warbler's today resulted in only six of the hoped for eight species (as far as I know Reed Warbler hasn't been recorded in Bishop Middleham before) with no sight nor sound from Garden Warbler or Lesser Whitethroat.
However apart from numerous Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler the highlights were 6 Sedge Warbler including 5 singing and appearing to be on territory with three together at Fishburn Lake, 3 Grasshopper Warbler were singing intermittently despite the cool cloudy conditions.

Other birds of note included 2 Jay behind Fishburn Lake and a pair of Grey Partridge near Island Farm.

One of an occasional series entitled 'There's a Warbler in there somewhere'.
Actually despite the picture this Sedge Warbler showed incredibley well, holding fort over this small area.

(Grasshopper Warbler = BM list no.134)

Monday, 25 April 2011

Monday 25th April 2011

A late afternoon visit to Castle Lake produced the following of note;

2pair Wigeon, 2pair Teal, 1 Sparrowhawk, 4 Oystercatcher, 6 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Redshank, 1 Blue-headed Wagtail, 1 'Channel Wagtail', 30 Yellow Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail and at least 2 Wheatear.

The 'Channel Wagtail' at Castle Lake today.

On the A1 Flashes were a Greenshank, 1 Redshank and 2 Little Ringed Plover.

Poor distant record shot of the Greenshank.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Blue-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava flava)

With thanks to Ian Forrest/Birdforum here's a link to his excellent picture of one of the now two Blue-headed Wagtail at Castle Lake today;


Saturday, 23 April 2011

Saturday 23rd April 2011

Sightings today from Mike Passant and myself.

Highlight of a visit to Castle Lake was a male Blue-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava flava) feeding in the field south of the hide with numerous Yellow Wagtail.

Two poor record picture's;

Others included 7 Grey Heron, 1pair Shoveler, 2 Ringed Plover, 1sp Dunlin, 1 Black-tailed Godwit (picture below), 3 Curlew over, 8+ Wheatear, Grasshopper Warbler singing near the Moto-X and Corn Bunting singing near Island Farm.

The Green Sandpiper was still on the A1 Flashes and Stoneybeck Lake contained 7 Shelduck, 11 Teal and 5 Shoveler.

Meadow Pipit near Alan's Pool this morning.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Black Tern

Ian Forrest/Birdforum reports 5-6 Black Tern feeding over Castle Lake late morning/early afternoon.

Link to one of Ian's pictures of a Black Tern.


Also two Lesser Whitethroat were seen near the hide.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Wednesday 20th April 2011

An excellent selection of birds seen this evening by Joe Hughes and myself including the following;

Stoneybeck Lake
1 male Kestrel, 1pair Grey Partridge, 3 Oystercatcher, 1 Snipe, 3 Wheatear, 1 Common Whitethroat, 1 Willow Warbler plus various numbers of Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Shelduck, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Pheasant, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Swallow, Sand Martin, Skylark, Pied Wagtail, Magpie, Jackdaw, Starling, Goldfinch and Linnet.
Unfortunately no sign of yesterday's reported drake Garganey.

Pair of Grey Partridge (honest!) near Stoneybeck Lake this evening.

Castle Lake
5 Grey Heron, 1pair Shoveler, 7 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, 15 Yellow Wagtail, 1 'Channel Wagtail' and 10+ Wheatear.

Link to a picture of a Channel Wagtail.


The two Dunlin moulting into summer plumage.

A1 Flashes
2 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Green Sandpiper.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Tuesday 19th April 2011

Birdguides this evening reporting a drake Garganey at Stoneybeck Lake.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Monday 18th April 2011

Birds seen today included the following;

Castle Lake
1 Cormorant, 4 Grey Heron, 1pair Shoveler, 5 Oystercatcher, 4+ Little Ringed Plover, 2 Curlew, 17 Common Gull, 300 Sand Martin, 5+ Yellow Wagtail & 9 Wheatear.

The Green Sandpiper was still on the A1 Flashes and a Mallard pair with a brood of 10 ducklings were on the River Stell.

In the Low Hardwick/Moto-X area were 1 possibly 2 singing Grasshopper Warbler, a pair of Kestrel seen mating and pairs of Tree Sparrow, Linnet, Yellowhammer & Reed Bunting.

Finally 3 Little Ringed Plover were also on Alan's Pool.

A few pictures of today's birds;

Shoveler pair.

One of an increasing number of Grey Heron.

Yellow Wagtail on the east side of Castle Lake.

Cormorant drying its wings in typical 'Angel of the North' pose.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Friday 15th April 2011

An evening visit was quite productive with the following of note;

Stoneybeck Lake
7 Mute Swan & 1 Whooper Swan.

Castle Lake
A female Marsh Harrier slowly drifted north following the A177 before gaining height over Stoneybeck and flying east between 6.05pm to 6.12pm. The bird only received a small amount of harassment from a couple of gull's and corvids.
Others of interest included 1 Cormorant, 2pair Shelduck, 1f Goosander, 1 Sparrowhawk, 6+ Little Ringed Plover (including a pair mating), 1 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 22 Common Gull,  2+ Yellow Wagtail, and 4+ Whearear.

One of the first Common Sandpiper to stop off at Castle Lake this spring.

A1 Flashes
3 Grey Heron, 9 Teal and a drake Shoveler.

(Marsh Harrier takes my Bishop Middleham bird list to 133)

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Tuesday 12th April 2011

The following were of note this afternoon;

Stoneybeck Lake
The single Whooper Swan still present.

Castle Lake
1pair Shoveler, 2f Goosander, 8 but possibly as many as 11 Little Ringed Plover, 8 Redshank, 15 Stock Dove, 3 Yellow Wagtail and 3 Wheatear.

A1 Flashes
3 Little Ringed Plover, 25 Curlew, 20 Swallow (all conveniently perched on a fence making them easy to count, Little Ringed Plover please take note) and 40+ Fieldfare still present.

One of the two hybrid Geese that's been around for a while now. Probably a cross between Canada and Greylag.

Congratulations to one of the many Mr & Mrs Coot that reside on Castle Lake on the birth of their four baby cootlets, or should that be cootling?

Couldn't resist a picture of one of today's Wheatear, gorgeous birds.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Monday 11th April 2011

Despite a few notable absentees, a healthy 73 species were seen around the village today, with the following of note;

Little Grebe   A pair remain on Stoneybeck Lake in addition to the Castle Lake birds.
Cormorant   Two on Castle Lake.
Whooper Swan   The single adult is still on Stoneybeck Lake.
Shelduck  Three pair together on Stoneybeck Lake this afternoon.
Shoveler   Four pair and one drake on Stoneybeck Lake.
Pochard   Female on Castle Lake.
Goosander   Two females on Castle Lake and a drake flying over heading west.
Common Buzzard   Two near Low Hardwick (picture below).
Peregrine   One with a kill near Stoneybeck Lake before flying off towards Fishburn (poor picture below).
Little Ringed Plover   Five together at Castle Lake and later two at Stoneybeck Lake.
Golden Plover   Four (three in full summer plumage) dropped into Castle Lake this afternoon (two in picture below).

Lesser Black-backed Gull   Three adults at Stoneybeck Lake.
Swallow   Small but increasing numbers particularly near Alan's Pool.
Sand Martin   Many back at the breeding colony in the working quarry, with at least three hundred seen at various locations today.
Yellow Wagtail   Two at Castle Lake.
Wheatear   Four together in the south-west corner of Castle Lake this morning and an additional bird in the stubble field east of Alan's Pool.
Blackcap   At least four singing males at various locations.
Willow Warbler   A major increase now easily out-numbering Chiffchaff with between 25-30 singing males, highest concentrations at the DWT Quarry (one pictured below) and around Fishburn Lake.

Corn Bunting   Two singing east of Alan's Pool (one pictured below) and another near Stoneybeck Lake.

Also today a Fox was seen near Island Farm being 'escorted' by a few Magpie.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Saturday 9th April 2011

Observations today from Joe Hughes, John Olley and myself.

On Stoneybeck Lake was a single Whooper Swan.

Castle Lake produced 1 Cormorant, 2 Pink-footed Geese, 4 Grey Heron, 1pair Shoveler, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 4 Little Ringed Plover, 4 Swallow, 20+ Sand Martin, 1 House Martin  and 2 Yellow Wagtail.

At the A1 Flashes were 1pair Shelduck, 2 drake Shoveler, 1 Common Buzzard, 6 Oystercatcher, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 80 Curlew, 1 Green Sandpiper, a very vocal Green Woodpecker, 2 Wheatear and 70 Fieldfare.

Finally a Willow Warbler was singing near Fishburn Lake.

One of the first returning Yellow Wagtail near Castle Lake this morning.

A very bad record picture of a very distant Black-tailed Godwit on the A1 Flashes today.

One of the two Wheatear next to the River Stell.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Monday 4th April 2011

Sightings today from Jimmy Wagner, John Olley and myself.

Castle Lake
1 Cormorant, 1 Pink-footed Goose, drake Pochard, 2 female Goosander, 3 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 20 Sand Martin, Green Woodpecker heard from the Low Hardwick direction, probable Yellow Wagtail seen briefly in flight, 20 Pied Wagtail and a male Reed Bunting.

Over at Low Hardwick were a small number of Greylag & Canada Geese including two presumed hybrid birds.

Single Pink-footed Goose that dropped in mid-afternoon.
Birdguides this morning reported a Great Grey Shrike behind the hide at Castle Lake before flying off towards the village.

A rather distant Wheatear on the A1 Flashes yesterday.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

I'm extremely grateful to E Mortimer for this excellent picture of last Thursdays Osprey over Stoneybeck Lake.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

One swallow doesn't make a summer...

...but it's a pleasant reminder that despite the April showers better weather is hopefully that little bit closer.

Highlights of an afternoon visit to Castle Lake were single Ringed Plover, Swallow, House Martin & Wheatear.
Others included 3 Grey Heron, 1pair Shelduck, 2pair Shoveler, drake Pochard, 3 Goosander, 12 Oystercatcher, 1 Dunlin, 1 Snipe, 42 Curlew, 10 Redshank, 2pair Lesser Black-backed Gull, 50 Sand Martin & 14+ Pied Wagtail.

On the A1 Flashes were 2 more Wheatear, while along Foumarts Lane were a pair of Mistle Thrush.

Ringed Plover and Dunlin together at Castle Lake this afternoon.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Saturday 2nd April 2011

Many thanks to Derek Charlton for news of the following today;

Castle Lake- 4 Whooper Swan, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 30+ Sand Martin.

Also belated news courtesy of Ian Forrest/Birdforum of an Osprey seen over Bishop Middleham at 4pm on Thursday 31st March, before flying off east towards Hurworth Burn Reservoir.