Durham Bird Club's Castle Lake Nature Reserve

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Pochard (first breeding record)

Many thanks to Steve Evans for photographic evidence of a significant first breeding record of Pochard at Bishop Middleham.

Wednesday 29th June 2011

Another excellent variety of birds seen today including the following of note;

Castle Lake
11 Mute Swan with a further 2 on the River Stell and the pair with 3 cygnets on Alan's Pool, 2m2f Teal, fem. Pochard with single duckling, 1 Grey Partridge, 1 Cormorant, 2 Little Egret, 1 Hobby early morning only, 10 Little Ringed Plover including a juvenile, 1 Ringed Plover, 110 Lapwing, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull (one seen eating a Coot chick), 3 Stock Dove, Sedge Warbler singing opposite the hide and a Spotted Flycatcher nearby.

A few pictures from today;

Poor distant record shot of the Wood Sandpiper.

One of a growing number of Common Sandpiper now turning up on return migration.

One of the two Little Egret's around at the moment.

The sole Ringed Plover today flew in from the south @ 2pm.

Tuesday 28th June 2011

Catching up from yesterday (28th) thanks to a thorough report from Steve Evans.

Castle Lake
2 Little Egret, 2 Black-necked Grebe, female Pintail, Cuckoo feeding from fence for 20 mins, sub-adult Hobby hunting for 3-4 mins late morning, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper, 8 Little ringed Plover (1 juv), 1 Kingfisher, 4-5 Teal, 3 Redshank (1 juv), 4 Kestrel up together, several juv Yellow Wagtail, 3 Shoveller, 2 Crossbill over, minimum of 7 broods of Gadwall including a huge brood of 20 ducklings, 2+Spotted Flycatcher at edge of village green, Town End Farm, 11+ Pochard plus a female with a single duckling (first breeding on site).

Fishburn Lake / Railway line / Allans Pool
Little Egret feeding & roosting in trees, single Crossbill over, brood of 5 Gadwall ducklings, 2 Willow Tit families, 1 Lesser Whitethroat singing, Sedge Warbler family at lake, Gropper reeling, 1 Little Owl (seem to have dropped off in BM area ?), Lapwing with small young, singing Corn Bunting, 12+Tree Sparrow, Curlew, Treecreeper, Stock Dove family, GSWpkr, Bullfinch singing, 1 Cuckoo mobbed by several species, 3-4 Four Spotted Chasers, single Bee Orchid & several Pyramidal Orchids.

Cuckoo on the fence at Castle Lake.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Monday 27th June 2011

Sightings today from John Olley, Alan Jones and myself.

Farnless Farm and Stoneybeck Lake
Peregrine with Juveniles, Hobby through, 12 Corn Bunting, 50 Linnet, 6 Yellow Wagtail, 70 Skylark, 6 Grey Partridge, 22 Tree Sparrow, 6 Pied Wagtail, 5 Mute Swan, Shoveler with ducklings, 40 Coot, 36 Mallard, 10 Lapwing, 160 Sand Martin, 30 Swallow, 50 Swift high feeding, 8 Whitethroat and 6 Yellowhammer.

Castle Lake this evening;
Little EgretHobby on fence opposite side of the lake from hide, only 1 Black-necked Grebe noted, 2 Kestrel, 4 LR Plover including a juvenile, 4 Curlew, Redshank, 4 Green Sandpiper, 1-2 Common Sandpiper, juvenile Yellow Wagtail's, Whitethroat singing next to the hide.

Green and Common Sandpiper together.

The first juvenile Little Ringed Plover of the summer.  

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Saturday 25th June 2011

Hobby (Falco Subbuteo) at Castle Lake this morning;

This particular individual has been aged as a 1st-summer.

Other birds at Castle Lake included 8 adult Mute Swan, 2 Black-necked Grebe still, 3 Cormorant, 18 Curlew overflew, 2 Green Sandpiper, 15 Black-headed Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Common Tern briefly at 10:15, 4 juvenile Yellow Wagtail and 10+ Tree Sparrow including a few juveniles.

"Right we've made it onto his bloody blog now lets get out of here"  Mute Swan's about to depart together.

Thursday, 23 June 2011


Highlight of an evening visit to Castle Lake were two stunning summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe (two poor record pictures below).

Other birds seen included 5 Teal, 1 Cormorant, 13 Oystercatcher, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper and 10 Black-headed Gull including a juvenile.

On Stoneybeck Lake was the female Shoveler with 8-9 ducklings.

Earlier in the day John Olley noted the following from the Castle Lake hide;
Hobby (juv) close to the hide then sat on fence for 30 minutes, 200 Sand Martin, Green Sandpiper, 12 Oystercatcher, juveniles of Tree Sparrow, Swallow, Skylark and Yellow Wagtail around the hide.

(Black-necked Grebe is species #139 on my BM list)

Monday, 20 June 2011

Monday 20th June 2011

Sightings today from Dave Makinson and myself.

Castle Lake
Notable additions from yesterday were a Red Kite which drifted over heading East late morning (that's two months running I've missed Red Kite, heaven knows what I was looking at, probably trying to avoid standing in another cowpat), drake Wigeon, 80 Lapwing, 3 Curlew, 1 Redshank, 1 Common Sandpiper and 2 Common Gull.

Yet another noisy Oystercatcher dispute at Castle Lake.

The Alan's Pool Mute Swan pair with their three cygnets.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sunday 19th June 2011

Many thanks to John Olley for today's sightings.

Castle Lake
2 Green Sandpipers, 14 Oystercatchers, 30 Lapwing, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 6 Grey Heron, 6 Mute Swan no sign of the cygnet, Greylag with 3 goslings, 44 Canada Geese, Cormorant, 6 Little Grebe, 9 Great Crested Grebe (one bird still sitting), Gadwall duckling broods include 19,9,9,5,7,7 with a further 20 adult birds, 60 Mallard, 20 Tufted Duck, 4 Teal, 6 Shoveler, 8 Pochard, 3 Shelduck, 98 Coot, 4 Moorhen, 8 Black Headed Gull, 2 LBB Gulls, 240 Sand Martin, 20 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 12 Pied Wagtail mostly juveniles, Reed Bunting, 2 Meadow Pipit and Skylark all singing and displaying. Yellowhammer, 20 Tree Sparrow, 2 Stock Dove, 40 Starling and male Kestrel. 

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Saturday 18th June 2011

A few hours in the early afternoon at a rather wet Castle Lake produced the following of note;

5 Teal, a pair of Little Grebe with one juvenile, 1 Cormorant, 1 Green Sandpiper and 2 Common Sandpiper.

Only one adult Greylag looking after these three gosling, whereabouts of the other parent unknown.

Friday 17th June 2011

Many thanks to Steve Evans for Friday's report and picture.

Stoneybeck - fem Shoveller with 9 small ducklings, 1Lrp, 1Hare, 1Little Owl

Castle Lake (13:00 - 15:00) - Hobby over Fishburn lake 13:10
5 adult Lrp, 2Buzzard, 5Teal, 2pr Shoveller, fem Mallard with 19 ducklings, several Yellow Wagtail including male Blue Headed.

3 Bee Orchids & 6 Pyramidal Orchids in BM Quarry

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Thursday 16th June 2011

A few sightings from a brief morning visit to Castle Lake;

4 Shoveler, 3 Teal, 2 Little Grebe, 8 Grey Heron, 1 Kestrel, 1 Common Sandpiper and a few juvenile Tree Sparrow.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Monday 13th June 2011

A more thorough look around today revealed the following;

Stoneybeck Lake - The only bird of note here was a Yellow Wagtail.

Castle Lake - Mute Swan pair with one cygnet, single Greylag Goose with 3 gosling, 4 Canada Geese broods with 21 gosling, Shelduck pair now left with only one duckling, 2 drake Shoveler, 2 drake Teal, 18 Pochard (15m3f), Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe pair with 3 juveniles, Peregrine in from behind the hide at 13:30 then climbed and departed high to the south-west, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Common Sandpiper (the same bird, which has a distinctive mark on its right flank, has been present now for at least five weeks), 10 Black-headed Gull, 1 Herring Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Common Gull, numerous juvenile Pied Wagtail and the Blue-headed Wagtail still.

A1 Flashes - 10 Oystercatcher.

Moto-X Pools - 2f Mallard, 2 pair Gadwall, 1 pair Tufted Duck, Great-spotted Woodpecker overflew and singing Reed Bunting.

Bridlepath to Fishburn Lake - male Kestrel, a Hobby at 11:50 viewed for ten minutes just west of the lake mostly at height, 50+ Swift, 2 family groups of Willow Tit, also juvenile Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit and Goldfinch.

Fishburn Lake - Mute Swan pair with 4 cygnets, Great-spotted Woodpecker and singing Sedge Warbler.

Alan's Pool - Mute Swan pair still sitting, 4 Oystercatcher.

Family of Mallard's on the River Stell.

Truly apalling out of focus picture of the Hobby near Fishburn Lake today.
(Only had the compact camera with me so a case of point it in the general direction and hope for the best, or not!).

Friday, 10 June 2011

Friday 10th June 2011

First visit for over a week after being away sampling the birding delights of Norfolk and Suffolk.

Castle Lake this evening produced a Blue-headed Wagtail, 1 Little Egret, 6 Grey Heron, Greylag Goose with 3 gosling, drake Teal, Kestrel, 6 adult & 2 juvenile Oystercatcher, 1 Redshank, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Mistle Thrush overflew and a Corn Bunting singing close to the hide (pictured below).

Little Egret on Castle Lake this evening. At 6.15pm it flew to Alan's Pool but didn't stay long after being harrased by a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gull's and flew down to the southern part of the A1 Flashes (the northern area is now completely bone dry).

Catching up with news from last weekend thanks to John Olley and Birdguides;
Sunday 5th June 2011 - Castle Lake  Greenshank and a Hobby chasing hirundines.