Durham Bird Club's Castle Lake Nature Reserve

Monday, 18 July 2011

Morning Redstart

This morning dawned bright and sunny and as is often the case this called for a clockwise circular walk around Castle Lake keeping the sun behind me.
The views from the wall that forms the eastern boundary of the lake offer a different perspective from those from the hide and as I made my way around I picked off most of the birds on offer including the expected good selection of waders - 8 Little Ringed Plover, an impressive 300 Lapwing, 2 Dunlin (one in summer plumage, the other looked like a juvenile), 8 Curlew, 2 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper and 5 Common Sandpiper.
The drake Scaup remains present and 2 Common Tern looked at home, often settling on the Island or various fence posts, hopefully they'll be back to breed here next year. Groups of Greylag Geese sideslipped in from the south and eventually they totalled 130.

One of this mornings Common Tern viewed from the hide.

The only inhabitants of Alan's Pool were the Mute Swan pair with their three cygnets and two family groups of Coot.
Usually at this point I take the quick route back to the hide following the boundary wall, however this morning I decided to follow the raised embankment towards the old sluice gate where the Skerne and Stell converge. About halfway along a small bird flew left to right ahead of me perching in open view, and as soon as I noticed the quivering bright red tail I knew I was looking at my first Redstart for the Bishop Middleham area. As I slowly advanced it moved further ahead of me flying from tree to tree, then re-crossed the river into some dense foliage and out of sight. I believe it was an adult female but as most of my views were of it in flight I can't rule out a very worn adult male, but I wasn't too bothered I was just chuffed that I'd seen the first of my target birds for the area this year, the others being Pied Flycatcher and Osprey.

As I waited in vein for the Redstart to reappear a Common Buzzard flew overhead.

Best picture I could manage of the Buzzard with the compact camera, certainly missing a few feathers this one.

Continuing on to a half-hour session in the hide, though nothing else of interest was added to the notebook here, but a Spotted Flycatcher near the car park area finished the morning off nicely.

Spot the Spotted Flycatcher! You can just make it out in the centre of the picture (honest!).

Redstart is the 140th species I've seen in the BishMidd area since April 2007 and the 120th species this year.

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