Didn't think I'd have to wait until 25th July before I saw my first Ruff of the year, wintering birds have been regular in recent times and there's often spring birds passing through too but not this year. The circumstances leading up to the appearance of today's bird were a bit strange too, Peregrine chasing and failing to catch a Snipe, flies off south spooking a big flock of Lapwings near Low Hardwick which then fly to the lake bringing the Ruff with them!
An early morning arrival at Castle Lake saw a very active Common Tern but this soon moved on, 4 Green Sandpiper, though one was flushed and flew off high west when a dog walker got too close to the waters edge and 5 Snipe flew in (I think five is the most I've seen here so far this year).
Onto the hide, from where the Scaup, 2 Cormorant, 1 Little Egret, 3 Little Ringed Plover, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 juvenile Yellow Wagtail and the aforementioned Ruff and Peregrine were seen. Greylag Geese were coming and going all the time with an estimated 500 birds in the area.
A good selection of species were in and around Davison's Farmyard including Song Thrush, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Sparrow, Linnet and Goldfinch.
After lunch I walked over to Low Hardwick, looking for Whinchat and Stonechat (remember them Durham birders?), but I couldn't even manage a Meadow Pipit or a Reed Bunting today.
Birds that were around included a Sparrowhawk, 3 Kestrel, a group of 80 Swift moving south, juvenile Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler carrying food, Blackcap, Willow Tit and 2 Bullfinch.
A quick check of Stoneybeck Lake on the way out revealed what was probably the same juvenile Ruff that had graced Castle Lake earlier in the day.