Durham Bird Club's Castle Lake Nature Reserve

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Knots Landing

Well one did anyway, the first Knot sighting at Castle Lake since 2007.

Many thanks to Jimmy Wagner and Steve Evans for todays sightings and pictures, as Steve says an awesome selection in & around the Castle Lake area - the regions Premier inland birding location.

 juv Knot, 3Curlew Sand, 1st wint Med Gull, 5Green Sand (8 in area), 3Comm Sand, juv LRPlover, 2+Little Egret, 3Snipe, Wigeon, 1,000 Lapwing, 11Shoveller, juv Ruff , Kingfisher, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat, 4Yellow Wagtail, 1Grey Wagtail, 5 drake Gadwall in full plumage displaying, 25House Sparrow, 10Tree Sparrow, 12+Sand Martin, 4Swift, Dabchick pr with 3young, Stock Dove with eggs, 6Kestrel, pr Buzzard etc.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Once Bittern Twice Shy

I think the title says it all really, this morning was my first opportunity to get down to Castle Lake since the Bittern was first located on Thursday evening but even though it was seen well out in the open for forty-five minutes again yesterday evening it failed to put in an appearance for me. A female walker close to the waters edge in the south-west corner certainly didn't help my chances.
Please stay away from the waters edge, birds are wild, you can't go up to them and pat them like a dog!!!
There was some compensation however in the shapely form of a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, year tick number 125 and my first here for a few years.
Other birds of note included 1 Wigeon, 12 Teal, a Little Grebe pair with 3 very young chicks, 4 Cormorant, 2 Common Buzzard overflew south-east @11:00, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel,  2 juvenile Little Ringed Plover, 1 Ruff  (earlier a group of 5 were on Stoneybeck Lake),  2 Snipe, 3 Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpiper, c200 Black-headed Gull, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Wheatear, 1 Whitethroat and a charm of 50 Goldfinch.
The A1 Flashes held c400 Lapwing, 15 Curlew and another Green Sandpiper.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


Birdguides this evening reporting a Bittern in the reedbed at the south end of Castle Lake, a superb first for the site.

Monday, 22 August 2011

When Less(er) Is More

Finally added Lesser Whitethroat to my Bishop Middleham patch list today, not a species I've made a great deal of effort to find in previous years and it looked like it would top my target birds list for next year but fortunately a very smart example provided great views as I walked along the embankment between the old sluice gate and Alan's Pool this morning. Also along this stretch were Common Whitethroat, Willow Tit and surprisingly a Sedge Warbler was still around. Alan's Pool itself contained what I believe were two firsts for me on this small lake, a Cormorant and a Little Grebe.
Apart from a quick detour to Low Hardwick were the only bird of note was a single Skylark the rest of the birding centred around Castle Lake which provided the following of note;
1 Little Egret (though 2 had been seen earlier), 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 3 juvenile Little Ringed Plover hiding amongst the rocks and possibly the last of the year, 10 Snipe, 3 Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpiper, around 350 Black-headed Gull dropped in early afternoon, a Kingfisher in the south-west corner, 3 Yellow Wagtail and a Wheatear on the fence behind the hide.
Kingfisher this morning.

Lesser Whitethroat is species #141 on my BM list and #124 for the year.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Fifteen Minute Raptor Fest

Monday dawned bright and sunny so on arrival at Castle Lake I decided to do another clockwise circular walk around, this time taking in Fishburn Lake as well as Low Hardwick, with a check on the flashes before visiting the hide.
Didn't have to wait long before some great birds put in an appearance, the sequence of events went something like this;
09:00-09:10  Marsh Harrier (looked like the same bird as last saturday) appear's from the south flying low around the eastern side of the lake, then after reaching the northern end flies back south with two Carrion Crow's escorting it out of 'their' airspace.
Marsh Harrier at the south, then north end of Castle Lake viewed from the north-east corner.

No sooner had I reminded myself never again to buy camera batteries from poundland when I heard a noise above me;
09:10-09:15  Hobby an adult, almost directly above me, swoops down and catches a Sand Martin before stowing it away and flying into a nearby tree (first time I've actually seen a Hobby catch a hirundine).
09:15  Sparrowhawk decides its time to get in on the act and flies right past my position.

Needless to say the rest of the day's birds couldn't live up to that first quarter hour.
A single Swift overflew before reaching Alan's Pool where I veered off, skirting Island Farm. The horse grazing field contained a Wheatear and 3 Yellow Wagtail with numerous Pied Wagtail and a few Linnet.
Fishburn Lake itself was pretty quiet, despite the recent rise in water levels a Greenshank and a Green Sandpiper were finding it to their liking. Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were still singing in nearby trees.
Low Hardwick has been pretty poor recently, especially for small birds and today was no exception, I only noted 2 Kestrel and a late Sedge Warbler.
Onto the A1 Flashes which were covered in Lapwing (c300) with company from 21 Curlew and a Green Sandpiper.
Birds of note from the Castle Lake hide included 1 Shelduck, 4 Pochard, 6 Cormorant, 2 Ruff, 4 Greenshank, 3 Green Sandpiper, 4 Common Sandpiper, 150 Black-headed Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull and 30 Common Gull including a few juveniles.

Three of the four Tew Tew Tew's.

After leaving the hide, wave after wave of Greylag Geese flew in from Stoneybeck Lake. Just after the second stile I was greated with a flock of 50 or so Goldfinch and at least 12 Tree Sparrow. Also in this area were two very active Spotted Flycatcher one of which only just stayed still long enough to have its picture taken.

Spotted Flycatcher, rounding off another good days birding.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Saturday 13th August 2011

Some good birds around this morning including Spotted Redshank, Marsh Harrier, Green Woodpecker and Kingfisher.

Started (and finished) today's birding with a look at Stoneybeck Lake were the only birds of note were 1 each of Greenshank and Green Sandpiper. A Great Spotted Woodpecker overflew towards the quarry.

Onto Castle Lake and straight to the hide from where the Spotted Redshank first reported yesterday evening duly obliged (picture below);
Juvenile Spotted Redshank, now very much expected in small numbers during late summer at Bishop Middleham. (2011 Year Tick No.123)

Others at Castle Lake during an extended circular walk included 2 Kestrel, 300 Lapwing, 3 Ruff, 1 Dunlin, 3 Greenshank, 4 Green Sandpiper, 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Swift and a Green Woodpecker near Davison's Farmyard.
Just before 10am the Lapwing flock went up and for a change the cause wasn't a Sparrowhawk but this;
Marsh Harrier over Castle Lake this morning (once again only carrying the compact camera which doesn't know what its supposed to be focusing on, hence poor record pictures)

It headed off south with lots of company from the Lapwing flock but at 10.25 it re-appeared over Low Hardwick flying low towards Alan's Pool with only a single Carrion Crow as escort.
Other birds in the Low Hardwick area included 4 Kestrel, Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Whitethroat, 2 Bullfinch and excellent views of a Kingfisher over the Moto-X Pools.
The A1 Flashes contained one each of Greenshank and Green Sandpiper.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Raining Waders

Plenty of Greenshank and Ruff around Bishop Middleham this afternoon, difficult to put an exact number on each species but it went something like this;

Greenshank - 1 at Stoneybeck Lake, 2 at Castle Lake with another 4 overflying but didn't quite land and 3 on the A1 Flashes.
Ruff - 2 initially on Castle Lake later increasing to 5 with a further 3-4 overflying with the above mentioned Greenshank.
Other waders at Castle Lake included 2 Ringed Plover briefly before flying off south, 5 Dunlin, 1 Snipe, 1 Curlew, 3 Green Sandpiper (with another on the flashes) and 2 Common Sandpiper.
Best of the rest were 5 Teal, 28 Little Grebe, 6 Cormorant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2+ Swift, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Whitethroat and a flock of 50 Goldfinch.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Wednesday 10th August 2011

Another very wet morning at Castle Lake which provided the following highlights;

Teal numbers increasing almost daily with 8 now present, 5 Cormorant together, an adult Ringed Plover was the first for a while, 4 Dunlin remain but Ruff now down to just 2, 6 Snipe, 2 Greenshank and 2 Common Sandpiper.
Ringed Plover from this morning.

I decided to risk a soaking and left the hide and started walking off towards the A1 Flashes when a Peregrine came in from the south-west chasing Lapwing, it then performed three stooping dives over the northern end of the Lake but pulled-up each time without taking anything, it flew out of sight of my position so I carried on to the flashes but the only waders seen here were 2 Green Sandpiper.

So it was back to the hide to dry out and see if the Peregrine had brought any new birds into play....it had!
Most of the ducks were on the water so I took the opportunity to scan them and found this...

Poor record pictures of a very unexpected year tick.

Yes its a ***** Duck.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away, Come Back Everyday...

....(from this birders point of view anyway).

Popped down again this evening to see if anything new was in but apart from a few Redshank it was pretty much business as usual.

Castle Lake
4 Teal, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 3 Ruff, 4 Dunlin, 1 Snipe, 5 Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpiper.

A1 Flashes
8 Curlew, 4 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpiper.

These five Redshank must have dropped-in this afternoon.

 A Snipe actually made it over this side of the lake for a change.

If August continues to stay generally wet then the A1 Flashes are going to be good for waders this autumn.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Sunday 7th August 2011

Waders in the Bishop Middleham area today included the following;

Little Ringed Plover - 1 juvenile at Castle Lake.
Ruff - still 3 at Castle Lake.
Dunlin - 4 at Castle Lake and 1 at Stoneybeck Lake.
Greenshank - 3 at Castle Lake and 4 on the A1 Flashes early on, then later 7 at Castle Lake and another heard calling as it passed Stoneybeck Lake.
Green Sandpiper - 2 at Castle Lake and 1 on the A1 Flashes.
Common Sandpiper - 2 at Castle Lake.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Thursday 4th August 2011

A few pictures from this evening's visit to Castle Lake.

Dunlin with one of four Little Ringed Plover.

Three Ruffians.

Sparrowhawk keeping an eye on the eastern scrape.

Not for the first time an overflying helicopter spooked all the Greylag's out of the fields and back onto the lake.

Still amongst them was this individual, white around the base of the bill and a much paler neck and head than any of the other Geese.

Another picture, possible hybrid Greylag/White-fronted Goose??

Other birds present this evening included 2 Cormorant, 3 Greenshank and 5 Green Sandpiper.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Tuesday 2nd August 2011

Waders seen this morning at Castle Lake were 6 Little Ringed Plover (1adult 5juvenile), 4 Ruff, 1 Dunlin, 7 Snipe, 3 Greenshank and 5 Green Sandpiper.
Other birds of note included 2 Cormorant, a Kingfisher on the River Stell and a Sedge Warbler alongside the River Skerne.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Ruff 4 Greenshank 3

Well that was the score at Castle Lake this afternoon but expect the totals to increase further as we approach the time of year when return wader passage really picks-up, double figure counts of Greenshank and Ruff wouldn't be a surprise based on recent years.
Other waders on view were 4 Little Ringed Plover, 350 Lapwing, 1 Dunlin, 1 Snipe, 2 Curlew and 4 Green Sandpiper.
2 female Teal were the first for a while and they were joined by 2 Cormorant, 1 Little Egret, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 22 Common Gull and overflying Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.