Didn't feel too optimistic about seeing anything special today, yet more windy weather and on arrival at Castle Lake Northumbria Water were performing some maintainance on the sewage works so things wern't looking good however every cloud has a silver lining and once again perseverance and luck turned the day into one to remember.
Great to catch-up with Joe Hughes again but as we chatted the birds were proving rather hard to get, an hour or so produced 5 Cormorant, 1 Ruff, 1 Snipe, 52 Curlew (the most for quite some time), 2 Redshank and a Green Sandpiper but most of the wildfowl were tucked-up in various corners keeping out of the wind.
We headed off to check the flashes, another 15 Curlew, 2 Kestrel, 1 Buzzard and 20 Fieldfare were noted and then onwards to Alan's Pool.
As soon as we walked into view of the pool we were treated to fabulous views of a female Hen Harrier quartering the eastern edge of the pool and the field just to the east. (I'd earlier mentioned to Joe that it was almost exactly a year ago when I saw a HH in this area). We watched as it caught a small bird in flight then dropped into the long grass presumably it eat its prey. After a twenty minute wait with no further sightings Joe set off home but I stayed and after another wait it showed again but only briefly and I lost it while fumbling with the camera. Unfortunately I didn't manage any pictures.
Other birds in the Alan's Pool area included 3 Gadwall, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel and 11 overflying Stock Dove.
I received a text from Joe to say there was a Wheatear behind the hide so with a shower looming on the horizon I decided to head back and take refuge from the weather.
Sure enough the Wheatear duly obliged and I was soon joined in the hide by DBC members Brian Luke and Vic Codling making their first visit to Castle Lake. After some introductions and a brief summary of what was about I pointed out the Redshank and Ruff next to each other on the waters edge, except this Ruff looked smaller than the one I'd seen earlier so a look through the scope revealed it was actually a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper! It's always great to find a bird like this but even better to share it with two birders enjoying good views of their first ever PecSand.
#130 Great Black-backed Gull
#131 Hen Harrier
#132 Pectoral Sandpiper