Durham Bird Club's Castle Lake Nature Reserve

Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 - A Birding Year To Remember

Well that's another year gone but what a great one it was for birds around Bishop Middleham, by my reckoning at least 151 different species were recorded of which I managed to connect with 136. There were also some very important breeding records.
I hope, in future blog posts, to expand in detail on some of the more memorable birds that have graced the area in 2011.
As a taster here's a list of just some of those birds that have grabbed my attention during the last 12 months.

Whooper Swan, Bewick's Swan, White-fronted Goose, Bean Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Barnacle Goose, Pintail, Garganey, Scaup, Goosander, Ruddy Duck, Quail, Black-necked Grebe, Gannet, Bittern, Little Egret, Spoonbill, Osprey, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Rough-legged Buzzard, Hobby, Peregrine, Water Rail, Little Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Knot, Curlew Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Woodcock, Ruff, Pectoral Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Black Tern, Cuckoo, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Little Owl, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Yellow Wagtail, Blue-headed Wagtail, Redstart, Wheatear, Whinchat, Grasshopper Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Grey Shrike, Brambling, Crossbill and Corn Bunting.

Phew! What a great list and after careful consideration my bird of the year for 2011 was the Rough-legged Buzzard, a species I might have to wait years before I see one again.

Many thanks to everyone who's read the blog during the year and I especially want to say thank you to all the birders who have contributed to it.
All The Best For 2012.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Bits 'n Pieces

A few observations from todays long walk around the patch.

Shelduck  Two pair already back on Castle Lake (wasn't expecting them until early February)

Pintail   A pair on Castle Lake

Roe Deer  Single at Low Hardwick this morning (pictured below)

Geese sp   44 went over high north-west late morning

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Masters Of All They Surveyed

Castle Lake still 95% frozen this afternoon but a thaw is forecast in the next few days. Birds on the only ice-free area included 112 Wigeon, 2 Gadwall, 45 Mallard, 31 Teal, 3 Tufted Duck and 5 Coot.
Various numbers of gulls coming and going with around 100 Common Gull present as the light started to fade.
Others on the periphery were Grey Heron, Kestrel, 7 Curlew and 3 Redshank.
Mid-afternoon produced 2 Short-eared Owl hunting around the lake including one again coming very close to the hide.

Birding for me has always been a relaxing and therapeutic experience and watching these charismatic birds go about their business just enhances those feelings. At least four more were becoming active over Low Hardwick by the time dusk was setting in.

Monday, 12 December 2011

More Of The Same Please

Couldn't resist another attempt at photographing the long staying immature Hen Harrier and the superb Short-eared Owl's this afternoon, results were pretty mixed as usual.
Hen Harrier hunting near Alan's Pool.

Over at Low Hardwick the Short-eared Owl's were once again very obliging, shame the light wasn't.

The only thing missing is the moon in the background.

The Tundra Bean Goose was still present alongside 2 European White-fronted Geese and 60 Greylag Geese though they were all a bit too far away for a picture.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Speed King

Witnessed not one but two awesome displays from the Castle Lake hide this afternoon.
Firstly a Short-eared Owl hunted the rough grass below and to the right of the hide, occasionally dropping down to the ground though it didn't appear to catch anything.

On the second of its two trips across the lake the SEO put up the 600 strong Golden Plover flock and a male Peregrine was quick to take advantage catching one in-flight but then dropped its prey into the water. After a short break to assess the situation (pictured below) it eventually successfully retrieved its prey with a display of brute force and flew off to the south carrying its booty.

Other birds of note on this visit were a Little Egret (very rare at this time of year) and the wintering Green Sandpiper. Over at Low Hardwick were the immature Hen Harrier and 5 Short-eared Owl.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sunday 4th December 2011

Sightings today with thanks to John Olley and Alan Jones.

Castle Lake;
1000 Golden Plover and 1000 Lapwing. 12 Curlew, 8 Redshank, Little Egret, 200 Wigeon, 250 Teal, 6 Shoveler, 3 Great Black Back Gulls, 3 Grey Heron, 2 Kestrel and male Sparrowhawk.

Low Hardwick;
Hen Harrier, 9 Short Eared Owls, Buzzard, 4 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk, 30 Stock Dove and 400 Starling.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Bean A Long Time Coming

Birdguides yesterday reported a Tundra Bean Goose at Low Hardwick so I ventured down this afternoon as I still needed Bean Goose for my BM list having missed the last one (a Taiga) last year.
On arrival most of the Geese were on the pond located on the southern part of the A1 flashes and difficult to see but fortunately after a short while they all gradually flew into a nearby field allowing much better views and after a few sweeps through the Greylag flock the TBG gave itself up alongside 2 White-fronted Geese.
Tundra Bean Goose on the left.
Also at Low Hardwick were a Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel and a staggering c1000 Golden Plover.

Birds of note on Castle Lake included 7 Redshank, a Green Sandpiper and this drake Goosander.

BM Year Tick #136 Tundra Bean Goose (BM Patch Tick #149)