Durham Bird Club's Castle Lake Nature Reserve

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sunday 30th December 2012

My final visit of 2012 resulted in a cracking selection of birds, that is once I got there as the road leading into the village from the Sedgefield (A177) direction is under water as Stoneybeck Lake continues to expand and expand and...

Stoneybeck Lake - 250 Greylag Geese, 17 Canada Geese, 1 Shelduck, 2 Wigeon, 10 Teal, 40 Coot, 50 Lapwing and 35 Curlew.

Castle Lake - 205 Canada Geese, c200 Wigeon, c200 Teal, drake Pintail, 5 Shoveler, 7+ Pochard, 3 Goldeneye, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Cormorant, 400 Lapwing, 70 Curlew, 18 Redshank and this strange presumed hybrid duck.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Tuesday 18th December 2012

Sightings from today;

Low Hardwick; 125 Greylag Geese, 2 Kestrel, 3 Roe Deer.
Alan's Pool; Kingfisher, 2 Grey Heron, 2 Willow Tit.
Fishburn Lake; 3 Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Willow Tit, GS Woodpecker.
Castle Lake; 100 Golden Plover over, 200 Lapwing, 2 Cormorant, 300 Woodpigeon, 40+ Tree Sparrow at Island Farm set-aside.

Some of the 40+ Tree Sparrow utilising the seed-crop near Island Farm.

And again with some Goldfinch.
Stoneybeck Lake/Farnless Farm; 104 Greylag Geese, 3f Goldeneye, 85 Lapwing, 11 Curlew, 3 Redshank, 200 Linnet, 6 Brambling.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Saturday 15th December 2012

Birds seen today included the following.

Castle Lake (60% frozen); Snipe, 130 Lapwing, 20 Curlew, 10 Redshank, Green Sandpiper, GBb Gull.

Song Thrush behind the Castle Lake hide.

Stoneybeck Lake (90% frozen); 62 Greylag Geese, 68 Mallard, 8 Teal, Sparrowhawk, 4 Moorhen, 30 Stock Dove, 8 Magpie, Brambling, 50 Linnet
Brambling near Stoneybeck this morning.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Tuesday 11th December 2012

The Short-eared Owl reported yesterday was present again near Alan's Pool this afternoon.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Monday 10th December 2012

Sightings today thanks to John Olley;

Castle Lake;
194 Coot, 280 Teal, 120 Wigeon, 130 Mallard, 50 Tufted Duck, 30 Gadwall, 10 Moorhen, 45 Curlew, 100 Lapwing , 16 Redshank, 10 Snipe, Green Sandpiper, 20 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush below hide, 200 Starling, Grey Wagtail and 10 Reed Bunting.
Alan's Pool;
Short Eared Owl.

Low Hardwick and A1 Flashes;
40 Lesser Redpoll, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, Buzzard, 2 Green Sandpiper together, 4 Skylark and Grey Heron.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Friday 7th December 2012

Castle Lake about 70% frozen still today, however the remaining 30% provided some good numbers but nothing out of the ordinary;
5 Mute Swan, 10 Canada Geese, 200 Wigeon, 300 Teal, 20 Tufted Duck, 60 Mallard, 30 Gadwall, 150 Coot (my highest ever count, obviously includes a few refugees from iced-up Alan's Pool & Fishburn Lake), 52 Curlew, 8 Redshank.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Dunlin On Ice

Not content with three Dunlin at Stoneybeck Lake in November, two more put in an appearance today on a 90% frozen Castle Lake. Checking my records reveals these are the first Dunlin I've seen here in December.
Two Dunlin in centre of picture which flew in with some Golden Plover, can't help feeling these birds will struggle to survive away from the coast if these freezing conditions persist.
And if the weather doesn't get them this already blood-stained Great Black-backed Gull might.

Castle Lake also produced c100 Wigeon, c300 Teal, female Pochard, drake Goldeneye, 140 (!) Coot, 5 Curlew, 8 Redshank, 3 Great Black-backed Gull and a Grey Wagtail.

The un-freezable River Stell produced a decent selection including;

Grey Heron

Green Sandpiper (which flew off to the west of the A1M, but later relocated back to Castle Lake)

drake Goldeneye, with one of the two Little Grebe in the background

One of those day's when your not bothered there's a motorway in the background

Also witnessed some presumed weather related movement with 10 Skylark and a single Meadow Pipit over north with 3 Skylark later going south.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Castle Lake Picture From 2000

Stumbled across this picture about the former Bishop Middleham Castle taken in 2000 with what was then a much smaller 'Sewage Works Lake' in the background.


Back to today, with sightings from John Olley;

Castle Lake
Severe flooding of the area. 
10 Pochard, Little Grebe, 50 Tufted Duck, 130 Coot, 7 Redshank.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Friday 23rd November 2012

Birds seen today included the following;

Stoneybeck Lake -  2 female Goldeneye still present.

DWT Quarry - 60 Redwing, Goldcrest, Yellowhammer.
Low Hardwick/River Stell - 85 Curlew, Kestrel, 3 Willow Tit, 1 Fieldfare, Treecreeper, Kingfisher.

Fishburn Lake - 38 Gadwall, 2 Wigeon, Woodcock, 10 Long-tailed Tit.

Some of the Gadwall, Tufted Duck & Wigeon on Fishburn Lake this afternoon.

Don't often get this close to Gadwall, another ten were on Alan's Pool.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Monday 19th November 2012

A few sightings to catch-up with from the last few days.

Sat.17th November 2012
Castle Lake; 12 Pochard, 2 Goldeneye, 3 Redshank, Green Sandpiper (distant pic. below);

Mon.19th November 2012
Stoneybeck Lake
3 Whooper Swans (2 adults with a juv). (JO).

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Tuesday 13th November 2012

Sightings today included the following;

Castle Lake - 2 Goldeneye, 2 Little Grebe, 6 Cormorant, Sparrowhawk, 40 Curlew, 3 Redshank, Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Low Hardwick - Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 25 Snipe, Jay.

A1 Flashes/River Skerne - Green Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Song Thrush.

Hardwick Hall CP - 3 Goosander, Little Grebe, GS Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest, Willow Tit on feeders.

Stoneybeck Lake - Sparrowhawk, 7 Redshank.

A few pictures from today;

Wigeon pair on Hardwick Hall Lake
3 drake Goosander also at Hardwick Hall

Greylag and Canada Geese near Castle Lake.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Monday 5th November 2012

A decent selection of birds were seen today including the following;

Castle Lake - Sparrowhawk, 40 Snipe, 4 Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Little Owl & 7 Corn Bunting.

Mediocre picture of a partially obscured Little Owl at Castle Lake this morning.

Low Hardwick - Bar-headed Goose in with 400 Greylag Geese, 250 Canada Geese, Kestrel, 25 Golden Plover, 50 Curlew, GS Woodpecker, 30 Fieldfare, 15 Redwing, Willow Tit, Jay & 18 Lesser Redpoll.

The wandering Bar-headed Goose was back in the area again today.

Stoneybeck Lake - 3 Whooper Swan (pictured below), 4 Redshank but the Long-tailed Duck wasn't seen.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Autumn Wader's

Delayed today's birding until the afternoon, purely to check for any Owl activity over Low Hardwick although there hasn't been any reports yet and it wasn't until mid-November last year that the sightings began. Sure enough nothing seen today but hopefully there will be Short-eared Owl's to be seen again this winter.

Earlier it was a couple of unexpected wader species that took my attention, firstly three Dunlin were at Stoneybeck Lake, this being the third November running I've now seen them at Bishop Middleham even though it seems a little late for Dunlin to be seen inland.
Then Castle Lake produced a single Black-tailed Godwit, definately the latest I've seen this species at BM.

The Long-tailed Duck was still present on Stoneybeck Lake.

Also some better access to the hide has been completed.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Wednesday 31st October 2012

The Long-tailed Duck was reported still on Stoneybeck Lake this morning (DM).

Just realised during the blog's hiatus I havn't posted any pictures of the floods in late September when the A1 flashes turned into the A1 lake.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

At Last

At last a blog update and what's more a new bird species for Bishop Middleham, a female/immature Long-tailed Duck was found on Stoneybeck Lake this morning.

A full list of sightings from today;

Stoneybeck Lake;
Female/Immature Long-tailed Duck (first site record for BM), 300 Lapwing, 150 Golden Plover, 6 Redshank, 6 Snipe, 18 Curlew, 11 Shoveler, Little Grebe.

Castle Lake;
Green Sandpiper, 4 Redshank, 250 Golden Plover, 50+ Snipe, 6 Little Grebe, 6 Pochard, 200 Canada Geese, 4 Cormorant, plus good numbers of Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler & Gadwall.

Low Hardwick/River Stell;
40 Fieldfare, Willow Tit, Kingfisher.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Red-crested Pochard

A single Red-crested Pochard was found on Castle Lake by Andrew Kinghorn yesterday (22nd) afternoon and was confirmed as still present today (JO).
Red-crested Pochard on Castle Lake (photo by Andrew Kinghorn) only the second record of this species at Bishop Middleham.
Andrew also found and photographed this Mediterranean Gull.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sunday 5th August 2012

Today's sightings;

Castle Lake;
juv. Dunlin, Greenshank, 10 Snipe, Common Sandpiper, GC Grebe carrying 3 recently hatched chicks, 500 Greylag Geese, 100 BH Gull, Corn Bunting. 
A1 Flashes;
juv. Shelduck, Oystercatcher, 3 Common Sandpiper, Peregrine over high south. 
No sign of Pec Sand between 12:00-15:00.

juvenile Dunlin at Castle Lake this afternoon.


Great Crested Grebe carrying three chicks.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

July Round-Up

Catching up with sightings from the last few weeks;

Tuesday 10th July;

Castle Lake;
9 Redshank through east, Tufted Duck pair with 7 ducklings, fem. Wigeon, 5 GC Grebe, 2 Grey Partridge.(NF).

Thursday 12th July;

Island Farm/Alan's Pools 
8 Corn Bunting, 48 Skylark, 14 Yellowhammer, 20 Meadow Pipit, 110 Linnet, 40 Swallow, 4 Grey Partridge, 20 Tree Sparrow, immature Stonechat, Sparrowhawk, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Gadwall and 10 Mallard. (JO).

Saturday 14th July;
Castle Lake/A1 Flashes;
Little Ringed Plover with single chick, Common Sandpiper, 21 Oystercatcher, 95 Coot plus chicks, 2pr GC Grebe, 2 Cormorant, 5 Grey Heron, 160 Black-headed Gull, 2 Yellow Wagtail, Corn Bunting. (NF/MN).

Sunday 22nd July;
Castle Lake;
Ruff, Common Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit(sp), Little Ringed Plover, Corn Bunting, 3 Tree Sparrows, Hobby came through at 1.30 hunting hirundines. (JH).

Tuesday 24th July;

Castle Lake;
8 Shelduck, 3 Wigeon, 3 Shoveler, 1 Teal, Tufted Duck with broods of 5,5 & 1, 6 Little Grebe, 5 GC Grebe, 4 Cormorant, 5 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 LR Plover with single chick, 2 Curlew, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 LBb Gull, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Tree Sparrow, Corn Bunting singing.

A1 Flashes;
1 LR Plover, 16 Oystercatcher, 3 Common Sandpiper.

Stoneybeck Lake/Farnless Farm;
275 Greylag Geese, 6 Mute Swan, 3 Pochard, 4 Shoveler, 1 Little Grebe, Corn Bunting singing. (NF).

Wednesday 25th July;
Castle Lake;
21 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Dunlin. (DF).

Friday 27th July;
Castle Lake;
132 Coot, 500 Lapwing, 2 Curlew, Common Sandpiper, 10 Oystercatcher, Tufted Duck broods of 5,5,6 and 7. 6 Little Grebe, two Great Crested Grebes still sitting, 14 Tree Sparrow, 2 Grey 2 Yellow Wagtail. (JO).

Saturday 28th July;
Castle Lake;
female Marsh Harrier over at 17:15. (MR).

Sunday 29th July;
Castle Lake;
Common Buzzard, LRP with juvenile, 2 Golden Plover, 400 Lapwing, 5 Snipe, Common Sandpiper.   
A1 Flashes;
120 Greylag Geese, 3 Common Sandpiper, LRP, 25 Curlew, Yellow Wagtail. (NF).
In the afternoon a Pectoral Sandpiper was found on Castle Lake by Joe Hughes, the seventh record of this species at Bishop Middleham.

Monday 30th July;
Castle Lake;
3 Common Sandpiper, 600 Lapwing, 2 Snipe, 2 LRP, 6 Oystercatcher, 120 sand Martin, 4 Yellow Wagtail. 
A1 Flashes;
Pectoral Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, 10 Oystercatcher, 300 Lapwing, Buzzard. (JO).

Tuesday 31st July;
A1 Flashes;
Pectoral Sandpiper showing well between 07:30-10:00 though occaisionally elusive; also Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 LRP (1 juv.), 2 Teal, 2 Stock Dove, Yellow Wagtail. 

Castle Lake;
Peregrine, 2 Common Tern over. (NF).

Farnless Farm/Stoneybeck Lake;
Hobby. (AK).

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Saturday 7th July 2012

Today's sightings thanks to John Olley.

Castle Lake;
120 Lapwing with 4 chicks, 2 Curlew, 3 adult Little Ringed Plover with a single chick, Ringed Plover through, 5 Oystercatcher chicks with 10 Adults, 3 Common Sandpiper, Garganey, 16 Shoveler, 70 Gadwall including ducklings, 7 Grey Heron, Quail singing, 5 Yellow Wagtail, 14 Pied Wagtail, Corn Bunting, 12 Tree Sparrow and Sparrowhawk.

A1 Flashes/Low Hardwick;
40 Curlew, 100 Black Headed Gull, 10 Lesser B B Gulls, 12 Common Gull, 4 Pochard, Buzzard and 40 Carrion Crow together.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Tuesday 3rd July 2012

Today's sightings;

Castle Lake;
24 Greylag Geese, 5 Shoveler, moulting drake Garganey, 2 Grey Partridge, 3 Cormorant, 1 Little Egret, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 85 Lapwing, 1 summer plumage Black Tailed Godwit, 10 Curlew, 1 Redshank, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Common Tern, 2 Corn Bunting, 6 Yellow Wagtail.

Low Hardwick;
1 possibly 2 Quail calling, 7 Reed Bunting, 5 Sedge Warbler, 20 Skylark. (NF, JO, BC).

A rather messy looking drake Garganey on Castle Lake this evening before it flew to the A1 Flashes in company with the five Shoveler. Presumabley it is the same individual that has been present on and off for the last few weeks.
Plenty of Gadwall broods around now
The Little Egret looks well settled despite the close attentions of one or two Grey Heron.

Corn Bunting singing close to the hide.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Monday 2nd July 2012

Today's sightings;

Castle Lake;
Redshank, 7 Common Sandpipers, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 50 Lapwing including 3 chicks, 14 Oystercatcher including 4 chicks. 40 adult Gadwall with 21 ducklings, 3 Shoveler, 8 Pochard, 24 Tufted Duck, 40 Mallard, 70 Coot, 2 pair of GCGrebes, 2 pair of Little Grebe, 2 Cormorant, Little Egret, 4 Grey Heron, 100 Sand Martin, 12 Pied Wagtail, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 40+ Skylark, 30 Linnet, 80 Jackdaw, 30 Common Gull, 20 Black Headed Gull and 4 Stock Dove. (NF,JO,DM).

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Saturday 30th June 2012

Sightings today included the following;

Castle Lake;
Little Egret, 2 Shoveler, 9 Pochard, 4 GC Grebe, 4 Little Grebe, 3 LR Plover, Common Sandpiper. 
A1 Flashes;
7 Curlew, 2 Grey Partridge. 
Stoneybeck Lake;
8 Pochard, 2 Shoveler, Shelduck pair with 7 juveniles, 4 Little Grebe, 4 Mute Swan.

The first Little Egret of the "summer" at Castle Lake this morning.

Thursday, 14 June 2012


Distant record photo of today's sleepy drake Garganey on Castle Lake.

A Kingfisher was seen on the River Stell.

Plenty of House Martin's still collecting mud in Town End Farm.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012


Couple of poor record pictures of todays Wood Sandpiper on the A1 flashes.

A Cuckoo was also heard today, calling from the Low Hardwick/Bradbury direction.

Some pictures of other recent Bishop Middleham sightings.

Common Sandpiper

Yellow Wagtail

Sedge Warbler