Durham Bird Club's Castle Lake Nature Reserve

Monday, 27 February 2012

Hardwick Hall CP

This morning I made my first visit of the year to Hardwick Hall Country Park, which is quite an admission to make as I count this as the southern boundary of the 'Bishop Middleham patch', I should therefore visit more often but there's usually too many people, prams and dogs for my liking.
As usual the lake held a good variety of species, many of which are well trained at posing for the camera.
Birds seen included 2 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Little Grebe, 2 female Goldeneye, 11 Wigeon, a male Shoveler, 20 Pochard, 40 Gadwall, 2 Mistle Thrush, a Song Thrush and hoard's of Mallard, Coot, Tufties, Gull's etc.
A waltz around Low Hardwick produced two year ticks in the form of Jay and Coal Tit.
Then it was off to the north end of the patch, the DWT Quarry,

Pretty quiet would be an understatement, birds seen were about 10 Yellowhammer including one in full song, 6 Tree Sparrow and a Treecreeper, with 2 Willow Tit along the lane and 4 Grey Partridge in a nearby field.

By now the rain had arrived so I took refuge in the Castle Lake hide. Best birds here were singles of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Green Sandpiper, 6 Snipe, 2 female Goldeneye and 11 Pink-footed Geese which came within six foot of landing and then must have received the evil eye of the Canada Geese and decided to overshoot before heading south over the flashes and then eventually west.
Rubbish picture of the 11 Pink-footed Geese after their aborted landing at Castle Lake this afternoon.

And finally two very readable publications have dropped through the letter box in the last week,

Can't wait to get stuck in.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Saturday 25th February 2012

Another circular walk around Castle Lake this morning where this Little Grebe was new since my last visit.

Others of note were 8 Shelduck, a female Pintail, 2 female Goldeneye, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Oystercatcher and the Green Sandpiper (pictured below).

The regular late winter build-up of passage Oystercatcher on the A1 Flashes saw nine birds present this morning. Of more interest was what appeared to be this dead Fox.

Not quite sure what's going on here, never moved an inch and appears to have something with it.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Itchy Pink-Feet

Getting into that time of year when some of the country's over-wintering birds are feeling a little restless and are starting to move back North, so it didn't come as a big surprise when 31 Pink-footed Geese went over Castle Lake this morning heading in a North-Westerly direction.

After a look-see from the hide I headed off to Low Hardwick, were a low flying exercise involving the Canadians was taking place.

After lunch another walk took me past Alan's Pool, around Fishburn Lake, past the A1 Flashes and back for another look from the Castle Lake hide.

Goosander pair, in transit from Alan's Pool to the southern A1 flashes.

The southern A1 flashes (formerly known as the Shooters Pool), are difficult to view unless your prepared to either get your feet wet or take a long walk, I chose the former and apart from the aforementioned Goosander, 3 Pintail, 2 Gadwall, some Mallard, Teal and a Grey Heron were seen. Apparently Water Rail have been seen here.
Mixed flock of Fieldfare and mole hills.

Birds of note at Castle Lake included 68 Canada Geese, 4 Shelduck, 4 Shoveler, 2 Grey Partridge, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Oystercatcher, Dunlin, 2 Snipe, 35 Curlew, 7 Redshank and the Green Sandpiper.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Give Your Head A Shake

With the ice gone for the time being, bird numbers are starting to increase, with the following highlights around Castle Lake this morning;
55 Canada Geese, 4 Shelduck, 20 Gadwall, female Pintail, 3 Shoveler, 15 Pochard, female Goldeneye, 2 Grey Partridge, 3 Great Crested Grebe, Kestrel, 3 Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, 12 Curlew, 7 Redshank, Green Sandpiper and 3+ Skylark.
A further Oystercatcher and 45 Curlew were on the A1 Flashes.

Two of today's Great Crested Grebe already displaying to one another.

Sole Ringed Plover that dropped-in this morning.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Willow The Wisp

I've always found the local Willow Tit population quite tame and confiding as this photo from this morning demonstrates;

Some Long-tailed Tit's nearby wern't quite so obliging;

Despite Castle Lake still succumbing to a seventy percent covering of ice the remaining areas produced a varied selection including two additions to the year list, namely 2 Grey Wagtail and at least 5 singing Skylark.
Best of the rest were 3 Shelduck, 2 Gadwall, female Pintail, 4 Pochard, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 2 Oystercatcher, Green Sandpiper and 2 Mistle Thrush.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Ice Age

Castle Lake 90% frozen this afternoon, but still plenty of birds on offer in the area including the following;

2 Mute Swan, Shelduck, 70 Wigeon, 2 Shoveler, 2 Kestrel, 90 Coot, Dunlin, 6 Snipe, 3 Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Lesser Black-backed Gull over north, 95 Common Gull, 500 Woodpigeon, Short-eared Owl, GS Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, 12 Fieldfare, 4 Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, 12 Redwing, 3 Willow Tit, 4 Bullfinch. 
BC reported a male Merlin from the hide this afternoon and a 1st-winter Caspian Gull last week (first site record).

The River Stell produced a Mute Swan pair and this very approachable Shelduck.

Male Bullfinch along the bridleway.