Durham Bird Club's Castle Lake Nature Reserve

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Tuesday 25th February 2014

Another good selection of birds seen this afternoon.

Castle Lake - 9 Mute Swans flew in low from the south, 220 Wigeon, 1 pair of Pintail, now 2 Great Crested Grebe present, 2 Cormorant (one pictured below), 2 Oystercatcher, 1 Dunlin, 100+ Curlew with 10 Tree Sparrow along Foumarts Lane.

The A1 Flashes held 3 Shelduck, 100 Wigeon, 17 Shoveler, 1 Little Egret, 2 Grey Heron, 19 Oystercatcher, 3 Dunlin and 3 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls (one pictured below).

Lesser Black is back! One of three distant birds seen today.

Stoneybeck Lake - 2 Shelduck, 2 Wigeon, 30 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Peregrine, 2 Oystercatcher and 60 Curlew.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Saturday 22nd February 2014

Some sightings from this morning;

Castle Lake; 5 Mute Swan, 1 Shelduck, 2 Grey Partridge, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Cormorant, 1 Common Buzzard close to the south-west corner, 17 Oystercatcher, 10 Skylark many singing and at least 7 Corn Bunting some singing.
don't forget to look both ways before you cross the lake. Mute Swans seen initially on Alan's Pool.

A1 Flashes; 2 Shelduck, 1 Little Egret, 3 Grey Heron and numerous gull's.
Low Hardwick; 4 Common Buzzard up together.

Stoneybeck Lake; 1 Shelduck, 1 Kestrel, 3 Oystercatcher, 6 Dunlin dropped-in for twenty minutes then departed west, 75 Curlew, 20 Stock Dove, 5 Skylark and a very mobile flock of c150 Linnet in the field west of the lake.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Sunday 16th February 2014

A few sightings from this afternoon.

Stoneybeck Lake; 20 Canada Geese, 20 Stock Dove, 160 Coot, 2 Oystercatcher and 2 Long-tailed Tit.

Castle Lake; 1 Shelduck, 3 Pintail, 17 Shoveler, 1 GC Grebe, 1 Little Egret, 4 Oystercatcher, 15 Golden Plover and 2 Dunlin.

not the smartest drake Shoveler in the world.

bathtime! Sixteen Oystercatcher today, a new February record.

A1 Flashes; 2 Grey Heron and 10 Oystercatcher.
Low Hardwick; 1 Common Buzzard.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Tuesday 11th February 2014

A very dull overcast morning, slowly brightening up with blue skies by mid-afternoon. The strong southerly wind quickly subsided, becoming a light south-westerly.
Certainly not as bad as the previous days forecast suggested, so armed with the thought that there's no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing I set off for another look around the patch and reiterating the words of my last post the day provided some good winter birding.
Two unexpected species vied for top billing with a good supporting cast.

Mediterranean Gull  A 2nd-winter individual on Castle Lake in with a group of 30-40 Black-headed Gulls.
3rd from the left for those not familiar with very average photography.
middle middle. Only my 4th or 5th sighting of this species at Bishop Middleham.

Black-tailed Godwit   A single bird flew out from behind the main Castle Lake island, probably enticed out by some nearby curlew, had a bath, preen and a bit scratch before flying back from whence it came. Too distant for a photo. Prior to today there has never been a sighting of Black-tailed Godwit here between January to March.

A good supporting cast included;
Goldeneye   Another increase with 13 present today including the two drakes still.
Goosander  A pair copulating.

Great Crested Grebe  The first returning bird of the year.
New bird in town, got the whole place to yourself for now.

Little Egret   Still at least one in the area, favouring the A1 flashes.
Oystercatcher  Four on Castle Lake with another six on the flashes.
Golden Plover   Two hundred at Low Hardwick.
Lapwing   circa six hundred at Low Hardwick.
Just a small proportion of the Lapwing flock seen today.
Redshank   17 together on the flooded field south of Alan's Pool.

Best of the extras included Shelduck, Buzzard, Snipe, Willow Tit, Treecreeper, Tree Sparrow and Bullfinch.

Clear as mud, some serious clarts on the 'footpath' to Low Hardwick.

Finally a big thanks to the hide repair team :-)


Friday, 7 February 2014

Friday 7th February 2014

A cloudy and calm morning with sunny intervals gradually developing as the day went on, wind increasing to a moderate westerly taking the edge off the temperature.

Clocked-up a small milestone today with my 350th visit since April 2007. Despite this I still get that sense of anticipation of not knowing just what to expect no matter the time of year or what weather mother nature throws at us. I can honestly say that none of my visits could ever be considered predictable or boring, there is always something of interest, birding here never lets me down.
Having said that, todays visit was somewhat tarnished by news that the Castle Lake hide had been broken into sometime this week :-(

Morning and afternoon visits to Castle Lake and the A1 Flashes combined to produce the following list; 3 Shelduck, 2 pair of Pintail, 11 Goldeneye (9f2m), drake Goosander, 3 Cormorant (including one on the flashes, a first for me), 7 Grey Heron, 1 Little Egret, 2 Kestrel, now 7 Oystercatcher (including a pair copulating), 18 Redshank, at least 1 singing Skylark on territory with a trickle of overflying birds heading north, the Grey Wagtail and a single Fieldfare.

the drake Goosander actually landed close to the hide for a change,

as did two of the record number of Goldeneye.

Low Hardwick once again provided good variety with 13 Greylag Geese, 4 Grey Heron unusually flying over together towards the flashes, 3 Common Buzzard (pictured below), 2 Kestrel, 100 Golden Plover, 400 Lapwing, a Kingfisher on the moto-x pool (only the second time I've had one there), 2 Dunnock, 1 Song Thrush, 12 Long-tailed Tit, 3 Willow Tit, 4 Bullfinch, 3 Reed Bunting and last but not least a Fox.

you wait ages for a Buzz, then three come along together.

some of the twenty or so Redshank seen today.

Final call of the day was Stoneybeck Lake which supplied amongst others 2 Shelduck, 2 Wigeon, 6 Pintail (4m2f), 1 Peregrine (pictured below), 25 Moorhen, circa 130 Coot, 10 Stock Dove, 2 Redshank and 56 Curlew.

I know if I were a bird which of these would scare me the most.

resist a Pintail picture (possibly ten different individuals around at the moment).

Monday, 3 February 2014

Monday 3rd February 2014

A cloudy day with a brisk southerly wind making it feel cold.
Another day and another trudge through the mud of Bishop Middleham with a plodge across the swampland of Low Hardwick for good measure.
Started off down the East side of Castle Lake for a change, nothing out of the ordinary observed on the water but a good sized mixed flock of Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting were flitting about the hedgerow in the south-east corner.

Castle Lake looking south-west.
Alan's Pool came into view with a Little Egret and an overflying Skylark the best on offer here. Turning East to skirt around Island Farm...

Walk this way, err no thanks.

...brings you onto Fishburn Lake which held 5 Mute Swan and presumably the same drake Goosander that's been doing the rounds of late.
With the wind being so strong I decided to adopt the 'find a sheltered spot and wait for the birds to come to me technique' and it worked a treat with a flock of 20 Siskin landing right next to me, followed by Coal Tit, Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit all making it onto the year list.

Eeny Meeny Miny Moe.

At Low Hardwick I opted to go off piste, in search of the Scarlet Pimpernel of birds, the legendary, some say mythical Water Rail. Well I'm disappointed to report the legend lives on, Moorhen was all I connected with, but I know there in there somewhere.
Other birds around Low Hardwick included 2 Grey Heron, 4 Snipe, 155 Curlew, a female Great Spotted Woodpecker, 4 Meadow Pipit back on territory, a lone Mistle Thrush, 2 Lesser Redpoll and a compulsory Kestrel.
Next the A1 Flashes but not before the biggest surprise of the day, a new boardwalk has appeared almost overnight near the old sluice gate.

Nice one.

A good selection on the flashes; 137 Canada Geese (including four of dubious parentage), 2 Shelduck, a Little Egret, 3 Oystercatcher and 3 Redshank.
Finally an hour in the Castle Lake hide noted another Shelduck, 10 Goldeneye including two drakes (10 is almost certainly a new site record), the drake Goosander again, 4 Dunlin and a Grey Wagtail.

drake Goldeneye.

A flock of 75 Redwing along Foumarts Lane finished the day off. A pretty decent tally of 59 species seen today.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Checklist Notes

Some notes to accompany the Birds Of Bishop Middleham Checklist.
The most recent additions to the list have been Firecrest (Low Hardwick), Iceland Gull (Castle Lake), Ring-necked Duck (Castle Lake) and Yellow-browed Warbler (Fishburn Lake).
In addition two species classed as escapes have been recorded - Bar-headed Goose and Chiloe Wigeon.
Sightings of Red-legged Partridge and Goshawk have not been confirmed and have therefore been omitted from the list. Marsh Tit and Reed Warbler have been recorded as close as Hardwick Hall Country Park but this does not come under the recording area.
Predictions for the future? Mandarin Duck, Green-winged Teal, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Kittiwake, Citrine Wagtail, Tree Pipit, who knows....
As usual any additions or corrections please get in touch.

The Birds Of Bishop Middleham Checklist (Part 2)

Part 2.
Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Little Tern, Black Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Swift, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Great Grey Shrike, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Raven, Waxwing, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Willow Tit, Skylark, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Long-tailed Tit, Yellow-browed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Wren, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Starling, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Robin, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Brambling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Linnet, Twite, Lesser Redpoll, Crossbill, Bullfinch, Snow Bunting, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.

The Birds Of Bishop Middleham Checklist (Part 1)

As of 1st January 2014 a total of 186 different species have been recorded in the village of Bishop Middleham and its environs. Part 1.
Mute Swan, Bewick's Swan, Whooper Swan, Bean Goose, Pink-footed Goose, White-fronted Goose, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Barnacle Goose, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Garganey, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, Ring-necked Duck, Tufted Duck, Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Goldeneye, Smew, Goosander, Ruddy Duck, Grey Partridge, Quail, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, White Stork, Spoonbill, Bittern, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Gannet, Cormorant, Honey Buzzard, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Rough-legged Buzzard, Osprey, Kestrel, Merlin, Hobby, Peregrine, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Common Crane, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Temminck's Stint, Pectoral Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Jack Snipe, Snipe, Woodcock, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Redshank, Turnstone, Wilson's Phalarope, Black-headed Gull, Little Gull, Mediterranean Gull.