Saturday, 1 January 2011

A Happy 2011

The New Year went off with a bang,  many bangs unfortunately, as it seems someone was selling off cheap fireworks which were going off continuously well after one o'clock. This meant there was no chance I was going to hear Tawny Owl but, one final listen at 01:25hrs, just before I called it a night and there he was, quietly hooting from the South Burn Woods. So the year list was standing at one when I set off to do some birding 6 hours later.

I added another 17 as I slowly walked through Garden Farm Estate, in order, Rook, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Wren, Redwing, Robin, Common Starling, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Feral Pigeon and Jackdaw.
Along Chester-le-Street main Street and I was still ticking, adding another three, Goldfinch, Herring Gull and Pied Wagtail, bringing the total to 21.

3 Goldfinches just of Chester-le-Street main Street

I followed the South Burn to the river and walked along the riverside path adding Mallard, an immature Grey Heron in the South Burn,

The young Grey Heron on the South Burn
On or by the Wear, 20+ Goosander, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Coot, now 161 Tufted Duck, last year's Scaup, Canada Goose, the Whooper Swan, Grey Wagtail, 5 Cormorant, Chaffinch, 5 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Bullfinch and the female Mandarin. The latter was now upstream, above the weir, in the calmer waters with about 10 Mallard, tucked into the bank and not that easy to see.

Female Mandarin keeping a low profile

I'm not sure how I missed the Scaup the other day, but I'll use the excuse that it must have been with the 20 or so extra Tufted Duck that are also here today. Not bad going, the list was now 37 but no sign of any Dipper or Kingfisher.

The not so elusive Scaup

Continuing on along the river past the cricket ground and through the ridiculously called riverside wildlife area which usually has more dogs that wildlife.This stretch produced 4 Little Grebe,  a Willow Tit by the river, 2 Jays on the opposite bank, several Great Tit, 2 Siskin, a Pheasant, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and 2 Coal Tit. I came out onto the A167, walked along a bit and crossed over and through the Hermitage Woods, then along Waldridge Lane and onto the fell. Adding extra birds was now getting tough but Long-tailed Tit (4 separate  groups), a large female Sparrowhawk, a single Goldcrest, a Song Thrush and finally 8 Yellowhammer were all finally seen giving a total of 50. Not too but quite a few common birds missed or to be got another day.

The origin of the Chinese Goose at the Park is perhaps not China after all!
There's still patches of snow about  including a bit in the garden so it's not surprising that apart from the birds there was little else noted. I did see Phellinus igniarius (Willow Bracket Fungi) on one of the dead Crack Willows by the riverside but the only plants in flower I noted were the same three as last week,  the three trees with their catkins - Silver Birch, Hazel and Alder

The three species of tree in flower - Hazel (left), Silver Birch (middle) and Alder (right)
Alder catkin buds and cones


  1. that Scaup's coloured up nicely

  2. Steve, yes its looking good now, even a bit of a twitch at the riverside today I gather.

  3. all our local pools still iced solid - the no's of fowl on that stretch are sure to pull something else in . . .

    ( Mick.H had 2Green Sands on the river at the swg wks a few week back.
    Colin.W & myself had a one fly up out of those same works last winter ....
    MH says 2 fem Mandarin CLS stretch 2day)

  4. Cheers Steve
    Its a couple of winters since I had Green Sandpiper at the STW, in fact since they upgraded it so I haven't really bothered checking this winter - till now.
    Heard about there being 2 Mandarin, I assumed the drake was back.