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Monday, 15 February 2016

Weekend wanderings

I managed to get out Saturday afternoon for a few hours and basically had a triple choice, Green Winged Teal at North Cave Wetlands, American Wigeon at Castle Howard Lake or Ferruginous Duck at Pugney’s CP, I chose the latter as I deemed it to be the least likely to stay around for long, several Kestrels and Buzzards were seen utilizing Motorway signs, lampposts etc en route. I made my out to the Wildlife pool hide and made several scans but there was no sign of the Ferruginous Duck then a local birder came in and exclaimed that it wasn’t playing ball but thought it might be tucked away in the reeds where all the Pochard were, I bided my time making frequent scans, several other birders came and went then eventually all the Pochard started to move about a bit, I took a good look through them but there was still no sign however a couple of scans later I picked it up swimming about with a female Tufted Duck in the bottom right corner of the pool they both then proceeded to climb out onto the bank and disappeared behind some vegetation, so maybe that’s where it had been all the time, fortunately it wasn’t long before it returned to the pool and then flew across to the other corner showing some very striking wingbars in flight, it showed well thereafter, preening and swimming plus flying across again although it remained distant down at the bottom end all the time, returning to the car I had a scan through the gathering Gulls on the main lake but the only thing of note was a rather dark Lesser Black Backed with very long primaries I thought could be good candidate for intermedius.
Distant female Fudge Duck

On Sunday me and Mark headed off to Teesside calling first at Dorman’s Pool where three or four Water Pipits have been showing recently, nothing doing at that time but another birder informed us of a roosting Long Eared Owl he had just seen at Haverton, we decided to go have a look and were pleased to find it still present, a bit obscured but reasonably close, always nice to see. We then drove back round to Saltholme admiring a little lock of Barnacle Geese close to the road on the way, probably a bit suspect but still nice looking Geese, at Saltholme we headed out to the Wildlife Watchpoint hide with half a hope that last weekends Penduline Tits might pop out, no such luck, then ended up at the Haverton Viewpoint hoping for a Bittern fly by, not today but an Otter swimming across was good compensation, we retreated to Paddy’s hide in front of an impending wintry shower although it caught us up half way there, we sat it out in the hide being entertained by a good selection of Wildfowl that included the long staying redhead Smew plus a pair of Stonechat posed for us just outside the hide when we left. We had lunch at Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park watching a good selection of Finches and Buntings attending the feeders there then walked out to the main lake where a female Scaup showed unbelievably well. We decided on Hartlepool next for another session with the three Shore Larks and now five Snow Buntings on the waste ground South of the Cemeteries, then we had a look out from the Headland, it was good light and there were several Red Throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes on the sea but little else, we made a brief stop at Jackson’s Landing to see if the Glaucous Gull was showing, no sign, then went on to Newburn Bridge where two Med Gulls were flying around. We ended the day where we started back at Dorman’s Pool and after about half an hour a couple of Water Pipits flew in from behind us calling and landed on some telegraph wires, we were hoping they were going to drop down to the waters edge but after around 5 mins they just flew off again, we hung around a while longer, a Little Egret dropped in and a Short Eared Owl flew past but there were no further sightings of the Pipits.

redhead Smew on Paddy's pool

Stonechat outside the hide

female Scaup, nice comparison with white fronted female Tufty

Tufties looked good in the sun as well

Bullfinch at the feeders

Shore Lark are still showing well

and Snow Buntings

Little Egret at Dorman's

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