Birding round Durham & Sunderland 2012

Birdwatching in & around Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland, County Durham.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Summary of sightings in Sunderland so far

Little Egret (MH) - Lambton Cokeworks till mid month
Bittern - only a single bird at Rainton since the freeze up - no sign of "white patch" individual.
Heron - adults now in fine breeding attire, with up to a dozen back at the Washington colony. Two adults feeding in rockpools at South Bents - do these belong to the Wear or Tyne breeding colony ?
Shag - singles on the sea at South Bents & Hendon Grange
Pink footed Goose - several skeins heading West & North over last few days as milder weather commences
Shoveller - single fem (poss the same bird) at WWWT & Offerton Haughs; 3 at Elba Park (MH) on 15th as the thaw kicks in
Wigeon - a small number have overwintered in the RM's / Chilton area, a drake found dead early in the new year
Gadwall (DL / SE) - Lyons Pk & Offerton Haughs, also drake recently returned to RM's. One at the Swg Outlet at WWWT was very unusual - it appeared to be either a hybrid or a mixed-sex bird.
Shelduck  - the first report away from WWWT was at Timber Beach (IH), also returning to Ho'ton on 15th (MH et al), several now back at WWWT.
Goosander - reg on the Wear, downstream from Chartershaugh - up to 8 at Offerton, some movement following the thaw, wiht 2 redheads on Herrington Boating Lake, a drake with 5 redhead at Lambton.
Goldeneye - max of 7 on the R.Wear nr South Hylton
Long tailed Duck (JW) - female continued from late 2010 at Cox Green - it had been commuting to the reservoir pool at WWWT, but seems to have left as the thaw developed.
Scaup - a dead female by the wear nr WWWT (SE) & the long staying drake close by on the Wear in Chester.
Pochard - up to 11 on the reservoir at WWWT, 4-5 at Herrington
Mandarin (JW) - Mowbray Pk (drake) -
Mandarin (DHS) - Cox Green (drake)
Eider - 2 at South Bents, Roker & Hendon Grange
Dabchick - a local exodus during the freeze up - but no noticeable increase in no's on the R.Wear during this period; 3 together at Chartershaugh Bridge being the only spot with multiples; a single was on the Burn at Sedgeletch.
Red Throated Diver - regular on the whole Sunderland coastal strip - 3 off South Bents, 3 at Roker, 5-6 on the Hendon-Ryhope stretch
Yellow legged Gull (MN) - Chilton Moor & Grasswell, our annual overwintering bird
Med Gull (MN / CW) - Rainton & Lyons Pk
Med Gull 2nd wint (CW) - Lyons Pk
Iceland Gull ad (AW / SE) - Roker Pier & South Bents, an adult that has returned each winter for years
Iceland Gull imm (MH) - Grasswell
Lesser Black Backed Gull - 1Fatfield ([I]intermedius[/I]) &1 WWWT - the species is unusual in winter, but tends to return to breeding sites before winter is out.
Peregrine (SE) - WWWT, Roker, Grangetown
Buzzard - singles at Warden Law & Ho'ton Cut, displaying birds noted over Lambton Estate viewed from range
Merlin - singles at Eppleton, Rainton & Elemore area
Water Rail - seemingly badly affected by the big freeze - "bad to get" at Rainton, still 2 at Sedgeletch & Hetton Bogs
Kingfisher - 1-2 on the R.Wear at locations between Fatfield & South Hylton; also singles from regular haunts in Hetton/Houghton area
Dipper - None any further upstream than Sedgeletch - the fuel oil spill at Hetton School seems to have knocked them back down from H.Bogs/R.Bridge ?
Short-eared Owl - none yet.... ( :eek!: )
Long-eared Owl - a few roosts of up to 7 birds; territorial activity right from 1st Janaury
Barn Owl - very few reports, took me 4 attempts !
Tawny Owl - very vocal at present as they gear up for breeding
Little Owl - currently very active, a pair watched copulating on 14th (SE)
Green Sandpiper - no records yet, but 2 overwintering on the Wear at Ch-le-Street. (SE, MH. DL et al)
Oystercatcher - reg on coast, eg 35 nr Featherbed rocks & at Roker. No inland reports by mid month.
Redshank - birds sporadic away from the river / coast due to weather, but 40 odd at high tide roost at WWWT was noteable
Curlew - the WWWT roost tailed right off during the bad weather, but is back to @ 150 by mid January
Jack Snipe - 1-2 from several regular sites  (4 feeding openly at 1 location prior to Xmas)
Woodcock - Once again harder to see now the snow has gone - mid January onwards a traditional time for the first 'roding' birds in the adjacent Durham City area.... is this a species which actually breeds in S'land ?
Lapwing - a pair had returned to their small breeding site at Sedgeletch before the snow & ice departed.
Red Legged Partridge (MH) - 4 Sharpley
Grey Partridge - still some coveys about, but pairs now very active & vocal at dusk.
Rook - activity in Houghton rookery in recent days
Magpie - several roosts in the area, including 50 at Washington (NF)
Jay - sporadic & patchy distribution mean this is allways a welcome sight - the Wear valley is best spot to catch up with this species. Hetton Houses Wood & Joes pond hold 2's & 3's.
Great Spotted Woodpecker - the first drumming heard early January (AKy)
Treecreeper - one out of habitat recently in scrub at the Biffa landfill site
Nuthatch - Cox Green holds several - another winter passes with none visiting Rainton/Joes pond despite birds breeding only @ a mile away.
Coal Tit - an exmple of 'Continental' Coal tit was with its British cousins at Biddick Wood in the 2nd week.
Willow Tit - the area holds a good breeding population - the post tops at Joes Pond being an easy place to see these.
Great Tit / Blue Tit - several now singing
Goldcrest - nos still down after last years hard winter - only small nos reported
Blackcap - a female at the visitor centre feeders at WWWT on 15th, being the sole report
Waxwing - another increase in reports after snow/ice cleared; max of 48 between Newbottle & Sunniside (MH / MN et al)
Stonechat - 3+ in the Ryhope / Grangetown / Hendon Grange area have survived the snowfall - no sightings away from the coastal strip though.
Crossbill (CW) - 4 or 5  on the boundary at Carr House Plantation being the only report.
Arctic Redpoll - min of 4  birds in total ranging in the RM's, East Rainton, Coalfield Way & Chilton Moor areas.
Mealy Redpoll -  RM's (40+), Mount Pleasant, East Rainton, Coalfield Way & Chilton Moor, WWWT, Elemore,
Brambling - several garden birds, & around farmsteads; also @20 at Middle Haining in a Maize crop.
Bullfinch - several males singing very early this year [I](usually not untill well [/I][I]into Feb)[/I] - reasonable no's at multiple locations inc 25 at WWWT.
'Northern' Bullfinch has been noted at 3 sites in recent weeks.
Siskin - well done on previous winters -  single flocks of 60 at Chilton Moor & WWWT being the max - although 200 reported at RM's by DFr.
Twite (GS) - 4 at Haining - a great local patch find.
Linnet - a handful of small groups / singles. One cock bird at a breeding site on 14th Jan.
Skylark - the odd few, majority appear to have evacuated the area - prior to the last 2 winters, mid January was a regular time for the first territorial males to be up & singing
Grey Wagtail - thaw returns birds to regular haunts with singles at Sedgeletch & Doxford Park (JT); during the snow birds seen foraging in Houghton Town under commercial bins & in an underground car park
Rock Pipit - singles on the coast at South Bents, Roker Harbourmouth, 1 flew south at Featherbed Rocks on 15th.
Meadow Pipit - the odd few, majority appear to have evacuated the area.
Tree Sparrow - a slight upturn in fortunes over the last few year. Half a dozen at Cox Green were overlooked by most of the yearlisters... 20+ at regular colonies at Haining & Warden Law
Reed Bunting - several in game cover, stubbles & dwellings - still very few around the local waterbodies
Yellowhammer - few flocks noted - up to 30 nr Stoneygate, the first birds returning to gorse sites by mid month.
Snow Bunting - a cock bird flew nth on 14th at Hendon grange (SE)

APPROX 116 species noted so far in Sunderland

Green Woodpecker, GC & the 3 scarcer Grebes, Scaup, Smew, Marsh Tit, Whooper Swan, Short-eared Owl, Hawfinch (very close but not quite in S'land), Hen Harrier, Goshawk, Red Kite, Bean/White Fronted Goose, Lapland Bunting, Corn Bunting, Water Pipit, Chiffchaff, Glaucous Gull, & an array of coastal stuff inc, GN & BT Diver, Brent/Barnacle Goose, Scoter, Merganser, Auks, Gannet, Grey Plover, Godwit etc


  1. Good God - someone else who can't sleep..

  2. Lol, Body clocks must need a repair !
    i was a'bed early evening & got back up