Birding round Durham & Sunderland 2012

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

Friday, 25 February 2011

Dash at Dusk - Bittern pair airshow

rushed out very late in the day
but timed it nicely,  as a Leo drifted across the main track & ghosted away over the hedge & fields
a Woodcock arced round against the factory lights dropping down to feed in the buffer plantation
I continued 5 mins, then waited at a likely vantage point hearing Water Rail, but nothing else.

It was at that point that my plans were severely disrupted.
High above, a very loud & very unfamiliar call, caused me to stop in my tracks

The call rang out against the quiet night sky again (my intial reaction was that it sounded half heron & half bovine !! )
there was just enough light in the sky to be able to make out a distinctive silhouette

it was a contact calling Bittern ! the first time ive heard this & it continued in a huge arc right round high over the complex of pools.
I rushed to the rear car park for a closer view & increidibly could see there were TWO Bitterns in flight !

The aggressor appeared to be doing most of the calling - the pursued bird  must have had enough & headed off north, the aggressor circled round & came down into the pools calling one last time.

HERES a link with the Bitterns contact call:-
Bittern "Kau" call ( also booming & 'dripping tap Spotted Crake )

Local Patching never ceases to amaze, you can go somewhere night after night - year on year and still come away amazed with by new encounters & experiences .


  1. Cool. Shame the reedbed wasn't a little bit bigger and that noise was booming!

  2. Astounding experience Steve, patch birding doesn't get much better!