Birding round Durham & Sunderland 2012

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

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Wear Valley Wandering ! - Strictly Out of Bounds !

A change of scene with a look up the dale for a couple of days.
Friday was a scorcher, red hot & sunny, today not so good, cool, overcast & breezy - the weather hardly matters, what a beautiful peaceful place.

I had a couple of target species i had hoped to get a look at - i failed with Cuckoo, Stonechat, Wood Warbler, a couple of butterfly species, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker & Slow Worm....

Others were more accomodating - including 20+ Crossbill, a superb airshow from Nightjars, excellent numbers of Tree Pipit & Redstart, good close views of male Goshawk, more Hares & Roe Deer than ive seen all year at home,making do with 3 hours sleep i managed to see 4 owl species, Long-eared & Barn Owl right on cue aat known locations, Woodcock numbers seemed low ?, although in way of compensation a roding bird was out early on at 19:30

Surprises, Well one was more of a shock - A huge Red Deer stag sauntered across a firebreak ! - The first time ive seen one in Co.Durham - As the evening progressed it and another began bellowing & charging after one another. Walking quietly through the forest within the dark canopy, close to midnight, it or another bellowed at me only a short distance away ! - rather disconcerting (the Roes barking are bad enough)- My heart was in my mouth for sure !!
Friday afternoon i spent a while at a site ive had my best Goshawk encounters & it produced the goods - no Gos, but very views of a Honey Buzzard jostling for airspace with a pair of Common's, an excellent comparison before it drifted slowly off southwards - not quite as unexpected as the deer, but a real bonus bird !
A couple of Glow worms in a forest edge bankside capped off a great night - disappointed the pics didnt work, one i havnt seen for a few years now.

Finally this afternoon a bizarre Redstart nest:-
feeding chicks in a rotting/ hollowed Silver Birch log which had fallen & become lodged in a coppiced Hazel below.
Redstart with young in suspended log !

Noisy GSW & Pied Flycatcher both had active nests.  Other birds seen :- Green Woodpecker, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Marsh Tit, Jay, Stock Dove, Treecreeper, Red Grouse, Grey Wagtail, Dipper, Garden Warbler, etc
Red Grouse chick

3 nice Aspen trees, another we dont see very often at home.
Mountain Ash - the stem has previously failed, but the tree fights on. The roots on show are amazingly contorted

A very old Silver Birch

A great place, must make a note to go more often !

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