2nd Jan 2012
We enjoyed a pleasant walk upriver following the Wear into Durham & back out round up Old Durham Beck
Starting at Kepier where much of the stone for the Cathedral was quarried, in the wood here Treecreeper, Jay, GSWpkr, & LTTit
Over the years waterfowl on this stretch has included Shoveller, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Scaup, Mandarin
The "Shooting Range" - with the river & tree-clad riverside cliffs behind used for target practice in WW II ( or earlier ?).
Kestrel, GBBGull, Heron, Stock Dove, male Sparrowhawk & Treecreeper on this stretch - often a good spot for Green Woodpecker.
Gatehouse of Kepier Hospital - built in 14th century - the hospital being founded in 1112
A large orchard is attached, the trees a fair old age - i have noted Hawfinch here on 3 dates over the years
From the spot below an excellent selection of waterbirds - Grey & Pied Wag, Heron, Goosander & Cormorant all visible - a pair of Dippers here were great to watch - they were formerly only a sporadic winter visitor & im sure i spotted a nice spot for a nest box when the water drops again...
- on the LHS is the bowling alley, formerly the Ice Rink, with the Gala Theatre etc behind. In recent years Yellow legged & Med Gulls have been noted
The next section is the Cathedral Peninsular - its amazing how you can take something that you see every day for granted......
Whilst taking snaps here & chatting, a Kingfisher flew across from the far bank - absolutely glistening in the afternoon sun & landing to the delight of myself & the assembled tourists & day-trippers
Last time we visited we had the Kingfisher 150m up river.
Below, as the afternoon was waring on, we passed below the site of Maiden Castle - an Iron Age Hill Fort - a couple of guys were metal detecting , so i lobbed half a dozen twos & ones into the field....
The mature trees on the top are @60' to give an idea of scale
At this point farmland & open country species began to appear - Yellowhammer & Skylark being two additions to the day list.
A rough area in the valley bottom between Schincliffe & Old Durham marks the site of an old greyhound track - other clumps of scrub nearby are noted for follow up visits.....
A local Jack Snipe pool close to the end of the walk - sadly none today, but a large tribe of 20+ LTTit