Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Good to Better to Superb

This year I decided I would keep a county year list as I am passionate about my home county of Durham and I think it is definitely one of the best counties to birdwatch in the UK. Before I went on holiday I went to Castle Lake DBC to see a cracking summer plumaged Black Tern that turned up. I enjoyed excellent views of these stunning birds and then days later I jetted of to Israel for a truly unforgettable week.

Here is a truly awful video of the Black Tern:

When I was away in Israel I read of a Nightingale that was back home at Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park in Teesside, this is a simpy a superb bird to get in county Durham. As it stands there is more records of Thrush Nightingale than Nightingale in Durham. So on Wednesday the 4th I went for a day down Teesside where I managed to see the Nightingale aswell as 4 cracking Little Gulls and at least 27 Whimbrel. The views of the Nightingale weren't superb so a return on Friday the 6th brought much more satisfactory views. I managed to locate the bird sitting deep in the bush and managed to get the scope on it. I watched it as it sang its heart out. The video really doesn't reflect views of the bird but you can see what it is and more importantly hear it:

Here is an excellent video taken by Paul Hindess early one morning of the same bird:

(Nightingale - © Ian Forrest)

Half decent view of Wood Sandpiper at Saltholme RSPB:

Part of the 28 Whimbrel present, though I only managed to count 27:

So how could county birding get any better than tickable views of a singing Nightingale? Well on Saturday I had planned to pop out and just go local in the hope of finding Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat. The car was packed and I had put my scope in the car just incase, its a good job I did as my phone went of with a message from BirdGuides. It informed me there was a Temminck's Stint at Castle Lake DBC (Bishop Middleham) so I made my way there. I got into the hide and already the lads had it on view and I got my scope on it and enjoyed excellent views of this fairly rare wader. Some years you get eruptions where quite a few turn up in the UK and Durham and other years you just get nothing much at all. Then a mate recieved a call of a Stone Curlew down at Teesside at a place called Hargreaves Quarry which is near the Petro Plus Pools in Teesside. I couldn't quite believe it so I text a mate to ask him what the score was and he informed me that it was indeed a Stone Curlew and he rang me to explain where about it was.

Spot the Temminck's Stint:

So I went on down and arrived on site just in time for the bird to fly up! However I needn't have feared as it flew around then went low over a field and glided over to the Calor Gas Pools which were about as dry as the desert regions of Israel! From here I enjoyed excellent views of the Stone Curlew and smiles all around as I discussed with the lads how surprised we were at such a bird being in Durham. It is far more likely to get Collared Pratincole or some real exotic bird than Stone Curlew. Chris Bell informs me that it is the first twitchable bird available to the masses. Here are previous records:

1782: Wycliffe-on-Tees, August, (shot)
1843: Saltholme Pools, (shot)
1864: Frenchman's Bay, South Shields, 4th February, (shot)
1997: Piercebridge, 19th May

So basically unless you were the single observer of the 1997 bird it was a county tick for all birders who keep a Durham and Cleveland (which doesn't exist anymore) list. A superb bird and something I guess I won't see again in Durham. Here is a half decent videos I managed:

Here is a far better video Paul Hindess managed to capture whilst I was there. I was standing enjoying the spectacle whilst Paul was filming it. Awesome:

(Stone Curlew - © Ian Forrest)

Until next time Foghorn out!


  1. y man that Paul Hindess takes a canny video man

  2. Hi Andrew,

    Fantastic to see you have started a blogging again, it's a pleasure to read your posts and this was a brilliant one! Congratulations on seeing and videoing some supberb birds and particuarly on seeing the first ever twitchable Stone Curlew in Durham, what a bird! I've also videoed singing Nightingale this year, but was unable to see the bird (still haven't managed one in the UK yet which is really frustrating) so congrats on getting such brill views of it.

    All the Best,