Tuesday, 28 February 2012

What a Difference a Month Makes on Patch

I think the term some use is 'record shot'.

28th Feb. Had it not been a leap year we would be entering March tomorrow. What a difference from some early days in the month when everything was frozen solid. Sunlight carpeted the lake today as I at last returned to patch. I kept an eye out for Nuthatches as I strolled down to the lake, but like last year there was no sign of them in their old territory. A flock of gulls on the playing field was made up of around thirty Common Gulls (many more of them on the lake) and a few Black Headed Gulls. Nearby there was a pair of Oystercatchers, their orange bills hidden by mud from their searching for food in the soft ground. For a time they pottered around the goal posts looking every bit as adept as a ‘Toon’ centre back defending a corner or free kick. They eventually took to flight and their call was heard in the distance. I decided against giving them names, as I felt it would get tiresome if I had to keep looking up how the name Fabricio Coluccini was spelt!

I’m pleased to say the pair of Great Crested Grebes are back on the smaller lake too and looking ready to set up nest. I recorded them on the 20th February last year so I suspect they may have been here for a few days now. Another lone Great Crested Grebe was on the larger lake. This follows the pattern of last year when I recorded three of these birds present on 24th February. I don’t think a fourth bird was hidden today. They certainly won’t be able to hide a nesting site on the bald floating reed-bed this year! Anyway I hope both pairs meet with successful breeding again this year. I said hello to someone photographing the birds.

I saw no Goosanders today. There were however eleven Goldeneye. These birds, especially the males, looked stunning in the sunlight. There were definitely four pairs of birds amongst the eleven. The usual flocks of birds were on or around the lake. I noticed the red and yellow of the Moorhens bills showed sharply in the light as did the head colouring of the Mallards. The family of Greylag remain.

As I walked home I caught sight of the Sparrowhawk circling high over the trees of the church ground and then slowly working along the village until at last out of sight. A Magpie was carrying a very large twig to the nest. It certainly felt more than ever, like spring today.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Golden Plover and Oriental Chicken Begin Day.

27th Feb. In fact a Coca Cola took the place of the Golden Plover, but the Oriental Chicken was very nice at The Cannon Inn, Earsdon before taking a walk down at Holywell with a past work colleague and friend of mine.

It was a dull and wet Monday, but such circumstances are not all bad, as it meant few people were about. A visit to the pond brought Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Canada Geese, two Shelduck, Mallard, four Gadwall, growing numbers of Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Moorhen, and Coot. No wind today meant a few more birds on the water, but worryingly still these numbers seem well down from previous winters.

Patience at the feeding station meant that several Tree Sparows were eventually seen here and in the hedge and at last a Brambling this winter. It was the female bird. Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Greenfinch were also frequenting the station. As we moved off a Song Thrush sang from the top of the trees. I may have commented on this before, but over recent years I have seen an apparent increase in Song Thrush numbers following the long steady decline. I feel that numbers have been hit badly again by the past two freezing winters and I have seen very few Song Thrushes over the past twelve months. It was good to listen to this one on full song. From the public hide a small flock of Lapwing were on the shore along with Black Headed and Common Gulls and one lone Pied Wagtail fed at the edge of the pond.

The avenue held nothing of note. I did comment that I hoped we would find the Dipper today and no sooner had I said this and we found it standing on its favoured rock. We watched it for sometime. On the return journey we found it again, but this time to flew off quite quickly, not to be seen again. I’ve only seen a single bird so far this year, but hope it is to be another successful breeding year. There’s much disturbance in this particular area so it will never be easy for these birds.

We took the path north of the burn on the outward walk and returned by the higher south path at which point we found at least three Roe Deer slowly moving eastwards. Birds of note included a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Long Tailed Tit amongst other woodland species. Drumming was heard from the woodpeckers. A skein of geese flew overhead and I am quite certain that they were Pink-footed Geese.

All in all it had been a very pleasant walk in good company. It’s not that often I take the higher path south of the burn, but it does give a very different perspective of the area, and the view down the burn is very good at this time of year. The afternoon stroll brought forty-one species, the Brambling being a year tick. This is perhaps my favourite winter visitor. I don’t think my friend had knowingly seen either Brambling or Tree Sparrows before, so I think she had enjoyed the walk too.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A Quiet Day with Spring in the Air.

Tide low, wind high, people few, atmosphere good.

Coltsfoot at Seaton Sluice

23rd Feb. I began my walk from near St Mary’s Island and headed in the direction of Holywell. I thought it best to catch the tide whilst it was out rather than meet with high tide in the afternoon. The atmosphere is usually good down by the sea in the morning and today was no exception. The day began well with Skylarks singing (my first of the year...singing that is), Curlews on the golf course (feeding not playing), and a Grey Wagtail and Rock Pipit on the beach. I quickly found two year ticks in the form of large numbers of Ringed Plover and five Bar-tailed Godwits. Then birding wise things went down hill some what. Oystercatchers, Lapwings, Dunlin and Redshank were added to the wader list, but no other wader species were seen during the walk. The sea was a desert apart from a few gulls and a few Eider Duck and Cormorant.

I took the chance to look at the wetland area following reports of its make over. A make over long, long overdue. I wonder if the council have now got a Friends of St Mary’s Island Wetland Group started, as that appears to be the direction of things at present in North Tyneside. Get the friends to do the business and to claim the grants, make more staff redundant and try to cut the salaries of those who remain, or maybe I have that wrong! I shouldn’t be so cynical! Anyway the wetland is looking rather good following its haircut. There was still almost nowt on there today, but the future looks better. There was a handful of Teal.

The walk to Seaton Sluice was uneventful with not even a Turnstone on the rocks. So little was the opportunity for birding, I took time to look at my first sighting of Coltsfoot this year. Spring is not quite ‘bursting out all over,’ but the Coltsfoot was. I found no waders apart from Oystercatchers below the hide at Seaton Sluice, both before and after lunch. I felt a shiver run up my spine when I found a note in the Fish and Chip cafĂ© mentioning ‘closed for refurbishment’. Thankfully the door was opened and I found that the refurbishment isn’t until next month. Note to self…..remember the sandwiches in March! A most enjoyable lunch served by very nice staff who seem to know me well now. Well spring is not bursting out all over, but if I eat anymore chips I’m not so sure about my belly!

The dene was quite sparse of birds too. Flocks of tits were by far the predominant species. Great Spotted Woodpecker was eventually sighted and another heard. No sign of Dipper. A Sparrowhawk made a brief appearance.

Before reaching Holywell Pond I’d found several Stock Doves feeding close by Wood Pigeons. There was little else about and the wind was not helping.

The new(ish) feeding station held Tree Sparrows, as did the hedges leading up to it. I was unable to get a count of them. Greenfinches were also in the hedges, but not as many as I used to find in the area. Chaffinch and Goldfinch were also seen along with Robin, Dunnock and tits. Robin song had been heard throughout the dene.

The pond water itself was high and being blown by the wind, ensuring that there was not much life on it. I did count one Little Grebe, one Pochard, maybe six or seven Canada Geese, two Mute Swans, a handful of Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck, and Mallards. Moorhen and Coot were also seen. Gulls were Black Headed apart from maybe a half dozen Herring Gulls. Sadly the feeding station near to the members hide appears to have been almost deserted these days, despite looking freshly topped up with feed. It used to be really good, especially in winter. All I saw there today was the odd Greenfinch and a couple of Pheasants.

Despite it being what I consider a very quiet day, I still consider this a great area to walk and to bird, and it remains a favourite with me. The dene is great, as it seems to be left to develop naturally and not kept to clean and tidy, if you know what I mean. In this respect I much prefer it to Jesmond Dene which is overly spruced up for the public in my opinion. Trees do appear to be dropping at an alarming rate though. I’ve not been down so often recently. Still managed a day list of fity-one species. An enjoyable day was had.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

What's in a Name.......Barnacle Goose

Barnacle Goose Branta lecopsis

This goose belongs to the genus Branta, species which are of largely black plumage, thus distinguishing it from those geese of the Anser genus, which are largely grey.

First classified taxonomically by Johann Mathaus Bechstein in 1803. The specific name lecopsis is derived from the Greek leuko, meaning white and opsis meaning faced.

‘In English the term ‘barnacle’ originally referred only to this species of goose and only later to the crustacean barnacles. It is sometimes claimed that the word comes from the Celtic word for limpet.’

The following is an early account of how it was thought Barnacle Geese came into being......................................................

They are produced from fir timber tossed along the sea and are at first like gum. Afterwards they hang down by their beaks as if they were seaweed attached to the timber. Having thus been clothed with a strong coat of feathers, they either fall into the water or fly freely away. I have seen, with my own eyes, more than a thousand of these small birds, hanging down on the sea-shore from one piece of timber. This explanation originally appeared in Topographica Hibernica 1186

The above account began the myth that the geese were born of barnacles. This myth was believed for over 500 years and in some quarters, until the twentieth century! It seems the people of Kerry kept to this belief until the last century, perhaps for their own benefit. The ‘fishy’ origin in the myth allowed the locals to eat goose meat during Lent when the eating of flesh was otherwise forbidden. The locals also appear to have referred to Brent Geese as Barnacles, which seems to have allowed them to eat that goose during Lent too! (Info found in Birds Britannica/Mark Cocker and Richard Mabey). Tim Birkhead gives a fuller account of the information from Topographica Hibernica, in his Wisdom of Birds. It includes, ‘Bishops and religious men in some parts of Ireland do not scruple to dine off these birds at the time of fasting, because they are not flesh nor born of flesh’.

Incidentally .........

Caerlaverock means ‘castle of the lark’. Laverock is a Scottish term for the Skylark

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Caerlaverock and Solway Moods

Another hide with a view!

Solway Moods

18th Feb. I was off to Caerlaverock today on the first RSPB group coach trip I have joined in perhaps eighteen months now. I was accompanied by Sam, and on this occasion his dad Malcolm, and Mark too. In that respect it was to be a ‘boy’s day out’. The rather long forty-five minute coffee stop at Gretna, at least allowed us to escape from the cramped coach seats. We just wanted to get on with the birding though. Sam was soon catching sight of Common Buzzards, Kestrel and waders. I seemed to be on the wrong side of the coach (that’s my excuse anyway) and only spotted one Common Buzzard during the journey. It was to be the only one I saw all day which I thought quite unusual in this area. We had journeyed through heavy downpours of rain before eventually hitting sunshine. Ominously as we approached Caerlaverock the cloud darkened and the rain began again. This was to be the order of the day, bright sunlight then the occasional heavy shower, with temperatures appearing to plummet. This did add to the atmosphere of this Solway area, which on any day has an atmosphere of its own. Before we entered the reserve we were watching large flocks of Barnacle Geese in the fields and Sam and I got our eye on a Merlin in flight.

On entering the reserve we found the hedges full of flocks of Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, a few Tree Sparrows and a large flock of very nice Yellowhammer. A couple of Reed Bunting also put in an appearance from time to time. By now a second coach pulled into the reserve and it was busier than I have ever seen the place.

The Whooper Swans in particular provided some good photographic opportunities. From the tower hide we saw waterfowl which included Wigeon, Teal, Shoveller in some numbers and waders were represented by Curlew and Black-tailed Godwits.

After this it was Barnacle Geese, Barnacle Geese and more Barnacle Geese. We saw several thousand I would think. The first large flock we saw on the reserve contained within it a Ross’s Goose, so that caused some interest. To be honest this one is more likely to have been a truly wild bird than any other I have seen in the UK. There wasn’t too much else about on the wider reserve and that is my previous experience of Caerlaverock. Part of the pleasure is however taking in the vast habitat and enjoying the mood of the place whilst watching and listening to the geese and waders, especially the whistling Wigeon. It was good to take time to watch the Grey Herons too as they hunted and caught prey, of which there seemed to be plenty.

At one point the lack of birds had us all studying ‘pellets’ picked up from the ledges on the hide. Sam has taken one home for further investigation. I’m hoping his mam has a space in the fridge so as Sam can keep it nice and fresh! If you’re reading my blog Chris Packham, you never know you may receive this in the post! If Sam’s mam is reading my blog, I’m only joking about the fridge………….I think!

All was going smoothly until we reached the last large hide over looking the Solway. Someone had left a bird guide book behind and I was about to suggest we put it in my bag before I suddenly realised I didn’t have my bag! This necessitated a walk back in the rain to where I think I had left it, whilst Malcolm returned to the centre to see if it had been handed in. Fortunately my bag remained in the corner of the hide and Malcolm was able to return the book to its owner, so all ended happily, if a little wet. We noted that I only seem to loose things like this when accompanied by Sam. Not sure why, maybe the enthusiasm takes my mind off things. In the meantime one of the group member's who has a bit of experience behind her, reported having seen a Ring Ouzel. I tried not to turn green with envy, and I understand it was reported to the centre staff. Be interesting to see if it goes on their website of latest sightings.

We ended the time on the reserve watching the flocks of birds in the hedges and on the pools near the centre, giving opportunities for more photography. There was a bit more flight from the Whooper Swans now too. The Barnacle Geese had earlier taken to flight on occasions, but never really close enough for good photographic opportunities.

Sadly we had to leave at a time when I think the area would be at its most atmospheric, as the sun was lowering in the west. Unfortunately the anticipated trip to see the Starling roost at Gretna never took place either. I’ve seen this before and it’s a great spectacle. I was disappointed on Sam’s behalf as I know he had been looking forward to this part of the day. I’m sure you’ll get there another time Sam. At least you got another sighting of a Merlin as we left the reserve.

It had been good to see that another youngster was on the trip with his dad. They seem to have enjoyed their day. Two young people under sixteen on a group coach trip is maybe a record! Hopefully it is a direction that will continue. The ‘boys day out’ had been a good one and we squeezed into our seats to enjoy our pop and chocolate on the journey home. Cramp prevented any serious sleeping! :-) Sam I noted was still recording bird sightings. I was on the wrong side of the coach again!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

3Bs......Birding By Bus

15th Feb.

We took the bus from Killingworth

It wasn’t heavily laden

We were on the way to Cresswell

Not over the river to Blaydon


Oh, the delights of a bus ride via Ashington to Cresswell. It must not be missed on any world tour. The outward journey included a couple of Pied Wagtails before we left Killy, a Common Buzzard and lots of chat. I was once again accompanied by Sam. On arrival the tide was on the ebb and the sea quite rough, but I found my first Fulmar of the year and a sizable flock of Wigeon kept lifting from the sea and then dropping again to be hidden by the waves. The wind was blowing the sand in patterns towards us. It was initially windy and cold, although by afternoon much calmer and warm (ish). A male Stonechat was seen as we walked through the dunes past some cattle that I could swear where just dying to get at us! Later in the day we found the female with male Stonechat. Several hundred Pink-footed Geese flew in the vicinity of the pond. A lone Common Snipe flew over the dunes.

The walk down to the pond hide gave us a flock of thirty Yellowhammers which flew into and near to the hedge. Two Tree Sparrows were found here when we left. The wind seemed to be ensuring that few other small passerines were about.

The mud area at the pond held a small and flighty flock of Lapwing, one Dunlin and a couple of Redshank. The wind seemed to have removed most bird life from the pond but there were plenty of Wigeon, a few Teal, the three Red-breasted Mergansers and on this occasion two Goosanders. Shelduck were on the western edge of the pond with more Redshank and numbers of Curlew were flying in the area. As for any sign of Jack Snipe? I can only think that someone has placed an invisible barrier between me and this species. I have to see one this year surely? I’m sure I’ll soon be reading of more sightings of this bird ‘right in front of the hide’ and soon looking at close up photographs once again.

We decided to walk along the road and eventually found a few Twite, but didn’t have a good sighting. Better was the sighting of a Carrion Crow pecking at a dead Rabbit. Sam may want to give the details! We decided to continue walking along to Druridge Pools. There were lots more Wigeon here, again with a few Teal and several Shoveller. The large pool offered little but a small number of Wigeon and Teal and a two male Goldeneye.

It’s quite a walk when carrying a lot of gear and we were soon feeling warm! The return walk give us better sightings of perhaps forty to fifty Twite and the pair of Stonechats mentioned above. I briefly got my eye on a Merlin flying low and it dipped behind the fence and disappeared. It turned up again, a male bird, when being harassed by a Carrion Crow, but the sighting was again brief as it dipped into the hollows in the dunes not to be seen again. We did wait around for a while but nothing reappeared.

We eventually returned to the beach and what a wonderful expanse of sand, sea and dune this area is. The cloud was really breaking up by now giving a wonderful light. There was little to no wind now. I think Sam managed some very good shots of waders, despite at times walkers allowing their dogs to chase them. Both of us managed to take some scenic shots. Waders in the main were Sanderling although Oystercatchers, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew where around. Little was seen on the still rough sea apart from the odd Eider Duck.

We eventually made of for the long winding bus ride home. Sam spotted a Kestrel from the bus. By now tiredness was catching up with both of us and the sun was shining brightly very low in the sky. Darkness greeted us on arrival at Killingworth. It had been another really good day in a really nice atmosphere, with some decent sightings, and sounds of the wildfowl and waders.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Gosforth Park NR to Prestwick Carr

Could the photography bug be catching? Taken at the Gosforth Park NR feeding Station.

Sam has to be given the credit for finding the Green Woodpecker!

More practice required with the owls I think!

11th Feb. Set off this morning for Gosforth Park N R in the bitter cold along with Sam, AKA Bittern Man! Thanks to Sam’s dad for a much appreciated lift. A few cars parked at the reserve suggested that it might be busy, but in fact it was very quiet today and the way I like it. Two stops at the feeding station brought us Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Nuthatch, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Magpie, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Siskin. Treecreeper was found later as we walked around the reserve. A black Rabbit was amongst other Rabbits feeding near the station. Roe Deer were seen in the woodland and the only squirrels seen were Grey Squirrels.

The paths in places were still frozen and in other spots thawed and muddy, so at times not easy to negotiate. The pool off the reserve held Mute Swan, Moorhen, Coot and gulls. The pond was frozen solid and held only Wigeon and one or two Coot. A very healthy looking Fox made an appearance as it trod on the ice around the far edge of the pond. I seem to remember Foxes breed very early in the year and this one looked in fine condition. With not to many birds to take the eye I did take more not of the actual reed-beds which are quite impressive.

I hoped for a sighting of the Bittern, but didn’t think I’d be lucky again. As we entered the main hide we were told by a guy who was leaving that there had been no show from the Bittern/s. Within minutes of him leaving, and I suspect he had been there for sometime, Sam saw a Bittern lift from the reeds to our left and it give a very good sighting as it flew across the reed-bed and then disappeared into the reeds again. Sam has made two attempts to watch Bitterns and has been rewarded with some great sightings each time. You can see why I call him Bittern Man. We were joined in the hide by a young couple (nice to see young people taking an interest in the reserve and NNHS). Keen to get a photo of the Bittern I think, they were rewarded fairly quickly when the Bittern lifted again and flew across the reed-bed. There were no poses from the Bittern on the ice and next to the hide on this occasion, but that would just be spoiling us. By now the morning felt as though it was getting colder rather then warming up! It never did seem to warm up today.

We were undecided where to make for next, but eventually plumped for Prestwick Carr where I thought initially there were few people about, but they soon began to emerge along the hedge line. A Sparrowhawk was found hunting the hedge in almost the exact spot as we had seen one on the previous visit. This time a male bird was ensuring that the other species in the hedge (Blackbirds and Starlings in the main), were not going to rest easily.

It was early afternoon and there wasn’t much activity for the Short Eared Owls, so we walked along the ‘bumpy road’ and up to the sentry box. Bird life was limited today. We did see at least four Kestrels, a Common Buzzard and we heard Willow Tit. Unfortunately we missed the two Whooper Swans seen by Peter. I’m not sure how I missed them and can only assume that I had been concentrating on Sam’s Green Woodpecker! :-) We did have a chat to Peter along the way and talked about how the Short Eared Owls were hunting over a much wider area now. Peter’s suggestion that they had paired up seemed later to be confirmed by the way they seemed to be hunting in pairs. I also noticed that there was lots of calling between the pairs today too, more so than I had noticed on previous visits.

Once we got back along to where the photographers seem to congregate there was again little activity. Everyone seemed to think it was time to leave. I have to say once they had gone the Short Eared Owls made an appearance in numbers. I think it was around 3:30pm by now. Even I managed to get some photographs, but I think I’ll leave Sam to show his, as I more than suspect they will be far better quality.

It had been a cold, but very enjoyable day.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Still Frozen

7th Feb. A sunny afternoon, so I had a quick walk down to the lake and found it still frozen in the main. There was no life at all on the small lake. On leaving the house I had seen a Sparrowhawk disturb birds in the nearby hedge. I’m not sure if it caught one or not.

There was lots of activity on the larger lake with lots of flights of Mute Swans, Canada Geese and the family of seven Greylag Geese (seen flying up and down the lake). Common Gull numbers to have reached new heights with almost as many of them as Black Headed Gulls. I counted nine Goldeneyes on the lake and can’t remember ever seeing such numbers here before. The males were displaying and being followed by the females. I suspect there may have been five pairs and that I missed one of the females in the packed waterfowl flocks on the part of the lake not still frozen. The pair of Shoveller remain.

Just as I was thinking of turning round I spotted someone taking photographs and it turned out to be Sam. My walk was therefore extended a bit and included some chat.

There are some plans afoot to flatten the British Gas area south of the lake and build housing. How many more houses do we require in the North East? I certainly hope that this does not involve encroachment onto the green areas around the lake or there may be another petition on the offing! I’m pleased to note that the petition concerning the Management Team in the Derwent Valley exceeded the number of names which was required to have the issue discussed at a Council meeting.

I’ve made very good progress with the Harry Potter books and I’m now into the penultimate volume The Half-Blood Prince. If you haven’t read these books I strongly recommend that you do. I don’t know how I shall fill my time once I’ve finished them. I’ll be back to reading about ornithology I guess.:-)

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Lunch with Birds

Cold day at East Chevington.

2nd Feb. Meeting up for lunch with a friend today I managed to ensure that the pub we were meeting in was within range of some birding, although by necessity the latter had to be quite brief. I was polite and asked if it was ok to take my scope to lunch. That I suppose may have been seen as a bit of a hint.

First stop was a bitterly cold Newbiggin by the Sea. I quickly picked up four Mediterranean Gulls (two adults and two second winter). Two Common Scoters were very close to shore. Both species were year ticks. I eventually managed a count of seven Red Throated Divers. I think that there probably more that I missed. Guillemots and Eiders Ducks were also on the sea. It was then time for lunch in the warm pub at Widdrington.

The chance was also taken to visit East Chevington where on arrival I spotted a Short Eared Owl as it flew over South Pool. I also managed a third year tick when finding the Green-winged Teal in almost the same spot as I found it in 2011. A Kestrel hovered in the distance, as I counted thirty-five Goldeneyes on North Pool.

The drive home was via Cresswell, so we had to stop for a look. As we did, two hundred Pink-footed Geese flew overhead. Before reaching the pond area we had seen the flock of Twite feeding on the ground with a large flock of Curlew in the background. Three Red-breasted Mergansers remain on the pond. Good numbers of Wigeon, Lapwing and Dunlin were about. I didn’t get into the hide.

Last stop was made for another look at the sea and three more Red Throated Divers were picked up.

It had been the type of lunch date I like with forty-five species recorded. The lunch itself was pretty average although the company fine. :-)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

That Water Rail Again!

1st Feb. Just thought I would update regarding the Water Rail I spotted in Jesmond Dene in January. I’ve no doubt that cold conditions at the time had made it move from elsewhere, possibly Gosforth Park.

Sadly I have to report that it was not a first record for Jesmond Dene. However, after some careful research by guys in NTBC I’ve been given the following information.

Birds of Jesmond Dene written by Sir George Noble and published by Eyre and Spttiswoode Ltd 1930 says on page 23……………………

’63. Water Rail Rallus aquaticus

Seen in burn at Crag Hall in 1910 or 1911 CA’

It is thought that the C A may stand for Colonel C. Adamson. This particular Water Rail was seen in the same area as I recorded my sighting.

So there you are, I may not have a first for the dene, but it seems I have a first in over 100 years and I’m going to settle for that very significant sighting and don’t mind following the good Colonel into the record books. :-)

I’d like to thank those guys in the NTBC who first raised my attention to the significance of the sighting, and those who then went to great lengths to research it. It was Mike Cook who found the info in Birds of Jesmond Dene.