A change of scenery is nice from time to time especially in birding. So this morning myself, SH and DM headed south to Teesside.
Our first stop was Hartlepool Marina where as soon as we pulled up into the car park we could see a close in Slavonian Grebe. I got probably my best ever views of a winter plumage slav and soon after I got my best ever views of a Black Throated Diver as it came to the surface under the Premier Inn. The two swam the length of the Marina staying under the water for long periods of time along with three Little Grebe.
Next we walked across the bleak Seaton Snook where eventually we found the flock of 15 Snow Bunting amongst a pile of rubble. Some nice males were viewable amongst the flock in flight.
Although the snow of Northumberland was not as heavy in Teesside we still caught the odd sleet shower and the freezing wind followed us all day.
Later we walked along a section of Greatham Creek before turning back and seeing the Greenshank wading in the creek under the road bridge. Whilst watching we could hear but never saw a Spotted Redshank.
Amongst the Greylags and Canada Geese at Cowpen Marsh was a sleeping Dark Bellied Brent Goose and eventually the Tundra Bean Goose showed itself distantly on top of one of the grassy mounds dotted across the marsh.
A short time later we ended up at Dorman’s Pool where we walked along the ridge above the pool next to Reclamation Pond. Whilst up there we were shocked when we looked and saw that the rec had been filled in with what must have been a quarry’s worth of rubble. The last time we were there we were watching an American Wigeon!
There was no sign of the Smew or Bittern on Dorman’s but there were at least 12 Pintail, most of them drakes and what probably the same amount of Pochard in the whole of Northumberland on one small section of the pool.
Whilst scanning the reed edges for the Bittern SH spotted the elusive Green Winged Teal swim out and join the Teal on the pool. Instead of the usual 30-second views of GW Teal we were treated to prolonged views as it swam and flew around before settling on the pond with the Teal. Also form our vantage point over the reeds we heard at least three separate Water Rail squealing.
A quick look on west Saltholme Pool provided us with good views of a dapper looking drake Scaup and a pair of Great Crested Grebe.
On our way back we stopped at Seaton Common. I hadn’t appreciated the sheer number of gulls in that area with hundreds of gulls on the various pools across the common, on the tip, in the air and over towards the mouth of the Tees. Despite searching I couldn’t find a Caspian Gull but there could have easily been one on show if the gulls weren’t so active. As well as the number of gulls there was masses of corvids and Starlings performing aerial displays above the tip.
The last area of the common we checked was the near the entrance to North Gare. A Little Egret was feeding in a small channel along with some Grey Herons. We soon located the gulls, which had just landed, and we just got onto them in time to see a juvenile Glaucous Gull take to the air and fly north towards Seaton Carew.
Our last stop was Ward Jackson Park in Hartlepool where at least eight Ring Necked Parakeets were heard and some were sitting together in trees near the pond.