Don't forget if you have any records or photographs of natural history in Gateshead please send then to

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Another Peregrine

Burdon Moor - Adult Peregrine hunting Teal, 50+ Golden Plover and a single Skylark.

Peregrine over Burdon Moor [Steven Fryer]

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Pluvialis & Passer

Blaydon - 2 Tree Sparrow in a garden at Cowen Road.
Hollihill Manor - 1000+ Golden Plover

Monday, 28 January 2013


Shibdon Pond - Lesser Black-backed Gull. 14 Redwing over Blaydon.

Lesser Black-backed Gull at Shibdon

Yesterday, at Stargate - A pair of Siskin on a feeder

Friday, 25 January 2013

More on Gateshead's cuts.

As you may be aware, once again Gateshead Council have a proposal to cut all Countryside Rangers.  After the petition and feedback last year they promised to keep two Rangers.  The effect of ending the service will have catastrophic results for the 22 sites.  Many are on the edge of a densely populated urban area and are heavily used by people.  All the sites have wildlife value.  If left unmanaged these sites will deteriorate rapidly.  If you agree with this please find time to sign the e-petition.  Time is of the essence as decisions will be made in mid-February.
To get to the petition you can search for Gateshead Council homepage, scroll down to Council and Democracy, Consultation, e-petitions "Save our Countryside Rangers" or you can use the link

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Snow, cold and singing Dippers

Watergate - 1 Dipper singing, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 4 Fieldfare & 25 Tufted Duck.

Dipper at Watergate [Rob Stonehouse]

The snow and freezing temperatures are making our birds tamer than usual. The Blackbird and Robin were at one observer's feet at Blaydon

Doorstep Robin and Blackbird at Blaydon [Peter Harvey]

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

E-petition to save the National Wildlife Crime Unit

This blog seems to be getting all political which is certainly not the intention ... however

You are probably aware that
Britain's National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), which leads the fight against illegal wildlife trade, may be facing the axe. The National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) is a British national police unit that gathers intelligence on wildlife crime and provides analytical and investigative support to police services. The unit costs £130,000 a year but its future is under threat as part of funding cuts to the police service.

 If you would like to help to save the Unit please sign a Home Office e-petition. For more details and to sign

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Watergate -22 Tufted Duck, 1 Teal & 1 Water Rail.
Birtley sewage works - 50+ Meadow Pipit, 20+ Reed Bunting, 50+ Pied Wagtail, 6 Grey Wagtail, 2 Skylark, 12 Greylag over,  20+  Magpie and 2 Siskin.

Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail and Grey Lag at Birtley STW [Steven Fryer]

Monday, 21 January 2013

Jack in the pond

Shibdon Pond - 1 Jack Snipe and quite a passage of Redwings and Fieldfares this afternoon. Unfortunately for one Redwing  a rather large Sparrowhawk  caught it. 

Jack Snipe, another year tick

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Birds in the snow

Birds seen in the snow today - 

Derwent Walk CP -  100 + Pink-footed Geese flying upstream this morning. Woodcock flushed in Paddock Hill Wood.
Birtley Reedbeds - 5+ Water Rail, 5+ Linnet, 1 Grey Wagtail & 1 Kestrel.
Birtley treatment works - 20+ Meadow Pipit, 50+ Pied Wagtail &  1 Grey Wagtail on pans. 2 Skylark over.
Kibblesworth Grange - 1 Buzzard 

At last Linnet and Skylark seen bringing the list this year to 92

Now back to the birding

A few from Saturday 19th January

Clara Vale - A Peregrine flew over at 11:30

The Peregrine over Clara [Rob Barker]

Watergate -1 Water Rail, 1 Pochard, 9 Tufted Duck, 12 Redpoll & 2 Siskin.
Derwenthaugh Staithes -5 Goldeneye and 1 Meadow Pipit over east.
Bill Quay -1 Lesser Black-backed Gull & 2 Mute Swan.
Burdon Moor -4 Fieldfare.
Lamesley -1 Buzzard.
Birtley Reedbeds -68 Pink-footed Geese over south.
The Peregrine and Meadow Pipit was the first this year

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Goodbye Gateshead Wildlife

Very sad news today as Gateshead Council sacks the rest of the Countryside Wardens and gets rid of Bill Quay Farm. 

The spending plans for the coming year includes the proposed loss of the remaining Ranger posts.
LSC2 : Bill Quay Farm
Transfer of operation to another provider or cessation of activity.
LSC3 : Cease Countryside Warden support
This spending proposal would result in the removal of 2 Full Time Equivalent posts

It would appear that Gateshead will continue to withdraw, even though they are duty-bound, of managing their sites of local and  national importance for wildlife.

Their own report reviewed last year warned of the risks -

The non delivery of the CBS Countryside Management Team would have the following impact:

Service consequence:
There would be no visible presence within the main countryside sites ensuring that the environments are safe and that the biodiversity is protected. This would lead to a deterioration of the quality of the countryside sites through misuse and anti social behaviour.

There could be a reduction in the accessibility of countryside sites leading to a loss of opportunity across all diverse groups

The quality of green spaces is a consistent issue for residents. There are 2 Green Flag managed sites, 1 Man and the Biosphere site, 1 Country Park, 1 Forest Park 4 SSSI’s 10 LNR’s and 22 LWS’s managed by the CMT. A reduction in service will lead to all sites becoming degraded. To fulfil the Biodiversity Duty (NERC Act 2006) the Council should ensure there is no net loss of biodiversity on a site.

The Natural Environment is often called the natural health service. The benefits of access to high quality green space in terms of mental and physical health and well-being is well known.

Services from Thornley Woodlands Centre and Swalwell Visitor Centres would be lost to visitors.

Support to the Countryside Volunteers would be reduced as they would only be support by the Natural Environment Team within D&E.

There would also be a loss to the education of school children and other groups with regard to the countryside and wider environment. The informal advice and assistance given by the Rangers to residents would also be lost.

The actual number of visitors to the countryside sites is unknown however people counters have recently been installed along key access points of the Derwent Walk which have registered 180,000 visitors for the period July 2011 to January 2012.

Legal risk:
Some of the grant funding conditions for the major reclamations schemes may not be fully adhered to.

The Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) have statutory legal protection which if they fall into unfavourable condition could result in the Council being prosecuted.

If sites become degraded and public access becomes unsuitable or dangerous the Council could face increasing claims under public liability.

Who are the main customer groups affected by this Proposal:

 The countryside sites are open access and attract all sections of the community.

It is not possible to exactly define the customer groups using the countryside parks however feedback from staff and volunteers indicate the following user groups:

Gateshead residents
Families with Children
Elderly groups
Disabled individuals and groups
Mobility scooter users
Unemployed people
Young people
Ethnic groups
Young people not in education, employment or training
Volunteers attending for health, therapeutic, community and professional development purposes
VCS groups
Schools, specialist schools, colleges and university groups
Further and Higher Education Students undergoing career development and study
Health walkers
Dog owners
Horse riders
Green Gym enthusiasts and joggers
Nature watchers
Amateur Photographers
Sporting Activitie


So  start saying goodbye to 

  • Addison and Hedgefield Woods
  • Banesley Lane
  • Bensham Butterfly Station
  • Blaydon Burn Nature Reserve
  • Burdon Moor
  • Cross Lane Meadows
  • Derwent Walk Country Park and Derwenthaugh Park
  • Dunston Pond
  • Kittiwake Tower
  • Lamesley Pastures
  • Longacre Wood
  • Norwood Nature Park
  • Ousbrough Wood
  • Pelaw Quarry Pond
  • Ryton Willows
  • Shibdon Pond Local Nature Reserve
  • Stargate Ponds
  • Summerhill and Stella Meadows
  • Sunniside Park
  • Wardley Manor Proposed Country Park
  • Watergate Forest Park
  • Windy Nook Nature Park


Yesterday in the snow

Shibdon Pond - 9 Shelduck, 3 Water Rail and a big female Sparrowhawk tormenting a bunch of Redwings
Derwenthaugh  - Dunlin, Redshank, Lapwing and a Goosander on the Derwent 
Birtley - 12 Waxwing
Clara Vale - 18 Goosander, 50 Mallard and 2 Goldeneye on the Tyne

Canada Geese arriving at Shibdon [George Simpson]

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Thursday 17th January

River Tyne at Costco  - 2 Goldeneye, 4 Tufted Duck, 100+ Teal & 2 Mute Swan.
Shibdon Pond -  1 Water Rail
Birtley town centre - 12 Waxwing again
Westfield Pasture - 6 Woodcock and 50 Redwing
Gibside - 1 ground-feeding Treecreeper on 16th & 17th

Tree-creeper at Gibside [John Errington]

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Med Gull again

Watergate Park - 1 adult Mediterranean Gull, 1 Green Woodpecker, 2 Goldcrest & 12 Redwing.
The Mediterranean Gull at Watergate [Rob Stonehouse] 

Far Pasture NR -2 Willow Tit & 1 Snipe.

Saltwell Park - 33 Tufted Duck and 3 Pochard (2drakes) on the lake.

Late news for last Sunday (13th) Common Seal on the Tyne,  opposite Newburn

The Gateshead bird yearlist now stands at 88

Sunday, 13 January 2013

All on the fell

Ravensworth Fell - 2 Short-eared Owl, 12 Crossbill and 2 Kestrel.

No reports from anywhere else of note.

And the first Wood Mouse of the year (plus Kestrel) [Steven Fryer]

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Reports of Crossbills

Burdon Moor - several reports of up to a dozen Crossbill the last few days from the plantation on the right going up the main path.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Dodgy Duck

Timber Beach - 40 Dunlin at lunchtime

Dunlin at Timber Beach
Shibdon Pond - Quiet, the best bird is below, but surely you're not trying to count it for the year?

Dodgy Duck [George Simpson]

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Shibdon Waxwings & raptors

Sled Lane Pond - 2 Wigeon, 2 Goosander, 9 Tufted Duck,
Ravensworth Fell - 150+ Fieldfare at Kibblesworth Grange feeding in field.
Shibdon Pond - 12 Waxwings flew over from the north seemed to head into Axwell park but no sign later. Also single Kestrel and Red Kite.

Red Kite [George Simpson]

Kestrel [George Simpson]

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A fourth owl

Shibdon Pond - 10 Shelduck, 1 Little Grebe , Kingfisher and Sparrowhawk
Ravensworth Fell -  Short eared Owl, 2 flocks of Fieldfare (150+ and 50+) and 1 Grey Partridge. Also a Stoat.
Gibside - 1 Brambling with a Dipper on the adjacent Derwent

 The Short eared Owl and Fieldfare, plus the Stoat new for the year. The bird list now stands at 87 for the year. 

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Early birds

The first birds of the day
Westfield Pasture - Tawny Owl and Woodcock.

Later in the day -
Far Pasture NR - A Chiffchaff was found yesterday on the track by the sewage works. Today two were found, a nominate race bird and a northern (Scandinavian) abietinus bird. 100+ Pink-footed Geese flew West at 11:55. Also Great Spotted Woodpecker, Willow Tit , Common Buzzard, 6 Goldcrest
Bradley Fell- 26 Golden Plover present and 4 Crossbill flew over as did a skein of 150 Pink-footed Geese heading north at 12:12.

126 Pink-feet over [Steven Fryer]

Watergate Park - 2 Dipper in outlet stream.
Shibdon Pond - Kingfisher, 6 Shelduck
Winlaton Mill - 1 Jay
Clara Vale village - 2 Waxwing
Stargate landfill -  2 adult Lesser black backed Gulls and a Green Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker [Steven Fryer]

Tawny Owl, Woodcock, Dipper, Crossbill and Chiffchaff all new for the year putting the total on 85.


A little bit of tittle-tattle from further afield.
While at Saltholme RSPB Reserve at Teesmouth this morning one of the volunteer wardens walked up to us. The usual 'Seen anything?' we asked. 'Only something I couldn't identify' he replied. 'It flew towards you, you didn't see anything?'. 'No didn't see anything unusual, What did it look like?' we asked. 'It was black and white and thrush sized, Oh and it had some red on it'. We not only could not find the bird but even hazard a guess as to what it was. When we gave up he walked off saying 'if I was abroad I would have said it was a Pied Kingfisher'. The mind boggles sometimes.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

One for sorrow, two for joy, but 75 what the ?

No news so far today but yesterday
Birtley reedbed pools - 4 or 5 Water Rail calling and a roost of Magpies at the adjacent sewage works consisted of 75 birds.
Shibdon Pond- A skein of Pink-footed Geese flew over.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Another Shibdon gull

Lamesley-Team valley - 7 Waxwing by Horse's World
Shibdon Pond - 1 Mediterranean Gull.

Mediterranean Gull on Shibdon [Rob Stonehouse]

Clara Vale LNR  - Things pretty quiet at first due to a male Sparrowhawk sitting in the trees. Once he departed and took out a Blackbird - things picked up. Nothing out of the ordinary but highlights were: Willow Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Stock Dove, Tree Creeper, Wren and this male Sparrowhawk.

[Derek Bilton]

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

2nd January and what about this Little Gull?

A few more birds added to the year list  though nobody seems to know about the reported Little Gull at Shibdon which came on the pager at 1:30 pm .  One local observer was standing there at that time but he saw nothing resembling it.

What was seen in the borough today was -

Birtley - 15 Waxwing by the Avenue
Shibdon Pond- Lesser Black-backed Gull
Ravensworth Fell - Little Owl and Red-legged Partridge.
Ryton - 1 Tree-creeper
and 2 Long-eared Owl roosting at one site.

The yearlist now stands at 79 (perhaps more if anyone has seen Fieldfare, Meadow Pipit, Skylark or Linnet this year)?

Also a small bat, probably a Pipistrelle sp. over Tyneside GC, Clara Vale late afternoon


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year's Day

The lists were off to a below average start  by the sounds of things  with a grand total of 71 species reported by end of play).

The best birds so far reported seems to be -

Watergate Park - 2 Water Rail, 1 Green Woodpecker and 20 Lesser Redpoll.
Pennyfine Road - 1 Little Owl.
Sled Lane Pond -  1 Water Rail, 2 Pink-footed Geese, 17 Wigeon, 1 Goldeneye and 6 Tufted Duck
Bradley Fell - 15+ Tree Sparrow
Far Pasture NR - Willow Tit, Red Kite, Goldcrest, 2 Nuthatch, Snipe and 5 Long Tailed Tit .
Swalwell Cricket Club - 1 Common Buzzard
Shibdon Pond- 1 Kingfisher
Low Greenside - Brambling on garden feeders. Also 1-2 Willow Tit and 5+ Bullfinch.

A few sightings of Roe Deer in the Derwent valley area were also reported.

Derwenthaugh meadows - 50 + Curlew , 20 Teal , 6 Grey Herons , 5 Snipe  1 Kestrel  with Lapwing, Redshank  and Dunlin on the adjacent Tyne muddy banks.

Derwenthaugh Meadows

Plants in flower today - Gorse, Common Mullein, White Deadnettle, Annual Meadow-grass and Hogweed

Common Mullien