Hartlepool and Teesmouth, Tuesday 18th February 2020
As a consequence of Storm Ciara, our proposed trip had to be delayed until the following week, when the high tide on our arrival was not ideal for wader watching. Our first stop was along the seafront at Hartlepool where a small rocky island was still above sea level and we were in luck as three Purple Sandpipers were found – a wader for everyone’s list! Turnstones and Redshanks were also feeding there but, within ten minutes, the rocks had disappeared under water. At the headland, sea watching was very quiet with a few Common Guillemots, Eiders and a flying Red-throated Diver being the only birds of interest. Further along the sea front, more Turnstones, Redshanks and Oystercatchers were seen. The Continental race of Cormorant, sinensis, attracted some attention. A walk to the entrance of the fish quay rewarded us with an elusive Rock Pipit and a small group of feeding Eiders. On closer inspection, a smaller duck amongst them proved to be a female Long-tailed Duck – an excellent find!
Lunch was taken at Newburn Bridge where the usual wintering Mediterranean Gull was present; at this location Ringed Plover, Sanderling and three Great Crested Grebes out on the sea were added to the list. A drive along the road at Seaton Common was worthwhile as two Whooper Swans were present – another good find. The visit to North Gare was cut short by the only heavy shower of the day and so we quickly moved on the RSPB Saltholme Reserve, parts of which were badly flooded. However, we did see Red-breasted Merganser, Pintail, hundreds of Wigeon, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Egret, many Golden Plovers and a Marsh Harrier. A Long-eared Owl was seen by one intrepid member who braved a long, muddy walk.
Although it was a sunny day, the wind was rather fresh but we did find a good number of species, only three less than in previous years. A total of 67 was excellent and all credit to the members of the group who persevered in not ideal conditions.
June E. Atkinson.