Today I had a nice little trip inland with Dougie to a couple of places I haven't been in a year or two. A nice early start had us on the Durham Moors just after 8.00am. Surprisingly we found Red Grouse really hard to come by despite a thorough search, and we were thankful to see three or four individuals. It was a different story altogether for their cousins, the Black Grouse, with an astonishing 50+ individuals seen from a couple of different areas. Its by far the most I have ever seen, and was an incredible experience. There were loads of Thrushes in the Cow Green area, including a lovely big flock of Fieldfares, and a pair of Dippers were seen well from the bridge overlooking the stream. It was also very nice to see my first Hare of the year, albeit as it sped away from us as fast as it could!
We then headed to Hamsterly in the hope of seeing displaying Goshawks. Unfortunately when we arrived the wind had picked up considerably and no hawks were seen today. We did have a leisurely stroll around part of the forest and struggled to pick up many birds, the highlight being my first Grey Wagtail of the year.
Our last stop was at Low Barns. It was nice to see a healthy population of Marsh Tits were still in the area, but less encouraging was the poor showing of Nuthatches, with only a single bird seen on the whole reserve. A pleasant surprise was a sleeping Egyptian Goose on the main lake. Apparently three were in the area. It was also a delight to see both Frogs AND Toads on the reserve. In one little pond the Frogs were getting down and dirty with each other, and there was also a huge clump of spawn in one corner. Great to see.
On the way home we had a very quick look in Trow Quarry before I dropped Dougie off, and we had a nice surprise of seeing the Med Gull in with the small gathering of Black Headed Gulls. Its almost in complete summer plumage now, and was a very splendid sight. A good end to a good day.