On the 15th of this month (I know, I haven't updated for a while - again!!!) I had one of those rare days where I had nothing on so I went out and actually looked at wildlife! I was joined by Sir Dougie of Trow, who's days out are probably rarer than mine these days, and we enjoyed a relaxing couple of hours just exploring the local hotspots. We started the day at Marsden Old Quarry, which was very quiet but the resident Little Owl was in its usual place. A quick look in the Coastal Park was followed by a look on Jackies Beach. Best we could come up with here were a big flock of Curlew in the field next to the Obs and the huge flock of Golden Plover regularly taking to the air. There was very little in the Doctors Garden so we very quickly headed to the Academy Pools. This was to be the highlight of the day! It started with a very surprising Marsh Tit flying past us on the path approaching the Pools. This is an extremely scarce bird for South Tyneside (according to the locals - I wouldnt have a clue!) and something I was lucky to see. On reaching the Pools we noticed that there were a load of Hirundines flying around overhead which is always a fantastic sight. Then we noticed a load of Dragonflies buzzing around, which probably explained why so many Swallows etc were in the area! As we were approaching the Pools we saw two local lads, Dave Foster and Dave Gilmour standing with their binoculars at the ready. As we got closer we heard what they were there for - the unmistakeable sound of a Cetti's Warbler! These birds are very very rare in County Durham so the opportunity to see one was not to be passed up. The next 30 minutes had us staring into an area of reedbed that we KNEW the bird was in but was agonisingly only giving us the briefest of glimpses as it skulked in the undergrowth. But then finally, FINALLY, the bird came out into the open, hopped along a few reeds, then flew past us and away to another part of the pool. For Cetti's Warblers this was probably as good as can be expected, and needless to say it was a nice little County tick. As if to emphasise how lucky we were, the bird has not been reported since that day!