A COMMITTEE OF TERNS @ WASHINGTON WWT

On Saturday I made the trip up the A19 to visit the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust site at Washington a short distance west of Sunderland. WWT Washington was established in 1975 and its wildlife includes several rare species of Swans, Geese and Ducks as well as a large flock of Chilean Flamingos and a trio of Asian Short Clawed Otters. The WWT works towards the conservation of wetlands and a successful breeding programme for some of the worlds most endangered wildfowl. The site also has a large nature reserve with several hides to watch the wildlife with a wide variety of habitats. It was a warm sunny day when I arrived and in front of the visitor centre I could see four Goldeneyes, a few Barnacle Geese, several Shelducks and at the far left hand end a pair of Common Cranes. At the edge of a stream I spotted two Moorhen chicks being fed amongst some Marsh Marigold which lined the streams. As I walked round towards an area called "Close Encounters" I spotted an Oystercatcher probing the grass for food. I continued on to the gate leading into the Close Encounters enclosure where I could see several Eider Ducks asleep on the grass banks at the far side, whilst on the pebbles of the water was one of four Smews. As well as the Eider Ducks and Smews I saw a pair of Chiloe Wigeons and soon after I left I saw a pair of Greylag Geese with three goslings to my right.

There were also a few Tufted Ducks on the water with the Greylags and a little further along on the next stretch of water were several Red Crested Pochards and a pair of Mandarin Ducks. At the other side of the path I could see Red Breasted Geese, Hawaiian Geese and Snow Geese whilst on a fence post fast asleep was an Oystercatcher. After a couple of minutes it woke up, had a good stretch and then went back to sleep. I continued along the path and to my right hand side where I saw Rosy Billed Pochards, White Faced Whistling Ducks, Wood Ducks, Trumpeter Swans, Baers Pochards as well as a large number of Chilean Flamingos. I followed the path past the Otter enclosure and took a path off to the left past a wooden cabin where I could see Bufflehead ducks, Coscoroba Swans and Bar Headed Geese. I now retraced my steps and took a path through Hollowoods towards the Hawthorn Wood Hide where as I walked past a reservoir I could see numerous Tufted Ducks and Mallards. On the grass just to the side of the path were several Goslings with one Greylag parent and one Canada Goose parent. There are several feeders in front of this hide and they were busy with several Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches and a pair of Coal Tits. Visiting one of the feeders to my right was a Nuthatch whilst overhead, perched on a tree branch was a rather bedraggled looking Great Spotted Woodpecker. As this Woodpecker flew off it was replaced by another perching lower down the tree before it was chased off by the first one. A male Bullfinch now arrived at the feeders over to my left and it was soon joined by a Greenfinch.

After gorging itself on bird feeders, the Bullfinch flew across and landed on a bush directly in front of me. It spent a couple of minutes looking round at the vast choice of feeders before returning to the one it had just left and then flying off through the trees to my left. One of the Great Spotted Woodpeckers now returned, perching at the top of a tall narrow tree stump with just the top half of the bird showing. It kept moving its head from side to side for a few seconds before flying off through the trees towards the River Wear. A Nuthatch replaced the Woodpecker and it perched on the opposite side leaning forward towards the feeders. As it flew off I left the hide and headed through a gate and down hill towards the Lagoon View Hide. Half way down the hill I sat down on a bench to eat my lunch and as I was doing so I could see a pair of Blackcaps flitting through treetops overhead. From this hide I could see the River Wear where there were several Herring Gulls as well as a lone Shelduck. Looking westwards from the hide I briefly saw two Reed Warblers moving through a small reedbed whilst to the east, on the Saline Lagoon, were a Mute Swan, Shelduck and a Grey Heron. As I was walking up the steps to rejoin the main path I could hear juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers calling from a nest inside a dead tree. A little further along the path I came across a viewing screen with bird feeders beyond and perched either side of a bird feeder was a male and female Bullfinch.

There were several other visitors at these feeders with Blue Tits, Chaffinches, Dunnocks, Robins and another Great Spotted Woodpecker as well as a second male Bullfinch. I followed the path as it dropped down the hill behind the Flamingo enclosure to the river and through another gate to where the path splits in two. The path to the left takes you back to the otter enclosure whilst the right hand path follows the river taking you to the three hides by the Wader Lake. Just to the left of me was the Northumbrian Water Hide which is situated at the western end of the Wader Lake. On the water, about a hundred yards away, I could see Coots, Moorhens, Shelducks and a lone Redshank. From here I headed along the path between the Wader Lake and River Wear to the Paddy Fleming Hide. In front of this hide were Avocets, Mute Swans, a Redshank and several Shelducks including around eight juveniles. On the far side of the water, amongst the grass and in the trees, were at least a dozen Grey Herons. There were also a few Common Terns and Black Headed Gulls flying overhead as I moved on to the next hide which was called the Diageo Hide. It was very busy in front of this hide with large numbers of Common Terns, Black Headed Gulls, Avocets and Shelducks. Most of the Common Terns and Black Headed Gulls were perched on nests on two islands with a couple of Avocets dotted amongst them.

After a few minutes one of the Avocets began to wade through the water just in front of the hide from right to left. It paused at the left hand side of the hide before making its way back across to the right and flying off. As I walked on to the next hide there was a female Mallard waddling along through the grass at the side of the path. The final hide overlooking the Wader Lake is the Prince's Trust Hide where I saw Tufted Ducks, Coots and a Common Tern which landed on a rock just above the surface of the water. I now followed the path as it climbed up the hill and then through Spring Gill Wood and North Woods to the visitor centre. I decided to make another visit to the Hawthorn Wood Hide and as I was approaching the point where the path splits off and heads towards the hide I spotted an Oystercatcher sat on a tree stump. As it briefly stood up I could see it was brooding two eggs and as I carried on walking the trio of Greylag goslings were still on the water at the other side of the path. The Hawthorn Wood Hide was still busy with Chaffinches, Nuthatches, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Great Tits and a male Bullfinch all making regular visits. A couple of minutes had passed when a female Bullfinch perched on a thin branch just in front of the hide before flying across to the feeders. Just a few seconds later a male Reed Bunting landed on a branch just above where the female Bullfinch had been. I headed back towards the visitor centre and the Oystercatcher was still sat on its nest, whilst in front of the visitor centre the pair of Common Cranes had moved quite close to the path. I have attached below a full sightings list (both captive and wild) as well as a gallery of the photos I took on my visit to Washington WWT. WASHINGTON WWT - 29/05/2021 (WILD)

10+ AVOCETS 20+ BLACK HEADED GULLS 2 BLACKBIRDS 2 BLACKCAPS 3 BLUE TITS 4 BULLFINCHES 3 CANADA GEESE 2 CHAFFINCHES 2 COAL TITS 30+ COMMON TERNS 2 COOTS 2 CROWS 1 DUNNOCK 1 GADWALL 3 GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER 2 GREAT TITS 1 GREENFINCH 15+ GREY HERONS 20+ GREYL AG GEESE 10+ HERRING GULLS 1 KESTREL 4 LAPWINGS 2 LONG TAILED TITS 4 MAGPIES 10+ MALLARDS 10+ MOORHENS 3 MUTE SWANS 1 NUTHATCH 2 OYSTERCATCHERS 1 PHEASANT 2 REDSHANKS 1 REED BUNTING 2 REED WARBLERS 2 ROBINS 4 ROCK DOVES / FERAL PIGEONS 30+ SHELDUCKS 2 SHOVELERS 2 STOCK DOVES 20+ TUFTED DUCKS 4 WOOD PIGEONS

WASHINGTON WWT - 29/05/2021 (CAPTIVE)

2 ANDEAN GEESE 2 BAERS POCHARDS

6 BAR HEADED GEESE 10 BARNACLE GEESE

2 BLACK BELLIED WHISTLING DUCKS 2 BRONZE WINGED TEALS

1 BUFFLEHEAD DUCK 30+ CHILEAN FLAMINGOS

4 CHILOE WIGEONS 2 COMMON CRANES

2 COSCOROBA SWANS 10+ EIDER DUCKS

4 GOLDENEYES 4 HAWAIIAN GEESE

2 MAGPIE GEESE 2 MANDARIN DUCKS

3 RED BREASTED GEESE 4 RED CRESTED POCHARDS

2 ROSY BILLED POCHARDS 4 SMEWS

1 TRUMPETER SWAN 6 WHITE FACED WHISTLING DUCKS

1 WHITE FRONTED GOOSE 2 WOOD DUCKS

3 SNOW GEESE


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