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The best sites in the North
11:57am Friday 14th September 2012 in News
ALTHOUGH the rich seabird colonies of the Farne Islands are considered among the crown jewels of the country’s birding sites, drawing thousands of visitors from the rest of Britain and overseas each year, many less well-known gems are highlighted in the region’s latest Best Birdwatching Sites publication.
Below are five of late author Brian Unwin’s favourites.
TEESMOUTH: Rivermouth expanses of sand for gulls, terns and waders, while its dunes offer cover for grounded migrants.
These areas, plus a salt-marsh remnant and grazed freshwater marsh form part of the 771-acre Seaton Dunes and Common Special Site of Scientific Interest.
Target birds include barnacle goose, black redstart and yellowbrowed warbler in autumn, plus short-eared owl, snow bunting, merlin, Mediterranean gull and twite in late autumn/winter.
CASTLE EDEN DENE: Having escaped the threat of coalmining waste being dumped, east Durham’s denes, narrow, sinuous ravines now enjoy National Nature Reserve status.
It covers more than 500 acres over four miles and, since 1985, has been a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.
Target birds are nuthatch, right, green woodpecker, grey wagtail and marsh tit.
TYNE AND WEAR COAST: The seven miles of coastline between the mouths of the rivers Tyne and Wear offer exceptional opportunities. Several sites are noted for migrants.
There is also a first-rate seawatching potential, with spectacular cliffs that house thousands of nesting seabirds.
Target birds include roseate tern and sooty shearwater in late summer/autumn, and Mediterranean gull and snow bunting in late autumn/ winter.
DERWENT RESERVOIR: A magnificent winter roost of up to 20,000 common gulls is the chief claim to fame of the reservoir, straddling the Durham/ Northumberland boundary.
But it is capable of producing interesting birds at all times of year. Target birds include dipper, grey wagtail, red kite, sparrowhawk and buzzard.
KIELDER WATER AND FOREST: Europe’s biggest manmade lake, nestling within the Forestry Commission’s largest tree expanse.
While some speciality birds can be seen closer to the North-East’s main built-up areas, for the overall experience of a spectacular location, the extra miles are worthwhile.
Target birds include siskin, mandarin duck, common crossbill, lesser redpoll and raven.