Places to see birds

My Patch

HAVANNAH & THREE HILLS NATURE RESERVE, Hazlerigg, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
This Nature Reserve is my patch where I take my dog for his long walk every day. It is named after the reclaimed Havannah drift mine and the three slag heaps which used to dominate the area. There are a range of habitats from open heathland, pasture land, mixed woodland and two ponds. The area is relatively flat but can be muddy in places in the wet weather.
A wide variety of birdlife can be seen e.g. whitethroat & yellowhammer on the heathland in the summer; summer warblers, finches, tits, jay & great spotted woodpecker in the woodland and the usual species of duck (mallard, teal, widgeon), mute swan and heron on the ponds. The star turn was a Little Egret in July 2015.
Roe deer, badger and fox are also inhabitants. The Nature Reserve is the last remaining home of red squirrel in the Newcastle City Council area. They are, however, currently under threat by the proposed housing developments both to the north and south of the Reserve.
Access: Car parks, one for Havannah and one for Three Hills, are signposted and can be accessed from Coach Lane which runs from the Dinnington Road (east of Newcastle Airport ) to the west of Hazlerigg village. It can be reached by bus number 44 from Newcastle Haymarket Station, getting off on Coach Lane in Hazlerigg and taking a short walk further along the footway. You will come to the Nature Reserve on your left.
Harold Dobson
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KILLINGWORTH LAKE and Surrounds - The main part of my patch is Killingworth lake, an area made up of a large boating lake and a smaller lake which is overlooked by a large leisure centre. I have watched this patch for the past few years and it provides great habitat for some varied and surprising wildlife, especially given its urban backdrop.
During the winter Killingworth lake can hold a large stock of wildfowl including Canada and Greylag Geese which gather primarily in the winter to feed, large rafts of Goldeneyes often 25 or more individuals, and small groups of Goosanders hanging around near the Goldeneyes. Not to mention one of the North east of England's largest Mute Swan colonies with the occasional Icelandic cousin, the Whooper Swan, taking the time out of its busy winter schedule to visit.
The area around the lake also provides a good space to see other wildlife including butterflies such as Small and Large skipper, Meadow Brown and several other species of impressive british insects, damselflies are also widely distributed around the area. The surprising wildife comes in the form of the shy mammals which are normally well tucked away and not seen. Around the lake the 'normal' mammals such as Wood Mice and voles have been recorded and on two occasions I have seen Weasels bounding through foliage right near to the road! Nearby I have also witnessed a partially melanistic Fox standing in a field on a snowy morning.
Great Crested Grebes, Swifts, Swallows, Martins and Warblers such as Blackcap and Reed Warbler breed near or on the lake during the summer months, although picking out some of the latter can take a little bit of time!.
For such an urban area, Killingworth lake and its surroundings offer sanctuary to a varied line-up of wildlife to thrive amongst the urban sprawl.
The surrounds include wagonways, scrub and farmland some of which provide fine nesting areas and birds seen here have included the likes of Red Kite, Peregrine Falcon and Short-eared Owls. In spring and autumn migrants pass through the area providing opportunity to catch sight of birds not normally associated with the area and habitat."
Samuel Hood
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St. MARY'S ISLAND and adjacent mainland - I daren't call this 'my patch' as too many birders could say the same but it does give me more pleasure than any other, being local and very varied. The regular shoreline waders - curlew, redshank, lapwing, turnstone, oystercatcher, dunlin, sanderling, golden plover - are with us from August to April. The wetland hosts wildfowl for much of the year, mostly teal, tufted, gadwall and mallard, and occasionally pintail or shoveler. The fields to the west have nesting skylark and meadow pipit. Trees and bushes around and to the north of the wetland attract many birders during migration or bad weather periods when rarities can be seen, as in autumn 2012. At such times too, the hide on the island is excellent for sea-watching; gannets, auks, skuas and shearwaters are recorded in large numbers.
The area is off the A193 at the north end of Whitley Bay, easily reached by metro, bus, bike or car. Public toilets on landward side of causeway. The light-house confirms you're in the right place but check the tide times before crossing.
Jeff Mason
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WYLAM - My Patch is the River Tyne area in Wylam mainly between the road bridge and Hagg Bank. It includes riverside, gardens, playing fields, allotments, disused railway lines, scrub and woodland areas of Wylam Haughs Nature Reserve. Footpaths extend along the Tyne east to Newcastle and the Coast and west to Ovingham and Prudhoe.
Over the past few years I have recorded 78 species including many of the summer warblers, kingfisher, goosander, common sandpiper, great spotted and green woodpecker, nuthatch, treecreeper, siskin, redpoll, goldcrest, buzzard and red kite. For several summers there were grasshopper warblers although I have not seen these in recent years. Otters are also regularly seen along this stretch of the Tyne.
Access - Wylam is on the Newcastle/Carlisle Rail Route, there are regular bus services, there is ample free car parking (100 yards from main road bridge) and there are walk and cycle routes along the Tyne from Newcastle
Tony Hyde
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