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The penultimate outdoor meeting of the year took place at South Gare and RSPB Saltholme at Teesmouth. South Gare is an area of reclaimed land and breakwater on the southern side of the River Tees estuary. RSPB Saltholme is a recently opened reserve of grazing marsh and pools on the north side of the Tees. Both areas have SSSI status.
Due to a short notice commitment our leader, Mick Carroll, was unable to attend in the morning but arranged for substitute experts in the shape of Ted Parker and Don Page. The meeting was attended by 5 members, most of whom thought they were trespassing as they drove every inch of the way along the coastal road to the meeting point. It soon became apparent that Messrs Parker and Page, both active members of Teesmouth Bird Club, have comprehensive knowledge of bird life in Teesmouth and were very happy to share this. We were never far from our vehicles and this proved a relief when a heavy downpour occurred and we sheltered in comfort for about 30mins. We hoped that the rain might have brought down unusual passing migrants but this was not to be. Plenty to see though including migrating swallows, meadow pipits and wheatear. We observed both the coastline and the estuary until 1230 when we moved to RSPB Saltholme. A huge disappointment came when we were told the transporter bridge was closed for maintenance, one of the highlights of the day to those of us not having experienced it before.
The afternoon began with refreshments in the café at the reserve where we saw a little egret on the bank of the pool outside. Having been joined by Mick we proceeded to the Phil Stead hide. Here we were really pleased to observe a juvenile male garganey, continually upending, a very elegant female pintail, and a snipe, quite close up showing its beautiful head markings. A mature little egret gave us a good view of its plumes. Ted and Don remained at this hide and as we moved on to the Saltholme pools hide our thanks and appreciation were passed on. We were then very pleased to observe a rare migrant, pectoral sandpiper which had been here a number of days on the narrow causeway. As usual those with scopes were happy to share, even complete strangers.
After some members had left, Mick took the remainder for a quick look over Dormans pool, which is opposite Saltholme. Here the highlight was a juvenile marsh harrier. Many thanks to Keith Gittens for recording the sightings and input in this report.
The following birds were observed:
Common Scoter, Eider, Red-throated Diver, Cormorant, Gannet, Guillemot, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Sandwich Tern, Arctic Skua, Teal, Dunlin, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Heron, Swallow, Wheatear, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Redshank, Robin, Starling,
Marsh Harrier, Tufted Duck, Teal, Garganey, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Wigeon, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Barnacle Goose, Little Grebe, Snipe, Ruff, Pectoral Sandpiper, Little Egret, Coot, Lapwing, Moorhen, Goldfinch, Starling, Magpie
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