Trip Report – Low Barns 17/12/23

It was cold and windy but fine for the last trip out of 2023, when eleven friends from the RSPB Cleveland Local Group met at Low Barns, a wetland reserve bordered by the River Wear, which also contains mixed woodlands and species rich grasslands..

First stop was the West Hide, where Kingfisher is always hoped for, but expectations were not met today. This is where the main feeders are situated and the usual suspects were present, although no siskin or redpoll this time.  It was thought that a Mallow tit (Willow or Marsh tit) had attended, but the sighting was not corroborated. Both are on site but not singing.

Water levels were quite high, and the River Wear was running fast, so it was tricky to spot Grey Wagtail or Dipper, if there.

Next hide visited was the one sponsored by Northumbrian Water, from where there was an excellent view of a stoat hunting a rabbit, albeit ever so brief. Views of birds here were of the distant kind.

The hide on the far side of the main lake persuaded a few of the birders to stop, rather than continuing on walking round, and they were rewarded with a good view of a female Goosander basking in the now pleasant sunshine, and a variety of water birds.

After completing the round the lake walk, it was time to warm up by returning to the Visitor Centre where the café serves up excellent bacon butties. Unfortunately some of the group had forgotten this, and had taken their own sandwiches instead !

A good list had been achieved, as can be seen below, but it was surprising what was missing. There was no Little Grebe, for example, as well as those mentioned above, and the horses seemed to have gone away for the weekend.


Nuthatch – Moorhen – Marsh or Willow Tit – Mallard – Great Spotted Woodpecker – Greylag Goose – Blue Tit – Mute Swan – Great Tit – Coal Tit – Chaffinch – Robin – Tufted Duck – Coot – Kestrel – Dunnock – Blackbird – Stoat chasing Rabbit – Crow – Herring Gull – Cormorant – Goosander – Black-headed Gull – Goldeneye – Wood Pigeon – Goldfinch

Text and List provided by Vana, Images by Geoff