Birders spot 105 species in annual bird race

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Twitchers did themselves proud in an annual bird race - clocking up more than 100 breeds.

Seven teams battled it out to spot the most different types of bird in the borough.

The race, which is in its 13th year, was hosted by the National Trust from Souter Lighthouse in Coast Road, Whitburn, on Sunday.

Five teams were mobile, which meant they used vehicles to cover all of the borough, while two groups covered their route, of about 15 miles, on foot.

The winning mobile team, Keith McAlpine, Andrew McAlpine and Graham Slesser, clocked 90 birds, but in total 105 different types were discovered by participants.

The winning ground team consisted of Andrew Watts, Bob Freeman and John Brown

It’s incredible to think there’s so many different types of bird flying around South Tyneside.

Dougie Holden

Dougie Holden, the Trust’s ranger for Souter Lighthouse and The Leas said: “It is quite incredible to think there’s so many different types of bird species flying around South Tyneside, especially in these winter months,

“The mobile teams were obviously able to cover a lot more ground and had the chance to explore Jarrow and Hebburn.

“Those on foot clocked up about 15 miles in total.”

Dougie is particularly delighted with sightings of a short eared owl, a Jack Snipe, a peregrine falcon, a flock of waxwings and two kingfishers.

He said: “The Jack snipes are a very hard to spot. You virtually have to stand on them before they show themselves. The Peregrine falcon was a brilliant spot over on Boldon Flats. The problem was, it was hungry so, once that came, out all of the other birds vanished.

“There was also a flock of waxwings in Hebburn, and the Kingfishers were spotted at Boldon and Jarrow.

“As a bonus, we also had a sighting of harbour porpoises just off the coast at Lizard Point. They were lovely to watch.”

Dougie says the race is now getting bigger and better every year - and hopes 2018 will generate even more interest.

He said: “Two ladies from North Wales and Greater Manchester were due to join us but sadly couldn’t at the last moment, so the word is spreading.

“We just hope even more people will take part next year.”