Falcon, treecreeper and egret among 94 species spotted at annual Bird Race around Souter Lighthouse and The Leas

Birdwatchers were in their element when they flocked to a coastal beauty spot to take part in the annual Souter Bird Race.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 07 January, 2019, 05:00
National Trust ranger Dougie Holden at the annual Souter Bird Race.

Souter Lighthouse and The Leas hosted the event, which saw nature lovers count an incredible total of 94 different species of birds over eight hours.National Trust rangers and members of the local Coastal Conservation Group lead a total of 20 wildlife lovers in the one-day event, with the aim to cover as large an area as possible.

Seven competing teams - made up of bird spotters of all ages and abilities - used vehicles or covered up to 15 miles on foot.

Bird watchers recording bird sightings during the race.

During the race, four driving teams and three walking teams covered South Shields, Whitburn, Jarrow, Hebburn, Boldon, and Cleadon.

Each team recorded their findings, in the hope of spotting combined numbers of up to 100 species, including familiar birds like chaffinches, blue tits and black-headed gulls as well as rarer sighting.

A total of 94 different species were counted during the event on Sunday, with the winning walking team counting a total of 62 different species and the winning driving team counting 81 different species.

Among the star attractions were the peregrine falcon, the treecreeper and the little egret.

Dougie Holden at the annual Souter Bird Race.

Dougie Holden, National Trust ranger at Souter Lighthouse and The Leas, said the event, which is now in its 15th year, aimed to help protect important wildlife habitats and inspire people to learn more about the amazing variety of life around them.

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He said: “It has been a really good day and everyone has enjoyed it.

“We set off at 8am and finished at 4pm, covering the full borough of South Tyneside.

“The walking team covered 15 miles and we spotted the likes of peregrine falcon, and the treecreeper which is a tiny brown bird that is hard to spot in South Tyneside.”

Teams turned out to spot as many species as they could at the annual bird race.

Mr Holden said he hopes the event will inspire other people to get involved in enjoying spotting wildlife in their local area.

He continued: “We want to make people ware that you can get great wildlife on their door step, it’s just a case if people making the effort to get out there.
“When people do it once it can become quite addictive.”

The Souter Bird Race is the first of a number of joint events this year which will help introduce people to nature and hopefully inspire them to get involved in caring for it.

Dougie Holden at the annual Souter Bird Race.