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Help With Identifying Birds (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
United Kingdom
Hi all,

I wonder if anyone could help me out with a few sightings this weekend gone.

To put the following in some context, I'm not an experienced bird watcher but I have around 6 months (regular) knowledge/experience so I can tell the more common birds apart with ease. The reason I say that is that I could be mistaken when trying to identify less common birds.

I was on the East coast of County Durham over the weekend and I saw three birds that I couldn't identify with reasonable certainty.

Firstly, a female shore lark. Everything was right, except I didn't see the black band at the top of the breast (but I could have missed that). 'Question is, could I be mistaken, is there any other bird with such a striking head that I may have seen? If it helps for habitat, this bird was just off the coast in an opening of pretty dense thickets and trees for this time of the year.

Secondly, a bird of prey came flying past. I had a good look at it as it flew past my head and into a decent amount of opening. Now, I'm not particularly interested in birds of prey so I'm hopeless at identifying them. This bird was flying low, very agile as it went in and out of trees, brown on top, broad, small head, broad tail. 'Looked too big to be a merlin, and there are plenty of merlins down that way. Kestrels are very common here and I've seen plenty of them, very distinctive, and the size and shape wasn't right. 'Same with buzzards, seen plenty and this bird wasn't big enough. I've seen pictures of a juvenile peregrine flying and that is the best fit from my research over the last couple of days. For anyone in this area, the place was Blackhall Rocks which hopefully will help in terms of habitat.

And, lastly, and the most interesting one to me, was a couple of little black and white birds dancing in and out of trees. I had a very good look at these two birds who must have spent a couple of minutes bobbing in and out of these trees. They had a distinctive white stripe on the crown. I've seen plenty of long tailed tits at bird feeders, in the garden and down at this very same place I was at over the weekend. They didn't look the right shape to me and the colours looked much sharper than what you see on a long tailed tit. They almost looked like wagtails but without the long tail and these birds had a distinctive white stripe on the crown. I had a look around the internet when I got home and saw some black and white warblers. The birds I saw were the right size and shape, but didn't look to have as much black and white on them. My questions are: is it possible these unusual birds could be on the North East coast of England, and if it's possible do photos exaggerate how much black and white they have on them (probably seems a daft question but I've seen plenty of birds in photos/pictures in books that don't quite look the same when you see them in the flesh).

Thanks in advance.

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