RSPB Big Birdwatch 25 – 27th January 2020

Why not join us at Clara Vale Nature Reserve this Saturday 25th January, when once again the Conservation Group are supporting this national event . You can help us to identify and count the birds we see for one hour between 10:30 and 11:30am.


You don’t need to be an expert, or even count the birds yourself.  There will be keen birdwatchers to help you identify the species of birds that visit the reserve. Both the Alex West and Woodland hides will be open, and we will have free loan binoculars to use.

There will be free refreshments (and no doubt some irresistible cake), plus a couple of free children’s activities too.

We don’t make any charges for this volunteer-run event, however any donations are welcome and all go to the upkeep of the Reserve and bird sanctuary.


RSPB Big Birdwatch 26 – 28th January

Once again the Conservation Group are supporting this national event and invite you to join us this coming weekend on Saturday 26th January in the Clara Vale Nature Reserve, when we identify and count the birds we see for one hour between 10:30 and 11:30am.

There will be free refreshments (and no doubt some irresistible cake), plus a couple of free childrens’ activities too.

You don’t have to count the birds yourself and there will be one or two keen birdwatchers on hand to help you identify the birds you see – both the Alex West and Woodland hides will be available and we’ll have free loan binoculars to use.

We don’t make any charges for this volunteer-run event, however any donations are welcome and all go to the upkeep of the Reserve and bird sanctuary.





Big Garden Birdwatch 2018 – Result and pictures

We were delighted with the turnout for this community event in the nature reserve on Sunday 28th January.

Conservation Group members set up a stall in the Reserve, offering free refreshments, cake and biscuits, which seemed to be a good incentive for visitors to come and take part in observing the birds in the reserve at both the hides.  There was a steady stream of families, and children enjoyed making their own bird feeders using very sticky lard and peanut butter, mmmm…. (see images below).  There was some storytelling too.

Despite the blustery conditions, there was a good bird count, the highlight being a group of 11 Yellowhammers who swooped down to feed in front of the Woodland hide.

Full results for the RSPB one hour bird count are below and have been submitted to their database. But first, take a look at a few of the images from a super community morning gathering, click on any image to enlarge and scroll:



Final count for the Big Garden Birdwatch, Clara Vale Nature Reserve:

Tree sparrow – 15
Blue tit – 5
Great tit – 3
Long tailed tit – 1
Coal tit – 1
Robin – 3
Blackbird 2
Bullfinch – 2
Chaffinch – 6
Pheasant – 6
Mallard – 7
Nuthatch – 2
Magpie – 1
Moorhen – 3
Kingfisher – 1
Yellowhammer – 11
Wren – 1
Dunnock – 2

These are combined for the 2 hides with the maximum numbers taken  so we’ve not double counted.   Also 3 roe deer seen.

We’d also like to thank those people who donated a total of £16.60 to our funds.

RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch 2018

Join in with us at the Clara Vale Nature Reserve, as once again  we take part in the this national birdwatching event on Sunday 28th January 2018 between 10:30am and 12:00 noon.

The idea is to count the maximum number of each species seen in exactly one hour and submit the results to the RSPB. This helps them build a national picture of trends in the UK bird population. More information about what they do with the data here.

  • We will be offering free refreshments in the bird hides for those interested in taking part, come along and help us record the number of birds seen;
  • Learn more about the birds you see, with help from birdwatchers and guides;
  • Free children’s activities based on birds and pondlife in the Reserve.





‘The Best Coffee Morning Ever!’

The coffee morning on Saturday 28th to coincide with the RSPB bird watch weekend was a resounding success.  Children from Clara Vale and Crawcrook made bird feeders to take home to attract birds to their own gardens.  Wildlife artist, Jonnie Foker demonstrated using pastels to draw bird shapes. Children and parents joined in to produce a colourful  frieze which will be hung in the hall for all to see.

Thanks to everyone who came along, to all the people who baked scrumptious cakes and especially to the team in the kitchen.  We raised around £150 towards bird feed for the birds in the nature reserve.

Thanks also to all the parents and children for taking part in activities and allowing these photos to be shared, we are so glad you enjoyed yourselves! One of the youngsters, Jake Raad, declared it ‘…the best coffee morning ever!’.

Click on any image for a larger version.

Coffee Morning/RSPB Big Birdwatch

The January Clara Vale Village Hall Coffee Morning coincides with the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, so the CVCG are joining forces with the Village Hall Committee to make a little event out of it.

Alongside the usual tea, coffee and delicious home-made cakes, if that weren’t reason enough we have opportunites to:

  • Make a bird feeder to take home
  • Try out a bird-related art activity with local artist Jonnie Foker* (and view some of his work)
  • Visit our bird hides and complete the RSPB survey (11:00 – 12:00)

All funds raised from the activities will help us to purchase bird feed for the Nature Reserve.

*Jonnie Foker is a member of the Society of Wildlife Artists and Bearpark Artists Co-operative, specialising in birdlife. Jonnie will provide a taster art activity and bring some of his work to view or buy. Find out more at

When: Saturday 28th January 10:30 – 12:30

Where: Clara Vale Village Hall




The (not so common) Common Crane

There was excitement amonst lucky villagers in early May who spotted a Common Crane flying over the village early one evening. It is very unusual to see one this far north and the first time one has been observed from the village.  Here’ s what the RSPB says:

‘The crane is a huge, graceful, mainly grey bird with long legs, a long neck and drooping, curved tail feathers. Small numbers pass through Britain in spring and autumn, and there is a tiny breeding population in eastern England. Numbers in Europe have declined over the last 300 years because of disturbance, shooting and drainage.’

Although we didn’t get any great photos, here’s a video to give you an idea what all the excitement was about:


RSPB Big Birdwatch Results


Thanks to everyone who took part in our 1 hour Birdwatch on 31st January, we’ve submitted our results for the Clara Vale Reserve to the RSPB.

We recorded a total of 19 species from both hides:

Blue Tit
Coal tit
Tree sparrow
Greater Spotted Woodpecker
Great tit
Long tail tit


RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch

This annual national event takes place on the weekend of 30th/31st January as people all over the British Isles take part in observing and recording nature for one hour. The RSPB collate the results to provide a snapshot of UK nature.

We will be logging the birds at both hides in the Reserve on Sunday 31st January between 10 and 11am. There will be at least one birdwatching CVCG member on hand at each hide to help with identification, so do come along at 9.45am for a quick run through on how the survey works – you might be surprised at what you see!

You can find out more about this year’s event on the RSPB website.


Newsletter – January 2016

The CVCG has won a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to improve and restore the grassland in the Reserve. The bid was made on our behalf through Gateshead Council. For more information visit our Flowers in the Vale page.

As part of the project, we will be updating the education pack for local schools and plan to survey visitors who use the Reserve. This new website has been created to satisfy one of the grant conditions, namely to make information about the Reserve more widely available. All the latest information about what is happening will be published here.

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is over the weekend 30th-31st January. If you participate in Clara Vale, please keep a copy of what you see and drop it off to Gordon at 1, Edington Gardens. The RSPB only publishes the results of the survey for the county. It would be interesting to see what is happening here if you can watch your own garden birds, but if you can’t the Hides in the Reserve will be watched on Sunday 31st from 10-11 am. Come along and help. Be there for 9.45 for a brief introduction to the Garden Birdwatch.

The mild weather has meant it has been quiet in the Reserve with very few of the winter birds we usually see but the feeding stations are still worth visiting. Deer have been seen regularly from them and a kingfisher continues to visit. A green woodpecker surprised a birdwatcher when it perched on one of the sticks in the pond meant for the kingfishers.

If you want to see a great winter wildlife spectacle, go down to Shibdon Pond in Blaydon where tens of thousands of starlings gather to roost in the reeds. If there’s not too much wind or rain, most nights they perform a murmuration, before roosting. It’s a sight not to be missed. Get there about 3.45 as the flock builds. They’re going to roost around 4.15-4-30.