This morning I set off reasonably early with the intention of covering as much of my usual patch as possible.
Snab Point, Cresswell – The tide was receding. Apart from a large flock of Black-Headed Gulls arguing on the tides edge, it was rather quiet. Only a few Redshanks and no sight of the large number of Turnstones and the single Purple Sandpiper that entertained me on Saturday. Apart from a few gulls, the sea was also quiet, so I moved on.
Cresswell Pond – The water is very high and there is little prospect of the level falling until the sand bar on the beach outflow is cleared, so I decided to give the hide a miss. I parked by the roadside near the north extension, but there was nothing to see in the slowly improving light.
Druridge Pools – I went straight to the middle hide and joined an early riser, who informed me that the Phalarope had not been seen since Monday. After about half an hour of duck watching and hoping for a Phalarope return, a little before 08.22 to be precise, a bird flew in from the field to the west; darting and dashing as it approached – Bee-eater!! A first for my hide mate. If I had been asked to draw up a list of 100 birds I could have seen today, Bee-eater would not even have qualified for the ‘in your dreams’ end of the list.
Gradually others joined us in the hide and word soon spread. We saw the Bee-eater several times, until I moved on at 10.30. Just as I was about to leave, a female Marsh Harrier flew south, with a quick circuit of the west side of the budge field. It showed a distinctive point of brown intruding into its cream forehead, unlike the bird reported later in this blog.
Ducks on Budge Field included Teal, Mallard, Wigeon, Shoveller, Pochard, Tufties and Gadwall. There were at least three Black-tailed Godwits, at least twenty Curlews, a few Snipe, Coots and Moorhens and a single Heron. Two Little Egrets flew over.
During my two-and-a-half-hour stay, there were several flocks of Pink-feet, mainly flying south. One flock of about four hundred and the others were no more than fifty to a hundred in each. Probably around one thousand geese in all. A family group of Whoopers passed by heading north.
A quick visit to the large pond hide revealed a passing Sprawk, several Little Grebes and the same range of ducks as on Budge Field, plus Goldeneye.
Togston Beach – I hoped to see some tweets on the move, so chose to look at the bushes near the beach opposite Low Hauxley. No sign of any thrushes; plenty of Sea Buckthorn berries await their assault. It was very quiet for birds, probably something to do with someone hammering in the hide and a few passing dogs barking.
East Chevington – Scanning the north lake from Northumberland’s noisiest hide, I quickly found one male Pintail along with five females or juveniles. One Whooper only today. A lot of the usual ducks and at least ten Little Grebes were present. A good number of Great Black- backed Gulls, lots of Black-heads and Herring, plus a few Common Gulls.
Again, just as I was about to leave, a female Marsh Harrier, this one with cream forehead intact, spent twenty minutes quartering the reeds on both sides of the hide. I didn’t see it catch anything, but it did go to ground for around five minutes at one point.
Cresswell Pond (again) – On my return trip I checked again from the roadside and could see a female Long-tailed Duck. Other than that, the pond seemed quiet.