Friday, 29 October 2010

Seeing Red

Having spent an inspiring morning (not) getting two new tyres and a battery fitted to my decrepit car, I decided to spend the afternoon along the coast.

Just as I approached the A189, a Red Squirrel was foraging on the roadside. I know that they occur in the woods that run alongside the River Blyth, but the A189 slip road at Cramlington Eastlea is a fair hop from there.

My first point of call, Snab Point, was very quiet, so I went on to Druridge Pools. It was rather windy in the Budge Hide, with only a few ducks and a Heron in sight. Three drake Shovellers and two ducks were showing well amongst the Teal and Widgeons.

The other hide overlooking the marsh was even more blustery with only a Heron to see. The Oddie Hide had a good mix of ducks, a few Lapwings and a Cormorant. The only tweets in evidence as I walked to the three hides were Great and Blue Tits, Blackbirds, a Goldfinch and two Mipits.

Returning along the coast road to Cresswell I stopped off at the farm to view eleven swans. At least two where Whoopers and three were Mutes, the others were all resting head under wing. I suspect that at least two others were Whoopers.

At the north end of Cresswell Pond, there were a large number of Lapwings. I counted five hundred and twenty two, but I know that there were more hiding in the hollows. There were about fifty Golden Plovers and at least three hundred Starlings. Six Dunlins and four Redshanks completed the view.

Whilst watching the waders, a large flock of Pinkfeet flew across the horizon. There were at least a thousand and probably more than twelve hundred. Even at about two miles, their calls filled the air. They circled and settled somewhere beyond the Ashington/Widdrington road.

I decided to give the sea at Cresswell another go on the return lap. A few Gannets were circling in the distance. There was a flock of at least forty Scoters. Counting diving ducks on a rough sea is a very inexact science! I watched them on and off for half an hour, hoping to pick out my first UK Velvet, but they remained on the water just too far away to pick out eye patches.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention a record nine Greenfinches on our black sunflower feeder at the same time. There were also two Chaffinches, three Coal Tits, two Blue Tits and a pair of Great Tits hopping between the feeders. I have previously mentioned the Coal Tits hoarding seed. If we didn't mow our lawn, or have pet rabbits grazing it, it would be covered in Sunflowers from seed burried, apparently totally randomly, by our industrious trio.


  1. The Red Squirrle is probably from the small population in East Cramlington NR, I haven't seen them there myself but I know people who have.

  2. Thank you, that's interesting. There are obviously corridors of cover on both sides of the road from East Cramlington, although both the East Cram NR and East Hartford/Blyth options involve crossing significant distances without much cover.

  3. Back in May I had a Red Squirrel come through the marshy field at West Hartford and head towards the River Blyth, presumably to join the RS population there.
    From the direction that it was travelling either the Squirrel had wandered away from the riverside, explored the surrounding area and come back, or travelled from the nearest other RS stronghold (E Cramlington NR or Arcot).
    This means that either way Red Squirrels don't seem to be phased by moving away from there comfort zone perhaps in search of food.
    The other more worrying thought is that they are being driven out by Grey Squirrels.