Saturday, 29 January 2011

In the pink

I did my bit for the RSPB garden bird watch between 09:00 and 10:00 this morning. I had a cracking start, with 3 Bramblings and 4 Chaffinches alternating between picking buds from our ornamental cherry and visiting the sunflower seeds in our feeder. As I have previously commented in this blog, a count such as this is seldom fully representative of the range of birds that regularly visit our garden. On this occasion there were no Great Tits or Coal Tits, they usually visit later in the day as do Robins and the regular Wren. The time I chose was a compromise between giving a reasonable chance to see a good range of birds and being able to fit in the weekly shop before a short trip up the coast.

This afternoon I decided to have a trip to Cresswell Pond.

As usual, I drove up to Druridge Pools first, to see what was about in the fields. The field just before Druridge contained a flock of at least 2200 Pink Feet. So I never got to Cresswell Pond, because I spent the next hour or so goose watching (and counting).

I had a few good scans of the flock to see if anything unusual had joined them, but found nothing. As I sat, about a quarter of the flock gradually grazed their way towards the road and got within about 100 metres, so I had a very good view. Lots of young birds in evidence.

Counting in most of the fields along that road is a challenge. There are dips and hollows in which even a goose sized bird can hide.

A Brown Hare ran across the field and then stopped to contemplate how it would pass through the flock. It looked at the nearest part of the flock and the they looked back at it. Eventually it weaved its way to the middle of the field, at one point almost doing a dance with a Pink Foot that decided to dodge the wrong way and the Hare almost ran in to it. The Hare than laid down for half an hour, until some of the flock took flight back across the field and I lost sight of the Hare in the flurry of wings.

I note that I potentially missed some good views of Bittern at Cresswell, but I was lucky to see two Bitterns on a previous visit and having the privilege of watching the behaviour of a large flock of wild geese at close(ish) quarters is a very satisfying birding experience.

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