My beloved and I took a walk through Tyne Riverside Country Park this afternoon, starting at Newburn and heading towards Wylam.
Once we had sussed that some kind person had turned the sign round on the main road, we arrived at 11:30, wondering where the promised rain had gone and whether it would drench us mid ramble. As it happened, the rain held until the final 600 metres of an approximate 5 km walk that yielded 35 species.
We were greeted at the car park by our first Swifts of the year. The first leg, on a bridleway about 500m inland from the Tyne, produced Common and Lesser Whitethroats (two of the latter), a single Garden Warbler, a few Chiffchaff and loads of Willow Warblers, in addition to a good variety of the usual suspects. However, we saw no Blue Tits, Coal Tits or Dunnocks, which is most unusual..
After joining Wylam Waggonway the Whitethroats diminished and Chaffinches dominated the mature hedgerows. A single Green Woodpecker called from some distance to the north of the path. The Tyne Valley has some really interesting patches of open woodland that would reward anyone prepared to sit and watch and listen. Today we were walking mainly and stopping to look and listen occasionally.
Eventually we met the river bank and made our return trip to the park. Two fleeting sightings of Kingfisher and a couple of Common Terns were the highlight of this part of our walk. Although the tide was out, there is very little exposed mud along this part of the river; the river bed is mainly rock and small stones. We neither heard nor saw a wader, not even a Lapwing. A Lesser Black Back and a few Herring and Black Headed Gulls probed the exposed banks and temporary islands, occasionally disturbed by canoeists (why does canoeing involve so much shouting?).
The vegetation along the river at that point is similar to that along the Tees at Middleton in Teesdale. The latter is a good spot for Spotted Flycatchers. We were probably a little early to find them today, but it would be worth another visit.
I suspect a more leisurely walk along the route, earlier in the day, would easily produce 45 to 50 species on a good day.
Ruth subscribed to a web site from which you can download walks by specifying location, length, type of interest etc and we have been getting our money's worth over the last three weeks. The big test will come when we use it for our summer holidays in North Devon. We have some inkling of where we are going in this area, to overcome some shortcomings in the directions; we could have some very interesting mystery tours in Devon!