Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Another icy blast

I have taken a week's holiday to coincide with my beloved's half term.

Ruth drew the short straw and went to watch Star Wars in 3D with our daughter - actually, she enjoyed it and would have disliked the cold wind that accompanied my trip to the coast.

I had quite good day for raptors. A kestrel next to the A189 was no surprise. My first stop was Snab Point, still holding hopes for my first UK Velvet Scoter, but no joy again. Four Red Throated Divers and a single Purple Sandpiper, but otherwise quiet.

Cresswell Pond was a Wigeon fest; I counted 533. There were three male and two female Red Breasted Mergansers, joined later by two male Goosanders. About 50 Teals, three pairs of Mallards, two Shelducks and a pair of Tufted Ducks were the only other ducks on offer. Around 150 Lapwings were joined by a small number of Dunlins and two Redshanks. No sign of the Jack Snipe. A female Sprawk sat on the fence at the back of the field behind the pond for at least 40 minutes. It ignored occasional flocks of Starlings landing within striking distance and, instead, concentrated upon preening. Perhaps it had already had its fill and had found a spot shaded from the freezing wind. On leaving the pond, there were 20 Yellowhammers in the hedge along the track.

I had another visit to Snab Point and a female Sprawk flew lazily north, seemingly oblivious of the waders scattering in her wake. A single Razorbill joined the Eiders bobbing in the waves. And then a Peregrine flew north, occasionally having a tilt at wader catching, but not with any conviction.

Four Grey Partridges foraged near Hemscott Hill and, near the cottages at Druridge, 19 Curlews probed energetically. I look for the Little Owl every time I go along the road to Widdrington, but never see it.

I had a meander around the roads near West Chevington, which produced a single Buzzard. My next stop was East Chevington, where a group from the West Midlands, on a five day visit to the North East, pointed out a female Hen Harrier, which entertained us for around 20 minutes.

I travelled back along the Cresswell road in the hope of adding Short Eared Owl to my raptor list, but nothing doing.

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