Friday, 22 February 2013

A lazy week's holiday

This week being my beloved’s half term, I decided to take a week’s leave.

Thus far I have managed two excursions into the wild, one with Ruth and today on my own.

Tuesday’s outing was a midday trip to Cresswell Pond and then to the very excellent Country Barn at Widdrington for lunch.

It would have been good to have shown Ruth her first Bittern at Cresswell, but it wasn’t coming out to play whilst we were there. We did, however, see lots of Widgeons, Teals, Tufties and Mallards. A Long Tailed Duck, that’s been there for ages (if it’s the same one), showed well for brief periods between dives. Two Little Grebes were in evidence and at least one pair each of Gadwalls and Goldeneyes.

After a hearty lunch we returned towards Cresswell and encountered a flock of over 1000 Pinkfeet grazing opposite the cottages near the Druridge entrance. I had a good scan, but couldn’t pick out anything other than Pinkfeet. It was a misty day, so the light was poor for my old scope.

On Thursday I sent Ruth up on to the garage roof. I’ve recently moved from working in Durham to Seaham. My colleagues in Durham bought me a camera bird box as a leaving present and I decided that the best location is a north facing wall just above our garage roof, far enough up to be out of Magpie pecking range (I hope). We will now see if anything decides to take up residence.

Today I drove up the coast as far as East Chevington. The sea off Cresswell was quiet on the way up and I decided to give the pond a miss and go to Druridge.

I plodged through the mud and then did a limbo under the leaning Willow to reach the main pond, where I encountered my second Long Tailed Duck of the week. Other than that, the main pool was rather quiet, apart from a rather forlorn looking Common Gull, that sat doing nothing at all, with a smattering of Mallards, Tufties and amorous Canada Geese. There were single pairs of Goldeneyes and Gadwalls.

From the hide overlooking the marshy field, there were many more than 300 Widgeons (I gave up counting) and a flock of 105 Curlews accompanied by two Bar Tailed Godwits. There were loads of Teals and a few Shovellers hiding in and behind the vegetation. Mallards and Tufties and at least two pairs of Gadwalls were over towards the screen hide.

I then drove on to East Chevington, but didn’t venture further than to look over the south pool. Another flock of Curlews, again with a Bar Tailed Godwit in attendance, accompanied a large number of Lapwings and a few Oystercatchers in the surrounding fields. A female Kestrel allowed a very close drive by.

On my return along the same route and just past Druridge, a Stoat shot across the road. I sat by the roadside north of Cresswell Pond, from where I had excellent views of a Short Eared Owl lazily drifting across the reeds.

The pond was very busy with all the ducks seemingly on open water. Again there were a large number of Widgeons. Three pairs a Red Breasted Mergansers and a single male were also present.

Another look over the sea at Cresswell revealed several groups of Eider Ducks and a pair of Mergansers. A Diver flew north at distance. It looked small and I suspect that it was a Red Throated. A single Fulmar skimmed along the water’s edge and two Redshanks chased the tide.

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