I decided to head inland to Beacon Hill to look for Redstarts. Last year, I found several along the route from Heighley Gate to Beacon Hill, but like most things they are late this year and I neither saw nor heard any. I note from other blogs that there are a few around.
Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers were the only migrants in evidence. The trees are yet to show much leaf, the wind was cold and if it wasn't for a reasonably high sun, I could have imagined it was early March.
Although the lack of migrants was disappointing, this is a very good area for seeing a wide range of our more common birds and the fact that the road effectively runs through the middle of the wood means that you get a lot of good views. Nuthatches were very vocal and there was the brightest blue Blue Tit that I have seen for a long time. It was interesting to watch a Chiff both feeding on the ground and then bursting into song.
Following a meander via Pigdon; where there are good hedges for Warblers, but none in evidence today; I went to East Chevington. No hirundines at all over the north pond. Twenty Terns were mainly Common, but distant and difficult to identify in the gale that blew in to the noisy hide. I suspect at least two were Arctic. A single Sandwich passed through. The special birds were not in view, although I met a couple later in the day who had seen a female north of Hadston Carrs. As I left, a Whitethroat struck up and another was in full song further up the lane. I though I heard a brief burst from a Lesser Whitethroat, but it turned out to be a Chaffinch that kept prevaricating half way through its song.
Next stop, Druridge Pools. The main pond was very quiet, but there were 24 Gadwalls feeding in the field behind. The marsh had its usual range of ducks, two Little Grebes and little else. A visiting couple had seen a Blackcap near the track.
The final stop was Cresswell Pond. Two couples were visiting the pond for the first time in forty years. I walked up the farm road with the two ladies, as the men strode on ahead. I mentioned that Tree Sparrows would be in the hedge. One said it was her bogey bird. No more; one sat on the fence in full view.
Initially the Avocets were not in evidence and it was not until the couples had left that two appeared in the north extension. The two Long Tailed Ducks are still in residence, spending more time underwater than above. Just before I departed, two Sedge Warblers held a singing duel.
I suspect that a visit to the same areas in a week's time will produce many more summer visitors. However, next weekend I am otherwise engaged.