Today was my first birding outing since mid November and only my second since my last post at the end of August. Other priorities have taken over of late.
I started with a quick scan of the sea at Snab Point. A good mixture of waders on the rocks, including Purple Sandpipers and Sanderlings. Six Common Scoters and a smattering of Eiders were at sea. A single Red Throated Diver flew north.
At East Chevington a small grebe occupied my time. The habitat's good for Black Necked, but the patterning looked good for Slavonian. I look forward to reading other posts for today to see what the expert opinion is.
Apart from the grebe there were lots of Goldeneyes and a large flock of Greylags occupied the bay to the left of the noisy hide. Greylags are not among my favourites, with their raucous honking, but I have to admit that, when they bank in flight as a flock with the low sun on their pale mantles and the pattern on their tails in full view, they make a very attractive sight.
There was at least one Whooper, another swan spent the whole time asleep with its back to me. A Buzzard drifted over the tree line to the north.
A very smart male Stonechat sat on the fence to the east of the track to the hide. Other than that, there were no tweets in evidence. At least fifty Curlews were very active between the north and south ponds.
My next stop was at Druridge Pools. The main pool is as full as I have ever seen it. Lots of Wigeons and Teals, a few Tufties and Mallards, four pairs of Shovellers and two very nice Long Tailed Ducks. Only a single Little Grebe in evidence. A single Golden Plover flew west, an unusual sight to see one on its own.
A light aircraft put up a large flock of Pinkfeet, about four hundred of which flew over the pond and settled in the field west of the middle hide. From that hide I also found a Buzzard sitting in the field with the Pinkfeet and apparently eating some unidentifiable prey. One Whooper slept in the water quite close to the hide. A flock of around thirty Goldfinches flitted along the track, but other than them, tweets were in short supply, probably keeping warm in the bushes.
The final stop was Cresswell Pond and at last I found a few tweets. Along the track there were a pair of Great Tits, at least two Blue Tits, two Tree Sparrows and a Chaffinch. A wren complained about my presence from thick cover. On the spit I also saw two Pied Wagtails and a single Reed Warbler flew over.
The highlight was a single Otter that stayed in view for most of my visit, apparently catching at least three fish.
A female Common Scoter came towards the hide to give me a rare close view. There were at least five hundred Wigeons and probably three hundred or so Teals. A pair of Red Breasted Mergansers dropped in and displayed half heartedly to each other.
On the spit a mixture of Redshanks and Dunlins huddled together and a smattering of Mallards, Tufties, Goldeneyes and two Little Grebes pottered around the pond. There was also a single Whooper.
Overall a very enjoyable excursion.