Friday, 21 February 2014

Turned out Twite nice!

This has been a week’s holiday, so I spent most of Wednesday along the coast between Cresswell and Druridge Pools.

At Snab Point the tide was coming in and a few waders occupied the rocks below. A single Purple Sandpiper joined at least 50 Turnstones and a similar number of Redshanks and Oysercatchers.

Having decided to go on a Twite hunt, it was a pleasant surprise at around 08:45 to have a flock of 50 fly over from the north of Cresswell Pond towards the sea. I was able to pull over and open the window to hear the joyful “tzwee” chorus as they passed overhead.

My first planned stop was at the small hide at Druridge. No Diver but lots of Wigeons and Teals, with a few Shovellers and Mallards hiding in the reeds. Lapwings were very frisky and a few Curlews seemed equally jumpy, but there were no predators in sight, so I think it was early spring exuberance.

The large pond hide was already occupied by a gent who told me that he regularly takes the bus from Newcastle to Cresswell, via Ashington and then sometimes walks up to East Chevington. He got a good photo of the long staying female Common Scoter.

A flock of Pink Feet occupied the field opposite the hide. I counted 504, but I am sure that I missed a few. I have yet to count from flight pictures I took on my phone. There were 6 Barnacle Geese, 12 Canada Geese and 5 Grey Lags. I spent most of my time enjoying watching them feed and half hoping that a Bean Goose would pop up its head. They were eventually disturbed by the tractor that appears in my new header photo.

A few folk drifted in and out of the hide asking if the Black Throated Diver was around and I had more of the same from visitors that I met on my return towards the sea.

I chose a track to the sea that ended in a big drop, so I decided to sit on a rather damp tussock that provided an excellent vantage point from which to point my scope to the sea. There were a few Red Throated Divers. Numbers were difficult to judge, they were very mobile, but at one point I had 5 in view at once. The light got better as midday approached. A few Guillemots were in evidence and a handful of Fulmars swept close by. I only saw three Gannets. I had hoped for a Scotor flock, but for flock, read one female. So still no UK Velvet; they’re out there somewhere laughing at me!

As I returned to Cresswell Pond, the north extension was unusually devoid of birds. The main pond, however, was very busy.

I didn’t bother to count the Wigeons, there must have been at least 400. A single pair of Pintails added interest. Teal numbers were moderate by usual standards as were numbers of Mallards. There were only a very few Tufties and Goldeneyes. At least three pairs of Shelducks were present.

Wader numbers built up as noon passed, with a maximum of 105 Dunlins, around 150 Redshanks and over 200 Lapwings. A single Blackwit and 7 Snipes completed the wader medley.

Two views of a Water Rail, one very brief and the other lasting about a minute as it seemed to follow a Moorhen along the reeds. The feeders along the track were busy with Tree Sparrows, Blue and Great Tits.

A further view from Snab Point car park, using my new telescope window mount, revealed a few more Red Throats in what was by now a gloomy light, not aided by a light shower.

Oh! And I didn’t see the Twites again, but the one sighting made the day worthwhile.

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