Saturday, 28 June 2014

A Cold Summer's Day

I arrived at Cresswell Pond just before 10:00 this morning. An empty car park and hide all to myself for the first hour.

After a few recounts, I arrived at a total of twenty two Little Gulls. There was an excellent opportunity to compare gull and tern sizes and get to grips with easily confused species, with three Common Terns, a single Arctic Tern, two Sandwich Terns and several Black Headed Gulls mixed in with the Little Gulls.

The Avocets, eight of them, were spread across the reserve with three apparently sitting. There were only a few waders, quality rather than quantity. Four Blackwits eventually emerged from the long grass on the bank to the left of the hide. Two Curlews did a fly past, two Oystercatchers fussed around and Lapwings were around and about the pond and the surrounding fields.

On the entrance gate was a notice about the removal of animals illegally grazing on the area and I soon found out why. Four adult horses and three foals plodded into view and started to chew the reeds in front of the hide.

Prior to the equine interruption, I had Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting all taking a turn to sing right in front of the hide.

It was good to see that Shelducks have had a good breeding season. There were three broods in evidence – one well grown brood of six, one a few weeks old had eight and another of smaller ducklings also had eight. Plenty of Tufties on the pond, but no sign of Tuftie ducklings; hopefully the ducks are still sitting. A smattering of Mallards, Coots and Moorhens, but no sight or sound of Little Grebes. The near absence of Little Grebes on my last few visits is surprising; perhaps they’re nesting and keeping a low profile.

The next port of call was the Budge Hide at Druridge Pools. Four Spoonbills were actively feeding and it was interesting to see their feeding method. They dabble a bit like a duck, but with a side to side movement, then raise their beak and effectively gulp whatever they have found into their throat.

Forty two Blackwits rested, probably out of view of anyone visiting the middle hide. I didn't visit either of the other two hides but decided instead to visit East Chevington. As I left, two Common Whitethroats chattered from the bushes.

Whilst I scanned the north pool at East Chevington, looking for the celebrities, I was joined by Sedgedunum Warbler; good to be able to put a face to the name. We eventually had excellent views of him and her. At one point he carried food for the offspring. A Lesser Whitethroat sang from cover, giving the fleetest of views as it passed our neatly manicured view point.

We walked to the south pool and joined Howdon Blogger in front of the noisy hide. Again there was a chance to compare Common and Arctic Terns as they sat side by side. A pair of Great Crested Grebes attended to a single chick.

My final stop was at Newbiggin. I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of Guillemots and a few Razorbiils on the sea. I counted one hundred and ten Guillemots, but allowing for the fact that they were all very actively feeding, I suspect that there were at least two hundred and fifty in a span of about four hundred metres immediately in front of the church.

Out to sea Gannets were busy diving between flocks of gulls. Other birds present included Sandwich and Common Terns, Eider Ducks, Cormorants and Fulmars. Lots of gulls far out but only a few closer in.

Just added up the count for today. Lots of omissions, including as Robin and Song Thrush, but still sixty three species.


  1. Andrew, as you said, nice to put a face to a name, now if only we can both forget what Sedgedunum Warbler really looks like...........