Over the last four years I’ve heard a Yellow Browed Warbler calling from deep cover twice, with out as much as tail feather in view. I have missed seeing one whilst standing with a group, including my beloved, all of whom saw it. So when Bird Guide showed several Northumberland sightings during last week, I decided that this weekend I would head for St. Mary’s Island, the site of my previous failures.
St. Mary’s was rather quiet and the tide well out. A Persil white Med Gull accompanied a flock of Black Headed.
There was a light passage of Skylarks and Linnets were their usual busy selves. A WillowChiff (didn’t show enough to see which) a few Blackbirds and a Robin were the only obvious occupants of the scrub surrounding the pond. A young man informed me that a Yellow Browed had been seen at Cresswell Pond, so off I ventured. En route a Buzzard drifted low and Harrier like near Laverock Hall Farm, causing me to take a second look.
On arriving at Cresswell two people were peering into the Willow scrub. I saw my first fleeting glimpse and then a two second full side view in perfect I.D. guide pose. So another bogy bird on the life list. Lovely bird, well worth the wait; its diminutive size was emphasised when a Dunnock came into view and looked a lot bigger.
Also in the bushes were a charm of at least fifty Goldfinches and the usual crop of Tree Sparrows. I sat for about forty minutes to see if the YBW would show again. It was seen by others watching further along the track, but for the time being I’ll have to make do with the one and a half views. Three Blue Tits fed on the bounty of flies only a metre from where I sat.
Cresswell Pond has suffered as a result of the hide tide as far as wader watching is concerned, although I suspect the occasional deluge of sea water is necessary to maintain its brackish nature, which is the main reason for its being a nature reserve. The high tide has blocked the outflow, so the water is very high and only the west spit remains. It’s difficult to see how NWT can avoid regular blockages without expensive major civil engineering.
One visitor picked up the Little Stint and a possible Ruff, both of which were beyond my antique scope. There were lots of Curlews in the area from the pond to Druridge Pools. A flock of around twenty Turnstones were surprise visitors and it was nice to see fourteen Golden Plovers in with large flock of Redshanks on the west bank. A single Kestrel was the only raptor on view.
Last week I visited the pond and there were twelve Med Gulls, the Stint and the Ruff, all in good view on the main spit, which, pre deluge, was ideal for waders.
As I was about to leave a Water Rail twice called from the reeds, sounding like someone stabbing a pig.