Over the last two months we have been somewhat busy working around the installation of a new kitchen and have had little time excursions to the coast.
Last Wednesday my beloved and I had a post Drift Café lunch walk along the beach at Cresswell. There were around 600 Pink Feet in the field next to the café. Some birders had reported seeing Bean, White Fronted and Barnacle Geese with these birds, but we detected none. The beach was quiet for birds; quite a few people enjoying the reasonable weather.
I spent most of Saturday visiting both Cresswell Pond and Druridge Pools. Lots of birds at Cresswell, including the long staying Dowitcher, a Ruff, a Knot and two Barwits. Blackwits had been seen, but they evaded me.
Several of the folks that I met in the hide reported a movement of Pink Feet from the north and off the sea earlier in the day. A large flock two fields inland from the pond held at least 2000 birds. Again, I had a close look at the Pink Feet in the field near The Drift Café, but could see none of the reported White Fronts or Bean Geese.
From the Budge screen I looked in vain for the Water Pipit. There were a lot of Widgeons and Teals along with a splendid single Pintail. Shovellers were very actively chasing each other, but no signs yet of their wonderful nodding gudunk gudunk display. At both Cresswell and Druridge there were large numbers of Lapwings, which were regularly spooked by nothing at all and the sky was alive with their calls throughout the day.
From the centre hide I had good views of a female/juvenile Marsh Harrier that flew from south to north. I had a missing primary and another birder that I met had seen the same bird on previous occasions at both Druridge and Chevington.
On the main pool at Druridge it was good to see three pairs of Pochards along with at least twenty Tufties. There was one drake Merganser with two ducks at one end of the pond and at the other end a duck with two drakes.
I watched a Little Grebe that fed very close to the hide. It was catching Sticklebacks. One particularly large fish was not dispatched by the vigorous head shaking before being swallowed, so it stuck in the Grebe’s throat. The Grebe shook its head even more vigorously and ejected the fish, then caught it again, this time making sure it was fully stunned before being swallowed. It was catching at least three fish a minute.
Today I arrived at Cresswell around midday. No sign of any Pink Feet. The only sighting throughout the afternoon was a distant flock beyond Widdrington. I didn’t visit Cresswell Pond, but spent time in the windy Budge Screen. Still no luck with the Water Pipit. Still loads of ducks and Lapwings. This time a pair of Pintails were busily upending. A mystery raptor sat in one of the pines west of Budge Field. I suspect it was the female Merlin that has been around for a while; visibility by then was poor.
I saw two pairs of Stonechats at Druridge. One by the road east of the main pond and the other by the gate in the south west corner of Budge Field.
The feeders at Druridge are very active, with lots of Goldfinches joining the Tree Sparrows. A quick drive by of Widdrington Moor Lake provided a dozen Siskins in the roadside trees. Lots of gulls on the lake – Black Headed, Herring and a few Common, with two immature Great Black Backs. A large flock of Coots grazed on the far bank.
The sea at Snab Point was very quiet. The tide was well in and I am still missing Purple Sandpipers this winter.