16th Jan. Lee and I had intended to head straight to Druridge today, but instead changed plans and focussed initially on Snow Buntings, me for the year list and Lee because he was yet to see them at St Mary’s Island. It didn’t take me long on arrival to find the three Snow Buntings on what was a quite morning, but prior to spotting them I’d seen Golden Plovers flying above the sea, so Snow Buntings proved to be a rather nice 100th species on my year list. A good way to reach one-hundred I thought. Thankfully the morning was dry and bright, if somewhat cold. Not such good photographic opportunities as on my previous visit but still good sightings of what are after all very confiding birds, if only birding was always this easy!
Spurred on by the Snow Bunting sighting we decided to delay moving up to Druridge and try for the Black Redstart at Tynemouth and The Firecrest in Northumberland Park. The Black Redstart proved to be once again an easy find and was accompanied by Rock Pipits. The only downer here was that we got wet as a short but heavy downpour came from the direction of the sea, the only wintry shower we had to face today. The downpour was followed by sunshine and amazingly good light. I was never confident of finding the Firecrest as I have had two previous failures with this one, but as we arrived at the park my confidence lifted a little when we found several birders apparent intently watching something. On this occasion I did have sighting of the Firecrest, but it was a very poor sighting and I think a further return is on the cards.
We did eventually get to Druridge for a short time. Druridge Pools were very quiet indeed and we found nothing of real note there today, although did have a very good sighting of a flock of Pink-footed Geese in the fields and close to the road on our journey there. I also added Little Grebe to the year list and had the chance to admire Goldeneyes that looked stunning in the sunlight on the north pool. We took a short walk northwards along the back of the dunes, but saw only Reed Buntings and Goldfinch.
Having found no Little Owls, our next stop was Widdrington Pool. It was bright but bitterly cold up there and there was no sign of Smew today. Whilst watching Red-breasted Mergansers we were advised that we had missed a Peregrine Falcon fly past by the only other birder up there braving the conditions. After a few minutes the other guy picked up a Peregrine Falcon again in the distant trees and we managed to get a decent if long distant sighting of this bird, thus putting me on one-hundred and three.
On our return home, we had a short day today, we found numbers of Wigeon at the north end of Cresswell Pond, but we didn’t stop here.