15th Jan. Strong winds didn’t prevent Sam and I heading for Low Newton and on the way we had Kestrel hovering and several Common Buzzards. As we walked down from the carpark towards the sea the wind wasn’t too bad. Following us down the bank were a group of folks who Sam reckoned were Jehovah Witnesses. Don’t even ask how he knew. At about the same time as this group of folks were spotted I got my eye on movement at the foot of a low wall and this turned out to be a feeding Chiffchaff. We began to study this bird closely. As we were intently watching I saw a lady approaching us and wondered if it was someone from the house wondering if we were measuring up the joint. We thought we might have a Siberian Chiffchaff here, so what I wanted in my hand really was a Collins Bird Guide, but instead I found in it a leaflet referring amongst other things to Revelations Chapter 21 Verse 4 (I checked this later and not as I was watching the warbler). Sam had been correct and the lady introduced herself as a Jehovah Witness and clearly had a certain discussion in mind. We kept watching the warbler as I gave the lady the rundown on Chiffchaffs and in particular Siberian Chiffchaffs. It must be said the lady did not appear that interested but we kept watching and I kept talking. On reflection the situation seemed surreal and it is a first for me, that is, trying to identify the subspecies of Chiffchaff whilst being approached by a Jehovah Witness. The lady may have become bored as she gave up on her plans and said goodbye, hopefully leaving with a better knowledge of Chiffchaffs.
We think a Siberian Chiffchaff. (any comment welcomed)
Image courtesy of Samuel Hood
Although we heard no call we do think this was a Siberian Chiffchaff, it certainly seemed to fit the description, and yes I know its difficult to know without hearing a call. We later found a record of Siberian Chiffchaff had been recorded in the book at the hide.
A hide with a view
The sea was to say the least choppy, so sea watching wasn’t going to be on the agenda although we saw a few waders before walking to the hide. The fields held Whooper and Mute Swans and also Pink footed Geese and Greylag Geese. Whilst the pond was almost clear of birds because of the wind we did find Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck and Goldeneye and bumped into the Jehovah Witness again, whose only word was goodbye. As we sat in the hide the wind got rougher. In the distance a Brown Hare was hunkered down in the wind, looking very much like a large stone.
Our next stop was Seaton Point on the look out for Water Pipit. My advice for searchers of Water Pipit is ‘pick a calmer day’! I ended up buffeted, cold and cream crackered. I possibly did see Water Pipit as I watched Meadow Pipits and Rock Pipits, but not well enough to confirm. Nice Purple Sandpiper though and lots of Turnstones. I was weary and lunch was required so we stopped off at Warkworth and went to the pub before heading to Cresswell.
As we approached Cresswell the Little Owl was seen in one of its regular sites at Druridge.
We ended the day nicely in the hide at Cresswell watching flocks of waders, in the main Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank, and Curlew although a lone Black tailed Godwit was seen too. We returned home wind blasted but unbeaten.
17th Jan. Today was a calm after the storm and it was nice to hear the Song Thrush singing in or close to the garden. A pair of Bullfinch visited the feeder too, my first Bullfinch of 2020. Stunning birds seen in wonderful light.In the evening Sam and I and two friends met for a meal before attending the talk on Bumble Bees at the NHSN. Good grief we could barely get a seat. The lecture room filled to overflowing and a good number of people were sat in an adjoining room to listen. The society seems to go from strength to strength in terms of numbers attending.