I may have a quick look on the local patch tomorrow if the ice shifts, but I more or less brought my birding year to a close at Holywell today with the added benefits of the company of Holywell Birder, aka Cain. :-) Thankfully once out of Killingworth there was little ice about on footpaths, although looking over the semi frozen pond and feeling the wind in the face as we walked over the open fields, conditions did resemble those of the Arctic at times! The last time I was down here with Cain we were counting and photographing butterflies. What a difference today!
On the way to the pond we sighted Kestrel and Sparrowhawk and a couple of Mute Swans in the field. Once at the pond things were quiet indeed, apart from the wind which was blowing a dusting of snow across the ice. Quite an atmospheric scene. Mallard and around eight Wigeon were together on the un-frozen area and that was it apart from a few corvids, gulls, Moorhens and Coots. A Goldeneye flew overhead. The feeding station was quiet too although the Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen along with Blue Tit, Greenfinch and Pheasant. A hoped for Water Rail did not make an appearance! I understand that someone had found themselves stuck in the hide recently and I had my fingers crossed that the door wouldn’t jam on us. I did have my turkey sandwiches with me so I would have coped for a little while, but I’m not sure how Cain would have managed. I would have shared my crisps of course! ;-) Thankfully we got out ok and found a mixed flock of Chaffinches, Greenfinches and tits in the hedgeway.
The ‘avenue’ was like an ice-rink so we walked across the open fields having negotiated the pools caused by a thaw. That wind out there was bitter so I was pleased for the relative warmth of the dene. We found a small flock of Lapwing in the fields on the way. The burn was deep, muddy and fast. It has to be said that there wasn’t too many birds down there either, although the feeding stations were busy with the likes of Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit and good numbers of Long Tailed Tit, along with several Robins. Small areas of the pathway were still frozen and a bit difficult to negotiate. We continued along the dene up to the road bridge and I saw an area I hadn’t seen before, but will certainly return too.
We made a quick visit to Brier Dene car park in the hope of catching the Mediterranean Gull. We couldn’t find it amongst the Black Headed Gulls, but having said that we couldn’t keep steady in the wind. The sea was high, rough and grey. Curlews, Oystercatchers and I think a few Dunlin were on and near the golf course.
Despite the lack of bird numbers I had enjoyed a really good few hours out there in the cold and that is largely to do with the good company, so I’ll be quite happy if that is me signing off on the birding front for 2009. In the event of me having nothing more to say this year I’d just like to wish everyone all the best and lots of wildlife for 2010. Cheers.