Saturday, 30 January 2010

Cold, from Coast to Carr

Wind Blown at Creswell
My initial steps out of doors yesterday, 29th Jan, suggested a drop in temperatures, but I assumed it would warm up as the day went on. I assumed wrongly. A couple of friends from the Local Group and me headed initially to the Rising Sun Country Park. We intended only to lay some seed before heading off to what we thought would be more productive areas. The seed was quickly laid and we were heading for St Mary’s Island but not before have found amongst others, Shoveller, Coot, Moorhen, Great Tit and Blue Tit. We didn’t have time this morning to look for the Redpolls that had been reported.

I suggested a stop at the Brier Dene car park to check for Mediterranean Gull. We found only Black Headed Gulls. I later found that a Mediterranean Gull was reported at the Rising Sun! As the skies darkened over Blyth and the coast, we carried on to St Mary’s Island. A quick look on the wetland brought us Mute Swan, Teal, Wigeon and Gadwall. The dark sky was now above us and a very heavy snow storm began with the winds blowing this into our faces. Undaunted, our female member made for the headland as snow froze on our clothing. I thought, I either follow or look a wimp, so I followed! The snow did eventually stop, leaving clear skies, and the winds at least died down somewhat. The waste bins were being cleared in the car park bringing in the flocks of gulls fighting over tit bits. We soon found a feast of waders including the following, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Knot, Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank, Bar-Tailed Godwit and Curlew. The tide had brought many of these flocks close in and numbers were high giving one of the better bird watching experiences that I have had down at the island. I’m not sure how I missed Ringed Plover, but I don’t re-call seeing any. The only other birds I do re-call were gulls, corvids, Starlings, Cormorant and a single Rock Pipit (or could it have been the Water Pipit, seen only briefly). After this feast of waders we decide to head for Cresswell Pond.

On arrival at Cresswell, it appeared to me to be getting colder and windier. Most birdlife was keeping off the water apart from several Goldeneye (the males beginning to display), Great Crested Grebe and Little Grebe, and some of the Shelduck. There were numbers of Wigeon on the small flash seen as you approach the pond, and many more around the edge of the pond along with many more Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Redshank and Curlew. The Lapwing flock were very active flying to and fro from pond edges to field. The wind was hitting the hide at some force and even with the shutters down it was bitter cold. We had a quick lunch here before heading off in the direction of Bells Pond to look for the Twite. A single Greenfinch had flown past the hide. As we approached we found two Grey Partridge near to the farm. We found the flock of Twite very quickly, having stopped exactly level to where they were feeding. These give good scope views and a lifer to one of my friends. The flock took to flight but landed not far from where we had found them. We now decided to head for Prestwick Carr. A single Mistle Thrush was seen on the journey.

Once at the Carr I found I was colder than I had been at any point so far this winter. Presumably because of wind chill. There was more water in the area than I can ever remember seeing on previous visits and the red flags were flying and guns were continually firing so any walk was going to be restricted. The whole area appeared deserted of passerines and our hope for owl sightings were not to be. Walking towards the guard box we did find numbers of Lapwing, Golden Plover and a small number of Fieldfare. It was so cold now were happy enough to walk back to the car. Once in the car a Sparrowhawk flew in front of the windscreen and along the ditch and a small flock of what I think were Goldfinch flew into the top of the trees. A decision was made to make a short stop at the Havana Nature Reserve as none of us had been here before although I had passed the place many times.

My first visit to this reserve gave me the impression that it was a paradise for dog walkers, but I saw few birds. Bird life which did appear, included Mallard, Blackbird, Robin, and a Grey Heron was seen in the fields. We did arrive quite late so I shall have to reserve judgment. There were certainly lots of birch trees!
We were soon off towards home, very cold but unbowed. We had a bird list of 50+ species and I had added eight species to the year list. Once I had warmed up I had a look at Mars and the Moon through my telescope, having been told that both were showing well tonight.

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