19th Oct. I stood in the wind at the Rising Sun yesterday and the cold at Cresswell today and on both occasions failed on my quest for Jack Snipe. I have concluded that I am fated to be a Jack Snipe failure, or am I?
Despite no show form Jack Snipe, today did have some rewards. On approaching Creswell Pond today I was greeted by flocks of Lapwing flying in the sunlight. I soon got my eyes on the flock of Whooper Swans on the west side of the pond. It was the 6th November last year when I had watched 70 plus Whooper Swans on a misty Creswell Pond, and I remember that day as if it were yesterday. A quick count today came to sixty-four, but it was a quick count and I no doubt missed one or two. Could it be the same birds passing through I thought. In the distance, dots in the sky, rather like dots that I joined up as a child to make a picture, soon proved to be circa eight hundred Pink-footed Geese. The skeins were initially spread out across the distant cloudless sky to the north. The geese were seen on a number of occasions during the time I was at Cresswell and Druridge Pool, and on one occasion flew directly overhead, although by then the skeins had broken up somewhat. We are reaching the time of year when wader and geese watching is at its best. At one point I moved to the end of the hide and looked to the west and was rewarded with a good sighting of Marsh Harrier flying quite low over the tree line. The pale head of the bird was lit by the sunlight. A scan for other raptors, I was hoping for Merlin, brought no reward.
The flocks of Lapwing were edgy and flew in front of the hide soon to be followed by a smaller flock of Golden Plover. Once the plover had landed on the sand bank I counted eighty birds. A lone Dunlin appeared to be lost in amongst this flock. The Dunlin is known as the 'plovers page' because of its close association to the Golden Plover and other tundra plovers, although I think this more likely on the breeding grounds. Two Knot and numbers of Redshank were at the west side of the pond. Wigeon and Teal were there in high numbers and four Little Grebes were seen on the pond along with four Shoveller, Mallard and Tufted Duck. I caught sight of a Lesser Black Backed Gull flying over the fields to the north of the pond. The strong winds of yesterday had disappeared and although still to some extent windy there was perfect conditions for birding today and I was surprised that there were few people about.
The area in the vicinity of Druridge Pool threw up little other than Curlew. The hide over looking the pool was made uncomfortable by the wind and cold, not that it is a comfortable hide even on the best of days. The pool itself held amongst others, at least five Little Grebe, Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal, Goldeneye and a lone female Scaup.
I saw at least three Kestrels today, but few passerines. I did eventually catch sight of a Skylark flying over the dunes to the east of Cresswell Pond and found a sizeable mixed flock of Linnet and Goldfinch in the vicinity of where I watch Twite in winter. I did try and get my scope fixed on the flock, but the birds were constantly on the move and dipping down behind the hummock. If there was anything else within the flock I was unable to see it. One Red Admiral Butterfly seen flying in the cold today.
It had been a pleasant way to spend a few hours and I had almost forgotten that I remain a Jack Snipe failure……….. for now!