Before the rising sun we fly
So many roads to choose
We start our walking
And learn to run
And yes! We've just begunLyrics by the Carpenters
14th Nov. Tom and I had a date with two birds this morning and I was hoping that my success of the previous day would be repeated following Tom’s journey up from Yorkshire. We had arrived at Hauxley before the sun had risen and had not been enticed away from our date, even by the Barn Owl seen as we passed Widdrington. It was nice to be the first arrivals and our birds had not let us down. We shared the Greater Yellowlegs and the Grey Phalarope with the guy who had originally found the former bird and who had followed us into the reserve. It was nice to have close up views of both species and to finally see the Greater Yellowlegs in flight. It was an exciting start to the morning with Pink-footed Geese, Curlews, Black-tailed Godwit and a close fly by from the Kingfisher adding interest. Having found our target birds we could relax. I was delighted that Tom had met with success. Well satisfied we eventually set of for East Chevington with me suggesting that it probably wasn’t worth stopping at Druridge Country Park as time was limited today.
Our attempt at finding the Green-winged Teal amongst the large flocks of Teal was without success. There were plenty of other species to keep us happy including seven Pintail, fourteen Gadwalls, Wigeon and a Great Crested Grebe. Tom had being looking forward to experiencing the metal box hide. I’m sure he won’t forget it in a hurry!
Druridge Pool was our next stop, as the temperature seemed to go down rather than up. There was pretty much more of the same here, including another eleven Gadwalls. A lone Common Snipe was found plus a lone Canada Goose and Goldeneye. Little Grebes were also on the water. Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen as we were leaving. On the drive to Creswell Pond we passed by the flock of circa one-hundred Twite which seemed lively today. We decided not to attempt to check the flock for other possible species.
As we approached Cresswell Pond we could sense that it was frequented by a good number of birds today. Birds in the hedge included Tree Sparrows. Reed Bunting flew from the reeds. Lapwing numbers were in excess of four hundred I reckon and there were at least two hundred and fifty Golden Plover. The mixed flock was edgy and lifted several times but I saw no sign of predators. Other waders included Oystercatcher, two Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew and five Common Snipe. There were large numbers of both Wigeon and Teal.
Whilst at Cresswell we heard that Slavonian Grebe had been reported at Druridge Bay Country Park. What was I saying earlier about it not being worth a visit? Then we also found that the Green-winged Teal was on South pool and not north pool which we had searched earlier. A decision was made to do an about turn and forget about our planned sea watch and visit to Newbiggin. There’s always another day.
On arrival at the park the Slavonian Grebe was found almost immediately. A very nice bird, and quite a close up sighting of it. We made off to look for the Green-winged Teal. As we were searching a couple of guys stopped in their car and told us exactly where it was. Thanks guys. We were able to get another very good sighting of this bird.
Somewhere along the way today we had two Sparrowhawks and two Kestrels.
It was reaching late morning now and we had to get back home. Just as we were getting ready to go I got my eye on a bird over the other side of the pool and I called ‘wots that?’ We both came to see at the same time that it was a male Hen Harrier. It flew over the tree-line and the fields before disappearing, not to be seen again. A fantastic sighting with which to end our morning’s birding. At least we were able to return some of the help we had received and raise other birders attention to the fact that the harrier was about. They watched for it as we left.
The all weather birders birding days are always great ones. Today was no exception and in fact rather exceptional, with some fantastic species seen, and all giving really great sightings. It had begun with the Barn Owl, my favourite species, and ended with the Hen Harrier, which is Tom’s facvourite. Come to think of it he had his favourite duck today as well, Pintail. I know he was more than happy. We had met some very friendly and helpful birders along the way which is always an added bonus. That early start had been well worthwhile. My thanks go to Tom. The week has only just begun!