23rd Jan. I had intended to visit Holywell on Sunday, but instead stayed in and watched the football. Having heard that the weather is about to deteriorate I decided that today’s sunshine was too hard to resist, so completed the Holywell to St Marys Island walk.
First stage, the pond. I have rarely seen it so quiet. Others are saying the same thing. Where has all the waterfowl disappeared to? I understand that concern has led to NWT planning on taking some water samples for examination. I only have that as hearsay, but never the less, reliable hearsay. I’d hoped for some geese today, but had only one lone Greylag Goose (which flew over the pond) all day. Apart from six Gadwall, there is little to report on the pond. I did see Common Buzzard briefly west of the pond area and I think it likely that it had been disturbed by the movement of Wood Pigeons from north of the pond. There was no shortage of Wood Pigeons. A Sparrowhawk in territorial dispute with a corvid had been seen as I approached the pond and a Kestrel was seen as I made my way to the dene. The feeding stations weren’t that busy either. A Reed Bunting was seen at the now very quiet area near the hide and Tree Sparrow was amongst birds seen at the newer station. I’m not too sure how many Tree Sparrows were about as there was some movement within the hedge. I know I saw at least four. At least two Grey Herons on the edge of the pond and gull flock was made up of Black Headed, Common and a few Herring Gulls. A single Grey Partridge was seen in the fields and I think perhaps more were behind it in the dip.
Second stage, the dene. This was quite productive today. I decided to stop and wait to see if I could catch a sighting of the Dipper/s. In fact I found it almost immediately on what I’ve come to realise is a favourite rock of the bird within its territory. Thankfully a couple decided against letting their dog have a bath today and the Dipper remained undisturbed while I was there. As I watched, Nuthatch calls seemed to echo through the trees. There were certainly at least two of them calling, but such was the movement of the birds and echoing calls, I couldn’t find them in the binoculars. I did find two a little further through the dene and a Grey Wagatil was nearby on the rocks in the burn. At this point I got chatting to another birder as we watched the Grey Wagtail. Nuthatch calls soon began again. Long Tailed Tits were numerous.
Before I left the dene I had a good sighting of male Bullfinch looking very stunning in the sunlight. Just before I reached Seaton Sluice I found two Little Grebes on the burn. The fish and chips were given a miss today and I made do with a packet of crisps and a Satsuma. No wonder I’m feeling tired! I found no sign of Stonechats behind the Astley Arms, where I had been told a pair had been seen recently.
Third stage, the coast. The sea was very quiet. One Guillemot, Cormorants, one Goldeneye, Eiders and gulls being about the sum total of what was about. I got into conversation with another birder who was about to make off to Hauxley. It wasn’t until I was approaching St Marys Island that I got my first and only year tick of the day, this being Rock Pipit. The Golden Plover flock kept flying behind the lighthouse and then landing in an area that was hidden from view on the seaward side. Other waders seen were Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Turnstone, Redshank and Curlew. I didn’t find my first Lapwing until right at the end of the walk. The wetland held thirty Teal, but little else.
I was home shortly after 2:30pm, so that shows the day had been a quiet one, although I was quite pleased to find the day list of species had come to fifty-nine. If it hadn’t been so cold I could have fooled myself into thinking it was summer.