Thursday, 16 February 2012

3Bs......Birding By Bus

15th Feb.

We took the bus from Killingworth

It wasn’t heavily laden

We were on the way to Cresswell

Not over the river to Blaydon


Oh, the delights of a bus ride via Ashington to Cresswell. It must not be missed on any world tour. The outward journey included a couple of Pied Wagtails before we left Killy, a Common Buzzard and lots of chat. I was once again accompanied by Sam. On arrival the tide was on the ebb and the sea quite rough, but I found my first Fulmar of the year and a sizable flock of Wigeon kept lifting from the sea and then dropping again to be hidden by the waves. The wind was blowing the sand in patterns towards us. It was initially windy and cold, although by afternoon much calmer and warm (ish). A male Stonechat was seen as we walked through the dunes past some cattle that I could swear where just dying to get at us! Later in the day we found the female with male Stonechat. Several hundred Pink-footed Geese flew in the vicinity of the pond. A lone Common Snipe flew over the dunes.

The walk down to the pond hide gave us a flock of thirty Yellowhammers which flew into and near to the hedge. Two Tree Sparrows were found here when we left. The wind seemed to be ensuring that few other small passerines were about.

The mud area at the pond held a small and flighty flock of Lapwing, one Dunlin and a couple of Redshank. The wind seemed to have removed most bird life from the pond but there were plenty of Wigeon, a few Teal, the three Red-breasted Mergansers and on this occasion two Goosanders. Shelduck were on the western edge of the pond with more Redshank and numbers of Curlew were flying in the area. As for any sign of Jack Snipe? I can only think that someone has placed an invisible barrier between me and this species. I have to see one this year surely? I’m sure I’ll soon be reading of more sightings of this bird ‘right in front of the hide’ and soon looking at close up photographs once again.

We decided to walk along the road and eventually found a few Twite, but didn’t have a good sighting. Better was the sighting of a Carrion Crow pecking at a dead Rabbit. Sam may want to give the details! We decided to continue walking along to Druridge Pools. There were lots more Wigeon here, again with a few Teal and several Shoveller. The large pool offered little but a small number of Wigeon and Teal and a two male Goldeneye.

It’s quite a walk when carrying a lot of gear and we were soon feeling warm! The return walk give us better sightings of perhaps forty to fifty Twite and the pair of Stonechats mentioned above. I briefly got my eye on a Merlin flying low and it dipped behind the fence and disappeared. It turned up again, a male bird, when being harassed by a Carrion Crow, but the sighting was again brief as it dipped into the hollows in the dunes not to be seen again. We did wait around for a while but nothing reappeared.

We eventually returned to the beach and what a wonderful expanse of sand, sea and dune this area is. The cloud was really breaking up by now giving a wonderful light. There was little to no wind now. I think Sam managed some very good shots of waders, despite at times walkers allowing their dogs to chase them. Both of us managed to take some scenic shots. Waders in the main were Sanderling although Oystercatchers, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew where around. Little was seen on the still rough sea apart from the odd Eider Duck.

We eventually made of for the long winding bus ride home. Sam spotted a Kestrel from the bus. By now tiredness was catching up with both of us and the sun was shining brightly very low in the sky. Darkness greeted us on arrival at Killingworth. It had been another really good day in a really nice atmosphere, with some decent sightings, and sounds of the wildfowl and waders.


  1. Good to have seen the 40-50 Twite, as they can be quite elusive.

    The Merlin, would also stand out for me as one of the birds of the day, even though the sightings were brief.

  2. Cheers Mark. This is a good area for Merlin, although I have to confess I have only seen it once before when it perched on the post near the pond hide and then flew over the pond. This sighting was rather more brief.

  3. Yes the Merlin is one of those elusive species I have found, lol.

    It's good that you saw it perched and near the hide previously, as I only seem to see it in the distance and in flight.