Thursday, 8 March 2012

Northumberland Goose Fest

7th Mar. It’s been a busy week for me birding wise and yesterday I met up with an old friend who I rarely have the opportunity to go birding with these days, but who knew me when my interest first began and who in fact had a large part to play in me becoming so interested in birds.

First stop was Holywell, although this was somewhat of a flying visit and we arrived just as the clouds burst and the wind got up. By the time we were watching the Egyptian Goose in amongst Greylag and Pink-footed Geese in the west field, the sun was shining again. The bird was quite distant, but showed well. I also had the chance to count at least six Tree Sparrows. Canada Geese were also about the area.

Next stop was Bassington. I wasn’t sure if the Green Woodpecker was still about, but in any event on arrival we had no idea where to look, so quickly left for Maiden Hall Lake. I’d never been here and was impressed. It looks to have the potential for a premier birding site. We were after the Bewick’s Swans of course.

We found no Bewick’s Swans, but did find lots of geese, including well over one hundred White-fronted Geese in amongst the flocks of Greylag and Pink-footed Geese. Near to the water, my friend picked up what he thought to be two Tundra Bean Geese and sure enough, a quick look through the scope confirmed that they were. Their orange legs standing out clearly and I was more than confident that they weren’t Pink-footed Geese. I picked up waders which included flocks of Oystercatchers and Lapwings. I may have missed other waders as we concentrated on the geese.

I left very happy to have seen the flocks of geese but a little disappointed that we had missed the Bewick’s Swans. The disappointment soon disappeared when very soon back on the main road we picked up the swans in a field to the left of us amongst a smaller flock of geese. We stopped for what was quite a close look at the adult and juvenile Bewick’s Swans, but we could tell that the they and the geese were probably made a little restless by our presence so we quickly moved on and headed for East Chevington. We stayed here long enough to see that the large numbers of Goldeneye remain and to see more geese! Next stop was to be Cresswell.

There were more flocks of geese on the journey and we stopped at the causeway thinking that we might pick up an Avocet, but we didn’t.

A final stop was made at the Q E 11 where we found the redhead Smew diving regularly within a short distance of us. One of the best sightings I’ve had of Smew. Pity the drake wasn’t there, but I’m not complaining. There were many more Goldeneyes.

The Bewick’s Swans and Smew were year ticks for me and the Egyptian Goose a new one for my Holywell to coast walk. I’d never seen this number of White-fronted Geese in Northumberland before. I see the NTBC site suggests that there were over one hundred and fifty. It had been an excellent day with the geese, having found six species!


  1. Bassington - Green Woody not seen for three weeks. The nature reserve is here:,577195&st=4&ar=y&mapp=map.srf&searchp=ids.srf&dn=821&ax=425309&ay=577195&lm=0

    PArk at the tip of the arrow head and it's the area to the west and north of it.

  2. Cheers Gordon. Thanks for that.
    Maybe I ought to try for the Green Woodpecker at Gosforth Park, as I only missed that one by a week I think. ;-)

  3. Good luck for the G-Woodpecker. It's pretty elusive, but that makes seeing it more special, lol.

    Great selection of geese!