Monday, 19 March 2012

Patch and Park


18th Mar. Having met Sam near the lake we spotted three Oystercatchers flying over as we approached the smaller of the lakes. One of the Great Crested Grebes was near to the nest and another further towards the centre of the lake. The light wasn’t too good at this point so we decided to do a little exploration and return later.

At least one pair of Goldeneye remains on the larger lake. Only one Great Crested Grebe was found here. We wondered if the pair had been put off by the demise of the floating reed bed. Both Pied and Grey Wagtail were briefly seen on the edge of the lake.

The last time I had been down to the lake (12th Mar) I had watched the Great Crested Grebes mating on two occasions on the nest platform. Today they seemed to be adding material to the nest, after which the female lay on the nest platform, neck out- stretched and mating took place again, followed by the usual face to face head shaking and bill pointing.

I knew the Chiffchaffs were due to appear in Killingworth as I first heard them here on 19th March last year, so we made off to listen for them. Initially nothing was heard from them and we settled for a non appearance today. Chaffinch and Robin song seemed to dominate. Then whilst checking out another area we did finally hear the unmistakeable call of a Chiffchaff. I reckon there will be several more around tomorrow. Shortly after this we made off to Gosforth Park.

We met Paul Drummond, the warden at the entrance and he told us that he had slightly earlier watched the Green Woodpecker so we kept our eyes and ears open for this, but with no luck today. Having seen the number of cars parked outside of the reserve I assumed that the hide at the feeding station was going to be busy. In fact it was very quiet and we found that the cars in the main belonged to the volunteer working party. Whilst we are all basking in sunshine this dry weather is not good for the birds or reserve. Paul told us that in twenty-two years of having been at the reserve he has never known it so dry at this time of year. This week is of course forecast to be another dry one. The concern is that the rain will eventually arrive at the wrong time. On a purely selfish note I have to say I’m enjoying the dry weather.

Species seen at the feeding station were Stock Dove, Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting. A Song Thrush was heard and seen nearby.

Altogether now.....

Win or lose, sink or swim
One thing is certain well never give in
Side by side, hand in hand
We all stand together

Lyrics courtesy of Paul McCartney and the frog of course.

We had an enjoyable walk around the reserve and found numbers of frogs and frogs spawn near one of the lake viewing areas. The light was showing the reserve at its best and the sun offered some warmth after what had been a chilly start to the day. No Bittern was seen today. We’d have been pushing our luck expecting more good sightings. This was the Sam’s third visit to the reserve and the first time he hadn’t had good sightings of these birds

Nice atmosphere. no Bittern!

A Cormorant perched in the tree on the far side of the lake as a number of Grey Herons flew around the area. Greylag Geese, Shoveller, Wigeon and Pochard were amongst birds on the water. Small flocks of Wigeon flew overhead and the whistling from this species was very noticeable today. At least two Common Snipe rose from the reed-beds and flew across the pond. The flash outside of the reserve held Oystercatchers and I wondered if these may have been the ones we had seen at Killingworth earlier in the day. A patch of Coltsfoot added some colour and there were numbers of bees about today.

In one of the hides we noticed a swastika had been scratched on the back wall. I couldn’t help wonder if the NHSN had been taken over by some right wing organisation, or if it was simply the work of local yobs entering the reserve to do what ever they do in there. I felt it would be the latter. As we prepared to leave the area four Greylag Geese flew off towards Killingworth and that Song Thrush continued to sing near to the lodge.

It had been a really nice and relaxing day, offering some good local birding and giving our first Chiffchaff of 2012. It was nice to reflect on looking over the fields next to the NHSN reserve that they are to remain fields for at least the foreseeable future! It would have been a criminal act if they had not. Good to see that people do have power at times when they act with a common cause.


  1. I hoped you explained to Sam that it was all downhill as far as Bittern sightings are concerned !!
    Mind, they are sighted a heck of a lot more than even say, two years ago.

  2. Could have sworn I had just answered this! Been having probs with site.
    Aye, I think Sam knows.:-) At the moment I wish Green Woodpeckers were as easy to come by as the Bitterns have been!

  3. I remember that 'frog chorus' it was a pretty good song, lol.

    A shame about the Bittern, but yeah I suppose at least you both have had some really good sightings of this recently.

  4. Yes, mustn't be greedy Mark.:-) Lots of Woodpeckers today, but not a green one among them.

  5. Lol, yeah it's easy to want too much, especially when you've been on a good run.

    Still good seeing the Great Spotted Woodpeckers, they are nice birds.