2nd April. Capturing the best of the day’s weather, I paid a visit to the Rising Sun Country Park with Sam, thus proving you don’t have to travel too far for some decent birding. It proved to be an interesting day that threw up a few surprises.
The sound of Chiffchaffs was apparent immediately on arrival and I lost count of how many of these birds we heard today. It was the Primroses that first took the eye and reminded us that it was spring, although the chill in the morning air had suggested otherwise. Oh well, at least it wasn’t snowing…..yet! What a contrast to the past week.
Having climbed up the old colliery heap in the sun I was soon feeling a bit warmer. Too warm in fact. Thankfully the top of this heap was taken off some years ago, I was told on authority because of some concern about aircraft becoming confused by the height of it. It certainly must be one of the highest points in the area and does give a very good viewing point. More reminders of spring came in the numbers of Skylark and a few Meadow Pipits about the area. The Skylarks song had been heard as we had walked towards the hill. A passer by had noted how difficult the birds were to see. Whilst I agree that this sometimes can be the case, it certainly wasn’t a problem today. The Skylarks were generally flying very low and occasionally singing from the ground, with some flying up as we passed by. I’ve decided to include this area in a walk and talk Sam and I have planned in August. It really isn’t steep so I don’t wish to put anyone off coming!:-)
A pair of Blackcap was found later on walking along the pathways. It was good to hear the song of this bird again. There were a number of Reed Buntings about in the same area. A Sparrowhawk was sighted overhead. Stock Doves were amongst Wood and Feral Pigeons feeding in the fields near to Swallow Pond.
The pond proved to be interesting today. Being in the hide was rather like sitting in a refrigerator. Lesser Black Backed Gulls are around again in some numbers. Other sightings included Grey Heron, Shoveller and Wigeon. Pheasants called and looked very colourful. We visited the farm area, but didn’t find what we had hoped for. We got chatting to one of the guys working down there who reckons the red stag which we had seen earlier was more than likely left in the park deliberately. I guess that is a likely an explanation as any. Incidentally we had had a close sighting of the stag earlier as it was attempting to nip in and take some of the horse feed. The horses were having none of this and whilst the stag may have grown to think itself a horse, it’s still very nervous of them when they chase it. Even better sightings of the stag were had later in the day and this provided a really good photo opportunity and before he drops his antlers. I’m hoping for a repeat come August! Anyway we left him in peace and quiet and looking very contented. I’m told one or two people have met him on the pathway and been rather surprised. I’m not so sure I’d like to try and pass him if he stood his ground. Sam and I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the comments being made by on lookers about the stag. One lady introduced her child to ‘the Reindeer’ (I accept, an easy error to make) and then said the last time she had seen it ‘its antlers had been cut off’ and ‘I don’t know why’.
The day provided other common woodland and garden species including a very obliging Song Thrush. The song of this bird had been heard earlier.
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
A cuppa and a cake was had in the café. I’m looking forward to a return quite soon, not so much for a cake, although I won’t turn that down, but for the Common and hopefully Lesser Whitethroats which will be arriving soon.
A stop was made at Killingworth Lake in the hope of possible Swallows and or Sand Martins. None were seen. By now it was cold and beginning to rain. The pair of Great Crested Grebes were fine, but the light poor. We made for the village area at a quick pace as the dark clouds grew more ominous by the second. More Chiffchaffs were heard and I was home before getting too wet.
I don’t mind being out in poor weather but I have to say today, 3rd April looks simply miserable as sleet falls, temperature drops and wind rises. Pleased I’m inside.
OH, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware
Verse provided by Robert Browning (not Killy Birder) and provided for my more cultured readers. I’m hoping I have one!