7th Oct. After a chilly start to the day the air soon began to warm as Sam and I arrived at Gosforth Park Nature Reserve. During our time there the garden by the lodge was attracting Red Admiral and Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Red Admiral Butterfly
We visited the feeding station hide on two occasions and began to understand why there may have been few birds about at times after we watched the Sparrowhawk make a number of attacks. The Sparrowhawk’s first target was the Great Spotted Woodpecker, which narrowly escaped as the hawk almost smashed into the tree, after having I’m sure made contact with the woodpecker. Next to gain attention from the hawk was a Magpie! On our second visit the Great Spotted Woodpecker made yet another narrow escape. If it had been a cat I’d have said it surely must be down to seven lives! The Sparrowhawk definitely has an eye on that woodpecker! A Nuthatch, tit species, Blackbird and Wren were amongst other birds at the feeding station.
On my reckoning, seven lives left!
Once we were walking around the reserve we decided very quickly that the decision to wear wellington boots had been a good one. The mud was deep and the ground waterlogged in places. We met few people in the reserve on what was a beautiful day. The fungi were beginning to show well and the foliage of some trees beginning to show some colour.
If not already named I'd have suggested 'Talking Heads Fungi'.
Birds on the pond included Mute Swan, Shoveller, Mallard, Gadwell, thirty-six Wigeon, Teal Pochard and Tufted Duck. We heard at least one remaining Sedge Warbler and Water Rail. Sam catching a glimpse of the latter bird which was making continuous calls. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over the pond.
After ending the walk we cleaned our boots the best we could before heading off in the direction of Prestwick Carr. Here we had the opportunity to plodge through water rather than mud, the area still being well flooded in many parts.
As we joined the bumpy road Sam wondered if we would see a Marsh Harrier. I suggested not at this time of year and said that perhaps a Hen Harrier would be more likely. A little later Sam answered the call of nature and whilst so engaged I looked up and called to him that I had spotted a Marsh Harrier. He just laughed! It took me a while to convince him that the harrier was flying across the northern area of the carr in a south easterly direction. Sam did eventually believe me! Nearby Willow Tits called. We also found Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel over the carr today. Sam was quick to see two late Sand Martins flying south.
Dragonflies caught our attention along the bumpy road and at the turning up towards the sentry box. These included numbers of Common Darter (we did wonder if we had seen a Ruddy Darter, but weren’t certain), Common Hawkers, Migrant Hawkers and Southern Hawker.
We kept a look out for the Little Gull which had been recorded the previous day, but found only Black Headed Gulls. The most interesting stretch of the walk was the flooded path up to the sentry box. The field to the west is still well flooded and held flocks of Lapwing, Curlew, Canada Geese and a few Pink-footed Geese. The pathway is flooded and we could not have gone very far but for our wellingtons. The water came to shin height in places. The red flags had just been taken down. There may well have been more waders in the fields, but with just binoculars it was difficult to pick anything up and in any event our attention was taken by an unexpected pair of Kingfishers. They were on occasions dropping into the water on the pathway and then flying up and down the pathway before perching in the hedge-ways. We didn’t really get an opportunity to photograph them, but we were both happy enough with the sightings. The unexpected is often the best! Flying in the area was a flock of Lesser Redpolls which we managed to get good sightings of when they settled from time to time.
Sun reflecting from flooded fields made for difficult wader watching.
Sam checks out his waterproof trousers whilst watching the Redpolls!
There were few people about today and the sunlight reflecting from the flooded fields and carr made for a good atmosphere. On the return walk we bumped into PF. We also had better sightings of the Willow Tits and two Willow Warblers. Three Common Snipe called and circled over head.