Sunday, 20 January 2013

Focusing on Patch

20th Jan.  The falls of snow have ensured that Sam and I have focussed our attention on patch this weekend cancelling plans to reccy a future walk we are to lead in spring.  That hasn’t been a bad thing and we were out again this morning for two or three hours.

No apologies for more swans!

 I have had the chance to practice with the camera but admit that I must get to grips much more with all of the settings.  The light was very poor this morning.  The swans and other waterfowl have had much positive attention at least from Sam and me!  The Whooper Swan remains.  There were some very attractive scenes this morning even in the poor light.  The lake appears to be in a slow thaw with I would say less than half of the larger lake frozen now.  The smaller lake remains ninety percent frozen, but rather thinly so anyone daft enough to stand on it would go straight through.  Common Gulls were numerous on this smaller lake this morning.  The numbers of Goldeneye have increased from yesterday and they appear to have been enticed back following the thaw.  No Goosanders were found.  I believe Sam had seen a Grey Heron early in the morning.

Whooper makes a landing.

And takes a bow later.

Other significant sightings included an overhead Sparrowhawk, Great Spotted Woodpecker, a couple of Redwings and a Weasel.  Good sightings were had of the Weasel, but unfortunately we failed to capture an image.  Although Sam has seen Weasel near the lake before, it’s a first for me.  I’m taking an increasing interest in mammals seen, having had a good year with them in 2012.  I’m also currently reading the NHSN book Mammals, Amphibians and Reptiles of the North East and strongly recommend this very significant book which is volume seventy-three of the society’s transactions.  Dr Phil Gates (who will be known to many bloggers and readers of the Guardian) says of this publication ‘this timely and authoritive account of the past history, present status and future prospects of our most charismatic animals is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the wildlife of our region’.

A good read.
On a slightly different note, but still linked to the NHSN, there is to be a talk at the Hancock on Friday evening (25th Jan) concerning Bitterns.  Sam (the Bittern Magnet) and I will be there if at all possible.

The Mute Swans were very active this morning.

Having crossed the fields, and plodded through snow some inches deep, we found the church grounds quiet in terms of birds, but do think we found the trail of a Fox.  On a previous visit we had found some war graves in the grounds so took a closer look today.  We found that in fact there are four war graves.  Very poignant.  I’ve lived in Killingworth for many years and have to be honest and say that up until the past couple of weeks I didn’t know these war graves existed.

The Snowdrops we had found in flower and photographed on a previous visit are now under inches of snow.  Others were found but were not yet in flower.

So as always we had an interesting and enjoyable walk and made the most of the morning before heading home to warm up and note that the leucistic Blackbird is becoming a regular visitor to the garden.


  1. Nice you got to see the Weasel (along with some good birds). In some ways the snow will help to highlight stuff I'm guessing, as it's interesting you saw this for the first time today rather than when the ground was clear/dry.

    Are Redwings a year tick?

  2. P.S. I've just remembered that you saw Redwings at the start of the month. I forget that it's the 20th Jan already, lol.