Saturday, 30 March 2013

Patch Walk

30th March.  I took an hour’s walk on a part of the patch that has changed little over the years I’ve lived here and happily the sun shone.  There’s still little real sign of spring, but it did give me time to take note of some of the more basic bird related delights on patch.  I watched the now small rookery and the odd Rook carrying food back to the nest.  What a wonderful sound comes from an active rookery.  I remembered back to times when this was a much larger and noisier rookery at this time of year.  I also remembered when much of the surrounding area was farmland and not housing estates.  Sadly I didn’t take quite as much of an interest in nature then.  I do remember watching Kestrels regularly hunt in the centre of Killingworth, where now we have concrete and car-parks.  Kestrels also hunted around the area of the British Gas buildings which have just been taken down.  This area will no doubt very soon become another housing estate.  I wonder what effect that will have on the lake area, an area I can only hope does not become some kind of sanitised theme park.  My hope rests in the fact that there are people around the area who are aware and knowledgeable about the wildlife that still remains here and are willing to make their voices heard.  Many years ago I found a Little Owl perched on a post along the path leading from the lake and around the back of British Gas.  That would certainly be some find today.

So with time on my hands I did a bit of standing around.  I may have commented before that simply standing around this area can occasionally bring the rather odd questioning look from passers by.  Thankfully it can also bring a bit of conversation from interesting characters, although not today as it was very quiet.  My standing did at last bring me my first Bullfinch of the year and it was good to find it on patch and in an expected area.  I thought this male bird was going to burst into song, but instead it just give out a few of its weak calls.  I think the female will have been close by, but I didn’t find her.  I’d again hoped to hear the calls of numbers of newly arrived Chiffchaff, but that has still not happened.  I did on the way home, eventually hear a single Chiffchaff again, in an area that I had found it earlier in the week.

Two Mistle Thrushes were feeding in the field holding the ponies and a Song Thrush was in full song.  After the very severe winters we experienced I had still found numbers of territories of Wren in this area.  This year is very different and I have heard very few.  What did seem to predominate today was the song of Dunnock and I found numbers of these birds.  In one case I found a Dunnock singing loudly with what I assume was the female perched just inches below.  Tits and finches were again about in number as were Robins.  A pair of the latter, chasing one another around the rotten stump of a tree.  I briefly heard the call of Great Spotted Woodpecker.

I’d heard from Sam that there wasn’t much happening at the lake so I decided not to bother walking over there, but instead returned home.  Once back I was just trying to decide whether to bother trying to photograph a couple of colourful Starlings perched on the edge of the bushes.  My decision was taken for me when they quickly disappeared into the inner sanctum of the bush.  Other birds took off and disappeared.  I wondered if the neighbour’s killer cats were on the loose.  I spotted a movement in the hedge and saw the obvious barred markings of a Sparrowhawk, as its yellow eyes starred from the darkened area.  It was the regular male visitor.  I hadn’t seen it fly in, nor did I see it fly off as Magpies flew in to the area where it had perched.  This pair of Magpies is I think the pair with a nest just a little further down the hedge.  I have to say they were more entertaining than the Magpies which were attempting to play football in Manchester, as I listened to the commentary on the radio!

It’s always good to spend time watching the commoner species.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Woodcock Begins Our Day

29th March.  Well, a day out today felt as though a return was being made from the dark side of the moon!  Rather chilly yes, but a little brighter, and I was even thinking that the sun might show its face again today.

Sam and I got off to a good start when Sam spotted an overhead Woodcock flying from our patch over to Backworth, as we set off towards Holywell.  Even in silhouette an unmistakeable sight once I had my eye on it.  A very good spot by Sam though and he continued the good form throughout the day.  We passed geese (all Greylag Geese I think) near to Backworth flash.   Once at Holywell we found at least ten Tree Sparrows at the feeding station and in the hedges nearby.  There wasn’t too much of note on the pond, but we did find three more Woodcock in flight and on East Pond we found a displaying Lapwing, along with Gadwall, Teal, Greylag Geese and Canada Geese.  With the displaying Lapwing, several Skylark singing and the sun now breaking through and taking at least some of the chill away from us, it almost felt as though it could be spring!  A couple passing by asked us if we had seen two Avocets fly into the pond area as they were sure that they had seen them fly west from the  direction of the coast.  We hadn’t and didn’t see them.  Common Buzzard was seen flying east.  Curlews had been seen in the west field.

The atmosphere in the dene was very different from our previous visit when the burn was running deep and fast.  Today was far calmer and in the sheltered areas it felt much warmer.  We saw no sign of Dipper today, but did eventually find two Grey Wagtails which seemed to be representing separate pairs.  There were the expected woodland species including Long-tailed Tits a pair of calling Nuthatch and towards Seaton Sluice we heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming loudly, but we were unable to locate it.  Having heard my one and only Chiffchaff in Killingworth this week, I had expected more in the dene, but none were heard or seen.

There was a good amount of frogspawn in the one of the ponds but no sign of the Frogs.  As Sam suggested, they were likely keeping warm under water.  We continued our walk towards Seaton Sluice attempting to avoid mud and water which proved impossible.

Numbers of Redshank were in or near the burn.  Fortunately we had brought lunch, as the fish and chip shop café was closed and the queue for the take away fish and chips stretched some distance.  We found seven Purple Sandpipers on the rocks and spotted both Fulmar and Kittiwake, but little else out at sea.

Looking north we watched as Blyth began to be enveloped in a grey mist which we assumed was a snow storm coming off the sea.  We thought we were going to be caught in this too, but apart from a few isolated flakes falling on us we managed to avoid the storm, as it moved inland eventually making way for the return of sun and blue skies.  Not for the first time have I seen Blyth hit by storms which miss Whitley Bay.  Flocks of Sanderling and Turnstone were seen in flight before we found larger numbers on the ground.  Two more Purple Sandpipers were seen amongst the flock of feeding Turnstone.  More Curlews were seen and a couple of Meadow Pipits flew by.  Kestrel had been seen briefly at Seaton Sluice.  Guillemots and Eider Ducks seen close to St Mary's Island, on what appeared to be a rather rough sea  A Weasel was seen scampering off into the fields.

All in all it had proved to be a very Good Friday although we both kept thinking it was a good Saturday.  We’d made the most of what signs there were of spring, and it has to be said there still isn’t that many.  We ended the day with a list of fifty-five species as we watched Sanderlings with other waders feeding on the beach.  We decided not to bother looking on the wetland area and made for home.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


27th March.  So it is spring then?  At 4:00pm today I briefly heard the call of a single Chiffchaff on patch.  I couldn't catch sight of it before the next snow fall began and the bird seemed to move deeper into the trees.  Exactly nine days later than Chiffchaffs appeared in the same area last year!  In recent years 20th March has been the latest date that these birds have appeared in this area and from then on the air has been full of their calls, but definitely not this year!

Maybe a degree or two warmer today, or at least the chill factor wasn't quite as bad with less wind.  Hopefully more Chiffchaff calls and bird song in general over the weekend.  I'm getting itchy feet and need to get out there.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Weekend Cancelled!

Well the only positive this weekend was that I didn't need to dig myself out of thick snow.  I guess there's time yet!  Sam and I decided that a birding trip just wasn't worth it and we got on with other things which included me making my mind up to have another attempt at reading Ian Stewart's Migration Ecology of Birds.  My first attempt was given up as I found it as dry as sticks and I have to say so far I'm not finding it any easier a read.  Can I ever finish it?

The only Chiffchaff I have heard so far this spring was on the Archers omnibus edition this morning.  The Archers is becoming as depressing as Eastenders, or maybe it's just the weather making it feel so.  Anyway, not a sniff of a Chiffchaff on patch as yet.  There was little else about when I braved the biting wind this afternoon.  Sam later told me he had counted twenty-seven Goldeneye on the lake this morning and that's a record as far as I'm concerned.

I'm off to pick up the book again and dream of summer............well, maybe the latter is not a good idea!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Close Encounter with Reynard

I was out on patch on the 18th more in hope than anticipation of Chiffchaffs having arrived as they had done on the 18th last March.  My hopes were dashed as I walked through mud, waterlogged ground, cold air, rain, sleet and hail!  There were large numbers of finches about, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch and a Song Thrush greeted me as I left the house.  The only sighting of any note was a Great Spotted Woodpecker getting quite excited where I had seen pairs in a tussle last year near a probable nesting site.

Today, the first day of spring, wasn’t much better weather-wise.  The sun appeared for a short time, but it did little to warm me up and I arrived back home feeling colder than I have done for sometime.  There are still no Chiffchaffs!  Their arrival is going to be later on patch than in any recent years, although I have found the odd one over wintering in the past so they are not too bothered by cold weather.  One might think that the weather can only improve from now on, but the forecast suggest differently and there is hail lying on the ground as I type.

It was good to see the regular Song Thrushes again today and a small flock of maybe eight Redwings remain in the area.  I found a single Siskin feeding with the more numerous Greenfinch.  I stood around for sometime watching the finches and tits and hoping that the familiar sound of the Chiffchaff would be heard, but eventually give up.  As I slowly walked along the muddy pathway I caught, in the corner of my eye, the sight of what I thought was a dog.  I was surprised anyone else had been daft enough to take this path such was the mud and pools of water.  It quickly became clear that it wasn’t someone’s pet dog, but a close encounter with a Fox.  I stood perfectly still and it came with ten to fifteen yards of me and stopped to look into the trees.  It was clearly unaware of my presence and it stayed put for what seemed a long time, but no doubt was only a few seconds.  It seemed to sense my presence and walked off into the trees and I saw it no more.  It had looked quite small, but in good condition.  This is the second time I’ve had a similar experience in almost the exact same spot.  I didn’t have my camera and if I had moved to use it I don’t think I would have got a decent image anyway as we were so close the Fox would have been off at the slightest movement.  I have to say this type of experience thrills me as much as any bird find.

I walked over to the lake and found that we have three Great Crested Grebes present.  The pair of Shoveller seemed quite settled now.

Behaviour in the area is definitely lagging well behind that of last year when March was such a decent month.  Hail began to come down as I stood by the lake so I made for home rather than walking right around the lake.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

A Spindlestone Adventure and Trouble on the Farnes

16th March.  After two aborted attempts because of snow in January, Sam, Marie and I finally got up to Spindlestone today to check out an RSPB walk planned for May.  Sam has connections in the area and knows it well, so I was depending upon his guidance.  We set off from Killingworth at 8:00am and travelled through heavy rain and at times mist.  It wasn’t long before we were parking up at Budle Bay by which time the rain had become drizzle and even this soon cleared to give us a far better days weather than I had expected.  The sun shone at times!

The tide was out and many of the birds in Budle Bay were distant, but birds we picked up included large numbers of Wigeon, Shelduck, Redshank and Bar-tailed Godwit.  We didn’t spend too long here before setting off on the walk.  The walk in May is aimed at bringing us a wide a range of natural history experience as possible and although we weren’t expecting too much today I’m pleased that we had good sightings of both Red Squirrel and Roe Deer.

A little shy........

But not for long........

Where's me nuts?........

Very tasty

Our walk took in a number of miles and some very good habitat.  Following on from my exertions at Gibside I feel I had a right to be tired at the end of the day and I was!  I’ll save details of this historically interesting area until I write a report of the walk in May so not to spoil things for those taking part that may read my blog.  I found the area fascinating and although we didn’t include the Heugh in the walk yesterday the plan is to include it in May.  Sam and I felt we would like to have the area as ‘our patch’.  No facilities and under watched, it seemed ideal.  Of course the no facilities issue will I hope mean we get only really keen participants along in May.  No café stops here I’m afraid.

I found my first singing Skylarks of the year today and we also heard a Tawny Owl calling during early afternoon.  The woodland areas provided us with the likes of large numbers of Great, Coal, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and the most Chaffinches that I’ve seen for sometime.  Yellowhammers seemed to crop up everywhere we went and in total I’m sure we must have seen fifty plus.  The small hamlets provided House and Tree Sparrows in some numbers along with flocks of Goldfinch and smaller numbers of Reed Bunting.  The burn near the old mill provided brief sightings of Dipper and Grey Wagtail.  Certainly bird song is beginning to fill the air and we heard several Song Thrushes and managed to see some of them.  Mistle Thrush was also about.  The call of Curlew was with us most of the day and we did finally catch sight of Lapwing.

Three pairs of Great Spotted Woodpecker entertained us and there was quite a bit of drumming going on.  Mallards and Moorhen were about on some of the smaller pools.  At least two Common Buzzards were seen and also a female Sparrowhawk flew overhead.

Great Spotted Woodpecker
So all in all we were very pleased with the walk and I offer my thanks to Sam for leading the way.  I know I can rely on you one hundred percent.

 Sam was the first to spot this.  I thought maybe the Lone Ranger (not sure Sam knew him! :-)), but we decided eventually that it was some guy riding the Spindlestone Worm (although I think maybe it looks more like a Camel than a Dragon).

Having returned to Budle Bay which was as usual looking stunning in the sun we headed down to Seahouses hoping to catch Long-tailed Ducks in the harbour.  Unfortunately they had gone, probably having been tempted out by the calmer and finer weather.  Instead we watched the Eider Ducks and Goldeneye and added more waders to our lists.  Waders seen included Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Turnstone, a flock of eighteen Purple Sandpipers which were very active, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit.  Pied Wagtail and Rock Pipits were also seen.  On the way to Seahouses I had hardly got out the mention of not having seen a Kestrel today when one appeared hovering over the dunes.

Having been out from early morning we hadn’t heard about The Danio grounding on the Farnes although we had noticed much activity on the sea.  Some one mentioned the incident to us and we were soon watching through the binoculars.  We managed distant photographs which was helped when the area and ship was lit by the sun.  I understand there has been no oil spill up to now and I’m sure we are all hoping this incident can be sorted without environmental disturbance or disaster ( I see that the latest news is that the vessel may be stuck there for two weeks).  It will be interesting to eventually hear how this incident occurred.  I assume we will hear?  I would have though modern technology would ensure these things were not going to happen, although I know they do.  This really does underline how fragile our ecosystems are in the modern world.  Hopefully a disaster will not occur and I wish everyone involved in controlling this and sorting it out good luck and safety.

On the rocks!
It had been an interesting and enjoyable day in the company of people who share a passion for nature.  Common Buzzard was seen on the way home.  So, once again my thanks to Sam and also Marie for ensuring our safe journey to and from the area.  I’m really looking forward to the return in May.  I have to say so far the response from RSPB group members has been minimal (there’s time yet for that to change) so anyone who feels they might like to join us on 25th May, please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss (07903 387429).  Maximum number of participants will be thirteen plus the two leaders, so all is done on a first come basis.   Birds will be the main focus, but I’m hoping it will be an all round naturalists day possibly offering good photographic opportunities.

17th March.  I met Sam at the lake today.  The Whooper Swan seems to have disappeared a few days ago.  I did see my first Lesser Black Backed Gull of the year.  Goldeneyes remain and are in double figures.  The family of Greylag Geese remain but I found only four today.  A couple of Goosanders also remain.  The pair of Oystercatcher and Shoveller are regulars now too.  Sam and I had a short walk to the village but neither saw nor heard Chiffchaff.  We practised a little macro photography and talked about some planned nature trips likely to take place both short and long term.  The Chiffchaffs appeared on patch on 18th March last year so given decent weather I may take a walk tomorrow and take another look and listen.

The fencing is now around an area near the car park in an attempt to improve the area and protect from the Mute Swans and geese.  The Mute Swans have as course as we predicted simply moved to the other side of the lake.

My year list moves slowly upwards.  I’ve been in no hurry at all to see this rise quickly in 2013.  There’s a lot to be said about being laid back about this.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Gibside and Northumberland Wildlife Trust Photography Awards

14th March.  My day got going with a visit to Gibside for lunch with a friend.  I hadn’t been here for many years so quickly became quite disorientated.  The area seemed so different from what I remembered.  I think the fact was that a large area had been felled since my last visit and visiting in winter (well it still felt like winter to me) rather than a hot summer’s day made the area feel so very different.  This, and the fact that so much work is taking place.  The walk from the parking area might actually be enough of a walk for many visitors.  I was puffing by the time I reached the entrance.

It was good to see at least five or six Red Kites even before we got parked up.  One Red Kite flying closely overhead appeared to be gathering nesting material.  Despite the ‘puffing’ we set of on the long skywalk.  We did appear to be the only folk on this walk.  I’m sure that this walk didn’t exist when I last visited and although not exactly ‘walking in the air’ it does give great views across the area and it was good to get the binoculars focussed on the Cheviots which appeared to be covered in quite deep snow.  On the way up there we saw what was my bird sighting of the day.  This was a Jay that perched in perfect light for some minutes giving really good views.  The Jay is such a stunning bird when seen well.  A good sighting was had of Goldcrest at the viewing hide along with the likes of Blue, Great, Coal, Long-tailed Tits and Mistle Thrush.  I have to say bird life was pretty sparse from then on, although we did have several more decent sightings of Red Kite (I lost count of numbers and in any event I assume we saw the same birds on several occasions).  In total though, I have no doubt we were well into double figures.  It’s unfortunate that the great success of the introduction of Red Kites has up to now not led to them dispersing and nesting more across the area.  We also had the calls of Red Kites and occasionally Jays to keep us company at times throughout the day.

I believe the skyline walk is around four and a half miles, so little wonder that I enjoyed my bowl of soup at the end.  We had intended to look down on the river where Kingfisher had been seen, but never quite made it.  I did need to be back for an appointment in the evening so a further visit will have to be arranged.  I’ve never actually been inside of the chapel so have this on my list of must do!  I shall have to prepare a bucket list.  There seems to be much work going on to restore the walled garden which I think will be worth a look as progress is made.  It’s been used as the car park. A Kestrel was seen on the return journey.

The appointment in the evening was with Sam and his mam and dad, Eileen and Malcolm who had invited me to join them at the NWT Photography Awards.  Oddly enough the conversation turned to bucket lists.  I won’t mention any of the items on our lists!

Well having seen the photographs that had been shortlisted I now realise that I’m going to have to up my game before I enter next year.  There were some very stunning images.  I picked out one image of Adders which I thought warranted at least some reward, but it wasn’t amongst the winners.  I really enjoyed the evening and  enjoyed the short session given by David Lindo, The Urban Birder, who I now realise is quite a character with a great sense of humour.  I always enjoy those folk, who whilst taking there interests seriously, can have a good laugh about them and also laugh at them selves.  I felt it a pity that David Lindo wasn’t given more time as I think he was just warming up.  It was good to see some of the younger naturalist of the likes of Sam, Jack B and Cain S being shortlisted and prizes coming the way of two of them.

Despite the forecast of rain I’m hoping to get flying with some photography tomorrow as Sam, myself and another friend are out reccying a walk in Northumberland.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Great Crested Grebe Presentation

If I say so myself (and I wont hesitate to) the presentation given by Sam and me this evening was a success.  Our thanks go to the Great Crested Grebes and my thanks go to Sam who is a very good co worker.  Some great images provided by Sam and if you want to see them your just going to have to come to a future event.:-)  Next one to take place at Washington WWT with date to be confirmed.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Coast and Carr

5th March.  Today was as spring like as it gets, but still with a nip in the air.  The light was grand once the early mist had lifted.

A quick look at the QE pond brought little of interest apart from numbers of Goldeneye.  Lynemouth Flash seemed to hold more birds than usual.  (I note from the NTBC Bulletin that this flash along with the Beehive and Backworth Flashes are at risk from planned drainage).  We found Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin and Redshank at Lynemouth.  A quick look over a calm sea from Cresswell Village brought little other than Eider Duck on the water, but we did have a good sighting of a Grey Seal.  Mist lay further out at sea so viewing wasn’t easy apart from close in to shore.

The walk up to the hide at Cresswell Pond provided at least ten very active Tree Sparrows along the hedge and on the roof of the farm buildings.  The two Long-tailed Ducks remain on the pond.  Other birds seen on the water included Shelduck, at least eight Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal, Goldeneye and two Little Grebes.  There were at least seventy Lapwings on the sandbank with a lone Dunlin.  Curlews were numerous and continued to be so with lots of movement whilst we were on the coast.

It was a day to enjoy the weather and outdoors rather than sighting anything spectacular, although by now we had added Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Common Buzzard to our list of species.  We were unable to locate any Twite, but did find a small flock of Linnet flying over the road near Bells Pond.  Our walk up the difficult waterlogged pathway at Druridge Pools brought us little at the end of it.  I’d hope to catch sight of the reported Smew.  The sun was so bright that looking in a southerly direction proved pointless as any distant birds could not be made out in any detail.  Another Common Buzzard was seen being harassed by a Carrion Crow.  In the past I have had some good sightings in this area, but my more recent visits have been unrewarding.  The pathway did provide me with some botanical interest in my first Coltsfoot of the year.  I was about to photograph it when I remembered that I hadn't taken the camera gear today.  I remembered that this little stretch of pathway is excellent for butterflies and other insects later in the year.

We accidentally passed the road for the East Chevington pools so decided to take a look at the pool in the Druridge Country Park.  We did find two Red-breasted Mergansers here.  North Pool at East Chevington still held numbers of Goldeneye, at least twelve Shoveller and a number of Gadwall, Teal and Wigeon.  The bright sun again made viewing of the South Pool difficult.

We decided to round the day off with a stop at Prestwick Carr.  The hedges along the bumpy road were again quiet and I think we bumped into and spoke to many more birders than we saw bird species.  We did have very good sightings of the pair of calling Willow Tits as they came to feed on the piles of seed.  We also saw the very friendly Robin being hand fed!  Apart from other tits, the occasional Reed Bunting and the distant Common Buzzards we left without sighting much else.  There was no sign of the Lesser Redpolls seen so well on Saturday.  Two Roe Deer feeding north of the bumpy road were seen very well on our return walk.  We left just as most other folk seemed to be leaving too, so the Short-eared Owls will have had a peaceful evening maybe.  Hopefully the good weather will return for the weekend as it looks to be a poor forecast for the rest of the week.  Never mind it was good to be out in the sun again.  Someone said in passing that it was unusual to have a nice day and I thought to myself that surely we have had some excellent days recently!  Maybe I'm just easily pleased.:-)

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Reserve and Carr

2nd March.  I felt rather lazy this morning as we headed for Gosforth Park Reserve as Sam had already completed a walk on patch and recorded some decent sightings.  The day was spring like and at last we could head off without the need of hat and gloves.  The ground in the reserve however is still very muddy and slippery and makes for tiring walking.  A relaxing and enjoyable walk never the less.

The feeding station threw up the usual birds including a pair of Nuthatches and calling Sparrowhawk.  We found a pair of overhead Sparrowhawk as we left the hide and in the same vicinity, Great Spotted Woodpeckers.  Three Roe Deer showed quite well before running off and then doubling back and running across the path after we had moved on.  A Common Buzzard showed well as it flew over the trees.  We passed few people in the reserve today which surprised me on what was such a pleasant sunny morning.  On the whole those we did see we knew, including Cain who was engaged in manual labour clearing an area of trees and shrubs.  Paul Drummond explained that the area was being returned to what it had been like many years ago and it is hoped that it will attract butterflies.  We found Siskin and Long-tailed Tits further on and just before we left the reserve had good sightings of Fieldfare both on the ground and in the trees.


 The pools were on the whole quiet and I think the large bird very briefly seen in flight before going down behind a tree provided some wishful thinking when I thought about it possible being the Bittern.  A Bittern had been seen earlier by others we had spoken too.  A Mute Swan had already nested and the odd Canada Goose was on the water along with Mallard, a pair of Shoveller, Pochard, Moorhen and Coot.  Earlier on the walk we had heard whistling Wigeon and counted quite a number.  Two Jays were heard then seen briefly.

Mute Swan

 In the early afternoon we headed for Prestwick Carr, our first visit here of 2013.  We walked to the Carr from the White Swan pub passing little other than corvids, Greenfinches, Chaffinches and House Sparrows.  We took in the smell of gas as we stopped at the seat for a bite to eat and a drink.  The outward walk along the bumpy road was dead quiet.  We did see Common Buzzard in the distance and another Great Spotted Woodpecker, this time in flight, but we saw little else until we approached the cross-roads and headed up past the sentry box.  This pathway was pretty quiet too although we did find a good number of Redwing with the odd Mistle Thrush in the flock and Long-tailed Tits.  A lone Lapwing was in the fields along with gulls and Wood PigeonsGoldcrest and Reed Buntings were also seen.

The return walk was a little more rewarding giving us a least one pair of Willow Tits and good sightings of Lesser Redpolls.  A closer sighting of Common Buzzard was has along with our first and only Kestrel of the day which was a distant sighting.  Sam began to hear geese and I believe Greylag Geese were on the move.

Lesser Redpoll
The best sighting of the day brought our birding to a close.  We watched a Short-eared Owl for sometime as Willow Tits called close by us.  At one point the owl sat on the post with prey in its bill.  When we finally decided to move off we found another Short-eared Owl flying over the area to the east.  Grey Heron flew north.
I think the muddy walk earlier in the day had tired both Sam and I out and we made for home as flocks of corvids began to gather in the trees and skies.  Another Sparrowhawk flew overhead making this the fifth one seen today.  The trip to Gosforth Park Nature Reserve followed by Prestwick Carr always makes for a rewarding, interesting and relaxing day.  Today made even better by wonderful weather and my head remained hatless from start to finish.