Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Wagtail and Warbler Fest.

6th May.  I took a walk down to the lake after dinner and expected to get little further than this, which didn’t matter at all as the atmosphere on a quiet, warm and sunny evening was grand.  Dry, sunny and warm, could it really be a Bank Holiday?  The changing of seasons was more noticeable than at any time this spring, which at times has threatened to be a non-event.  The Great Crested Grebes were busy at the nest, with the sitting bird deciding to take to the water for a few seconds, then with seeming difficulty, climb back on the nest and almost Penguin like, stand and move part of the nest around.  A Grey Heron looked at its best as it stood by the small reed-bed for some minutes before taking to the air and flying across the lake.  A group of youngsters walked past engrossed in their chat and totally oblivious as to what was going on next to them on the water.  Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler sang, and a Common Tern dived and skimmed the water.  My peace was broken when my mobile phone rang, but not before I had picked up the call of Reed Warbler.  (I was unable to locate the bird, but will be back)  Lee wanted to know if I fancied a quick trip up the coast.  It would have to be quick as it was now 6.45pm.  I warned him that the Purple Heron and Great White Egret were no longer being reported.  Lee often needs a rarity to keep his interest going.  He mentioned Temminck’s Stint. :-)  I thought a quick trip would be worthwhile anyway, so prepared to be picked up within a few minutes.  We had an interesting journey as Lee’s friend from Kurdistan accompanied him and we had a chat about our various travel experiences and her brother who had recently visited Newcastle.  I believe he has just returned to Erbil in Kurdistan.  Anyway he is a keen photographer, so I await details of his website, and I must read up about Erbil as in all honesty I can’t say I’ve heard of it.  Although with recent history surely I must of, and it has now just slipped my mind!

We soon arrived at Druridge Pools, although not as early as we had expected, as engrossed in the chat we found ourselves heading past Red Row!  We found a Common Snipe right outside of the hide and Little Grebe close to the edge of the water, but the lowering sun made a photograph pointless.  It was a flying visit so we didn’t have long to search for birds so I made that clear when someone asked me ‘if we had seen much’.  I am always fearful that when I say ‘no there’s not much about’ that they go along the path and find a first for Northumberland and then wonder which clown they had just spoken to.  Not that I’m too concerned as to my image in birding circles, as there are far more important things in life to concern me.  I never the less wouldn’t like to bump into the same person five minutes later  only to be told what I’d missed.:-)

Willow Warblers were singing and showing well right outside of the hide, Sedge Warbler song was more distant and a Grey Wagtail was near the flashes.  We watched the likes of Grey Heron, Shoveller, Teal and Redshank whilst the call of Curlew was in the air.  Lapwings were dotted about the area.  We then made off quickly for Cresswell Pond so as to arrive before sundown. Lee remained keen, as the person we had spoken too had told us that the Temminck’s Stints (now two of them) had relocated to the spit at the pond.

The air was full of midges, but thankfully nothing appeared to be biting.  Sadly we have too few evenings like this in the UK, and especially on the Northumberland coast, but when they do happen they ought to be enjoyed.  We stopped at the causeway and immediately spotted two of the Avocets and then Yellow Wagtails.  There was at least seven or eight Yellow Wagtails here amongst the Pied Wagtails.  Avocet and Yellow Wagtail were both year ticks for me.

I got my sunset but not a sundowner!
I took a look through the bins at the hide and noticed eyes pointed towards the sand bank.  This had Lee going thinking that the Temmink’s Stint were being watched, so as the sun was going to be lost very soon we made off towards the hide.  We found Tree Sparrows in the hedges.  The sound of Sedge Warblers was everywhere.   If I’m honest, I just couldn’t begin to estimate numbers.  Once in the hide we also had a reeling Grasshopper Warbler close by.  We also found a friendly group of local’s drinking wine.  Not sure if Lee thought this was appropriate in a bird hide, but I was just hoping that they might offer me a glass of red wine!  Sadly the bottle or bottles now appeared empty.  I wondered if the group were seeing birds that I wasn’t.:-)  There were no Temminck’s Stint, but Lee seemed to cope.  However there was another pair of Avocet showing really nicely and at least eight more Yellow Wagtails on the sand bank.  These were definitely not the same birds seen by us at the other end of the pond as our friendly wine drinkers had been photographing them while we were watching the other birds.  I eventually got my eye upon Sedge Warblers, still singing loudly across the reed beds.  Along with them were number of Reed Bunting and at least another six Yellow Wagtails which had taken to the reeds.

It had been a short, but very rewarding visit.  I had almost become intoxicated with the song from warblers and the stunning colour of the wagtails, and sadly only the smell of red wine!  If I ever gate crash one of your hide wine evenings I can let you know now I prefer red to white.  Perhaps I need to think about taking my own in future.

As we left the sun had been down below the horizon for sometime and I thought it was ideal conditions for the Barn Owl to be out.  The owl itself obviously thought differently and we didn’t catch sight of it.  A very nice evening all the same.  A conservative estimate of Yellow Wagtails seen came to twenty-two and I didn’t even try to estimate the number of warblers.

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