3rd Sept. I’d two birds on my mind as Lee and I left for the coast today. They were Spotted Crake and Spotted Redshank. I felt conditions offered us a good chance to find both these species. Ok, I had also re-checked the identification characteristics of White-Rumped Sandpiper, but I wasn’t going to loose too much sleep if we didn’t find a bird I have seen at distance before and which left me pretty cold (just as well as it happens). Yes I know, I’ll never make a twitcher!
We began with a quick watch over the rocks at Cresswell which brought us a number of waders and Eider Ducks. Next stop was Cresswell Pond. Unfortunately there was no Spotted Redshank but there were four (possibly five) Greenshank. Conditions at the pond seemed ideal, but apart from Redshanks and a few Dunlin it was fairly quiet, so we decided to move on and return later.
The North Pond at East Chevington proved to be far livelier. It wasn’t long before we had spots before us in the form of Spotted Crake which gave a very good sighting as it came out onto the mud. Conditions at the North Pool were ideal too. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to pick up the Spotted Redshank which had been seen on the west side of the pool before our arrival. Neither did we see the White-Rumped Sandpiper, nor did anyone else whilst we were there, although it had been watched before our arrival. One or two people, now possibly bored with the Spotted Crake, seemed a little surprised that we were both keener to get the crake which was a lifer for us. Anyway we enjoyed watching the circa thirty Ruff and even more numerous Black-tailed Godwits. I didn’t count the numerous Dunlin and Redshank, but when they all lifted when a Peregrine Falcon flew over it was obvious that there were quite a few! We had seen Common Buzzard earlier in the day. Other waders included Lapwing, Ringed Plover and Sanderling. Common Snipe numbers were also significant. Sandwich Terns were around in fairly small numbers, but making quite a noise.
We found a well developed juvenile Great Crested Grebe. I was wondering if the nests I had seen on the pool earlier in the year had produced successful broods (or could it be one of the Killingworth birds, you never know)? The ‘fab four' Bar Headed Geese showed well, as did their fellow fence hopping Lesser White-fronted Goose that I’m told has been around the area for some time. Well fence hoppers or not they all help the ID skills and I confess I have added a similar fence hopping Lesser White-fronted Goose to my year list before now (but that was a Norfolk bird, so I can I be forgiven?).
Lee and I coped well considering we are miserable failures with regard the sandpiper and we counted our blessings, few though they may be, as we headed for Druridge Pools. The water was low outside of the hide, but low and behold there was little to no mud so we didn’t stay around here very long. Highlights here were the numerous Wall Brown Butterflies (you have to understand that life is not all about birds) and the family of five Stonechats found on our arrival at the parking area. We did find some Teal.
We returned to Cresswell Pond and I found a Wheatear north of the causeway. A Marsh Harrier gave a very good sighting as it flew north. We saw Shovellers as we walked to the hide and there were Tree Sparrows in the hedge. I’d not yet given up hope of finding a Spotted Redshank.
There were plenty of Redshank, plenty of Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, several Common Snipe and at least two Greenshank remained, but I wasn’t able to locate a Spotted Redshank. A Common Buzzard flew over the pond and a Red Admiral Butterfly almost joined us in the hide. We stayed around for a while and picked up a Common Sandpiper and eventually I got my eye on it……….yes a Spotted Redshank. Where it appeared from I’m none to sure, but it was its method of feeding that took my eye to it. A very attractive bird indeed. It was an ideal bird to end our outing on. I tried to write our sightings on the board, but the felt tipped pen was dry. Good grief there’ll be complaints to the NWT about this! :-)