Thursday, 24 October 2013

Birding South East Northumberland

24th Oct.  It was a perfect autumn day with clear skies and a warm sun, if a somewhat cold feel to the air near to the coast.  I was with Lee and his friend Zenab, so the conversation turned to birds in Iraq for at least part of our journey up to Cresswell.  We found a flock of Pink-footed Geese on our journey.  Our initial stop brought us seven Red Throated Divers eventually making north away from a flock of gulls which seemed to have found an easy feeding area.  Two Eider Ducks nearby were easily seen on a flat sea, very different from yesterday when the wind was up.  Waders included numbers of Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Redshank and Curlew.  A Sparrowhawk flew from the west over our heads and flew along the coast line, with markings showing very clearly against the blue sky and in the sunlight.  A male Stonechat was seen as we drove towards Cresswell Pond.

Numbers of Tree Sparrows, Goldfinches and a large flock of overhead Lapwing greeted us as we walked to the hide.  The highlight seen from the hide was the eight Whooper Swans.   At least eight Common Snipe rested close to the hide and others flew high above the pond.  I caught sight of a Godwit species overhead, but the Water Rail which had shown well before our arrival was now lying low.  The water was very high and quite clear of birds, although numbers of Wigeon and Teal were around the edges of the pond with one lone Teal directly in front of the hide.  I was beginning to feel the cold air as we set off for East Chevington.

The North Pool rewarded us with a single Slavonian Grebe, at least seven Pintail, twenty plus Gadwall, more Wigeon and Teal, numbers of Goldeneye and a chat with DY.  We were noticing numbers of Red Admiral Butterflies on the wing today.

We made a quick visit to Druridge Bay Country Park, not in any expectation of finding much bird life, but for me just to quickly check out the route of an RSPB walk I’m co-leading on 4th January.  Anyone fancy a brisk New Year walk?  We’ll have hot drinks and even mince pies to tempt you perhaps.  Anyway, we didn’t see much here to warm the blood in the way of birds, but we did find a rather nice pristine fungus which I was told by a helpful passer by is commonly named Penny Bun Fungus (or was it Halfpenny Bun Fungus?).  I’ve looked it up on the internet and what is called a Penny Bun Fungus there, looks nothing like what I saw.  Can anyone advise please?

Penny.Halfpenny Bun Fungus???  Can anyone help?

I don't know this one either.

Nor these.  I 'm just to tired to check my very helpful book if I'm honest.  
Having made for Druridge Pools we found very little about, although we did find more Red Admiral Butterflies and a lone Peacock Butterfly.  What I think was a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly was seen in flight.  As we prepared to leave we saw the pair of Stonechat.  It’s nice to see that these birds may be recovering a little after the recent severe winters caused them almost to disappear from the area.

I can't help feeling I won't be seeing many more butterflies this year.

A hide with a view...only this one at Druridge Pools didn't include many birds today!

  We decided to give a second stop at Cresswell Pond a miss, as the water was so high we weren’t hopeful that there would be anything new from our previous visit.  The north end of the pond was devoid of life apart from a few gulls and a single Redshank.  The road was flooded too.

We stopped at the Queen Elizabeth 11 Park where the only a single Pochard stood out from numbers of Tufted Duck, Canada Geese and Mute Swans.  The latter species being very well fed by passers by.  I can think of a few folk who wouldn’t like the idea of Mute Swans being fed!!! :-)  Clearly Swanbusters have not reached this area as yet.

Lee decided to test Zenab’s knowledge of UK species seen today.  I can only say that her knowledge of UK birds far exceeds his or my knowledge of Birds of Iraq!  Apparently she gets Hoopoe in the garden at home.  I think she thought I was joking when I said I was arranging a group trip to her home!  It had been a very nice way to spend a sunny autumn day.  Its going to rain heavily tomorrow so I’ll think I’ll do the shopping…..well I will do the shopping, as I have little choice if I wish to eat.

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