Thursday, 21 November 2013

Winter's Coming to Patch

21st Nov.  I’d been alerted to a growing number of Goosanders and other birds on the lake yesterday so took the chance to walk down to the lake today during what I thought was a gap between the showers.  Unfortunately the gap wasn’t a wide one and the rain began again even before I had arrived at the lakeside and then just got heavier as I wandered around.  I found four Goosanders on the small lake and also a lone female Teal.  Looking across the larger lake I initially wondered if there had been an exodus of birds from this area.  The water was high and I saw little.

It wasn’t long until I began to pick out more Goosanders, which appeared to have formed three separate parties.  The males looking quite stunning even in the rain and dull light.  I reckon there were at least eighteen birds and as they were constantly diving and the groups were split across the lake I may well have missed one or two.  It’s good to see this species back in number because since the first really icy winter of three years ago numbers of wintering birds have been low.  Hopefully there will be no long big freeze this winter and the birds will stay.

The single Great Crested Grebe remains as does a single Little Grebe.  Pochard numbers are beginning to build and I counted at least five Goldeneye.  By now I was pretty wet and watching wasn’t too easy.  I decided to back track rather than walk right around the lake.  I did a rough count of the Canada Geese which now are over the one hundred and thirty mark.  The Greylag Geese remain in the flock.  Other birds included Mute Swan, Mallards, Moorhen and Coot.  I remember Sam telling me that there had been, I think, seven Shoveler on the lake earlier this week, but they seem to have moved on.

I walked towards the village noting that there are still only a few Common Gulls in the area.  Robins were singing heartily now.  Just before I reached the village I walked past a large mixed feeding flock of mainly tits and finches.  I decide to hang around now that the rain had stopped and the birds were noisy and active.  The species most represented was Goldfinch, but there were also good numbers of Chaffinch and Greenfinch.  In the latter case it is the most numerous of this species I’ve seen in a good while.  Other birds seen with the party were Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit a lone Siskin, a lone male Bullfinch, maybe at least two Goldcrest and a large number of Blackbirds.  I kept a look out for the local Sparrowhawks, but none appeared.

A late autumnal scene on patch

Then around the's good to see this Morrisons shopper has a wide taste in drinks.  Now where would you like to stuff this lot?  Please send your comments to 'Chavsof'.

The walk through the village and surrounds brought little.  The scene was typical of late autumn and possibly remains rather more colourful than one would expect in late November.  Last nights rain had ensured that areas were quite flooded and we have the muddy pathways back once again.  The only real interest was watching a Magpie which had found a method of balancing on a thin branch and reaching a bird feeder put in the area.

The rain fill heavy grey cloud began to gather overhead again as I made for home.  I could hardly believe it was only 2.30pm such was the darkness.  Just before I arrived home I spotted a Sparrowhawk flying with intent towards the area where all of the passerines had gathered to feed.  I think maybe this Sparrowhawk may have a good dinner!

If Great Crested Grebes spell spring and summer on patch, then Goosanders definitely spell winter!


  1. Are Teal common at Killingworth Lake Brian? I can't say I have ever noticed large numbers before.

  2. Teal are very rare on the Lake these days Phil, so it's quite a sighting when one turns up. I don't think they have ever been around in big numbers, but we did used to get the odd ones. Wigeon is another that is generally absent these days, but they did used to appear in small numbers. I think we only had one that I'm aware of pass through last year. Cheers.