Sunday, 2 March 2014

All White on the Night

Snow Bunting
  2nd Feb.  The spring like weather of February continues into March with the sun providing near white light at Blyth this morning.  Sam and I had begun our day here in the hopes of finding the Snow Buntings.  It wasn’t long until we found a Snow Bunting (its whiteness unmistakeable) flying into the dunes and another two providing a better sighting as we walked in the direction of the harbour.  We weren’t the only ones out looking for them today and we enjoyed a chat with Steve.  I’m pleased that Sam found what for him was a lifer in almost the same spot as I had seen my first Snow Buntings some years before.  After spending a good amount of time with the Snow Buntings we made along the sands on the long trek towards Seaton Sluice finding a Reed Bunting in the dunes and Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover and Sanderling along the way.  The Snow Buntings had flown off towards and then past the harbour pier.

Snow Bunting

Blyth's clear white light

We stopped at Seaton Sluice for a well earned rest and lunch.  Our reward for trekking through difficult sand was to be a flock of twenty Whooper Swans flying in off the sea.  We initially though that they might head for Holywell Pond, but a change of direction saw them fly northwards towards Blyth and then out towards the sea again as if to skirt the town.  The whiteness of the Whooper Swans contrasted so well against the darkening grey cloud that had now appeared.  I also eventually caught up with my first Grey Wagtail of the year in Seaton Sluice Harbour.  Numbers of Purple Sandpipers along with Turnstones and Redshank were on the rocks below the Tower Hide and Kittiwakes and Fulmar put in an appearance.  A Red-throated Diver flew south and a Grey Seal was seen in the sea.

Refreshed we made of towards Holywell Dene where more Grey Wagtails were seen and eventually a Dipper was found as it flew down the Seaton Burn.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen briefly and a Song Thrush was in full song as a Pheasant called.  By now the temperatures appeared to be dropping quite sharply as the cloud darkened and a spray of rain could be felt in the air.  I thought we were going to get wet, but heavy rain didn’t in fact occur.  Believe it or not I haven’t seen a single Rabbit this year.  That was put right today.

Because of the threat of rain we seemed to have stepped out and it wasn’t too long before we reached the area of Holywell Pond and the sound of Greylag Geese.  Lapwings had been heard as we walked up the avenue.  We hoped that sighting of the White Fronted Goose might be made.  As we arrived near to the public hide the Greylag Geese along with Canada Geese were seen in the fields to the south of the pond.  An initial check didn’t find us what we were after so I scanned the flock again and this time found the White Fronted Goose.  At times its head was hidden as it napped and then it would become alert and give a good sighting.  It eventually stood up giving us the best of views.  So the day’s bird watching was coming to a close with more whiteness.  It didn’t end before we had checked the pond and found Shoveller Mallard, Gadwall and Tufted Duck along with Grey Herons which stood on the small islet.  A lone Curlew had been seen in the south fields just as on our previous visit.

We eventually made off towards the village passing the feeding station which was devoid of birds.  A Common Buzzard was sighted as we neared Killingworth on our return journey.

It had been quite along walk today, but a walk well worth undertaking which had provided us with some new year ticks and some excellent birding.  Cream crackered, but all right tonight.   A great day which should end with a song!

Running along the ground singing a song in the morning light
Follow flowery fields as far as out of sight
Turning your head to the clouds and the skies and the trees
'cause you never know what you might see.

Do you believe
The clear white light
Is going to guide us on
The way?
Lyrics courtesy of Lindisfarne

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