13th March. What a difference a year makes! Last year the low temperatures of spring ensured that there was no sign of migrants birds returning until well into April. This year they are flooding in early (well a few Chiffchaff are anyway) as the sun shines and temperatures rise. We listened to our first Chiffchaff song for 2014 on the periphery of Holywell Dene, then deep into the dene and also near Holywell Pond.
It wasn’t just the migrants out enjoying today’s summer like weather, as Sam and I began our walk from the Brierdene car-park. We walked along the sandy beach towards St Mary’s Island not finding too many species, but enjoying the morning anyway. Skylarks sang, Meadow Pipits displayed, Rock Pipits fed amongst the seaweed, and Pied Wagtails were in their usual spot feeding. A pair of Eider (I’ve been pointed in the direction of a new monograph on the Eider Duck due to be published later this year) was seen on the sea but there were more dogs than waders in this area.
It wasn’t until we reached the island that the chance could be taken to grab some images of waders which included Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin and Redshank. Sam lay in the wet sand to catch images of the waders as the tide quickly filled channels as it began to flow in. I decided on a different stance and of course Sam got the best images. He also found a photographed a quite large, but dead Squid. We were a bit concerned that Sam might stink of wet sand and seaweed when we adjourned for our fish and chips but he had dried out by then and in a way where better to smell of the coast than the fish and chip café?
Sam in the seaweed
Before lunch we took some time to watch and photograph the Fulmars, some of which appeared to be flying out to and returning from a fishing boat. I’m told that there were a few butterflies about in the fields but we didn’t see any. We watched a Fox run off into the fields.
The walk through the dene didn’t bring much our way, but we did have the Chiffchaff song and a pair of Grey Wagtails.
We found Greylag Geese and Canada Geese as we approached Holywell Pond but we were unable to find any sign of the White Fronted Goose on this occasion.
The pond held five pairs of Shoveller, a pair of Mute Swans, a pair of Pochard, a pair of Goldeneye, pairs of Gadwall and along with them were numbers of Mallard, Tufted Duck and Moorhens. Little Grebes called. We found House and Tree Sparrows near to the feeding station along with tits, Chaffinch (this species had been singing along the lengh of the walk from Seaton Sluice), Dunnock, Robin and I think a single Greenfinch flew off as I approached. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the trees that it seems to call home.
A Birders Beer
We reached the members hide late afternoon and ideally I would have liked to spend some time in the atmosphere but unfortunately we had commitments in the evening so we decided to head for home. I’d intended to finish off my remaining bottle of Allendale Beer tonight, but as I’d forgot to chill it I decided to leave it for another evening. I don’t drink much beer, but when I do I like it chilled! The box of three beers was a Christmas present from Sam and I can recommend the quality beers.