27th May. My days out have been curtailed somewhat recently, so it was with great expectations that I looked forward to getting up to Cresswell with Sam today. After considering the weather forecast last night we ignored the threat of heavy rain and decided to go anyway. There was no rain at all and in fact we experienced very pleasant weather and although neither Avocet nor Yellow Wagtail was found (two of our target birds) we were more than happy with what we did find.
A quick look out to sea from near Cresswell Village brought us sightings which included Red-throated Diver, Guillemot and lots of Eider Ducks. House Martins, Sand Martins and Swallows flew around our heads as we looked out on a calm and flat sea. An Arctic Tern was on the rocks a little to the north of us and Sandwich Terns flew nearby. It felt good to be out. We’d passed Greylag and Canada Geese as we approached Cresswell.
The walk to Cresswell Pond brought us our first of three male Stonechats seen today (how good it is to seeing numbers of this species recover from the severe winters) and the first of many Lapwings, Common Whitethroats, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Sedge Warblers and Tree Sparrows. The latter species showing again in numbers nearer to the pond. Linnets and Reed Buntings also made an appearance.
The pond itself had much to offer today. Sightings included a pair of stunning summer plumage Grey Plover (the female with some white flecking in the black marking and the male appearing solidly jet black), around forty Black-tailed Godwits, a lone Curlew Sandpiper, two Little Gulls and a male Garganey. We decided that the Grey Plovers beat the Garganey to star bird. Other sightings here included many Shelduck, the odd Wigeon and an unexpected Common Gull. A Reed Warbler sang from the reeds behind the hide.
We eventually headed off in the direction of Druridge Pools finding no sign of Avocets or Yellow Wagtails as we passed the northern end of the pond.
The sun was breaking through as we neared Druridge Pools and had stopped for a lunch break. I quickly got my eye on the Spoonbill which put on a fine display for us and I was really pleased that Sam had finally found this species which he had been hoping for (for quite sometime). Shoveller and Teal were amongst other birds present. After a walk up to the hides we found a couple of stunningly coloured insects and I began to wish I had taken the macro lens! Wall Brown Butterflies were also in flight. Other butterflies seen today were Small White, Green-veined White and Peacock. We narrowly missed seeing a Red Admiral in the same area as the Wall Brown Butterflies.
Wall Brown Butterfly
Our walk continued towards East Chevington as we passed many more Common Whitethroats, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. Goldfinches were on the wires and more Reed Buntings were seen. Two Gadwall flew overhead, two of the many we had seen today. North pool provided us with two pairs of Great Crested Grebes, one of the pairs carrying at least two young on there back making them slightly ahead of our patch pairs. There were a good number of Sandwich Terns on the island and a few more bathing in the shallow part of the pool.
As we made off towards Red Row the song of Yellowhammer was heard. As Sam would say, we were probably in the presence of a White Tailed Sea Eagle today, but we saw no sign of it nor did we see any other raptors today.
It had been a great day and one of my best birding days of the year so far, perhaps enhanced by the joy of not having to face the expected heavy rainfall, not that this would have knocked us out of our stride. We found numbers of orchids today which I think were Northern Marsh Orchids and I do think I need to take some extra time to look at the botanical interest in this area. It is an excellent walk from Cresswell up to East Chevington, as indeed is the continuation up past Druridge Country Park and onto Hauxley. We’ve agreed that we’ll get back up there and repeat the exercise soon although we have one or two excursions to complete beforehand. Our day list of bird species came to sixty-one. Aye, boring though it may seem to some I still always keep a day list and today it included two lifers for Sam. That pair of Grey Plover were truly stunning, but beaten to star bird of the day by the Spoonbill. I’m afraid the Garganey had stiff opposition and came third.