Monday, 3 November 2014

Winter, Waders and Wildfowl = Wonderful!

Each summer in recent years I’ve spent some splendid evenings as the sun had gone down on a long day on the Northumberland coast and elsewhere.  These hours are indeed amongst some of the best times to be out birding.  Never the less my favourite time for bird-watching and being out there with nature has to be the winter months.  The cold might at times be cursed, but at no other time in my opinion can the light be so good if you hit upon a good day.  Although the day may be short, what better time can there be to spend time out there with wildlife especially the skeins of geese and the flocks of waders?  To feel the wind blown sand like sandpaper on the face and to be showered with windblown sea spray is a top experience. All this and of course generally far fewer folk about which can only be a good thing.  The folk you do come across tend to be the keener sort and not the sunny day birders looking for the next teashop.  So I’m pleased winter is back with us, or at least very nearly back with us.  I have to admit I’ve enjoyed the warm days which are seeing the autumn out, but I have my hat, gloves and extra layers at hand ready for when the temperatures drop.  Even the fish and chips taste better in winter as the steam lifts from the plate and the hands begin to warm!

I completed the Holywell to St Mary’s Island walk on 1st Nov. Pink-footed Geese numbering 150+ landed in fields east of the pond before taking to the air again and flying westwards.  We never did track them down in the fields.  The usual birds were on the pond and two Dunlin fed on the mud amongst the gulls.  The Greylag and Canada Geese remained in the fields to the south of the pond.  Wigeon and Teal were on the pond.

The dene remains autumnal, but was very quiet (if you disregard the dog walkers), although we did find the pair of Grey Wagtails and briefly watched a Sparrowhawk as it attempted to manoeuvre itself from mobbing corvids.  In the same area a flock of Redwing took to the sky before disappearing behind the trees on the skyline.  I’d heard them before sighting them.

There were few passerines along the pathway to St Mary’s Island, but there were plenty of waders.  The Golden Plover were caught nicely in the sunlight as they lifted from the raised rocks north of the island and flocks of Lapwing flew above the fields to the west.  Other waders seen were Oystercatcher, Knot, Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit.

A good day with a sniff of winter in the air.

Here I stand
Watching the tide go out
So all alone and blue
Just dreaming dreams of you
I watched your ship
As it sailed out to sea
Taking all my dreams
And taking all of me
The sighing of the waves
The wailing of the wind
The tears in my eyes burn
Pleading, "My love, return"
Why, oh, why must I go on like this?
Shall I just be a lonely stranger on the shore?
Why, oh, why must I go on like this?
Shall I just be a lonely stranger on the shore?
Lyrics written by Robert Mellin to Mr Acker Bilk’s Stranger on the Shore.  The music is one of my top ten all time favourites and a copy of the recording was in 1969 taken by the crew of Apollo 10 on their mission to the moon.  The music was written for a television programme that I remember watching as a child in the early 1960s.

1 comment:

  1. It was as always a nice walk round there and felt more like mid-summer, than the start of November!