Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Great Northern

2nd Dec.  The highlight of a trip to the coast today was the Great Northern Diver flying north past Seaton Sluice and showing well.  It landed on the sea south of Blyth Harbour, but by then could hardly be seen at all from Seaton Sluice. Shortly afterwards a Great Northern Diver flew south.  Maybe, or maybe not the same bird.

Several short sea watches throughout our trip brought Sam and I sightings of flocks of Mallard, Wigeon, Teal and Common Scoter, with Red Throated Divers and Eider Ducks making an appearance too.  Sam spotted a single Long-tailed Duck flying north.

Winter had arrived as had a cold northerly wind.  We’ve all had it too easy for too long.  It was good to stand under the sunlight watching the sea and listening to the pounding of the waves.  The gloves were on for the first time this winter.  The Golden Plovers put on the usual show and Oysterctacher, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew were all seen in some numbers along with a single Common Snipe which flew along the high tide line in South Bay.  Grey Seals were seen.

Stonechat was once again seen on the approach to Seaton Sluice and a Kestrel hovered above the dunes to the north.

The approach to Holywell Pond was fairly quiet and by now the light was going as we faced a blazing sunset.  I picked out a male Sparrowhawk amongst the flock of Jackdaws and Rooks.  Over the fields and a sizeable flock of Yellowhammers and Linnets had gathered in the hedges.

The pond held numbers of Mallard, Gadwall, Pochard, Teal and a few Greylag Geese and Wigeon along with Little Grebes.  We occasionally heard Pink-footed Geese calling from east of the pond.  It was soon dark and we were off towards home with a day list of fifty five bird species and the sound of Curlews in our ears.

I couldn’t help wonder if the the high number of Pochard at Holywell owed something to the birds from Killy Lake.  On Sunday we found not a single Pochard on the lake.  Most unusual at this time of year.  Mute Swan numbers were down to twenty-five (and of course we know why).  There were only two Goosanders showing, although there has been up to twenty in recent weeks and three Goldeneye.  A pair of Shoveller were showing near the still wired off floating reed-bed and a Great Crested Grebe remains.  Neither Sam nor I can remember seeing one on the lake so late in the year.

Male Shoveller

 One Hundred plus Canada Geese were on both the small and larger lakes.  My guess is they be next for the Nimby’s attention.  I ask myself is the scarcity of birds on Killy Lake at the moment down to the mild weather condition,   Swanbusters, Council action or water conditions.  As Sam suggested the lake is now looking very much like ‘a boating lake!’  Oh well at least we have Killingworth Moor and adjoining land on patch which provides good habitat for birds.  Well, at least we have it until it is put under concrete and housing as per council planning ideas.  Never mind we are still proud owners of a ‘Green Flag.’  I often wonder how!

Just a few lyrics below from Joni Mitchell below for Nimby’s and Councils everywhere (and of course for those who don’t give a damn also).

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
Then they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go,
That you don't know what you've got
‘Til it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Better news is that I have the Greenfinches back in the garden and on the feeders.  I had just been commenting about the lack of Greenfinches everywhere.  Also recently had a skein of Pink-footed Geese over the garden.

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