24th Jan. It was a bitterly cold wind that blew on the open ground today as Sam and I walked for over four hours on patch. The good chat, often about the patch, and occasional sheltered areas kept us warm. We’d begun the walk with a sighting of Goldcrest seen in a familiar spot, but it became very quiet after that. The flocks of passerines seen in the area last year seemed but a dream. Even the flocks of Wood Pigeon were missing. We were kept interested by the occasional sighting of an in flight Grey Heron, a single Reed Bunting, a single Mistle Thrush, Blackbirds Robins, a Dunnock and the corvids and gulls. One sighting that warmed us more than anything was two Roe Deer running off alongside a ditch. Neither of us has seen Roe Deer on patch before although we were aware that they do occasionally appear. The Roe Deer took care to keep their distance after running off, but remained by the ditch watching us from afar. A single Meadow Pipit was seen briefly.
We headed for another area of the patch, not watched on a regular basis by either of us, although Sam does know it rather better than I do. We had tits, including Coal Tit, as company along the route. This area too initially seemed very quiet and we didn’t find our target species. Things did begin to pick up however and our first ever patch Stonechat was found. We’ll be keeping an eye on this area later in the year for a possible breeding pair of Stonechat, as the area does indeed seem ideal. Other birds recorded included Mute Swan, Kestrel, Fieldfares and a flock of forty plus Redwing.
No, it's not just a very average image of a Stonechat, it's a very average image of our first patch Stonechat!
Not too many species about as we walked some miles in an area I understand included the highest natural area in North Tyneside. It certainly does give good views and is a watershed area in that in one direction water drains off towards the Tyne and in another towards the River Blyth. I think we agreed that we must give it more attention in future. A great walk and a great ‘chat’. We’d have put in the effort for the Stonechat and/or Roe Deer alone.
I’m busy reading the New Naturalist Bird Populations/ Ian Newton and came across the following statistics. ‘An estimated 12.6 million households in Britain provide supplementary food, for birds, 7.4 million of which use seed-holding feeders. A typical feeder holds 350g of seed, so if each was filled only once, they would hold a total of 2,590tonnes. If each bird took 5g of food per day, this amount would be equivalent to 518,000,000 ‘bird days’, or enough to feed about 2,830,000 birds every day for six months’.