Sunday, 1 February 2015

Operation Song Thrush

1st Feb.  January provided some good sightings with Sam and me discovering Scaup on Killingworth Lake on 1st January and towards the end of the month finding the Raven at Prestwick Carr.  Incidentally my friend Hilary believes she also saw the Raven in the area of Dinnington.  Perhaps, as BR mentioned in a comment on my blog, it is the same bird that was seen at Swallow Pond a day or two later by AS and JD and maybe it has been in patch air space.  If it has, I haven’t seen it on patch.  Never mind, January did provide a first ever sighting of Stonechat and two Roe Deer on patch.  We had some good sightings up at Spindlestone and of course both Iceland and Glaucous Gull at North Shields.  Sadly the month ended on a sad note when Sam informed me that an Otter had been found dead (hit by vehicle we think) on the roadside at Killingworth Lake.  Confirming what Sam has thought for a long time, that Otters frequent the lake.

One species I certainly would have expected to see and/or hear during January was Song Thrush.  At least one of them usually visits the garden during winter and I’ve heard them singing as early as December.  I haven’t seen or heard Song Thrush on or off patch at all during the month.  So today I planned Operation Song Thrush which was to include visiting some areas on patch where they would be most likely to be found.  I’m sure we are all aware of the massive decline in Song Thrush numbers, but I have to say in the last two or three years they did seem to me to be making a tentative fight back.

I initially headed for the small parkland area and hunted around the small pond area there.  After spending some time there I had come up with only tits, Blackbird and two Wrens.  I walked on.

It wasn’t long before I was watching Mistle Thrushes and Redwings feeding in the fields.  There has certainly been no shortage of either of these species around the patch this year.  Walking on and taking a turn right, I was surprised to find the pathway still partially frozen.  After checking out other a small area of woodland and areas of hedge I again walked on and I’m pleased to say met my target bird.  There were two Song Thrushes feeding along with Blackbirds on the open area next to the woodland I’d just checked out.

I stepped out now and headed for the area behind the village where I know someone regularly tops up birdfeeders.  I note that more and more feeders are being left in areas now, which is perhaps no bad thing as these days birds need all the help they can get!  Today the feeders in this particular area had attracted a good number of Greenfinch along with Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Blackbird, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Goldcrest and Chaffinch.  The Greenfinches were of course dominating the feeders, but others were getting their chance to feed from the feeder or the ground below.  I watched in the hope of Brambling, but that didn’t appear!

I headed fore the lake now and found that numbers of Common Gulls with the Black Headed Gulls in the field nearby.  I began to feel the cold now.  The smaller of the lakes held a good number of Goosander which in the main kept in one grouping.  Goldenyes are about in decent numbers and I’m pleased to say the Greylag Geese have reappeared recently.  Perhaps they have never really been away.  Canada Geese paraded just outside of the lakeside houses!  Sam had seen a Great Crested Grebe in January, but it appears to have disappeared again.  Hopefully our usual pair will be back soon.

Some of the Goosanders on the lake today.
I returned home happy that Operation Song Thrush had been a success.

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