Thursday, 9 April 2015

Avocets, Harriers and a Great Ball of Fire

8th April.  What a difference a day or two makes, with the sun shining over Druridge Bay and a clear view out over a calm North Sea.  Yes I had returned, this time with Lee.  We were hopeful of some sightings of hirundines, Wheatears and Sandwich Terns, but we found none.  Our failure is perhaps what made the day seem relatively quiet, a day which began with a short stop at Castle Island where the call of Chiffchaffs rang out.  Common Buzzard was seen on the journey and again in the distance at Cresswell.  The first of many Kestrels put in an appearance.

Our next stop was Cresswell where we looked over a quiet sea and I picked up a lone Guillemot.  There were very few waders about apart from Oystercatcher, Redshank and Curlew.  We left quite quickly to visit the north end of Cresswell Pond in search of Wheatear and we weren’t alone in our search.  Several times we heard ‘have you seen Wheatear?  There had been reports of Wheatear in this area the day before.  So no Wheatear was seen, but there was an increase in the number of Avocets which showed really well, both on the ground and in flight.  I counted fourteen birds and was told that someone else had counted sixteen birds earlier in the day.  I was content with fourteen and watched them for sometime before backtracking to the hide where we watched the likes of Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank,  Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Goldeneye.

Skylark song was in the air at our next stops at Druridge Pools, where we saw very little, and East Chevington which was fairly quiet too.  North Pool held a pair of Great Crested Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser and Goldeneye et al.  The sighting that took most of our time here was the pair of Marsh Harriers that we quickly picked up, the dark female showing really well at length and the male bird putting in a very short appearance.  We took a walk south along by the reed-beds and spent a pleasant time just stood waiting and watching during which we heard Little Grebes  and Common Snipe calling, the latter birds taking to flight eventually.  Reed Buntings made several appearances and had done so throughout the day. 

Reed Bunting
It had been my first sightings of the Marsh Harriers this year. Harriers are my favourite family of birds.  They were certainly attracting the attention of a good number of visitors, several of them photographers.  As I said, a relatively quiet day, but with two special sightings in the Avocets and the Marsh Harriers and of course the pleasure of being in such a wonderful area in such fine weather.  The day list came to fifty-seven, but I aim to get back to the area soon for a walk probably between East Chevington and Cresswell, so I’m looking forward to far exceeding that list next time.

9th April.  Two visits to the lake today and still no sign of Sand Martins!  This evening allowed me to watch the Great Crested Grebes and circular feeding Shovellers as the sun went down.


  1. Nice pics and particularly the sunsets!

  2. You probably read about the Killy otter in the NHSN bulletin Brian. It was releasded today at Gosforth Park, if you hadn't heard !!

    1. I did read about it John. Great to hear that it survived and has been released. Lets hope it has a long life!!