Sunday, 3 May 2015

Come First of May

Now we are tall, and Christmas trees are small
And you don’t ask the time of day.
But you and I, our love will never die,
But guess we’ll cry come first of May.

Bee Gees

1st May.  We started the walk late afternoon from Seaton Sluice.  There was a chill in the air, but it was bright enough to offer good light.  We found little on or over the sea, although a Grey Seal showed for sometime and a number of Eider Ducks were flocking fairly close to land.  Perhaps they sensed what weather was to come over the next couple of days.  We only had binoculars with us so sea-watching didn’t take much time up before we had our tea.

We found the water levels of the burn in the dene very low indeed, so much so that we could walk out into the middle of the burn in places without getting our boots wet.  Much of out time was spent listening to bird song including Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Song Thrush and the usual woodland species.  The Blackcaps showed well.  We paid special attention to the plants in flower today too, Lesser Celandine, Primrose, Cowslip, Bluebell, Wood Anemone, Wood Sorrel, Violet species, Wild Garlic, Garlic Mustard, Red Campion, White and Red Dead-nettle, Common Field Speedwell, Wood Speedwell, Germander Speedwell, Lesser Stitchwort and Common Comfrey.

Our best find in the dene was once again the Dipper, this time feeding well developed young.  We watched as at least two young birds were regularly being fed.  The movement along the burn of these birds made it difficult to tell if there were three young present, we think there may have been.  Good to see these birds producing a successful brood again this year.  It can’t be easy with all of the disturbance that occurs along the dene and burn.  Grey Wagtail showed well.

We’d hoped to find Common Whitethroat this evening, but thought we were going to be unlucky, then Sam picked up the song and we found the bird showing really well in what was very good light for showing the features of this species.  Yellowhammer and Linnet were also in the area.  Lapwing flew up and chased raiding crows away and then in the same are we found a pair of Grey Partridge with their colleague pair of Red-legged Partridge in almost the exact spot we had found them last week.  Obviously very good feeding available here.  Both species were calling.  The Red-legged Partridge moved off aw we watched.

When we reached Holywell Pond we found that the American Wigeon was still present.  There was also a Common Sandpiper and by the time we left there were two Common Sandpipers.  The pond was generally quiet with Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Little Grebe amongst birds represented.  Skylark sang.  We left at sunset.  A Fox was seen moving into the hedge at the side of the road near to what was once a good birding area at Backworth Pond.  No more it would seem.  There seems to be so much good habitat disappearing in North Tyneside of late and much more to go in the future!

Sun comes down over Anas americana
2nd May.  The cold chill of yesterday was made to seem almost like that of a Mediterranean evening in comparison to the biting cold of today.  I was dressed for winter on the 2nd May!  We began again in late afternoon expecting another bright evening.  It turned out to be far from that with a cold wind then eventually drizzling rain.  There were few bird species to be found at the Rising Sun, although there were plenty of Little Grebes, a pair of Great Crested Grebe, numbers of Gadwall and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Shoveller was amongst waterfowl present.

We found a Blackcap or two in the hedges known for holding Common and Lesser Whitethroat, but we found little else here (and certainly no Whitethroats), down by the farm area or in the vicinity of Dukes Pond.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker was found in the hedges and then flying low along the hedge line.  We left to visit Gosforth Park Nature Reserve which was fairly quiet too, but a much pleasanter experience and at least we were protected a little from the cold winds.  We had a yaffling Green Woodpecker high in the trees very soon after we had entered the reserve.  It was proving impossible to find it until I made out its shape on the side of the upper trunk of the tree just before it flew to the other side of the reserve giving a decent sighting taking into account the conditions by now.  The yaffling continued to be heard most of the time we were in the reserve.

Both Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler were heard in the reed-beds.  Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were numerous around the reserve.  Swallows were feeding over the pond.  These were the only hirundines seen by us this evening at both Gosforth and the Rising Sun.  Little Grebe swam by the hide (the new hide isn’t open as yet) and Greylag Geese were nearby.  As we walked through the reserve a number of individual Roe Deer were seen wandering through the woodland, some seeming rather more timid than others.  The Green Woodpecker was heard and seen again as we prepared to leave.

So whilst it feels like anything but spring, we did have a couple of good walks over the past couple of days, especially at Holywell and I have added four new species to my year list.  Green Woodpecker, Common Whitethroat, Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler.

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