Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Druridge Day Delivers

25th May.  An evening in the sun at Prestwick Carr brought us some good warblers and a very pleasant walk, but our patience was best rewarded by the stunning sight of a male Redstart back lit by the sun.

26th May.  The offer of a lift up to Druridge Country Park allowed Sam and me to spend the day in the area and walk down to Creswell Village.  With a few diversions along the way we must have walked quite a distance, but we were well rewarded for that and not only by bird species, although they were good.  The area is much more than just being about birds.  The sun shone much of the time and there was just enough breeze to keep us cool.

Blue-tailed Damselfly
Starting at the country park, as we walked to the hide we heard Little Grebe calling and Common Whitethroats and Willow Warblers singing.  It was however the butterflies, mainly Green Veined Whites, damselflies and other insects which initially caught our attention.  Once into the hide and looking south over East Chevington North Pool we were soon counting Little Gulls.  Later in the day we bumped into a couple of guys who informed us they had watched two Little Gulls at East Chevington.  We assured them that there were far more than that whilst we watched.

Green-veined White Butterfly

A Little Egret moved slowly down the west side of the pool and a Great Crested Grebe was found sitting on a nest.  Sandwich, Common and Arctic Terns were all present.  We had better sightings of many of the birds once we had moved to the hides on the east side of the pool and it was from there that we counted at least ten/eleven Little Gulls, some of them on the rocks near the island and others in flight across the northern end of the pool.  Very attractive gulls.  Also to be seen here were Cormorants, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Oystercatcher and other gull species.

As we moved south along by the reed bed there seemed to be ever increasing frantic song from Sedge Warblers with the occasional Reed Warbler being heard and seen.  Reed Buntings were everywhere today as was the song of Skylark, Meadow Pipit and warblers including Grasshopper Warbler towards the north east end of the pool.  A Song Thrush was not to be out done and sang briefly.  Swallows, House Martins were numerous and occasional Swifts were seen.  We didn’t find Sand Martins.

The dune areas were beginning to look colourful, although I’d spoken on arrival with a guy out for the day to take botanical photographs and he advised that plant life would be at their best in about a month’s time.  We were happy to settle today for the masses of Cowslip and the newly flowering Bloody Cranesbill (Northumberland’s county flower I believe) along with an assortment of other plants.  It also seemed that Wall Brown Butterflies had newly emerged as they were flighty and numerous. So flighty in fact that photographs were impossible.  Without doubt Green-veined White Butterfly was the most numerous today.  Once we had walked past South Pool and down to the mouth of the burn we walked back into the dunes and watched a very calm sea for a short time.  Cloud patterns forever changing meant that in turn the light patterns along the stretch of sand and dune did likewise.  Both Red-throated Diver and a surprising Great Northern Diver were quickly spotted.  Guillemots, Razorbills, Gannet and Eider Duck were also seen.  We took careful note of the now fully fenced off area, but found nothing there or nearby, in fact only one Ringed Plover was seen on the beach near to the tide line.  One of the top sightings of the day was when two Whimbrel landed on the beach almost directly in front of us.  They remained there for a short time before flying off to the north.  We stopped in the area between dunes and footpath for our lunch were we found comfortable logs to sit on and we spent more time watching a stunning pair of Stonechats than what we spent eating.  Skylarks showed well here too, and then I got my eye on a female Marsh Harrier which showed very briefly over the reed-bed before dropping again.  Minutes later a male Marsh Harrier gave a much better showing as its unmistakeable flight pattern was watched for a couple of minutes.  A Grey Heron was found in the spot where we are now used to finding it.

We eventually made off in the direction of Druridge Pools and on arrival here it wasn’t long before we were rewarded with a pair of Garganey and it was in this area that Sam found a Lizard that disappeared before I could get my eye on it.  The Garganey were the star attraction here, but there were also plenty of Shelduck and Shoveller present.  Also on the pools were Mute Swan, Greylag Geese, Mallard, Gadwall, Teal and Tufted Duck and we saw plenty of cygnets and goslings today.  Lapwing and Redshank were also both present.  Tree Sparrow was seen here too.



Another walk through the dunes and look across the sea brought us a Great Crested Grebe on the sea well off shore.  It was time now to make for Cresswell.  It was a relaxing day today with no real rush at all, apart from the fact we had to catch what turned out to be the last bus from Cresswell to Blyth.

The greatest interest along the route was a pair of Yellow Wagtails showing well in the fields north of Bells Pond.  We watched these at length.  A couple stopped to ask us what we were watching and when I confirmed they weren’t blue headed off they drove as if not that interested.  We continued to enjoy the pair of Yellow Wagtails which had been a very good find by Sam.

I looked over Cresswell Pond from a distance from the brow of the hill and we discussed the fact that the building here had featured on TV recently.  I suggested that perhaps the building had been cleaned out before they went in with the cameras!  An unlucky Brown Hare lay dead on the road.  It wasn’t long before we had the telescope on the Spoonbill on the west side of the pond so as to get a distant sighting just in the event of the bird deciding to take off before we got down there.  As it happens it didn’t seem interested in leaving, but preferred to snooze, although we did have a good view of the spoon bill before it became hidden.

Little Egret

B the time we were at Cresswell pond I was really warm and it seemed to be the warmest part of the day.  Cresswell in the evening is a wonderful place, but we did have that bus to catch.  We did have time to spend at the pond.  Of course there were plenty of Avocets here, at both ends and around the side of the pond.  We were quite surprised to find a Common Gull here.  Two Little Egrets were present, although the second one didn’t appear from the reeds for sometime and a Ringed Plover flew in.  A Sedge Warbler sang constantly from in front of the hide the entire time we were there and still more Reed Buntings were appearing. We watched the Tree Sparrows as we made off towards the village to catch our bus. 

It’s a boring journey by bus at the best of times and it was made worse by me having nothing left to eat and feeling really hungry by now.  I was dreaming of fish and chips as we got to Blyth, but we still had to complete the last lap of our return journey so any such banquet had to be forgotten.

Despite the hunger it had been a very special day and we had been out over ten hours.  There had been some very special sightings and we brought a day list of bird species home which amounted to seventy-six species.  As I said at the start though, it is about more than just the birds.  I’m sure no one with an interest in nature can leave Druridge Bay after spending a day there and feel anything but well rewarded.  Incidentally, butterflies seen were Orange Tip, Small White, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell and Wall Brown.

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