27th Aug. Having sighted an Osprey on migration earlier in the month I wasn’t expecting another today, but that’s’ exactly what Sam and I found as we walked from Druridge Country Park to Cresswell. We’d found the Country Park fairly quiet as far as birds were concerned and we hadn’t expected much on the water at North Pool, but we were rewarded with a swarm of Common Darters as we walked to and from the hide. The most I’ve ever seen in one small area. Amongst them was a Southern Hawker which posed at length for us and reminded me why I so much appreciate the beauty of odonata. We examined this one at length which for me made up for the lack of sightings this year. Butterflies were also showing well and our list for the day was Green Veined White, Large White, Small White, Red Admiral, Wall Brown (by far the most numerous throughout the day), Meadow Brown and Speckled Wood.
Southern Hawker Dragonfly courtesy of Samuel Hood
It was as we walked south between the dunes and north pool that both Sam and I called Osprey at exactly the same moment not long before 11.00am, as the Osprey lifted from the pool harassed by a crow and thus dropping a fish catch. It showed wonderfully well giving me my best sighting of Osprey for some years. Sam has some experience with Ospreys having volunteered many days at Threave, Dumfries and he believed the Osprey to be a juvenile as the upper wing was so pale (although we can’t rule out lighting conditions having an effect) and we weren’t able to confirm whether or not there was a bar on the inner under-wing which would of course indicate an adult. Our Osprey flew south over the pool before diverting eastwards over the dunes and North Sea where we finally lost sight of it. We spotted another birder taking photographs of the Osprey and caught up with him at Druridge Pools. Amongst other birds seen around the pool were Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe and Common Sandpiper. A cold wind blew off the land.
Record image of Osprey courtesy of Samuel Hood
A sea-watch brought us our next wow factor. As I watched over the sea I caught a movement in the water and some white marking. On closer inspection we found two cetaceans. We are in no doubt our findings were Minke Whale. Large, but with small dorsal fins. It’s not uncommon for Minke Whales to feed as a pair although in this case we think as one appeared to be smaller it may have been an adult and calf. This gave me only my second sighting of Minke Whale. The first being from the back of the night ferry to Lerwick, Shetland. That one was seen I believe by only myself and a lady willing to brave the cold on the back of the ferry that evening, as most people were in the warmth of the dinning room, lounges or bars. I remember it very well as it breached fully out of the sea which is unusual for this species. A report of today’s finding is going to Martin Kitching. Despite it being the norm for me to have quiet sea watches today’s were also rewarded with summer plumage Red-throated Diver fairly close to shore, a single Manx Shearwater, at least two dark, phase Arctic Skua, numbers of Common Scoter, Gannets, Kittiwake and other gulls, Guillemot, Puffin, Roseate, Arctic and Sandwich Terns and Red-breasted Mergansers. The Red-throated Diver was the pick of the seabirds for me, divers in summer plumage being very special. We’d found a nice warm spot in the dunes for our first watch of the day and I became quite settled so it wasn’t easy rousing myself for the walk onwards to Druridge Pools.
Somewhere along the way a Stoat ran across our path. The Druridge Pools area had plenty of mud, but not a lot on it if I’m honest. I have to be honest too and say that our sighting of what we were convinced was a Wood Sandpiper was nowt of the sort. I tell you though, it did have the markings that suggested it was. The legs were hidden in water for sometime and when they did show well there was some discussion as to colour. Well to cut a long story short and convince our fellow birders in the hide that there is no stringing here on Killy’s blog, we confess our first sighting of Wood Sandpiper in 2015 is still to be had! Confession is good for the soul, or so I’m told! Apologies from us for any confusion caused. We did have Ruff, juvenile Redshank and Dunlin to keep us happy (ish) and a close by fly past of Sparrowhawk with freshly caught prey.
We were soon on our way south towards Cresswell Pool and now I remember it was just before we reached the road workings that we saw the Stoat. We also found a pair of Stonechat and then another later at the pond.
As we approached Creswell pond we had distant Greylag Geese in flight and calling giving me some desire for the coming winter months. Kestrel was also seen as were two Common Sandpipers at the north end of the pond. Best of all however was a sighting of a juvenile Cuckoo flying and perching at the back of the dunes. This bird, I assume it was the same one, later gave us an even better if fleeting sighting as it flew across the field south of the pond and disappeared behind the farm buildings.
We spent a good bit of time alone in the hide before taking time out for another watch over the sea and then returning. The sandbank held the flock of Lapwing which had amongst it a few Dunlin, Oystercatcher, just into double figures Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and growing numbers of Shelduck. Two Little Egrets were present and almost now seem to be taken for granted in the area. They flew to and from the sand dunes. Wigeon and Teal were amongst the waterfowl seen. Chiffchaff was heard and Wheatear seen in field at the north end of the pond through the scope