Thursday, 21 January 2016

Bean a Grey Day

21st Jan.  The walk from Holywell village towards the pond, as we spotted a single Curlew by a frozen pool, more than hinted that today was going to be bitterly cold, and so it proved.  Our primary target was Bean Goose, and as soon as I saw the flock of geese in West Field my confidence grew that we were going to find it.  It took, but a few seconds to have the Bean Goose (rossicus) in the scope, its bill pattern showing well along with white base.  Two European White-fronted Geese (possibly we had seen these same two at Backworth earlier in the month) also stood out from the small mixed flock which also included Greylag and Canada Geese.  We took time to enjoy a good sighting, probably the best sighting I’ve had of a Bean Goose apart from the two I had found on patch in recent years.  A good way to start the day’s walk.  Tree Sparrows were feeding nearby at the feeding station and more were found outside of the hide.  The Lapwing flock was large and restless.

Bean Goose if you look closely!
The pond was frozen solid.  It wasn’t long before I pulled up my collar hoping to keep some of the cold air out, although not with much success.  It wasn’t really a day for sitting around in hides.  Sadly we had just missed the Otter out on the ice.  Great Spotted Woodpecker had been seen before we entered the hide.

Most life was down by the public hide including the posing and flashy Mandarin Drake, seen in much better light today that last week when our attention had been taken by the Slavonian Grebe  which was no longer present. The accompanying party included Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye (which climbed onto the ice) and Grey Herons.

Mandarin Drake (what else)
As we headed across open fields towards the dene and coast both Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were seen well, a small number of Skylarks lifted and flew off.  A few Pink-footed Geese (just into double figures), well spotted by Sam initially, added to our list of grey geese seen today and to add a further touch of grey to the day we found a small covey of Grey Partridges.  At some point we recorded Fieldfares.

Instead of descending into the dene we walked along the pathway between dene and farmland until we passed the farm buildings and reached the burn.  Heading down towards Seaton Sluice we added Grey Wagtail too our list before sighting a Little Egret flying up the burn from the coast and landing at a distance from us, but a distance that still allowed a good sighting.  This bird seemed to be gradually making its way up the burn as it chased from its path a Carrion Crow.  Although this is the first Little Egret we have seen in this particular area, it seems to me to be an ideal area for this species and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these birds in the area in future.

Little Egret

 Such was the cold as we arrived at Seaton Sluice, there was only one place to be, and it wasn’t the cliff edge, and so we adjourned to the fish and chip restraunt to warm up and have lunch.  We aren’t turning soft though and we were soon out there overlooking the sea.  There wasn’t a great deal to see in truth, but at least I have finally added Red-throated Diver to my year list and there was a large passage of Guillemots and a few Razorbills.

The air chilled us even more and we decided that as we’d had some good sightings that we’d now call it a day, but as the tide was now ebbing we checked out the going numbers of waders on the rocks below.  We found numbers of Oystercatcher, Redshank, Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper and Knot.  It proved to be a nice ending to our walk which had brought us yet another very good and rewarding day in the first month of the year, and there’s plenty of time left in January.  We have been no further than Seaton Sluice, Holywell, the Carr and Gosforth park outside of North Tyneside and the lists are coming along famously.  A hot shower was on my mind as we journeyed home as the light seemed to foretell a descent into even poorer weather.

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