Monday, 8 February 2016

Facing the Wind

7th Feb.  The first part of the day was spent on a walk from North Shields ferry landing along to Tynemouth.  The wind gradual picked up speed as the day progressed and out in the open felt bitter.  The sun was out however, so the chilled air didn’t stop the constant traffic heading to the coast.  I always enjoy this walk through an area so rich in history and offering such magnificent views of the River Tyne.  What it didn’t offer today was much in the way of gull life.  I don’t remember ever having seen so few gulls in the area.  Maybe the winds and state of the tides had played a part in that.  It was easy to pick out the odd Kittiwake from the small flock flying near to the Fish Quay, but there was nothing more ‘exotic’ although a few Turnstones were around the quay.  The only other birds on the river, noted before we began to pick up the waders as we approached Tynemouth were Cormorants and Eiders.  House Sparrows called.  A flock of Long-tailed Tits fed in the trees under Knott’s Flats.

I think I saw one Purple Sandpiper in the distance but otherwise the waders seen were Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Dunlin and Redshank, the latter species in large numbers.  Rock Pipits were seen but once beneath the priory we had no luck in finding the Black Redstart.  We did have our first Fulmars of the year and at least two pairs appear to be resting at their nesting sites.

We noted the Sand Dune Project in Priors Haven.  Wish I’d walked across and read the information, as I can’t find any on the internet, although I assume it is an extension of the work done on the dunes of Long Sands which appear to date back to at least 2008.  There are three small areas fenced off in the Haven, but I couldn’t really picture dunes here, so it will be interesting to see how this progresses.

Great Spotted Woodpecker
Our next stop was at Gosforth Park Nature Reserve which was also quiet, but I welcomed some time in the hides out of the cold wind.  The feeding station was quite busy with bird life until the Sparrowhawk made a flyby and we assumed remained in the area, as all of the birds disappeared for a while.  Woodland birds seen here included Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Treecreeper.

Blue Tit
As we looked over the pond we kept the windows shut in order to keep the wind out.  Most bird life was keeping low out of the wind.  We did briefly watch six or seven Common Snipe fly over the reed-bed and the only small passerine I remember seeing was Reed Bunting.  The pond held Mute Swan, Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal, Goldeneye, Moorhen and Coot and Grey Herons were nearby.  We were unable to walk the circular route as the pathway is still closed in part, but due to open soon I think.

We walked back to patch via West Moor which isn’t too far.  We’d been chatting about the area of Killingworth the evening before and it’s good to remember its history.  I learned that a small tree and hedge lined track that still exists in Killingworth had once led all the way to Gosforth Park and it is easy to imagine this countryside lane.  I’d also been looking again at the photographs on the walls of Morrison’s Store which shows Killingworth, I guess in the 1960’s before the New Town was built.  Sometime ago I checked out this patch challenge thing and I believe a good deal of my present patch could be joined up to Gosforth Park NR to form a patch.  After years of watching Killy, I prefer to keep my patch as it is.

There was no escape from the wind on patch either, although I don’t think it had the bite of the windy coastline that we had met with earlier.  We bumped into HD who had just seen a Scaup and had a good chat whilst Goldeneye flew down the lake.  We ended the day watching three Pochard, Goosander, a male Gadwall and of course the Smew which is still on the lake.  By now the light was going and it was getting colder, so we ended what had been an enjoyable day in some very variable habitat. 

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