14th May. Sam and I made for Cresswell for a spot of early evening birding and expected that folk would be out in droves on such a stunning evening. On arrival we were met by a singing Sedge Warbler and a small crowd at the parking area. I soon realised that the crowd was part of the Barn Owl brigade and their plan was for yet more images of the most photographed owl in the Northeast. We had different ideas and were soon in the hide which we had to ourselves and where we could enjoy peace and the song and sightings of many Sedge Warblers and Reed Warblers and equally nice sightings of Avocets which looked splendid in the sunlight. Wheatears could be seen in the fields north of the pond and Ringed Plovers and Lapwings were on the mud. I’d expected it to be cooler by now, but the wooden hide held the heat and the sun shone down on us, so brightly that it was difficult to watch anything on the western side of the pond. Tree Sparrows were in the hedge.
Moving along to the other end of the pond we once again had closer sightings of the Wheatears and watched two Avocet dive-bomb a Grey Heron which stood its ground for a while at the edge of the pond. The antics of the bobbing heron was good to watch, but even more interesting was the Grey Heron that caught an Eel. We watched as the Eel curled itself around the heron’s bill until the bird disappeared behind the reeds. My money was on the heron eventually overcoming the Eel’s tactics. There were no rarities, but this evening did not require them. A pair of Gadwall were nearby on the pond. I did notice this evening that there was once again a distinct lack of hirundines. Skylark climbed and sang above our heads.
There was more Sedge Warblers at Druridge Pools along with Common Whitethroats and Blackcap. Perhaps the nicest sighting here was five Yellow Wagtails, one of them a Channel, which were seen at the feet of the Exmoor Ponies. Nesting and displaying Lapwings were numerous and the Shovelers also put on a really good display and I came up with a good name for a group of goslings, ‘a pile’. Oystercatcher s flew over and called, Water Rail was heard calling from the reedbed, whilst calls varying from birds such as Arctic Tern and Pheasant were amongst those we picked up. Once again apart from a lone birder /photographer that we passed, we had the whole area to ourselves.
A 'Pile' of Goslings
We eventually took a walk through the dunes to look over the sea. The sun was now going down quickly but the light was still bright, and Stonechat, Reed Bunting and Linnet showed really well. The sea was a pale blue mill pond this evening and the colour overall was good to see, wit the horizon a narrow band of very pale red. The beach was deserted apart from one passing dog walker and Coquet Island showed well in the clear air. We picked up several Red Throated Divers, Guillemot, Sandwich and Arctic Tern. I shared my packet of crisps with Sam as we took in the peace and quiet and stunning views. It wasn’t easy to take our leave but leave we did. As we passed Cresswell Pond we noted the crowd had left and we saw no Barn Owl, but we had experienced a great deal more.