19th Oct. We left Killingworth behind under grey skies and an invasion of Redwings and we were soon under even greyer skies at Druridge and this time the sky above us was full of Redwings coming in from the North Sea in great numbers. Flock after flock was seen and heard as we spent time at the north end of East Chevingtons North Pool. The sky did on occasions lighten but the sun never ever really made it through.
Sam and I initially made for the hide at Druridge Country Park that overlooks North Pool. I remember not too long ago that the feeding station here attracted good numbers of species. It has perhaps met its demise as I saw nothing there today although on the walk to get there we did have good sightings of Bullfinch and Goldcrest and a good chat to a couple about Dumfries and Galloway, and dogs. I think areas can be over managed at times, but this can’t be said of the area around the hide and the view over the pool is not good because of growth in front of it. I’m pleased to say it didn’t spoil our sightings, especially of the Marsh Harrier and Great White Egret. Water Rail was heard from here as was Kingfisher and I had an extremely brief sighting of the latter bird as it flew along the line where the reeds meet the pool. Most of waterfowl was in the centre of the pool. We walked down to the hide between the dunes and pool which offered a rather better view. Birds included Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Shoveler in numbers, Goldeneye and Tufted Duck. A second Marsh Harrier was seen to the north of us and it dropped into the reed-bed and out of the way of the chasing corvids. It didn’t lift again whilst we were there, ending hopes of a good close up photograph.
Mist over the sea meant it wasn’t a day for sea-watching but we did find large numbers of Common Scoter and a couple of Gannet. If there was anything unusual among the Common Scoter we didn’t find it. Stonechats were seen in the dunes.
We later walked to the mouth of the burn and were told we told what species we had just missed! Never mind we did have a good close sighting of two Twite. Ringed Plover were gathering in numbers close to the tide line and other waders seen here were Oystercatcher, Knot, Sanderling, Turnstone and Redshank.
We next took a break at the café south of Cresswell Pond. I can recommend the omelettes. As usual the place was packed.
Druridge Pools were next. I’d been reading JFs blog and seen that there had been some really good sightings here lately. Well, it was the quietest I’ve seen the place for a long time so it seemed everything had moved on! We did have the likes of Common Snipe, Black Tailed Godwit and Ruff. When we decided to move to the other hides we were stopped by a motorist to be told that a Bee-Eater had just a few minutes before flown south over the pools. We must have just missed it! To compensate for our ill luck, we bumped into some old friends that we hadn’t seen for some time and had a good chat. They were on the lookout for the Bee-Eater too. Having visited the other hides and decided to move on Sam picked up the call of a Bee-Eater and we found that it was almost above our heads. We had quite a good sighting of it. It was a Northumberland first for both Sam and me. Would I have swopped this sighting for repeating the experiences of sightings we have had in Europe whilst standing under blue skies and a hot sun………. well, in short yes, but there is nothing like a new bird in your county I told myself. We joined a number of other birders waiting for a further sighting of the Bee-Eater, but it wasn’t to be whilst we were there, but we did hear its call as it flew in the area of the pools. Definitely bird of the day.
We set off for Cresswell Pond and found Little Egret in the area. As we approached we could see the pond was overflowing and there appeared to be few birds about. To be honest as the light began to fade and the rain continued, yes it was raining by now, the area looked bleak. We were both of the same mind, ‘let’s give this a miss, head for home and count Bee-Eater as our last bird of the day’. As we drove down the A19 and the heavens opened we agreed that the correct decision had been taken. A very good day.