Sunday, 9 July 2017

Good Re-Tern

Yes, I’ve returned.  I never meant to be away but Lazarus AKA as my PC had used up his/its nine lives and refused to rise as I was about to prepare my report of 2016, hence I’ve been without internet access since last December and managed to survive.  I’ve not been inactive however and quite recently returned from a tour of Sweden.  More of that in the future once I have come to grips with my new system and its use of images.  My break from the keyboard has allowed much catch up on reading, which is no bad thing, and one of my latest reads was a birthday present, The Return of the Osprey by Philip Brown and George Waterston (a man largely responsible for the success of the Osprey project at the time) with some of the photographs provided by Eric Hosking.  Issued in 1962, good grief some of you weren’t born then and the Beatles Love Me Do was scrapping into the charts, it gives an interesting account of the return of the Osprey to Loch Garten.  Also addressed is the return of the Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit.  An interesting comment at the end of the book is made as to the very unlikely return to the UK of the White -tailed Sea Eagle.  If they only knew!  Now, onto some highlights of a trip down the coastline made by Sam and I last week.

5th July.  For various reasons, we knocked on the head the idea of a trip to the Farne Islands and decided to work down the coast from Budle Bay.  It turned out to be a rewarding 10-hour stint of birding.  The tide was on the turn, the previous days of rain had ceased and the light was good as we arrived at Budle Bay.  The star bird here was a Spotted Redshank.  A stunning bird when in summer plumage and it showed well, often among numerous Redshanks.  It took us a while to be certain that we were also watching a Whimbrel as it was feeding at some distance, but eventually we confirmed the species as it approached closer to us.  The now customary Little Egret was also nice to see.  Kestrel and Common Buzzard were seen and I mustn't forget the drake Scaup showing well..  We spent a good bit of time in the bay before making off towards Seahouses for lunch.  We stopped at Monkhouse pool and found both Arctic and Common Terns and a nicely plumaged Black-tailed Godwit.  I decided that I must get hold of a copy of the book about Monkhouse Bird Observatory.

We watched the crowded boats and the queues of people at Seahouses and expressed pleasure that we weren’t among them as we tucked into our fish and chips.  Bird of the day was to come at Low Newton scrape in the form of White-winged Black Tern.  We watched this bird for about twenty minutes before it flew off in the direction of the sea, sadly for a few folk who arrived to see it.  This is truly a top bird and I shall continue to call it White-winged Black Tern as I believe that describes the bird well.  Although later in the day I caused some amusement when tiredness was creeping in as I called it Black-winged White Tern.  I must have been so busy concentrating on the tern that I missed the Peregrine Falcon briefly seen by Sam.  Next stop was to be Long Nanny for Little Tern.
We walked from the carpark to the bridge and then doubled back.  Just as well because this give us our best sighting of Little Tern hovering in an angel like flight over the burn.  It also allowed me to pick out the White-winged Black Tern on the sands amongst Arctic Terns and gulls.  It hadn’t been visible from the watch point so was missed by the rangers there.  I believe the bird is known to roost here.  We met up with a friend of Sam’s who is working here.  Sandwich Tern was heard and seen making it five terns for the day list.  As we left a young Wheatear was found in the dunes as were numbers of Common Blue Butterflies. Other butterflies seen today were Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Red Admiral.  I’ve found it a very poor year for butterflies. Little Terns were seen on the nest and one of many pairs of Stonechat seen today.

We followed the coastal route down to Hauxley where we were keen to see the new centre.  In fact, we didn’t see it as we arrived on the dot of 5pm to find the gates being locked.  We were allowed to turn around in the carpark and we headed for Druridge Pools. 
No one was able to locate the Pectoral Sandpiper whilst we were around Druridge Pools but apparently it had been seen at 4:30pm.  We made do with 3 Wood Sandpipers (I note 4 had been seen together at one point), Ruff and some stunningly plumaged Black-tailed Godwits.  Little Owl was seen at distance.  We looked at the larger pool where I see little these days and found a Great Crested Grebe.  What has happened to the muddy scrape that used to attract birds here?  I know the heavy rain doesn’t help, but I can’t remember this area been very good for ages.  We took another look for the Pectoral Sandpiper with no more luck.

Barn Owl was seen over the dunes north of Bell’s Pond as we travelled to Cresswell Pond.  The water was very high here and I suspect the Avocet chicks reported would not have survived.  Avocets were seen along with Little Egret and we watched Reed Warbler feeding young in front of the hide.  A second Barn Owl was seen perched on the fence as we left hoping for a closer look at Little Owl.  In the event the Little Owl showed perfectly and provided great images.  Sadly, no images with this report until I get my head around my new system.

We ended the marathon at Linton Pond as the sun shone down on us.  We failed to locate the Slavonian Grebe but I’m not complaining.  We’d had a great day with some very special sightings.  The White -winged Black Tern must be the star bird, but that Little Owl sighting was a close second.  Seventy-five bird species in total.  Who was it said that July and August is a poor time for birding?

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Winter, Walking and Watching

17th Dec.  I remember a time when I walked, often long distances, admired the scenery, but if I’m honest didn’t take in too much of my surroundings.  Watching (and listening) is paramount now and has been for some years and for me there is no better time to do this than on clear winter days such as today has been.  The walking element is still important to me, but is far more focused on the natural world around me these days.

To the hide.
Today’s walk began at Holywell Village and of course led to the area of the pond.  Temperatures had dropped considerably from yesterday’s mildness and the light was sharp and clear in the late morning sunlight.  The tree lined pathway to the hide was far busier than usual with small passerines including Tree Sparrow.  The reason why became clear when we met trust volunteers in the hide who had just topped up the feeders.  We saw the first of a number of Reed Buntings outside of the hide and the family of Mute Swans were beneath the windows.  The coldness of the hide overcame any temptation to settle too long here and we made for the public hide having heard the call of Water Rail and overhead the call of Fieldfare.  The pond was relatively quiet and only three Wigeon appeared to remain, and no Teal were seen today.  Gulls, Black Headed, Common, Herring and Greater Black Backed, flocked on the surface of the water along with wildfowl which included Greylag Goose, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Mallard and Gadwall.  A solitary Grey Heron stood on the island.
Pink-footed Geese
All was silent apart from the distant call of a Curlew as we headed out into the open fields.  Two skeins of geese then flew overhead, the first may have been Greylag, the second definitely thirty-five Pink-footed Geese, their calls clearly heard.  Then Sam picked up the call of Grey Partridge which we failed to sight as we scanned the ploughed field.  A Kestrel hovered and a Sparrowhawk flew northwards from the dene.  I had just been joking about my failure to sight a single Yellowhammer in the UK throughout 2016, at least in part as my outings have been hampered at times, when a Yellowhammer flew across the field and into the hedge.  It was a relief to get this on my list and it was followed by at least two more in quick succession.  It’s good sometimes to have to wait for such sightings of common birds then you don’t take them for granted, of course the Yellowhammer is far less common now than it once was.  Such was my pleasure in watching this species today I’ve included a few lines form a John Clare poem.  Perhaps it is a bit unseasonal as the poem is about nesting Yellowhammers.  John Clare certainly used his eyes and ears when watching the natural world around him and cared about it deeply and I have my friends Hilary and Kelsey to thank for introducing me to his poems.

Five eggs, pen-scribbled o'er with ink their shells
Resembling writing scrawls which fancy reads
As nature's poesy and pastoral spells—
They are the yellowhammer's and she dwells
Most poet-like where brooks and flowery weeds
As sweet as Castaly to fancy seems
And that old molehill like as Parnass' hill
On which her partner haply sits and dreams
O'er all her joys of song—so leave it still
A happy home of sunshine, flowers and streams.

The pathway to the dene differed greatly from the solidly frozen walkway we had followed on our previous visit and it was deep mud and waterlogged in places.  We were soon watching more passerines in the hedge including Chaffinches and Reed Buntings.  The sun shone dazzlingly through the now leafless trees and made our sighting of the flock of Brambling difficult viewing.  There appeared to be a slightly larger flock than on our previous visit, but the birds were very flighty and it was difficult to estimate numbers, although we thought about thirty.  A Dipper sang as we watched the Brambling and other woodland birds including Long Tailed Tits and Nuthatch.  We eventually made a descent into the dene where the light was already beginning to lessen and the colour was predominantly that of winter, umbers and browns.  The walk to Seaton Sluice offered little in the way of birdlife once we had left the flock of Brambling and other woodland birds behind us.

Dene path

After a very late lunch we walked to the headland.  It was difficult to believe it was December as there was no hint of a breeze and the sea was flat calm, emphasised by the very stable passage of a small fishing boat leaving harbour.  As we are approaching the shortest day of the year the sun was dropping low in the sky, but there was still a good amount of light and in contrast to the dene quite a range of colour.  The deep blue of the sea was cut at the horizon from the much paler blue of the sky, just as if someone had drawn a curved line with a pencil where the colour changed.  What small amount of cloud there was over the sea and coastline was patchy, thin and mauve in colour, but looking south the thin layers of cloud behind the lighthouse was becoming a deeper shade of orange as the minutes went by.    We were stood on rock slightly below the top of the cliff so we were protected from any sound coming from the passing traffic.  With no wind there was silence apart from a lapping tide below us, with a larger wave occasionally raising the sound level and pounding on the cliff to the north.  The surf made varying patterns as it ebbed and flowed over the almost flat table like rock surfaces.  Even the small flock of Oystercatchers stood motionless and without calling until two or three lifted, flew south and made their familiar call.  A lone Curlew and a number of gulls passed over the sea, again apparently silently.  Small pools of seawater trapped on the rock reflected an almost silver light.  Sam pointed out the steps apparently carved into the rock which came to a sudden stop where the cliff dropped steeply to rock below.  I had never noticed these steps before and wonder how old they are.  It would seem that there have been changes in the structure of the cliff for them to end so sharply with a sudden deep drop at the edge.  Perhaps the steps were put in at the time the Deleval’s altered the course of the harbour?


Sam in action

 As we walked back to the village it felt a little like returning from a long trip.  The sun wasn’t far off setting as we travelled home and I was thinking that there would be a good sunset to view this evening.  Temperatures were dropping.  Perhaps some may be surprised, but my bird of the day was without doubt the long awaited Yellowhammer!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Gosforth Park Nature Reserve

6th Dec.  We were drawn to park life today despite the cold air and poor light.  The feeding station close to the entrance was surprisingly quiet and according to PD, has been in recent days, the birds clearly finding plenty of natural food.  Both Nuthatch and Treecreeper showed well among some other common woodland birds.  Sam and I had heard that there maybe up to five Bitterns in the reserve at present and it seems even that might be an under estimate, so it seemed more than possible that we might see one today.


We eventually left the hide at the feeding station and headed out on our usual circular walk.  The reserve was quiet in terms of both people and birds, and the atmosphere was typical of a winter’s day.  This time last year after heavy rain I seem to remember that the paths were extremely muddy, but today there were relatively dry and covered in fallen leaves.  In the quietness of the still wood I stopped as I heard a breeze drift through the trees.  It was if someone had opened a door and allowed a light draught to enter the woodland.  I turned to look back along the pathway and watched momentarily as leaves fell, from what I believe was an oak tree.   The leaves reflected what little light existed and drifted slowly and erratically down to the ground in the manner that snowflakes fall on a calm windless day.  The silence helped tune me into the habitat around me and it was all quite magical.  Shortly afterwards Roe Deer ran at speed across our path and were lost sight off as quickly as they had appeared in view.  The squawk of invisible Jays broke the silence as did our own speech.  There is still a good amount of leaf still to fall and very noticeable was a hazel tree holding what appeared to be almost new green growth.  I noticed that the ruins of the old boat house are now more clearly seen after work to clear the area.  The fact that this ruin is no where near the edge of the pond now,simply reflects the changing habitat over the years.  When we did look across the pond we found it still frozen in many areas.

We were walking anti clockwise so came to the small hide first.  The one and only occupant that we met there and chatted to informed us that at least two Bitterns had been active.  After a short time we had sightings of two, maybe three Bitterns, one of which flew across in front of the hide before dropping into the reed-bed.  Wrens called on either side of us, a Goosander flew around above us apparently trying to find open water on which to land and Sam was sure that he heard Siskins fly over the hide.  Sure enough when we left the hide we found a mixed flock of birds nearby which included a numbers of Siskins, Long tailed Tits and a Goldcrest.  The flash outside of the reserve held Teal, Tufted Duck, Coots and gulls.

A short stop in the other larger hide was not rewarded with sightings, although by now the light was rather better and the winter colours of the reed-bed and backing of trees showed more clearly.  We left, completed the circular walk of the reserve and decided to walk back to our own patch where we found two male Goosanders on the lake along with the likes of Gadwall and Shoveler.  It had been an enjoyable refreshing and atmospheric walk and I’m only too pleased that I can complete these walks now as there have been times this year I could not.

The Natural History Society talk last Friday had been excellent.  Nick Davies passion came across really well as he talked about the habits of Cuckoo’s and we were managed to get our books signed by him.  If you haven’t read the book it is certainly worth a read and its title is simply Cuckoo, Cheating by Nature.

On a slightly different note I was sorry to see James Littlewood leave the role of Director of the Natural History Society, but wish him well in his new employment.  I feel under James directorship the society has greatly modernised its outlook and style.  Long may that continue.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Geordie Shore Lark at Druridge Bay

30th Nov.  Lee, Sam and I were three men on a mission today.  We headed for Druridge Bay with Shore Larks on our mind.  I also reminded my comrades to keep an eye open for the Hen Harrier, not that they needed reminding.  It was only slightly milder than yesterday, but the light was perfect.  A small skein of geese, probably Pink-footed Geese flew over as we journeyed north.

No sooner had we parked up at East Chevington and I looked across the open space and immediately called Hen Harrier.  The ringtail initially distant flew directly at us and past us onwards to the dunes.  It was a perfect sighting to begin our day and we had further good sightings of this bird seen in perfect light as we walked to and arrived at Chevington Burn.  Then it wasn’t long before the seven Shore Larks returned to the area giving a very good showing on the sands.  To the south east large skeins of Pink-footed Geese lifted in the vicinity of one of the wind turbines.  I’m sure these turbines are breeding!  Individually these massive objects have a beauty to behold, with that wonderfully curved design of the blades.  On mass they are a blot on the landscape.  I half expected to see an irate Don Quixote ride by on Rocinante.  A flock of Twite and a flock of Goldfinch flew close by, a Kestrel hovered to the west of us and on the sea Red throated Divers swam, one or two very close to shore.  Guillemot was also seen.  The Kingfisher also made two or three appearances.  Our walk back to the car brought sightings of Redwing.  North Pool proved to be quiet, Mute Swan, Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and Little Grebe were among birds seen before we headed for Druridge Pools.

Hen Harrier

Hen Harrier

With time limited now our visit to Druridge Pools was fleeting, Common Snipe and Pintail being the highlights.  We actually spent more time in the dunes overlooking the sea and walking a short way along a sun lit beach in order to get close to Red throated Divers which were swimming very near the shore.  A Long tailed Duck was also seen.  Our first pair of Stonechats for the day also showed really well in the sunlight.

Pink-footed geese
Our next stop was Cresswell Pond where we found a Little Egret at the north end of the pond.  Another Kestrel, this time perched on one of the posts south of the farm.  Once in the hide we found the pond fairly clear of birds although two Red-breasted Mergansers and an odd Goldeneye were about.  Large numbers of Wigeon edged the water, a flock of Lapwing joined by a few Golden Plover stood on the mud area and a Common Snipe was seen on the edge of the reed-bed.

Druridge Bay

Red-throated Diver

 The day ended quietly as we walked past Tree Sparrows in the hedge, but our mission had been successful and enjoyable and we thought there were many less rewarding ways in which we could have spent the hours.  The sighting of the Hen Harrier would have been my bird of the day had it not been for the appearance of seven Shore Larks.  Winter birding at its best and Druridge Bay seen at its best too.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Rambling with Brambling

29th Nov.  The early morning was bright, clear and frosty, although by the time Sam and I began our walk at Holywell in mid morning, the sun was showing only periodically.  I found the changing light added to the atmosphere of a late autumn day, although as far as I’m concerned we are now into winter and if you had sat with us in the public hide at the pond you would I think, agree.  Before leaving Holywell on our way to Backworth via the dene we were back under clear blue skies and sunshine and this didn’t change until the light began to fade as the afternoon progressed.

Gadwall.  One of many.

Our journey had included passing numbers of geese in the fields opposite Backworth Flash.  I knew that we could check these out later in the day so wasn’t too concerned at having not identified them.  On arrival we headed for the public hide where we found local birder and photographer JL with whom we always enjoy a good chat.  I didn’t feel as cold at any time during the day as I felt in that hide!  The discomfort was more than made up for by the changing light conditions.  At times it was as if a veil was being lifted and dragged across the area as shifting cloud allowed the sun to light different parts of the landscape before us.  It was a light that with the cold air again suggested winter.  The family of Mute Swans had been the first birds we had seen on our approach and they flew across the fields as we neared the hide.  I noticed the feeding station was not stocked with food, unfortunate in such conditions, and only a couple of Dunnock and the odd tit attempted to seek any remaining feed.  The pond held Mallard, numbers of Gadwall close to the edge, Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck and Goldeneye.  A few gulls made an appearance and a Grey Heron stood sentinel like close by.  I saw at least one other Grey Heron lift from the reeds before dropping back down and becoming invisible to the eye.  After a while Sam and I moved off to look over the fields and hedges, intending to retrace our steps later.

Winter light is by far the best light.
The field were very quiet as were the hedges.  We did see a small skein of Pink footed Geese and a Great Spotted Woodpecker fly by before we headed down the track to the dene.  Skylark and the odd Redwing were also seen.  As we approached the dene the hedge to our right began to look as though it might prove more fruitful in our search, first of all giving us a sighting of at least three Reed Buntings and then a female Bullfinch.  Then Sam got his eye on a Brambling, then another and another.  Brambling seemed to make up the majority of a mixed flock of passerines including, tits, Chaffinch  Goldfinch and Tee Sparrow, the latter species which we missed but which was seen by another birder we later spoke to..  It was the Brambling that kept us watching at some length.  We estimated that there were approximately twenty Brambling, mostly female.  They seemed to disperse to various areas of the woodland and we only picked up the odd call from them.  Without doubt Brambling was our species of the day.  As I have often commented, it is my favourite of the commoner winter migrants.

 Our thoughts about retracing our steps were forgotten and we decided to keep to the dene area.  Thankfully the muddy pathway through the gate was frozen hard.  A Treecreeper was seen and no sooner had a comment been made about poor light, when the sun came out from behind cloud and stayed out for the rest of the walk.  As we walked through the tree lined area the light was wonderful as was the remaining colour.  Leaves continued to fall rather like butterflies, making me rethink my thoughts about the arrival of winter as the sun and leaf fall definitely gave an autumnal feel.  The recent fall of poppies on Remembrance Day came to mind.  We eventually pressed on and Dipper was among birds seen.

Our walk to Backworth was without any real birding interest, but pleasant none the less.  On arrival we took note of the only building now left standing at the area of the old Fenwick Pit.  The engine room I seem to remember is dated 1946, that being the date of Nationalisation of the mining industry, and of course the year after the end of the Second World War.  Sam had been doing some research into local history and in particular a local brickworks which no longer exists and we wondered if the bricks used for this building had come from there.  I believe this building is going to remain, although the area is scheduled for, yes you have guessed, house building.  I can’t help but feel that this building having been ‘done up’ would make the ideal museum to record local history.  Does anyone on the Council agree I wonder?

Our industrial heritage plus artwork/graffiti.  What remains of the buildings at Fenwick Pit, East Holywell.  Some may see an old building, I see history and a museum.
The area of Backworth which used to be a good site for birds appears to have become extremely tame now.  We saw little in the way of birds as we continued our walk.  A Common Gull at one point broke deadness.  It wasn’t until we completed our lap of the area that we found a sizable flock of Teal on the remaining water and the on the flash found good numbers of Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits which seemed to feed well off the frozen flash.  There was no Water Pipit!  We had watched a Kestrel from a distance as it perched on a post and now we were closer to it.  No doubt conserving energy in the cold weather it seemed to be hunting from the post and when it dropped down it returned to another post with what appeared to be a vole.

Backworth flash, with Earsdon in the background.
Before we returned home we were able to confirm that all of the geese in the field opposite were Greylag Geese.  We had heard the call of Common Snipe once or twice earlier and I guessed there were probably a number hidden in the area.  Just before we left three Common Snipe flew high over our heads.

I arrived home in time to watch the parties of corvids flying to roost and later in the evening we made a decision to visit Druridge with Lee the following day.  Hopefully those Shore Larks will be showing well.  I’ll let you know.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Northerly Patch

27th Nov.  I decided to put down my copy of Gavin Maxwell’s Ring of Bright Water (I’ve never read this book before, although I remember watching the film as a youngster.  Both the book and the film are very much of their time i.e. 1950s) and head north on patch before the light disappeared this afternoon.  Walking northwards you soon reach the end of the old pathway that runs very pleasantly through the estates.  Hedges and trees hide the sight of housing in some parts.  Once across the busy road you’re onto track-ways through farmland.  This northern part of the patch is on the whole farmland which happily still retains plenty of hedging and is crisscrossed by many tracks and pathways.  It’s an old mining area and it is difficult not to think of miners walking these tracks in days gone by.  Some of them now lie in Killingworth Church grounds.  Thankfully it is now one of the quieter areas of the patch and today I passed only one dog walker, one jogger and one lady leading her pony.  It is usual in this quiet area to at least acknowledge strangers passing by and I am always surprised that the odd person can pass you by without doing this.

It was milder today than of late and looking north over Northumberland, grey cloud seemed to suggest rain although only a small sprinkling appeared in the air whilst I was out walking, the sky eventually clearing to blueness and suggesting possibly a cool night ahead.  In this are you are on high ground and the rain water flows down towards the River Tyne.  The North Sea, only a few miles away can be seen easily on clear days as can the hills of Northumberland.  It’s an enjoyable area to walk in even when there are few birds about which was just as well today.  On my outward journey I saw little other than corvids, pigeons and fields full of Black Headed Gulls which were accompanied by a few Common Gulls.  Blackbirds, Robins, Starlings and the odd Mistle Thrush was the only other birds seen until I reached the northern border of the patch.

I could see from a distance that the northerly field was flooded and that this had attracted flocks of birds.  I made up to the last hedge to look to see if these flocks contained waders.  In fact the entire flock of 130+ birds were Lapwings.  Before I reached the hedge Fieldfares began to fly out and into the higher trees.  Eventually I counted about 35 Fieldfares.  I eventually began to retrace my steps and this was when I felt the light spray of rain on my face as I watched the changing wide expanse of sky.

I passed the old ruin of the Tower House again and caught sight of a the only raptor of the day, it was what appeared to be a cloth cut out placed in the field by the farmer and it did appear to be effective in keeping the gulls out of that field and in the fields to the south of it.

Burradon Tower
The following information appears on the Historic England website

Tower houses are a type of defensible house particularly characteristic of the borderlands of England and Scotland. Virtually every parish had at least one of these buildings. At many sites the tower comprised only one element of a larger house, with at least one wing being attached to it. These wings provided further domestic accommodation, frequently including a large hall. If it was incorporated within a larger domestic residence, the tower itself could retain its defensible qualities and could be shut off from the rest of the house in times of trouble. Tower houses were being constructed and used from at least the 13th century to the end of the 16th century. They provided prestigious defended houses permanently occupied by the wealthier or aristocratic members of society. As such they were important centres of medieval life. The need for such secure buildings relates to the unsettled and frequently war-like conditions which prevailed in the Borders throughout much of the medieval period. Around 200 examples of tower houses have been identified of which over half were elements of larger houses. All surviving tower houses retaining significant medieval remains will normally be identified as nationally important
A little further along the muddy potholed track I noticed a male Pheasant in the field to the right of me and this took my eye to a small covey of 5 Grey Partridges which were between me and the Pheasant.  They carried on feeding as I watched.

Then it was a brisk walk back home passing another 10+ Fieldfares and once again passing a number of areas of polystyrene packaging scattered around the area.  Now I wonder how they got here.  Could there be some thoughtless resident that has allowed this to happen.  Surely not!!!

Saturday, 19 November 2016

By the Lake

19th Nov.  Bright sunshine but strikingly cold today I met up with Sam down by the lake.  Frost remained in a few areas where the sun had not managed to break through.  The smaller of the lakes held a good number of birds including a pair of Wigeon, two pairs of Shoveler and five Gadwall, three of the latter birds being male.  Perhaps there were three pairs and we missed one of the females.  Whilst I remember the odd Wigeon visiting the lake years ago it is a species that vanished for some years and it is only in recent times that they have made a return.  Gadwall and Shoveler  (I’ve given in and have begun to spell Shoveler with one l) are both quite new species to the lake in recent years.  Other species included Mute Swans, numbers now dramatically reduced by the measures taken to ensure that this occurred, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard and Tufted Duck.

The larger lake by contrast to the smaller was very quiet indeed.  A few Mute Swans, one male Goosander, a Great Crested Grebe, a lone Cormorant and a lone Pochard were easily found on a quiet lake surface.  Approximately ninety Canada Geese were in two parties at the far end of the lake and an odd Greylag Goose was amongst them.  Gulls seen were Black Headed, Common and Herring.  A single male Reed Bunting was seen in the trees by the side of the lake and not far from here a Grey Heron moved to and fro along the edge of the water to avoid us.  A return walk through the trees brought little, apart from calling Long-tailed Tits hidden somewhere in the tree tops.

I walked across the fields towards the church grounds on my return home and apart from finding Dunnock and hearing a little of the song of Robin there was little to report, although I did find a couple of apple trees which I must have passed by hundreds of times without realising what they were.  My hour or so on patch had been cold, but enjoyable.  It was the type of day I enjoy and I was warmer by the time I arrived home.  I found it hard to believe that a week has passed by since our visit to Musselburgh and Aberlady and Sam and I have given a talk concerning the islands of Northumbria mid week.  Having put fresh seed out this morning along with some fat from yesterdays chicken and having chased the damn cats the garden was still quite active with birds.  I caught a glimpse of a male Bullfinch lit by the sun, as well as the visiting Song Thrush