Well my week back in my home county is well and truly over and tomorrow i'm heading back off to dreary old Penrith much to my dismay. This in mind I've spent the last few days exploring some of my favoured places and for once actually succeeded in turning up some pretty nifty birds!
Firstly on Friday I paid a visit to Cresswell Pond where I spent a cold but enjoyable few hours observing the comings and goings of the local birdlife and the fat (and dare I say it quite cute) farm cat that can often be seen prowling the trail connecting the farm to the hide. Half an hour spent hanging around the make shift feeders that some kind soul as placed outside the hide turned up a decent range of species with Tree Sparrows as usual the most numerous closely followed by Chaffinch, Greenfinch and a host of tits. Robin and Dunnock were very much in evidence too. Someone had noted a Brambling on the feeders the previous day thought during my stay none but in an appearance, denying me a over due year tick. The field to the left the track held a flock of maybe 400 Starlings feeding alongside a decent number of Lapwing and a few sparse Redshank but with little else on show I quickly hunkered down in the hide to start some 'serious' birding. The lagoon was almost entirely flooded with very little of the sand bar on show crushing my chances at finding any interesting waders though the wildfowl didn't seem to mind at all with numerous Tufted Duck, Teal, Mallard and Wigeon seen floating lazily around. A Common Snipe did put in an appearance outside the hide at first fooling me into believing it was a Water Rail as it skulked in and out of the reeds whilst elsewhere on the lake a pair of Little Grebe, a single Great Black-Backed Gull and a couple of Mute Swans proved somewhat interesting. A distant 'odd looking' Tuftie drew my attention for the final quarter of an hour but due to a lack of scope I gave up trying to identify it as a Scaup loosing out on yet another long overdue lifer. This was however until a chance glance back at the lagoon whilst making my way along the road to Druridge revealed three rather round looking ducks.. I would have easily overlooked the two male birds as simple Tufted Ducks had a female bird sailed directly into view of my bins displaying her characteristic white band. Scaup, at long last. Finishing up with the ducks and making my way over to the beach a Peregrine put in a surprise and very welcome appearance as it harassed the Lapwings over above the fields north of the pond capping over what had been an interesting few hours!
|Shoddy photo, but lifer!|
A brisk walk along the beach turned up little of interest beside the odd Common Gull and Pied Wagtail until unfamiliar call caught my attention sounding from the strand line. This heralded the arrival of the days target bird Snow Buntings, 12 of them in fact all of which allowed for very close views as they went about the business of feeding. I've heard a lot about the relative approachability of this species but until now had never seen this for myself so when I was able to crawl to within 2m or so of the nearest bird my heart almost packed in with delight. Fairly safe to say that for the minute at least I have a new favourite bird with my old favourites Bullfinch and Yellowhammer coming in at a glorified second. Anyways after spending half an hour face down on the beach like a piece of drift wood I decided to visit Druridge only find the large pool utterly desolate aside from a Buzzard sailing slowly over and a female Goldeneye diving on the far side. As a result I quickly backtracked to visit the Budge Screen where a few Teal, Wigeon, Curlew and Grey Heron proved little consolation. A brief (10 minute) stop off on the patch on the walk home was however extremely worth while with five Whooper Swans noted on the big lake at Widdrington and a few Yellowhammer and Linnet noted moving to and through in the surrounding vegetation.
|What a bird!|
My remaining time has been spent mostly lurking around Stobswood trying to increase my standing in years Patchwork challenge competition and with the addition of Whooper Swan and Snow Bunting this week my score now stands at a respectable 101 species! Not bad for a few puddles on some reclaimed Opencast land. Elsewhere the woods held the usual array of critters with Long-tailed Tit, Goldcrest and two Great Spotted Woodpecker's proving the most entertaining though a surprise appearance by a Red Squirrel was extremely welcome. Elsewhere only a Bank Vole and a Jay showed quite well.
|and a Vole..|