On the 11th March 2018….
I had planned to choose another site to visit as my ‘local patch’ for 2018; however, I continue to be drawn to Druridge Pools again this year. I simply love the fresh coastal air, large selection of birds always on show and of course, there is the luxury of many other top class nature reserves, only within a very short drive.
I have decided, i’m am going to wander more during my visits and spend some time on the beach in the summer and walk up to East Chevington etc and stretch my legs a bit more.
I was very lucky this afternoon, as not only was a Water Pipit on show for nearly an hour, just in front of the ‘Budge Screen’ hide, but a Little Egret came up really close.
The Water Pipit seemed very healthy; rather plump and for the most part, seemed to to enjoy a relaxing nap.
As Saturday morning dawned, I opted to spend my birding time on the coast at St Mary’s again in the hope that I may find some autumn migrants. I was lucky to catch up with at least two Yellow-browed Warbler’s and a lone Chiffchaff.
For the last few years, I’ve regularly encountered Stonechats when visiting St Mary’s Island and Wetland. They are always a welcome treat Everytime! I found this bird today out in the sunshine.
I also enjoyed a couple of star Waders as I relaxed in the early morning sun, enjoying the fresh coastal air. The first was a Grey Plover; which is a Plover I don’t record at this site very often. Some years during the autumn/winter months a few birds can be found. These are often away from the large flocks of Golden Plover that love St Mary’s every winter.
Second was a Redshank; kinda of a shy bird, so not easy to photograph. As soon as you get near, they tend to fly off making that familiar loud call. Today was different however and a bird stayed close; perhaps because their were gangs of those Ruff waders still around.
I counted 12-13 Ruff still present in the field as you drive into the car park at St Mary’s. There was also small flocks of Linnet, Goldfinch and up to nine Curlews. No Grey Herons were out fishing today.
Bees swarming on the The Millennium Bridge close to the ‘BALTIC Centre For Contemporary Art’.
I was relaxing with Adriana in the cafe this afternoon and we talked about a video that had been showcased at the Baltic in the past. This was about a bee keeper. It was really good. Little did we know that we would experience some fans, first hand. Shame they missed the show!
An early morning start at St Mary’s is always very rewarding, especially in the autumn. Highlights today included a smart Lesser Whitethroat and a group of 10-13 Ruff, which is a species I can’t remember ever recording myself at this site. I am however recording Ruff more and more in the County.
There were only a few Curlews around today with less than ten out and about.
Five Grey Herons were enjoying the sunshine; with two more at Old Hartley.
I took some time out to relax on the nearby rocks nearby and enjoy the warm sunshine.
I”m sure it will not be long before Little Egrets join the Grey Herons at St Mary’s as regulars.
Following a successful ‘twitch’ to Druridge Pools, to look for a visiting Pectoral Sandpiper today, I rewarded myself with a tasty lunch at Hauxley nature reserve. I love the guide to hot drinks. Toastie and frothy coffee for me😀
Visitors are also rewarded with a great view of the reserve as they eat.
Highlights for me today, as I travelled the circular walk around the reserve included close views of a Snipe and female Pintail with a couple of Wigeon.
Adjacent to the northern border of Exhibition Park, is one of my favourite areas of grassland. Newcastle Town Moor. The site consists of over 900 acres of grassland, which is surrounded by, busy roads and housing. This can be a great escape from the busy urban life of Newcastle.
Today I decided to explore and wander in the hope that I may catch up with some visiting migrants. The grassland was full of flies and the calls of Meadow Pipits. I was relieved to see some Swallows, accompanied by a couple of House Martins and Swifts. In some trees, close to the two large hills, I picked out a Whitethroat.
Close to a Chinese Circus which has been present for the past few weeks I caught up with a Whinchat, but there was no sign of the Wheatear I’d recorded the previous week.
This Bank Holiday weekend, we made a special effort to visit the Attenborough Nature Reserve, which is a large wetland habitat managed by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. The view from the fabulous Attenbourgh Wildlife Centre was very relaxing and reminded us very much of RSPB Saltholme in Teeside and our own Wildlife Trust’s Hauxley Discovery Centre in our beautiful Northumberland.
The wetland was alive with the activity of nearby wildfowl, such as Tufted Duck, Pochard, Teal and Mallard; together with Coot and Moorhen. Amongst these we identified a single Garganey, a few Shoveler and several pairs of Great Crested and Little Grebes. A single Little Egret at times wandered into view, outnumbered by over over half a dozen Grey Herons, which were far from shy and frequently impressed us with their fishing skills.
Feeding along the edges of this attractive wetland habitat were at least six Green Sandpipers, and a single Wood Sandpiper. We also noted a couple of Dunlin and Black tailed Godwits.
We fell in love with the hide on stilts, where visitors could enjoy a 360 degree view of the reserve. Amazing! A hide such as this would be wonderful at Druridge Pools, Northumberland.
Dozens of Dragonflies joined us, as we explored this wildlife paradise. We also encountered a couple of Common Terns, and a single Pied Flycatcher. The final hide we visited; was nicknamed the Kingfisher hide and we soon discovered why. Within ten minutes, a handsome Kingfisher flew past. A great end out!
My visits to Exhibition Park in the centre of Newcastle have become even more frequent this year, since I started counting wetland birds for the BTO monthly surveys. This month has been particularly good with the presence of some spring/summer migrants stopping off for a short time on their way to their winter homes.
A Spotted Flycatcher was still present this afternoon. It has now been present for at least three weeks; still to the left of the lake, high above in the trees. I rarely am lucky to enjoy this exciting flycatcher in Newcastle.
No sign of the Redstarts which have been around, however the nearby trees continue to be alive with dozens of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. Amazing to see so many in one place. At least one Garden Warbler remained in the area.
Not far, close to the visiting Chinese circus, making good use of local wooden fences, a Wheatear was relaxing in the sun, on the Newcastle Town Moor. No sign of any Whinchat’s today, however 1-2 had been in the area over the past few days.
After a couple of hours of intensive searching from the southern bird hide at Druridge Pools; which has become one of my favourite venues this year, I was able to obtain some pretty decent views of a visiting Spotted Crake. This being my third record (1st at Shibdon and 2nd at East Chevington).
The hide which is usually so quiet was packed today.
I spent a couple of hours in Exhibition park today and was lucky to catch out with some visiting migrants. A Spotted Flycatcher had taken up residence high up in some trees to the left of the lake. Nearby a female/imm Redstart was relaxing in the sun. I also counted at least two Garden Warbler’s and dozens of Chiffchaff’s and Willow Warblers.
Following my last visit to Druridge Pools, I had intended to do some sea watching this weekend however, I was drawn back to the Budge. Screen hide, in the hopes of catching up with a White-rumped Sandpiper.
After only about 15 mins, I was rewarded with amazing views. The birds behaviour, size and shape, helped me find it easily. Great bird, deffo one of my favourite this year.
This was my third British record (1st East Chevington and 2nd Amble in 2016).
Like the previous three years, it was the third attempt (third time lucky) that I was lucky to enjoy the returning Caspian Gull. This year, it was with a flock of other Gulls on the river at Warkworth, but not long after flew towards Amble, where it continues to frequent.
Wow, our first ever Greenfinch visited our bird feeders at home this morning. It looked very healthy and one of the largest I’ve ever seen. It stayed for about 15 mins, and didn’t return; just a short visit, as it was passing through I guess. Shame, Greenfinches used to be more common in our town.
We took advantage of the hot sunny weather today and we drove up to Druridge Bay to spend some time in the new Discovery hide at Hauxley. This was my wife’s Adriana’s first visit. Later we stopped off to enjoy some Little Owls further down the coast, then parked up at Cresswell where there were a couple of Little Stint’s and Curlew Sandpipers, close to the Causeway with some Dunlin.
A Great day out! I love Curlew Sandpipers, the new hide at Hauxley and Adriana loved the Little Owls…..