Making the most of a few days respite from the torturous chasm I call my temporary, totally un-conservation oriented work place I today decided to hoof it up the coast in search of a few wintery delights. Though the rarities eluded me and the reported White-Fronted Geese remained hidden, today provided a refreshing change of pace from the usual pre-Christmas madness and turned up some charismatic creatures to boot. These combined with an ample supply of coffee, jam sandwiches and my new and rather snug purpose bought "Iceland coat" made for a rather pleasant few hours spent roaming the regular haunts with a an additional hour spent poking around the patch upon my return.
|One of many frequenting my garden.|
Cresswell as ever came up trumps with a decent assortment of colourful quacky things among which Wigeon were the most numerous with some c200 grazing in the adjacent fields. Mallard as ever were also numerous whilst Teal, Tufted Duck and Goldeneye also gave me something to look at in between spells of frantically scanning the petite reed bed in search of a long overdue Bittern. Little else showed at Cresswell, despite a good hour of watching, waiting and anticipating thus I departed the hide in favour of more salty climes. The hedgerow alongside the track did however go some way to compensating my losses with a stonking male Yellowhammer on show alongside a handful of Tree Sparrows and the usual cast of Blackbirds, Goldfinches and tits. Departing the site a male Stonechat showed well on top of a dead Umbrellifa though this was all of note. The rocks around Cresswell Village and Snab Point proved much more uplifting with a host of wondrous waders on show, among these 5 delightful Purple Sandpipers that showed down to within matter of feet. Alongside these a few dozen Turnstone sporting their drab yet delightful winter plumage and a good number of Dunlin, Redshank and Oystercatcher. A short and extremely cold seawatch produced little other than gulls and Eiders thus I quickly chose to head home though not before noting a substantial flock of Golden Plover overhead and a single Rock Pipit picking about the strand line. Not the worst morning, but likewise far from the best!
Back on the patch front and things have been continuing at a steady and enjoyable pace. The unrivaled highlight of the week the ringtail Hen Harrier which remains in evidence around Widdrington Moor Lake. Such a fantastic bird and far from common in our age of persecution and grouse massacring toffs thus I feel somewhat privileged to have one apparently wintering so close to home. Harrier aside Widdrington Moor has also turned up a host of other raptors with no less than four Kestrel showing well alongside a single Buzzard and the resident Peregrine. Wildfowl numbers seem to have tailed off here somewhat (perhaps due to the predator presence?) though Wigeon are still numerous and a few Goldeneye remain. A drake Pochard here a few nights past was however a pleasant surprise. Away from the lake and the old tip continues to provide a bonanza of common titbits with Bullfinch still numerous and some c25 Lesser Redpoll now in evidence. Jays too continue to show well whilst other goodies include Willow Tit, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Sparrowhawk munching an unlucky Goldfinch. Surely the dying days of December still have the potential to throw up something new and exciting though my hopes now lie firmly with my most striking omission of the year, a Short-Eared Owl.