Friday, 3 March 2017

Doris day zaps the shorelarks

So we move on to the north-east  and a dawn to dusk birdathon round the Druridge/Cresswell area. On Thursday I decided to suss out the seven shore larks which have wintered at Chevington Burn. They were there and gave good views in deteriorating conditions. I also had a look at some of the other sites we were hoping to cover but by early afternoon Doris had arrived and heavy rain put paid to any detailed exploration.

Friday dawned dry, clear and calm so we cancelled our traditional route and went straight to Chevington Burn to find that Doris had completely redesigned the beach. The stones/shingle/seaweed area had been covered in blown sand and the birds had gone. We made three visits with no success.

Sunrise at Chevvy
Those of you who ticked the shore larks will struggle to recognise the site, obliterated with blown sand!!

There was a pied wagtail!!
 We then moved on and looked at both pools at East Chevington  before heading for Snab Point, Cresswell, Druridge Pools, Druridge Bay Country Park, Hadston Carrs and Hauxley which was indeed still closed. With some daylight left we had a quick look at the QE 2 Country Park and then headed for Longhirst Flash as another birder had said it had quite a lot around. This proved an inspired move even though the flash has totally changed since it was featured in Brian Unwin's guide to birding sites in the North East. Firstly there was no flash, secondly no mound and thirdly it was improved grassland with a few muddy puddles. Nevertheless it produced large flocks of pink-footed geese, two short-eared owls, five bean geese and seven white-fronted geese. This pushed the total to 77 for the day. We had scanned large flocks of PFG earlier with no luck and in fading light, bingo!! Other highlights were red throated and pacific diver, 2 little egrets at Druridge Pools, pochard, scaup, fulmar, slavonian grebe, scoter, sanderling, purple sandpiper, stonechat, fieldfare, tree sparrow and twite plus a lot of the usual suspects seen en route and at various stops. In previous years we have had a lot of finches a the home made feeders en route but these seemed to be mostly empty and it seems that whoever was responsible for them has not been topping them up. A lot of them were not in a good state and full of wet, rotten seed. Maybe some of the locals need to either maintain them or remove them??  As a result we struggled for goldfinch before we found 2 at Hadston Carrs and we missed yellowhammer for the second year running. The  pictures which follow were all taken by my pal David and are used with his permission. He has a better camera than me and loads more patience so enjoy!!

Sparowhawk at East Chevington

Passing pinkies

Spot the snipe, this would make a cracking jigsaw!!
All pinkfeet

Little egret at Druridge Pools
Scaup & pochard
Pacific diver
Pacific diver

Lapwing, redshank & knot

Twite arrived but no shore larks

Plenty of ringed plover
For those of you who have stuck with me so far, go and have a rest but come back later for a final post on our trip to Wallington Hall where we hoped to see red squirrels, but failed. However there were a few avian compensations and some more nice pics.

Bangor West
51: Grey heron
Belfast WOW
62: Carrion crow

105: sanderling
106: shore lark
107: Fulmar
108: Scoter
109: Pink-footed goose
110: Greykag
111: Stonechat
112: Slavonian grebe
113: Pacific diver
114: short-eared owl
115: Bean goose
116: White-fronted goose

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