Monday 2 January 2012

A good start to 2012

January 1st

I very rarely do any birding on New Years Day. Usually because of a severe hang-over or football or both. This New Years Day was different. I was our partying the night (and morning) before but still managed to make it down to Druridge albeit with a bit of a thick-head a good-deal of queasiness. I only had an hour though as we had another party to get to.

Highlight of the morning was a short-eared owl quartering the Budge fields and bunds. The wintering chifchaff seen in late December was still hanging around the willows by the Little hide, making an early appearance on the year-list. There were good numbers of duck on the Budge fields, including at least three drake pintail.

Little of interest on the pool, other than a water rail which was poking around the edge of the phragmites bed. A buzzard flew over, quite low, heading south.

I ended the day on 35 species. Not bad for an hours work with an hangover.

January 2nd

I felt a bit more chipper this morning. I did have a lie-in though so didn't make it to Druridge until 1ish.

I started with a look on the sea, 2 snow buntings flew north calling, a good start! A pair of eiders and a group three red-breasted mergansers were added to the year-list.

Next, to the Budge screen. I picked up a large wader on the far side, feeding amongst the grass by the fence that wasn't a curlew. When it emerged it revealed itself as a black-tailed godwit. A rare species in winter in Northumberland and especially at Druridge Pools. Without looking through my notes and lists, I think this may be my first winter patch record for blackwit.

Despite the strengthening and very cold westerly wind I decided a hike around the extremities of the patch was in order. I set off for High Chibburn Farm via the hamlet. At the feeding station at the cottages, tree and house sparrows are added to the list with goldfinch. At the farm, there were 19 collared doves, once a very rare species at Druridge, this wintering flock is nice to see. Also at High Chibburn were a flock of about 50 curlew with redshanks, in the same field as a covey of 12 grey partridge, which were later flushed by a sparrowhawk.

Low Chibburn Preceptory with a flock of lapwing and starling in front
Another view of the preceptory
I got blown along the haul road, seeing very little. A walk through the bushes didn't produce a woodcock but in the willows by the bridge, yesterdays chiffchaff was still calling. This might be of interest to any winter bird-racers who are out next Saturday. Obviously, if I had been bird-racing next weekend (we've got Blackburn at home in the cup so I'll not be) I would have suppressed this!

So, 58 species by the 2nd of January. Not a bad start. It's going to be a hard-slog from now until the end of March, when the first migrants return though.

I hope to a review of 2011 in the next couple of days.

1 red-throated diver
2 guilliemot
3 common scoter
4 black-headed gull
5 common gull
6 sanderling
7 cormorant
8 pied wagtail
9 short-eared owl
10 carrion crow
11 herring gull
12 grey heron
13 chiffchaff
14 stonechat
15 blue tit
16 teal
17 wigeon
18 mallard
19 lapwing
20 curlew
21 shoveler
22 kestrel
23 tufted duck
24 coot
25 goldeneye
26 mute swan
27 water rail
28 skylark
29 song thrush
30 redshank
31 magpie
32 pintail
33 pheasant
34 buzzard
35 pink-footed goose
36 red-breasted merganser
37 great-black backed gull
38 eider
39 snow bunting
40 black-tailed godwit
41 snipe
42 chaffinch
43 redwing
44 tree sparrow
45 house sparrow
46 collared dove
47 feral pigeon
48 jackdaw
49 sparrowhawk
50 grey partridge
51 meadow pipit
52 woodpigeon
53 mistle thrush
54 wren
55 moorhen
56 rook
57 goldfinch 
58 starling 

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