Friday 16 March 2012

Walking the Bay

I had a well-deserved day off work today. Rather than the just thrash the patch again I decided to walk the full length of Druridge Bay to see how many species I could log.

My plan was to catch the bus to Amble and walk home, calling at all of the reserves on the way. So at 8.45 this morning I jumped off the bus at Fourways and headed south, well north-east at first, to visit Amble Harbour where there were good numbers of eiders but no white-winged gulls. I left Amble with 20 species on the list, not a bad start.

A few more species were added along Amble links including my first pair of stonechats of the day. I arrived at Hauxley NR with 39 species on the list, increasing to 58 when I left. At Hauxley I saw my only grey plover, bar-tailed godwit and white-fronted geese of the day.

At Druridge Bay Country Park, there is a new feeding station which has attracted a good range of species including an unexpected male brambling. A kestrel at DBCP was the first raptor of the day.

By the time I reached East Chevington, the wind had strengthened and so had my list  - to 63 species. The wind was making birding tricky. There were 21 whooper swans at Chev but not much else. Onwards to to my patch.

Lunch was taken in the salubrious surroundings of the Oddie hide. The highlight of lunch was watching three little grebes - two of them were males, trilling like mad! On the Budge fields shoveler and pintail were added to the list and a male goldcrest (with a ring on its leg) was a welcome addition.

I bumped into Tom Cadwallender at Cresswell Pond, we picked up a peregrine in pursuit of unidentified waders. My second and  last raptor of the day.

A pair of stonechats were nest building nearby. I am always interested in the stonechat population on the bay, today there were a pair at Amble Links, Druridge Links, 2 males at Cresswell Pond and this pair.

I continued beyond Cresswell Village and Snab Point adding nothing. I returned home by Cresswell Home Farm and Chugdon Woods, great-spotted woodpecker, treecreeper, yellowhammer and finally long-tailed tit were added to the list. A total of 11 miles and 78 species!

Given that there were no spring migrants yet, I think that is a respectable total. Nothing scarce or even unusual was noted but it was just nice to be out for a long walk along the bay!

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